Entertainment, Politics

Obituary: John Clarke

Celebrated satirist and comedian John Clarke has died suddenly, aged 68. Your favourite Clarke and Dawe sketches

Iconic comedy duo John Clarke and Bryan Dawe entertained audiences with their political satire skits for over 25 years. We’ve collated some of their most loved segments and classic exchanges.

Clarke died from natural causes while bushwalking in Victoria over the weekend.

John died doing one of the things he loved the most in the world, taking photos of birds in beautiful bushland with his wife and friends. He is forever in our hearts, his family said in a statement issued by the ABC.

We are aware of what he has meant to so many for so many years, throughout the world but especially in Australia and New Zealand.

We are very grateful for all expressions of sympathy and love which John would have greatly appreciated — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

Some notes on the worst-case scenario

Confession time: I’m an optimist, especially about the ideas of social progress that emerged in Europe at the end of the middle ages and became mainstream in western politics in the early 20th century. I called the outcome of the Brexit referendum wrong (by underestimating the number of racist bigots and Little Englanders in the UK population: Brexit is a proxy for English nationalism, which is absolutely not the same as British nationalism), and I called the US presidential election wrong (underestimating the extent of gerrymandering and micro-targeted black propaganda driven by data mining in the campaign).

Since January 20th we’ve seen a degree and type of activity emanating from the new US administration that is markedly different from anything in my politically aware lifetime (loosely: since Reagan). Blanket bans on entry to the USA by anyone associated with certain nationalities, mass firings at the State Department, a president railing against a so-called judge, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff being booted off the National Security Council and replaced by a white nationalist ideologue, and a former CEO of Exxon in the Cabinet: what’s going on?

Let me pull on my pessimist’s hat and advance the most scary hypothesis I can imagine that explains the current situation.

Please note that the following scenario assumes that what we are witnessing is deliberate and planned and that the people in Trump’s inner circle actually have a coherent objective they are working towards. (I desperately hope that I’m wrong on all counts) — via redwolf.newsvine.com

History, Politics

Against Normalisation: The Lesson of the “Munich Post”

The Trump-Hitler comparison. Is there any comparison? Between the way the campaigns of Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler should have been treated by the media and the culture? The way the media should act now? The problem of normalisation?

Because I’d written a book called Explaining Hitler several editors had asked me, during the campaign, to see what could be said on the subject.

Until the morning after the election I had declined them. While Trump’s crusade had at times been malign, as had his vociferous supporters, he and they did not seem bent on genocide. He did not seem bent on anything but hideous, hurtful simple-mindedness — a childishly vindictive buffoon trailing racist followers whose existence he had main-streamed. When I say followers I’m thinking about the perpetrators of violence against women outlined by New York Magazine who punched women in the face and shouted racist slurs at them. Those supporters. These are the people Trump has dragged into the mainstream, and as my friend Michael Hirschorn pointed out, their hatefulness will no longer find the Obama Justice Department standing in their way.

Bad enough, but genocide is almost by definition beyond comparison with normal politics and everyday thuggish behaviour, and to compare Trump’s feckless racism and compulsive lying was inevitably to trivialize Hitler’s crime and the victims of genocide — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surge after Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’

Sales of George Orwell’s dystopian drama 1984 have soared after Kellyanne Conway, adviser to the reality-TV-star-turned-president, Donald Trump, used the phrase alternative facts in an interview. As of Tuesday, the book was the sixth best-selling book on Amazon.

Comparisons were made with the term newspeak used in the 1949 novel, which was used to signal a fictional language that aims at eliminating personal thought and also doublethink. In the book Orwell writes that it means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.

The connection was initially made on CNN’s Reliable Sources. Alternative facts is a George Orwell phrase, said Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty.

Conway’s use of the term was in reference to White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s comments about last week’s inauguration attracting the largest audience ever. Her interview was widely criticized and she was sub-tweeted by Merriam-Webster dictionary with a definition of the word fact. On last night’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, the host joked: Kellyanne Conway is like someone trying to do a Jedi mind trick after only a week of Jedi training.

