Posts filed under 'Samuel’s Editorials'

Listening to the ANZAC Day dawn service

Every year on ANZAC Day I look forward to listening to the dawn service from Martin Place on the radio. This dawn service is on the television, of course, on almost all networks, but I find there is something very special about listening to the service rather than seeing it.

My preference is to listen in a dark room, maybe even in bed with no light whatsoever. The service becomes more intimate in this way and allows a mental image to be drawn of a quiet, humble service by candlelight occurring just as the sun starts to make its light known. More importantly it allows me to imagine what our servicemen and servicewomen endure in dark and hostile locations around the world, and specifically given it is ANZAC Day and the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in World War I, how our soldiers in that time must have felt, in the dark, on the other side of the world, with their only link to the rest of the world being a radio if they were lucky and an occasional letter service at other times.

I made the mistake one year of turning on the television for the Martin Place dawn service and was aghast at the entire area being floodlit. I know light is important for television, but it ruins the atmosphere of a very important and solemn event in my view.

The marches during the day require light and a generally happy atmosphere of gratitude, but this is not the case for the dawn services which occur in the dark as a commemoration of the events of the fateful landing at Gallipoli at dawn on April 25, 1915, and deserve a solemn atmosphere which dark and candlelight provide, and floodlights do not.

May your ANZAC Day be special and reflective.

Samuel

1 comment April 25th, 2024 at 02:05am

Australian Federal Police strike action paves useful precedent for speed camera protests

Here in Canberra, just as in many other parts of the country, there are speed camera vans which can be setup in a wide variety of locations to measure the speed of passing vehicles and issue speeding fines. Here, these are operated by ACT Government employees unlike some other jurisdictions where the operation is outsourced to private contractors. The ACT’s vans are white and have a retractable sign on the roof which states “your speed has been checked” but are otherwise fairly unremarkable vehicles.

I am strongly opposed to the existence of these, partially because I believe most speed limits should be abolished, but moreso because I believe they deny natural justice by:
1. Removing the element of discretion from the enforcing officer
2. Making it impossible for the driver to know with any certainty whether a fine will be issued, as the fines take weeks to be issued and delivered, thus removing some of the driver’s ability to contemporaneously collect and preserve evidence for their defence
3. Reverse the onus of proof, by requiring the registered owner of the vehicle to prove that they either weren’t speeding (practically impossible if they don’t have the opportunity to collect evidence at the time) or they weren’t the driver involved; in a society where a person is supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, there are grave problems with the processes of the speed camera van system.

There is also an issue that is not confined to the speed camera vans but more broadly of the infringement notice system which is used by the speed camera vans among other government agencies, that the receiver is coerced into accepting the fine rather than defending it in court by virtue of the infringement notice fine being substantially less than a court could impose. It is effectively a coercive tool to make people admit guilt by offering them a smaller punishment, and for many people it is simpler to just admit guilt, even if they don’t believe they were guilty, rather than go through the process of defending the charge when the system will effectively treat them as guilty until proven innocent.

I also believe that the speed cameras are not an effective road safety tool as they don’t do anything to correct driver behaviour at the time of the offence. In my view, only police officers should be able to conduct speed enforcement as they have the authority to stop a driver at the time, something which the speed camera vans can’t do, and police also have the ability to exercise discretion based on the circumstances at the time. I believe that speeding fine should only be able to be issued if police detect a driver to be speeding, and then make a reasonable effort to intercept the driver.

A couple years ago I decided to make my position on this matter known. Apart from writing a submission (which was largely ignored) to an ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry into road safety, I also had a sign produced.

Abolish Speed Cameras sign

When I saw a speed camera van and had the time to do so, I would set up an impromptu protest near the speed camera van, where I stood there waving the sign about. This received an overwhelmingly positive response from passing motorists.

Originally, and this is starting to get the point of why I’m writing this today, I was setting up somewhere in the line of sight of the speed camera van, partially obscuring the camera’s view of traffic. On the second occasion of this, the speed camera van operator called the police and they attended. The police officer asked me to leave the area. The ACT has a Human Rights Act which, among other things, protects the right to peaceful demonstration, so I wasn’t going to leave without the police officer providing a very good reason as to why they thought I had to do so. The police officer claimed that I was breaking the law by “hindering a territory official” which is quite a stretch considering that law was really designed to allow emergency services to go about their business without being obstructed, not to protect bureaucrats sitting in vans, and given I was not interacting with the speed camera van operator or preventing them from operating their equipment, it was unlikely that such a charge would hold up in court. However, it was likely that the police officer would take me into custody if I didn’t oblige and move on, so I moved on.

It’s also worth noting that if merely being in the line of sight of the camera between it and passing vehicles could be said to meet the criteria of “hindering a territory official” then every driver of a vehicle in the lane closest to the speed camera would be contravening this law by blocking the view of a further away lane.

Furthermore, the Human Rights Act’s protection of the right to peaceful demonstration applies unless a law specifically prohibits the activity. Standing somewhere with a sign is not an illegal activity unless a prohibition zone is created, which is what was done by the ACT Government in the streets near the abortion clinic in the city. It was necessary for the government to specifically list the areas in which protesting abortion were to be illegal in order to overcome the Human Rights Act. There is no legislation to create a prohibition zone in the vicinity of a movable object such as a speed camera van, so really, it was an empty threat to charge me with “hindering a territory official”.

Regardless, to ease tensions and keep the peace, on future occasions I moved my protests across the road from the speed camera vans, or occasionally opposite their headquarters in Hume at their shift changeover, so that I would not be in their line of sight of traffic. The speed camera van operators (apart from one) still don’t like it and I have even had one stop doing their work of their own volition to take photos of me and threaten legal action, but obviously what I am doing is perfectly legal and should be perfectly legal in a democratic nation, so nothing has come of it.

What brings all of this up at this point in time is that the Australian Federal Police, who provide police services to Canberra among other things, are about to embark on strike activity. They won’t be walking off the job as such, but will engage in various activities, one of which caught my attention as being relevant to my activities.

Union members voted on 36 potential actions which range from putting slogans on AFP vehicles and uniforms and blocking mobile speed vans, to not attending court matters, not transporting alleged offenders, and not investigating any referrals to the AFP from the offices of politicians where no offence has been committed.

Blocking mobile speed vans. In other words, demonstrating in a place which will block the view of a speed camera van. The very activity which they threatened to charge me over. There is no difference from a legal standpoint between them demonstrating for better pay and conditions in front of a speed camera van, and me demonstrating against speed cameras in front of a speed camera van. The only potential legal difference is that police officers have special powers not afforded to civilians, however the wording of the proposed strike action makes it clear that the officers are not considered to be working whenever they conduct their strike activity, so it cannot be argued that they are using special powers available to police officers at such a time.

The exact wording of the proposed action, as notified to the Fair Work Commission, is slightly less clear than what the writer of the news article has interpreted it to mean

21. The indefinite or periodic interruption of work for members to park police vehicles in front of speed cameras, at school zones and any Australian Federal Police related Government facility while displaying emergency lights.

It was suggested to me that “in front of speed cameras” could mean they’re a little down the road and slowing passing motorists with their flashing lights before the motorists would reach the speed camera. If this is the case, it is still a useful precedent for my activities as my current across-the-road approach tends to slow down traffic as it passes, which is exactly what the police strike action would do. Given the stated aim of the speed camera program is to reduce the speed of motorists, it is impossible to argue that my actions or those of the striking police officers are “hindering a territory official” when the actions in fact help them to reach their stated aim.

Regardless of how exactly the strike action plays out, the precedent set by the proposals alone is enough to confirm what I have believed all along. It is perfectly legal within the ACT to protest near a speed camera van, regardless of the reason for the protest, unless it happen to be a protest against abortion within a couple blocks of Moore Street in the city. So waving an “abolish speed cameras” sign is A-OK!

Samuel

Add comment March 19th, 2024 at 05:11am

ASIO’s annual statement is an ongoing source of hilarity

It really is hard to take ASIO’s annual threat assessment statements seriously. Each year they seem to become more detached from reality and read more like one of my dreams than anything which could actually have happened or be a plausible concern about something which might happen.

