Confused Millennials Gather Around Post Box Not Sure How To Post SSM Survey

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/09/2017 - 8:28am in

Hundreds of thousands of baffled young people are currently standing around little red post boxes all over Australia not sure how to post the letter containing their SSM survey.

“There’s a slot on the front of it that must be some kind of ventilation system but nothing for me to press to send my form,” said beard trimmer mechanic Kelvin Prendergast.

“I think it’s cool that the government has designed a 3D version of the message icon but I can’t seem to find the interface anywhere on this thing,” said emoji archivist Hailey Fitzgibbon, proudly trying to smash her envelope sideways into the box.

“I sent my form off hours ago and haven’t got a single like yet or one solitary pink heart even,” said avocado grader Alex Willoughby, staring plaintively at the slot in the post box.

“I’m guessing this works on face recognition technology like the new i-phone but I’ve been smashing my head into it for hours and it still won’t open,” said Ellen Ainsworth, unemployed.

“I went to visit my grandpa to ask his advice on how to mail a letter but as usual he just ran me off his property with his shotgun and accused me of wanting to murder him so I could get his house,” said Christopher Maclean, unemployed.

“I think it might be some kind of tap and go system, but to be sure I’ve walked all over the neighbourhood and tapped my survey on several of these boxes,” said apprentice selfie stick whittler Angela Agostino.

As of Thursday night the ABS reports receiving more than five million survey forms from voters aged over 35 and six from those born after 1990.

Peter Green

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“We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too”: young women human rights defenders speak out

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 9:12pm in


Kenya, Peru, Australia

Young activists from four continents talk about their local struggles and what motivates them.

Madeline Wells (right). Madeline Wells (right) at a march supporting Aboriginal and Islander rights in Burnie, Tasmania, 2015. Photo: Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation. All rights reserved.Millennials often get a bad rap, accused of being politically apathetic and selfie-obsessed. But around the world, young people who are sick of government inaction are stepping up to speak passionately on behalf of their communities.

These four young women live in different continents and have had diverse experiences. Each is involved in Amnesty International campaigns, fighting for human rights from Australia to Peru. Here they talk about their local struggles, and what motivates them.

Madeline Wells, indigenous rights activist in Tasmania.

Madeline Wells. Madeline Wells. Photo: Lara Van Raay. All rights reserved. Wells represented Australia at last year’s UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law. “As a First Nations person, I have always felt I have a duty to fight for the rights of my people, a feeling of being part of something much bigger than me,” she said.

“Activism can come in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be rallies or marches."

Climate change disproportionately impacts indigenous communities, and indigenous youth “face many other injustices: deaths in custody, high rates of youth detention, racism and discrimination, high suicide rates, and poor healthcare,” she added. “Activism can come in many different forms. It doesn’t have to be rallies or marches – art, music and dance are equally powerful ways of speaking out, and social media has had a huge impact.”

Nancy Herz, student and author from Norway.

Nancy Herz. Nancy Herz. Photo: Vincent Hansen. All rights reserved.In 2016 Herz wrote an article entitled “We Are the Shameless Arab Women and Our Time Starts Now” – and a movement of women reclaiming the word “shameless” subsequently started in Norway. “We don’t want to have our identities defined by others,” she said.

“We don’t want to have our identities defined by others.”

“I feel so proud when I receive messages from young girls who say I have encouraged them to speak out – that because I dare to be myself, they do too,” said Herz. “This is what fighting against injustice is about. By using our voices, we can make the space for freedom of expression’s an ongoing struggle, but I believe that we have to keep pushing towards a world in which everyone can enjoy their basic right of living freely.”

Sandra Mwarania, youth activist from Kenya.

Sandra Mwarania. Sandra Mwarania. Photo: Kenneth Kigunda / Amnesty International Kenya. All rights reserved.Mwarania co-founded the Student Consortium for Human Rights Advocacy. “Young people are brilliant creatives, strategic thinkers, problem solvers, innovative communicators and active doers,” she said. “It is unfortunate that we are yet to be taken seriously by decision-makers who still perceive us as inexperienced and rowdy.”

"We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too.”

“As well as being well-informed on human rights issues, students and young people need the skills to address the pressing socio-political issues around them,” Mwarania added. “When young people are engaged at every level of the decision making process, the results can be amazing. We’re not just here to learn – we can lead too.”

