Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Haneef's internet chat - more evasion and shiftiness

This should have been the big one, the revelation that made me eat my civil liberties hat and run wailing to the warm (and perhaps too close, too long) embrace of Kevin Andrews and John Howard. A "transcript"(1) of a conversation between Haneef and his brother, Shuaib. This was one of the key factors considered by Andrews in cancelling Haneef's visa.

Here is the "transcript," which isn't actually a transcript, but a re-construction put together from "based on evidence released today by Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews"(2)

Shuaib: Nothing has been found out about you. When will you be getting out?
Haneef: Today.
Shuiab: Have you permission to take leave? What have you told the (Gold Coast) hospital?
Haneef: I told them my baby was born in an emergency caesarean.
Shuaib: Tell them that you have to (leave) as you have a daughter born. Do not tell them anything else.(3)

The source article makes some vague references to "Auntie" and the use of Haneef's phone, but without context these are meaningless. And that's all we're to be given. There is more, apparently, but we have to trust the authorities who have lied, mislead and bungled at every turn in this case. Bugger that.

So, back to the "transcript." First query - why just a five line extract from a longer conversation? What we are given, presented in the light of the swirling panic about terrorism, looks incriminating. Of course it does. It is meant to. Andrews has his neck on the block, and he's not going to jeopardise his political future by playing fair. He might be paranoid, or he might be disingenuous, but either way he's presenting the information in the way that puts the best light on his blundering conduct.

What if Shuaib, immediately prior to the the "Nothing has been found out about you," had said, "I asked Firdous if she knew when you were coming home, and mum, and auntie ..."? This would render "But nothing has been found out about you" completely innocent. And the rest of the conversation immediately becomes munadane. His brother is asking when he is coming home. Haneef tells him it is today. Brother Shuaib wisely tells him not to give too much information to the hospital, because you should always keep your reasons simple and not be too dramatic.

This is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of what we have been given. Without seeing more, we can't judge if it is correct, but why would Andrews only release this fragment if the rest of it did not strengthen his case?

Second, much more important, point - Shuaib is, as far as we know, suspected of nothing and has been accused of nothing. The suggestion is that he is involved in the plot. So the guilt by association that was applied to Haneef is now spread to his entire family. Without any evidence to back this up, this is just another calumny attached to the family by a snivelling, hopeless government, trying to look tough and decisive.
1 - "Alleged webchat between Mohamed Haneef and his brother," unattributed article on news.com.au, July 31, 2007 (http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,22166791-2,00.html)
2 -
ibid.
3- ibid.

Monday, 23 July 2007

"Don't misrepresent OUR truth."

Yet more twists in the Haneef saga. Yesterday, it seemed the police had some how managed to write incriminating data into Haneef's diary(1). Now it seems this wasn't the case at all. AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty stated that nothing was written into Haneef's diary:

"Police at no time made any notations or additions to Haneef's diary," he was quoted as saying in the media.

"As this matter is currently before the court, it is not appropriate for the AFP to elaborate in greater detail," Keelty said.

He said the episode highlighted the problem with releasing records of police interviews before they could be presented to a court - as Haneef's lawyers did last week.

"When misinterpreted or taken out of context - and in the absence of other material that will be placed before the court - this has the potential to undermine the court process," he said. (2)
It seems that the text in question wasn't actually written in the diary, but was a seperate piece of paper(3) and it has all been an innocent bungle by the AFP, mixing their own papers up with Haneef's.

What still rankles, though, is the hypocrisy of Keelty, warning us against the dangers of misrepresenting or misinterpreting information, which is exactly what the AFP did when they presented a misleading affidavit in court and to the immigration minister(4). The affidavit alleged, incorrectly, that Haneef had flatted with wannabe martyrs Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed, and that he did not offer an explanation as to why he was leaving Australia on a one-way ticket. This is stinking hypocrisy by Keelty.

Next up? John Howard to lecture us on the immoral use of press scare stories to engineer election victories?

Meanwhile, the inevitable weasel suggestion was made that anyone protesting the treatment of Haneef might not be entirely patriotic, courtesy of Foreign Minister Alexander Downer:

"I do worry about the resolve that we have to confront and defeat terrorism," Mr Downer told the Nine Network.

"Every time there is somebody arrested and facing charges, there's some sort of controversy about 'oh the poor thing, he must be innocent, this is all being cooked up for some particular reason'. (5)
Downer needs to grow up. He sounds like he's the second-stringer on a poor school debating team. No-one has suggested that Kafeel Ahmed is a poor, innocent victim. The reason Haneef's case is controversial is because the charges laid against him were specious, even before it was revealled his Mobile SIM wasn't found at the scene of the Glasgow attack, several inconsistencies have been found in the police transcript of his interview, his visa has been cancelled possibly as a result of these inaccuracies, he has been treated like a terrorist with out any evidence of terrorist intent being shown and even if innocent he is likely to be deported. Impugning the loyalty or determination of those who don't agree with the government's vile treatment of Haneef is pathetic.


1 - "Another day, another blunder in Haneef case," by Hedley Thomas and Andrew Fraser in The Australian, July 23, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22117624-5006786,00.html)
2- "Australian police denies writing notes in Haneef's diary," unattributed PTI story in The Hindu Times, 23rd July 2007. (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200707231421.htm)
3 - "AFP Rejects Haneef Claims," unattributed AAP article in The Age, July 23, 2007. (http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/afp-rejects-haneef-claims/2007/07/23/1185043027971.html?page=2)
4 - "Discrepancies in AFP's affidavit: Reports," unattributed PTI article in The Times of India, 20th July 2007. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Discrepancies_in_Australian_police_affidavit_Reports/articleshow/2219797.cms)
5 - "AFP rejects Haneef claims," unattributed AAP article in The Age, July 23, 2007. (http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/afp-rejects-haneef-claims/2007/07/23/1185043027971.html?page=2)

Durkin replies to his critics

Martin Durkin has answered his critics(1) in The Australian, following the airing of his documentary 'The Great Global Warming Swindle.' It's a lot of bluster and bravado, but mostly another 'B' word, bullshit.

It is an interesting piece of writing, not for what it says, for Durkin resorts to the usual tactic of ignoring facts and data that don't fit, and makes claims that aren't true. It is interesting more because of the style that he adopts, and what we learn about him. God knows, it contributes nothing to the science of global warming, or non-scientists' understanding ot it.

Take the first line of his response:

"WHEN I agreed to make The Great Global Warming Swindle, I was warned a
middle-class fatwa would be placed on my head."(2)
It is odd that Durkin choses to describe the criticism of his program as a 'middle-class' response, rather than as scientific. Lets be blunt here. Most middle-class people aren't very good environmentalists, with their 4x4s, conspicuous consumption and multiple annual overseas holidays. The suggestion that they might attack a program that tells them that what they do is okay is odd logic. It is also interesting that he refers to the criticism as a "fatwa," a term suggestive, to most of his readers, of alien, fundamentalist religion. Again, the criticism hasn't come from Muslims, middle-class or otherwise - it has come from scientists.

Durkin suggests scientists are angry with him for questioning the sacred principles of global warming:

There are scientists and journalists (a surprising number) who have built
careers championing the cause. There's more money going into global warming
research than there is chasing a cure for cancer. Many important people and
institutions have staked their reputations on it. There's a lot riding on this
theory ... That is why the warmers greeted my film with red glowing eyes. (3)
Only, that doesn't stack up. Scientists attacked the program because it was not factually correct. Durkin selected evidence that could be used to support his hypothesis that human activity isn't contributing to climate change. He ignored evidence that did not fit in with this and misrepresented the facts. He then attacks the attackers, claiming the "whole damned theory is in tatters"(3).

First, he claims the Earth is not getting warmer: "To the utter dismay of the global warming lobby, the world does not appear to be getting warmer. According to their own figures (from the UN-linked Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the temperature has been static or slightly declining since 1998. The satellite data confirms this."(4) This is a misrepresentation of easily available data. 1998 was exceptionally warm. Tempratures since then have not reached such heights, but the five year average temperature is still on the up(5).

He then claims that "the ice-core data ... shows there's a connection between carbon dioxide and temperature ... [and] the connection is the wrong way around; temperature leads, CO2 follows."(6) This is true, but totally misses the point. In fact, it blows his own anti-AGW argument out of the water, as it admits that CO2 is linked to climate change. The lag between temprature increases and CO2 has been done to death. It is almost embarrassing that a numbskull like me has to correct someone like Durkin, who gets to make TV documentaries.

Thousands of years ago, there were no humans pumping out CO2 to kickstart the process. Instead, the global temprature increased, for reasons unknown, though there are plentyof possible causes. This increase leads to the release of CO2 as the eco-system reponds to the changing environment, which in turn leads to a temprature increase, which lead to more CO2 ... A simple feedback loop.

