27 February 2006

Quote of the Day

For what purpose humanity is here, should not even concern us: why you are here, that you should ask yourself: and if you have no ready answer, then set for yourself goals, high and noble goals, and perish in pursuit of them! I know of no better purpose of life than to perish in attempting the great and the impossible...

- Nietzsche, unpublished note from 1873

25 February 2006

Quote of the Day

What the age needs is not a genius but a martyr.

- Søren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855

22 February 2006

Yahoo accused of betraying journalist

Did I ever mention this? It's hard to believe it was nearly a year ago already.

Talk about scummy.

Still, it's important that these things happen to remind us of who the Chinese Communist Party really is.

Yahoo accused of betraying journalist

HONG KONG, China (UPI) -- The Hong Kong office of Yahoo provided Chinese police with information leading to the jailing of a journalist, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders claims.

Chinese journalist Shi Tao was sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for 'divulging state secrets abroad.' The wording of the verdict showed that Yahoo had provided details that helped security officials identify and convict him, the press freedom group said.

Shi was convicted because of an e-mail he sent out, using a Yahoo account, which included text from an internal document the government had sent to his newspaper, Contemporary Business News, concerning warnings to journalists ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Yahoo helped authorities track the message to the IP address of Shi`s computer, the group claimed, blasting the company for becoming a 'police informant' against 'a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out.'

Yahoo has said it must comply with Chinese law.

Yahoo, Google and Microsoft`s MSN all have come under attack for censoring online news sites and blogs containing content that mainland authorities want to suppress, the South China Morning Post reported Thursday.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

20 February 2006

NSW Council for Civil Liberties Replies

I have been rather remiss in not posting the very prompt and excellent reply of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties to my letter.

Considering that my letter started well and degenerated into a rant, although their rather good reply does miss my point sometimes, I tend to think this was probably my fault rather than theirs.


Dear Patrick Henry

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments. It is always good to hear from members, as the strength of any organisation depends on its members.

Firstly, in relation to funding, you would be aware that the AGM rejected the motion concerning the possibility of mortgaging the CCL property. That motion was on the agenda solely because it had been deferred from the previous AGM (2004), where the committee had put it up because a significant loss had been incurred in the 2004 year and it was considered prudent to ensure availability of funds should a loss be incurred in the 2005 year. As the 2005 year was basically break-even, the meeting overwhelmingly rejected the motion.

My own personal view is that it is not necessarily logical for the CCL to own an unencumbered property if it does not have sufficient cash resources to meet its necessary expenses. [Good point.] However, I agree with you that the first effort should be made to increasing the revenue base of CCL through increased memebrship and donations. This strategy is beginning to bear fruit, and your membership is perhaps evidence of this. I am confident that CCL will be able to meet its running costs this year through the efforts that are currently being undertaken.

As to membership fees, our experience is that members come from a wide variety of circumstances, and some have difficulty affording the fees. If you are not in this position, I would encourage you to make a donation - either on a one-off basis or on a regular basis. There is provision for this on our membership forms. [Ouch! Touche! On the other hand, I feel this reply has more rhetoric than substance but I'm not quite sure why. I think membership fees should be raised even a mere $10 - I don't accept that this is unaffordable for anyone. I think the principle is that this would keep us on an even keel, with extra donations to be used for extra activities. - PH]

As to your comments on the nature of the CCL executive, I trust are not unduly influenced by the article by Janet Albrechtsen published in The Australian in October. [Probably they were, although not necessarily unduly. The Australian is a rightish Murdoch middle-brow paper- PH] Although I do live in Balmain [makes me cringe at my own nastiness - PH], and most of the executive comprises lawyers, I think a fair assessment of our work will show that we engage in a wide range of issues but do concentrate efforts appropriately in "core areas" of civil liberties. Of course, it is easy to do so at present because it is the core of civil liberties that is under attack by the new Anti-Terrorism legislation.

As to other areas, such as gun control, are correct in your assumption that there is a range of views within the Council. CCL's policy on gun control is strongly in support of strong controls on gun ownership to maximise the practical ability of people to enjoy their rights in safety. [Side issue - my fault - PH]

You are most welcome to attend our committee meetings and meet the members of the committee and discuss your views and how can further contribute to the Council's work. The next committee meeting is on 25 January at 6.30pm at CCL's office at 149 St Johns Rd, Glebe.

Stephen Blanks
Secretary, NSW Council for Civil Liberties


Lord May Blasts Christians, Islam

Someone eminent tells it like it is: http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=3487 .

Last Word on Nuclear Power

Patrick Henry: My understanding is that the terrible thing is that the waste from uranium reactors is plutonium, not harmless gunk. Is this correct?

Doctor Thomas: High level waste from uranium reactors includes plutonium, it is nasty stuff and has a half-life of the order of 24 thousand years. In principle, plutonium wasted from uranium reactors can be reprocessed to be made suitable as fuel for a "fast" reactor. (Then there would be a lot more than twenty years global supply of nuclear energy, as there is for uranium). Unfortunately reprocessed plutonium is not something that we would like to have a lot of around - unless you can trust private waste contractors not to accidentally lose it. It is weapons grade and probably worth lots of bananas on the unofficial arms market.

Quote of the Day

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity [sic] of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!

- Samuel Adams, 1776

Taken from Brave New Singapore (Part 2) by John Cobin: http://www.freemarketnews.com/Analysis/67/3365/2006-01-05.asp?wid=67&nid=3365