27 Oct 2019
17 Aug 2019
The mural on the side of the gun store proclaims: “A Savior is Born.” There’s a manger scene below the star of Bethlehem and windows festooned with red, white and blue bunting. And above it all a looming AR-15 assault rifle spewing fire. Yet inside Gun Central on Sunday, barely 24 hours after a terrorist gunman killed 22 people and wounded dozens of others in a local Walmart, the expected white Christian nationalists defending the second amendment were not there. Instead there were terrified El Pasoans, mostly Hispanic, buying firearms for the first time.
The scene on Sunday at Gun Central, located along Interstate 10 and two miles from where bodies are still being recovered, was more reminiscent of Black Friday than the wake of a national tragedy. People crowded shoulder to shoulder to consult with harried employees, pondering over pistols and assault rifles, banana clips and ammo. Others lined up for their turn inside the store’s indoor shooting range. Staccato gunfire thundered behind the thin walls.
“I’m on high alert,” said April Sanchez, a marketing executive who along with her husband was buying her first weapon. “I never thought I’d carry a gun, but now I want something to defend myself, to defend my fellow El Pasoans.” To that end she picked out a 9mm Taurus and her husband a .40 Ruger; their son had purchased his first handgun the previous evening. They sat near a Coke machine with several others awaiting their background checks. Before that day, Sanchez had never even held a gun. Now she’s registering for classes that will allow her to legally carry her firearm in public.
“This isn’t something I’m proud of,” she added. “It makes me sad and angry that I’m even here. I’m heartbroken, but I’m also afraid.”
Based on an article by Laura Tingle
Recognising this, there is talk within the government of a shift in gear to deal with whistleblowers and journalists, and secrecy generally, in future.
27 Jun 2019
21 Jun 2019
10 Jun 2019
Frightening step towards a police state and we are blindly letting it happen in the name of security.
The book is by veteran journalist Brian Toohey, and reflects his half century of writing about defence and national security issues.
Toohey says that:
"step by step, a succession of new laws and policies have provided the building blocks for Australia to become a country in which secretive officials and ministers wield unprecedented levels of peacetime power".
No major political party, he argues, is:
"offering to restore the values of an earlier era in which habeas corpus prevailed; the onus of proof was on the prosecution; the accused was allowed to see the evidence relied on by the Crown; and Australian Security Intelligence Organisation officials could not legally kidnap people or raid a lawyer's offices and seize documents in a commercial case directly involving the Government on the other side."No major party seems bothered by the use of new surveillance technology that allows governments to detect contact between journalists and their sources, effectively denying whistleblowers the opportunity to reveal abuses of power and criminal behaviour."
This (slightly hysterical) culture built around national security is the really important issue at stake in this week's raids, even more than the raids themselves and the threat they pose to journalism.
30 May 2019
The roles of the law and the media
Why is the association of homelessness and crime so strong? There are two main factors.
First, many behaviours made necessary by homelessness are criminalised. Simply trying to survive puts people who are experiencing homelessness in direct contact with the criminal justice system.
In Victoria, for example, begging is a criminal offence. Other laws that unfairly target the homeless include indecent exposure laws, which result in homeless people being arrested for going to the toilet or washing themselves in public (because they lack the option to do so in private).
The second factor is the persistent linking of homelessness and crime in the media.
News stories proliferate in the tabloid media about aggressive beggars, foreign backpackers pretending to be homeless to make money and people who exploit their pets as they beg for donations.
Coverage of the homeless camp at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne during the 2017 Australian Open tennis tournament routinely described inhabitants as drug dealers, criminals and professional troublemakers.
Being homeless means being vulnerable it does not mean they are all criminals!
The attention being given to possible covert influence being exercised by China in Australia shouldn’t distract us from recognising that ...