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About this website

SydWalker.Info is a personal website. I live in tropical Australia near Cairns. I oppose war, plutocracy, injustice, sectarian supremacism and apartheid. I support urgent action to achieve genuine sustainability and a fair and prosperous society for all. I rely upon - and support - free speech as defined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see below).

with the dawg

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers"

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Unless otherwise indicated, material on this website is written by Syd Walker.

Anyone is welcome to re-publish material sourced from this site, as long as the source is acknowledged with a hyperlink.

Material from other sources reproduced here is presented on a 'Fair Use' basis. I try to cite references accurately. Please contact me if you have queries, comments, broken link reports, complaints - or just to say hello.

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A Very Christian Boss
Dec 2nd, 2008 by Syd Walker

Dr Clive Hamilton is not the only high-profile non-government advocate for Internet censorship in Australia.

On this issue, Clive has a de facto partner in advocacy. His name is Jim Wallace. Earlier this week, Wallace called for bi-partisan support for a mandaory ‘Clean Feed’.

Jim Wallace AMWhereas Clive is a secular humanist with a background on the left of politics, Jim is a Christian conservative, previously awarded the Order of Australia. He’s not just any Christian, either! Jim Wallace AM is spokesperson for the ‘Australian Christian Lobby’.

Clive and Jim seem like the perfect duo. Between them, they represent a broad spectrum of Australian public opinion, left and right, secular and religious. A fine team indeed!

I’ve written about Clive Hamilton already – and he’s attracting growing critical interest – see Online Opinion and Broadbanned Revolution, for example.

But who is the Christian leader Jim Wallace, whose voice comes through loud and clear on this issue of Internet censorship? Is he a Priest or a Presbyter? A Deacon or Bishop? Could it be that’s he’s a Canon – or a Cardinal, perchance?

According to his profile on Online Opinion:

“Jim Wallace AM has been the Managing Director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) since 2000. He was a career soldier for 32 years and a commander of Australia’s elite Special Forces. In 1984 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his services in developing Australia’s counter terrorist capability. ACL is a non-denominational, non-party partisan lobby group representing a broad constituency of Christian supporters.”

Conroy's 'Clean Feed' Support Evaporating
Dec 1st, 2008 by Syd Walker

Internet CensorshipIt’s been a good week for the campaign against Senator Conroy’s disgraceful mandatory Internet filtering proposal – the so called ‘Clean Feed’.

The Australia Greens have formally announced that they oppose this type of Internet censorship. According to AAP:

“We’re very, very concerned that there’s going to be a unnecessary clamp down on the internet and it has to be watched,” Greens leader Bob Brown told ABC Television on Tuesday.

His colleague Scott Ludlam has been lobbying against the changes.

“He’s working very hard with community groups in Australia to oppose the current proposals by the Government,” Senator Brown said.

The Federal Coalition has done the same. Here’s the conclusion of a press release issued by Shadow Communications Minister, Senator Minchin:

“The Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has further fuelled concerns with his talk of filtering not only illegal content, but also unwanted and inappropriate content. This policy proposal is also causing Australia embarrassment internationally, with comparisons to the world’s most repressive regimes,” Senator Minchin said.

The Government is planning a ‘real world’ trial of mandatory filtering before the end of this year and needs the cooperation of sceptical ISPs and their customers.

“If adequate numbers of Internet users cannot be roped into this trial on a voluntary basis, Senator Conroy needs to clarify whether the trial itself will become mandatory, or will this policy be implemented regardless?” Senator Minchin asked.

Beyond the Fringe: Dialogue with 'James'
Nov 30th, 2008 by Syd Walker

I have become embroiled in a debate with someone who calls himself ‘James’, on the SomebodyThinkoftheChildren website.

James Who?That excellent site is at the forefront of the No Clean Feed campaign. Run by Brisbane-based IT expert Michael Meloni, it mounts a powerful anti-censorship case on various fronts, focusing on Australia. Right now, the hottest topic is the Rudd Government’s plan to introduce compulsory Internet censorship.

SomebodyThinkoftheChildren, in my opinion, is an essential daily visit for Australians at this time.

James has raised concerns that I should not be ‘exalted’ and he says he’s worried the campaign will be tarnished by the involvment of someone with such “incredibly fringe opinions”.

I’ve responded a couple of times.

Here’s my latest response on the thread over there (corrected for typos and mis-spellings):

OK James. This is positively my last comment on this thread, as I don’t want to impose on Mike’s blog, which is focused on censorship issues and doesn’t need to become cluttered with extraneous debates.

