Archive for October 2008
Following the inquiry into the death of prisoner Simon Rochford, Deputy State Coroner Evelyn Vicker recommend legislation to allow police to suppress information that might “compromise an investigation into a serious offence.”
Western Australia’s new new Attorney-General Christian Porter (the guy who told The Australian that addressing the state’s indigenous prison rate was not high on his agenda) apparently thinks this recommendation is “sensible and deserves consideration”.
Erm… giving the police MORE powers to keep stuff OUT of the press when on most occasions they seem to love PUTTING IT THERE THEMSELVES seems a little strange.
Rochford’s death was yet another chapter in the legal saga surrounding the 1994 murder of Pamela Lawrence. Andrew Mallard’s conviction for the murder was quashed by the High Court in 2005 after he had spent over a decade in jail. The Corruption and Crime Commish made findings of misconduct against police and prosecutors involved in the case. A cold case review discovered a previously unidentified palm print from the crime scene which was traced back to Rochford … who happened to be serving time for the murder of his girlfriend.
Deputy Coroner Vicker found that the ABC television news report naming Rochford as the new suspect in the high-profile murder case “precipitated” his decision to commit suicide just hours after he saw the news.
Last week, The Australian‘s Debbie Guest pointed out that:
The calls for new police powers follow a year of scrutiny of Perth media, including a raid on the Sunday Times newspaper by armed police in an attempt to find the source of a story that embarrassed the previous Carpenter government. [link]
Yeah, News Ltd is still pissed about that one. But I don’t think this is about the media.
Last year I wrote on my own blog about how the cops effed up in naming Supreme Court Registrar Corryn Rayney’s “estranged” husband the “prime suspect” in her murder yet never charged him. Mr Rayney, who’s a FRICKING BARRISTER, recently sued the coppers and the government for defamation.
An article on PerthNow reporting that police revealed info about an item found at the site in King’s Park where Registrar Rayney’s body was found, noted:
Since the defamation writ was issued last month, police have been reluctant to comment on any aspect of the Rayney case.
But wait… now the government wants to give the cops the powers to “suppress information”?
You’ve gotta be kidding me, Christian Porter — the boys in blue can’t keep their OWN mouths shut, dontcha think you need to work on that before fannying about with “suppression” laws?
And, um, didn’t they keep quiet about the tape of Jane or Sarah talking to some random at The Claremont on the night they went missing for twelve years and then got bitch-slapped about that?
This is not about the media going over the line. This is about the cops making value judgments about things when it suits them, and then blaming the mean, nasty media when the shit hits the fan.
Now, Labor’s shadow Attorney-General McGinty says nasty suppression legislation could stifle information which should be made public (well spotted, Captain Duh):
“I have reservations about the wisdom of yet further suppression orders of information [that] should be in the public arena,” he said.
“I think on balance that the public interest is best served by not having so many prohibitions on the public being given the information upon which they can make their judgements.” [link]
Ok, look, I love the dude (especially for everything he did for ending discrimination against Teh Gays in WAys, and stuff) and he’s right, there’s no point putting more powers in the cop’s hands, but in my humble opinion, Jimmy doesn’t actually get the point either.
I just wonder… Will laws ban giving info to the jurors who are supposed to make the judgments? Because until they are unable to lie their way out of jury duty, no member of the public should be making judgements about anyone’s criminal liability.
They should get back to washing their cars on the lawns and shopping at Bunnings and doing those other things all good Sandgropers do. Ok?
While the police are investigating stuff, the public should have no right to information unless aforementioned public can help. The public ‘making judgements’ about on-going investigations, where no charges have been laid and no case against a person has been made in a court of law, has got squat to do with it.
Everyone got that? Good.
But Jimmy’s right on the essential bit: banning the media from talking about criminal investigations like that isn’t the solution.
Sue Short, the ABC reporter who broke the story, said she wouldn’t have named Rochford if she’d “been given a good reason” and call me naïve but I would like to think journos still have the ethics and/or values that would have them hold off on a story if it would do more harm than good to an on-going investigation.
Legislators don’t need to create powers that let the police keep the media quiet, they need to get the police to do their job, and give them proper media training while they’re at it.
The pollies should get back to something they can actually fix instead of wasting time ranting on about unnecessary and draconian “suppression” laws.
I mean, honestly. What do they think they’re running? Notre Dame Uni? Psh.
