Wednesday, February 24, 2010

the Stink shop

The BigStinkGuide shop now open. T Shirts and other apparel for general purpose dissidence and subversion.

visit the stink shop at zazzle

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who is Michael Atkinson?

More slanderous garbage against gamers has once more been flowing from the mouth of South Australian Attorney General Michael Atkinson.

In an interview on ABC’s Good Game TV show, Atkinson alleged receiving “hate material” from gamers.
"I don't know who sends me this filthy material but I get my electorate office email spammed, about 2 o'clock in the morning I had a threatening note from a gamer shoved under my door."

"I feel that my family and I are more at risk from gamers than we are from outlaw motorcycle gangs, who also hate me and are running a candidate against me."

"The outlaw motorcycle gangs haven't been hanging around my doorstep at 2am - a gamer has."

This is the ABC’s recreation of the “threatening note”

WTF? It says "CAN HAS R18 RATING PLZ?" That’s the meekest threat I’ve ever seen, it even has the good manners to say please.

As for a gamer hanging around his doorstep at 2am, I assume Mick is referring to his office door step although he ambiguously does not say. His private residence boasts an 8 ft tall, 1 ft thick brick wall, and there are a couple of guard dogs to get past between that wall and his front door. Perhaps that note was the work of super Mario? So how is it again that he and his family feel threatened?

In light of all the poorly chosen remarks and eyebrow raising allegations against his opponents of late, I believe Mr Atkinson has earned a case for some detailed scrutiny.

I will do him the courtesy of not assuming that his campaign will involve criminal activity and dirty tricks, and I will not say that is what I’ve come to expect from the SA Labor Party.

Mick may be doing his best to impersonate Mr Magoo, but appearances can be deceiving. Not in this case however, I believe he really is Mr Magoo but there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to dealing with Mick.

Michael Atkinson is a practicing Catholic and a founding member of Labor Unity. Labor Unity or the Labor Right is an organized faction of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

Labor Left has in the past criticized the faction (Right) for being beholden to papal authority.

Atkinson has become infamous for many a scandal and blooper since taking government in 2002.

There was the “Ashbourne affair” – Premier Mike Rann’s former media adviser Randall Ashbourne allegedly made offers to former Labor deputy leader Ralph Clarke to settle defamation actions between Clarke and Atkinson, in exchange for lucrative statutory board positions for Clarke. Clarke testified at a committee hearing that Ashbourne was never in a position to disclose or decide anything relating to the alleged offers he was negotiating without first phoning Mick for direction.

see - Select Committee on the Atkinson/Ashbourne/Clarke Affair.PDF

As Minister for Justice, Atkinson became slightly flustered when his Dept Chief Executive Kate Lennon, was sprung trying to hide $6 million under her bed from unspent treasury.

Premier Mike Rann has gone on record in the past saying he is tough on crime and that he will “rack’m, pack’m and stack’m” in jails. In 2008 Atkinson called Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Cannon “daft” and “delusional” for his suggestion that overcrowded jails could justify lighter prison sentences. Mr Cannon consequently sued Mr Atkinson for defamation.

Magistrate Cannon won a cool $175,000.00. Cabinet thought the defamation was a simple blooper anyone could make and decided therefore that tax payers would pick up the tab for Mick, which ended being $211,000.00 after interest and government costs.

Mick caused outrage once again in 2009 with more stupid comments, this time in relation to a group of Aboriginal gang members whom he said were "pure evil" with no hope of rehabilitation.

Atkinson said he was weary of "hand-wringers" with a "1960s hippie" outlook on life who were stopping the state Labor government from giving young Aboriginal boys a better life behind bars.
"Among the gang of 49, there are a hard core of about 12 offenders who (Catholic priest and social policy leader) Monsignor Cappo, not just me, say are beyond redemption."

Let’s have a brief look at one example of the influence the Catholic Church wields on Government with its commercial activities led by Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Adelaide Monsignor David Cappo. This gives insight into one of the forces propping up our Attorney General.

The legal fraternity is dominated by Catholics and Catholics are a big part of the right wing of the Labor party. Remember Mick is a practicing Catholic, has a law degree (goes without saying being the AG and Minister for Justice), and was a founder of the modern day Labor Right (Unity) faction.