Actually, I agree with you in one sense. If it became easy for the Government to portray members of the anti-clean feed campaign as people who hold non-mainstream views on other topics, that would be a problem.

But is it likely? My minor contributions to the campaign are eclipsed by the long-standing contributions of people like Mike Meloni and Dale Clapperton – and many, many others more technologically knowledgable than I am.

Amazing
Nov 29th, 2008 by Syd Walker

The best thing about our galaxy is that we’re inside it.

This is the most jaw-dropping photo of the Milky Way I’ve ever seen. Kudos to Wally Pacholka. It’s for sale HERE – along with other amazing space photos.

If anyone knows of a more awesome astronomical pic, please share it.

Milky Way.jpg

The Trials of David Ahenakew
Nov 29th, 2008 by Syd Walker

A trial is underway in Canada.

It’s a most curious trial. Or perhaps it’s just ‘normal’, in this phase of human history that just gets “curiouser and curiouser“.

David AhenakewThe defendant is David Ahenakew, a 75 year-old First Nation leader, previously honoured with the Order of Canada for his service over many decades to his people and Canada as a whole. In Australia, the word ‘Aboriginal’ is typically used for our indigenous people. In Australian lingo, David Ahenakew is a respected Aboriginal elder and leader.

He is on trial for “willfully promoting hatred”.

What did he say? Did he, perhaps, offend the millions of mainly fair-skinned invaders of his land, who over the last few hundred years pushed his people to cultural extinction in many parts of Canada? Did he call for a war of extinguishment against the invaders? Did he incite a First Nation attack on Ottawa?

No. His alleged offense is more specific. He is accused of willfully promoting hatred against ‘the Jews’. He stands accused of breaching Canadian laws that criminalize ‘hate speech’. In effect, this Aboriginal leader is accused of persecuting other people – with his words (not deeds) – even though he’s a survivor of the shattered remnants of the original Canadians who has put in a lifetime’s effort into remedying disadvantages still suffered by his own disposessed community.

It’s difficult not to wince at the irony.

To be precise, the trial currently underway is Ahenakew’s second trial – for the same offense. He was found guilty in 2005. The Chronicle-Herald reports:

Why The Web is NOT Like TV
Nov 27th, 2008 by Syd Walker

Yesterday I published an article called Clive Hamilton & I: Getting Personal about Sex, Lies, Hate & Censorship

My main purpose was to rebut what I call the ‘Clive Hamilton Fallacy’, named in honour of its most prominent exponent. This is the argument “we already censor TV, radio, movies, books, magazines and newspapers. Why should the Internet be exempt?”

My article delved into related topics. I suggested why defending children against porn may be a smokescreen for eventual, much more alarming, political censorship. The end result was a long article.

In this shorter version, I’ll focus only on the ‘Clive Hamilton Fallacy’.

Why do I call it a fallacy? After all, it sounds reasonable on the surface… “We already censor TV, radio, movies… why not the Internet?”

It’s odd that the word ‘Internet’ (as opposed to World Wide Web) is usually the concluding word in this seemingly plausible appeal. After all, the Internet and the Web are not the same thing. The actual proposal that Dr Hamilton and Senator Conroy are promoting is a proposal to censor the Web – not the Internet in entirety (not yet, at any rate…). Even if censorship proponents get muddled. we need to be clear about key distinctions like this.

Clive Hamilton & I: Getting Personal about Sex, Lies, Hate & Censorship
Nov 26th, 2008 by Syd Walker

Dr Clive HamiltonA decade or so ago, I knew Clive Hamilton personally.

We met a few times through common involvement in environmental issues. He appeared to be a nice man with a good head for policy and commitment to progressive politics. When, in the mid 90s, he became Founder/Director of the Australia Institute, it seemed like an excellent initiative. Public interest think-tanks that develop new ideas and policy can play an important role in bringing about positive change. Australia has few such organizations. Overall, while I didn’t get to know Dr Hamilton well, I liked what I saw and supported the causes he made his own.

Protection of the environment is one policy area where I believe wise and effective regulation is merited – and more of it. Take global warming – an issue on which Dr Hamilton has worked hard throughout the last decade. I believe that the potential for human-induced global climate change is significant and poses unknown but alarming dangers to humanity’s future. Left to ‘the market’ alone, the necessary changes in human behaviour are unlikely to happen fast enough, if at all. Collective, political action is therefore needed, including stronger regulatory measures from governments. Personally, I’d like a global carbon tax, but that’s another discussion for another time…

I mention this to make it clear that my dispute with Clive Hamilton over Internet Censorship is not the quintessential stand-off between a sensible mainstream view and an “unthinking libertarian” who opposes regulation in almost every situation.

