8 October 2005

Vanstone not to blame Howard

This headline surprised me a lot.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman, fresh from having completed a scathing report on the wrongful deportation of Vivian Alvarez, has revealed that he's now investigating the case of someone who was detained by the Immigration Department for more than three years. The Ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, says yesterday's was the most damning report he'd ever prepared.

Vanstone has, after all, blamed almost everyone else.

7 October 2005

sometimes a citizen says it all

Hear Joe Frost, 20, speaking during the ceremony of remembrance at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Newcastle, last night:

For a lot of us here tonight, these have been the toughest days of our lives.

This kind of thing always happens to someone else. I've heard many people say that over the last few days and I've said it myself. But the reality is that bomb hit us that night, and it's hit our whole community, and so tonight we come here and as we said in the homily, we come with questions. Now one question on my mind is: why did this happen?

And apparently it's about religion. Apparently these wild, radical, whoever they are have decided that what we were doing was offensive to them. But we were eating dinner on the beach with our friends and families. Who does that offend? Who doesn't eat dinner with their family and friends? It's the most common thing in the world.

And now the cowards who planned and who advocate and champion this horrific act say that they are heroes and that the people who did it are heroes. But what's heroic about murdering the innocent and leaving families ruined?

But having been broken open, our hearts have been exposed, and the support and the strength that has been shown by the group who were together in Bali, while we were in Bali, was amazing.

We all leaned on each other and we all stayed positive. We even managed to make a few jokes. I managed to be the brunt of most of them because when the bomb went off it blew off my pants and I spent the night walking around in my undies.

(laughter from congregation)

Since coming home we tried to see each other every day, and as JK said, we're a family now.

But we've been bolstered by community support. I know for my family we got home on Monday and we found that our fridge was so stocked with groceries that there were some people who'd gone out and bought eskies so that there was more room to put the food in, and we had a bakery on the end of our table. And I was so grateful and proud to be a Novocastrian.

These are our darkest hours, the worst days of so many of our lives. This sad and sickening act has torn us open. But we'll stand together and we'll make it through.

audio here

ID book shows sneaky design

Book thrown at proponents of Intelligent Design
The early versions of the book were displayed to the court by expert witness for the plaintiffs and creationist historian Barbara Forrest of the Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. She suggested that they were strong proof that ID is indeed creationism by another name.

Forrest compared early drafts of Of Pandas and People to a later 1987 copy, and showed how in several instances the word 'creationism' had been replaced by 'intelligent design', and 'creationist' simply replaced by 'intelligent design proponent'.

"Forrest's testimony showed that ID is not a scientific theory, but a Trojan horse for creationism," said Eric Rothshild of Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Leaving aside the important question of whether the big-I Intelligent Designer is the Judeo-Christian or Pastafarian deity, or indeed Kang and Kodos, isn't there something against fibbing in the Old Testament?

4 October 2005

We hold these domain names to be self-evident...

Rally for less U.S.-centric Internet gains momentum
The politicization of Internet control has intensified as the European Union made clear at the latest meeting on the one hand of its backing of the ITU and the United Nations, as it argued that other governments and international agencies must work together with ICANN when it comes to assigning domain names.

In part given the fact that the head of the ITU is a Japanese national, the Japanese government too has made clear its support for the U.N.-led initiative, thereby siding its support for the EU proposal. Given that Japan is the world's second-largest Internet user following the United States and the EU and Japan combined make up a significant part of global Web use, their joint opposition to continued U.S. dominance could well be the single-biggest source of friction at the upcoming Tunis conference. At the same time, while there are 13 principal routing servers that ICANN is connected to worldwide, only three are based in Japan and Europe, while the remaining 10 are located across the United States alone.

The Japanese media has pointed out that the existing domain-naming system has reached its limit, especially as many point out the need to come up with new names such as .asia to meet the ever-changing needs of Internet users worldwide without having to resort to the United States as the final arbiter of whether or not such names are appropriate.

In addition, the financial daily Nihon Keizai Shimbun pointed out that a U.S.-led Internet naming system inevitably becomes focused on the English language, whereas much of the growth seen in the World Wide Web these days comes from non-English-speaking developing countries. Certainly, objection to the dominance of the English language on the Web, particularly in assigning domain names, is a common complaint from both developing and industrialized countries alike where English is not the native tongue.