From the Independent weekly
by Bill Nicholas
March 2008
VS1 is the new corporate headquarters for SA Water, one of the largest SA government departments, which is bringing people from three sites to the new tower. It is built on land that fronts Victoria Square which included a two-storey office block and the old tram barn.

The Rann Government sold the block of land, comprising some 8000 squ m, to the Catholic Church Endowment Society Inc. in December 2005 for $5.874 million.

That's around $734 per square metre. This compares with an average price of around $1500 per square metre that was the going price at the time.

The Deed of Agreement was signed in October 2003. The purchase price was $5.34 million exclusive of GST (included a contribution by Government of $160,000 toward remediation of soil pollutants on the site).

So the Catholics bought well. "Fair enough," everybody said. "They need the land for a gymnasium and to give the St Aloysius College girls a bit of room to swing a cat."

But the next step was what caused a swarm of developers to take a collective jealous sigh: the Rann Government prepared a select list of three developers to come up with a new home for SA Water. And guess who won the competitive tender? The Catholic Church Endowment Society.

The new SA Water building is thought to have more than 20,000 squ m of lettable space. At $350-400 per square metre - the going rate - the annual revenue to the church will start at around $7 million a year and may be as high as $8 million.

If you assume a yield of six per cent on the sale of the developed property, the capital value on completion will be somewhere in the vicinity of $120 million.

But the question on many minds is whether the terrific deal that Monsignor Cappo's church has pulled off with the SA Water building is a function of his honorary position as a member of the Executive Committee of Cabinet.

Cappo, the second highest ranking Catholic in SA, along with super-rich mining entrepreneur Robert Champion de Crespigny were appointed to the Executive Committee of Cabinet in June 2005.

Interesting stuff, but there is even more behind our Catholic Mick than the world’s most powerful church.
Atkinson has a good law degree from ANU but has never practised as a lawyer. After graduation, Atkinson worked as a political staffer and was recruited by Don Farrell's 'Shoppies'. As well as being politically Labor Right, the Shoppies - more correctly the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association - is Australia's largest union by numbers and is also very stable, having had the same management for decades until the elevation of Peter Manilauskas to the local throne, replacing Don Farrell who finally got his Senate seat.

It's interesting to see how bulletproof Attorney-General Michasel Atkinson is. Rann has wanted him out for years, but Atkinson is backed by the all-powerful Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association. Rann is only the junior partner in the SDA/Rann government, with former SDA boss Don Farrell still calling many of the shots.

Another very important aspect of the SDA is that it carries the mantle of the late departed DLP - the formidable Democratic Labor Party, aka the Catholic arm of the Labor Party. Atkinson's father was the leader of the DLP in SA, which gives Michael Atkinson dynastic protection.

Atkinson isn't going anywhere, whatever he does. If the SDA deserted its men, it would have no business being in government.

Most schoolchildren would see through Atkinson's bumbling defences against the accusations against him in the "Randall Ashbourne Affair" and in the Kate Lennon "Stashed Cash Affair", and the Wasted Quarter Million affair.

Generally, the charge against Atkinson is basically of lying and dishonesty. In no case has Atkinson been able to clear his name - the disputes have generally been 'closed down' by government action.

The SDA seems to see the government as a job network. If you are close to the SDA, your chances of getting a comfortable well-paid job within a Minister's office, or on boards and committees is maximized.

Peter Louca, a former SDA heavy, is now chief of staff to Michael Atkinson and was a candidate for Mayo in 1996. Shannon Sampson, a former industrial officer for the SDA, is an adviser to Michael Atkinson.

SDA boss Peter Manilauskas, now one of the most powerful men in SA, was appointed at the age of 27 to the board of WorkCover.

Peter's young brother Rob, sister Elizabeth and his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Hollidge are on the public payroll. All three dragged from dreary, difficult jobs in private enterprise and now grazing peacefully on the sunny pastures of the land of the free lunch, fat government pay packet and not much work.

Come on in - there's still plenty of room at the trough, and the money's fine! Just leave your ethics at the door if you don't mind.

Rob Malinauskas was in his early 20s and employed as a cadet journalist at The Advertiser when he was appointed to a position in Deputy Premier Foley's office with a salary of almost $90,000 pa.