Honour Without Respect
Nov 22nd, 2008 by Syd Walker

Peres = War CriminalIn a case of life imitating the blogosphere, since I began writing the previous article about Shimon Peres, there been ‘breaking news’.

Apparently the President of the Apartheid State in Palestine (ASP) has been honoured by Queen Elizabeth II.

Now he is a knight commander of the Order of St Michael and St George, no less!

I had no idea this was in the offing, but apparently so – for some time.

Peres meets MadonnaIt isn’t just crazed pseudo-Kabbalist tinsel-queens like Madonna who shake his hand. Mr Peres gets to schmooze with real Royalty!

There are indications that the Palace was bullied and/or embarrassed into granting this ‘honour’ to Peres.

See Queen to Snub Israeli Knighthood Bid by the Daily Express’ royal correspondent, published on November 3rd 2008 – and as of today still retrievable from Google’s cache.

The original of this article has been scrubbed from the Daily Express online edition. Not surprising really. It suggested that the Palace stood up to Israeli stand-over tactics and rejected Peres’ unseemly ‘hints’. As it has turned out, it eventually caved in to Israeli / Jewish pressure.

Here’s an extract from the Daily Express report earlier this month:

“THE Queen has been drawn into an embarrassing diplomatic wrangle with Israel after Britain snubbed efforts to have the Jewish state’s President Shimon Peres knighted.

“She will meet Mr Peres, the architect of several stalled Middle East peace plans, when he begins a three-day official visit to Britain on November 18.

Softball on 'HardTalk'
Nov 22nd, 2008 by Syd Walker

HardTalkSome TV is pure shock and awe.

Take the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)’s internationally-broadcast current affairs interview program ‘HardTalk’.

In times past, Englishmen had a reputation for politeness and reserve. It’s possible that was really just another smug self-serving Anglocentric myth – but there did seem to be some validity to the stereotype – at least on the BBC. Politeness was normal. A generation ago, interviewers like Richard Dimpleby combined incisive interview technique with courtesy. His son maintains the tradition.

But politeness is no longer at the cutting edge, if HardTalk is any guide. These days, the brightest and best British interviewers have an extra talent to offer viewers. They can shout louder than anyone else. This especially applies if they interview foreigners.

In the unlikely event I ever get interviewed on this marvellous program, I shall certainly take a megaphone along. These guys are experts at shouting down their guests! Steven Sackur of HardTalk

A couple of years ago, the Chief Shouter was Tim Sebastian. But the BBC has been going through generational change.

In 2008, Shouter No 1 is Steven Sackur. It’s a hard call, but I think he may be an louder shouter than Tim. His lung capacity is probably greater. One of these days, there really should be an International Shouting Competition between Britain and the USA. Perhaps the USA will field Bill O’Reilly. It would be a match well worth watching – a clash of titans. I’d bet a Euro on Sackur to over-shout even the Beast of the ‘No Spin Zone’.

Pass the Mop, James
Nov 20th, 2008 by Syd Walker

The furor over the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff has, for many, cast a pall over the Obama Presidency before it has begun.

I argued in this blog several days ago that there are real concerns that Emanuel could be an Israeli agent. In that case, Obama has just appointed a foreign spy as his Chief of Staff; at the very least, it’s clear he’s appointed an utterly biased pro-Israeli partisan. Either way, Emanuel’s appointment as Obama’s Chief of Staff should be unacceptable to the great majority of Americans.

The appointment should be reversed, without delay.

This issue has provoked quite a lot of debate around the world – although you wouldn’t guess that, of course, from coverage by the mainstream western media. But this is 2008. It’s not 1992 or 2000. A LOT more people now are aware of the extent of Israeli influence on the American body politic (and on other the political process in other western countries, from Canada to Australia). More and more people are getting the word out and demanding real change on THIS specific front – not just a wink and a brush off.

I was disappointed, although not really surprised, to see James Zogby, founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Arab American Institute, springing so quickly and uncritically to Emanuel’s defense.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Zogby’s apologia reads as though it was drafted by one of Emanuel’s staff. Would it be uncharitable to speculate whether Zogby is vying for a cleaning contract at the White House?

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