Bring Hicks Home

Amnesty International have just launched a very clever site as part of their campaign to Bring David Hicks home.

They have a “cell” – the same as the one David Hicks has been held in for 5 years without trial – that they are touring around the country with. Visitors to the cell are presented with a “passport” explaining David’s situation, and once in the cell, they can leave a video message, which is then presented on the Bring David Hicks home website.

If you have visited the cell, you can find your video by using the search/filter options on the site.

I think the site is very good – helping to bring home the reality of Hicks’ situation and allowing people to connect in a more emotional way with what is often presented as a legal or political issue.

I also love the fact that the site uses YouTube for video hosting – a fantastic use of participant media.

The site was launched yesterday by Digital Eskimo – who also helped WWF build the Future is man made site. Nice work!

Update: GetUp have also just launched a new video as part of their campaign on the same issue.

Lebanon

Robert Fisk: From My Home, I Saw What the “War on Terror” Meant.

I was watching an ABC report the other night that stated how many people were killed in a Lebanese attack, but completely failed to state how many were killed in the Israeli response. And why is it the “Arab-Israeli conflict” when so much of the killing and conflict is caused by Israel – perhaps we should start calling it the “Israeli-Arab conflict” – say that out loud. Sounds weird doesn’t it.

We are subtly conditioned, and the order of those two words, which probably isn’t deliberate (probably just alphabetised), speaks volumes to how this conflict is and will be reported.

I’m ashamed to say I’m not 100% clear on what prompted this particular attack (a scan of news reports had me believing that it was in retaliation to the capture of two Israeli soldiers). But the hallmarks of the reportage of the attack are all too familiar, and particularly apparent to me having read Robert’s book. I wish I had more time at the moment to dig deeper into the news. (Perhaps I’m guilty of “Sunstein syndrome” too.)

Miguel posts a quote from tikkun.org which I will sub-quote from – I think it pretty much captures my feelings:

Meanwhile, the partisans on each side, content to ignore the humanity of “the Other,” rush to assure their constituencies that the enemy is always to blame. Each such effort is pointless. We have a struggle that has been going on for over a hundred years. Who tosses the latest match into the tinder box matters little. What matters is how to repair the situation. The blame game only succeeds in diverting attention from that central issue.

I said to Ang last night, I don’t want someone to attack Israel. Violence begets violence. America could pull the plug on this series of attacks immediately – first by calling on Israel to stop, and if that failed, threatening withdrawal of it’s military support for the country. It won’t happen, but if peace is truly what the U.S. wants (and I don’t think it does, though I fail to see any benefit to this conflict for the US), that’s all that’s required.

Guantanamo hearings illegal

Seems the Supreme Court thankfully sided against President Bush this time round: Amnesty International: Supreme Court Ruling on Military Commissions.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that President Bush did not have authority to set up the war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and found the “military commissions” illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva conventions.

Palestine is still the issue…

Jim Moore: Oh yea, real smart: >Rice Wants Nations to End Hamas Govt. Aid.

Since I began reading Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilisation : The Conquest of the Middle East I can’t help but think that the media coverage over here is grossly inadequate. I read an SMH article that glazed over huge issues, and trotted out that old favourite “the peace process” getting “back on track” (if you manage to read the book, you know why I glaze my eyes over when I read that).

Makes me want to buy a subscription to the Independent (which I might yet do) to get Robert’s take on the situation.

The other thing that the book has done is make me want to spend a coupla hundred bucks and buy one for the government and shadow foreign affairs ministers (along with some other pollies) – the parallels between the current situation and past conflicts abound – and some extremely prescient comments by past politicians (such as Churchill) are just simply too extraordinary to ignore.

Wave of terror

Across the front page of the SMH this morning “Wave of Terror sweeping across the globe”. They go on to list the bali bomber death, the blasts in Jordan, etc. etc. One small omission: the 26,000+ people that have died in Iraq as a result of miltary intervention. A war which involves our own defence forces.

“Oh but that doesn’t count as ‘terror'”. Why? “Because it’s the military, because we are ‘liberating’ Iraq”. Such a twisted view of the world that can live with 26,000 deaths abroad, but speak of “horror” and “terror” when we lose “our own”. Until we wake up and realise this, the terrorist threat in Australia, and the west, will continue unabated.

Meanwhile our Prime Minister is pushing anti-terrorist laws described by one NSW politician as being a quality to make Hitler smile. And our democratic devices (namely the Senate) have been put on a leash and, without a Liberal back-bench revolt, will be passed into law. So who are we bringing “democracy and freedom” to again?

‘Specific’ terror threat

ABC News Online: PM warns of ‘specific’ terror threat.

A “specific intelligence about a potential terrorist threat in Australia”. And they can’t talk about it for “operational security reasons”. How convenient! I’m sure that the AFP and ASIO receive “specific intelligence” about “potential terrorist threat[s]” every week…

Ruddock says “We have seen material, it is a cause for concern.” Unfortunately that is not enough given your track record Mr Ruddock. The sad thing about this whole affair is that we should be able to trust our leaders when they make pronouncements of this gravity.

Yet we can’t.

From as far back as the “children overboard” scandal this government, and Howard and Ruddock in particular, have given short-shrift to the truth. If it’s politically expedient, they’ll say what they like, and then find some way to avoid an inquiry (or someone to fall on their sword) later.

In my view the most “specific” terror threat at the moment is the passing of the legislation that Howard is trying to ram through using such crass and obvious methods (straight out of the Bush/Rove playbook). Hopefully the state premiers will keep their heads about them and take this for what it’s worth. I can’t help but fear for the worst…

Update: Andrew Bartlett has his say. In part:

Normally when ASIO is asked for details of security matters – even by Senate Committees – they refuse to answer on security grounds. Yet here’s the front page of the national Murdoch daily saying “ASIO is believed to hold genuine security concerns about an estimated 700-800 Muslims in Australia who have expressed support for politically motivated violence.”

Presumption of Innocence

Dan Gillmor: Bush Rediscovers Presumption of Innocence. Please read it to make sense of the next bit…

Absolutely! This is one of the things I had on my blogging to-do list. When I heard this on the radio I nearly choked on my coffee! How does Bush expect anyone to take him seriously when there are such serious discrepancies in his actions.

That post I hinted at on Saturday is on its way which talks a bit more about this in relation to the proposed “terror laws”.