Friday, 31 August 2007

Lowy: Climate more of a threat than terrorism

The Lowy Institute for International Policy today released the results of its 3rd annual poll surveying public opinion on Australian foreign policy and global affairs.

This is probably the most comprehensive poll on foreign policy.
It focuses public opinion on:-
  • insights on relations with the US,
  • international trade
  • military involvement in the Middle East
Some of the results show the increasing importance of climate change and what actions we should take.

DOWNLOAD Full Report
Australia and the world: public opinion and foreign policy (2.4 MB PDF)

Relationship with the United States

  • 60% of Australians had a favourable opinion of the US
  • 76% had a favourable opinion of Americans
NB: Between the first Lowy Institute Poll in 2005 and the third in June 2007, the
number of Australians regarding the ANZUS alliance as ‘very important’ for Australia’s
security fell from 45% to 36%.

President George W. Bush caused 69% to have an unfavourable opinion of the United States, with ‘US foreign policies’ causing 63% to hold an unfavourable opinion.

When rating their feelings towards 15 countries on a ‘thermometer’ scale of 1° 100°, respondents ranked:-
  • US at a mean of 60°, equally with Vietnam
  • New Zealand 81°
  • Great Britain 75°
  • Singapore 64°
  • Japan 63°

Climate change
Of all external threats to Australians, climate change causes the most concern, with 55%
‘very worried’ about it.

  • Climate change ranks higher than the threats of ‘unfriendly
    countries developing nuclear weapons’ (50% ‘very worried’ about it)
  • ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ (39%)
  • ‘international terrorism’ (38%)

As a foreign policy goal, ‘tackling climate change’ ranked equal highest in importance for those surveyed (75% thinking it a ‘very important’ goal) together with ‘protecting the jobs of Australian workers’, combating international terrorism’ (65%)

Asked how convinced they were about certain methods of reducing carbon emissions, 65% responded that ‘renewable energy like wind, solar and geothermal’ was very convincing, and favoured far above other methods proposed, including ‘nuclear energy’ (19% very convinced) clean coal where emissions are stored underground’ (15%).

Iraq and Afghanistan
The majority of respondents thought that Australia should not ‘continue to be involved militarily in Iraq’ (57%).

Equal proportions (46%) felt that Australia should continue in Afghanistan.

The rights of citizens to Australia’s protection 81% of survey respondents felt that the government should assist Australians caught up in dangerous events in another country, with a very strong majority (75%) agreeing this was the case even if they were also citizens of that other country.

Migrant worker schemes
The Poll showed that Australians are receptive to the idea of allowing unskilled migrant
workers into Australia for limited periods.

A strong majority of respondents (around 66%) agreed with positive statements about temporary migrant worker schemes such as ‘good because they fill a gap in the demand for seasonal workers’.

Significantly fewer agreed with negative statements about such schemes, such as that they ‘…make illegal immigration easier’ or ‘…take jobs from Australians’.

NB: The Lowy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan think tank which researches international political, strategic and economic issues from an Australian perspective.
1003 interviews were conducted between 21 May and 2 June 2007.

Lunch at Lowy

1.2 million views, what a beauty queen!

Lauren Upton, Miss Teen South Carolina, giving the most incomprehensible answer to the question: "Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”

Her response is priceless.

HAT TIP: Kiwiblog

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Robert Pyne more of a councillor than most

Robert Pyne, son of Tom Pyne, who was Mayor of Cairns from 1995-2000, is acting like he's already a local Councillor, who does he think he is?

Robert's standing (in his wheelchair) for Division 3 (or whatever it will be called after the State Govt redraws the wiggly lines next month). He's part of the Cairns 1st team.

Today he emailed out his Council Capers newsletter to his supporters list of 700! And what a brill broadsheet it is, better than any councillor is doing presently. If I could afford to live in Forest Gardens, he'd have my vote.

Pop over to Amazon Close and have a cuppa with him, and experience his passion for change, action and giving locals a real voice.. oh, and also his rather wry wit!

He's a really enjoyable personality and someone that will listen and help you out in office. Robert has real passion and commitment to his local community. You'd be hard pressed to find someone more committed to the cause and reasons why we need a strong local government. His dad would be proud of him.

Robert's very easy to get in touch with, just don't tell his wife. Here's his Division website and his Cairns 1st website. You can also email him.

Take a good look at ourselves

Lucky our infamous Headless Horseman hasn't caught equine influenza yet, so here he scribes again... giddie up!

Queensland artist Priscilla Bracks’ three-portrait painting of Osama morphing into Jesus is an interesting subject for a work of art on many spiritual and political levels.

Both Islam and Christianity revere Jesus Christ in their own way, including the extremists among their many factions. While both faiths recognise the Old Testament as part of their sacred scriptures, their differences were the basis of the Crusades where Christians aimed to destroy Islam, “the infidel”.
Today, Islamic extremists and moderate Christians invoke the name of Allah or God in their quest to kill each other off. Osama bin Ladin’s crowd killed 3000 people on September 11. George Bush’s war on Iraq has killed some 650,000 people. And more again in Afghanistan. By any stretch of the imagination, Bush is the winner!

The demonisation of each other clearly drives the hatred between Islamic extremists and the so-called Christian west.

Western colonialism, especially American neo-colonialism, has long been deeply resented in the Middle East (as well as other parts of the world) and we need a better understanding of how America is viewed. England’s T E Lawrence was part of the British Empire’s push in the Arab world, but there was a man who endeavoured to understand the Arabs. He saw much to admire as well as to decry.