In 1984, a superstate wields extreme control over the people and persecutes any form of independent thought — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

Voting Should Be Mandatory

When you survey the wreckage of 2016, it’s easy to forget that the most seismic democratic events were brought about by minorities.

Only 37 percent of eligible Britons voted to leave the European Union. The case is even clearer in the American election, which Donald J Trump won despite having persuaded only a quarter of the American electorate to support him. Mr Trump triumphed in a low-turnout election.

As we scramble to explain the upheavals in democratic politics, we may be describing shifts that, while significant, are smaller than we think.

It’s time for democracies to adopt compulsory voting. I say this from Australia, one of about a dozen countries where people can be penalized for not voting (about a dozen more have compulsory voting on the books but don’t enforce it). We’ve done so at the federal level since 1924, following a drop in voter turnout. We’re now required by law to enrol at 18 years old (though this isn’t strictly monitored), and we’re fined if we fail to vote. Around three-quarters of Australians have consistently supported compulsory voting, and there is no meaningful movement for change.

The evidence is mixed on whether compulsory voting favours parties of the right or the left, and some studies suggest that most United States federal election results would be unchanged. But all that misses the point because it overlooks that compulsory voting changes more than the number of voters: It changes who runs for office and the policy proposals they support — redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

NSW Premier Mike Baird announces retirement

NSW Premier Mike Baird has announced his retirement from politics.

In a statement on Twitter, Mr Baird said he was ready to move on from politics after 10 years in public life.

As I have reflected on the approaching halfway mark of our current term of government, and the opportunity it presents to refresh the Cabinet team, I have decided that this is the perfect time for me to hand the reins over to a new Premier, it read.

Serving as Premier of NSW has been a tremendous honour, but I have made clear from the beginning that I was in politics to make a difference, and then move on.

After 10 years in public life, this moment for me has arrived.

Mr Baird has been Premier of NSW since April 2014, taking over after Barry O’Farrell’s resignation — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

Catch the Fire ministries stripped of charitable status after raising funds for Rise Up Australia party

Controversial Melbourne evangelical church Catch the Fire, which solicits donations for the Rise Up Australia Party, has had its charitable status revoked by authorities.

The ministries, based in the south-eastern suburbs, have been run by Sri Lankan-born pastor Daniel Nalliah since the late 1990s.

Mr Nalliah launched the Rise up Australia party in 2013 on an anti-Islam, anti-multiculturalism platform and fielded candidates at last year’s federal election.

He openly preaches his political message from the pulpit and collects donations for the party at church services.

As a registered charity, Catch the Fire had access to Commonwealth tax concessions including GST waivers, income tax exemptions and fringe benefit tax rebates.

But the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) has now revoked its charitable status. Charities are not allowed to promote or fund political candidates — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

President Trump: The Inauguration

After a long absence, The Twilight Zone returns with one of the most ambitious, expensive and controversial productions in broadcast history. Sci-fi writers have dabbled often with alternative history stories – among the most common is the What If The Nazis Had Won The Second World War setting — but this huge interactive virtual reality project, which will unfold on TV, in the press, and on Twitter over the next four years, sets out to build an ongoing alternative present. The story begins in a nightmarish version of 2017 in which huge sections of the US electorate have somehow been duped into voting to make Donald Trump president. It sounds far-fetched, and it is, but as it goes on it becomes more and more chillingly plausible. Today’s feature-length opener concentrates on the gaudy inauguration of President Trump, and the stirrings of protest and despair surrounding the ceremony, while pundits speculate gravely on what lies ahead. It’s a flawed piece, but a disturbing glimpse of the horrors we could stumble into, if we’re not careful — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

You want to stop people from turning to divisive figures who peddle hatred? Ensure they have a decent standard of living, writes former treasurer Wayne Swan.