Gah, it looks like I may have called an end to my hiatus too early. But we did have a good couple of weeks up-til now, so I’ll count that as a blessing.
Until I have time to pull together all the notes scattered through my several Moleskines (I try to be organised, but I think I am a scatterbrain at heart) into real blog posts, here are some fun things for y’all to read:
- On the US Election front, Marc Ambinder tells us about the physics breakthrough that the Grand Old Party may have discovered — a tear in the space-time continuum that allows one to separate The Real, Pro-American America from The Fake, Anti-American America (Which is Still, Geographically, In America. Maybe):
If you think that’s special, then think about this. Pfotenhauer said that she lives in a place called Oakton, Va. Oakton is located in Fairfax County. Pfotenhauer implied that the country was part of “real America” because it was open to the possibility of electing John McCain. Here’s the problem: Fairfax County, like its neighbors, are in the process of turning colors. (We can detect this with a special version of a mass spectrometer called a “ballot box.”)
- Stephen Fry is Twittering! He’s currently filming a new doco series in deepest, darkest Africa; but apparently they have good Asian food there. Win-Win. He also signs off every post with a kiss (x)!
- Also new on Twitter in the last few days are TurnbullMalcolm, who unfortunately did not beat MalcolmTurnbull (who is much funner) to the better username, and my darling Brit-Brit (we are on nickname-basis).
- The New Yorker‘s Cartoon Lounge had a cartoon-off between TNY’s Farley Katz and XKCD‘s Randall Munroe. Hilarity!
- Speaking of cartoons — if you guys haven’t seen G-G (that’s Garfield Minus Garfield) yet, you mustmustmustmust go check it out.
- The Senate’s Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Committee is currently doing a review into the levels of bias, plurality and fair-and-balancedness (™ Fox News) in high school and tertiary education. Dr Peter Slezak, a senior lecturer at the school of history and philosophy of science, University of NSW, has written a great op-ed, pleading guilty to the charge of encouraging his students to challenge society’s doctrinal mores:
Like regular charges of left-wing bias against the ABC, the moral panic evident in submissions to the Senate inquiry rests on a certain implicit, though questionable, assumption – namely, that only deviation from prevailing orthodoxy constitutes bias.
Conventional views are presumed neutral, and the possibility is never entertained they may be invisibly, systematically biased in the other direction. It follows that the regular complaints of bias and proposed remedies are a form of harassment designed to maintain doctrinal conformity.
However, the highest educational ideals require precisely the reverse attitude – that is, encouraging the exploration of alternatives to preferred, taken-for-granted views. As Bertrand Russell remarked, education should make students think, not to think what their teacher (or government) thinks.
Found any good web-treats recently? Please share!
When I was growing up (in my totally fun immigrant family) we always had to listen to Sinhalese songs on cassettes on any long drives. Lame. My little brother and I never got any of it so we were consequentially deprived of pop-music throughout our youth. (That’s probably why my brother thinks he is/wants to be a brother ie a gangsta rapper.)
Except for ABBA.
For some reason my parents had a couple of their tapes and listened to them sometimes (were they big in Sri Lanka, too?). Yeah, sure, we were growing up in the 90s, but it was nice to be able to know the language of car songs — even if they were from the 70s.
My favourite song is probably Mamma Mia, but everyone seems to be talking about cash and stuff these days, so I am going to go with this:
I work all night I work all day to pay the bills I have to pay
ain’t it sad
and still there never seems to be a single penny left for me
that’s too bad
in my dreams
I have a plan
if I got me a wealthy man
I wouldn’t have to work at all I’d fool around and have a ball
But from what I gather, it’s not so fun In A Rich Man’s World at the moment. And it’s probably worse that usual in a less-than-rich person’s, too.
I feel kinda out of the loop, though.
(Until, of course, I get evicted or have my rent spiked,) I don’t have to worry about feeding hungry tummies or paying off mortgages. I never invested in the stock market so the last month has been like very whatevs for me. And I paid off my credit card a couple of pay cheques ago.
So now, I just get more dollars miraculously deposited into my bank account than I actually “need” to spend in a fortnight.
And a wealthy man can go suck it, as I have no interest in (nor prospects of) being an investment banker/drug dealer’s coke-addled trophy wife.