But such understanding is long gone.

In the 1950s, the English television series The Adventures of Robin Hood featured an episode entitled “The Infidel”. Here, Robin Hood rescues a Moslem from a beating by some English countrymen. It transpires the Moslem had been kidnapped by the English and brought to England to be a pawn in a complicated ruse to remove a landowner from his property. He was beset by the countrymen after escaping his captors.

Robin Hood and the so-called “Infidel” engage in an illuminating discussion about each other’s leaders. When the Infidel hears that Robin is loyal to King Richard, he speaks glowingly of the king and shares an anecdote about his great courage. Likewise Robin admires Saladin for his great qualities.

Maybe the TV show played loosely with the truth, but the very easy lesson to glean is the importance of honour, including honour in war. We have seen something of this in the American Civil War and World War I. But the time of Hitler, demonisation of each other’s enemies and their leaders became the preferred strategy. America used extremely racist terms to describe Germans, Italians and the Japanese. It may have helped win the war, but the racial vilification still lingers to this day.

America honoured the Russians in their films, on the battlefield and in diplomacy when they were allies only to prepare for demonisation of the communists in the post-war cold war.

America likes demonising people it calls its enemies, including such great progressive and benign leaders today like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales who advocate for peace and good-neighbourliness. America does not understand why and how they are perceived so badly around the world. John Howard does not understand this either even though he is from Australia where we value the “fair go”. They don’t want to understand it because cultivating hatred is more effective to their dubious cause and ends.

The morphing Osama-Jesus portraits are important because they force us to look at ourselves. The art work strips away the demonisation of both Islam and Christianity and confronts us with the truth that there are similarities between the two faiths.

If there were more honour in the world, there would be less extremism. Anybody who thinks the Bush-Howard war in Iraq will resolve the problem of Islamic extremism and terrorism are laying the groundwork for a blundering hateful world of war and chaos. Perhaps eternal conflict is their ultimate aim. In any case Bush and Howard are responsible for the deaths of 650,000 people in Iraq. That’s a lot of killing in revenge for September 11, especially as Iraq had nothing to do with those deadly terrorist attacks in New York. The war has, in fact, has given al-Queda a foothold in Iraq that they never had when Osama bin Ladin’s enemy Saddam Hussein was the Iraqi leader.

I am more worried about Christian “moderates” than I am about Islamic terrorists. Look at this painting so you can look at yourselves.

PAST ARTICLES by The Headless Horseman:
The Death of Johnos
Notes on Port Douglas rally

Courier Mail: Jesus-Osama artist says work not meant to offend

Mooney Dentist

A friend of mine, Dr Robin Turner in Sydney, just emailed me these pics he took from his balcony the other evening of the eclipse.

Nine has the answers

Channel 9's Today Show (WIN TV up here) will be broadcasting live (best way to do it) from the Cairns Esplanade tomorrow from 6am.

According to a media release, they'll be offering "entertainment, beauty and health tips, and financial advice, followed by free giveaways" with Nine's Woman's Weekly. Sounds like they'll have your life all sorted by 9am.

So nice that there's a TV show that can help us out so comprehensively, all within 5 minute sound bites.

Don't you love what "news" has become.

Seminar for Intending Candidates

The upcoming workshop for Local Transition Committees, is for current Councillors who are on the LTC in their local government area.

There will also be a seminar for Intending Candidates held in Cairns. To register your interest in this, please email Denise Mapleston, or tel 07 3225 8656 at the Dept of Local Government & Planning.

The date and venue are still to be confirmed.

South Park legal downloads

Well, this is big news for online TV and movie buffs, and the way of the future.

Viacom has agreed to make South Park available legitimately online for no charge, but will be profit sharing on advertising from the websites you download them from.

They have worked out that we are now in a global market and the moment an episode comes out in the US, people all around the world want to view it. To date, the only way to do this has been illegal file sharing.

Meanwhile, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have agreed to a 3 year extension of their hit show, that has won an Emmy and Peabody awards. This will add an additional 42 episodes, taking it through to 2011.

Matt Stone said: "Three more years of 'South Park' will give us the opportunity to offend that many more people. And since Trey and I are in charge of the digital side of South Park, we can offend people on their cell phones, game consoles, and computers too. It's all very exciting for us."

Currently in its 11th season, South Park averages over 3 million viewers per premiere episode and has been the highest rated original series among men 18-34 for four years running, and the #1 show on all of television among men 18-24. No surprises there.

PS: One of my fav South Park sketches.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

From the I-can-publish-what-I-like Department

Schier & Berwick: a wedding made in the rainforest

Today's Cairns Post reports that Val Schier is in discussions with the Lord Mayor of the Great Green Dark Forest.

Mike Berwick has said on many occasions over the last year, he will not stand again. His Council has made no secret of it's disjointed approach to governing the world-renown iconic area we know as Daintree and surrounding areas. Council meeting after Council meeting, they were split and attacking each other and showed little maturity. However, they did successfully order a KFC burger with fries.

Berwick's credentials are impressive. Long before the possibility of a merger with Byrnesville's Concrete Castle Shire, he said defiantly that he was over it.

Looking at his background and the recent divisions in his Council, I understand why he said he's ready to move on.

Mike Berwick has been Mayor of Douglas Shire since 1991. He has been involved in a number of regional, state and national committees and organisations dealing with natural resource management. He is the Chairman of North Queensland Afforestation, an association of 10 local governments that deal with vegetation management.