There is a lag of about 800 years, according to ice-core samples, between the temprature increases and the CO2 increases. All this proves, according to Real Climate, is "that CO2 did not cause the first 800 years of warming, out of the 5000 year trend. The other 4200 years of warming could in fact have been caused by CO2, as far as we can tell from this ice core data."(7) Once the cycle is kicked off, the CO2 feeds the temprature, which increases the CO2 and so on. The difference is that this time around the process is being started the other way around - we are releasing the CO2 which will drive up the temprature. The danger is that we may do enough to kick off the feedback loop again, in which case we are in real trouble.

Then Durkin turns to a favourite topic of climate change deniers, the (unjustly) infamous 'hockey stick' graph:

Then there's the precious "hockey stick". This was the famous graph that
purported to show global temperature flat-lining for 1000 years, then rising
during the 19th and 20th centuries. It magicked away the Medieval warm period
and made the recent warming look alarming, instead of just part of the general
toing and froing of the Earth's climate.(8)
First, the Medieval warm period wasn't a global event, or even hemispheric, but localised(9), so it wouldn't show up on a reconstruction of temprature for the northern hemisphere. Second, even though it was localised, a general slight increase in temprature between 1000 and 1400 centuries is visible on the "Hockey stick" graph(10) . The IPCC has not shiftily dropped the Hockey Stick as Durkin claims. It has been superceded. It would be strange indeed to publish a report that simply regurgitated the previous report.

Finally, Durkin claims ,

there are those pesky satellites. If greenhouse gases were the cause of warming,
then the rate of warming should have been greater, higher up in the Earth's
atmosphere (the bit known as the troposphere). But all the satellite and balloon
data says the exact opposite. In other words, the best observational data we
have flatly contradicts the whole bally idea of man-made climate change."(11)

Again, however, Durkin is not telling the truth. He is referring to old data, which has been showed to be erroneous. It has been corrected, and it now shows that - gosh - there IS troposhperic warming(12). Again, this data is not squirrelled away somewhere. It is freely available and really rather understandable. To disagree with it, provided that you do so from a scientific basis, is one thing. To simply pretend it doesn't exist, as Durkin does, is another all together.

He makes two further points, both minor. Fist, he calims that scientists "concede that CO2 cannot have caused the warming at the beginning of the 20th century, which was greater and steeper than the recent warming."(13) Yup, so what? Back then, the temprature increase was mostly (not - MOSTLY) caused by other factors. This time, it appears to be mostly (note - MOSTLY) caused by anthropogenic activity. And finally, scientists "can't explain the cooling from 1940 to the mid-'70s."(14) This is simply untrue. The blip in temprature between 1940 and 1975 has been attributed to the cooling effect of sulphate aerosols(15). Again, old knowledge and easily available for those who look. Because Durkin has missed stuff I've been able to find, quite easily, it raises questions about his honesty, and hence the savaging of his 'documentary' is justified.

1 - "Up against the warming zealots," Martin Durkin in The Australian, July 21, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22105154-30417,00.html)
2 - Ibid.
3 - Ibid.
5 - "Global Temperature" graph, viewed on Wikipedia on 31st July 2007. (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Instrumental_Temperature_Record.png)
6 - Durkin, op. cit.
7 - 'What does the lag of CO2 behind temperature in ice cores tell us about global warming?' by Jeff Severinghaus, on Real Climate, (
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=13)
8 - Durkin, Op. cit.
9 - "Medieval Warm Period," Wikipedia article, linked 23rd July, 2007. (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_Warm_Period)
10 - "Hockey stick chart ipcc.jpg," Wikipedia, linked 23rd July
2007. (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hockey_stick_chart_ipcc.jpg)
11 - Durkin, Op. Cit.
12 - "Reconciliation of satellites, radiosondes and climate models," Wikipedia article, linked 31st July 2007. (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_temperature_measurements#Reconciliation_of_satellites.2C_radiosondes_and_climate_models) 13 - Durkin, Op. Cit.
14 - Durkin, Op. Cit.
15 - "Climate myths: The cooling after 1940 shows CO2 does not cause warming," by Catherine Brahic, on Newscientist.com, 16th May 2007. Viewed on 31st July 2007. (
http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11639)

Haneef did have leave from hospital

Given the continual crash of collapsing claims surrounding Mohammed Haneef, this should come as no surprise:
Contrary to some of the early misinformation, Dr Haneef had permission to take
leave. He had been granted approval by a hospital administrator.
Are there any allegations against Haneef that haven't been debunked or at least shown to be questionable? The only one I can think of is the suggestion he was associated with the banned radical Islamist organisation SIMI while a student in India. But nothing has emerged to support this claim.

1 - "Hard to be anything but cynical," by Hedley Thomas in The Australian, 19th July 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22096916-5006786,00.html)
2 - "Suspect linked to Indian radicals," by Dennis Shanahan and Kevin Meade, July 18, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22092906-5006786,00.html)

Trial by smear

It seems leaking is a bad thing when done by lawyers protecting their client's reputation against falsehood(1), but by that much noted, mysterious political alchemey when done by those intent on destroying a man's reputation(2), it is a good thing.

Apart from being smeared with the suggestion that he supported the terrorist attacks in Britain, the police have had to deny rumours that haneef is being linked to terrorist plans to carry out attacks in Australia(3). Astonishingly, it seems the police actually wrote the names of terror suspects into Haneef's diary(4) - WHY, WHY, WHY? - and then interrogated him over this 'incriminating' document.

It also seems that defending Australia from terror is only a priority until it starts to make the government look bad. Once that happens, Australia takes a back seat and political survival insincts kick in. It looks like Haneef may have the Criminal Justice Certificate, which is threatenin ghim with deportation, revoked(5), which is good, but not have his visa restored, which is bad. The result will be that he is deported. Which is a strange idea if he is as dangerous as he is made out to be. Surely, keep this potential terrorist cadre in confinement? Or, if he isn't dangerous, why deport him?

The government's handling of the visa issue has been shambolic. Some humilty, culpability and decency are in order. Likely? No, deport the problem, the Hell with his rights or any pretence of fair treatment. Which is startling hypocrisy from the government of a country once used as a dumping ground for Britain's legal problems.
1 - "Haneef's lawyer probed over leak," by Ian McPhedran and Rhett Watson in The Herald Sun, July 19, 2007. (http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22096446-661,00.html)
2 - "Govt trying Haneef by media: lawyer," AAP article in The Brisbane Times, July 22, 2007. (http://news.brisbanetimes.com.au/haneef-reports-wrong-keelty/20075422-p0n.html)
3 - "Haneef may be deported? Police accused of leaking allegations," PTI article in The Hindu, 22nd July. (http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/001200707221920.htm)
4 - "Another day, another blunder in Haneef case," by Hedley Thomas and Andrew Fraser in The Australian, July 23, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22117624-5006786,00.html)
5 - "Haneef may be deported?" PTI article in The Economic Times, 22 Jul, 2007. (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Haneef_may_be_deported/articleshow/2224801.cms)

Friday, 20 July 2007

Big holes appearing in the case against Haneef

Significant errors have been uncovered in the case again Mohammed Haneef.

First, the police affidavit does not match the transcript of his interview:

According to the police affidavit, "On July 2 and 3, 2007 Haneef
participated in a taped record of interview with the AFP and stated-- Whilst in
the UK he resided with suspects 1 and 2 (alleged suicide bomber Kafeel Ahmed and
his brother Sabeel Ahmed), at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool."

However, in the record of interview, obtained by the newspaper, Haneef told
police that he lived at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool, with several doctors, whom
he names. None were the two suspects. (1)
Second, the affidavit stated, incorrectly, that Haneef could not explain why he had booked a one way ticket:

The second major issue on which there is an obvious discrepancy is to do
with the fact that Haneef was trying to leave Australia on a one-way ticket. The
police affidavit claims Haneef had no explanation for this.

While in the taped interview, Haneef gives a detailed explanation saying
that since he did not have funds, his father-in-law had booked and paid for the
one-way ticket with an understanding that when he goes to Bangalore, the family
would arrange for the return ticket. (2)

Kevin Andrews, the immigration minister who cancelled Haneef's visa, read the affidavit but not the police transcript. If he used the affidavit to justify his suspicion that Haneef 'associated' with criminals, then the decision to cancel looks even shakier. Before, it looked premature and malicious. Now it looks like it might have been completely wrong as well.

Third, Haneef's SIM card was NOT found at the scene of the Glasgow attack(3) though it had been claimed in court that it was(4):

In Brisbane last Saturday, the court was told that Haneef's SIM card was found in the car that was smashed into Glasgow airport.