Fabiola Arce, women’s rights defender from Peru.

Fabiola Arce (holding megaphone). Fabiola Arce (holding megaphone) in #NiUnaMenos protest in Lima, Peru, 2016. Photo: Andrick Astonitas / Amnesty International Peru.Arce has campaigned to pressure her government to investigate cases of forced sterilisation of women in the 1990s. “This serious human rights violation mostly targeted indigenous women, and caused a huge amount of pain and suffering,” she said.

"Peru has a huge historical debt to women, and that's part of what motivates me."

“We are determined not to let the injustices of the past go unaccounted for. Peru has a huge historical debt to women, and that’s part of what motivates me to work towards shaping a different future.”

Amnesty International’s BRAVE campaign works with young women human rights defenders like these and fights for their recognition and protection. Find out more.

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The end of anonymity? Trump and the tyranny of the majority

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 15/09/2017 - 6:26am in

Worldwide, there is an
administration-sanctioned attack on anonymity, online and off.


lead Protesters stand in solidarity with the "Native Nations Rise" march on Washington, D.C. against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in Portland, Ore., on March 10, 2017.Alex Milan Tracy/Press Association. All rights reserved. Long
before the trickle of anonymous leaks from the White House became a steady downpour,
President Trump delivered a characteristically meandering address to the Conservative Political Action
, in
February this year. Tucked into a library catalogue of complaints (against
“bloodsucker consultants”, Obamacare and “bad dudes”) and compliments (for
miners, Bernie voters, border police, and “really strong and really good”
regulations), was a brief tirade against anonymous sources. “I’m against the
people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to
use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put
out,” the President declared. “A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible,
horrible human being.  Let them say it to my face. Let there be no more

The President’s remarks, and his subsequent sustained and
vitriolic attacks on the news media, reveal as much about the severity
of his personality flaws
as they do about his dangerous
disregard for an independent and pluralistic media
But they also suggested a more fundamental contestation of a key pillar of
democratic and human rights-respecting societies – the
right to anonymity.

Journalists’ entitlement to cite and defend anonymous
sources is guaranteed by international human rights law, under which the right
to freedom of expression guarantees all individuals the right to receive and
impart information. In the seminal case of Goodwin v The United Kingdom, the
European Court of Human Rights reasoned that if journalists are forced to
reveal their sources, the role of the press as a public watchdog would be

In the digital age, however, it is not only journalists and
their sources who enjoy the right to anonymity. Alongside the dramatic
transformation of journalism and of the concepts of public transparency and
accountability that have accompanied recent technological changes, there has
been increasing recognition that ordinary people now create, as well as
consume, media. Through social media platforms, online forums, websites and
discussion boards, individuals receive and impart information in enjoyment of
their free expression rights. They may wish to avoid identification in doing
so, by using traditional means (such as adopting pseudonyms) or technical tools
(such as like VPNs or anonymising networks). In doing so, they are exercising their
right to anonymity, a key component of the tandem rights to freedom of expression
and to privacy, which are guaranteed to them under international
human rights law
. The centrality of anonymity to the enjoyment of human
rights, particularly online, is enshrined in numerous instruments, including
the Charter
of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet.

Like international human rights law, US
constitutional law
has long protected anonymous free expression. Yet, in Trump’s
America, the continued enjoyment of this right is in peril. The President’s February
screed against anonymous sources foretold of a forthcoming assault on
anonymity, particularly online. That assault began in the aftermath of the
President’s inauguration, when Facebook was sent warrants demanding the
unmasking of users and the disclosure of their communications and identifying
information in
a case
to be connected
with an anti-Trump protest held during the inauguration. The number of people whose identity the government
requested – whose anonymity they sought to unmask – was 1.3 million.

In March, Customs and Border Protection issued
a summons to Twitter
, requesting the identification
details and IP addresses associated with @ALT_USCIS, a Twitter account
purporting to convey the views of dissenters within the government. That same
month, police
sought access
to the Facebook page of a group of protestors demonstrating
against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In each of these three cases, individuals
were using anonymous social media accounts or private groups to express or
organise dissent against the Trump administration.

The apogee of the assault came in July, when the Department
of Justice served a warrant on a website-hosting company, DreamHost, demanding
to the IP address of every person who had visited a
particular website. That website was an anti-Trump website, purportedly used to
coordinate protests during the inauguration. The number of people whose
identity the government requested – whose anonymity they sought to unmask – was
1.3 million.