This year’s statement made me laugh hysterically for a few minutes. In it, there are details of a supposed foreign group of spies who were apparently doing exactly what you would expect them to do: posing as legitimate business-people, bureaucrats, diplomats etc, trying to connect with people who are in some way connected to government or politics and offering them seemingly real consulting roles so that they can then be subtly probed for more sensitive information. Nothing remarkable in this. It’s exactly what you would expect foreign spies to do, and exactly what I expect our own spies at ASIS are doing overseas.

The real laugh came in the form of how they thwarted the threat from a group ASIO laughably dubbed “The A-Team”

We confronted the A-team directly. Late last year, the team leader thought he was grooming another Australian online. Little did he know he was actually speaking with an ASIO officer – the spy was being spied on, the player was being played. You can imagine his horror when my officer revealed himself and declared, “we know who you are. We know what you are doing. Stop it or there will be further consequences.”

An utterly terrifying digital finger-wagging in an online chat. “Stop being naughty or we’ll do something about it!”. ASIO expect the public to take this nonsense seriously?

ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess goes on…

Like other public servants, spies are required to tell their security teams about suspicious approaches so I sure hope the team leader lodged a contact report!

That’s quite an assumption to make. Assuming that policies and procedures for foreign government workers are the same as for Australian government employees. Naive would be an understatement. I’m sure that the foreign spy, receiving such an empty threat, laughed as much as I did when I read it.

The media is reporting it as “job done, threat averted” but Mr. Burgess continues and confirms that, actually, they didn’t stop much of anything.

We decided to confront the A-team and then speak about it publicly as part of a real-world, real-time disruption. We want the A-team to know its cover is blown. We want the A-team’s bosses to know its cover is blown. If the team leader failed to report our conversation to his spymasters, he will now have to explain why he didn’t, along with how ASIO knows so much about his team’s operations and identities.

I want the A-team and its masters to understand if they target Australia, ASIO will target them; we will make their jobs as difficult, costly and painful as possible.

In other words, “we don’t think they stopped when we wagged our finger at them, and we want them to know that if we catch them doing it again, we will wag our finger at them again”.

To be fair, earlier in the story Mr. Burgess did mention that they stopped a handful of Australians from communicating with the foreign spies, although it’s notable that some of those people apparently knew they were dealing with foreign spies and were happy to provide them with information, so I’m sure those people will be able to recommence communications through other means. About the only thing which can really be done is to remove their access to secret information, but given that in one of those cases the information was about the internal machinations of a political party and not secret government information, it’s hard to see how it is any of ASIO’s business, and is in fact quite an overreach on ASIO’s behalf. There is really no difference between that type of information being given to and reported on by the media and read by foreign governments, and just being given directly to foreign governments. It is not a state secret and none of ASIO’s business who knows it. That this is apparently their crowning achievement for the year makes one wonder about the half a billion dollars or more of taxpayer funds that ASIO receives every year, and what other more useful things it could be spent on.

Quite frankly the whole thing is either absurd because it has been made up as security theatre propaganda, or absurd because all they have done is prove ASIO has no real ability to stop foreign spying and are in fact spying on Australians themselves more than the foreign spies are.

The whole thing is laughable.

Samuel

Add comment February 29th, 2024 at 07:28am

Supporting our dairy farmers

One thing I believe to be important is the idea that people should be compensated fairly for their work. Exactly how “fair” is defined in this context is a matter of much debate, but I think at the very least, if a person is being paid by someone else for their work, it should not cost that person more to do their work than to not do their work.

Unfortunately our dairy industry has been subjected to some rather unsavoury pricing practices over the last decade or more, with almost-monopolistic large milk distributors putting farmers on contracts which offered them a pittance for their milk and prevented them from seeking a better deal. In some cases farmers were being paid less for their milk than it cost to produce, while the distributors made a profit on it. It hasn’t been entirely the fault of the distributors, as they have been reacting to some extent to market pressures, although those market pressures are largely a result of the distributors going along with the major supermarkets white-labelling milk at unsustainably cheap prices some years ago and consumers getting used to the idea of milk being cheaper than is reasonable. Sadly, while the super-cheap prices of supermarket-branded milk have come up a bit, this has mostly resulted in the supermarkets and distributors not making a loss on the milk, but not resulted in much of the difference flowing through to the farmers.

It is, in my view, vital that our farmers receive the support of the consumers, as a situation where the majority of our farmers decide to give up farming and the farmland is sold off to mega-corporations will only result in lower quality produce, reduced choice of produce, and higher prices in the long run. Farming is difficult work which is essential in order for all of us in metropolitan areas to be able to eat, and while it can be quite profitable, it requires a lot of hard work and perseverance through lean and difficult years in order to reach the good years.

So on the dairy front, I am very pleased to see a growth in the number of farmers who are bypassing some of those almost-monopolistic distributors and distributing their products independently. Even more pleasing is that people are displaying on ongoing willingness to purchase these products, often at a higher price than some of the other brands, even when the cost of living seems to be taking more of a toll on people than usual. I put a lot of this down to the marked difference is quality of product coming from these farmer-owned brands compared to the large distributors. I’m not at all convinced that the major distributors are selling proper milk as it often seems to lack much flavour and in some of the cheaper supermarket-owned brands even seems to be watered down. To compare them to the farmer-owned brands is akin to comparing chalk and cheese, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Here in Canberra there are two farmer-owned brands which are quite prominent. They’re not the only ones but they do seem to be prominent. Tilba Dairy from the New South Wales south coast and Norco from the New South Wales north coast. Probably owing to the distances involved, Tilba products generally have a wider range and volume of products stocked in Canberra, while Norco’s Canberra stockists tend to have less volume and a more streamlined lineup.

Norco flavoured milks and Tilba unhomogenised milk

When it comes to plain milk, I find unhomogenised milk to be of better quality and taste than homogenised milk. I find the homogenisation process, whereby the milk fat goes through a manufacturing process to more evenly distribute it throughout the milk, reduces the flavour of the milk overall. Having the milk fat essentially sit on top of the milk in the bottle and mixing it yourself upon opening the bottle (a good shake and maybe a pouring back and forth between two bottles does the trick) seems to result in a more flavoursome milk. Norco’s unhomogenised milk used to make its way to Canberra but hasn’t for a couple years, but their homogenised milk still comes down here and is stocked in many supermarkets including Coles and Woolworths, and various local supermarkets and some other places. Watson Takeaway stock and sell it, for example.

Tilba’s unhomogenised milk and homogenised milk, plus a variety of other dairy products are stocked in many of the local supermarkets. I can’t say I have ever seen it in a Coles or Woolworths, but the suburban supermarkets seem to stock it by-and-large. IGA Ainslie and Supabarn Express Watson both definitely stock quite a large amount of it, and sell it quite quickly.

Norco flavoured milk is a bit harder to find in Canberra. IGA Ainslie and Watson Takeaway both stock it. I have heard that other places stock it but I am yet to witness it. I first came across it when I was working in Ingleburn in Sydney as a service station in the suburb stocks Norco flavoured milk. It is remarkably more flavoursome and creamy than the brands owned by some of the major milk distributors and thus much more enjoyable. I like to take it to work with me and so tend to stock up when I have the opportunity.

I’m sure there are other such brands in other parts of the country. I am aware of the Fleurieu Milk Company in South Australia for one, but I encourage you to do some research if you are looking for a farmer-owned brand, because many brands which seem to be local are really just a front for the big distributors. For example, I had believed that Sungold milk, which is common in western Victoria was a locally-owned brand, but in fact it is owned by Saputo, a Candadian-owned company, the same people who inexplicably decided that Coon cheese could no longer be named after its creator because people ignorant of the history of the name thought it meant something else. A quick dig around the website of any milk brand should lead you back to the parent company or give you information about the local farmers who own it, depending on which of those situations applies.

It is very heartening to see these independent milk brands, owned by farmers and delivering consistently high quality products, making such inroads into the market and being received so well by the public. Dairy farmers have been squeezed quite badly by some of the big players for many years and it is fantastic to see the tables starting to turn.