Elizabeth (Peter’s sister) scored a job in Attorney-General Atkinson's office as a liaison officer. Elizabeth Hollidge (Peter’s ex) managed to find employment as an adviser in Michael Atkinson’s office (and a rewarding gig on the Development Policy Advisory Committee).

Michael Atkinson's wife is an employee of the SDA.

Given Atkinson's associations, and given the Federal Communications Minister’s very similar associations, it all becomes remarkably clear why Australia has no adult ratings for video games and is about to become retarded with nanny state internet filtering, despite these policies being in complete opposition to all common sense.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Copyright theft or Big Brother by stealth?

The ABC reports that “the Australian film and television industry has lost a case against a major internet service provider whose customers downloaded pirated movies and television programs” - Hooray!
The legal action followed a five-month investigation by the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

The companies claimed iiNet infringed copyright by failing to stop users engaging in illegal file sharing.

Justice Dennis Cowdroy said it was "impossible" to find against iiNet for what its users did.

Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft executive director Neil Gane said he was disappointed with the decision.

Mr Gane said he was confident that the Federal Government would now review the laws surrounding copyright infringement.

The entertainment companies compiled their evidence by hiring two investigators to subscribe to iiNet and then begin trading files using different BitTorrent networks.

They kept track of what movies and TV shows they were sharing, when they downloaded them, and the ID numbers of the computers they were sharing these files with.

My opinion: Media companies should not be trying to penalize end users, or their ISP for sharing files, particularly when the media companies actually took part in the sharing.

Sharing files online should be no more illegal than permitting a neighbour to view a purchased DVD disc. If an individual was charging for the property of a media company, that’s theft, but even then why pursue the ISP that individual subscribes to?

I find Neil Gane’s expectation that Government will now review laws, very troublesome, I wonder what inspires his confidence.

In readiness of the fourth coming mandatory internet filtering, laws have already been written into the Broadcasting Services Act which obligates ISPs to execute “denial of access” for anything identified as “prohibited content”.

And then on Feb 2nd 2010, there is this - Senate passes net interception Bill.

This is all seems to be pointing to the painting of a disturbing image for the manner in which people will access (or not access) the net in future.

Although Hillary Clinton recently denounced internet censorship: “Countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of Internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century”, in truth the grimy finger prints from the hand of big brother being smeared all over the internet in Australia, would appear to be originating from US government policy.

Angus Kidman of reports:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) spearheaded by the US government, which apparently doesn’t think its existing draconian proposals in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which Australian copyright law largely mirrors, thanks to the 2004 Free Trade Agreement) go far enough.

The proposal has been debated at a series of meetings between stakeholders since 2007, and while confirmed information is fairly scant, earlier leaked documents suggest that as well as covering physical piracy, ACTA will try and enforce copyright in the digital realm, meaning the same kind of ISP-level meddling that’s associated with current internet censorship proposals in Australia.

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade:
“The participants in ACTA negotiations do not intend for the ACTA to target individuals, the privacy of individuals or the property of individuals where those individuals are not engaged in commercial scale trade in counterfeit and pirate goods.”
What DFAT doesn’t discuss at all is the highly secretive nature of the treaty process. A prolonged legal campaign by the Electronic Freedom Foundation in the US did eventually result in 159 pages of documents associated with the treaty being released but only after 1362 had been deemed as potentially violating “national security” and withheld.

Open government seems to be playing second fiddle to the demands of the IP protection crowd, which counts deep-pocketed software makers and movie studios among its most verbal supporters.

Policy measures for combating copyright theft on one hand and censoring internet content to “protect children” on the other, may seem unrelated at a glance but only if you believe the lies.

As far as I am concerned, the protecting children line is a lie, how can government possibly filter 25 billion World Wide Web pages with any effectiveness whatsoever? In addition, certain organisations, ones that have a large enough profit margin, will enjoy exemption from being filtered.

In example, management from SecondLife have stated they have government assurance that they will be unaffected by filtering. How can this be when some areas of SL host the most heinous of debaucheries to be found in any online gaming platform, anywhere on the net?

