A B Greer is out of jail after 25 years, but there is more doubt now than there has ever been about whether he should ever have been in jail. His conviction occurred during the peak period of WA police bastardry, a time which has generated many cases of wrongful convictions. WA’s two most senior criminal barristers, Percy and McCusker, both believe in his innocence. A miscarriage of justice in which the wrong person is convicted is as much a tragedy for the victim’s family as it is for the family of the wrongfully convicted person.
Researchers can now send secret audio instructions undetectable to the human ear to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant, a New York Times report says (180511). Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, send money electronically or buy stuff online — simply with music playing over the radio.
Do shop assistants demand your personal details when you are paying by cash? Just before Christmas 2017, I attempted to make three rather minor purchases – in Myer, Harvey Norman, and The Good Guys. All the items were small and portable and I was paying cash. In all three cases, the shop assistants refused to proceed with the sale unless I handed over personal details – name, address, phone number, and email address. In the case of Myer, much more was demanded (for the purchase of a cup and saucer!).
Police in Florida USA have crept in to a funeral home to enlist the help of a corpse they created to unlock the man’s mobile phone. Avoiding the man’s fiancee, who was at the funeral home at the time, they have tried to use the dead man’s fingers to gain access to information. So far, the phone has stayed mute. Meanwhile investigations continue over how fellow police came to shoot the man dead in the first place, over the ‘crime’ of having illegal tinted windows on his car.
CLA is planning to launch a new campaign to convince the Australian Parliament to pass legislation so that a Prime Minister has to seek parliamentary approval on sending Australians troops into war or a warlike situation.
The campaign will have a focus each year on Anzac Day, Australia’s day of remembering the fallen. While other jingoistic celebrations focus on militarism each 25 April, the War Powers campaign will highlight the opposite – ensuring Australia thinks long and hard before getting into new wars. Other items include:
- ‘Autocratic populism’ replacing democracy
- If NZ can avoid ISDS, so should Australia
- Public servants win free speech rights back
- Drug law reform: special articles
- Mentally ill people forced into prison
- No data is safe from government list-building
- Trying to vote results in five years jail
DNA testing has reached a level of popularity that ensures that many of us have parts of our genome available online, even if we’ve never spit into a test tube ourselves. And the decisions on who gets access to that data may be in the hands of family members we’ve never spoken to – or didn’t even know existed.
Lest we forget we will all chant, as we have all chanted for a century now. And yet it is as if all that chanting only ensures we remember nothing. If we remembered would we 100 years later still allow our young men to be sent off to kill or be killed in distant conflicts defending yet again not our country, but another distant empire, as we have in Iraq and Afghanistan?
CLA’s submission on a Model Litigant Obligations Bill, proposed by Senator David Leyonhjelm, has at last been published on the website of the Senate committee inquiring into the proposed new law. CLA says the Attorney-General’s Department does not abide by existing law because it fails to actively police, enforce and even simply report annually as it is required by legislation to do on how well, or otherwise, the government is acting as a model litigant. CLA tells the committee the Australian government’s reputation in this area is “rancid”. CLA submission is here: CLA’s and other submissions are here
Parliament committees inquiring into religious freedom in Australia as well as electoral funding and mandated disclosure by NGOs have been inundated with submissions, forcing them to report late. This issue also shows off CLA’s new T-shirt, reminds members about our new website, and reports on the 2018 AGM and selected member comments.
Considering the ‘Me Too’ campaign, it seems to me that the problems associated with it, in Australia anyway, require long- term solutions rather than expressions of anger.
The formal results are in for the Civil Liberties Australia Annual General Meeting, held in 2018, covering the 2017 calendar year reporting period. The report shows about 52% of members voted, overwhelmingly positively, and most members who commented had nice things to say about how the organisation is going and the job the directors are doing.