Samuel

2 comments February 28th, 2024 at 05:39am

When the punishment is worse than the crime, the punishment itself is a crime

The legal system can be a very strange beast at times, producing ridiculously convoluted bureaucratic processes which seem to do little for justice, and yet at other times those very processes which seem convoluted are necessary to ensure that justice is in fact served, and served well.

Alas, the scenes in London over the last couple of days seem to fall into the category of bureaucracy for the sake of bureaucracy. Something which keeps the courts busy and the lawyers paid, but does nothing whatsoever for justice.

I refer to the court battle over whether Julian Assange is allowed to appeal his extradition to the United States. Yes, you read that correctly, it was a hearing to decide whether it is allowable to have a hearing to determine the fate of the extradition. It seems implausibly ridiculous that you would have to have a hearing to decide whether to have a hearing, especially when this initial hearing was always going to cover a lot of the ground that the hypothetical next hearing would be covering.

Some of the arguments against having the next hearing were as ridiculous as the process itself, arguing that if the US as an ally of the UK has reasons for extradition which it wishes to keep secret, the UK shouldn’t test them in court and should just put Mr. Assange on a plane and be done with it. This makes no sense when courts have perfectly good processes for holding sessions behind closed doors if the evidence is too sensitive to become public. Although here in Australia we’ve seen such processes fall well short of reasonable when Bernard Collaery was being prosecuted for alleged breaches of national security legislation (charges which were ultimately withdrawn after a very very very long time) as the federal Attorney-General’s department insisted on some utterly impossible conditions surrounding secret evidence which made it almost impossible for Mr. Collaery’s legal team to review and examine the evidence which was to be presented against him, this limiting his ability to be defended against the charges.

In Mr. Collaery’s case, it’s hard to know whether the charges would have been upheld if the case had proceeded, but I fear it and subsequent appeals would have dragged on for the rest of his life. It became clear that the prosecution was simply not worthwhile from the government’s perspective, and frankly given how much of an impact being dragged through the courts had on Mr. Collaery, any sentencing court would probably determine that he had already been punished enough and not bother to impose any meaningful sentence.

At this point I think the same principle should apply to Mr. Assange’s case. Whether you believe him to be guilty of some awful crime against national security or not (and I admit, I have changed my view on this, having originally been quite critical of Mr. Assange and Wikileaks, I now concede that for the most part there was an immense public interest and utility in the publication of the material which was published, and have come around to the view that many national security laws are overly draconian and governments keep too many secrets from citizens, but I’ll cover that another day), the fact that Julian Assange has been effectively locked up for 12 years, with the most recent years being in quite harsh environments which have caused enormous detrimental effects to his health from which it is unlikely he will ever fully recover, and even if set free will probably face a signifcantly shortened lifespan, it seems to me that it is unlikely that any fair court would impose any further sentence if he were to be found guilty of whatever charges may ultimately be brought. He has already been punished far in excess of the degree of any crime of which he is accused.

We probably won’t have an outcome until sometime next month. And even then, if Julian is granted permission to have a hearing to appeal against his deportation to the United States, it seems unlikely that a conclusion will be reached this year, and in the meantime he languishes in Longmarsh.

How ironic that our supposedly freedom-loving western nations have treated Julian Assange in this way, a man not convicted of anything and not even accused of leaking information entrusted to him via a security clearance, yet Edward Snowden who did have a security clearance and admits to revealing information entrusted to him under said clearance, was granted asylum by Russia and is living a free and happy life in Russia. It really makes you think about which countries actually care about truth and liberty, which ones don’t, and what it might mean for the various statements of the governments of said countries when put in that context.

Samuel

Add comment February 23rd, 2024 at 07:08am

Samuel’s voting recommendations for 2022

A lot of people have already voted. I am one of them as I voted by post before prepoll even opened. Still, today is Election Day and many people will vote today.

I find this election to be a bit of a conundrum. It’s no secret that I am a very conservative voter. In fact the National Communist Broadcaster’s Vote Compass almost puts me off the edge of the map and I sometimes wonder if they’ve skewed the map to make the gap between The Greens and Labor look larger than it actually is, and even make the gap between Labor and Liberal look larger than it is.

The dilemma for me is that a Labor/Green government is a dreadful prospect whereby great strides towards socialist all-powerful UN-led world government will be achieved, but a Liberal government sadly will do much the same thing but at a slower pace. In fact it seems to me that, as a party, perhaps not true of all of the individuals within the party, it cares about freedom and liberty and sovereignty during election campaigns but then largely goes missing on the subjects between elections, and even helps to implement the opposite of those ideas. Indeed the Liberal Party, once a bastion of truth when it came to exposing the expensive scam and fraud of global warming has signed Australia on to “net zero” nonsense which is designed to destroy freedom and economic prosperity. So a Liberal government is only very marginally and slightly better than a Labor/Greens government.

I used to be a member of the Liberal Party. I wouldn’t say I was ever perfectly ideologically aligned with the Liberal Party but it was, for a time, a close enough match. Alas the Liberal Party has drifted away from my values quite significantly, and I have probably drifted away from it a bit too. I don’t really see that any of the minor parties completely align with me, but there are a number of smaller parties which are a closer match to me than the Liberal Party; not close enough for me to join them as a member but certainly close enough for me to vote for them.

Alas none of the smaller parties are likely to have the numbers to form government at this election, and probably not at an election in the foreseeable future under the current electoral system, but they can be greatly influential in small numbers.

So my hope is that there is a minority government. It doesn’t matter much which party forms that government although the Liberal/National coalition is probably slightly preferable. Importantly the minority government needs to have to contend with a crossbench filled with minor freedom-loving parties (not those awful “teal” Greens posing as independents) who can sway the government on every vote and get Australia on to the right track and away from globalist control.

To that end, my recommendation in all parts of the country is to vote for these groups, in whichever order is best based on the candidates available where you live:

  • One Nation
  • United Australia
  • Liberal Democrats
  • Informed Medical Options
  • The Great Australian Party
  • Sustainable Australia

I specifically endorse:

  • Craig Kelly, United Australia in Hughes
  • Dean Mackin, United Australia in Dobell
  • Pauline Hanson, One Nation in the Senate for Queensland
  • Campbell Newman, Liberal Democrats in the Senate for Queensland
  • George Christensen, One Nation in the Senate for Queensland
  • Clive Palmer, United Australia in the Senate for Queensland
  • Rod Culleton, The Great Australian Party for the Senate in Western Australia (* there is a question mark over Rod’s eligibility for election, so be sure to preference other freedom-minded candidates)
  • Jim Molan, Liberal Party for the Senate in New South Wales (he really should be the minister for Defence)
  • Gerard Rennick, Liberal Party for the Senate in Queensland (consistently pro-freedom in regards to tyrannical COVID rules, unlike many other Liberals)
  • John Ruddick, Liberal Democrats for the Senate in New South Wales

As for how I voted and how I recommend people vote where I live:

For the electorate of Canberra
There isn’t a lot of choice in good candidates here, so I have put the obvious freedom party candidates first, giving United Australia priority as I believe they have a better chance of achieving 4% of the primary vote in the electorate and thus getting some reimbursement for their electoral costs, followed by the Liberal candidate, and then the awful candidates in order for least awful to most awful.
How to vote in Canberra
(click to enlarge)

  1. Catherine Smith, United Australia
  2. James Miles, One Nation
  3. Slade Minson, Liberal
  4. Tim Bohm, Independent
  5. Alicia Payne, Labor
  6. Tim Hollo, Greens