Because I have plenty of pennies left for me. And that’s even after my direct debit to UNICEF has gone out. AND, even though I’ve never reeeally been a good saver, I am also saving 16% (which > 10% suggested amount) of my pay because I’ve set it to be popped over to my savings account by my employer. (Thanks for the tip, Grendel!!!)
I am quite, quite lucky, I know I am. And I know I could lose my job (but frankly… I won’t complain too much right now… hah) and things could get really bad, and stuff, but I am a good Buddhist, I know this too will pass [also apparently a Jewish story??] and I’ll deal with that when I get there.
But what now?
I suppose I could save more (but that’s kinda boring)… or give even more to charity (maybes I can buy two Big Issues a fortnight??). But with all this talk about consumer confidence dropping and economic stimulus packages and stuff, I’m thinking: welp. Mayhaps I might go get an iPod at lunch time?
BUT I CAN’T GET ONE.
DJ’s and Myer haven’t got the 16GB size I want, JB Hi-Fi haven’t got the right colour (dude, I am not like gonna just throw the cash away on one I don’t actually like!) and the knobs at DigiLife didn’t seem interested in selling me anything either.
W. T. F.
So, back at the office, I tried to order one online, but IT FROZE LIKE 5 TIMES and then when I rang the Apple Store, and patiently went through 3 recorded menus, I was told (by a recorded message, of course) that the Apple Store’s Opening Hours Are — [this is where I slammed the phone down].
HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY IF NO-ONE’S GOING TO LET ME BUY ANYTHING?
I am just trying to be a Good Capitalist Denizen (™).
Why can’t I do that?
What is the universe trying to tell me? That capitalism sucks, or something?
So I gave up reading news.com.au because it is like 99.6% tabloid crap, but The Australian is starting to piss me off again. I can’t remember why I quit it last time, and I don’t know why I went back again this morning. A ‘comment’ piece in the flashing Opinion widget at the top of the site got my attention, though:
To what extent is the Democratic presidential nominee still in thrall to extremist friends, asks Mervyn Bendle?
The online copy editors @ News Ltd really need to get off the crack and actually read the articles before writing the subhead/dek.
One assuming this piece is going to be a considered analysis of the totally ridiculous (and totally refuted) claims about Obes Pallin’ Around With Terrorists, which one should expect in a country in which there are unlikely to be many swing/undecided voters, would in all likelihood be confused to find themselves reading propagandist drivel that reads like a stump speech delivered to rednecks who will respond with “Terrorist!” and “Kill Him”.
Merv, who is apparently a “senior lecturer in history and communications at James Cook University”, apparently also wants a job as She Who Will Not Be Named’s speechwriter.
Because why else will some bogan from a Queensland uni care to spout out random facts and 40-year old soundbites about The Weathermen, select snippets from Obama’s books about his influences and then make ominous warnings about What American Voters Really Need to Think About (dun dun dun):
The question that the American people may have to ask themselves is how much this extremist milieu still drives Obama’s political outlook and how much it will guide his decisions, policies and appointments throughout the federal government system as the next president of the US.
Don’t it just fill you with fear and trepidation? Don’t you hear the call to arms to ring up your friends Nelly-May and Billy-John who live in some Red State and warn them of the imminent danger of That Radical Extremist*?
Aside from the lame/misleading technicalities, why the eff is this article even in The AUSTRALIAN?
Yeah, ok, people are allowed to have their opinions, and WTF-ever, Rupert’s editorial cronies are allowed to print whoever’s opinions they want, but seriously, how is propaganda for the US election worthy of publication in this country’s national paper?
Sigh. I don’t know why I even bother.
Aside: not to get too nit-picky, or nothin’, but do you think McCain knows that a press release listing big donors who support him includes Leonore Annenberg, chief of protocol in the Reagan White House, the president/chair of the Pennsylvania-based Annenberg Foundation and the widow of Walter H Annenberg, the late publisher, philanthropist, ambassador, and founder of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (that being the nasty “radical” organisation that indelibly taints Obama with horrible, evil, lefty-terrorist-scumness)? The Republicans are a fricking joke.
* From the Devil’s Republican’s Dictionary/Thesaurus —
“Radical Extremist“: (n) 1. generally, a coloured person; or a white person who may like coloured persons. 2. Terrorist. See also: Socialist; Gun-Hater (But Bombthrower); Baby Killer.