Inauguration Day protest at Westlake Park, Seattle. Derek Simeone. Some rights reserved.In response to legal challenge and public outcry, the
government ultimately revised
the scope of the warrant, and its
legitimacy remains
in dispute
before the courts. But the confidence and audacity of the
Department of Justice in the first instance suggests the principle underpinning
its demand enjoys the approval of the highest office in the land – the

Viewed through a Trumpian lens,
anonymity is the cover behind which dissenters and critics cower, lobbing “fake
news” missives and organising protests designed to attack the President.
Indeed, the equation of anonymity with falsity is a key tactic that Trump uses
to discredit those who might wish to speak out against the administration
without identifying themselves. Anonymous critics are not only unreliable, they
are deliberately untruthful: according to a Trump
, “Whenever you see the words ‘sources say’ in the fake news
media, and they don’t mention names… it is very possible that those sources
don’t exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!” The equation of anonymity with falsity is a key tactic.

At an
August rally in Phoenix
, Arizona, the President accused “truly dishonest people in the media and the fake
media” of simply “mak[ing] up stories. They have no sources in many cases. They
say “a source says” – there is no such thing. But they don’t report the facts.”
In the same speech, he also implicitly criticised protestors for exercising
their right to physical anonymity, calling out anti-fascist protestors for
“show[ing] up in the helmets and the black masks.”

Days later, following
subsequent anti-Trump protests, Arizonan legislator Republican Jay Lawrence announced his
to ban masks at protest rallies,
claiming that “while the
right to anonymity is sometimes desirable in healthy political discourse… too
many who wish to act violently hide behind hoods or masks in an effort to
intimidate or conceal their identity from law enforcement.” This rhetoric,
when taken alongside the government’s legal attempts to unmask anonymous
internet users involved in protest and activism, amounts to an
administration-sanctioned attack on anonymity, online and off.

Across the world

is an attack which is all the more concerning because it is not only confined
to Trump’s America. Across the world, we see countries proposing measures aimed at unmasking internet
users: from China,
where new rules require internet forum providers to obtain and verify the real
identities of their users before accepting their comments, to Britain, whose Independent
Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation Max Hill QC recently suggested that social media providers should
withhold the provision of encrypted services pending positive identification of
the internet user. Ecuador,
Vietnam, and Iran have all enacted laws in recent years requiring the use of
“real names” online, and large social media platforms such as Facebook enforce
real name policies. Max Hill QC suggested that social media providers should
withhold the provision of encrypted services pending positive identification of
the internet user.

Despite its clear importance in protecting critics,
activists, dissenters and whistleblowers from the types of punitive action
demonstrated by the Trump administration, the right to anonymity is neither
universally valued nor without its pitfalls.

Anonymity has a disinhibiting effect, particularly online,
removing social and cultural constraints that might otherwise restrain
commentators from making controversial, offensive or harmful remarks. The
confidence, ease and impunity with which online trolls, fake
news purveyors
and hate groups operate in the digital age is undoubtedly
fuelled in part by their ability to open and close anonymous social media
accounts with relative ease. That trolls’ platform of choice is overwhelmingly
Twitter, a social network that does not enforce a real name policy, is no
coincidence. Many have connected
the seeming uptick in intolerance, incivility and hate speech to the
proliferation of anonymous means of expression that the internet has enabled. Indeed,
have begun to exploit an increasingly caustic cyberspace by
deploying trolls and online hate mobs to promote State propaganda and silence

price worth paying

But seen through the lens of human rights, anonymity may be
the cure, rather than the cause, of intolerance and majoritarianism. Anonymity,
particularly online, enables those in the minority, those who would normally
stay silent, to speak out against the status quo without fear of reprisals.