For the Senate in the ACT
I have voted below the line to allow for maximum optimisation of the placement of preferences. Once again I have gone with the good freedom parties first, but there aren’t many of them. Then the Legalise Cannabis Party who, while I’m not a cannabis user and don’t particular care about the topic, they are generally on board with many aspects of freedom. Then we get to the Liberal Party although in reverse order as I believe Kacey Lam has the potential to be a very good elected representative one day and, as much as I like Zed Seselja personally, I don’t support Australia’s excessive foreign aid spending which is something he now oversees a fair bit of as a minister, and he is the only incumbent from the Liberal Party on my ballot papers so I must on principle penalise him for the actions of the Liberal/National government which stood by and put up effectively no fight while states enacted all kinds of draconian measures throughout the COVID scamdemic. After this we get to the bad options and Labor are largely better than most of the rest so their second candidate gets the next preference as Katy Gallagher is a very dreadful person to have in parliament, then we run through the second candidates of the very terrible parties in a vague order of least awful to most awful (strategically the second candidates go first here to try to avoid any of them reaching a quota), followed by the Communist Chinese independent bloke, then the top candidates of the very terrible parties, once again in a vague order of least awful to most awful, and finally we come to Labor’s Katy Gallagher who the nation would be much better off without, and then the loopy Greens with their bizarre Nasi Goreng Goreng woman absolute last.
How to vote in the Senate
(click to enlarge)

  1. James Savoulidis, United Australia
  2. Tracey Page, United Australia
  3. Michael Simms, Informed Medical Options
  4. Mary-Jane Liddicoat, Informed Medical Options
  5. Joy Angel, Sustainable Australia
  6. John Haydon, Sustainable Australia
  7. Andrew Katalaris, Legalise Cannabis
  8. Michelle Stanvic, Legalise Cannabis
  9. Kacey Lam, Liberal
  10. Zed Seselja, Liberal
  11. Maddy Northam, Labor
  12. Jannah Fahiz, Animal Justice
  13. Stephen Lin, Australian Progressives
  14. Kim Hunyh, Kim For Canberra
  15. Clare Doube, David Pocock Party
  16. Fuxin Li, Independent
  17. Yana del Valle, Animal Justice
  18. Therese Faulkner, Australian Progressives
  19. Kim Rubenstein, Kim For Canberra
  20. David Pocock, David Pocock Party
  21. Katy Gallagher, Labor
  22. James Cruz, Greens
  23. Tjanara Goreng Goreng, Greens

All that is left to do now is to wait for the votes to be counted, hope that they are counted correctly, and pray that Australians have the good judgement to vote for a good outcome.

To satisfy Electoral Commission requirements: Authorised by Samuel Gordon-Stewart, Reid ACT 2612

Samuel

May 21st, 2022 at 01:44am

US Supreme Court reminds us that elections have consequences

In recent hours something happened which has never happened before. A draft decision of the United States Supreme Court was leaked. The decision is purportedly written by Justice Samuel Alito and appears to be a majority decision overturning Roe v Wade, effectively returning decision making authority about abortion laws to the states and making it likely that some states will ban abortion, others will permit it quite openly, and others will find a middle ground.

The decision itself is monumental but I’ll come to that in a moment.

Equally importantly, the leaking of a draft Supreme Court decision is reprehensible and does great harm to the institution. Draft decisions are generally written on both the majority and minority side of any case. They are subject to change as the justices deliberate. It’s even possible that arguments in the draft decisions may lead a justice to change sides and thus change the outcome of a decision. The process happens in private after all of the arguments of the battling parties have been heard in court sessions. It’s a process which happens in private so that the justices can deliberate and discuss the matter without external influences and distractions.

The leak almost certainly came from a clerk for one of the justices. There’s speculation as to motive and I can see merit in many of the theories there but none stand out so I won’t speculate. But I will say the motive is irrelevant. The incredible breach of trust has damaged the institution of the court and whomever is responsible for the leak must be found and must be disbarred. The Supreme Court must be beyond reproach and so must purge itself of anybody and anything which would leak a confidential draft decision while the justices are still deliberating.

As for the decision itself, assuming the draft to be accurate, it is an incredibly important reminder that elections have consequences and when Republicans voted for Donald Trump in 2016, even the ones who couldn’t stand him, largely they did so because he had a clear plan to appoint conservative constitutionalist justices to the Surpreme Court and a raft of arguably more important circuit courts. The leaked draft decision was exactly the kind of decision, a decision which puts important legislative power in the hands of the states and not the federal government, thus ensuring the wide variety of viewpoints on contentious topics can coexist and each have their own views in law in neighbouring states of one country…it is this type of decision that the voters for Donald Trump were hoping to achieve. That it is happening with abortion is largely a sign of the times. It really could have happened with any number of major topics but this is the one which has been burning away for long enough to reach the Supreme Court at a time when the balance of the court has shifted towards constitutional conservatism.

Donald Trump, through his appointments to the courts, did more to uphold the constitution than any president since Reagan, and maybe even more than Reagan (Reagan did many wonderful things but he had a Cold War to contend with and one can only do so much in eight years). He did what other Republicans have talked a lot about in recent times but never delivered.

After the November midterms later this year, the prolonged circus of people deciding to run for the presidential nomination will kick in to high gear. It would be wise for constitutionalists to remember who actually delivered for them and who opposed him, and vote accordingly, be it for Trump or a similar candidate, if they want the constitution to continue to be upheld and defended. Going back to the types of Republican candidates who have talked up the constitution but achieved nothing and blocked Trump at every turn will just result in the constitutional victories petering out in the near future.

Conversely those who believe the constitution needs to be changed and/or want more power in the hands of the feds rather than the states, will undoubtedly see this Supreme Court decision, or even the leaked draft thereof, to be a rallying cry to elect the sort of politicians who will work to achieve those aims. In the last century or so, that side has been more successful while the conservative constitutionalist side has tended to talk a big game and do very little. Perhaps the tide is turning thanks to an electoral tsunami in 2016.

On a side note. Given Elon Musk’s recent efforts to restore proper freedom of speech on Twitter, I have been considering using it more again. But this topic reminds me that the character limit of Twitter is not conducive to discussing complex points. To boil this down to a handful of tweets would remove valuable context and lead to pointless arguments with strangers over misinterpretations of each other’s points. It’s a pity Elon didn’t buy Facebook instead.

The fact is, in this blog, I have my own little corner of the world. I should use it more. Perhaps I don’t have a lot of time for it and I’m not overly interested in having lengthy debates with people about things these days, but it is nice to be able to write down a few thoughts and let the world wander by to read my ideas every now and then. Whether or not that means I will write more here, I don’t know yet.

Samuel

May 4th, 2022 at 12:01am

No, I’m not downloading a government tracking app

There has been plenty of discussion about the federal government’s CovidSAFE contact tracing app today. I won’t download it, but I respect the rights of others to do so if they want.

The app itself is relatively benign in the amount of information it gathers, but the model requiring a centralised database concerns me especially considering Apple/Google’s planned version doesn’t require a centralised database. My bigger concern is this is a first step in getting people to voluntarily sign up to full-time government tracking, and once people are conditioned to accept that (and plenty already are) it’s only a matter of time before the scope of such tracking will increase and become compulsory. Warrantless surveillance isn’t much further along the line once you sign up to tracking.

The “cure” is worse than the disease in this case. On principle I simply can’t voluntarily download this app.

There’s an argument that Facebook etc has more information about me than this app can get. This is true to an extent. I have some level of control over how much I share with them, I avoid using Google almost entirely, and I keep location services turned off in my phone when I’m not actively using it, which limits the ability for apps to track my movements (you would be amazed how many apps try to take location data every time you open them!) so I’m already opting out of various levels of corporate surveillance.

Paranoid? Sure! But it’s reasonable to be paranoid when there’s always someone or something that wants to watch. And my phone battery almost doesn’t hold a charge any more, but I can double my battery life with location services and Bluetooth switched off, so my paranoia brings practical benefits too.

Samuel

April 27th, 2020 at 12:48pm

Good news for due process: George Pell’s historical sexual abuse convictions quashed

George Pell “appeal allowed, convictions quashed” Chief Justice Susan Kiefel has announced. Correct outcome based on the flimsy evidence which seemed to be presented in the prosecution, although I certainly think George Pell had a hand in covering up other abuse and that will forever be a stain on his character and that of the Catholic Church organisation.

