catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Archive for July 2006

Net Censorship in India

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Boing Boing reports that the Indian government has apparently supplied Indian ISP’s with a list of sites to be blocked, including blogging sites Blogspot and Typepad. The blocks were allegedly initated by the Indian intelligence agencies because terrorists were using blogs to communicate. As is noted on Boing Boing:

Not only is this useless (because the terrorists can simply use proxies), it’s akin to shutting off the country’s telephone service because terrorists talk to each other through phones.

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Written by Admin

July 18, 2006 at 8:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Bush: Stop Doing this Shit

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In a piece of foreign policy analysis worthy of our own Bird, Bush and Blair were caught out by the old “turned on microphone” trick, discussing the growing crisis in the Middle East:

“I think Condi (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) is going to go (to the Middle East) pretty soon,” Bush said.

Blair replied: “Right, that’s all that matters, it will take some time to get that together”.

Blair added: “See, if she (Rice) goes out she’s got to succeed as it were, where as I can just go out and talk”.

Bush replied: “See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it’s over”.

Blair eventually noticed the microphone and hastily switched it off but not before the conversation had reached news media.

When Bush learned the microphones were on, he asked what he had said, and after being shown a transcript “he rolled his eyes and laughed,” White House spokesman Tony Snow said aboard Air Force One returning to Washington.

It’s not wrong, because Syria should stop funding Hezbollah. Israel should also stop bombing Beirut, the Palestinians should stop sending suicide bombers, and everyone should just hold hands, be friends and stop the madness. It’s not the what which is the trouble, it’s the how.

Edit: The BBC has posted a full transcript, and a video (for the very keen). If nothing else, it’s amusing watching Bush talk with his mouth full.

Written by Admin

July 18, 2006 at 12:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Abortion causes Cancer

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Women who consult federally-funded pregnancy centres are routinely provided with misleading and inaccurate medical advice, according to a report released by the Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee. Since 2001, pregnancy resource centers have received more than USD$30 million in Federal funding – mainly through the funding of “abstinence-only” sexual education. Additional funding has been provided to 25 centres (there are over 4,000 throughout the United States) for “capacity-building” as part of the USD$150 million Compassion Capital Fund.

Investigators (congressional aides), posing as pregnant 17-year-olds, contacted 23 of the 25 centres which received special funding. In a perhaps unsurprising finding, they found that 20 of the 23 (87%) provided false or misleading medical advice. For example, callers were advised that they could develop breast cancer, that they would be made sterile, that they would be more likely to commit suicide and that they would develop “post-adoption stress disorder”.

These findings should surprise no-one. So-called “pregnancy resource centres” are essentially fronts for pro-life groups. They themselves do not perform abortions or refer patients to abortion clinics. Instead, they are often affiliated with a national pro-life umbrella group, such as Heartbeat International or Care Net. Care Net describes itself as “a Christian ministry assisting and promoting the evangelistic, pro-life work of pregnancy centers in North America.” All centres which were contacted by the Congressional Report were part of an umbrella organisation. Such centres often mask their pro-life stance in order to attract “abortion-vulnerable clients”, by for example, advertising under “abortion” in the Yellow Pages. Even the name “pregnancy resource centre” disguises the political intent of these organisations. One centre described the changing terminology in this manner:

“God’s truth never varies, but new methods of communicating it continue to emerge, including a departure from the term ‘crisis pregnancy’ itself. Many centers now favor a more neutral, solution-oriented name, such as ‘pregnancy resource center’.

A number of State actions and court cases have challenged the misleading practices engaged in by these centres. The organisation of the centres is most concerning as they both receive taxpayer funding while also providing misleading and politically motivated medical advice.

Specifically, the report made three key findings with respect to innaccurate advice:

The centers provided false and misleading information about a link between abortion and breast cancer. There is a medical consensus that induced abortion does not cause an increased risk of breast cancer. Despite this consensus, eight centers told the caller that having an abortion would in fact increase her risk. One center said that “all abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer in later years.” Another claimed that research shows a “far greater risk” of breast cancer after an abortion, telling the caller that an abortion would “affect the milk developing in her breasts” and that the risk of breast cancer increased by as much as 80% following an abortion.

The centers provided false and misleading information about the effect of abortion on future fertility. Abortions in the first trimester, using the most common abortion procedure, do not pose an increased risk for future fertility. However, seven centers told the caller that having an abortion could hurt her chances of having children in the future. One center said that damage from abortion could lead to “many miscarriages” or to “permanent damage” so “you wouldn’t be able to carry,” telling the caller that this is “common” and happens “a lot.” Another center said, “In the future you could have trouble conceiving another baby” because of scar tissue, a side effect of abortion that happens to “a lot of women.”

The centers provided false and misleading information about the mental health effects of abortion. Research shows that significant psychological stress after an abortion is no more common than after birth. However, thirteen centers told the caller that the psychological effects of abortion are severe, long-lasting, and common. One center said that the suicide rate in the year after an abortion “goes up by seven times.” Another center said that post-abortion stress suffered by women having abortions is “much like” that seen in soldiers returning from Vietnam and “is something that anyone who’s had an abortion is sure to suffer from.” Other centers said that abortion can cause “guilt, … sexual problems, … suicidal ideas, … drug use, eating disorders,” and “a downward spiral where they lose friends and family members.”