He is also Chairman of the National Stakeholder Advisory Committee to the Cooperative Research Centre for Coastal Management and a board member of the Rainforest Cooperative Research Centre. He's also a member of the Ministerial Advisory Council on vegetation management and of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee to CSIRO's Division of Tropical Agriculture.

He is author of the National Local Government Biodiversity Strategy. Mike was the former chair of the steering committee for North Queensland's Regional Environment Strategy and Regional Waste Strategy.

Prior to becoming Mayor, he was editor of the Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette and previous to that a green activist. He currently farms Barramundi. Mike has a degree in physiology from the University of Queensland.

It's rather apparent that a guy with all this history and background would never want to work with nor support Byrne or his mad building-hungry Council. I know he'll offer any support possible to Val and her team to oust him from the mayoralty in Cairns, to give all it's citizens a real future, voice and ownership in their greater community.

Looking at a possibility of Mike running to represent the Douglas area, under Division 10 of the new Regional Council, he would undoubtedly romp in. However, I would question the amount of support Berwick would garner in Cairns. The legacy of a mis-managed Council and little solidarity would factor highly in any support from residents in 90% of the new Council's voting power base.

I predict strategic voting will play an important role in these upcoming Council elections.

Byrne would equally not stand much chance in the Douglas area. They wouldn't want his dirty paws on their crown jewels. Cairns residents would not support a Byrne-led Council when Daintree / Douglas are part of the pie. Even though 70,000 of the voting public are from Cairns, 80kms away from the green belt.

You can be assured that people will consider this as part of their decision-making in March next year.

Mr McKenzie, you blamed the wrong folk

Isn't is satisfying.. to a degree, that the Cairns Amateurs has accepted responsibilty for all the liquor licensing issues around the upcoming annual event.

Margaret Keech, Queensland's Liquor Licensing Minister, said the compromise had been brokered by the State Government and agreed to by Cairns Jockey Club and the Cairns Amateurs Association. No one else.

Let's not forget that there have been a load on problems in past years with under-age drinking, and generally wanker-type behaviour and intoxication.

Therefore the Liquor Licensing Authority agreed that the Cairns Jockey Club would be de-licensed for the Amateurs meeting this year. They were issued with a General Purpose Permit. This made them fully responsible for all liquor licensing issues.

"The granting of a permit to the Amateurs will give the association total control of licensed areas on the racecourse," Minister Keech said yesteray.

"This means they will be able to review the decisions of the Cairns Jockey Club to impose entry conditions on teenagers and to restrict the supply of alcohol to corporate guests."

Last year, the police made 34 arrests , 14 traffic infringement notices, made 2,646 intercepts and conducted RBTs at the Amateurs.

Boy, they need to lighten up and have a drink.

Giving Cookie a clean behind the ears

Today the boys at Programmed Maintenance Services (or PMS!) commenced giving that symbol of white fascist mother England the once over. And it's not before time.

The 43mt Captain James Cook statue, sited on the former Captain Cook Backpacker's property on Sheridan Street, has been the subject of lengthy debate over the last year. However, since it's construction in the mid 70s, he's got rather worn, and is well overdue for a paint and scrub up.

Despite numerous suggestions to relocate him to Cooktown; the Esplanade, JCU Uni, and even Kier Shorey's home as a garden gnome (everything's big there, except his ego), nothing took off and no one came forward or backed up their Ute.

Enter the lads from PMS! (well, you know what I mean)

Mark Flanagan, Manager of PMS (is this company's name a marketing dream or what?) told me today that they, along with a number of other local firms, have donated their time, skills, paid and scrubing brushes, to give the 'ol Captain a short-back-and-sides. He will be screened off from public view, while the work is carried out, probably to cover his willie while it's all cleaned up.

"We're planning on a breakie next Wednesday morning to unveil Cook and reveal him to the town." 103.5 Hot FM will be there to host the breakfast.

"We just want to give him a bit of love," says Mark of PMS (just wanted to say that again). "Whoever the new owners of the property are, they may think about keeping him if he looks more presentably."

"Regardless of what people think about this statue, after 40 years, he's an iconic landmark in Cairns, and we thought we'd do our bit to give him a few more years life."

God save the Queen. And all that.

ABC Audio:
Captain James Cook is facing uncertain future. Nicholas Kittel
Real Broadband or Real Dialup

Posted from the ABC Studio..Sheridan Street, Cairns

Hi there folks.. and hello from ABC's Far Nth Queensland's studio!

Derek Tipper here remember to tune in to ABC Far North 106.7 FM in the Cairns District . . . and remember this Friday August 31 is the ABC Far North Big Picture Day . . . we will answer the question where is the cane train heading?

As you can see, blogging is a instant form of publishing.. accessible to anyone.

Michael Moore of chatting with with ABC Far North Presenter Derek Tipper this morning about blogging and the effect it's having on traditional media. Here's Derek's webpage.

Which Councillors are under worked

While this may be something of a futile exercise, it does prove interesting reading to a degree.

The table below shows, on the current Council Divisions, those voters enrolled, and how it varies per Councillor under the current 12 Divisional structure.

You will see, that there are some dramatic differences in the number of constituents per councillor. Cr Freebody's Division 4, for instance, has 22% less than the mean average, or 1361 less voters to represent.

Other noticeable differences are Annette Shepard's Division 12 with just over an additional 1100 constituents. Maybe they should be remunerated on a per capita basis!

If this same divisional structure was to be in place for 2008, and we now know that this is not to be the case, the graph shows the movements based on predicted population and providing a mean distribution of numbers.