Still, George Pell, like the rest of us, has the right to a fair trial and the High Court has effectively concluded that the process was not conducted fairly. It is a great tragedy for both George Pell and all of the alleged victims that the process has played out in this way and dragged on for so many years.

I have no doubt that the alleged victims were victims of someone and something, and perhaps their memories of events weren’t as clear by the time the matters got to court as they once were. I hope that they and their families can find some sort of comfort and peace in future. I also hope that there can be a good side-effect from this case and others that, in future, these sort of cases come to light quickly and allow the evidence to be fresh, giving everyone a better chance for a fair outcome.

From a legal standpoint of a system where you are innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, I am relieved that Justice Kiefel has handed down this finding.

I had a good feeling about Justice Kiefel when I watched her be sworn in as a High Court justice in 2007. This is good news for due process. A very good job by the High Court and great day for the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt, the cornerstone of our legal process which underpins so many of our civil liberties.

Samuel

April 7th, 2020 at 10:20am

The COVID-19 death toll is a tenth of what you think it is, so why are we becoming a socialist dictatorship?

It is interesting and terrifying to see how quickly we have effectively become a socialist dictatorship in Australia, and in many countries around the world, all because of fear that the Chinese Bioweapon COVID-19 is going to kill us all if we mingle in groups and fail to disinfect every surface in the world. It can be argued that saving lives is a noble pursuit, and that is certainly the rationale being used to lock us all down and launch great swathes of socialist fiscal policy, but is it the real reason?

Official statistics show that about 5% of people who catch the dreaded Chinese lurgy will die. 5% mortality rate is quite an alarming number. But is it accurate? Well, no, it is a lie.

According to Prof Walter Ricciardi, scientific adviser to Italy’s minister of health [..] Italy’s death rate may also appear high because of how doctors record fatalities.

“The way in which we code deaths in our country is very generous in the sense that all the people who die in hospitals with the coronavirus are deemed to be dying of the coronavirus.

“On re-evaluation by the National Institute of Health, only 12 per cent of death certificates have shown a direct causality from coronavirus, while 88 per cent of patients who have died have at least one pre-morbidity – many had two or three,” he says.

(h/t Sarah Lee at Red State)

In plain English, this means that of the people who caught COVID-19 and subsequently died, only 12% of them actually died from COVID-19. The other 88% died from pre-existing conditions and just happened to have COVID-19…it may have made them more unwell than they already were, but they were already vulnerable due to their underlying health conditions and ANY extra illness could have had the same effect.

So, only 12% of people who catch COVID-19 and subsequently die can have their deaths attributed to COVID-19. Let’s use round numbers to make this a bit easier and call it 10% or one tenth. This means the mortality rate from catching COVID-19 isn’t 5%, but 0.5%, which makes it roughly what you would expect from a bad flu season, especially one where a new strain is prevalent and people haven’t grown an immunity yet.

But as the saying goes “never let a good crisis go to waste”. (This is widely attributed to Rahm Emanuel, due to him saying it while Chief Of Staff to the worst President in American history, Barack Obama, but it has been used by many people before and after him, so he doesn’t really deserve all the credit for it)

Those who would push for control are using this crisis incredibly well. New South Wales and Victoria have effectively placed their states under house arrest with a very limited list of reasons why you can go outside, with almost identical rules in both states:

Under the order, “a person must not, without reasonable excuse, leave the person’s place of residence”.

The NSW Government Gazette lists acceptable excuses as: obtaining food or other goods and services; travelling for work or education if the person cannot do it at home; exercise; and medical or caring reasons.

In addition, the order directs that people must not gather in groups of more than two people in public places, exceptions include: gatherings of members of the same household, and gatherings essential for work or education.

(h/t Nadine Morton at The Canberra Times)

There has been video of police forcing people to leave parks and other public places, even if they were keeping their distance from each other. Jog in a park? OK, unless it’s a group. Sit in a park? Naughty, prison for you!

Prison? Why, yes. Back to Nadine’s article:

NSW residents face up to six months in jail and a $11,000 fine if they leave their home without a “reasonable excuse” after tough new restrictions started on Tuesday.

Here’s a question worth asking. If you own more than one property, does it matter which one you choose to isolate yourself in? Apparently it does…of course, because the socialist model confines you to the zone which is assigned to you.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has labelled anybody considering heading to the South Coast as ”extraordinarily selfish” in the current health emergency, even if they have a holiday home there.

(h/t Ian Bushnell at The RiotACT)

The ACT Chief Minister goes on with some tortured logic about south coast hospitals not having the capacity to deal with extra people, but that makes no sense given the almost national state of house arrest applies to healthy people as well as the sick, and people are being urged to keep away from each other to avoid the Chinese Bioweapon spreading further, so it actually makes sense for people to get out of a city with a dense population and spread out around the country if they can. But what does logic matter when the socialist dictators are in charge and the masses have been trained to go along with whatever authoritarian dictate are handed down to remove their liberties. The comments on that article are almost entirely in agreement with Barr, and denouncing anyone who has a differing viewpoint.

But, all of these people believe that by following the authoritarian dictates, they are saving lives. They don’t know the truth of the statistics which I noted above, and even if they were told they either wouldn’t care or wouldn’t believe it, but the socialist Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews certainly knows the truth and isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste. He is being careful with his statements so that if people realise the truth, he can’t, in months ahead, be accused of claiming this was all about saving lives.

In order to avoid the distressing scenes we now are seeing around the world, National Cabinet has agreed to significant new restrictions on public gatherings and will also enforce that where people can stay at home, they must stay at home.

(Statement by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, 30 March 2020)

It’s not about saving lives, it’s about preventing hurt feelings. This is the same argument the socialists have used against freedom of speech. But if the bar for action is as low as hurt feelings, there’s is no end to the actions governments can take and how authoritarian they can become.

Take a look at Western Australia for a clue as to what is coming next:

From midnight Tuesday, West Australians will no longer be allowed to move around the state unless considered an essential worker.

The state will operate more like nine small countries, with random checkpoints and roadblocks at the borders of each zone.

Anyone caught crossing borders without a valid reason will be fined $1000.

(h/t 7News.com.au)

The great socialist model of giving everyone a zone and making them stay there unless the state gives them authority to move. At the moment it’s a few zones within states, but why do you think houses in cities are being torn up and replaced with apartment complexes where the bottom couple of floors are business space? Because once enough people are in blocks where the shops and businesses they need are all within walking distance, they can be forced to stay within their little zone. Make the roads harder to use by increasing petrol taxes, incentivising electric vehicles with seriously limited range, and making public transport seem more attractive in comparison (all of those trams running through corridors of apartment blocks, hmmm) and suddenly the state has control over where people go. First, by encouraging people to travel how the state wants them to travel, and then later once enough people are on-board to cheerlead, so to speak, the choices start to get removed.

But in order for any socialist scheme like this to work, people need to be dependent on something from the state, that way if people don’t comply, they can have that thing removed…the threat of which will keep most in line. The most obvious thing is income. Australia is already working on banning cash, with the limit on cash transactions being brought down to $10,000 already, and now stores are being encouraged to not accept cash because it might be dirty and carry the dreaded Chinese Bioweapon. When transactions are all electronic, the state can see everything, and it’s a short step to controlling everything. The federal government has talked about expanding the trial of a cashless welfare card to a national rollout for all government welfare recipients. The cashless welfare card allows the government to control what you can spend your money on, with the majority of the card’s contents being locked down to “essential items”.

One of the effects of the great panic over the Chinese Bioweapon COVID-19 is that the economy is slowing down and people are losing their jobs. As a result, people are turning to the government for financial assistance. The JobSeeker allowance has been doubled and all requirements to look for work while receiving it have been cancelled, making it rather attractive to just not work. But to receive that, you have to apply for it. There’s a more insidious plan being implemented which will make most working Australians dependent on a government income without having any say over it…the JobKeeper allowance. This is a $1,500 per fortnight payment which will be made to employees through their employers. The employer is the one that applies for it if they have seen a reduction in revenue this year, and uses it to subsidise the pay of all of their employees (the employees have no say in it). It’s supposed to be a short-term measure to keep people employed and allow businesses to close temporarily without having to fire everyone, however the tricky detail is that if an employee was earning less than $1,500 per fortnight before the JobKeeper allowance came in to existence, they must be paid the full allowance, meaning they get a pay rise from it.