But the ABC has been told by sources in the UK and Australia that the SIM card was first seized by police eight hours later, when his cousin Sabeel Ahmed was arrested in Liverpool.

The ABC understands the Sabeel Ahmed was arrested with two phones, one of which contained Haneef's SIM card. (3)

I don't know how significant this third revelation is - let's face it, people stupid enough to claim giving someone a SIM card is giving support to terrorism probably won't care. But it shows how venal, incompetent and premptory the handling of whole mess has been.

Curiously, Australia has granted a visa to Haneef's cousin,(5) who can travel to Australia to provide support and comfort, though that may be tricky if Haneef is in solitary 23 hours a day. The granting of the visa is a bit odd as it is reasonable to suspect that he has 'associated' with the same criminals that Haneef has - so he should also fail the character test. Maybe the Aussie government is waiting for him to get through customs before arresting him, for providing moral support to a terrorist.

1 - "Discrepancies in AFP's affidavit: Reports," PTI report in the Times of India, 20 Jul 2007. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Rest_of_World/Discrepancies_in_Australian_police_affidavit_Reports/articleshow/2219797.cms)
2 - "Inconsistencies surround Haneef case," unidentified NDTV Correspondent, July 20, 2007 . (http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070019576&ch=7/20/2007%204:22:00%20PM)
3 - "Doubt cast on case against Haneef," unattributed ABC News story, 20th July 2007. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/20/1983448.htm)
4 - "SIM card ties doctor to terrorists, court told," Daniel Dasey and Kerry-Anne Walsh in the Sydney Morning Herald, July 15th, 2007. " (http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/07/14/1183833835435.html?from=top5)
5 - "Australia gives visa to Haneef's cousin," by Natasha Chaka, July 20, 2007. (http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c_online.php?leftnm=11&bKeyFlag=IN&autono=25676)


Thursday, 19 July 2007

Aussie judge agrees with me viz character assessment

I grumbled the other day (or was it earlier today? Infant induced insomia is a wondrous thing ...) about the absurdity of Kevin Andrews canceling Mohammed Haneef's visa because he had some wannabe-terrorist cousins. An Australian judge has confirmed my hunch that Andrews has opted for a hysterically (or a cold-blooded, deliberately) simplistic interpretation of Section 501:
An Australian judge today questioned the immigration department’s interpretation
of the character test used to revoke the visa of Indian doctor Mohammed Haneef, saying even he would fail the test because of his association with people
suspected of criminal conduct.

Haneef has been charged with providing support to the suspects in the failed UK terror plot.

Justice Jeffrey Spender, who set Haneef's appeal against the cancellation of his visa for hearing on August 8, asked the grounds Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews used to justify his view that he had a reasonable suspicion that the Indian doctor had an association with terrorists.

“Unfortunately, I wouldn't pass the character test on your statement because I’ve been associated with people suspected of criminal conduct,” Justice Spender told the immigration department's counsel. The counsel said he himself would fail the test if he were a non-citizen. (1)
1 - "Judge questions grounds for move on Haneefs visa'," Press Trust Of India / Melbourne, July 19, 2007. (http://www.business-standard.com/economy/storypage.php?leftnm=3&subLeft=1&chklogin=N&autono=291640&tab=r)

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

"Daughter's Birthday" : code word for "Glorious martyrdom operation"?

The Australian government says it will treat Mohammed Haneef as a terrorist
and keep him in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

The Indian doctor under probe for his suspected role in the UK terror plot
will have access to television, literature and radio but not a computer.

(Source: NDTV.com)1

This is why the mild mannered, generous Indian doctor has to be confined for 23 hours a day:

The details the government used to back a decision to revoke his visa on
character grounds include - that he chatted online with the second suspect
Sabeel Ahmed about his daughter's birth on June 26, three days before the failed
plot. (2)
Come on. These charges are bullshit. Cancelling his visa was officious, callous and premature. Aussies are always prattling about the little man and standing up to the forces of officialdom. Is that a 'Whites-only' privilege?

Sabeel Ahmed was not the only person Haneef talked to around the time of the aborted terror attacks. He also says that he tried to contact the British police when he hear that his relatives were involved:

Mohammed Haneef tried to telephone a police officer in Britain after second
cousin Sabeel Ahmed was arrested but the calls went unanswered, the Indian
doctor has told Australian investigators.

Haneef, arrested at Brisbane airport on July 2 with a one-way ticket to
India, told the police that he had mentioned Sabeel’s arrest to his
father-in-law in a conversation that day, according to a transcript of the
interview leaked to The Australian.
...

“He (my father-in-law) said to me, ‘Why are you worried about that?’ So
I just said, ‘Keep calm, if we have not done anything, then just nothing to
worry’.”

His father-in-law asked Haneef to call British police “and let them
know whatever’s going on”, so the doctor repeatedly tried to telephone one of
the police officers, Tony Webster, in Britain to explain the SIM card issue, he
told investigators.

(Source: Calcutta Telegraph)3

That article gives a good account of Haneef's side of the story. Adds to the growing impression that this man has been treated very shoddily.

1 "Haneef to be treated as 'terrorist,'" NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday, July 18, 2007. (http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070019336&ch=7/18/2007%202:14:00%20PM)
2 - ibid
3 - "I tried to call UK cop: Haneef," Calcutta Telegraph, 17th July, 2007. (
http://telegraphindia.com/1070718/asp/frontpage/story_8073753.asp)

Mohammed Haneef to be Deported

Aussie's Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, has announced Haneef with be deported once legal proceedings against him are finished WHETHER OR NOT HE IS FOUND GUILTY:

The Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews has said that Mohammed Haneef will be deported from Australia, regardless of the outcome of criminal
proceedings against him.

''The Federal Police will issue what's called a criminal justice certificate. That means he will remain in Australia while the legal proceedings are afoot. After that, unless there's some new information provided or if there is some change as a result of legal proceedings, he would be deported,'' said the minister.

(Here)1

Remember, this is someone who has been charged with nothing more than giving his telephone SIM card to his cousin, because it was no longer of any use to him. It has not been claimed that he did so with thre intent of furthering his cousin's terrorist plotting. His offense has been merely to have a cousin and not assuming this cousin might be a terrorist and

This is berserk. He has had his visa cancelled and is to be held in detention as he no longer has a legal right to be in Australia, and will now be deported. This is all based on Andrews's interpretation of his powers to cancel visas on the character test outlined in Section 501 of the Migration Act, 1958. (2) This is the part Andrews's used to justify cancelling Haneef's visa:

(3) The Minister may:
(a) refuse to grant a visa to a person; or
(b) cancel a visa that has been granted to a person;
if:
(c) the Minister reasonably suspects that the person does not pass the
character test;
...
(6) For the purposes of this section, a person does not pass the character test if:
...
(b) the person has or has had an association with someone else, or with a group
or organisation, whom the Minister reasonably suspects has been or is involved
in criminal conduct (3)

I'm interested in the definition of 'association' in this context. Is it enough simply that he flatted with some people who went on to commit crimes? If so, I might be denied a visa to Aussie, as would every student who has ever lived with (or perhaps even talked to - that is 'associating') someone who has smoked a spliff or popped an E. It is a uselessly vague concept, or - from the minister's point of view - uselfully vague. he has the power to throw any immigrant he likes out of the country, as long as he 'reasonably suspects' that the person may have once known a criminal, no matter how superficially.

This could have interesting rammifications. Will the All Blacks be allowed to enter Australia, as they all know (and continue to ASSOCIATE with) the likes of Sione Lauaki(4), and Sitiveni Sivivatu(5). After all, you - or your 'associates' - don't need to have been found guilty of any criminal activity. The minister just needs to 'reasonably suspect' you - or your 'associates' - have been, or are, engaging in it.

Andrews has stuck to the letter of the law in this case and I'm comfortable with the idea that an immigration minister has the power to cancel a visa in the manner outlined in Section 501. But I find the speed that Andrews used his power. It seems hasty and vindictive. I know the minister need only 'reasonably suspect' criminal association, but it doesn't follow that he needs to use his powers immediately on that suspicion being formed. Would it have hurt to wait? After all, the minister said it wasn't related to Haneef being granted bail. Yeah, right ...

It seems like a vicious and entirely deliberate attempt by Andrews and the Howard government to play to the gallery by throwing this man - found guilty of nothing and not charged with anything substanial - out of the country. The fact that he's a Muslim, and brown, isn't a factor. Of course not.

