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Thread: Internet Freedom/Filtering

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Mission Accomplished -- George Bush, 2003.

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Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2014 23:37:33 +1100

Once again, dear reader your humble blogger ventures from the safety and relative certainty of technical topics into the murky foetid waters of politics ... It seems that the Australian Government has decided to promote "Terrorism" to priority zero ... And your humble blogger has been almost over-whelmed by the magnitude of the media coverage devoted to this threat which according to our leaders is elevated though not imminent.

Despite the wide-spread fear and consternation, many of the leading lights in Her Majesty's Australian Government are out there "rooting for Team Australia" ... And your humble blogger hopes that the public panic is assuaged by the contribution of Her Majesty's Opposition, who are also doing their bit, lending bipartisan support to measures that significantly increase the powers of security organisations to detain (without due-process), interrogate and surveil citizens and at the same time increase the penalties for revealing any details of those activities.

First, your humble blogger must state, at the outset, that he does not wish to challenge the right of secret federal apparatus to detain (without due process), interrogate and/or engage in cyber espionage against their own citizens ... After all, any (so-called) citizens subject to such treatment must have done something to justify the attention and probably richly deserve the consequences ... And dear reader, your blogger must discreetly recommend that you avoid engaging in suspicious activity ... Such as searching for online copies of the Holy Koran, using your new Windows 8 surface tablet [**] to surf Islamist web sites or to make derogatory comments about the Prime Minister or any member of cabinet in email exchanges ... And further more your blogger might suggest that you avoid thinking thoughts that might lead to any of the above activities ... After all, it may not be long before we give serious consideration to the serious offence of "Thought Crime", which is after all, the root cause of all crime ... And given their performance so far, Her Majesty's loyal opposition just might lend pusillanimous bi-partisan support to any counter-measures deemed necessary for stamping out "Thought Crime".

Nevertheless, having put that on the table dear reader, your humble blogger, with great trepidation, must confess that if there were a law against "thought crime", your own blogger might be on the verge of transgressing it. The thought has indeed occurred to your blogger that perhaps the security apparatus already have sufficient powers. Since the 2001 attack on New York, Australian security agencies have been given increased powers of detention and surveillance to an extent not seen since the last World War. And it also occurs to your blogger that if the Federal Police had access to laws that prevented journalists from publicising their activities ... Then, Muhamed Haneef, an Indian doctor who was accused of aiding Terrorists in 2005, but was in fact, despite his suspicious sounding first name, innocent, might still be in gaol. Because the Feds at the time made it quite clear that they wanted to shut-down any media exploration of their activities. And since they had no such power, it was the harsh spotlight of public scrutiny on Haneef's extraordinary detention that probably contributed to his release, and helped prevent a serious miscarriage of justice.

Now your blogger humbly appreciates that you, dear reader, might be in a virtual fug of fear, uncertainty and doubt ... And you are feeling "alert" and "alarmed" at the prospect of of being be-headed by a raving, murderous Islamic fanatic ... And your blogger would seek to allay your fears ...

Your blogger must admit that his current alert level is bemused not hysterical though bordering on nonplussed concerning the threat ... In an effort to gauge what does threaten us, your blogger has turned to the Australian Bureau of Statistics to find out what actually does place citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia in mortal danger. A summary is presented below:

Cancer 181.3
Heart & Cerebrovascular 136.7
Suicide 9.6
Drug induced 6.6
Motor Vehicles 6.6
Be-heading By Islamic Fascists 0.0

    Figure 1. Death Rates Summarised (per 1,000)

Unfortunately, the ABS is a little behind in the task of compiling their statistics. They also publish their results as separate rates for males and females. The above result shows a figure consolidated by your humble blogger, who remains grateful to the Abbot regime for allowing the ABS to continue their work, and to make it available to the general public ... For the time being ...

Death rate statistics have remained remarkably stable in Australian so the above table is relevant even though the raw data is a couple of years out of date. Although, for statistics wonks, there were some striking differences for males and females in some areas (esp suicide and motor vehicles). There were also several "newsworthy" causes of death such as Perinatal related (an annual nationwide total of about 2,500), Snake bite, insect & jellyfish sting, (Annual total of about 10 -- Most often bee sting) Shark and crocodile attack (Annual total was single digit) ... Although often reported in very large font headlines (esp in the NT News) which are all so insignificant (when converted to death rates) as to not warrant a mention in the above table ...

The above table only shows significant causes of death ... Those with a rate greater than 0.1 ... With one singular exception ... You may observe dear reader, that your humble blogger has included an item for "Terrorism" in the above table ... An item for which the death rate is indeed zero. The reason for including this vanishingly small item is that it seems to have been given such prominence by our political class and their willing and servile collaborators in some parts of the Media.

Despite the considerable concern about the threat from terrorism, the total deaths (actually on Australian soil) currently stands at two ... These were two unfortunate citizens who were not be-headed but killed by a bomb explosion outside the Hilton in 1978. Your humble blogger can state with considerable confidence that if you are an Australian civilian, and unless you are currently in Syria or Iraq, the mortal threat of terrorism, expressed as a probability, is what most statisticians would refer to as "infinitesimally" or "vanishingly" small ... Not zero ... But about the same as your chance of being struck by lightning whilst on your way to the bank in order to deposit the cheque for your division one Tattslotto winnings ... And nothing that should keep you awake at night, dear reader.