Without the protection of obscurity, dissenting views might
disappear altogether, and along with them pluralistic societies, as public
discourses homogenise, intolerance becomes mainstream, and populist leaders
become increasingly emboldened by the absence of criticism. As the US Supreme
Court so
eloquently observed
, “[a]nonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the
majority . . . [that] exemplifies the purpose [of the First Amendment]: to
protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an
intolerant society.”

obstacles facing human rights activists faced with Trump’s unique brand of
populist and intolerant governance are many, but countering the President’s
assault on anonymity presents a particularly acute challenge. As long as the
right to anonymity exists, it can be enjoyed by fascists, trolls, journalists
and anti-Trump protesters alike. If we believe that it is a critical necessity
for some people to enjoy their free speech and privacy rights, we must defend anonymity’s
enjoyment by all. Violent protests and incivility online may be the price of
such a right, but the unexpected ascendency of a populist, fascistic and
authoritarian leader such as Donald Trump is a painful reminder of why that is
a price worth paying.

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Hiring and Firing for the Sake of Rankings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 10:12pm in

To what lengths do departments and universities go to improve their rankings? In one case, a school is being accused of firing a number of its philosophy lecturers and using the funds to give contracts to professors elsewhere so they can have honorary appointments at the school to improve its research profile.

 The Australian reports that Australian Catholic University (ACU)

gutted its philosophy department in favour of hiring overseas professors on $90,000-a-year part-time contracts as part of a “ruthless” strategy to artificially boost its research rankings…  there are as many lecturers with strict teaching loads as there are foreign academics being paid for their ­existing research output.

The rankings in question are Australia’s Excellence in Research (ERA) program for evaluating academic scholarship.

Here are the honorary appointments in Philosophy and Theology and ACU. (It does not appear to have been recently updated, as it lists Marilyn McCord Adams, who died in March.) [Note: Daniel Nolan remarks in a comment, below, “The honorary appointments list is not the list of outsiders brought in on part-time positions: many, and probably most of those appointments are of people who do not get any pay in return for their honorary status.”]

How does the school get away with it?

The practice relies on a loophole in the federal government’s ERA system that allows universities to hire academics on fractional packages and still have their work output count towards the ratings system. The rule was originally designed to allow career researchers who had children to return to work part-time and have their publishing continue. Instead, institutions are, to varying degrees, bringing in overseas academics with full-time positions elsewhere to bolster their ratings.

Signing one professor from another country on such arrangements allows a university to count their entire research output for a six-year period as being connected with the Australian organisation and, in essence, produced by them.

The ACU pays its overseas hires between $70,000 and $100,000 a year each and pays for their business-class travel and ­accommodation should they be required to visit. Deputy vice-chancellor (research) Wayne McKenna conceded the “recruitment of overseas academics” was a ­deliberate part of the university’s strategy.

Not all of the faculty are on board with the strategy. Stephen Buckle, who is quoted in the article in The Australian, recently resigned after his attempts to challenge the practice had the ACU administration calling him “insubordinate and unrepentant,” according to a letter to the editor he wrote.

Further information here. Comments from faculty in Australia and other places (like the UK) that have similar national research output measures are especially welcome.

The post Hiring and Firing for the Sake of Rankings appeared first on Daily Nous.

Medical doctor: Basic income is a health issue

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 12/09/2017 - 10:47pm in

Basic income has the potential to improve health outcomes, as income and health are closely linked.

The post Medical doctor: Basic income is a health issue appeared first on BIEN.

Lonely Magpie Just Wants A Hug

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/09/2017 - 8:20am in


Science, Australia

A sad Shire magpie who simply wants a friend is unable to comprehend why everyone he swoops down on to give a hug to runs away in terror.

“I’m so alone all day on top of this telegraph pole and all I want to do is make a little quality tactile time with another being,” said Miranda magpie Eddie Snapson. “But all I ever get is the cold shoulder and people waving sticks at me.”

Eddie’s social isolation has been compounded by his phobias of ice cream buckets, sunglasses and cable ties.

“I had a really bad experience as a young chick when a whole truckload of Neapolitan ice cream almost ran me down just outside the Raybans factory,” wailed the desperate and dateless Snapson. “I’ve been trying to overcome my shyness by approaching strangers and air kissing them but this only provokes them to wave their arms around.”

Eddie is hoping to have some luck making friends with the postman and that Persian cat that he’s been seeing lurking around the neighbourhood.

Peter Green

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter or like us on facebook.

2017: The Year Without Winter.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/09/2017 - 9:15am in

Southern hemisphere's winter is over. Today is the third day of spring and magpies all over the land are swooping passersby. If today's weather forecast for Sydney (a maximum of 28 Celsius -- 82.4 Fahrenheit) is any indication, this is going to be a hot year.

