Saturday, March 23, 2013

The internet never forgets

Back in 2010, the newsdesk at The Age received a desperate plea from a man who wanted to be forgotten. Let's call him Alan. A young and foolish businessman, he was arrested 10 years ago at Melbourne airport when a baggage check found cocaine and another banned drug.

The Age published a simple, factual story in the paper and online, reporting his arrest, his contrition and his sentence - a good-behaviour bond without conviction. Alan promised the magistrate he would mend his ways. But Google never forgets. Today, if you Google Alan's real name, his past is exposed at the top of the search results: a link to The Age's report with a damning headline.

''This story still haunts him,'' a close friend and colleague of Alan tells The Age. He is now ''a sober man who has learnt from his mistakes'' trying to get back into his former industry. But everyone Googles potential employees these days. ''It has been eight years,'' the friend said in email. ''Let's try and give him a shot …rather than have some headline cut down his chances.''

The Age declined Alan's plea, and nevertheless he found work. But he, and many others, for countless reasons, have their crimes, misdemeanours, foibles or embarrassing photos forever preserved in the eternal memory of the digital mind.

In Europe's highest court, judges are considering Spaniard Mario Costeja's attempt to stop Google turning up an online newspaper announcement that a property he owned was up for auction for failing to pay taxes. Spain now has more than 200 similar cases.

In Argentina, pop star Virginia Da Cunha filed suit against Google and Yahoo! when searches for her name turned up old, explicit photos published on sex sites. Last year there were reportedly 130 cases pending in the country, from entertainers, models and others demanding the removal of user-generated content.

And in Austria, 25-year-old Max Schrems has become famous for his war with Facebook, which he plans to take to court after he forced it to detail the incredible 1222 pages of data it held on him: pokes, likes, comments, photos, including data he had tried to delete, and data he could not normally access but was for Facebook's own use.

''I don't know that it's a new problem but the scale of the problem is vastly greater,'' says Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at the George Washington University. ''The difficulty of escaping your past is greatly magnified in an age when every word we speak and every tweet and every Facebook status update is recorded forever in the digital cloud.

''It used to be that only celebrities would have to worry about embarrassing things people wrote about them in the newspapers - now each of Facebook's 1 billion users has the same problem, without the resources to manage their reputation online.

''In the age of Google, the worst thing you've done is the first thing that people know about you.''

Michael Fertik has built a new business model on reputation management for the average Joe - he's the founder of Reputation.com. He puts the problem in even starker terms.

''Right now the basic internet [revenue] model is built on the invasion of your privacy,'' Fertik says.

''The basic internet model is: give you something free, collect your data and sell your data. Most of the big businesses on the internet [for example, Facebook, Google] are built on that model. Right now the status quo, the posture of the status quo, is the status of being dominated by people you can't identify.

''Your data is being exploited all the time by people you can't identify. And that's just backward. Now we have to rescue the truth by calling it 'the right to be forgotten', instead of saying 'the right not to be raped by people you can't identify'.''

The right to be forgotten. It's an old European idea, dating back to pre-internet days when people wanted to expunge their criminal pasts from the public record. In France it's poetically dubbed the ''droit d'oubli'', the right to oblivion.

Now the European parliament is debating legislation that updates the idea for the digital age. Under the new law, everyone would have the right to rectify and even erase personal data concerning them, if it was held or published by a commercial entity. If that right is denied, massive fines apply.

European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding says personal data has become many companies' most prized asset. ''Data is a valuable commodity - a digital currency,'' she says. ''Consumers need to be able to trust businesses with such a commodity. Right now, this is not the case. People don't always feel in full control of their personal data.

''Even tiny scraps of personal information can have a huge impact, even years after they were shared or made public. It is the individual who should be in the best position to protect the privacy of their data by choosing whether or not to provide it.''

The right isn't absolute. There is public interest in protecting the archives of a newspaper, or scientific research, for example. ''The right to be forgotten cannot amount to a right of the total erasure of history, [nor must it] take precedence over freedom of expression,'' Reding says.

But the proposal has inspired intense opposition from Silicon Valley, which has recognised the massive threat such a law poses to its revenue stream. Google's global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer has been one of the law's most scathing critics.

He argues a right to be forgotten would destroy ''databases of great value and beauty, and we will someday learn it would be a sin to obliterate them''. Botticelli burnt some of his paintings during an anti-vice purge, before he realised his tragic mistake.