So, here we have people out of work having their pay doubled and not even having to look for work, and people on low incomes getting a pay rise. It is unfathomable that these measures will be temporary. There would be riots if, in six months time, the government turns around and cuts pay rates back to their old levels. This is dependence by design. It might get scaled back slightly, but it won’t go away completely.

Now, think about this in terms of control. If the government puts in place a system where people who don’t work get $1,000 per fortnight and people in work have the first $1,500 per fortnight of their pay come from the government, we effectively have a Universal Basic Income, and all of a sudden the government has much more control over everyone as they have the ability to punish people for non-compliance by reducing or removing the government-paid portion of their income. To fund this type of system, taxes have to increase to extraordinary levels, making it not very worthwhile to try to earn more than what the government is paying, meaning that for most people they will get what the government is paying and very little else, and therefore be beholden to the dictates of the government, lest their income be halved for non-compliance.

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote “they who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” is especially apt. The left, of course, recognises the fundamental truth in this saying is a threat to their desire for dictatorial control over everything and thus has tried to claim in recent years that Franklin meant the opposite of what he said, which is complete nonsense of course.

The writing is on the wall as our society seems to be welcoming the promise of safety by giving up liberty. In the end, they will get neither. It might be too late to turn the tide back towards liberty right now, and indeed I fear we are headed for a dreadful era of authoritarian socialism and mass misery, but every little bit of pushback and consistent argument for liberty now will have some small impact now, and help to make it easier to return to a liberated society in times ahead, reducing the duration of the tyranny.

Liberty is well-worth the fight.

Samuel

April 1st, 2020 at 01:03am

You already know your phone is spying on you. The Chinese Bioweapon has presented all new “justifications” for the spying.

It’s no secret that smartphones are an incredible data collection tool used for all manner of spying. Most of the time the spying is by people who want to sell you things, but increasingly governments are finding uses for the amazing tracking device in your pocket, usually within some sort of legal constraint. The Chinese Bioweapon COVID-19 has given them new “justifications” for this spying, and it’s increasing almost as exponentially as the virus is spreading.

From Aaron Kesel at Activist Post:

All over the world, starting with China – the suspected origin of the COVID-19 outbreak – governments are increasing surveillance of citizens using their smartphones. The trend is taking off like wildfire; in China citizens now require a smartphone application’s permission to travel around the country and internationally.

The application is AliPay by Ant Financial, the finance affiliate controlled by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma, and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. Citizens now require a green health code to travel, Yahoo News reported.

China isn’t the only country looking towards smartphones to monitor their citizens; Israel and Poland have also implemented their own spying to monitor those suspected or confirmed to be infected with the COVID-19 virus. Israel has gone the more extreme route, and has now given itself authority to surveil any citizen without a court warrant. Poland on the other hand is requiring those diagnosed with COVID-19 ordered to self-isolate to send authorities a selfie using an app. Which, if Poles don’t respond back in 20 minutes with a smiling face, they risk a visit from police, Dailymail reported.

Singapore has asked citizens to download an app which uses Bluetooth to track whether they’ve been near anyone diagnosed with the virus; and Taiwan, although not using a smartphone, has introduced “electronic fences” which alert police if suspected patients leave their homes.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S. as reported by the Washington Post, smartphones are being used by a variety of companies to “anonymously” collect user data and track if social distancing orders are being adhered to. Beyond that, the mobile phone industry is discussing how to monitor the spread of COVID-19. If that’s not enough, as this author reported for The Mind Unleashed, the government wants to work with big social tech giants like Google, Facebook, and others, to track the spread of COVID-19.

[..]

As Activist Post previously wrote while discussing the increase of a police surveillance state, these measures being put into place now will likely remain long after the pandemic has stopped and the virus has run its course. That’s the everlasting effect that COVID-19 will have on our society. The coronavirus is now classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization, and it may very well be a legitimate health concern for all of us around the world. But it’s the government’s response that should worry us all more in the long run.

Yes, I think Aaron is right. For those of us who value our privacy, this should prompt a long-overdue stocktake of what information we are making readily available. This doesn’t just mean thinking about what our smartphones know about us, but also what social media and tech giants know as well, and where they’re storing it.

I, for one, moved my email away from Google a few years ago to a service which is not owned or connected with any of the tech giants. First to my web hosting provider VentraIP, then later to Fastmail (an Australian company with a good privacy policy) because I found the functionality more of a match to what I had become accustomed to with Google. But right there is the dilemma. For most of us, we accept the loss of some of our privacy because we’re paid with convenience and functionality. I haven’t logged in to my Google account in years and don’t miss it as there isn’t any functionality provided by the account that is too valuable to me or can’t be replaced elsewhere, and I am slowly changing my search habits to use DuckDuckGo instead of Google where possible, but am very immersed in the Facebook and Apple ecosystems and can be sure both are tracking me across the web. Facebook is a worry, but apart from dog photos I don’t put much personal information on there these days so at least I’m limiting the damage somewhat, but could certainly be doing more.

Going back to the point, surveillance around the Bioweapon outbreak, I feel sorry for the people in Poland who are being told to send in selfies whenever the app demands them. I’d rather have the police knock on my door occasionally than deal with an app like that.

Is Australia heading down that path? Well, the Australian government has released a Coronavirus app full of “official information”. I’d be willing to bet it has more features than that and the potential the help enforce a lockdown, or at least the ability to monitor locations. I’m certainly not downloading the app.

There has also been information released by the telephone companies and the advertising companies which use your phone’s location data, about the number of people they are noticing using mobile data in public areas. This, apparently, provides a bit of a snapshot of how many people are staying at home and how many people are going out a bit less than or as much as previously. Undoubtedly this type of data can be used in (the very very near, such as later this week or next week) future to work out if people are congregating in groups, and track exactly who those people are and direct official uniformed people to them wherever they may go. Unfortunately phone location data is not particularly accurate when it comes to this level of tracking as it’s only really accurate down to a few metres, so the fact that you show up in the general vicinity of other people doesn’t prove much as it lacks any context about the reason for you being in your location, but in these times could put you in a position of having to justify a perfectly legal and innocent act. So much for innocent until proven guilty. To use a phrase common in US courts, the data is more prejudicial than probative.

For this reason I have taken the simple step of turning off the location services in my phone’s settings. This means the best that can be done is tracking my location is working out which cell tower or wifi access point I was connected to. This can give a general impression of movements within kilometres for phone towers and dozens of metres for wifi access points, but not exact locations. And as I only use wifi at home and work, this is a good enough effort at preventing suspicious minds from snooping too closely and making baseless accusations about my movements and activities.

If we get to a proper lockdown (and we’re certainly getting there) and uniformed officials observe me doing something they think is not acceptable under the rules, I’m fine with them challenging me in person, but I won’t stand for automated accusation based on dodgy location data.

Samuel

March 30th, 2020 at 07:01am

A new COVID-19-based global tyranny is being blindly welcomed by the masses

Of all of the ways I thought we could lose our freedoms, a response to a virus outbreak is not one that I considered to be very likely. But here we are. Welcome to 2020.

COVID-19 is clearly a serious illness. There is no treatment (or at least nothing publicly available, while there are stories of treatments being tested or being ready and suppressed for whatever reason, depending on where you look) and the effects it has on respiratory systems of people who get it can be quite horrendous and even lethal in the worst cases. I’m getting this out of the way now because I don’t want this post to come across as an attempt to claim the virus is nothing to worry about. Clearly there is something to be concerned about.

At the same time it’s important to not let fear paralyse us or push us in to doing silly things. The fact is most people who catch COVID-19 get very mild symptoms which are no worse than the flu, and make a full recovery in a short time. Just like every other virus, a good immune system is incredibly helpful in fighting it.