1 - "Mohammed Haneef to be deported," NDTV Correspondent, Tuesday, July 17, 2007. (http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070019211&ch=7/17/2007%204:25:00%20PM)
2 - "MIGRATION ACT 1958 - SECT 501: Refusal or cancellation of visa on character grounds," retreived from Australian Immigration website on 17th July 2007. (
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma1958118/s501.html)
3 - ibid.
4 - "All Black Lauaki admits assault," nzpa ARTICLE, Wednesday February 01, 2006.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10366327
5 - "Praise as judge names and shames Sivivatu,"by Simon O'Rourke in the New Zealand Herald, Friday April 13, 2007.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10434024

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

The Middle East will be sorted, again

According to the Guardian, Dick Cheney is whispering "Attack Iran! Attack Iran!" into Dubya's ear, and Dubya might be whispering .1 The article doesn't really amount to much on inspection, just the opinion of a "well palced source" and one Nick Burns, the "undersecretary of state responsible for Iran and a career diplomat who is one of the main advocates of negotiation."

At the same time, you can't help wondering if this recurring theme - which we've heard so often it seems like a sort of political tinnitus - will actually lead somewhere, or if it is just what undersecretaries and well placed sources say when they have nothing better to do. Hopefully, it is just hot air. The last thing we need is an attempt to occupy another Muslim country, the last two efforts having been so successful. But perhaps Bush is dim enought to think "Third time lucky"?

Another common refrain: an American president calling for resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,2 which is heard so often but signifies so little that it might be a form of coprolalia on the part of the speaker.

1 - "Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran," by Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Julian Borger, in The Gaurdian, Monday July 16, 2007. http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2127115,00.html
2 - "Bush launches peace bid with Middle East talks," by Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Patrick Wintour, in The Guardian, Tuesday July 17, 2007.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2127951,00.html

Supermarkets slammed over 3rd World Exploitation

I can't believe this counts as news at all:
Britain's second largest supermarket chain last night launched an investigation into allegations that workers who make its clothes in Bangladesh are being forced to work up to 80 hours a week for as little as 4p an hour.

Asda, one of three major discount clothing retailers accused of breaching international labour standards, said it would audit its suppliers in response to a report in today's Guardian into the pay and conditions of Bangladeshi garment workers who supply British companies.

(Source: The Guardian)1
Is it possible that people are so niave that they don't know that our wonderful western way of life is built on two (at least) grubby little secrets: exploiting thrid world labour to the maximum extent possible, and environmental destruction?

Asda fills its stores with clothes made by people paid a pittance - even by the standards of their native country. This is inevitable, because Asda is part of a ruthless competitive market where driving prices down is essential. That is why most of the western world's manufacturing is carried out in China, India and other places. The western consumer, by and large, doesn't care about the rights of the person who made their flash new jeans. The fact that the person who made them is probably working 80 hours a week for pennies, is treated brutally by their employer and has no labour rights, doesn't seem to matter.

It reminds me of the stuation described in HG wells's novel, The Time Machine. In that book, a Victorian scientist travels forward in time. He finds the elegant remains of a great civilisation, where delicate, child-like people dwell among the ruins of magnificent buildings. He then discovers a grisly secret. These delicate Eloi are the descendents of the rich and wealthy people of Wells's own time. There is another strand of human evolution, the ghastly Morlocks, who dwell in a complex of underground, industrial complexes. In a grim inversion of the exploitation of workers by capitalists in Victorian England, the Morlocks have now become the exploiters, treating the Eloi as cattle to be devoured.

The modern Morlocks are the labourers in China, Bangladesh and India. We want to enjoy the lifestyle that their labour gives us, but we are too squeamish to confront the reality of exploitation, neo-slavery and indentured labour face to face (because Marx was right, you know, human labour is the facotr that underpins commodity value - the constant hunt for ever cheaper labour proves this), so we send it off shore, far away, so we don't need to face up to it, as the capitalists of The Time Machine sent their workers underground, so the wealthy and privileged could enjoy bright and pleasant Earth.

The expolitation of third world labour has not been a secret. Everyone minded to find out can find the information easily. Naomi Klein wrote a bad book, No Logo, about it. There are plenty of other sources of information. But most of us simply don't care enough to worry about the implications of a label saying "Made in China." We're only interested in what it says on the price tag - a selfish trade off of our well renumerated labour, with rights taken for granted by worker and employer, in pleasant conditions, for forty hours a week with statutory holidays, against the misery, degradation and exploitation of neo-Morlocks in Bangladesh, Pakistan, China or India, or anywhere else people aren't too important.
1 - "Asda, Primark and Tesco accused over clothing factories," by Karen McVeigh, in The Guardian, Monday July 16, 2007. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/retail/story/0,,2127240,00.html)

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Haneef's Email

It has now been implied that Mohammed Haneef's story about leaving Australia to be with his wife and child is untrue:
A media report said Haneef sent an email to an associate shortly after the failed UK terror attacks, saying he would have to leave Australia in a hurry and did not mention visiting his ailing wife and child.

Haneef and his family have said he planned to visit his wife and newborn daughter in Bangalore. The police were sceptical. In an affidavit presented before a magistrate Jim Gordon, an AFP officer was quoted as saying he suspected Haneef "has not been entirely truthful" about his departure.

"He said he had to leave in a hurry. He made no mention of his sick wife or child," said an official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

(Source: Times of India)1
The implication being that his story is false, and hard behind this the possibility that he is a despicable terrorist Jihadi who dreams of blood and war.

Some thoughts: is it so unusual to ommit personal details from an email? The receipient is on;y described as 'an associate.' The fact that Haneef didn't wail and gnash his teeth, cybernetically, proves nothing. Perhaps he wanted to maintain his privacy. If so, he must be fairly chagrined at the moment.

Second, even if he was trying to flee from the country, having learned about his Cousin's botched martyrdom, this also proves nothing, beyond the possibility that he panicked and thought, "Gosh, the police will probably want to speak to me, and I have to get home to my wife and child. Let's go now."

Fianlly, if he was actively involved, surely he'd have laid a more obvious trail - booked his ticket weeks out, talked about it loudly about how he was going to go to see his wife and child and bring them back, then announce suddenly that the child was sick and he had to go right now? To paraphrase that renowned friend of human rights, Donald Rumsfeld said, "Sometimes lack of evidence is itself evidence."

So I still don't give any credit to the charges brought agaisnt him. It is a shoddy attempt to kepp him in custody, as the police knew they were unlikely to be allowed to continue to hold him without charge.

1 'Doc had sent an email shortly after failed terror attack,' Time of India, 15 Jul 2007, TIMES NEWS NETWORK & GENCIES. (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/Doctor_had_sent_an_email_shortly_after_attack/articleshow/2204291.cms)

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Pathetic, Paranoid Aussies Charge Mohammed Haneef

Unbe-fucking-lievable.

Faced with an on-rushing deadline when Mohammed Haneef would either have to be charged or released, Australian police have charged him with giving "reckless" support to the would-be Glasgow bombers:

GOLD Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef has been charged with providing support to a terrorist organisation, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement today.

Police will allege Gold Coast doctor Mohamed Haneef supported a terrorist organisation by "recklessly'' giving his mobile phone SIM card to people planning car bomb attacks in the UK. Dr Haneef, an Indian national who worked as a registrar at Gold Coast Hospital, will today face Brisbane Magistrates Court.

"The specific allegation involves recklessness rather than intention,'' Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty said today.

"The allegation being that he was reckless about some of the support he provided to that group, in particular the provision of his SIM card for the use of the group.''

(From: The Australian)1

WTF is "reckless" support? Reckless driving I understand - but what is "reckless" support for a terror group? Not assuming everyone is a terrorist?

Support implies knowledge and intention. Simply passing on your old SIM, which won't be any use to you overseas, does not count - unless it can be shown that Haneef passed on the card as a deliberate contribution to the grand plot. "Here, Khalid, my SIM card. Allah willing, with my SIM card to aid you, you will achieve glorious martyrdom." If he is part of the network, he's the shoddiest, most lackadiasical terrorist ever seen. Mohammed Atta crashed a jet into the World Trade Centre. Sidique Khan blew himself on the London Underground. Even Kafeel Ahmed managed to inflict near fatal burns on himself, and earned himself a kicking from the righteous John Smeaton, Glasgow baggage handler, smoker and warrior for freedom. Haneef lent his cousin his SIM card. That's commitment.

Anyway, about the SIM card. It was given to the wannabe martyrs when Haneefleft Britain. If you want to retain your number when you go emigrate, you have to go through a long and painful process to get the network to release it so you can register it overseas. Why would Haneef bother? Mobiles are cheap, he could buy one in Australia. So he did what most people would do - he gave the sim card, which had some free callnig time on it, to his mate:
Official documents cited by The Australian newspaper yesterday said Dr Haneef
gave the SIM card to Sabeel Ahmed before he moved to Australia from Britain last
year so that his cousin could take advantage of free minutes left on his mobile
phone plan.
Absolutely, entirely reasonable and absolutely nil reason to detain a man, destroy his reputation and cause such misery for him, his wife and new born daughter.

