GCSB, protesting and the internetz.

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.



So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.



I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 



Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.


Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.



What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.



The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Bradley Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.


This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

Back in the House, and Back Benches.

Well, it was a marathon busy day yesterday.
Seven maiden speeches in the House by new Green MP’s, our highest number of new MP’s since the Party first came into Parliament in 1999.
There’s speech transcripts and Parlie TV footage on Frogblog. So I’m not going to repeat the review of the afternoon’s speeches, except to say that I was very moved by each and every one of them, some who have been colleagues on issues campaigning for over ten years.
There are concurrent numbers of extra parliamentary Green office staff, too, so the mix’n’mingle afterwards was a good catch-up time & helped to work out who’s doing which jobs post-election.

Then later, on to the Back Bencher pub for another round of Damian and Wallace ‘back on home soil’, as they put it themselves, which seems like an extraordinary admission from two Aucklanders.

Eugenie Sage had her first experience on the panel, along with Alfred Ngaro (N), David Clarke (L, Dunedin North) and Richard Prosser (NZ 1st). There were some interesting moments as panelists wrestled with ways not to answer direct questions put by the presenters, and some bemusement when Prosser appeared to be quoting history when responding to questions about his party’s policies.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Alfred Ngaro (obscured), Wallace, David Clarke, Eugenie Sage, Damian obscuring Richard Prosser completely.

Holly Walker and a table of Green family & friends got quite a bit of notice during the evening, as well, especially during Damian’s wee pep talk to get incidental footage to use in the promo for this season of Back Benches. Being such great sports, none of the extremely relaxed Young Greens even considered the option of asking for appearance fees for performing in an advertisement.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Voluble and Relaxed Young Greens surrounding MP Holly Walker.

Myself, I was hiding down the back with some more mature friends, and chewing my way through most of a block of Whitaker’s Dark Almond; my only concession to Valentine’s Day being to buy myself what I like, and share it with those I happen to be with as the week progresses. Don’t even bother trying to spot us, we were well shielded by loquacious and inebriated folk in the table nearer the bar.

The full episode is here on TV7’s chunk of the On-demand website.
Do have a look for the petition to save TV7 as well, while I’ve got your attention.
If nobody bothers, we lose them mid-year when this season finishes.

Final push for Mining Discussion Document submissions

During a very interesting talk and film showing by Cath Delahunty last week, it was mentioned that the final date for submissions on the Mining Discussion document put out by MED is Wednesday, 26th May, 2010.

There will be a group presentation of submissions collected by Green party staffers so far on Tuesday 25th May at 12.30pm, at MED house, Bowen St, Wellington CBD.
You can get a copy of the discussion document from MED here, and a submission guide is available here.
Too complicated? Quick submission link here.
Any who would like to accompany the submission presenters are welcome; dressing up as a bird is optional (showing solidarity with the fauna who will be losing their habitat if the mining goes ahead).

The talk and discussion last Wednesday evening at St John’s, Willis St, was a great opportunity to view one of Vanguard Films early works, produced in the 80’s during the last great mining protests on the Coromandel – called “Prospect” – and despite a few moments of hilarity at the 80’s fluoro fashions, we sat soberly viewing protesters being arrested and removed from exactly the same sites that are under question again in the MED Discussion document.

Cath also showed a presentation of pictures from recent visits to sites of old mining claims in the Coromandel and near Reefton, visited by Co-leader Metiria Turei and herself over the past few weeks. The fact that even old tailings dams are still leaking toxic runoff gives no confidence to plans to increase the number of toxic sites in our country by allowing more mining to occur.

Cath finishing her talk with an appeal for more submissions.

Cath finishing her talk with an appeal for more submissions.

Here’s a submission on the Mining in Schedule 4 discussion document

Submission on the Mining in Schedule 4 Discussion Document

I am writing this submission as an individual citizen, albeit one who has had many years of tramping experience in National Parks, and was once regularly involved in taking groups of teenagers on day-tramps, as part of a ‘provincial experience’ during school holiday camps.

My key concerns about this discussion document are that removal of lands from conservation is unacceptable. I feel that this is a short-term measure that our children and grandchildren will revile our generation for taking. I am also very concerned that land which is promoted as being ‘added’ to schedule 4 by this discussion document is actually already gazetted for conservation, and is not any genuine attempt by the Government to extend the lands in conservation.