However, in 4 weeks time, the State will announce the new 10 Divisional boundaries, based on a distribution of 8,186 voters per area. This would mean that the 6,278 voters in the current Douglas Shire, a northern Division 10, would extend from Cape Trib and extend south to encompass part of Clifton Beach.

This is an unworkable representative area, not only in terms of different areas, but a geographic challenge. It's a 2 and a half hour drive from top to bottom. I hope that the Commission would understand the uniqueness of this new Division and map it from, say Wangetti to Cape Trib. However, my guess is that some Uni Grad is using a CAD Mapping tool in some high rise in Brissy, and will merely pump out the new plans based on numbers, not even appreciating the nature of the region.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Bloggers are "best friends"

The Australian reports that print media have a greater chance of surviving if they embrace bloggers.
Newspapers should rely more heavily on readers to provide news coverage and ditch subscriber fees for use of their online archives.

Canadian blogger Cory Doctorow, (pictured) an award-winning science fiction novelist and champ of all things digital, says "newspapers and their journalists should welcome the vast range of opinion now available on the internet, rather than fear it."

"As consumers of information, we have more tools than ever, not fewer, to discern the bias in the way information is being presented. And bias is not a product of the internet, it has been present in all media forever."

Cory Doctorow says the biggest problem facing print media was "a complete failure to come to terms with what is happening to classified advertising on the internet, which is bizarre given that if there's anyone who really should get classified advertising, it's the daily print media who historically are masters of it".

He reckons The New York Times had failed to appreciate the financial advantages of linking bloggers and its own advertisers. "Rather than place advertising alongside their archival material, for example, and keep it free so bloggers can add billions of links to that enormous rich archive of stuff, they charge people to access yesterday's news," he says.

"They'd make more money if they had open archives. The The Boston Globe has an open archive." He says bloggers should be celebrated by newspapers.

New Zealand's biggest daily, The Herald recently introduced charges and restricted access to online archives and extra stories.

Corry Doctorow is guest at the Melbourne Writers Festival. He says readers also had a vital role to play as citizen journalists. "Look at the BBC coverage of the 2005 London bombings with photographs from cam-phones that rained in from readers."

Last week, FairFax Digital sacked award-winning blogger Jack Marx after he posted a joke article imagining what Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd got up to in a New York strip club.

Jack Marx is famed for his Walkley Awards. He said he didn’t feel the blog was controversial enough to be sacked. “Blogs should run close to the wire,” he says.
“The post was totally harmless.” Marx was sacked by the very medium he employs as the mighty weapon: Email.

NewsLtd said Marx is a brilliant writer but the article was just the latest in a "long line of indiscretions."

The questionable post on his blog described a hypothetical situation about the Opposition Leader’s feelings towards the strippers inside the now-infamous club. It has been removed. Jack is veteran journalist and author is best known for an expose of actor Russell Crowe's extraordinary attempts to manipulate journalists.

Here's the last of Jack's blog works in the Sydney Morning Herald. Some classic posts.

And here's an ABC Radio interview with Jack (and Stephen Mayne) RealMedia 28k+ or WinMedia 28k+

Bloggers are here to stay.

Down horsey, down, but not in a bad way

We've all heard drama after drama that has plagued the Cairns Amateurs over the last week. Now with the Equine influenza outbreak, one has quickly forgotten the Esky and youth ban and subsequent flip flops by the Cairns Jockey Club and the Queensland LLA.

The equine horse flu was first detected near Sydney on Friday night, and is thought to have been transmitted to non-competitive horses, which took the virus to an event in Maitland.
From there, it spread around NSW and to Warwick. The flu has forced the GG's into lockdown around the country.

600 cases at more than 100 sites are now recorded. No racehorses have yet tested positive, but a Mr Ed want talk about it to this reporter.

Horse jokes aside (for now), Equine influenza is a major virus disease that causes flu-like symptoms in horses and is from the group of viruses that causes flu in humans. This is a viral disease present throughout Europe, North America and parts of Asia. Most horses exposed to the virus will show signs within a period of 1-5 days. It appears similar to a range of other viral respiratory diseases, and are responsible for coughs and colds. Most viruses produce rather mild signs which include a discharge from the nose and coughing.

Equine Influenza produces more severe symptoms with horses developing a fever and a dry hacking cough. Horses become ill and are reluctant to eat or drink but often recover in 3 weeks.

The virus can be spread easily from horse to horse from nasal droplets and from things like infected brushes and rugs. The disease is very contagious and is nearly 100% infection rate in horses that have been previously unexposed.

The most likely way that the disease could have be introduced into Australia is through an imported horse.

I understand that the virus can affect Stallions, Geldings, and Mayors, indiscriminately.
I wonder if any Mayors in Cairns might contract Equine influenza?

Beattie Vote: Saturday October 20th

The Queensland's Local Government Association has recommended October 20th for local Councils across the State to hold local referendums (or plebiscites for those Latin folk amongst us) on the State Govt's forced council amalgamations.

The Federal Government will pass legislation to allow the Australian Electoral Commission to conduct the votes.

Paul Bell, president of LGAQ, questioned the State's motives for the reforms saying that "this issue is much larger than boundary changes, it's a full frontal assault on local government. It's an attempt to limit the influence of mayors and councillors and weaken local government's power in Queensland. When you hear the words stronger councils, don't believe a word of it, it's pure spin." Fighting words, eh?!