Far from history being over, it seems like the battle of ideas has only just begun. The election of Donald Trump, the UK’s exit from the European Union and the rise of nationalist parties such as the National Front in France, the AFD in Germany and of course, One Nation and their fellow-travellers in the Liberal and National parties in Australia have completely shattered the notion that support for trickle-down economics, particularly labour market deregulation and discriminatory trade agreements, is settled in Western democracy. Indeed, recent events suggest that a majority of voters have been stewing in ominous silence for the past two decades as their countries were transformed without their consent.

But while Brexit and Trump provide a stinging rebuke to major parties that cling to the trickle-down agenda in the US and the UK, the Australian experience has, so far at least, been more inclusive. While Australia can learn a number of lessons from what is happening overseas, our closest allies can learn some important lessons from us as well.

The first lesson is that rising inequality is the major threat to economic growth in developed countries. Unless economic policy is aimed at securing inclusive growth that delivers benefits to those outside the 1% it is now clear that a majority of voters will block that reform. The thing that now scares the working class the most is a bigger dose of free-market capitalism.

The second lesson for all politicians is that voters no longer fear the wrath of the markets if they refuse to swallow the bitter pill of trickle-down tax and trade policies. The idea that the cure for unemployment, poverty and regional decline is another dose of trade agreements and tax cuts is dead. Working-class voters now fear the medicine of neoliberal reform more than they fear the problem of slow growth — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

While politicians debated a points-based system for immigrants in the early 1970s, Scarfolk went a step further and introduced a similar system for existing citizens.

The council didn’t see why it should be burdened with unimportant, objectionable people.

Surprisingly, many citizens had never even entertained the idea that their country of birth was purely accidental and that their value to society might be lower than that of a pack of disposable nappies or a plate of tripe*, nevermind better educated, more civilised foreigners.

Between 1972 and 1976 thousands of British citizens were deported to an immense raft which floated five miles off the coast of Blackpool. Realising that they were now the foreigners they had previously denigrated, the deportees hurled racist abuse at themselves and each other and frequently got into fights.

* see Citizen Values for further details — via Scarfolk Council

Politics, Technology

#CensusFail is a failure to listen to ‘experts’ and it’s complicated…

Australia just had a massive jump in IT jargon, well, sort of LOL! DDoS is now a thing you hear punters inserting into a conversation, so are servers, hacks, VPN’s and more. The problem is, most don’t actually really understand what the hell they are saying. As is often the case when it comes to the technical, a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.

But you know what, you don’t need to understand it all.

Yes, we are in a so-called Digital era, but the point is, do you know exactly how your car works, all the intimate details of how it is built, what is used, all the safety parameters, engineering, designing etc? In general the answer would be No. It is a tool. You know how to drive it, not the ducks nuts about how it is put together and all the moving parts. You do know you need to lock it so it won’t get stolen, you know there are certain laws to abide by so you don’t endanger yourself and others, but the actual chunk of steel that propels you – sometimes at great speed – down the road is beyond your knowledge and to be perfectly frank, we don’t need to know — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics, Technology

Census 2016: no sign of any DDoS attack

While the head of the Australian Bureau of Statistics David Kalisch is claiming that hackers forced the closure of the organisation’s website on census night, there is no evidence to show that any such attack occurred.

The website digitalattackmap.com tracks events of this nature but as security pro Matthew Hackling posted last night, the site detected no unusual activity in Australia at all.

Hackling commented in a tweet: Hmmm. Nothing unusual DDoS wise for Australia and yesterday #censusfail — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

I’m With The Banned — Welcome to the Scream Room

Milo Yiannopoulos is a charming devil and one of the worst people I know. I have seen the death of political discourse reflected in his designer sunglasses. It chills me. We met four years ago, before he was the self-styled most fabulous supervillain on the internet, when he was just another floppy-haired right-wing pundit and we were guests on opposing sides of a panel show whose topic I don’t remember and can’t be bothered to look up. Afterwards we got hammered in the green room and ran around the BBC talking about boys. It was fun.

