APEC

APEC Fence - Sydney Indymedia

I keep thinking about the events this weekend here in Sydney as APEC takes hold. There are posters around the city proclaiming “21 world leaders, 1 great city”. Before last week I joked with friends saying it should read “21 world leaders, 1 police state”. After seeing the overkill of police presence in our fair city, it’s unfortunately no joke.

It kind of struck home when I saw a police bus in the city – they’re literally shipping in police – and then saw a bevy of about 30 police at railway square “protecting” us from about 30 odd peaceful protesters. It was ridiculous.

I thought to myself that with all this focus on “security”, there must be gaping holes there. I mean – we had fighter planes and helicopters circling the city, thousands of extra police. Streets closed, transport services canceled. Simply ridiculous.

So I cheered out loud when I saw what the Chasers pulled off. I was watching TV late on Thursday night when I saw it. Priceless.

As it turns out, the Chasers didn’t even know they were in the restricted zone and voluntarily gave themselves up. Puts lie to Alexander Downer’s smug comment that “they were caught weren’t they?”.

What was even more ridiculous is the media feigning indignity about the Chaser’s pranks. Makes me want to support them even more…

After the stunt, the Chinese president Hu Jintao has called for increased security, and Channel Ten then trotted out a line about protests by “the religious cult” Falun Dafa.

Wittingly or unwittingly, I’m not sure which, Channel Ten became party to the Chinese government’s propaganda machine. Falun Dafa is not a cult, but the government uses those terms as justification for imprisoning and torturing Falun Gong practitioners in China. If only it was as unexpected as it was disgusting to hear such rubbish in the mainstream press.

But as a friend pointed out the other day – what does Hu Jintao think they’re going to do – meditate him to death or something? This is a religion founded on the principles of “Truthfulness, Benevolence, Forbearance”. No wonder the Chinese government, which practices none of these, is scared.

The Australian government, and the media, have been painting the protesters as violent and unruly. Most protests in this country, unlike protests overseas, are peaceful. Where violence has occurred, it’s usually been at the hand of a small isolated group, easily contained. There was never any chance of protests turning as violent as those in say, Genoa or Seattle.

But, of course, the government has to demonstrate it’s “tough on terror” – has to assure world leaders that Australia is secure. What better way to demonstrate that than to not lock the city down, to let it operate as it usually does. It seems, we have to see an unprecedented turnout of police.

One argument that I’ve overheard is that security forces had intel on an attack – that it’s because of this security that something bigger didn’t occur. But with such lax security that the Chasers can make it to outside Bush’s hotel without being detected, I find it hard to believe that the emphasis on security this past week is what stopped an attack…

The (big) question that remains unasked in the coverage I’ve seen is what, exactly, are the protesters protesting? The media’s penchant for plainly painting them as “anti-globalisation” protesters masks a plethora of reasons behind the civil disobedience.

From human rights abuses in Russia and China, to the attacks on civil liberties here in Australia, to the devastating (for Iraqi civilians) and mishandled war on Iraq – there are reasons aplenty. But none of those issues made it to the headlines.

(As an aside, I heard at an Amnesty International event that the Chinese government displaced over 1,000 of its own people, without remuneration or repatriation, just to construct the Olympic swimming complex – and that’s just one of the many abuses that have taken place in the lead-up to the Games that were won on the back of a “human rights” message.)

No – it’s not the dangerous men behind closed doors making deals that we’re being warned about. It’s those dangerous, nasty, evil protesters. It’s those people with a conscience that are exercising their rights of free speech – they’re the ones we need to be afraid of.

If it wasn’t so ominous, it would be hilarious. If this is the future, I think we need to turn the car around…

Update: A fascinating Flickr slideshow of the protests to give some sense of the overkill. I also forgot to mention that police stopped anyone from leaving Hyde Park for over an hour – including families with kids – during the protests.

Update 2: NewMatilda.com also has another piece on APEC (from which I grabbed the photo).

Tesla’s CARB presentation

Hilarious: High CARB diet.

However, we are actually delighted by the way this [fuel cell] bias finds implementation in the ZEV [Zero Emission Vehicle] mandate. For the results of this mandate is that all of our potential EV competitors – all the big car companies – remain mired in non-productive, deeply-expensive fuel cell programs, keeping them out of the EV marketplace, and indeed out of the serious ZEV marketplace entirely.

Dead in Iraq

This is pretty amazing.

More detail at SMH:

As the game [America’s Army – an interactive project funded by the Pentagon which it uses to enlist recruits] continues around him after he is killed – and usually under a hail of abuse from the other players – DeLappe types in the name, age, service branch and the date of death of each soldier.

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.

Latte Lexuses?

David over at Oikos posts an excellent overview of car efficiency standards in the US, and how they might apply in Australia. Café standards for cars: Espresso Excels and latte Lexuses.

Al Gore mentions efficiency standards in An Inconvenient Truth, and they are also referenced, from memory, in Who Killed the Electric Car. David’s piece gives a good overview (including the costs to manufacturers) and also suggests that such standards wouldn’t be as effective in Oz.

Update 26-Jan-2006: Martin Eberhard responds to the energy portion of Bush’s State of the Union speech with specific discussion of CAFE standards.

Spinning in Iraq

The Australian: Saddam sentence sparks clashes.

Police were battling supporters of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad last night when clashes broke out in the Iraqi capital immediately after the ousted president was sentenced to death.

Police exchanged machinegun fire with insurgents in the capital’s rebellious northern Azamiyah district, an area dominated by hardliners from among Saddam’s fellow Sunnis.

Sometimes the spin is subtle… In the first para, the author says “supporters of Saddam Hussein”. Second para, they become “insurgents”. The inference – that the “insurgents” in Iraq, responsible for the violence and bombings, are the last of the “supporters of Saddam Hussein”. The logical extension: the death of Saddam will see the insurgents off.

The idea that the remaining insurgents are Saddam supporters has long been discredited – especially by journalists like Robert Fisk who have been on the ground in Iraq. The anti-US sentiment in Iraq, fuelled by the lack of a clear timetable for withdrawal, continues to build support for the insurgents – the resistance (possibly a more appropriate term?) is not going anywhere.

The Bush administration, and the press, will continue to push this idea for some time to come. The inferences will become more subtle, but no less problematic.