My specific concerns are as follows (referring to sections as named in the discussion document):

In Section 4: Areas proposed to be removed from Schedule 4 – the 7000ha to be removed from Schedule 4 immediately, so that mining can be considered on a ‘case by case’ basis – these areas all have a high tourism value, which is an ongoing income stream, as well as conservation, recreation and cultural values, which outweigh their potential for one-off income stream through mining. Schedule 4 protection should be permanent, and not subject to removal.

In Section 7: Specific areas proposed for removal from Schedule 4;
Te Ahumata Plateau on Great Barrier Island – the island is a near-pristine gem in the Hauraki Gulf, highly valued by the small community who live there, and is a valued holiday and recreational retreat for the Aucklanders on its doorstep, and tourists generally. Mining would do irreparable harm to the local residents’ quality of life, and the island’s reputation and tourism industry. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.
Sections of Conservation land on the Coromandel Peninsula – this is another diverse region with high conservation values, containing significant tracts of intact forest and threatened species. The Coromandel also has huge value as a wild and natural region close to major population centres, providing scenic and recreation opportunities. Conservation lands in the Coromandel deserve to stay in Schedule 4 to protect the ecological, tourism, and recreational values of this unique peninsula. As a child, this was a place that my family visited, driving from southern Hawkes Bay every summer to share a bach owned by the family my parents worked for; I learnt to swim here, learnt what a rip was, and how to survive being tumbled in a strong current. I learned to enjoy this environment without destroying the allure of nature that we returned for every year, the counterpoint to living in an isolated farming district. For much of my adult life, ‘summer’ is always a concept that I define by the Coromandel summers; any other place is rated by how it compares to this definitive experience. I would consider it treasonous for the Government to destroy this kind of heritage, for a few seasons’ worth of minerals, and I attempt to stop this so that I will be able to look my grandchildren in the eyes when I tell them stories of my childhood summers. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.
Otahu and Parakawai Ecological Area in the Coromandel – These areas, in addition to having all the attributes of the areas above, are home to the North Island Brown Kiwi, long-tailed bats, Hochstetter’s frogs, longfin eels, and banded kokopu. This habitat should not be removed from Schedule 4.
The Inangahua sector of Paproa National Park on the South Island’s West Coast – Paparoa National Park has outstanding ecological and landscape values. The Government’s interest in open-cast mining in this area is irresponsible, as climate change emissions will be significant. I oppose removing this area from Schedule 4.

In Section 5: Further investigation programme – this is tax-payer subsidisation of the mining industry, as they are the beneficiaries of the information the Government seeks to uncover. Conservation land is for protection, not exploitation – this investigation can only lead to more proposals for mining on conservation land, including Schedule 4 areas. Abandon the further investigation programme.

In Section 6.1: Joint Ministerial approval – This is inappropriate, as it entails handing over decision-making power over activities on conservation land to a development-focussed Minister. Reject joint Ministerial approval for access to Crown Land, leaving such decisions with the land-owning Minister.

In Section 8: Areas proposed for addition to schedule 4 – these are areas already gazetted, and while a positive step, these additions would have occurred anyway, and are long overdue. They do not ‘offset’ removals, and furthermore, these additions should be automatic whenever new lands are gazetted in to National Parks and the other land classification types listed in Schedule 4. I support the addition of new lands to Schedule 4, and the amendment of the Crown Minerals Act to make such additions automatic.

In Section 9: Establishment of a contestable conservation fund – Conservation management should be funded from the core budget of DoC, which should be re-instated to pre-2009 levels. Abandon the contestable conservation fund, restore the Greens’ $4million per annum Community Conservation fund (cut in 2009), and reinstate DoC’s 2009 budget cut of $54 million. I oppose any possibility that mining companies might receive funding to carry out remediation work on mined land, that is work they should have to do anyway in order to get mining permits.

There are also other areas which are not covered by Schedule 4, including national reserves such as Lewis Pass, and all of our World Heritage areas (Te Wahipounamu, Tongariro and the Sub-Antarctic Islands) – I recommend that these areas be added to Schedule 4.