''Over and over again, especially in Europe, I see 'privacy' being used as a justification to censor free speech,'' Fleischer wrote on his blog (he declined an interview with Fairfax, pointing us to his blog instead). ''I don't understand how we could protect notions of freedom of speech, and the neutrality of search engines, if people could decide themselves which terms they did not want associated with their names.''

Fleischer calls the right to be forgotten ''more pernicious than book burning''. ''[It] attempts to give to individuals the legal rights to obliterate unpalatable elements of their personal data, published in third-party sources,'' he says. ''This is a deeply pessimistic ideology, which concludes that retaining data can give rise to future risks and to future benefits, but since we don't yet know what they are, we should default to deleting the data to prevent the risks, rather than retaining them to enable the benefits.''

Rosen takes a slightly different view. He says it is fairly uncontroversial to assert a right for people to remove pictures (or other content) that they created themselves but now regret - such as the young teacher in training in the US who put a picture of herself on Myspace as a ''drunken pirate'' and lost her job.

''It becomes controversial when the content is shared by others,'' Rosen says. ''It raises serious questions of free expression. Though I sympathise intensely with the problem of digital forgetting on the internet, I do not think it's a good idea to create a broad new legal right to remove information that has been widely shared.''
Then there is a third category of information the proposed law would cover: information about you, posted by others.

''That right … would allow me to object to snarky blog posts about me written by someone else, and leave it up to a privacy commissioner to decide whether or not it's in the public interest,'' Rosen says. ''That's really where the gravest threat to free expression comes from. It sweeps so broadly, it completely challenges the idea that truthful but embarrassing information should not be able to be removed, that it's necessary for public discourse.

''And it would transform Google and Facebook into censors-in-chief. It really would transform the nature of the internet.''

Reputation.com's Fertik agrees. But, so what? In the modern world, most employers look up prospective employees online. Hell, ''every single person you date looks you up online'', he says. ''Every kind of life transaction now that we live through is based on our data, our digital footprint. And it's very easy to get the wrong impression about someone on the internet. For the first time, the data is out there, so your reputation is, correctly or incorrectly, ascertainable by everyone. Therefore we have to adapt.''

Fertik says he ''loves'' the proposed right to be forgotten. He thinks it's ''awesome''.

''I'm an American, so I usually believe in free-market solutions to problems. I do believe that we can solve things without the government. But the concept of the right to be forgotten I think is a very beautiful one.

''It's a very old idea. Ideas about the privacy of the person are as old as Magna Carta … the internet is highly invasive of this virtue and highly destructive to this virtue. I believe that if you want to live a private life then you shouldn't have to avoid the internet.''

He says it is transparent why many Silicon Valley companies such as Google and Facebook, who depend on revenue from personally targeted advertising, oppose the law.

''[They] go to Congress and go to Brussels and say, 'No, don't change the status quo, don't do anything because what will happen is something called innovation will be killed'. And 'innovation' sounds like a magical word. But in Silicon Valley, innovation is just a disguising word for revenue. That's all it means.

''For sure, Google and Facebook will suffer if there's a right to be forgotten. They're going to have to take different steps and find out different ways to do business. But they are not the internet. Other companies will thrive. There will be new entrepreneurs with new methods.''

Anna Fielder, advocate at Privacy International, which has campaigned for the right to be forgotten, says it is not just a matter of protecting unwary teenagers from future embarrassment or discrimination. We should not be distracted by potential harm, we should assert a fundamental right.

''[It] is a question of you having control over your private life,'' she says. ''I might not want to share data after a certain time with certain people, it's my right to do so. [Do] you really want a third party, that you use as a platform, to dictate to you what they keep and not keep about your private life and private thoughts?''

She finds it hard to believe Google, Facebook and the like could not adapt. ''There are so many really clever technological means of mining your data and profiling you. Why is it so difficult to create the reverse, a privacy-enhancing technology?''

Rosen says one option is ''disappearing data''. When we post something online we could choose whether it stays online a day, a year, or forever, and encryption technology can ensure it will be unreadable after that point.

Already there are apps such as Snapchat, which allow people to send instant messages that disappear forever a few minutes after they are sent (though it is hard to stop people copying this ephemeral data to prevent it from expiring).

''I think it would at least go a long way towards empowering citizens to manage their online reputation,'' Rosen says. ''Google and Facebook have chosen for financial and other reasons not to make this technology encoded into their platforms, but legal or political pressure might encourage them to do so.''

Another possibility, he says, is that people will just become more forgiving. We now barely blink when the leader of a country confesses to rampant drug use in their college years. Maybe a youthful sexting scandal will afflict some presidential candidate in 30 years' time but no one will actually care.