The report concludes that ‘the individuals who contact federally funded pregnancy resource centers are often vulnerable teenagers, who are susceptible to being misled and need medically accurate information to help them make a fully informed decision’. The provision of inaccurate information may ‘advance the mission of the pregnancy resource centers, which are typically pro-life organizations dedicated to preventing abortion, but it is an inappropriate public health practice’.

The report can be found here.

Written by Admin

July 18, 2006 at 9:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

IT Goddesses site attacked.

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Kim Sheree - Chief executive of ICT Ecosystems

The IT Goddesses calendar is still making news. Over the weekend, the site promoting the calendar reportedly suffered a Denial-of-Service attack.

Commenting on the attack to the SMH, project coordinator Sonja Bernhardt said:

“We welcome debate on the calendar and the issues it raises, but our opponents should allow people to decide for themselves in an open forum, not just try to knock us down,”

Ms Bernhardt and has also responded to the criticism of the project:

“One of messages we are trying to get across is that we are not a brain disembodied from our body. Through the use of parody we wanted to present the image of a fully functioning person with an amazing career and brain. We shouldn’t need to deny our femininity to be accepted,”

Ms bernhardt isn’t the only one involve din the project sticking up for it.

Kim Sheree, chief executive of ICT Ecosystems, who poses as Marilyn Monroe in the calendar, said she had received a lot of email from women around the world who were very supportive of the venture.

“We are now taking overwhelming number of requests from women who want to be in the calendar next year,” she said.
…
She also addressed those critics who say the venture simply promotes an image that one has to be beautiful to succeed in IT.

“Given that the age group of women in the calendar ranged from 25 to 60, incorporated five different nationalities, and featured women of all sizes and body shapes, I find that argument a bit of a stretch,” she said.”

Proving that controversy sells, the calendar has reportedly pre-sold over 2000 copies, “soundly beating expectations.” The proceeds are being direct to non-profit groups running initiatives to encourage women to pursue careers in IT.

Written by Admin

July 17, 2006 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Do Australians value honesty in a political leader?

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According to a poll reported in this morning’s Fairfax broadsheets 46% of voters believe Peter Costello’s version of events at the meeting in 1994 to discuss the Liberal leadership, with only 35% accepting the Prime Minister’s account of what was said.

This is far from the first time that the public has doubted John Howard’s word. On the children overboard affair, 60% believe that he deliberately misled them. 50% thought he knew of the Abu Graihb prisoner abuse scandal prior to April 2004, despite his claims to the contrary. A Saulwick Poll earlier this year found that 70% of respondents thought that the federal government was aware of the AWB kickbacks to Saddam Hussein. The Iraq war itself, however, has been on of the few integrity issues where the Howard government has received the benefit of the doubt, with a Newspoll (pdf) finding that though in early 2004 62% of voters thought they had been misled on the issue, less than half of that group, 26%, thought they had been “knowingly” misled.

Yet throughout this time John Howard has been clearly ahead in the preferred Prime Minister polls, with this morning’s poll being no exception – 53% to Kim Beazley’s 38%. This can’t just be Liberal partisans, since the Liberal primary is on 41% according to ACNielsen. Nor can be it just be because people think that all politicians are dishonest – since Kim Beazley is thought “trustworthy” by more people than the Prime Minister. This seems to be the pragmatic Australian view of politics at work. You have to take the good with the bad with politicians as with other people, and fudging things a little is no more than a misdemeanour. The Left’s John Howard Lies campaign fell flat as a result. What matters politically is not so much trust as confidence that a political leader will deliver better than his rivals on key issues. On that count, for the meantime at least, Howard is ahead.

Written by Admin

July 17, 2006 at 9:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Dorothy in Wentworth

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Malcolm Turnbull, fresh from opening a local playground, has circulated a “Small Business Survey” within his blue-ribbon Liberal seat of Wentworth. This survey happened to come across my desk, and in keeping with Catallaxy’s committment to good research, I’ve reproduced it here. What better way for local members to gauge the depth of public opinion than by presenting them with a list of Dorothy Dixers:

Please indicate which initiatives you think are the most important:

  • Disciplined economic management to keep our economy strong and interest rates low
  • The new WorkChoices system which provides small businesses with more flexibility in the way they empoy staff
  • Increasing the diminishing vlaue rate for depreciation from 150% to 200% fore eligible assets so that businesses can write off the cost of new plant and equipment quicker
  • Cutting business tax by inreacing the eligibility threshold for the Simplified Tax System to $2 million turnover while remving the $3million depreciating assets test
  • Improving the superannuation system an allowing the self-employed to claim a full deduction for their super contributions and recieve the Government’s co-contribution
  • 25 new Australian Technical Colleges in areas of skills need, the $800 Tools for Your Trade initiative and the 397,800 New Apprentices currently in training
  • Providing Government information and support to small business through http://www.business.gov.au/

Written by Admin

July 17, 2006 at 9:55 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Around the younger Ozblogs

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Steve Edney discusses the level of subsidy for public transport in NSW.

Amir Butler discusses JS Mill and the application of his ideas to Muslim fundamentalist books.

Sukrit has a series of posts on animal rights (1,2,3).

Andrew Elder discusses the Howard-Costello drama.

Graeme Bird discusses the uses and abuses of personification in science.

Written by Admin

July 17, 2006 at 8:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized