ABC censored comment on Windschuttle
Wednesday August 09th 2006, 5:05 pm

ABC burning from the inside outJournalistic independence has never been under greater pressure at the ABC.

From the 8 August 2006 Crikey newsletter:

How I was censored by the ABC, by Bob Weis

According to The Age, Melbourne radio station ABC 774 has censored criticism of controversial ABC board member Keith Windschuttle. During an interview with Helen Razer on the Sunday Arts program, film director Bob Weis, talking about his documentary Women of the Sun 25 Years Later, was cut off before he could say: “That while David Irving the Holocaust denier sits in prison, the Australian Government put our chief Holocaust denier on the board of the ABC.” Razer hit the dump button, saying on air: “I can’t possibly let you say that”. It’s alleged by Weis that Razer then said, off air, “I will lose my job”.


‘My children died so that John Howard could win an election’
Tuesday August 08th 2006, 2:00 pm

pull the other one, Mandy

After months of captivity in DIMIA immigration detention on Christmas Island and Nauru, a group of Hazara asylum seekers, including young children, were forcibly repatriated to Afghanistan. Nine of them are reported to have been murdered, just as they had predicted they would be if returned to Afghanistan.

The SMH reports:

In one harrowing account, a Hazara Afghan deported after 16 months on Christmas Island and Nauru – despite his pleas that he and his family would be killed – lost his two children, aged six and nine. A grenade was dropped on their house four months after they returned to Afghanistan.

My children died so that John Howard could win an election,” Abdul is quoted as telling the Edmund Rice Centre, which has spent the past three years interviewing more than 80 rejected asylum seekers in 18 countries. It has released its findings to coincide with the Government’s migration bill, which has divided the Coalition. The bill would ensure all asylum seekers landing on the mainland were processed offshore, out of reach of Australia’s legal system.

Abdul, 31, whose surname cannot be released because he fears for his safety, now lives illegally in Pakistan. He told the researchers: “We got caught up in Australian politics. It was easy for the Australian Government after September 11 to say that the people fleeing from the Taliban were the Taliban.”

All that aside, the deaths of innocent children, despite being directly attributable to the Howard Government’s xenophobic policies on asylum seekers, won’t be near enough to see Amanda Vanstone or John Howard resign.

Before any Howard government minister is held to account, we may have to wait until they are caught on video killing a few babies with their own bare hands.


Wrong fibre, Sol
Monday August 07th 2006, 9:17 pm

a nod and a wink to Daily Flute

Sol Trujillo is blaming ‘government regulations’ for pulling Telstra out of a $4 billion fibre-optic backbone network for Australia. In fact, what Trujillo wants is to prevent competitors using the Telstra network or make access cost prohibitive for them. Trujillo’s position is not unlike those of the US telcos currently embroiled in the network neutrality debate, where telcos want to provide tiered-speed access to those who can pay more. (ABC Radio National PM Audio: MP3, 4:45)

For once, I’m on Helen Coonan’s side. Coonan wants any new Telstra network to be available to all competitors at the same wholesale rates. All networks should pass all traffic from all other networks, without preference and certainly without hindrance.

If SOMEONE started laying fibre in the ground in Australia tomorrow, it’d be 10 years before the country was cabled… and we’re already 10 years behind the US, Japan and Korea. In terms of broadband availability across the country, Australia lags well behind other, even smaller nations like Iceland and Luxembourg!

To hell with fibre; how about free community wireless broadband?

Stuff the network barons.


Video blogger jailed for refusing to reveal sources
Sunday August 06th 2006, 10:24 am

jailing journos is anti-democratic24-year-old American blogger Josh Wolf shot some video of an anti-globalism protest in the Mission District of San Francisco on 8 July 2005. Wolf posted some edited video of the protest on his website and also sold some footage to local TV stations.

On 1 July 2006, a grand jury ordered Wolf to turn over his footage to the court. See also Wolf’s own Grand Jury Resource Page. Naturally, like any good journalist, Wolf refused to turn over the video on the basis of protection of confidentiality of his news sources. Wolf was found in contempt and taken into custody and may now potentially be held in a federal prison until the term of the grand jury expires next July.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Wolf. Wolf’s mum has taken over posting updates to his website while he is incarcerated. On the upside, Wolf’s case will be heard before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has a reputation of being somewhat liberal or left-of-centre in their judgements, meaning Wolf will most likely be freed upon hearing his appeal.

There are no federal shield laws in the US protecting a journalist’s right to conceal sources, though California has a shield law. Most US courts will, on the basis of tradition, grant an exception to allow journalists and publishers to maintain the confidentiality of their sources. If the courts wish to press the point, journalists can be imprisoned, as was Judith Miller of the New York Times for her role in the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the press. Wolf is being held in contempt on a federal grand jury investigation, so the California shield law does not apply. Also, there’s no specific legal definition of a “journalist” in the US, though any person who collects information for publication in the public interest is normally considered to be a journalist.

If journalists can not protect the confidentiality of their sources, there will simply be no sources. If the Bush Administration can get away with this, when government wants to suppress bad news about themselves, all they will have to do is jail a few journos to chill public speech.

Wolf is appealing for donations for his defence, anticipating up to $US15,000 in attorney’s fees and court costs. I’ve sent Josh a small donation; won’t you?


UPDATE: See the Time Magazine article on Josh Wolf; hat tip to Kieran Bennett.

MORE: AP via Wapo; SF Chronicle; SF Guardian; SF Bay Indymedia.