The LGAQ completed three surveys since June, regarding attitudes to council amalgamations. Two of these surveys were held prior to the announcement of proposed boundary changes, while the third was conducted in the week following the announcement of the proposed new boundaries. The sample survey of 600 respondents were asked a number of questions in relation to the process the State Government took to introduce the amalgamations.

QUESTION: “If Council boundary changes or amalgamations are to occur in your area do you think the local community should have the opportunity for a referendum on the proposal so that their view is known before a decision is taken?

Overall 75.5% saw a need for a referendum. This was highest in Sth East Queensland and lowest in Provincial areas.

“If your Council were to be amalgamated with one or more Councils in this region, would you prefer that this was based on the result of a local referendum or should this be decided solely by the State Government?

The results were very similar to those in June with almost 78% overall seeing a need for a local referendum. Both of these surveys were undertaken prior to the announcement of the proposed amalgamations. In early August, during the week following the announcement, a survey of 1,100 people in regions affected by the proposals was undertaken.

Do you think that, before a final decision is taken by the State Government, a local referendum on the proposed council boundary changes in your area is necessary regardless of cost, or would it be a waste of money?

In this survey of those directly affected 59% saw a referendum as necessary regardless of cost while only 35% saw it as a waste of money. However there was a variation across the affected communities. Of the 27 new council areas surveyed, less than 50% felt a referendum was necessary in 8 of the new council areas. More than 70% felt a referendum was necessary in 7 of the new council areas.

Overall, these surveys do point to a relatively strong community desire to express their views on amalgamation by way of a local referendum.

Let the people sing.

Google Giggles

What Lunar Eclipse? Blame it on Global Warming & John Howard

I wandered down to the beach at Yorkeys, right on 10 mins to Eclipse.. only to be greeted with cloud... and some rain.

I blame it on those ring-wing polices of the Liberals.. and let's not forget global warming.

What a fizzer.

If you were in Cairns last evening around 8:30pm AEST, I guess you were too busy swatting mozis and digging out the Esky for next weekend.

The ABC said they'll kindly put the pics up for all to see.

Shock, Horror: Our Mayor is arrogant!

This week's poll results are in!

We asked our readers over the last 7 days, to rate what they thought Council's biggest stuff (actually f**k) up was / is...

..and this is what you said:-

  • 06 Rate Increases rated lowest
  • Environmental protection and Closed Council meetings ranked 2nd
  • high density living and development rated next
  • City Place was the second highest concern
  • ....the most voted for the Mayor's arrogance as the biggest concern to them

    61 votes were received.

This week's poll we've asked readers to list their most respected Councillor/s... should be fun.

Yaa Boo Hoo. Look out for Big Brother

If you have a Yahoo account, I'd watch what you say on it... maybe it's time to think about ditching it.

It has been revealed, that after 3 years detention, Yahoo provided information to assist the Chinese state security to convict a Chinese journalist for leaking state secrets to a foreign Web site.

The journalist, Shi Tao, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in June for sending an anonymous posting to a New York-based, Chinese-language Web site that authorities said contained state secrets. His posting summarized a communication from Communist Party authorities to media outlets around the country.

Here's the stunning court verdict.

Shi Tao, aged 37, worked for the daily Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News).
He was convicted on 30 April of sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal message which the authorities had sent to his newspaper warning journalists of the dangers of social destabilisation and risks resulting from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Chinese state security insisted during the trial that the message was top secret. Shi admitted sending it out by e-mail but disputed that it was a secret document. He is being held in Changsha prison to which he was sent after his arrest in the northeastern city of Taiyuan on 24 November 2004.

Shi's case has become a prominent symbol of the recent tightening of media controls in the one-party state, where authorities often punish outspoken journalists for leaking information deemed secret.

Yahoo provided records showing that Shi used a computer at his workplace, Contemporary Business News, in April 2004, to access his Yahoo e-mail account. Authorities say the offending e-mail was sent to the New York Web site from that e-mail account.

Yahoo's role in the prosecution of Shi was revealed in July by Boxun, a website run by overseas Chinese.

Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, Cisco and other major internet providers have come under scrutiny for helping China to monitor and censor content available to China's 100 million internet users.
Chinese internet experts say Google and Yahoo routinely exclude sensitive political or religious information from searches conducted by users in mainland China. Microsoft's MSN has come under attack for restricting the content of Web logs, or blogs, it hosts in China.

The companies have often said that they must abide by laws and regulations of countries where they operate.

The information circulated involved routine instructions on how officials were to safeguard social stability during the 15th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, democracy movement. Shi's case has alarmed critics of the Chinese government because his posting did not reveal the sender or the source of the information. That meant the authorities had no more to go on when they began their investigation than an anonymous posting on a US-based website.

Using investigative techniques that were not revealed during Shi's trial, Beijing state security officials pinpointed the Chinese source of the e-mail. Yahoo's role remains murky, in part because the company has declined to provide any information about its cooperation with Beijing authorities.

It is unclear whether the company responded voluntarily to a request from Beijing state security, or provided data only when confronted with a court order. Critics say, however, that Yahoo crossed a line by helping authorities prosecute the journalist, even if the company merely responded to a court order.

Yahoo & Chinese censorship

  • For years Yahoo has allowed the Chinese version of its search engine to be censored.
    In 2002, Yahoo voluntarily signed the "
    Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry", agreeing to abide by PRC censorship regulations. Searches deemed sensitive by the Chinese authorities such as “Taiwan independence” in Chinese into the Yahoo! China search engine, retrieve only a limited and approved set of results.
    A US-based multinational, Yahoo appears to be willing to go to any lengths to gain shares of the Chinese market and it is investing heavily in local companies.
    In 2003, it spent 120 million dollars to buy the search engine
    More recently Yahoo acquired a large stake in the Internet giant Alibaba in an operation that reportedly cost nearly a billion dollars.
    Reporters Without Borders (which subscribes to) has written several times to Yahoo in an attempt to alert it to the ethical issues raised by its Chinese investments. These letters have so far received no response.

