“ASD goes rogue with Aussie metadata” [#geekgirl]
As reported by The Delimiter: “Australia’s peak electronic intelligence agency offered to share detailed information collected about ordinary Australian citizens with its major intelligence partners, the Guardian reported this morning, in moves that at least one high-profile lawyer says may have breached Australian law.
The accusations reportedly date back to a meeting held between the then-Defence Signals Directorate (now the Australian Signals Directorate) in 2008 in the UK. Also reportedly attending the meeting were Australia’s main intelligence partners the US Britain, Canada and New Zealand. At the meeting, according to notes released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the DSD offered to share extensive data about Australian citizens.
QC and human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has also published an opinionated article arguing that the ASD has broken the law in offering the data to Australia’s international partners.
The article has generated instant outrage in Australia’s digital rights community. Greens Senator and Communications Spokesperson Scott Ludlam held a press conference in Canberra this afternoon (YouTube video) to denounce the ASD’s actions over the issue.
“Today’s revelations about coordinated mass-surveillance of ordinary citizens will increase the pressure on the Australian Government to come to the table with transparency and reform proposals without delay,” Ludlam said in a separate statement.
“The publication of documents in which Australian spy agency DSD (now ASD) quite casually proposes to share ‘unminimised’ metadata obtained without a warrant with affiliated agencies overseas, implies that the agency may have been breaching Australian law for five years.”
“As Geoffrey Robertson QC points out, this would be in breach of sections 8 and 12 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001. The agency has the obligation to destroy ‘unintentionally’ obtained on Australians; instead, these discussions show the DSD contemplating sharing with overseas agencies and non-intelligence agencies.”
“Inequality is a political problem, not an economic one…” [#geekgirl]
Let that sink in for a second. And while it does, consider this further Walmart-related fact: one of their stores recently ran a charity drive asking customers to donate food in order to help … their store’s employees. Yes, they were begging their customers for food for their staff.
You can pretty easily see what the Pope is getting at with his recent exhortation that we do something about “the new tyranny” that is “unfettered capitalism”.
Clearly, when big, successful businesses are paying such low wages that they find it necessary to ask for donations of food from customers in order to help out their employees, we have crossed the line between good economic management and social pathology.
A society that allows a situation like this to exist is plain and simple sick, and showing the advanced signs of democratic decay.
Such decay doesn’t just happen in a vacuum: this sort of growing inequality – and it is a worldwide phenomenon in developed countries, including Australia – happens because politicians make choices. And the choices they make are what they are because those making them are more influenced by the rich and powerful than they are by the rank and file.”
Tony Abbott’s Trust Scorecard = 0 [#geekgirl] [#nosurprise]
MOST GOVERNMENTS fail to keep some commitments. Soon after their elections to office in 2007 and 2008 respectively, Australia’s PM Kevin Rudd and US President Barack Obama were confronted with the global financial crisis. Many pledges had to be set aside.
In 2010, Australia’s PM Julia Gillard and her British counterpart David Cameron found themselves leading minority governments in hung parliaments. Both were obliged to shelve key undertakings.
The Abbott Government, however, has no excuse for the multiplicity of post-election u-turns, broken promises and hypocrisies. The list is rapidly becoming longer than for any Western government in memory.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) = Nationally Sanctioned Corporate Monopoly [#geekgirl]
As the above video outlines, the hyper-secret Free Trade Agreement being currently brokered by the Trans-Pacific Partnership has nothing to do with Free Trade and is, in actuality, the inverse of it. The 12 countries involved in the TPP (which include Australia, Brunei-Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) are currently secretly negotiating to allow:
- Drug Companies to increase prices and extend the term of their patents (thereby increasing dramatically the time before generic versions of the patented pharmaceuticals can hit the market)
- Restrictions on buying local goods and services, with individual countries being denied the ability to implement systems that mandate support of locally based product(s)
- Making Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) labelling illegal
- Weakening of environmental regulations
- Severe restrictions on digital copying and electronic transfers, with significant interference with the basic functioning of the Internet
- Radical enforcement of a system that would make SOPA look weak by comparison
- Added secrecy to corporate and government alliances, including a deliberate lack of transparency regarding institutionalised information
- A substantial negative impact regarding the regulation of Financial Services
- The ruling out of Capital Controls
- Dampening of national law implementation in favour of Partnership rulings (as Yves Smith says: “The language in [the TPP Agreement]…goes something along the lines of ‘All signatories are required to make their laws and regulations conform to the standard of this agreement.’ They are literally required to make their nation-based laws subordinate to the laws of these agreements [with] liberalised capital flows and minimal restrictions…One of the things to extends…is the [idea of] special panels that companies can go to to get matters adjudicated if they believe that regulations have led them to lose profit. And it’s not even necessarily that they’ve currently lost profit, but it’s that they have potentially lost profit.“)
- The isolation of China
- Stigmatisation and removal of worker’s rights, labour agreements and employment protections/support (superannuation, pensions, retirement ages etc).
