Asylum for Siti Wainggai
Friday May 12th 2006, 3:13 pm

image: The AgeAmong the group of 42 Papuans recently granted asylum in Australia after landing on the Australian mainland was a 6-year-old girl, Anike Wainggai. Anike (pictured with father, Yanus Wainggai) is the daughter of Siti Wainggai.

The Indonesian government recently released a statement where it was claimed that Siti Wainggai had met SBY on 8 April to petition him for the return of her daughter from Australia. In the statement, Wainggai denied being pressured by the Indonesian government to make the demand for the child’s return:

Menanggapi isu tentang adanya tekanan terhadap Siti Pandera dari aparat untuk membawa pulang anaknya kembali ke Indonesia, Gubernur Papua menjelaskan bahwa pada hari Sabtu tanggal 8 April 2006, Siti Pandera secara langsung bertemu dengan dirinya dan menyampaikan keinginannya untuk bertemu Presiden SBY. Ibu Siti ingin mengupayakan agar anaknya Anike dikembalikan. Saya melihat dan merasakan kalau Ibu Siti secara spontan, sebagai seorang ibu menangis, dan secara tulus tanpa paksaan dari pihak manapun minta tolong agar anaknya bisa dikembalikan, kata Sodjuangon Situmorang, yang berada di Jakarta sebenarnya untuk mengikuti Rakerbangnas. Kesan bahwa ada suatu tekanan terhadap dia tidak ada, tambahnya. Dan hal tersebut juga dibantah tegas oleh Panglima TNI dan Kapolri.

Rough machine translation from Bahasa to English by Toggletext/Kataku:

Responded to rumours about the existence of the pressure against Siti Pandera from apparatus to bring came home his child returned to Indonesia, Governor Papua explained that on the Saturday on April 8 2006, Siti Pandera directly met itself and sent his wish to meet President SBY. Ms Siti wanted to make sure his child of Anike was returned. I saw and felt if Ms Siti spontaneously, as a mother cried, and sincerely without the force from any side asked for help so that his child could be returned, said Sodjuangon Situmorang, that was in Jakarta in fact to follow Rakerbangnas.The impression that there is a pressure against him was not available, he added. And this matter was also denied firm by the TNI Commander and Chief Police of Republic of Indonesia.

Of course, I have complete faith in ‘firm denials’ of coercion from those good old blokes, the commander of the TNI and the Chief of Police of Indonesia– don’t you?

Siti Wainggai has suddenly turned up in Papua New Guinea, having fled West Papua by boat. Wainggai has gone on record with the ABC indicating that she not only was pressured to make the statement demanding the return of her daughter to West Papua, but was threatened with death if she did not do so. No wonder she was in tears when she met SBY. Fearing for her life, Siti Wainggai remains in hiding in PNG.

Dear Ministers Vanstone and Downer- now would be a very good time to dispatch a few folks and an airplane to go collect Siti Wainggai… before the TNI does.


Bribing the right people
Wednesday May 10th 2006, 8:31 am

image: Alan Moir for the Sydney Morning Herald

Alan Moir nails it in one (again)… but is $37 billion in tax givebacks to the rich over 4 years enough to buy back public confidence after AWB propped up Saddam Hussein with $280 million in bribes, with the full knowledge of Australian government? Given recent experience with Howard’s bribery of the electorate- yes, it’ll probably be plenty.

But why on earth is there a $15 billion budget surplus? Costello got one part right; if Australia is running that level of budgetary surplus, taxes are far, far too high… or we’re not spending the largesse where it’s most desperately needed. The fact that Aborigines have a 20 year shorter lifespan than the rest of us makes that much bloody obvious.


Network Neutrality: Big service providers seek to control the Net
Saturday May 06th 2006, 10:37 am

The internet is the largest functional anarchic organisation ever devised. No single entity owns the Net nor can dictate what content can be passed through it. Few (if any) laws in any country dictate the variety of uses of the Net.

The ‘First Amendment’ of the Net is the concept of ‘network neutrality.’ Network neutrality is the voluntary, but core guiding principle of the Net, meaning that the operators of network segments must not discriminate against the type or use of data packets which pass through the network. So far, the voluntary system of neutrality has been honored by the majority of network providers around the world. The net functions because all carriers agree to pass all packets from all other carriers.

American internet service and hosting providers- mainly large telephone companies- are now attempting to assert legal control over traffic on the Net to their advantage. The fatcats’ idea is to slow or completely block data which does not benefit their business models.