Mobile phones, as mentioned before, are cheap. If the terrorists needed one they could have bought a new one. I can't believe a bunch of Doctors bent on martyrdom were too tight-fisted to pay for a new phone. This would have ensured Haneef wasn't linked to the plot. Granted, the total failure of the recent attacks suggests the would-be martyrs were not too bright, but Haneef, if the police story is to hold together, has to be pretty cunning. Not only did he manage to ensure he wasn't one of these destined for martyrdom (always a good indicator of intelligence) but he impreganted his wife nine months prior to the plot, and somehow ensured that his daughter was born and fell sick at just the right time to give him an excuse to leave the country. Surely, such a dastardly intellect would have foreseen the dangers of lending dim cousin Sabeel his SIM?

Basically, it is a made up charge. The police don't have anything substantial against Haneef, inspite of detaining him for almost a fortnight. So, rather than let him go, they have invented this preposterous charge so they can hang onto him a bit longer, in the hope that something better will turn up. It would be laughable if it was not so dismally pathetic.

1 - "Haneef charged with 'supporting terrorism'", The Australian, July 14, 2007. (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22072582-1702,00.html)

Friday, 13 July 2007

Howard "Not Uncomfortable" With Detention Without Charge - No Surprise There

John 'Racist Bastard' Howard has been described as "not uncomfortable" that an Indian doctor continues to be detained without any evidence. One would asume he would be "comfortable" if there were some more people of colour being detained for no reason, and might have an orgasm if police could kidnap a dozen of them.

No evidence against Indian doctor
- Aust media Reuters Friday, 13 July 2007

Australian police have no evidence against an Indian doctor held for 11 days without charge over failed car bomb attacks in Britain, but say he has had "significant contact" with the suspects, said local media.

Civil rights groups and lawyers have called on Mohamed Haneef to either be charged or set free, but Prime Minister John Howard said on Friday he was not uncomfortable with Haneef's detention without charge under tough anti-terrorism laws.

"I'm happy with the laws because I sponsored them. I defend them. We do need to arm ourselves with the laws that are being applied at the present circumstance," Howard told local radio.

"I think the Australian public is entitled to effective laws and God forbid that we should ever have a terrorist attack in this country," Howard said.

An Australian court will decide on Friday whether Haneef, a Queensland-based 27-year-old doctor, remains in detention as requested by police.

The Australian newspaper said that despite searches across the country, the questioning six Indian doctors and 11 days detention, police had failed to find any evidence linking Haneef to the British attacks.

Five other Indian doctors questioned have been released.

(http://www.stuff.co.nz/4126851a12.html)

Right. So there is no evidence against him, and his 'significant contact' is that he had an online chat with a distant relative a couple of months ago:
Haneef is a second cousin to Kafeel Ahmed, one of the suspects now in a critical condition with burns from the Glasgow attack, and last contacted his cousin via an Internet chat in March/April 2007, said the documents.
You can't make this sort of stuff up. Joseph Heller is lucky he didn't ahve to try to write Catch-22 in the aftermath of this mess, a sane human couldn't invent this nonsense. A brief chat with a distant relative a couple of months ago means that you can be disappeared into the system. This is seriously messed up. No evidence? Then let him go, so he can carry on with his (now much delayed) journey to be with his wife and new born daughter.

Kurariki "Too Dangerous" for Parole

No shit - as I said the other day. This is what the Parole Board based i's decision on:
Having considered all the material and submissions before it, the Board concludes that it is not satisfied that to release Bailey Junior Kurariki on parole at this time, he would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community whilst on parole.

Though intelligent and with considerable potential, Bailey Junior Kurariki is yet quite immature. Understandably, having been imprisoned at the age of 12, he has in crucial maturing years missed much of the expected maturing effects the ‘normal’ community environment might provide. The prison has substituted for that. His views and expectations of life and the community on release clearly show a lack of understanding of the nature and dynamics of the environment, and the characteristics to be addressed by him in making the significant adjustment on release. He has an over expectant and perhaps unrealistic view of the nature and quality of his family influence. He has little understanding of himself. We are concerned about the effect notoriety has had on him over the years, and on the behaviour of others who might associate with him on release.

We are told of recent changes in Mr Kurariki’s prison behaviour. Though he admits his violence in prison, he explains it by his need to survive in the jail. There have been no significant incidents since July 2006. We are concerned whether that change is merely temporary and designed for parole, or is in fact a commitment to doing things differently.

We acknowledge what intervention there has been by courses in the prison. We are not satisfied having spoken with him that those courses and counselling, both by their nature or extent and their impact or effect on him, have been sufficient to provide Mr Kurariki with the insight or skills to on his own handle the pressures of release and temptation to further offend. We are not satisfied that he understands the dynamic factors that underpinned his offending at the age of 12 or indeed since along the way against prison rules and discipline.

The Psychologist for the reasons outlined in the report assesses Mr Kurariki as continuing to be at very high risk of general and violent re-offending.

(http://www.paroleboard.govt.nz/nzpb/media/decisions/kurariki-bailey-junior.html)
It is pretty obvious that this kid, imprisoned at twelve, hasn't been given the help he needs to come to deal with his part n the brutal killing of Michael Choy. The board say that "having been imprisoned at the age of 12, he has in crucial maturing years missed much of the expected maturing effects the ‘normal’ community environment might provide," which completely misses the point. I'm willing to bet the twelve years of kurariki's life prior to the killing of Choy weren't a "‘normal’ community environment" that would provide "the expected maturing" any human being needs. A few years in the prison system isn't going to resolve the problems Kurariki is carrying around with him, it's a dead cert his time inside will have added to them.

The Parole Board adds, "We are not satisfied that he understands the dynamic factors that underpinned his offending at the age of 12 or indeed since along the way against prison rules and discipline," which is a pretty clear admission of failure to rehabilitate this kid. Then the board
... suggest there must be some reconstruction or construction to replace a serious experience and developmental deficit. There must be a realistic accurate release and reintegration plan formulated, with plans made to cement positive influence and opportunity to avoid relapse ... Perhaps in Mr Kurariki’s case, some form of one to one safe, trusted and confident mentoring might be considered, designed to work the reintegration plan and, with continuity in mind, to begin in prison and extend beyond release for as long as it takes.
Which is a bit fucking late. The Parole Board, clearly taking the piss, announce that "Time we believe is of the essence in these efforts if the safety of the community is to be ensured." Worrying about what we are going to do with him over the next twelve months is futile. Worrying about it when he was imprisoned in the first place might have meant something. Worrying about it seventeen years ago when he was born might have meant something more.

He did something terrible, because he was already, by age twelve, a tremendously fucked up person. We've made him worse, and, next year, he's going to get out no matter how utterly unprepared he is to confront what he did or what he is going to experience outside. We had a chance to save him after he killed Choy, and a million chances before, but we didn't bother trying. This pathetic, miserable story simply shows how fucked up New Zealand society is. Kids Like Kurariki grow up with all innocence and enpathy beaten out of them, and people like Michael Choy and his family pay the price of our "don't give a fuck" attitude.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Many Teachers 'not up to the job'

Many teachers 'not up to the job'
The teaching profession is in crisis with massive shortages in key subjects
and staff who are not up to the job, a report warned.

Under half of teachers in secondary schools are teaching the subject they
studied at university while only 45% of new primary school teachers have two
good A-levels.

(here)1

This really annoys me. The headline suggests the story is about incompetence in the teaching profession. I thought when I say the headline it was going to be the usual hogwash about 'trendy teaching methods' and teachers who can't control their unruly students and so on - the usual bollocks produced by media outlets who like to flog teachers and teaching.

It isn't even that, however. All it reveals is that - gosh - there aren't enough teachers to go around, and shortages in some areas mean that some classes are being taught by teachers who are not specialists in that area.

This isn't teachers being 'not up to the job,' a nasty, surly line which implies a level of hopeless uselessness in the teaching profession. What the stroy reveals, infact, is that teachers are working frantically to keep the system going, putting themselves in miserable and streesful situations so that precious Jemima and Anthony ("With a soft 'T', you understand") will be taught everyday, while their smug parents skim this article and make a disapproving clicking sound at the back of their throat and think, "Those that can, do, those that can't teach."

The correct version of that saying is, "Those who smugly think 'Those who can, do, those who can't teach', are idiots, and would run screaming, trousers befouled, if confronted with a classroom of thirty surly and rebellious kids, while a teacher would simply get on with it."