This news comes with a sence of irony, in a country that is famous for censorship and control of free-speech, something like Queensland under Sir Joh, that a Chinese blog of Xu Jinglei received more than 50 million views, claiming to be the most popular blog in the world. In mid-last year, it also had the most incoming links of any blogs on the internet!

Monday, 27 August 2007

CairnsBlog goes on ABC Far North!

On Wednesday morning, I'll be on air chatting with Derek Tipper.

Derek's standing in for Pat Morrish on the ABC Far North's Morning Show.

ABC Local Radio is 106.7 FM or for those with a gramophone, 801 AM.

I'll be on from 8.30am for an hour or so. We'll talk about blogging generally, particularly the effect it has on journalism and news reporting.

Grab a cuppa, sit back for a true story...

A dear friend Alison wrote this for me over the weekend to share with my readers .. as she recounts a special day from her childhood...

This all happened in a small town in Far North Queensland... but I'm not telling which one.. to protect the innocent, and the not-so innocent ;-)


This was the time of loyalty to the monarchy, loyalty to the Empire, right or wrong. This was the time when Her Majesty graced every living room wall, up there alongside the flying ducks and the tapestry of Sydney Harbour Bridge, when every school room also boasted photos of Her Majesty and when everyone stood up at the movies to listen to the Royal Anthem. Even the babies stopped crying. We were more Royalist than the British.

So the excitement which rippled through our little town in 1961 when we learnt that Princess Alexandra, the Queen's own cousin was coming to visit us, was huge. This was an HONOUR. Big time!

At home, all the mothers went frantic getting together the best school clothing for the children. For it had been decided the school children would stand out FRONT, alongside the road, with Australian and British flags in their hands, and would wave, as the royal entourage passed by.

While our mothers begged and borrowed new white blouses and sewed up navy pinafores and boxer shorts on the Singer sewing machines, we children were drilled every day by our school teachers. We had to stand still, we had to wave the flags when the limousine arrived, we had to cheer.

The council went into action and our main street was swept and hosed and polished. Storekeepers painted their weatherboard shop fronts and specially potted plants were placed strategically on the tired, dusty footpaths.

The BIG DAY arrived. Kids spent hours polishing their school shoes until they shone. No kid was allowed to put on their school uniform until the last moment..."in case you dirty it!". Hats were firmly wedged onto heads, handkerchiefs folded and placed in pockets, and furled flags placed into tiny hands.

So we all lined up the main street, almost the entire population of two and a half thousand residents. The children in the front, lined along the street according to Grade level. Behind, stood the older adults, some with walking sticks, some in wheel chairs, some with gigantic hearing aids. The old soldiers stood there resplendent with chests full of medals and their best double-breasted, pin-striped suits, reeking of moth balls.

Up and down the street, the council workers swept the road ever cleaner. Officials darted here and there with excited looks on their faces. So we waited. The sun rose higher and higher and it became warmer and warmer. The excited murmurings died to plaintive whispers. But still we waited. Some babies started wailing and soon we could hear the adults... "Shussssh!! Shhhhush... Mavis...I might take her home I think...she is tired, needs her sleep......" So some of the Mothers pushed their babies home in their perambulators.

In the front row, some of the kids started fidgeting. Tommy Wheelwright next to me, picked his wart and was amusing himself watching a stream of blood pouring down his arm. It was a time to keep busy.

Suddenly, down the far end of the street came a noise. We all craned forward. There, starting its way up the long street was a motor bike with a side car. We could hear the noise as it backfired and crackled, giving out puffs of dark smoke.

The kids started cheering and waving their flags. Gradually the motorbike came up the street until where I was standing in the front row with my Grade One class. Beside me little Lynette Brown peed her pants as she cheered and cried at the same time. Some other little girls also started crying. The enormity of the occasion was overwhelming. Oh, the excitement!!

I stared at the Princess in amazement as the motorbike went passed. Never in my life had I seen such a gorgeous woman! Truly, she was a Princess. Sitting in the side car of this old, noisy motor bike which spewed out clouds of stinky smoke. She had on this most enormous hat, festooned with flowers and ribbons. She was wearing large diamante sunglasses, the glass jewels winking and dazzling in the sunlight.

She had bright red lipstick on and red rouge on her cheeks, painted bright, like a dolly's face. Necklaces hung around her neck like tons of ropes. She had so many jewels! Around her neck also draped a furry animal. I could see it's little head resting on her bosom.
She had this enormous bunch of flowers on her lap in the sidecar. I recognised them as the white flowers, called arum lilies which my Mum said were "funeral flowers".

Her driver was all dressed up too, like a real chauffeur. He had on these goggles, and a leather jacket and a peaked cap pulled down low on his head.

As the Princess passed she held out an arm dressed in a long white glove, turned her head away from us and called out, "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLOOOOOOOOOOO EVERYONE!" in a funny high pitched voice which didn't quite sound like the voices of our Mothers or our female teachers.

Oh, we cheered! Lynette Brown next to me stood snivelling in a puddle of pee, while Tommy Wheelright forgot his bleeding wart and yelled with all his might. "God save the Queen!"