''I'm not sure how optimistic I am on that score,'' he admits. ''It seems to clash with what we know about human nature to assume there will be nothing scandalous and everyone will lead transparent lives and be completely forgiving.''

So it is an urgent problem, he says. ''I'm just not persuaded that broad, new and largely unenforceable legal rights are the best way to deal with it.''

theage.com.au 23 Mar 2013

Consumers warned about funeral contracts

CONSUMERS are being warned to beware of "push advertising" for pre-paid funeral arrangements on daytime television. 
 
In a statement, NSW Fair Trading commissioner Rod Stowe said daytime TV was experiencing a "renaissance" in marketing around the issue of death and dying that "could play on people's insecurities about such matters".

"People need to shop around and go for products without the pernicious aspects of escalating costs with age," Mr Stowe said on Friday.

The Fair Trading boss said consumers needed to be aware that with some products there was the potential to lose payments if a contract or a scheduled transfer was cancelled.

Mr Stowe stressed to consumers considering buying funeral products that refunds were "not generally provided if a payment is missed or the policy is cancelled".

Consumers should read the product disclosure statement (PDS) that outlines what happens if the policy is cancelled, he said.

news.com.au 22 Mar 2013

Daytime television is also inundated with commercials for life insurance.
 
Life insurance companies are 'inciting' the public, which is against the law, urgently insisting customers take out insurance with false slogans like "enough to pay the mortgage of".

Another fraudulent industry that the legal system lets slip by, to the detriment of the unsuspecting public.

Woolies' new landlord? Coles

The battle between supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths has escalated, with Coles using an elaborate tax haven structure to conceal its purchase of one of Woolies' most profitable stores.

Fairfax Media has obtained documents that reveal its arch-rival Coles is now the landlord of its supermarket in Sydney's Neutral Bay.

The move has blindsided Woolworths, which was unaware that one of its most profitable stores was bought by Coles for $40 million.

''This is a surprise, and it's not common practice by any means. I'm not going to commentate on what Coles' motivation is. That's for them to answer,'' a Woolworths' spokeswoman said after Fairfax Media informed the group.

Coles concealed its involvement in the deal by using a $10 company ultimately owned in the British Virgin Islands - a tax haven - to purchase the 4282-square metre Sydney site.

Internal Coles documents show the purchase price was $40 million, a record price for a freestanding supermarket in Sydney. Coles is believed to have paid a premium of as much as 30 per cent above its value to secure the site.

Coles confirmed it had bought the property but declined to comment on what its plans were.

The lease on the Neutral Bay location expires next year but can be renewed for 10 years. Under the terms of the lease the landlord - Coles - has the right to inspect Woolworths' sales records and the site.

Five days before the property was bought, a handful of Coles property executives were instructed to investigate whether the supermarket giant would open itself up to retaliation from Woolworths when their own property leases expired.

The analysis is believed to have flagged that 120 stores with turnover of $3 billion were potentially vulnerable. Each property was assigned a risk rating.

The supermarket giants have been locked in a vicious battle for market share since Coles was bought by listed conglomerate Wesfarmers five years ago. It has resulted in price wars including $1 a litre milk and steep discounts on bread, petrol and beer that have antagonised suppliers and resulted in an investigation by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission.

The property fight is believed to have been sparked after Woolworths bought Coles' store in Katoomba in 2000 and then turfed them out in 2012 after 30 years in the spot.

Coles was forced to spend millions of dollars building a new centre down the road in an exercise that took almost a decade to complete.

A source said: ''It was a disaster. They ended up in an inferior location with less turnover and its competitor Woolworths now in the Katoomba catchment.''

Coles retaliated in late 2011 when NSW-based company Vanbridge put the Neutral Bay property occupied by Woolworths for sale.

Records show that Vanbridge bought the Neutral Bay site in 1992 for $12.27 million and sold it almost 20 years later to Sino Ace Investment.

Sino Ace Investment is registered to Bernard Chiu, a Sydney lawyer who listed a ''palatial'' home in Sydney's lower north shore for $13 million four months after the Neutral Bay deal with Vanbridge.

The company is ultimately owned by a similarly named entity in the British Virgin Islands.

When contacted to explain his role in the transaction Mr Chiu hung up twice and said, ''Contact the vendor.'' Vanbridge did not respond to requests for comment.

theage.com.au 23 Mar 2013

In Australia, in the land of 'monopolies', and a legally accepted corporate structure, come more news of tax evasion and fraud.
 