The numbers, as I write this, show 645,158 people in the world are known to have caught COVID-19, and 29,951 of those people have died from it. That’s just under a 5% fatality rate. 139,550 people have recovered (just over 21%). Of the 475,657 remaining people who currently have it, 450,939 (95%) have a mild case, and 24,718 (5%) have a serious case. The pattern here is very clear: 95% of people who catch this virus get a mild case and recover, while 5% develop a serious case and die.

A 5% death rate is very high compared to the flu which has a death rate of about 0.1%. However the flu seems to spread faster and further than COVID-19, with between 340,000,000 and 1,000,000,000 people believed to catch the flu each year, compared to only 645,158 people globally in the last three months. We are seeing exponential growth in numbers of COVID-19 cases, so maybe the spread will be similar in time, but the indications are that it will last for one season and have much less spread and impact in future years as people who catch it seem to become immune to it after recovering.

Over the last many decades we have seen many pandemics come and go over a season, with many deaths and even more fear-mongering in the media and from various official government and health groups, but on each of those occasions most people got on with their lives, and the next year the virus in question was still around but in much smaller numbers. The fact is, when a lot of people catch a new virus, their immune systems adapt to it quickly, giving the virus very little time to mutate, therefore reducing the rate of spread after an initial spike in cases. This is why all of those flu strains hyped by the media over the last couple of decades are given absolutely no attention now…they still exist, but people have enough immunity to it that when they catch it, they are able to fight it effectively enough to keep it down to a mild case.

And yet, for some reason with this pandemic we are being fed fantastic Orwellian phrases such as being told to “flatten the curve” by “social distancing”, which is supposed to mean that if we all keep a couple metres away from each other and live under virtual house arrest, the rate of increase in cases will “flatten”. The graphs which are used to demonstrate this show the same number of people getting the virus no matter what, but it just happens over a longer period of time if the “curve is flattened”. Ostensibly this supposed to reduce the death rate by having fewer people in hospital at any given time. But this makes no sense given that there is currently no treatment so being in hospital is probably not helping people who have caught this virus, and makes even less sense when you consider that the longer the virus has to reach bodies which have immune systems which are unfamiliar with it, the more time it has to mutate and re-infect people who are immune to the original strain.

Some people are under the incorrect impression that this “social distancing” and the complete house arrest which is happening in some places and looming in others, will kill off COVID-19 completely if it’s done for a few weeks, but the information from the organisations pushing the “social distancing” message is the opposite of that (just as many people will get it over a longer period of time), and an analysis of how that would play out in reality shows that more people who get it and the virus would mutate and give us multiple strains to deal with. So why are we being told to keep away from each other and having our freedoms taken away when it is probably the more lethal option?

The answer seems to come from the very point that we are losing our freedoms. Even worse, much of our society is embracing and cheerleading the loss of freedoms and liberty, and actively encouraging others to go along with it. My phone carrier (Telstra) has even updated its network ID name on customers’ phones to show that it’s a caring corporation (ooh! Orwell would be aghast at how much influence he had) or some such nonsense by changing the display to a Directive By Hashtag “Telstra #StayHome”. Thankfully I don’t recognise the authority of a phone company to tell me what my travel habits should be.

We’re all being told that restrictions on our freedoms are temporary and will go away when the virus subsides. That might be true, but that time won’t come soon and restrictions will become more onerous before they are relaxed, and the longer they are in place, the easier it will be to not relax them. Excuses such as “we need a staged return to normal to ease people back in to work” or “we need to keep sensible protections in place to continue to limit the spread of the virus” are very likely. And the longer we live with the restrictions, the easier they will be to reimplement down the line as they can be sold as “we did it before and we must do it again for the good of (insert next panic here)” which can then turn in to “we need to keep the restrictions in place to avoid more (insert Government-Speak for panic here)”.

Given the restrictions which are being put in place make minimal sense for the situation, it’s hard to tell if this is a dry run for taking away freedom in the future. Certainly, a lot has been learned about how people respond to having their freedoms taken away, and I’m probably getting myself put on a “dangerous person who is non-compliant and wants people to think for themselves” list just by writing this, which bodes poorly for me if we get full-blown restrictions in the future. The fact that so many people can be convinced very easily to voluntarily give up their freedoms, and are doing so with glee is a dreadful indictment of a society which has forgotten what it is like to not have freedom, and why people fought and died to secure it. Or maybe this is the real deal in taking away freedoms and not a dry run. Freedoms are only ever successfully taken away slowly and piece by piece, which could be why we didn’t all just get placed in house arrest on Day 1, and instead there seems to be a build-up towards it.

What does our authoritarian future look like? Andrew Korybko at One World Press provides a very good summary:

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed life as we know it, and it’s more than likely that our future will be a dystopian one given how various governments have already responded to this viral outbreak. The skeptics among us are fearful that this whole pandemic is overblown and being exploited as a smokescreen for stealing our freedoms, and while their attitude towards this disease is questionable (and quite possibly dangerous), their suspicion about a government takeover of society is warranted. Never before have governments had so much power over the people, though in these emergency conditions, that might not be an entirely bad thing for the time being seeing as how it could very well be necessary for our survival. The problem, however, is that these newly assumed powers probably won’t be voluntarily surrendered after this epidemic ends, which is why many people are so concerned. They’re convinced that we’ve suddenly entered a period of global dictatorship, and it’s difficult to argue with them. So much else is also changing as well, and it’s hard to keep up with the “COVID World Order” that’s been thrust upon us, but what follows is an attempt to briefly describe everything that’s already taken place and predict what will probably follow:

* De-Facto Martial Law…:

There’s no other way to describe both the “recommended” and mandatory quarantines that many in the world are experiencing than to call them what they are, a state of de-facto martial law, which isn’t being formally declared in order to not provoke any more panic than there already is.

* …Is The “New Normal”:

Now that de-facto martial law of a seemingly indefinite period has been accepted by the people (whether willingly or begrudgingly), it’ll probably become the “new normal” and be implemented countless times in the future, be it as an “overabundance of caution” in the event of another outbreak or under any other pretext.

* Social Media Censorship Will Intensify:

“Big Brother” is already here, but he’s going to become a bigger bully than ever before by intensifying his censorship of people’s social media posts on the basis that they’re “socially irresponsible” (e.g. questioning the seriousness of this disease), after which the “politically incorrect” net will widen to encompass other topics too.

* Travel Will Never Be The Same Again:

Domestic and international travel will never be the same again, with internal restrictions on movement likely becoming commonplace and most foreign guests being required to self-quarantine for a period of time except in special circumstances, thus all but killing the global tourism industry.

* Border Control Will Become More Robust:

Gone are the days of so-called “open borders” where anyone can freely move between jurisdictions at will (whether legally or otherwise), with more stringent controls being put into place to protect the local population from outsiders (including their own compatriots from elsewhere in the country).

* Mandatory Vaccines Are Coming:

For whatever one thinks about vaccines, there’s probably no way to stop them from becoming mandatory after the COVID-19 pandemic, with it being predicted that people will have to prove that they’ve been vaccinated in order to do anything at all such as study, work, travel, and receive government benefits.

* Remote Learning & Working Will Increase:

With so many people stuck at home and unable to leave except to purchase essential goods in most cases, it’s predictable that remote learning and working (the latter which will of course be for those whose jobs allow them to do so) will pick up in the coming future as society gets used to this way of doing things.

* 5G Is Inevitable:

The massive surge of online traffic from folks who are learning, working, or simply entertaining themselves online will necessitate the rapid roll-out of 5G technology despite what some people suspect are its serious health concerns.

* Society Depends On Just A Few Jobs To Function:

The “new normal” of de-facto martial law has made many people realize that society really just depends on a few jobs in order to continue functioning at the bare minimum, with these being techies, grocery store and pharmacy employees, bank clerks, healthcare professionals, food service workers, farmers, and truckers.

* Nationalization Might Be Imminent:

For better or for worse, governments across the world might go on a nationalization spree in order to take control of what they regard as “essential industries” (though whether some of them truly are or not is another story), which could lead to the informal imposition of either socialist or fascist economic models.