Without network neutrality, VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services (i.e. Skype) will be blocked by those telcos which want to sell their own VOIP services or which which wish to protect their own wireline voice services from competition. Carriers can also block content with which they don’t agree. In example, Telus, a Canadian service provider, recently blocked traffic to the Canadian Telecommunications Workers’ Union‘s website while a labor dispute was in progress. A North Carolina ISP, Madison River Communications, blocked VOIP packets from Vonage.

Bloggers would be among the most adversely affected by revokation of neutrality in network services, particularly if the carrier disagrees with the content a blogger has published. Innovation in new kinds of applications which employ the net would be crushed if neutrality is not enforced.

I’m generally opposed to regulating the Net in any way. However, if massive corporations insist upon implementing plans for unfair control of network traffic, the time for laws prohibiting them from doing so is right now.


Arrest King George NOW.
Friday May 05th 2006, 10:14 am

We didn't elect you- and we never voted for a king!It’s probably not news, but Shrubya has now formally declared himself to be above the law:

Bush challenges hundreds of laws
President cites powers of his office

By Charlie Savage, Boston Globe Staff
April 30, 2006

— President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with his interpretation of the Constitution.

A few examples:

March 9, 2006: Justice Department officials must give reports to Congress by certain dates on how the FBI is using the USA Patriot Act to search homes and secretly seize papers.

Bush’s signing statement: The president can order Justice Department officials to withhold any information from Congress if he decides it could impair national security or executive branch operations.

Dec. 30, 2005: US interrogators cannot torture prisoners or otherwise subject them to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Bush’s signing statement: The president, as commander in chief, can waive the torture ban if he decides that harsh interrogation techniques will assist in preventing terrorist attacks.

Dec. 30, 2005: When requested, scientific information ”prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted [to Congress] uncensored and without delay.”

Bush’s signing statement: The president can tell researchers to withhold any information from Congress if he decides its disclosure could impair foreign relations, national security, or the workings of the executive branch.

The United States was formed on a basis of checks and balances on the Executive Branch- with no exceptions for times of war. The framers of the US Constitution had learned quite a few lessons… from another King George.

King Shrubya must be stopped from his war on the US Constitution. Impeach Bush and Cheney NOW.


Young juice bar worker wins back pay and penalty rates
Tuesday May 02nd 2006, 8:35 am

image:’ll recall that 16-year-old Amber Oswald was sacked from her job and ‘rehired’ the same day on an AWA, at a lower pay rate and with penalty rates abolished, when the juice stand she works for was sold. The new owners tried to invoke the worst-case scenario of the new WorkChoices industrial relations laws on all their newly inherited employees.

In the AWA that was presented to Ms. Oswald by Cherilyn Coad (d/b/a Pow Juice Pty Ltd), the new owner of the Pulp Juice bars, Ms. Oswald’s pay was cut from $9.52/hr to $8.57/hr and weekend and public holiday penalty rates were abolished. This reduced her pay by $5.70 an hour on Sundays and by as much as $11.25 an hour on public holidays.

Last Sunday afternoon, I spoke at length with Amber’s dad, Phil Oswald, in the hopes he could add to the detail already published in the SMH’s followup– and boy, did he ever add detail.

According to Mr Oswald, the AWA which Amber was asked to sign contained a clause enjoining employees from engaging in ‘conduct which reduces the profitability of the company,’ effectively giving the company the lawful ability to sack employees for blowing the whistle- or asking for a raise.

Amber refused to sign the AWA. Her refusal to sign is just about all that saved her from loss of pay and conditions compared to the award, if the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) ruling is to be believed. Ms. Oswald was actually told by her boss that if she didn’t sign, she would not be paid at all.

What the juice bar was counting on was unquestioning cooperation from workers in giving away their pay and penalty rates. Much to her credit, Amber didn’t take it lying down- she took it to a hearing before the AIRC.

Pulp Juice ‘consultant’ Andre “It’s not about what’s fair, it’s [about] what’s right – right for the company” Dowling and legal representative Ben Thompson from Enterprise Initiatives (aka EI Legal, the firm responsible for drafting the new Pow Juice AWA) had agreed to appear before the AIRC on behalf of Pow Juice, the company which bought the juice bars from Pulp Juice. However, on the day of the hearing, Dowling failed to appear and Thompson claimed to be unprepared to argue the matter. (more…)