Corruption in the ACCC leads to companies form alliances  to the detriment of the consumer.

The authorities will jump on the propaganda bandwagon, to make the uneducated masses believe that there is a 'war' on competition for your dollar.

What a farce!

Mandela fined for killing a human being


Australia (Straya) is literally touted as the ‘lucky country’, but by whose standards?

The government but of course, blowing their own trumpet!

You can be a refugee coming in to Australia with one (official) wife, then find another four more, which are recognised as single mothers, when you breed with them, thanks to laws pass by the former Prime Minister, John Howard, and live from welfare payments for the rest of your life.

Once a refugee you can obtain thousands of dollars in (startup) welfare, whilst other unemployed Aussies rot on the ‘dole’.

You can be part of the lucrative $1.2 billion dollar per month drug trade, provided you are part of the industry heavy weights, you will have police protection, corrupt lawyers support, and corrupt judges verdicts in your favour.

If you decide to take up corporate fraud, as your ‘professional’ career, the doors are wide open, and the ‘golden’ handshake is all it takes to make things happen.

You can defraud the masses of tax dollars, make $700 million+ fraudulent deals (Richard Pratt), and get fined $36m (better than tax), start up 140 companies (Henry Kukuy, aka Henry Kaye) to turn over $1 billion dollars worth of fraud netting  $250 million +, only to be given back your confiscated passport to flee to another country, and that’s if you’re not part of the ruling elite.

You think this is good? It gets better.

Imagine if you were driving and someone cut you off, or you had a disagreement with a neighbour, or whilst you were having a coffee someone winked at your partner next you, you got infuriated, not realising that the ‘perpetrator’ had a tick. What would be your ultimate response?

The obvious thing to do is to kill them.

Well this only really works if you are part of the ruling elite or the government.

Governments are literally the world’s largest genocide organisations.

If you’re part of the ruling elite, you can add a few minuscule numbers of ‘cannon fodder’, ‘peasants’, ‘herd population’ or ‘stupid man’ to the global tally.

Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie, from South Africa, was convicted in 1991 on a kidnapping and assault charges over the killing of a young activist three years earlier.

(illustration left to right :- current wife Graca Machel, Nelson Mandela, ex wife Winnie Mandela)

The jail term was reduced to a fine.

And you thought ‘Straya’ was a lucky country.

See article from adelaidenow.com.au:

Mandela's ex-wife Winnie 'shocked' at possible murder prosecution over exhumed bodies 


Kogan Mobile's acceptable-use policy 'illegal'

A prominent Australian telco lawyer has labelled as "plainly illegal" Kogan Mobile's acceptable-use policy, which the company has been using to disconnect heavy-use mobile customers.

The lawyer's comments come as Kogan said 0.2 per cent of customers had been affected by enforcement of the policy, which equates to 200 of about 100,000 customers.

Peter Moon, of Cooper Mills Lawyers, reviewed Kogan's acceptable-use policy and said it was illegal and breached both the telco regulator's Telecommunications Consumer Protections code and Australian Consumer Law in multiple ways.

Mr Moon wrote about his concerns in two blog posts at tcpcode.com.au. The posts have since been deleted however, after Mr Moon accepted a request for their removal by a lawyer acting on behalf of Kogan. Despite this, he said on Thursday that he stood by his comments.

In a critique of the policies, Mr Moon questioned the use of "unlimited" when describing Kogan mobile plans, said the acceptable-use policy was "unclear and ambiguous" and criticised the fact it stated it could be changed at any time by posting a note on Kogan's website.

"This breaches the 'unfair contract terms' rules in the Australian Consumer Law," Mr Moon said. "The days when a telco could say to residential/personal customers, 'The deal is whatever we say it is from time to time', are long over."

Another telco lawyer, who did not want to be named for conflict reasons, backed up Mr Moon's comments, agreeing that Kogan had "some work to do to bring their documents and advertising into legal compliance".
Customers Kogan has been telling to leave its network were told they were making too many calls, sending too many texts or using too much data in a certain period on its prepaid "unlimited" call/text plans with either 2GB or 6GB of data.

In recent years the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has cracked down on use of "unlimited", but said in relation to Kogan that it did not “ordinarily comment” on whether specific issues or businesses were being investigated. As recent as this month, the commission also cracked down on telcos, including Telstra and TPG, using unfair contract terms.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman said it had "received a small number of complaints" from Kogan consumers but could not give the total number until May, when it releases its quarterly statistics.
A Kogan spokesman said the company's terms and conditions, including its acceptable-use policy, were drafted and prepared by Gilbert + Tobin Lawyers, who were "widely regarded as one of the leading telecommunications law firms in Australia ... also used by Telstra".