Winter itself was a bit of a no-show this year:

See also: "Queensland asks 'what Winter?' After Unseasonably Warm Weather"

Further afield:

According to the UN, "about 40 million people had been affected" by the monsoon floodings in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh (by 2016 a combined population of approximately 1.5 billion, according to Google), while "Oxfam said its Bangladesh staff reported two-thirds of the country was under water and in some areas the flooding was the worst since 1988".

Is that flood necessarily caused by global warming and weather change? Sorry, I am not qualified to answer that.

Is that indicative of the potential effects of rising sea-levels, particularly on Bangladesh? Maybe not.

One thing I think I can say with some certainty: we better start thinking how to respond to extreme weather events affecting tens of millions of people.

Magazine Australian Options features section on basic income

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 02/09/2017 - 4:00pm in



The Autumn 2017 issue of the left-wing political magazine Australian Options includes a special “viewpoints” section dedicated to basic income.

The post Magazine Australian Options features section on basic income appeared first on BIEN.

The Poverty of the New Left.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/09/2017 - 11:53am in

"Like ideology, the concept of the proletariat, so prominent in The Communist Manifesto, could also be jettisoned. (…) By the 1980s, the center of radical activity had moved away from working-class organizations and toward what came to be called the ‘new social movements.' Problems of race, gender, and sexuality were generating the most self-conscious, committed, and consequential political subjects". (Bruce Robbins explaining the wisdom of Étienne Balibar's New Left-style idiosyncratic "Marxism")

To say that since 2015 there have been many ruffled feathers among the American trendy Left is an understatement. Feathers weren't just ruffled, they have flown.

I'm talking about one of those debates which not for surreal are less heated. Outrage, hissy fits galore: heroic revolutionary battles fought online. Precisely the kind of thing the upper-middle class New Age-leftish intellectuals find irresistible. It seemingly dies out, just to reignite spontaneously a little later. Its details are unimportant here, suffice it to say it involves the words "transgender" and "transracialism", plus a TV celebrity. I quickly add that I have no dog in that hunt, as they say. Instead I adopt Crooked Timber's cautious approach in the latest round of the Fight of the Century.

This is an early contribution to that debate (we'll return to it soon). It appeared a year and a half before the 2016 US elections. A general summation of the latest brouhaha, which began last April …

Adolph Reed Jr wrote that early article. It seems to be a last-ditch attempt to inject some sanity into the discussion our "comrades" were having. Two years later, it's evident he utterly failed; worse, from what I've read, since then the marginal product of the discussion fell steeply. Reed's article contributed, as far as I can tell, the only valuable insight in that debate:

"[I]s ever clearer and ever more important to note, race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class."

A quibble: neoliberalism, whatever it might be, may have adopted race politics, but race politics is not its child, it's the New Left's. The New Left did not cause the decline of the Left, but it makes its recovery impossible. It's not just that you make of yourselves a laughing stock, is that the enemies of the people take advantage of that.

I never met Marx, but -- against your hopes -- I suspect that if he rose from his grave and saw the New Left travesty, he wouldn't last long. I won't spell out the critique to Balibar and Robbins implicit in this story. A simple term is enough: herding cats.

In order to be even-handed, however, I shall acknowledge the merit I found in the New Left's position: Robbins was right on two accounts. First, these new social movements are indeed committed; a two year commitment to psychotic meaninglessness is something. Second, it's time to commit the New Left to oblivion.


Speaking of herding cats,

It seems the Australian Muslim community has learned how easy it is to cross the New Left and wisely decided to keep a low profile. The whole point behind the Coalition's insistence on having a public debate on same-sex marriage was precisely to isolate the Muslim community.

The question now is should a community's inclusion in society be contingent upon it not crossing the New Left's line?

AUSTRALIA: Nature Needs More explores test of UBI’s conservation outcomes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/09/2017 - 3:56am in


News, Australia

Nature Needs More, a wildlife conservation group based in Australia, is currently investigating the potential of basic income to help curb illegal hunting. Founded in 2013 under the name Breaking The Brand, the group’s first advocacy and educational campaigns focused on curbing the demand for the products of illegal hunting, such as rhinoceros horns. As its work progressed, however, Breaking

The post AUSTRALIA: Nature Needs More explores test of UBI’s conservation outcomes appeared first on BIEN.