If anyone can teach, why don't the brave and wonderful 'do-ers' take a couple of years out to show the slogging professionals how it is done? If all working adults did this, there wouldn't be a problem. Classes could be taught by people who were actually skilled in that area, who could impress the kids with their know-how, professionalism and success. It would be like conscription, right up to the possibility of being shot at, and once it was done, they really could sit smugly up there on the moral high ground and deride and belittle the people trying to educate their kids.

(Which begs the question - if schools are full of incompetent teachers, why aren't parents home schooling Jemima and Anthony? After all, anyone can do it, no?)

The reason people don't teach is because they all know it is bloody hard work, poorly rewarded and given little respect. So most people avoid it like the plague, because they know they couldn't do it. So they have to conceal their essential greed or cowardice from themselves, by deriding teachers. Cheapest of the cheap shots. The lazy headline of the article, the only part that a lot of people will read, re-infoces this idea.

Those that can, teach. Those that can't, knock teachers.

1 - Many teachers 'not up to the job', PA article, 9th July 2007. http://uk.news.yahoo.com/pressass/20070709/tuk-many-teachers-not-up-to-the-job-6323e80_1.html

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Hone vs Howard: Truth at Last!

Just when I thought that I would never live to hear a politicial speak the honest, unvarnished and unspun truth, Hone Harawira, MP, professional stirrer, occasional 'hater and wrecker' and unlikely resotroer of my faith in representative democracy, said what most of us have been known for some time: Aussie PM John Howard is a racist bastard.
Maori Party MP Hone Harawira isn't retracting the "racist bastard" comment
he aimed at Australian Prime Minister John Howard, despite a reprimand from his
caucus colleagues.

"That's how I felt about it. Quite frankly that's still how I feel about
it," he said at a press conference today after a caucus meeting called to
discuss the issue.

Mr Harawira made the comment yesterday during a Maori Television
discussion about the radical measures the Australian government has announced to
deal with abuse and alcoholism in Aboriginal communities in the Northern
Territory.

(here - or 1, below)
This is fantastic. I hope it catches on. Instead of a 'Sorry Day', Aussies should have a 'Howard's a Bastard Day'.

Harawira's comments were prompted by Howard's decision to blot out ahite Australia's neglect of poverty, alienation and alcoholism in Aboriginal settlements by sending in the army (Just like the good old days, eh, John?) but, of course, this isn't the first time. John boy has form for this sort of thing.

Remember he wrangled a re-election on the back of the Tampa affair, whipping up a frenzy amongst Australian voters by menacing them with stories of baby drowning refugees flooduing the country with their sinister ways? The Tampa affair, and the way it was manipulated by Howard and the rightwing press in Australia, was recounted in detail in Dark Victory, by David Marr and Marian Wilkinson (2). They credit Howard's 2001 election victory to his ruthless and inhumane handling of the incident, coupled with the racist fulminating in the press.

Now it seems he's at it again. The misery of those in Aboriginal settlements isn't something new. Nor is the rampant alcoholism, violence and child abuse. But Howard - who has been Prime Minister of Australia for a very long time, unfortunately - has only now decided to do something about it, nad the course of action chosen is the one most likely to make him look tough and effective, rather than pandering to PC, special pleading or minority griping. So its the same old. And, unfortunately, it seems to have been working - Howard's received a bit of a poll bounce in his personal rating:
Bipartisan support for the Coalition's intervention plan to protect
children on NT Aboriginal communities from sexual and physical abuse was not
enough to stop Mr Howard achieving a five-point turnaround on the question of
who would make a better prime minister. One point now separates the two leaders,
with Mr Howard up two points at 42 per cent, and Mr Rudd down three at 43 per
cent. Mr Howard's satisfaction rating has risen one point to 46 per cent and Mr
Rudd's slipped two points to a still-high 60 per cent.

(here - or 3, below)
Still, a turnaround in his personal ratings hasn't been translated - SO FAR - into a resurgence in his party's fortunes. Fingers crossed it stays that way, and Hone Harawira doesn't suddenyl become diplomatic and coy. Maybe he should tell us what he really thinks about Winston Peters and John Tamihere. I'd like that.




1 - 'I won't apologise to Howard' - Hone, Dominion Post / NZPA artcile, viewed 10th July 2007. http://www.stuff.co.nz/4122207a11.html
2 - Dark Victory, by David Marr & Marian Wilkinson, Allen & Unwin (Oct 2 2003).
3 - Howard finds fertile ground for support, Editorial piece, The Australian, 10th Julty 2007. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,22045745-7583,00.html

Bailey Junior Kurariki Applies for Parole

Kurariki is one of the killers of Michael Choy, who was beaten up by a gang when he was lured to an address to deliver pizza. He subsequently died on the lawn of his parent's home, having staggered back there before collapsing, unable to summon help, just yards from resuce.

Kuraiki was twelve at the time of the attack. He has now served the majority of his six year sentence and has applied for parole.

His fiance, understandably, does not want him paroled. She wants him to stay in jail until he has completed his sentence. (1)

I'm not disputing that. I just wonder, though, if there is any point in releasing Kuraiki at all. I mean, will he have received the help he needs to actually fit back into society? He's done something terrible. The guilt of it - assumnig he is not a psychopath and is capable of feeling guilt - will be immense. it will prey on him. It might take the form of denial of responsibility. He might try to transfer the guilt onto others, because facing up to something like that must be almost unbearable.

I wonder how much help he has received while he has been in jail. has he received any counselling, therapy, call it what you will and please put away the sneers. If we don't try to help people, they won't get better. Particualrly someone like Kurariki, who is still in his teens. In all likelihood, the issues that made him party to a savage murder won't have been addressed. Realistically, he isn't going to be able to face up to them, even if he were so minded. Realistically, he isn't going to be minded to, he's going to have to be forced to confront what he did. I doubt that will have hppened, because (inspite of the constant chorus of the hang 'em, flog 'em brigade) there isn't much focus on helping prisoners rehabilitate themselves. There isn't enough moeny or manpower in the system for that.

Nigel Latta, who was involved in the Choy trial, wrote about Kurariki in his book 'into the Darklands.' His role was trying to make thre trial process comprehensible to the accused. He describes how this idea was met with howlds of protest about how the accused shouldn't be molly-coddled like that, who cares if they could understand what was going on, why should they get special treatment, et cetera. His response was simple:


"[The recommendation I made] were about how the trial might be run so that the
young accused would have the best shot at gaining some understanding of what
they'd done, the impact of their offending ... I believed it was important for
these young people to participate in their trial for no other reason than to
understand what they'd really done. A man was dead. This was no exercise in
liberal excuse making. ; I wanted them to listen, to see, to understand." (2)
Beyond the trial, however, has anything really been done to carry on from this? Most of those involved in the killing ill be released in the next few years. Will they have been helped to come to terms with their crime, and given guidance to steer them away from re-offending? I doubt it, but I hope they have. More likely, they'll come out more hardened and savage than they went in, and will sooner re-offend, at which point the howling mob (read: Sensible Sentencing (3)) will scream "We told you so! You can't help these people! This latest offense is the fault of the liberal do-gooders with their constant prattle about rehabilitation and kindness!" But it is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The people who commit crimes like this are in desperate need of help. In a way, I agree with Sensible Sentencing - if we aren't going to help them, we might as well lock them up forever. They won't face up to what they have done, because it is too ghastly. they need to be given help, otherwise, we simply release a monster back onto the streets, with inevitable, tragic consequences. But, unlike the Garth McVicar and his cohorts, I think we aren't even tryng to help them at this stage. We aren't doing anything, why are we surprised that the damaged, shambolic excuses for people that lurch through the courts and into jail and then out again, don't magically fix themselves? Come on, get real. We need to really work with these people.

Sadly, I think Kurariki will be back in jail befor elong, playing out his bleak little tragedy, which could have been avoided, if we weren't so obssessed with punishment and exacting revenge. Because, as Michael Choy's fiance knows, no amount of vengance will ever really be enough: she described her misery, and that of Michael's family as "a never-ending story."



1 -'He took away my life, let him stay in jail' - Choy's fiancee, NZPA story, 10th July 2007. http://www.stuff.co.nz/4123178a10.html
2 - Into the Darklands: Unveilling the Predators Among Us, by Nigel latta, published by Harper Collins, 2005, pages 178-9.
3 - Sensible Sentencing website, linked 10th July 2007. http://www.safe-nz.org.nz/

Monday, 9 July 2007

Zaoui Hearing Underway

About bloody time. But it is still rank that he's been tried behind closed doors and will face charges that have been kept secret from him.

Mr Zaoui's lawyer Deborah Manning said before the hearing began this morning that the process was not a common one.