Another part of the policy Mr Moon said breached Australian Consumer Law, as well as the telco industry's code, was Kogan claiming it could terminate any of its customers without warning.

The lawyer also labelled Kogan's Critical Information Summary as having "a long list of defects". The one-to-two page CIS is required as of March 1 under the Telecommunications Consumer Protections code to be displayed at point of sale and is meant to provide information on what is included in a plan.

Mr Moon said the Kogan CIS was severely lacking in the detail required as part of the code.

On Wednesday, Fairfax Media reported that Kogan did not have a CIS. A Kogan spokesman later contacted Fairfax to say it did have one, and referred Fairfax to the URL koganmobile.com.au/plans, which has the phrase "critical information summary" on it.

But the phrase is not displayed at kogan.com/au/mobile, which is the first URL that appears in a Google search for Kogan Mobile.

Mr Moon said that where the CIS was displayed, it failed to list the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman's contact details, as required by the code. It also did not prominently state as a single figure the total buy price of each plan, and did not list the minimum or maximum monthly charge payable under each product's offer.

Further, Mr Moon said it failed to disclose the acceptable-use policy's existence, as well as Kogan's clause that those who ran a business could not use the company's service.

Summarising, the lawyer said Kogan's CIS was "so wide of the mark" from adhering to the telco code that it was "more likely to breach the Australian Consumer Law's anti-misleading conduct requirements".
Australia's communications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, would not comment on Kogan directly, but said it had identified and written to 38 telcos who did not appear to be complying with CIS requirements.

Compliance with the requirements from the telco industry as a whole had been "less satisfactory than compliance with the earlier code rules", said ACMA consumer interests manager Alan Chalmers.

Mr Chalmers reminded telcos that they needed "to be very careful with the way they use terms such as 'unlimited' when they have acceptable-use policies where there are limits to usage".

If a telco was non-compliant with the code, ACMA could issue a formal warning, which directs it to comply with the code, he said. ACMA could also issue infringement notices or start court action.

theage.com.au 22 Mar 2013

Another business / telco committing fraud.

Will there be any jail time?

Corporate fraud is one of the better (more favoured) crimes committed in Australia (ONLY if you're part of the cronies).

Corrupt judges together with their (Masonic) legal (brethren) eagles work in conjunction to defraud the masses of their finances.

US shrugs off the war it would like to forget

WASHINGTON: The mood of Americans seems to back President Barack Obama's decision to be abroad for the 10th anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, notwithstanding that he is a guest of one of the most vocal supporters of yet another Middle East war – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In Congress, there was little mention of a war in which almost 4500 Americans died and 34,000 more were injured, and which, depending on who is counting, slapped as much as $3 trillion on Washington's credit card.
Instead of the cloying solemnity that often is a hallmark of national occasions in the US, Obama cracked jokes with reporters. 
Press mentions of the anniversary on the day and in the week preceding were only a third of those in the corresponding period for the 10th anniversary in 2011 of the September 11 attacks; and just three-quarters of mentions in 2007 of the 10th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.

Public opinion seemed to be behind that low-key approach. If anything, there has been a swing away from the view that it was a mistake to send troops to fight in Iraq – now at 53 per cent in a Gallop poll, compared with 63 per cent recorded on the fifth anniversary in April 2008.


Before flying out, Obama acknowledged the anniversary in a brief statement, in which he paid tribute to the "courage and sacrifice" of 1.5 million Americans who served in Iraq.

"On this solemn anniversary, we draw strength and inspiration from these American patriots who exemplify the values of courage, selflessness and teamwork that define our armed forces and keep our nation great," he said in just two paragraphs, making no mention of the estimated 130,000-plus Iraqi civilians who died in the conflict or of the 50-plus who died in a wave of bomb and gun attacks in the hours before its release.

Instead of the cloying solemnity that often is a hallmark of national occasions in the US, Obama cracked jokes with reporters about the green tie he wore for St Patrick's Day and Congress busied itself debating whether the White House Easter egg hunt could survive the latest spending cuts.

The anniversary was not without its awkward moments. The White House needed to champion Obama's long-standing opposition to the Iraq war, but he also felt obliged to be optimistic about Iraq's future.

"Ridding the world of Saddam Hussein was a welcome development for the world and for Iraq," his spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. And if that sounded like an endorsement of Obama's predecessor, it was.