So if, like us, you’re preddy much shocked and appalled by the TPP and want to stop it dead in its tracks, watch the video below and take appropriate action.
“Because Capitalism…” [#geekgirl]
!?!? [Or, Monsanto = Pure Evil] [#geekgirl]
[From an article published by Upriser here]: “Indiana farmer must pay Monsanto $84,000 for planting second-hand seeds from crops Monsanto hold patents on. That’s right. If you plant soybeans from a soybeans you bought at a grocery store, there’s a good chance you’ll be infringing one of Monsanto’s patents – just like the Indiana farmer did – because Monsanto has a patent on over 80% of all soybeans in existence.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of biotech giant Monsanto, ordering Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman, 76, to pay Monsanto more than $84,000 for patent infringement for using second generation Monsanto seeds purchased second hand—a ruling which will have broad implications for the ownership of ‘life’ and farmers’ rights in the future.
The sources of the seeds Bowman purchased were mixed and were not labeled. However, some were patented Monsanto seeds. Now this 75 year old man has to pay Monsanto a small fortune for just doing what farmers have been doing for thousands of years – planting seeds from last years crops.”
“A former NSA chief tried to do an on-background interview on the train. Oops.” [#geekgirl]
Update: So here’s how the whole thing ended – with Matzzie and Hayden taking a selfie together.”
“Democracy Has Been Suspended…” [#geekgirl]
“What Greg Hunt *didn’t* say about the carbon price and emissions…” [#geekgirl]
[From Abc news]: “Greg Hunt says emissions went up under the carbon price from 560 to 637 million tonnes. Did they?”
[Turns out they didn't. In a separate article the Abc reports: "New federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says that under the carbon price emissions have actually increased. And in an interview with Lateline last week he quoted figures to back up the claim.
"The strange thing about the carbon tax was that emissions went up, not down, from 560 to 637 million tonnes," Mr Hunt said.
A spokesman for the minister said the numbers came from a 2012 report by the Climate Change Department. That report does contain the 637 million tonnes figure, but not in the context Mr Hunt used in the Lateline interview. The report says that under Labor's carbon pricing scheme emissions are likely to be 637 million tonnes in 2020.
It's a projection that takes the carbon price into account and predicts where our emissions will be in seven years time with a market-based carbon pricing method in place. The same report also finds that without the carbon price, emissions would be 8 per cent higher in 2020.
Mr Hunt has used modelling predicting an outcome in seven years' time to say the carbon price as it stands today is not effective. The figures are projections, not fact, and cannot be used to make a point about emissions rising over the 15 months the carbon price has been on the books....The most recent official data on emissions from the Climate Change Department is for December 2012, which covers the first six months of the carbon price.
At the end of 2012, total annual carbon emissions stood at 552 million tonnes, around the same as at the end of 2011."]
Australian Companies to Get Protection from Activists
[From The Australian] ‘CONSERVATION groups seeking boycotts of products linked to alleged poor environmental practices may soon be liable for prosecution under consumer law.
The move, which could severely hamper market-based campaigns by groups such as Markets for Change and GetUp!, is to be pursued by the Abbott government.
Parliamentary secretary for agriculture Richard Colbeck told The Australian the move would prevent green groups from holding companies to ransom in their markets.
“We’ll be looking at the way some of the environmental groups work because we are very concerned about some of the activities they conduct in the markets,” Senator Colbeck said. “They have exemptions for secondary boycott activities under the Consumer and Competition Act. We are going to have a complete review of the act.
“And one of the things I’d be looking at would be to bring a level playing field back so that environment groups are required to comply with the same requirements as business and industry.”The move has strong backing within the Liberal and Nationals parties, as well as among sections of the ALP, concerned about groups targeting the customers of timber and agricultural products in campaigns against old-growth logging and live-animal exports.”