Based on this statistical evidence, it is possible to compile a list of actual threats:

  1. Tobacco and Sugar Industries. Undoubtedly the biggest threat to Australians and responsible for millions of deaths each year.
  2. The Alcohol Industry (mainly for health consequences -- but see item 4 below).
  3. Break-down in social cohesion and lack of effective support networks for mental illness and depression.
  4. Negligent and/or reckless driving (see also item 2 above).
  5. Criminal organisations / drug cartels and corruption.
  6. Islamic Jihaddi Terrorists.

Now your blogger must admit that he has omitted the Fossil Fuel Industry from the list ... And if you are capable of a dispassionate consideration of the overall threat due to the potential harm that could be caused by Climate Change, then dear reader, you might consider that the Fossil Fuel Industry should be put at position zero ... Even above the very lethal Tobacco and Sugar Industries.

How is it dear reader, that our current government has turned this list exactly upside-down? Placing ISIL at priority zero and Fossil Fuel at position 99? In fact our prime minister recently stated that Coal is a true Friend Of Humanity ... And if we thought it would not be possible to cuddle up any closer to the Fossil Fuel Industry, our political masters have taken it a step further, declaring that the Renewable Energy Target should be reduced ... The rationale being that it was a fixed target that was originally supposed to be 20% of total energy demand ... And since total demand has fallen, if it continued on as a fixed target, the proportion of renewable energy might become more than 20% ... Disturbing the poor little possums in the Fossil Fuel Industry and jeopardising their livelihood and profits.

Well dear reader, in all humility, if your blogger can speak on behalf of other humans, about these good Friends ... Then your blogger would opine: With Friends like this ... Who needs enemies? ... It does seem to be true that the Fossil Fuel Industry is the best friend of the Abbott government who have shown a remarkable degree of support for that one section of the economy in preference to others ...

A virtual conga line of government ministers and back-benchers has queued up to TV cameras to lend support to the prime minister ... And to keep our attention focussed on maintaining public awareness of the threat from evil death cults and dickheads which remains elevated though not imminent ... And in order to assist the security authorities in their efforts, new laws have been passed that provide severe penalties against anyone who reveals information about "Special Intelligence Operations" ... The classification of "Special" will be left up to the agency conducting them.

Belatedly, the opposition has had second thoughts about legislation which they helped pass through The Senate. The government in the meantime has proposed to pass more legislation to mandate that ISPs retain metadata to assist security organisations in surveillance ... The one remaining thing to be clarified is ... What exactly is metadata? Nobody in the government is very clear about this ... With the possible exception of Malcolm Turnbull, who is not exactly clear about who might have access to said metadata and for what purpose(s) ... Obviously we won't hear any more about this, if it proceeds, because any information about it will be prohibited by the unreasonably restrictive measures in the legislation already passed.

It seems dear reader, our government proposes to defend our rights and freedoms by ... Extinguishing many of our rights and freedoms. It remains to be seen whether Her Majesty's Opposition will continue to support these laws and the extraordinary powers granted to federal agencies.

For the time being dear reader, it seems your own government can be added to the list of imminent threats ...

Could this threat inversion be due to a difference of political outlook or could it be, as some cynics have suggested, a mere distraction to draw attention away from the unpopularity of the last federal budget and the lack of support for many of its measures amongst voters and in The Senate?

Particularly unpopular were the proposals to deregulate University fees and charge commercial interest rates on HECS loans ... This included with the extraordinary rise in the price of housing and the proposal to deny Social Security to people under 25 who have just entered the job market constitutes disenfranchisement and discrimination against young Australians ...

And in this regard the government may have miscalculated ... Since many young Australians can vote ... In fact in Australia it is compulsory that they vote ... And some of them may have parents who will also be voting at the next election.


** Yes, your humble blogger was indulging in a little sarcasm at Microsoft's expense, when he suggested that you, dear reader, might spend your hard-earned dollars on a Windows tablet ... He realises that you are much more likely to surf Islamist web sites with your Apple mobile device ... Sadly, almost everything else above is almost entirely sarcasm-free ...

Update: Since this was written the Lindt Cafe Siege has resulted in tragic consequences for two of the hostages. This event was widely puplicised and has been cited by some as a "terrorist attack" In fact it would be difficult for any terrorist group such as ISIL to claim the gunman Man Haron Monis as one of their own, even if they wanted to. The gunman's demands were inconsistent and incoherent and the incident probably had more in common with random acts of violence such as the Hoddle Street masacre or the Port Arthur masacre than with an organised political terror group.

It may be that the incident had more to do with mental illness and/or depression than it did with a political philosophy. However the gunman took his motives (if he had any) to his grave. So we will never know for sure.

Neverthess some political figures and some media commentators proclain that the incident demonstrates the need for increased surveillance and monitoring of Australians in order to anticipate and prevent further attacks. Nothing could be further from the truth. These types of crimes have been notoriously difficult to anticipate, especially in the United states and other countries where it is easier to obtain firearms.


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