"It is very difficult of course to prepare for any hearing when information is secret so I don't think anyone's under any illusion that this is a normal fair hearing because it is based on secrecy."

(http://www.stuff.co.nz/4121958a11.html)
Zaoui was part of an Islamic party in Algeria, that was driven underground when it looked like it would win the 1991 election. In a fit of absurdity that only national governments are capable of delivering, the Algerian government cancelled the democratic elections on the gorunds that the Islamic Salvation Front's victory would endanger democracy.

Zaoui and his lawyers have already rebutted the claims made against him when the High COurt told the SIS to give his defence team a partial summary, excluding classified information (http://media.apn.co.nz/webcontent/document/pdf/ACFUAAAAayEh.pdf).

Classified information can go fuck itself. We're talknig about a human being here and he has rights which should be observed. Until now, he has not been told why he is being detained. New Zealand's treatment of Zaoui is shameful, a blot on our record of being relatively sensible about this whole war on terror fiasco.

Deborah Manning says a decision is likely by the end of the year. Get on with it.

Hullaballoo About Murderer's Leukemia Treatment

This story was brought to my attention when it was discussed on National Radio this afternoon.

Jason Reihana, 35, was sentenced in the High Court at Rotorua last month to life in jail with a non-parole period of 21 years. He was convicted of murdering Teresa Gunn, the mother of his two sons, and her new boyfriend Andrew Grabner in a frenzied knife attack.

It was reported yesterday that Reihana has leukaemia and will receive a bone-marrow transplant – at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of $1 million. (1)

It was discussed on Jim Mora's show, with Julia Hartley-Moore and John Bishop. I can't remember what John Bishop said, but Hartley-Moore managed to annoy me intensely.

Basically, she argued that as a double murderer we shouldn't treat him. H e had - yawn - given up his rights by becoming a killer. The surreal comparison was made to him being denied the right to vote. Apparently, because we exclude killers from our decisions about how we run our society, they can anlso be left to die, miserably.

Yeah, yeah, I know. He did that ... he deerves no better ... animal ... monster ... don't you understand what he did ... you think its okay ... he's laughing at us ... the victims got nothing, why should he ... All specious, bullshit arguments, attempts to manipulate emotions. That isn't how justice work. You don't deliver justice in a fit of rage or with desire for revenge eating you up.

Hartley-Moore misunderstands - deliberately, I think - the difference between civil rights and human rights. By committing murder, Reihana sacrificed his civil rights - the right to liberty, the right to vote, and so on. He remains a human being and, as such, retains the basic sub-stratum of rights we ascribe to human beings - one of them being the right to life. I suspect Hartley-Moore was angry that Reihana hadn't been given a death sentence and was advocating capital punishment by proxy, only it wouldn't really be proxy. We'd be culpable for his death, just as if we with-held food or water from him.

Ultimately, if we withhold treatment (Hartley-Moore said, with impressive lack of logic, that prisoners should receive routine care but nothing more) we kill him. Thankfully, in New Zealand we don't do that. Humane treatment of the worst and the wicked is how we demonstrate we're better than them. We don't give into our instinct to exact justice the way he did. We have laws and proceedures and a civilised standard of behaviour.



1 - Anger at $1m health bill for double killer, Dominion Post, 9th July 2007. http://www.stuff.co.nz/4121652a11.html

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Police Infiltrated by Al Qaeda: Specious Bullshit from the Daily Mail

The Daily Mail, a mid-brow tabloid with a penchant for prattling about 'political correctness,' the evils of the EU and/or Labour, and of course, Muslims, has claimed that the British police have been infiltraed by fanatical supporters of global Jihad:

Eight Al Qaeda fanatics working for the police (but they don't dare sack them)
By STEPHEN WRIGHT - More by this author »
Last updated at 12:12pm on 7th July 2007

Up to eight police officers and civilian staff are suspected of links to extremist groups including Al Qaeda.

Some are even believed to have attended terror training camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

Their names feature on a secret list of alleged radicals said to be working in the Metropolitan and other forces.

The dossier was drawn up with the help of MI5 amid fears that individuals linked to Islamic extremism are taking advantage of police attempts to increase the proportion of ethnic staff.

Astonishingly, many of the alleged jihadists have not been sacked because - it is claimed - police do not have the "legal power" to dismiss them.

(here - or 1, below)

In the wake of the absurdly incompetent terrorist attacks, my main worry is that the police
might be so desperate for recruits they might employ goons who can't even blow themselves up properly. If they can't break the law effectively, how on Earth dcould the be expected to enforce it? On inspection, however, the Mail article starts to look very shabby.

First of all, bear in mind that none of the staff in question has actually been provend to be a terrorist, a sympathizer, or anything of the sort. They are "suspected of links to extremist groups including Al Qaeda." Suspicion, remember, does not mean guilt. The British have a long and ignoble history of arresting and jailing Irish nationals incorrectly.

Also, these are not all police officers. The article refers to 'eight police officers and civilian staff.' We might be talking about cleaners and canteen staff. While a fanatic might be able to slip some laxatives into the canteen tea urn, they aren't going to have access to polcie information.

What are 'extremist groups,' anyway? It could cover a huge range from al Qaeda, Palestinian support groups, kurdish national organistations, Greenpeace, PETA, the Scottish National Party, many religious sects, the BNP and the Natioinal Front. It is interesting that the religious or cultural background of the staff in question is never made clear - the assumption we make, immediately, is that they are Muslims. This is not stated in the article, however, other than in the ridiculous headline - which is undermined by the very first line of the story. They might be eight Muslim fanatics, but no-where does the Mail providing evidence to back up the claim made in its headline.

Then we learn "Some are even believed to have attended terror training camps". So it isn't known for sure, and there may not even be credible evidence. Iqbal might have saved up all the money earnedf working in the canteen to go to Pakistan, and he might have visited a terror training camp (whatever that may mean) but equally he might not have. Towards the bottom of the article, we are smugly informed that new recruits to the police may not have been vetted properly because

it is often impossible to carry out satisfactory checks on recruits who were raised overseas or who have spent considerable periods out of Britain before applying to join the Met.

In such cases, the Met has to rely on overseas agencies to carry out intelligence checks on their behalf. Privately, officials doubt whether certain countries in Africa, Middle East or the Indian sub-continent are able to carry out meaningful vetting. (1)
Yet these are the same intelligence agencies who are claiming that Iqbal or Hamid may have visited the mysterious 'terror training camps.' Anyway, how many is 'Some'? One? Two? Or all eight 'Al Qaeda fanatics'? Two lines in and there is already a distinct smell of bullshit about the story.

But it gets better: "Their names feature on a secret list of alleged radicals said to be working in the Metropolitan and other forces." Note again that they are 'alleged,' not proven and perhaps not even indicated by any credible intelligence, from home or abroad. And again, the vague term 'radical' begs questions. Radical about what? Islam? Global warming? Organics? The racial purity of the Aryan race? I don't see why the Mail is being mealy-mouthed about this, especially after scorning the idea of not linking Muslims with terror (2). Unless they are trying a smoke and mirrors routine. But the Mail wouldn't do that, would it?

Then their supposed unsackability: "Astonishingly, many of the alleged jihadists have not been sacked because - it is claimed - police do not have the "legal power" to dismiss them" and "Political correctness is blamed for the decision not to sack them." The latter sounds very like the Mail's take on what the dossier said, rather than an accurate rendering of its contents. I doubt a police dossier would blame political correctness, but the Mail does like to attribute everything to the vileness of PC. If the dossier did say something like 'Political correctness is blamed for the decision not to sack them', why not quote directly? Why would it miss an opportunity to show how it is jeopardising our national security? And would a police memo allocate 'blame' in that way? Sounds far fetched. It might say "We have decided not to sack the staff in question because of our preference not to unnecessarily offend ethnic and religious minorities." It wouldn't say "We can't sack them because of the poxy culture of PC that has crippled our fine police force."

The suggestion rthat they will be unsackable is bollocks anyway. A few lines later we learn, "it is understood that a policeman was removed from his post after concerns about his conduct in the aftermath of a major anti-terrorist operation in the past two years" - so in fact staff who are corrupt, are guilty of misconduct or otherways deliberately failing in their duty can be dealt with. It is down to evidence, not political correctness.

Not being able to sack people on suspicion is a GOOD THING. Guilty by suspicion was popular in Iraq and the Soviet Union. We're better than they are, and not relying on hearsay or giving in to paranoia is one of the ways we show this moral supeiority. If it can be shown they are guilty of misconduct, inappropriate behaviour, or any sort of terrorist activity, then appropiate steps can be taken. In the meantime, sqealing in a Mailesque manner doesn't accomplish anything but made people paranoid and frightened. Which is what the terrorists would like.