In summary, I would like to re-iterate that New Zealand’s public conservation land is far too precious to mine. I heartily recommend a radical re-think of this document, as the Ministry of Economic Development has seriously underestimated the esteem with which the New Zealand public regard our wild and untrammelled places. These are, after all, the heritage that have been left to us by ancestors who wisely left some places of beauty, some places of refuge for the flora and fauna of our land, whose stewardship should be given at least the respect of serious consideration before these last refuges are destroyed for the dubious and temporary rewards of commerce.

Vacancy: Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies, Otago

I’m passing this around, in case any greenies are so inclined & qualified.

Lecturer in Peace and Conflict Studies (Confirmation Path)
National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Applicants should possess a PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies or a cognate discipline, and have an established or emerging track record of systematic research and publication. They should also have teaching experience at the tertiary level. Given that Peace and Conflict Studies is a new programme, candidates should be able to demonstrate skills in academic curriculum development as well.

The successful candidate:

* Will have a research background in peace and conflict studies with a significant number of peer reviewed publications. Some preference will be given to those with advanced knowledge in conflict analysis and resolution.

* Will contribute to the research environment by developing/contributing to local and international research groups, by attracting postgraduate students, and by competing successfully for research funding.

* Will be expected to teach two postgraduate courses per year in the area of Peace and Conflict Studies and to supervise 400-level Honours, Masters and PhD students.

* Will contribute to the administration and development of the Centre in particular, and the Division of Humanities and the University of Otago in general.

The position is available from 1 June 2010 and it is hoped that the successful applicant can commence duties as soon as possible around that time.

Specific enquiries may be directed to Professor Kevin P Clements, Director, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies,
Tel 03 479 4546, Fax 03 479 8084,
Email kevin.clements@otago.ac.nz

Applications quoting reference number A09/163 close on Friday 22 January 2010.

Job Description: You can download the Lecturer in Peace and Conflict
Studies (Confirmation Path) job description (12 KB in PDF format) at
vacancy/otago006243.pdf

Application Forms: Download the Application Form in PDF format at
vacancy/otago002583.pdf

or MS Word format at
vacancy/otago002584.doc

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO): Download the EEO Form in PDF
format at
vacancy/otago002585.pdf

or Rich Text Format (RTF) at
vacancy/otago002582.rtf

Prior to applying for any academic staff vacancy, applicants should also read:

* Application Information for Academic Staff at
application_academic.html

and
* Information for Applicants for Academic Posts and Conditions of Appointment at
ConditionsofAppointment

Global Poverty Project campaign launches in Aotearoa

I’ve been a little busy lately, for one reason or another, and neither been attending many events, nor blogging about green stuff.

I’ll make amends with a quick description of an event I was invited to by the Wellington Activation Manager for the Global Poverty Project, Sarah Wood, which took place at the Banquet Hall of Parliament last night.

MP’s Jackie Blue (N) and Steve Chadwick (L) spoke, as the hosting MP’s and Chair and VC of the Parliamentary Committee to Effect Change on Women’s Issues, and welcomed the organisers of the Global Poverty Project to Wellington, and also to Aotearoa/New Zealand, as they begin the launch of their campaign here.
In Australia, it’s fronted by Hugh Jackman, no less, and has had endorsements from Bono and other celebrities, but you can look at the website here.

In Wellington, we were treated to a very well-presented launch by Hugh Evans, a young man who first experienced the priviledge of his birthright when he was taken to the Phillipines by World Vision as a 14 year-old schoolboy. He realised then that most of the things he took for granted about his life (home, access to schooling, his parents’ jobs) were essentially an accident of birth – if he had been born at the same time, in another place, his life might have been like that of the teenagers he met, who survived by selling scavenged metals on the Burning Mountain rubbish dump that he visited.

The presentation is travelling around New Zealand, visiting the major cities.
It’s back here in Wellington on Friday 28th August, at Rutherford House, Pipitea Campus of Victoria University of Wellington. Lecture Theatres are on the ground floor, there’ll be signs to guide you to the right one(s).
RSVP to
newzealand@globalpovertyproject.com
so they have some idea how many lecture theatres they’ll need! They requested that for today as a deadline, but if you find this late, Sarah is a very accommodating person and may let you off.

Supersizemypay 2.0

On Friday, I went to a cheery Campaign launch in Wellington for the latest Unite! minimum wage increase call – to raise the minimum to $15/hour.