For its part, the United States has made clear its opposition to changing ICANN's role in naming domains as it continues to argue that now is not the time to change the system as it could lead to confusion while arguing that the United Nations would simply not be able to handle the responsibility.

Meanwhile, the ITU's Utsumi stressed the need to reach a consensus at the upcoming conference, stating that 'if we wish to build a just and equitable information society, this summit cannot be allowed to fail.'

Australia's going to find itself in a cleft stick between a rock and a hard place. !. The Howard government has always argued they should control the .au domain. 2. Their foreign policy has consisted of a string of quick emails to the White House asking for instructions. Logically they should support internationalising the Internet, and that is what various Asian governments will expect us to do. On the other hand that may not be what the White House email says. The weird bit is the confusion between the top level domain, .com and the like, and the country level domain .us. You'd expect US companies to want to badge themselves by using the .us subdomain instead of the generic top level domain. It just hasn't happened.

2 October 2005

Bali hit again

One Australian killed in Bali blasts
At least one Australian is among 19 people killed in explosions in the popular Indonesian resort island of Bali, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said.

Up to four explosions rocked tourist areas of Kuta and Jimbaran Beach, wounding 51 people, including three Australians.

One hospital official said at least 35 wounded foreigners were taken to the main hospital on Bali.

Mr Downer says he is finding it hard to get detailed information.

'There are reports that there could be between 30 and 40 injured and some reports are suggesting that there are nine or so dead but these numbers are very early and they could change significantly,' he said.

'We know from experience the numbers unfortunately could turn out to be a good deal higher than that.'

Daniel Martin, a tourist in Bali, says there was chaos after the blast in Kuta Square.

'There was thick smoke for a few minutes afterwards but there didn't seem to be any fire,' he said.

'People were clambering onto the roof of the restaurant. It's about a three storey building so people were climbing out and screaming and jumping down to the street.

'It was pretty harrowing stuff.'

Phonelines between Bali and other parts of the country were overloaded, as people struggled to contact friends and relatives in the area.

Peter Holden of Gosford on the central coast of New South Wales says he received an SMS message from his daughter Donna, who lives in Bali, telling him about the explosions.

Mr Holden says his daughter has reported several fatalities.

'There have been at least two bombs gone off in Jimbaran in restaurants and those kind of restaurants are restaurants populated by tourists in the main,' Mr Holden said.

'And then a more recent report just a moment ago that there's also reports of another bomb in Kuta Square. That's a pretty busy tourist area,' he said.

The blasts come almost exactly three years since two nightclubs were bombed in Bali's famous Kuta Beach in October 2002, killing 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Deadly blasts rip through Bali again
Explosions rocked�the Indonesian tourist island of Bali last night, leaving at least 23 people dead and dozens wounded.

Witnesses said they saw body parts, including a severed head and a leg, and hospitals filled with injured.

Many foreigners were�among those killed. The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, said at least one Australian
was confirmed dead.

The blasts at Jimbaran beach and a bustling outdoor shopping centre in downtown Kuta "were clearly the work of terrorists'',
Police Major General Ansyaad Mbai, a top Indonesian anti-terrorism official, told the Associated Press.

Komang, a receptionist at the Graha Asih Hospital, close to Jimbaran Bay, said there were at least eight people in the morgue and that doctors were treating at least 13 wounded. "It's a horrible scene,'' she said. "Some people have had their heads blown off.''

The bombs went off almost simultaneously at�about 7.30pm local time (9.30pm Sydney time).

The blasts hit two restaurants that were packed with foreign and Indonesian diners.

Wayan Kresna said he witnessed the first bomb at a seafood restaurant on Jimbaran beach. He counted at least two dead and said many others were taken to hospital.

Australian agencies to consider Bali response
This attack comes almost three years to the day after terrorists killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, in a similar attack on two Kuta bars.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has condemned the blasts as a criminal act.

Anyone who has relatives or friends in Bali is advised to try to contact them directly before calling the DFAT hotline on 1800 002 214.

Here we go again. Reported fatalities have risen from nil to 23 over the last hour.