The motorbike passed down the line, and all of a sudden, there was a change in the sounds of the crowd. We could hear the grownups starting to snicker and guffaw!!! And then laughter rose to a crescendo as a black and white police car sneaked down the road past us all, with four khaki clothed police officers inside. As we craned forward, we saw the motor bike splutter, then roar off around the corner with the police car in hot pursuit.

Behind me, I could hear the grown ups roaring with laughter. Tommy and I looked at each other in bewilderment. Barely had we exchanged looks, when a dark shiny limousine glided noiselessly past us giving us a glimpse of a waving white glove behind a dark, shiny window.

We didn't wave our little flags. We didn't cheer. We stood there numbed, uncomprehending. Something wasn't right, but we didn't know what.

It was left to Tommy Wheelwright's father to explain what had happened. It appeared that my own cousin, David, had dressed up in his mothers theatrical clothing (she was a keen member of the choral society), and conned his best mate into lending his Trumby motorbike, to "pretend"" to be Princess Alexandra and her driver.

That afternoon, I stood in the kitchen, trying to tell my Mother (who stayed at home with the new baby) what had happened. "Oh you do tell stories, Alison!"said Mum, crossly. "You're like your father. Now go and hang these nappies upon the back line for me!"

Some days later, I heard Dad tell Mum the whole story, and also that David and his mate had been given a ""jolly good talking to" by the police. However David decided to get his own back on the Police, a few days after that, by climbing up the Police Station roof and rubbing out the letters ""P"" and ""O" from the sign, so that for several days after, the entire town had a LICE STATION.

For young David, who was only sixteen at the time, there followed a war between him and the local police force which would only end when his parents insisted he join the Royal Australian Navy.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

What a huge sporty weekend

The 2007 Pier Sportsfest wound up today with the Coral Coast Triathlon and Pump n Pedals A and C Grade cycling criterion held today.

The Esplanade circuit was abuzz with lycra, sweaty athletes and a few spills, under near perfect conditions.

Councillor Margaret Cochrane, a big supporter of sporting events in the city, showed up to cheer on her favorites. Local sports identities, Richie Bates and Jamie Townsend kept the crowd and participants informed with race commentary throughout the events.

Steve 'Moose' Rankine took out the A Grade criterion, after an impressive race to the finish.

A fantastic turn out and a stunning Cairns day made the event and atmosphere truly amazing.

Play our guessing game...

Where in Cairns is this photo taken??
I'll post the full photo (uncropped) when someone guesses correctly! There will be a prize... so start now.

(PS: This is an easy one, they will get harder next time!)

Turn ya Fog Lights off dickhead!

Who else shares my pet hate... fog lights on... day and night?

I’ve shared this with most of my mates over recent months... and must sound like a broken record on the subject. Day and night, at least one in every 4 cars are driving with their fog lights on. Fog lights are now more prolific and common, especially standard on new vehicles.

So there you go, I have F.L.P. or Fog Light Phobia.

Why on earth are these guys (I think it's mostly guys) doing this? I think they might have SDS (Small Dick Syndrome). These are truly the wankers of the road. It does absolutely nothing to improve their visibility, but reduces and impairs others.

This has to be one of the most dangerous and foolish things for a driver to inflict on other road users.

Did you know it is actually illegal to operate fog lights (and rear fog lights) where there is no fog?
Unfortunately, Police are always too busy to catch these buggers. The Police state that you are only permitted to activate these lights if you are driving in fog or other hazardous weather conditions. The only conclusion I can come to is that this is a shallow call for attention from a low life that has little concept of road safety.

Next time you pass one of these knobs, flash ya lights at them.

There ya go. I got that off my chest.

Local Democracy, Local Choices

'Local Democracy, Local Choices' presents information about Local Government reform that you aren't being told.
Members of the public, local government employees and concerned councillors are invited to voice their opinion to those in charge.
Find out more and have your say

Local Transition workshop - Tue 4th September

Time to get involved folks!

The Local Transition Committee workshop will be held at the Cairns Colonial Club, 18 Cannon Street, Manunda, Cairns, on Tuesday 4th September.
Register by sending an email here.

Attendance is open to:-
- CEOs, and those that are, or intending to apply for Interim Chief Executive Officer positions;
- Douglas and Cairns Councillors, or considering being a member of the next Council; (don't tell Kevin)
- Union representatives

The workshops are a joint initiative between the Department of Local Government, Local Government Association Queensland and Local Government Managers Australia, with key input from relevant unions.

Cairns City Council and Douglas Shire Council are responsible for registering all delegates to the workshop, including union representatives.

The Local Transition Committee (LTC) guidelines are now available

A LTC will be established for Cairns/Douglas. This committee will be the principal group to transition for our new Council up until the March 2008 local body elections, and will be supported by the State Transition Committee.


  • Two councillors as local government representatives from each of the councils
  • Up to three union representatives
  • A community representative, if required by the LTC
  • Interim CEO.

Key deliverables

  • Appointment of a chair
  • Appointment of the interim CEO
  • Approval of an interim executive corporate structure
  • Oversight and preparation of a Transition Action Plan - to guide the new council in prioritising decisions, actions and projects in effecting implementation of new structural arrangements.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Gee, thanks for all the attention!

Only in our seventh week online, CairnsBlog is now getting just under a 1,000 hits a week... thanks to you (and you) for spreading the word.

I know that a number of our Councillors are following our discussions!

It's satisfying that there appears to be a need to air and debate subjects that are of interest to a local audience, beyond what we get in our existing media.