Asked if the perceived betterment was a result of the decision to invade, Carney agreed, adding: "And to the extent that credit is due, credit is due to [George W Bush] for that."

Bush kept his own counsel, but former vice-president Dick Cheney told an interviewer: "If I had to do it over again, I'd do it in a minute." The former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld invited ridicule on social media for a self-congratulatory tweet on a conflict he had predicted at the time "could last six days, six months". His message read: "10yrs ago began the long, difficult work of liberating 25 mil Iraqis. All who played a role in history deserve out respect & appreciation."

Those who supported the war were mocked in opinion pieces by having their hubris revisited – not just the usual suspects such as Cheney, Rumsfeld and former deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

Writing in Mother Jones, David Corn recalled passing the late columnist Christopher Hitchens in the lobby of the Fox News Studios in New York in August 2003 – just five months after the invasion. "'Don't worry about this war,' he was kind enough to tell me.

'Wolfowitz has the rats on the run – it'll all be over soon.'"

theage.com.au 21 Mar 2013

The United States of America, literally the world biggest war mongers.
 
Once upon a time it was the evil 'communists', which incidentally were funded by (just to name a few):
 
  • JP Morgan,
  • The Bush family,
  • The Rockerfellers 

An Iraq veteran's last letter: Dying US soldier calls Bush a murderer

A DRAMATIC, emotional and highly politically-charged letter posted online has sparked renewed debate on the merits of the Iraq war in a week which marks the 10th anniversary of the conflict. 
 
The letter, penned by severely wounded US serviceman Tomas Young, urges former president George Bush and his deputy Dick Cheney to "find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others".

"You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans - my fellow veterans - whose future you stole."

Tomas Young was paralysed in an insurgent attack in Sadr city, a section of northern Baghdad, in 2004. A bullet from an AK-47 severed his spine and another struck his knee.

The then 24 year old from Kansas City Missouri never walked again. In the nine years since the incident, he has suffered numerous medical setbacks and is now in hospice care, awaiting death.
Young was the subject of an award-winning 2007 documentary entitled Body of War. At a recent screening, he shocked the audience when he announced that he would stop taking all nourishment and life-extending medications.

"It's time," he told the audience over Skype. "When I go I want be alert and aware." Young's wife Claudia was beside him at the time.

In a more recent interview, Young said "This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes.

"I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note."
On his return to America in 2004, Tomas Young soon became one of the earliest and highest-profile outspoken critics of the Iraq war, which he called "illegal under international law".

He also called the war "the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history", which "obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East" and "installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror".

The letter has divided America. Many people have taken Young's outrage as sour grapes. "You knew the risks when you signed up," is a common refrain.

Those supportive of Young point to the third last paragraph of his letter, in which he details his specific disagreement with the gung-ho government policies behind the Iraq war.

As Young writes:

"I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire."

news.com.au 21 Mar 2013

The biggest killers of people are governments.

As the ruling elite refer to the masses - 'canon fodder'.
 
Also people who 'buck' the system are the 'internal enemy'.
 
It would not be surprising if the government call him a  'terrorist' and send in a team to assassinate him.

Thank goodness for democracy*.
 
Bring back communism - at least there you knew you were in the crap.

* If you don't like it we will force it on you.



Friday, March 22, 2013

Head of collapsed trucking company has bikie links, court told

THE head of a collapsed trucking company accused of fleecing a bank of more than $30 million has strong links to outlaw bikies who could help him flee the country, a court has heard. 
 
Steve Iliopoulos, 52, faced court charged with three counts of deceptively obtaining a financial advantage from the Commonwealth Bank, involving more than $30 million.

The former head of the Viking Group also has been charged with attempting to deceptively obtain a financial advantage from Westpac, involving $53 million.

The Viking Group of more than 20 companies, which operated a number of heavy haulage, transport and service businesses, collapsed in 2011.

Police say that after this, members of the Comancheros bikie gang besieged the gates of properties in Laverton and Tasmania to stop a court-appointed liquidator from entering to seize property.

Mr Iliopoulos is accused of submitting to the Commonwealth Bank false information about the group's financial position between 2009 and 2011, when he was the sole director and shareholder of Viking Fleet Services.

Police allege Mr Iliopoulos first used false documentation in October 2009 to secure a loan of $12.15 million, and the following year obtained further loans of $17.4 million and $4 million.

It was also alleged that between September 2009 and April 2011 Mr Iliopoulos submitted 50 offer statements bearing false invoice information and received $30 million.