* “Universal Basic Income”:

Given the scale and scope of the global economic collapse that was catalyzed by the world’s uncoordinated response to COVID-19, it’s foreseeable that governments will unveil what’s been described as a “universal basic income” in order to ensure that their people can continue to at least purchase basic goods and services.

* Mandatory Medical Training In Exchange For Government Benefits:

Medical training is arguably more important than military service nowadays, so the state will probably make it mandatory in schools from here on out and for anyone who wants to receive government benefits, thereby enabling the government to draft them in the future whenever there’s a dearth of healthcare professionals.

* Say Goodbye To Cash:

The cashless society is coming, whether justified by the (real, false, or exaggerated) fear that lethal viruses can be spread by paper currency or as the government’s preferred method of dispersing its “universal basic income”, meaning that the authorities can cut folks off from their funds at any time that they want to.

———-

There’s no guarantee that everything that was described above will come to pass, but there’s certainly a high likelihood that at least some of it will transpire with time, though it’ll remain to be seen how sustainable these socio-economic and political changes are and whether or not they can ever be reversed.

I don’t normally copy/paste full articles, but in these times of mass censorship of material which doesn’t toe the line, it is important to keep a copy of this here in case the source site gets blocked or taken down.

Looking at the restrictions which are being proposed, are already here, and are likely to come soon, one has to conclude that the Chinese Communists would be happy to see what is going on and could very well be behind the whole thing. Don’t forget, COVID-19 is a Chinese virus. It started in China. The Chinese government did everything in its power to ensure it rapidly spread beyond China (constant disinformation about it being “under control” and suppression of information about its spread within the country), while being aided and abetted by foreign governments (which all owe China gazillions of dollars) refusing to turn away or even screen people coming in from China, while the World Health Organisation placated the masses by praising China’s response to the virus.

Through enormous debts, China effectively owns most governments in the world. Through economic fallout making it harder for countries to meet their debt obligations, it puts China in an even more powerful position. It really doesn’t matter whether China manufactured COVID-19 as a bioweapon, or it naturally occurred and China took advantage of it by treating it like a bioweapon, the types of controls being put in place almost uniformly around the world are draconian and what you would expect from a community government such as the Chinese government, not governments in free and democratic countries. The economic fallout alone is enough to give China more power over how our governments work, and the fact people are giving up their freedoms and increasingly looking to government to solve their problems (there are even businesses which, rather than just making a decision, are pleading with the government to tell them to close) is incredibly scary. That people don’t seem to realise that something like a “universal basic income” couple with an end to cash would hand even more control over to the government to decide what can and can’t be bought and sold, and by whom, is the true start of a Chinese style Social Credit Score. And then a quick check of the behaviour of people to cheerlead the loss of freedom and “dob in” people who aren’t excited by a loss of freedom, is a sure sign that people are already taking part in a Social Credit Score system without the points being calculated, and will cheerfully welcome it when it is fully implemented, not knowing the horrors which await in years to come.

Freedom and liberty are under assault. The COVID-19 Chinese Bioweapon is the latest salvo and it has been very effective. Communism and tyranny are on the horizon. And nobody cares.

Those of us who do care about liberty are in for a tough time, maybe for many years, but I have confidence that given enough time and tyranny, people will rise up and freedoms will be restored. What happens between now and then will be the tough bit.

Samuel

1 comment March 29th, 2020 at 06:34am

Ted Cruz is out. Donald Trump will be the Republican Presidential Nominee

A short time ago, Ted Cruz announced that he is suspending his campaign (American political code for “ending”) to be the Republican nominee for President. John Kasich is still in the race (although if he has any sense he will now bow out too), but has no chance, and thus this clears the way for Donald Trump to be the nominee.

I wrote the following to 2GB’s Ray Hadley on the issue.

——————–
G’day Ray,

I’m a big fan of Ted Cruz and I’m sad to see him bow out of the race, but at the same time I’m also glad as Cruz dragging this out all the way to the convention would have been a disastrous spectacle for the Republicans, effectively handing an easy victory to Hillary Clinton. Instead, thankfully, Donald Trump has a clear run…and although he trails Hillary in the polls right now, I firmly believe he will turn this around and be the next president of the US, and be a very good president too.

Ultimately, anything which prevents the disaster of a Hillary Clinton presidency is fine by me.

And I also expect Donald Trump to appoint Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court.

Fox News have instantly updated results at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/elections/2016/presidential-primary-caucus-results and as I write this, Bernie Sanders leads Hillary in Indiana 53% to 47%.

Have a great day.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart
Canberra
——————–

I’ll make it clear that I do not believe Donald Trump is a true conservative. I believe he has come around to a conservative view on some important issues, but not on others, and then there are some things where I have no idea what he believes. As President though, I believe Donald Trump will do some conservative things, but for the most part will do things which are good for business. I believe he will pave the way for a future more conservative president to really make in-roads in reversing the rapid growth of government, and implement a conservative agenda. Sadly, government has become so big in the US that I think a truly conservative president might actually be too big a shock to the system for many Americans and result in conservatives not holding office again for quite some time, whereas someone like Donald Trump could be the bridge, easing the way for a return to conservative government.

It is possible that I am being too optimistic about how The Donald would govern, but at the end of the day, even if nothing else good could be said about him, he would be entirely better than Hillary Clinton, and that is good enough for me.

Samuel

1 comment May 4th, 2016 at 11:12am

Scott Morrison’s first budget

Having just watched Scott Morrison deliver his first budget as Federal Treasurer, I find myself wishing Scott had been Treasurer from the start of Tony Abbott’s government. If Scott had the simplified portfolio of “Money & Boats” (his work to stop illegal immigration was vital, as was his more recent work on welfare reform), the first budget wouldn’t have faced the opposition it did, and Tony Abbott would still be Prime Minister.

While I respect the work Joe Hockey did as Treasurer, there can be no doubt that Scott Morrison is better at explaining and selling these things to the public, and takes a more thorough and forensic approach to achieving outcomes. This is the first time since Peter Costello was Treasurer that I find the forward estimates to be believable. Peter Costello was a masterful Treasurer, Wayne Swan was a quack who seemed to think budgets were just meaningless numbers which got better as they got redder, and Joe Hockey tried hard but had some interesting logical leaps in the further-ahead forward estimates. Scott Morrison, on the other hand, has outlined a plan which uses incentives for business growth and increased employment to chip away at the budget black hole left by Labor’s debt and deficit disaster.

As Scott commends his budget to the House, I commend Scott for his budget. I wish the deficit was cut more and faster, but Scott’s approach seems prudent and practical.

Importantly, this is a fairly conservative budget (with the obvious glaring exception of greatly increased tobacco tax) and it is now up to voters to hold the government to these conservative principles as Malcolm Turnbull is not a conservative and will need to be kept in check. My view on how to do this is that, at the ballot box, only vote 1 for your Liberal or National candidate if they are a conservative, and otherwise vote for other conservatives first and then the Liberal/National candidate slightly further down the preference order. This has the benefit of boosting the smaller conservative parties by getting public funding for your first preference vote, and by either electing a conservative or electing a Liberal or National on the back of conservative preferences, which sends a message that voters want a conservative trajectory for government.

My congratulations and thanks to Scott Morrison. I sincerely hope that he is able to see his economic plan through over the coming years and beyond.

Samuel

1 comment May 3rd, 2016 at 08:29pm

How can a UN panel claim Julian Assange is being arbitrarily detained and should be released, when he is detaining himself?

The following is from an email to 2GB’s Luke Grant, filling in for Michael McLaren

The UN really does stand for “useless nonsense”. How do they come to the conclusion that Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained when he is only confined to the Ecudorian embassy by his own choice. The British police aren’t detaining him in there…he is detaining himself, so the UN should be ruling against him.

I hope he does get arrested. Both he and his alleged victim in Sweden deserve a fair trial. I also would not be upset if he ends up facing the US authorities because his actions with Wikileaks were well beyond being a whistleblower.

Have a good weekend (although I guess you’re working just as I am).

Samuel

February 5th, 2016 at 04:47am

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