Since that day, there is absolutely nothing I have been able to say to Milo to persuade him that we are not friends. The more famous he gets off the back of extravagantly abusing women and minorities, the more I tell him I hate him and everything he stands for, the more he laughs and asks when we’re drinking. I’m a radical queer feminist leftist writer burdened with actual principles. He thinks that’s funny and invites me to his parties — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

Greyhound racing to be banned in New South Wales, Baird Government announces

Greyhound racing will be banned in New South Wales from 1 July next year, with Premier Mike Baird saying the cannot be tolerated. Key points:

NSW becomes first state in Australia to ban greyhound racing Mike Baird says the Government was left with no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down Detailed plans for the shutdown will be developed with industry consultation

It comes after a special commission of inquiry found overwhelming evidence of animal cruelty, including mass greyhound killings and live baiting.

In announcing his reasons for the ban, Mr Baird said the inquiry found:

Between 48,000–68,000 dogs were killed in past 12 years in NSW because they were too slow or otherwise unsuitable for racing Live baiting is widespread, with about 10–20 per cent of trainers engaged in the practice Greyhound Racing NSW had a policy of deliberately misreporting the number of dog deaths and injuries The industry is not capable of reforming over the short or medium term

Mr Baird said the Government had received the report of the commission, conducted by former High Court judge Michael McHugh, and the findings were damning — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics

Old People Don’t Care About Climate Change / Funny Or Die

Screw it. They don’t care about climate change — why should you? Hear from professional old people who certainly won’t be alive long enough to see the effects of climate change continue to plague our planet. The esteemed bearers of bad news featured in this video include film and comedy legends Cloris Leachman, Ed Asner, M Emmet Walsh, Michael Lerner and Bill Cobbs. They all think you are terrible — via Youtube

Business, Politics

False Balance: ABC Directed Journalist To Target Labor NBN Plan For ‘Insurance’ Against Coalition Attacks

In the lead up to the 2013 federal election, amid a fierce political debate between the major parties over the roll out of the National Broadband Network, an ABC editor-journalist was directed by his boss to find any story he could that was critical of the Labor Party’s NBN Plan in order to provide insurance against attacks on the ABC by the Coalition.

The explosive revelations are contained in a secretly-made recording of a meeting between Nick Ross, the ABC’s former Games and Technology Editor, and Bruce Belsham, the Head of ABC’s Current Affairs division.

Ross has been the subject of growing media interest over the past week, following his resignation from the ABC on January 14. It came amid long-running speculation that Ross had been ‘gagged’ by the national broadcaster from reporting on the NBN.

That claim — that Ross was gagged — continues to be strongly denied by the ABC — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Business, Politics, Rights, Technology

61 agencies after warrantless access to Australian telecommunications metadata

The names of 57 agencies that are seeking to gain access to telecommunications metadata stored on Australian residents without a warrant have been released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The names of four agencies have been redacted, with the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) previously saying that disclosing the names of these agencies would be contrary to the public interest.

The FOI request originally asked for correspondence from organisations seeking to gain access to stored telecommunications metadata. The department denied this request on practical grounds, stating that 2,661 pages spread across 288 documents were related to such a request, and that 45 third parties needed to be consulted before the information could be released.

Eventually, the request was narrowed down to merely a list of agencies looking to be declared as an enforcement agency as defined under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act.

Agencies objected to disclosure on the basis that it would compromise the trust they place in the Commonwealth, AGD said last week. During consultation, these four agencies clearly indicated that disclosure of this information would damage the relationship between the department and the relevant agencies, and could affect any future cooperation with the department
— via redwolf.newsvine.com

Labor’s Tim Watts Smokes Anti-Muslim MPs For ‘Hijacking National Security Debate’

Malcolm Turnbull has dialled down the terror-scare rhetoric since taking the reins from Tony Abbott — and some in his party are not liking it one bit.