Denial of access to internet end users by big brother to protect copyright law, and denial of access to protect children from undesirable content are both two sides of the same coin. Coin literally. Allowing people of the Earth to have freedom of choice, is not in the interest of the small minority, over privileged who puppeteer our governments and own all the big media companies, when they have a monopoly to maintain.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Atkinson; Humble pie tastes like sh*t!

Image from The Inquisitr

South Australia’s Attorney General Michael Atkinson, has crash landed back to Earth after completing a double back flip (with half pike), and is now enduring the sour taste of humble pie, forcibly spoon fed while under restraint.

A furore erupted on the 2nd of Feb, when it became widespread public knowledge that the SA Government had passed a Bill sponsored by Mr. Atkinson, amending the Electoral Act (effective as of 6th Jan 2010).

The new Act reads:
"A person must not during an election period, publish material consisting of, or containing a commentary on, any candidate or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors, in written form, in a journal published in electronic form on the internet or by radio or television or broadcast on the internet, unless the material or the program in which the material is presented contains a statement of the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of that material."

Chris Prior from gamers4croydon wrote:
After only a few hours of public outrage, Michael Atkinson has promised to repeal the legislation after the election, and not enforce it during this electoral period. Given the Rann Government's history of sticking to election promises (for example, regarding the banning of political advertising with public funds) we're not going to forget this ill-fated attack on civil liberties by the people who should be representing us.

The law applies in SA (or no longer applies, only on the word of Mr. Atkinson’s promise) between the issue of a writ authorizing an election and the election.

Fines of $1250 for citizens can be issued for non-compliance in the law which also requires media organizations to keep a person's real name and full address on file for six months, with fines of $5000 if they do not hand over this information to the Electoral Commissioner.

Chris Prior, gamers4croydon:

Now, whenever a South Australian writes a comment about a political matter during an election period, they must provide their full name and address. With accusations of government MPs threatening their constituents with legal action for expressing dissent, it is not difficult to imagine a possible motivation for these changes.

The AdelaideNow website (a division of News Corp’s Advertiser Newspaper) reported:
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said the law would not impinge on free speech and claimed that he expected The Advertiser and AdelaideNow to "publish false stories about me, invent things about me to punish me''.

Mr. Atkinson described AdelaideNow as "not just a sewer of criminal defamation'' but also "a sewer of identity theft and fraud''

WTF Mick?

I used to have respect for Mick Atkinson; he was once a politician who was approachable, a regular local guy. While most other parliamentarians were being chauffeur driven about town in luxury cars paid for by tax payers, Mick could always be seen pedaling down the street on his bicycle, arriving at work with pegged trouser legs.

But this outburst against AdelaideNow; "a sewer of criminal defamation", in itself defamation, clearly suggests the old man is going senile.

And this is not the only gibberish attack to dribble from the mouth of Mr. Atkinson of late. I get the feeling he’s a tad nervous about the forthcoming March 20 election in SA.

He has held the seat of Croydon in Adelaide for the last 20 years but now there is a new party on the block directly challenging him in his own electorate, gamers4croydon.

Atkinson has been a lone campaigner (only Attorney-General in Australia) persisting in voting no on the introduction of an R18+ classification rating for video games in Australia. This was the primary catalyst for gamers4croydon forming; they hope to apply enough pressure to have this classification issue resolved on the side of common sense.

Speaking to GameSpot AU Atkinson said he wasn't threatened by gamers4croydon's presence.

However, he then proceeded to attack them just for good measure:
"I assume the gamers4croydon campaign will involve criminal activities and dirty tricks, which is what I've come to expect from gamers."
As a member of gamers4croydon and/or just as a gamer, I find that remark highly offensive, way to alienate your constituency Mick.

The story of the amended Electoral Act ends happily for now (providing we can believe the promise of a politician) and it’s a great demonstration of what can be achieved if people only give a dam, and act on their convictions.

Even if Mick keeps good on his promise, the fact that he sponsored the implementation of this abominable law to start with, and the main opposition party supported the law without objection, would incline me to recommend all South Australians vote 1, gamers4croydon.

South Australians can support gamers4croydon by signing up for membership (free) and/ or making donations, click here.

You may also show your support by purchasing gamers4croydon gear.