Then we're told that "one suspected jihadist officer working in the South East has been allowed to keep his job despite being caught circulating Internet images of beheadings and roadside bombings in Iraq." Sorry, but so what? These pictures are everywhere on the internet. If emailing images of terrorist barbarity is what makes one a 'suspected jihadist' then there are many of them, most of them professing to hate Islam and its evil, backwards mediaval attitude. A ghoulish interest in cruelty doesn't make one a terrorist, merely a bad human being.

The Mail also claims'It is thought that intelligence files on those who frequently visit pro-Jihad websites and who have associated with so-called preachers of hate were also compared to details of officers and civilian staff in the Met.' Again, this doesn't mean much. Many people visit web-sites that could be termed 'pro-Jihad' - whatever that stupid formulation means. Many of them are not terrorists or terrorist sympathizer, but people wanting to see what is being said on these websites, and again these people are not Jihadis but often people fired up about the perceived wickedness of Islam, who trawl these sites so they can bleat about the inane ramblings in Muslim discussion groups. And how on Earth does a term like 'so-called preachers of hate' find its way without arttribution or justification into an article in a supposedly serious newspaper?

Basically, the article is shoddy, failing to backing up the wild claims it makes. One would have thought, if they had seen the dossier in question, they would have managed to find something more substantial in it. Instead they fall back on the usual tricks - partial quoting, reported speech rather than direct quotation, implication and generalisation. Piss poor journalism, in other words.


1 - Eight Al Qaeda fanatics working for the police (but they don't dare sack them), By Stephen Wright. Retrieved Sunda, 8th July, 2007. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=466832&in_page_id=1770&ct=5
2 - Terror-spooked EU: 'Don't say Muslims', no author given. Rerieved Sunday, 8th July, 2007. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=466130&in_page_id=1811

Friday, 6 July 2007

Who Moved My Cheese?

This is an old rant I found tucked away in a corner. You might debate the relevance of dargging it out now, but, as remarked further down, no excuse should be missed toheap scorn on this 'book':

Possibly the worst book ever written is the toe-curlingly awful Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, MD. It really is one of the most remarkably awful things I've encountered in book form, and no opportunity to scorn it should be missed. Frighteningly, it sells by the ton and has received four hundred and thirtynine 5 star reviews on Amazon (so far ...) (1), though, hearteningly, it has also received 398 1 star reviews. Websites have been set up to spread the message further(2). Many people I know who are sensible and successful - far more sensible and succesful than I - swear by it, and cite it as a inspirational book, second to none. But it is awful.

I read it when my wife was loaned a copy through her work, when that company was going through one of its regular restructures (as it is again, now). The book tells you how to regard these changes as opportunites and challenges, not as obstacles. So, basically, when your employer tries to piss all over you, instead of protesting or - Heaven forbid - involving the union - you have to thank them for giving you a chance to explore your potential elsewhere. I kid you not. It doesn't advocate biting the hand that feeds you, so much as kissing the hand that slaps you.

The means of putting this wondrous message across is ... um ... cheesey (I suspect I may not be the first person to make that joke. But what the Hell.) A group of old friends meet up and discuss their lives. One of them starts to tell a story that is mean to illustrate the correct way (in the opinion of the good doctor) to face up to change. He mentions that , when his company was gonig through changes, some people clung onto their old fashioned ideas and sufferred losses as a result. How foolish of them to think they 'might have had any rights what-so-ever.

The story is short, which is the best thing that can be said for it. It describes the experiences of two 'Little People' (That is proles, like you and me), and two busy little mice. For reasons that are never made clear, they live in a maze, and every day they eat cheese which is delivered to the same spot by POWERS UNKNOWN. Then, one day, the cheese isn't there. The little people sulk and protest, unable to accept that SOMETHING HAS CHANGED. The mice immediately scurry off through the maze, and find more cheese.

Eventually, the little people realise that they should follow the example of the mice and go in search of new cheese, instead of sitting about bewailling the change that has befallen them. As they go, they daub the walls of the maze with maxims, just incase the readers of the book are too dim to work out the lesson for themselves. It one of the most patronising books I've ever read. And it is wrong. No consideration is given to the idea that a change may not be appropriate, or that the 'little people' should protest when their jobs are out-sourced to China, that workers - for the book is really telling workers that they need to accept just that sort of thing, hence the reason it appeared in Mrs Lurgee's workplace when the 'little people' were ahving their cheese moved - might have a say or a stake in the company they work for. Change is always good, especially if it involves you losing your job. Be grateful, grasshopper, for the chance to experience poverty, insecurity and hardship.

The tedious narrative is written in a curdled style that made me want to puke. It made Woman's Realm read like Raymond Chandler. And this book sells by the million, to successful, presumably intelligent, business people. What is so wrong with the world that this is allowed to happen? Is there no God?




1 http://www.amazon.com/Moved-Cheese-Amazing-Deal-Change/dp/0399144463
2 http://www.whomovedmycheese.com/

Lefthandpalm rises, Phoenix like, from the grave ...

... Only the Phoenix's didn't get buried, did it? It built itself a pyre (clever things, birds) and cooked itself up, then a new one was born from the ashes. So perhaps the return of LHP from the dead is more akin to a zombie rising ...

Anyway, I've been veyr busy over the last month, and also plagued by an inability to log in. As is often the case, I put thae latter problem on the backburner and so didn't blog anything at all for a very long time, perhaps to David Irving's relief.

Finally managed to resolve the log in issue. Blogger come in for alot of stick on their 'Help' forum, but the answer was there for those who looked about before getting tetchy (okay, I got tetchy as well, but couldn't log in to display my tetchiness to the world. Normal, extra-tetchy service will now be resumed).

What a month to be locked out on, though! There was a lot of stuff I wanted to rant about, Like hearing self-publicist and occasional MP and journalist Debra Coddington whinging on National Radio about the departing editor of North & South, Robyn Langwell. North& South was the journal that published Coddington's infamous Asian Angst. Under her, the journal enjoyed "word by word, vigorous editing" (translation: "If I distorted my statistics to suit my agendum, it was not my fault, not my fault North & South let me." The editor had always supported "advocacy journalism backed by ... facts," though she didn't specify that facts have to be presented honestly, not twisted and manipulated to disguise the truth. And then the piece de resistance: "we will not see this sort of journalism any more." Pity. I have to admit I got a bit annoyed with Deb, then I realised she had to be taking the piss - no one could be that absurdly self righteous and precious, surely? Surely?

Langwell isn't the only person who's time at North & South was drawing to a close. Coddington was also due to depart, advising us in a small voice that her contract was't being renewed. Sadly, given her propensity for thrusting herself under our noses I suspect this isn't the last we'll see of "this sort of journalism."

And then we had Tony Blair wailing and nashing his teeth as he handed over power to Gordo Brown, who seems to have taken to the job rather well, inspite of a wave of laughably incompetent terror attacks in his first week in the job. It was hilarious to hear genuine Weegie's on New Zealand radio describing the botched attack on Glasgow Airport.

And so much more. Like the clock tower in the square. It seems to have grown several feet. Sometimes, driving down Fitzherbert, I fancy I can see the silhouette of a worryingly large cross through the covering. This is a grim development, though if it doesn't glow like the last one, at least it will be invisible half the time. Sadly, this will be when I wouldn't be about to see it anyway (inspite of my current late night frenzy). Perhaps they could have made a glass one, which would have been invisible by day and filled with glowing gas at night? Or, since the council has seen fit to endorse religious symbols on public space, they could have cluttered the square with symbols representing all the faiths on Earth, which would have looked quite cool, really, and would be a much better thing than the current concrete wasteland littered with sad looking ducks.

I've sometimes entertained the idea of runnnig for mayor, my sole policy being that the hideously gray and Stalinist council building in the square would be painted a cheerful colour. The colour would be decided by referendum, though my preference would be candy-floss pink. Remarkably, the council seem to be moving in my direction, and have announced the building is to give a lick of paint, though I suspect of a suitably drab colour.

I also became really annoyed about Tetrapaks this month. Lurgee Jnr is lactose intolerant, so now that he's stopped breast-feeding he takes soy or rice milk. This means we get through a lot of Tetrapaks, which can not be recycled in NZ. Why not? They can be elsewhere. Its just typically crap that everything plastic other than grades 1 & 2 ends up in landfill. Or why can't the compannies supplying the soy and rice milk use recyclable grade plastic bottles instead or tetras?

And so on. I might expand some of these thoughts later. But for now, suffice to say I'm back. Time to look up David Irving ...

Hang out the stars in Alabama!

Well done, Albanians, or whatever you are. Who ever thought The Great Fightback would start in Alabama? Seriously, well done. Nothi...