Often traditional media*, have time and space constraints, and sometimes their own agenda (God forbid). Therefore, the freedom of the net allows anyone to have a voice, a rant and a rave, or at least a forum to share their piece. It also sets it's own equilibrium whereby extreme views can be heard and explained and countered.

The other neat thing about online discussion is that, unlike local media*, this medium can engage in lenthly debate and air arguments way beyond what a 1 minute radio newsclip can entertain or a 2 coulum newspaper story can achieve. And as for the cat-up-a-tree story at the end of the TEN TV news...

As CairnsBlog gains traction with local readers, I thought it appropriate to update the web address to better reflect the broader focus, which is not only the Council election next March.
We will soon be coming to you from ... you'll be automatically be redirected there. Anyway, I keep you informed over the next days.

In the meantime, I look forward to being your comrade and facilitator in discussion on any subject I like. So there.

*Our local media comprises:-

- Cairns Post
- Cairns Sun
- The Tablelander
- Tablelands Advertiser
- Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette
- Cairns eye
- City Life
- In Touch, In Business
- Community newspapers: Southern Herald / Northern News
- Various local community / resident association newsletters like Yorkeys Knob Matters

- Seven TV

- ABC Far North
- 4CA FM
- 846 AM
- Sea FM
- Hot FM
- Coast FM
- Cairns Community Radio

The Cairns 1st Team

Last night, the candidates that comprise Cairns 1st were presented to a supporter's gathering in Edgehill.

L-R Richie Bates, Dianne Forsyth, Val Schier, Robert Pyne, Paul Matthews, Kirsten Lesina, Mark Buttrose

Val Schier introduced her candidates that have been selected to date.

Val also introduced Richie Bates, who will represent the northern beaches division.

Richie was born in Melbourne in 1965, and first came to work in Cairns 20 years ago. He has been a resident of Yorkeys Knob for 17 years. Richie manages telecommunications technology at Queensland Rail, where he has worked since 1988. He has a son 13, and daughter aged 7.

Over the next few months, and as the new Council divisional boundaries are announced, Val will announce additional candidates to represent her Alliance to contest the local body elections in March 2008.

From a small village on the North East coast of Tasmania, Val came to Cairns in 1982 after having worked in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. She bought a house at Machans Beach in 1984 and has lived and worked in Far North Queensland for 25 years. Her son, James, is a teacher in WA and partner, Peter, is an academic and researcher at James Cook University.
Val has had diverse and challenging work experiences - motel manager, teacher, breakfast cook and mining treatment plant operator – before joining the state public service where she held senior managerial positions.

Kirsten was born in Cairns in 1986, making her the fourth generation of the Lesina family to live in the city.She attended St Gerard Majella Primary School and St Mary's Catholic College in Woree. Kirsten is currently in her final year of a law degree at James Cook University Cairns Campus.

Born in Gordonvale and raised in Edmonton, Rob is certainly a local. He's worked in various professions until a dramatic accident in 1991 that broke his neck. He then embarked on study to re-enter the work force and completed a Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics at JCU and a Law Degree at QUT. Robert has volunteered for a number of community groups before gaining employment at JCU in 2002.

Born in South Australia, Mark moved to Cairns in 1995 with wife, Maryke and two children. He lives in Whitfield and is the manager of a major architectural practice with over 30 years experience in the industry. Since moving to Cairns Mark has been responsible for the design of many landmark buildings in Cairns including the Cairns Centre of Contemporary Arts, St Andrew's Catholic College, Fogarty Park Sound Shell, the sail-like Esplanade Information nodes.

Dianne contested the 2004 Council elections and gained 34% against Kathy Plath's 39% of the vote in Division 5. Dianne runs the Adiction Health Agency, offering Positive-Life-Changes, and was a first for Cairns, when initiated 30 years ago in 1973. Citizens concerned for the welfare of local disadvantaged youth set it up and was originally registered as a Charitable Trust, the Cairns Drug Advisory and Referral Centre, was managed and funded by the FNQ Youth Assistance Fund.

Paul first came to Cairns in a battered EH Holden in 1973 with some Uni mates , but it wasn't until 1987, after graduating from Veterinary School in Brisbane, followed by several Australian and overseas work stints, that he would eventually fulfil his dream to return, with his then partner, Kay. With the birth of Marnie and Sam and the acquisition of the Balaclava Veterinary Surgery, Cairns became home. In 2004, he ran with Val and herTeam 4 Cairns in Division 9, polling 44% of the vote. Since then he has been working on all areas of policy as well as his ongoing passions for humane urban animal management and the environment.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Val's night of trivia and community spirit

Around 250 turned out at the Eisteddfod Hall in Greenslopes Street for Val Schier's Cairns 1st fundraiser and Trivia Night last evening.

18 teams vied for the prizes from micro-chipping your pets from Balaclava Vet, to Steven Nowakowski's stunning book on Hinchinbrook, all in the aid of supporting the new team running for Council in March next year.

"It was a very successful and fun evening" said Val Schier.

"The Cairns 1st team relies on grassroots support from the community. We don't have big business giving us huge amounts of money, but we still need to pay for advertisements in the paper and on the TV to get our message out" she said.

"Anyone who has some fundraising ideas are most welcome to contribute" Val said. "Please get in touch!"

The winning team name went to The Bynre-out Team. However the winning team on points was the Senalorlus Supremes. Notable mentions must go to Johnos's Fan Club, Pyne Forest, and Tony and the Tootsies.