A number of MPs have been speaking out with cabinet member Josh Frydenberg and the member for Canning Andrew Hastie leading the charge this weekend, doing their bit for social cohesion by arguing there is an intrinsic link between terror and Islam.

In an interview with Murdoch tabloid the Herald Sun Hastie said modern Islam needs to cohere with the Australian way of life, our values and institutions. In so far as it doesn’t, it needs reform, in an article title ‘Islam must change: War hero MP Andrew Hastie leads radical push’.

Frydenberg reiterated criticisms Australia’s Grand Mufti, while MP Michael Sukkar said Islam had not reformed as Christianity had.

George Christensen, the Nationals MP who appeared at a Reclaim Australia rally earlier this year, moved a motion in Parliament today which, among other things, calls for continued action in countering violent extremism and in particular, radical Islam within Australia in order to prevent further acts of terrorism within our borders.

Somewhere along the way Labor MP Tim Watts — who has previously taken aim at the Reclaim Australia movement — decided enough was enough.

In four minutes and 58 seconds flat the Member for Gellibrand shredded the dissenting Coalition MPs in Parliament — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Business, Politics, Rights, Technology

TPP: ISPs will hand over copyright infringer details

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) member states will force internet service providers (ISPs) to give up identification details of alleged copyright infringers so that rights holders can protect and enforce their copyright through criminal and civil means with few limitations, according to the full text of the agreement.

The TPP, the full text of which has been published on the website for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade a month after reaching agreement, will regulate trade between Australia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Brunei, and Chile.

Section J of the Intellectual Property chapter [PDF] covers ISPs, with Article 18.82(7) stating that member states must enable copyright holders to access the details of alleged copyright infringers through ISPs.

Each party shall provide procedures, whether judicial or administrative, in accordance with that party’s legal system, and consistent with principles of due process and privacy, that enable a copyright owner that has made a legally sufficient claim of copyright infringement to obtain expeditiously from an internet service provider information in the provider’s possession identifying the alleged infringer, in cases in which that information is sought for the purpose of protecting or enforcing that copyright, the text says.

The full text of the intellectual property chapter ties in with leaks last month from WikiLeaks revealing that ISPs would be forced to give up copyright infringer details — via redwolf.newsvine.com

Politics, Rights, Technology

CISA blowup: Web giants sharing private info isn’t about security

There were sharp words on the floor of the US Senate on Wednesday as lawmakers debated the controversial Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) and its amendments.

The bill, proposed by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), would allow internet giants and other companies to share people’s personal information with the US government so it can be analyzed for signs of lawbreaking – be it computer related or not.

In return, the companies would get legal immunity from angry customers, although legal action is unlikely because the businesses and the government don’t have to reveal what they have shared, even with a freedom of information request.

The proposed legislation has been criticized by internet rights groups, and also by technology firms. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others published an open letter calling for the legislation to be rewritten, and since then Apple, Salesforce.com, Yelp, and Wikipedia have joined them in opposing the draft law.

Feinstein said organizations won’t be forced to reveal citizens’ private lives to Uncle Sam: it won’t be mandatory for businesses to hand over people’s private records, she claimed.

If you don’t like the bill, you don’t have to do it, Feinstein said.

So it’s hard for me to understand why we have companies like Apple and Google and Microsoft and others saying they can’t support the bill at this time. You have no reason, because you don’t have to do anything, but there are companies by the hundreds if not thousands that want to participate in this.

Her colleague Burr said on the floor that he couldn’t understand the opposition to CISA. Businesses against the new law will put their users at risk, he said, because by not sharing people’s personal information, they will not be given intelligence and heads up on attacks from the Feds.

When the companies who are against this get hacked, they are going to be begging to cooperate with the federal government, he opined — via redwolf.newsvine.com