We gathered at the Southern Cross in Abel Smith St, to be welcomed by Don Franks MC-ing, and a warm-up performance by the Union Choir, who sang stirringly and melodically.

Union Choir at Unite! Campaign launch

Union Choir at Unite! Campaign launch

There were a few more speeches after the intro, then a time of social chitchat and networking was enjoyed by all.

Details of the new campaign can be found at Unite! website.

Tamils march around Wellington, the press doesn’t seem to care.

In contrast to the media frenzy I witnessed over the S92a Petition being presented at lunchtime yesterday, only a couple of media representatives were on hand to record this. At least Scoop posted something vaguely accurate – although there were more like 200-plus Tamils, including children in the count, which I confirmed by asking one of the organisers.

The combined Tamil communities of Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Palmerston North gathered in Wellington on Thursday (19th February 2009) to march through town and around to the British and Indian High Commissions, and the American Embassy, before arriving at Parliament to entreat the Government to issue a statement condemning the actions of the Indian Government in their military actions in Northern Sri Lanka against the Tamil peoples.

After waiting patiently while another group of petitioners were addressed on Parliament steps, the crowd stood waving banners and chanting “Free Tamil Eelam”, and “Help Us”.
Green Party MP Keith Locke came to address the crowd from the forecourt.

A dvd of footage taken during recent military actions against Tamil communities in northern Sri Lanka was being distributed to interested media, in order to show the kind of warfare occurring, and conditions in which the wounded and dying were being managed.
The hand-held, shaky images, with voiceover by the cameraperson, are powerful and ultimately very disturbing. There are no UN or Red Cross personnel allowed in Tamil-held parts of Sri Lanka, so there are few medical supplies, no adequate water or sterile situations for examining wounded and dying civilians brought to treatment stations.
The footage shows children screaming hysterically at the feet of sheet-wrapped corpses, traumatised by the bombing they have just survived, as much as the violent death of a parent just witnessed.
Children found by a camera operator, sitting in a dirt trench behind a collapsed house, the most minimal bomb shelter you can imagine, crying with fear and traumatised, waiting for older siblings or parents to return. Not leaving, because they have been trained to stay until they are told to come out …

More information about actions taking place in other countries at the links below.

Tamilnet
British Tamils Forum
Canadian Tamils site

An open dig at the “intelligence services”

The Sunday Papers have had a field day, following up on the stories about Maire Leadbetter and Keith Locke’s SIS files, which have dribbled on in the DomPost at a relatively slow pace for the past couple of months, and the exposure of Rob Gilchrist which came out about six weeks ago.

Anthony Hubbard at the SST has made some good points here, and the story has been mirrored, with slight variations over at the Herald on Sunday.

In a comment on the post at Indymedia a week ago, I jokingly suggested that every activist in NZ should request their file, to clog up the SIS admin systems.
The folk at Oct15th Solidarity have followed up on that in their latest newsletter, which is downloadable from the website, providing the addresses for anyone to write in and demand, as is their right under NZ citizenship, to have any information kept on them released. Invoke the Official Information Act, if you so desire.

Given that so far, they are known to have targeted politicians, eco-activists, animal rights groups, peace activists, and I dare say, those whose names have been attatched to policy discussion documents or website fora; if everyone who thinks they might have been a subject of investigation writes in, they could be tied up answering the mail for some months.
Finally, a use of public money that is transparent and accountable … 😉

Yay!

The special votes are finally in, and along with them new Green MP, Kennedy Graham:

The Greens gain a new MP and National lose one with the special votes now counted.

There were 270,965 special votes – that is people who voted in advance, from outside their electorate or overseas.

The results were released by Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden on Saturday afternoon.

The Greens picked up about 0.3%, or about 70,000 more party votes.

That gives them a ninth MP – Kennedy Graham. He has been attending Caucus and preparing to become an MP as it was always likely he would make it in. The Greens traditionally do well on special votes.

70,000 votes out of 270,000 specials cast is nearly 26 percent.  Which apparently was a misprint by NZPA/TVNZ.  It looks like we got about 23,000 votes or roughly 9.1 percent. That suggests the Greens’ twin overseas vote and late enrolment vote campaigns were both very successful.  It seems kind of appropriate the Graham should be reliant in part on overseas votes for his seat in Parliament given his work towards global disarmament and peace.

Nice work Kennedy!