Prosecutor Amina Bhai told Melbourne Magistrates' Court Mr Iliopoulos was a flight risk and there were millions of dollars unaccounted for that could provide an incentive for him to flee.

His bikie links meant he could get access to a fake passport and his contacts in the transport industry meant he could flee Australia by boat, she said.

The court heard Mr Iliopoulos's chief financial officer, Loukia Bariamis, who also has been charged and has agreed to give evidence against him, was fearful of him.

And there was also evidence that Mr Iliopoulos had been seen in possession of weapons such as knives and a stun gun, the court heard.

But Daniel Porceddu, for Mr Iliopoulos, said suggestions that he had ways to flee Australia were "pure speculation" as were suggestions that his links to the Comancheros could help him to get a false passport.
He said his client would vigorously defend the charges.

Magistrate Peter Reardon refused bail and remanded Mr Iliopoulos to reappear for a committal mention hearing in July.

thedailytelegraph.com.au  21 Mar 2013

Authorities have a very slack approach to these types of matters.

It has been known for quite some time of the allegation made against Mr. Iliopoulos to authorities, but corruption takes hold that thwart 'justice'.

Watchdog Choice has tough questions for Apple, Microsoft and Adobe

CONSUMER watchdog, Choice has some hard truths it wants tech giants, Apple, Adobe and Microsoft to answer. 

 
The tech giants will front Parliament today at 9.30am, 11.00am and 1.00pm respectively, to explain why they are charging Australians so much more than their US customers.

Choice has five questions for the tech companies:

1. Why is it costing Australians 70% more to rock out to AC/DC’s Back in Black on iTunes?

2. Why does it cost a graphic designer in Adelaide $3175 to buy Adobe CS6 Design and Web Premium when a creative in Los Angeles only has to pay $US1899?

3. Why does it cost a small business in Sydney $599 to buy Microsoft’s Office Professional 2013 when a business in San Francisco only has to pay $US399.99?


4. How many of their staff in Australia work on developing software?

5. Who sets the pricing on iTunes - Apple or the music and film industry?

Matt Levey, head of campaigns at Choice said there is "no justification" for why Australians are paying more than US consumers for identical products.

"We have heard all sorts of excuses from the tech companies, like claims that Australian wages, rent and taxes are too high and that our warranties are onerous," he said.

"Our research shows that none of the excuses stack up and the only conclusion is that the technology companies are greedy."

"Today, Adobe, Apple and Microsoft have every opportunity to come clean on their dirty deeds," says Mr Levey.

It's only a matter of hours before the tech giants will be forced to answer these questions, and many more.

news.com.au 22 Mar 2013

More deceitful conduct from the world's largest companies.

It just shows who you can really trust.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Show us your norks

The pathetic state of the Australian police force in action.

Whilst there is an internal debate which eastern board police state is the most corrupt, no on can argue which has the best perks which ones are 'perkier' referring to the 'white pointers'.

And the winner is Queensland.

See the following news.com.au (text only) article:

Police officer encouraged woman to  flash her breasts appeals penalty.

A POLICE officer who encouraged a woman to flash her breasts and then got another officer to take photos during the 2010 Valley Fiesta is trying to get a new reduction of his disciplinary penalty.

But Queensland Police Service is also appealing, asking for Constable Travis Garth to be given a tougher financial sanction for "serious'' misconduct.

Const Garth, who accepted a woman's invitation to see her "boob job'' while patrolling in uniform as part of a police operation in 2010, allowed her to show him her breasts in a Fortitude Valley laneway.


A tribunal member found he also posed with police handcuffs, pretended to arrest the woman, he allowed her to use a police cap in photos, and did not delete them when later ordered to by his boss.

Const Garth showed other officers the photos and told them he'd had "the best night ever''.

Last year Constable Garth, whose salary was cut by an Assistant Commissioner by three pay points for misconduct  a loss of $55,000 over four years  successfully appealed.

He had his original pay cut substantially reduced and his actions downgraded to "breach of discipline'' by Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal member Richard Oliver.

But Constable Garth has again appealed and asked for an even lesser penalty.

In QCAT's appeal tribunal on Wednesday, lawyer Calvin Gnech, for Constable Garth, asked for the pay reduction be set aside and replaced with a $7000 fine, backdated to July, 2011.

Mr Gnech said that would result in Constable Garth being able to reclaim thousands of dollars he already had lost through the pay cut and allow him to progress to Senior Constable.

He said Constable Garth so far had lost about $25,000 in pay and if the sanction remained he would lose $91,215 up to 2022.

But lawyer Michael Nicolson, for Queensland Police Service, disputed those figures and said a $7000 fine would be "grossly inadequate'' as it was "a serious case of misconduct''.

He said Constable Garth was the senior officer on the night and as a result of the incident a constable had lost two pay points for his involvement and a sergeant had lost $21,000 in pay for failing to report misconduct.

Mr Nicolson, who asked for the original three point pay reduction to be reinstated for misconduct, not breach of discipline, said Constable Garth should receive the most serious sanction.

Appeal Tribunal members Charles Brabazon and Kerrie O'Callaghan adjourned to consider their decision.

news.com.au 15 Mar 2013

No PSOs in sight as pair attacked at Flinders St

Police have defended the absence of Protective Services Officers on a platform at Melbourne's busiest railway station where two women bashed a young man and girl.


The violent assault, which happened at Flinders Street Station about 11.10pm on Sunday March 10, left the 17-year-old girl with serious head injuries and the 20-year-old man with facial bruising.

The wanted women, aged in their late teens or early 20s, verbally harassed the couple as the train they were all on arrived at the station.

When the four got off the Craigieburn-line train, the situation escalated, with the two women kicking and punching the man and the girl, police said.

Victoria Police spokeswoman Belle Nolan confirmed there were no PSOs on the platform at the time of the attack but they did assist in the investigation.

Ms Nolan said there were more than 150,000 people in and around Flinders Street on the night of the assault because of the end of Moomba and the Future Music Festival.

She said between February 2012, when PSOs were first deployed at Flinders Street, and December 2012, PSOs had issued more than 1500 infringement notices at the station, including:
  • 346 for possessing an open container of alcohol
  • 130 for being drunk in a public place
  • 53 for drinking liquor in any vehicle or premises
  • 29 for using indecent, obscene or threatening language
  • 11 for behaving in an obscene, offensive, threatening, disorderly or riotous manner
  • Seven for possessing or using a controlled weapon without a lawful excuse.
"Not only are PSOs responding to crime, they are also acting as a strong deterrent for people considering engaging in criminal and antisocial behaviour," Ms Nolan said.

Citing the National Survey of Community Satisfaction with Policing, she said 38.4 per cent of people say they now feel safer using public transport at night, a 1.6 per cent increase when compared with the same time last year.

"We are confident that this figure will continue to rise as more stations receive PSOs," Ms Nolan said.

Police cancelled a media conference, scheduled for midday on Wednesday, saying there had been a "development" in the bashing investigation.

However, a police spokeswoman said on Thursday morning no arrests had been made.

Police believe a mobile phone or camera may have been used in the attack.

The girl, from Brighton, was seriously injured to her head and the man, from Bentleigh, had bruising to the face.

Both wanted women are described as white, about 165 centimetres tall and each was wearing a black singlet at the time.

One was blonde and was wearing black shorts, while the other was brunette and was wearing dark-coloured shorts.

Police have released an image of two women who may be able to assist the investigation.

People with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

heraldsun.com.au 21 Mar 2013
 
Victoria Police have been caught out falsifying crime figures in the past, which led to the running away of 'top dog' Simon Overland with 'tail between legs' to Tasmania
 
The figures are meaningless or most likely are falsified.
 
If one was Richard Branson, one could get away with telling the two wanted women to remove their tops.

See article:

Richard Branson - The Sexual Harasser


PSO commercial government sponsored lies

When the Australian public are treated to a message from the government via their lap dog, the corporate media, there is little doubt that one can smell a rat, and a pungent one at that.


The government has embarked on a propaganda campaign that showed the herd population that they are safe while using public transport.

Various scenarios were depicted where congregated youths would be in a position to harm a solitary youth, but shows around the corner reveal two PSO’s (Protective Service Officers) around the corner, resulting in smiles from the lonesome traveller (See illustration).

Pity this is only a fictitious scenario and not the norm.

By that time the corporate media already upstaged the government in reporting that there is not enough protection to public transport travellers, by showing cases where people are assaulted on public transport.

A reply campaign was launched by the government propaganda department in the form of another commercial that indicated that more PSO’s are needed.

If the situation was under control then there would be no need to hire more PSO personnel, which suggests that the government is not in control of the safety of its citizens on public transport.

‘PT’ as it is known colloquially, also is referred to as ‘Peasant Transport’, is not a priority for a ‘clean up’ as it is only a method to distribute the herd population to their respective places of work, and is seen as such by the non ‘PT’ using ‘game changers’ politicians and law makers.