An update – Web Extortion Part II

31 October, 2006

In an entry some three years ago, I mentioned that at the time my domain name, terranullius.com, had been stolen after a year of use by my own hosting provider, “hostonce”, which turned out to have registered my domain to a White Power group with the rather odd name of “White Crusaders of the Rahowa” (ref Fightdemback). On that site, you can see a pretty picture which any mum would love of the guy who ended up with my domain days after the year anniversary passed, Colin A. Campbell. Hostonce (who are still trading under the .com.au) refused to return correspondence or allow me to renew my domain name, but left it unattended for several years.

As an interesting relic of those days, one of my then-validated email addresses is still my MSN address today, as some of you would indeed have recognised.

From my entry at that time:

For non tech savvy people, this is like going to Fair Trading to register your business name, only to find a year later that the staff of the Department have opened a shop in that name next to the local train station that doesn’t actually sell anything, but its presence means that you can’t reregister the name.

Anyway, it seems he passed it onto a company called NameGiant, as can be seen here. After several failed attempts (including phoning the international number, which I understand is like the UK equivalent of a 1900 number, twice) to get in touch with these people, I made a generic inquiry on obtaining the domain name last week. Here’s what I got back today:

Hi Andrew,

Thank you for your enquiry.

[…]

If you consider that just recently Fish.com sold for $1,020,000, MyPremierCard.com for $135,250, JMM.com for $55,000 and HorseSupplies.com $52,500 etc there have been many other 5 figure sales – I’m sure that our asking price could be considered an investment for a domain of this quality.

The price of this domain is £7,000 Great British Pounds or US$13,280 (close offers may be considered). This is a one off payment for the rights to the domain, however you will be responsible for paying the yearly registration (approx $30).

The email then diverges into a range (nearly a page in fact) of payment options.

A$17,300 for a domain name from NameGiant seems a bit steep, especially when it is stolen property to begin with. Last I checked, trading in stolen property is an offence in most countries, including the United Kingdom, where the Theft Act 1968 s.22 and Criminal Attempts Act 1981 s.1(1) (as amended) refer in part to “obtaining property by deception and handling stolen goods”.

I have written to them with a somewhat more reasonable offer. I will keep you posted with any developments.

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For once, someone at the top is making sense

26 October, 2006

This from AAP, via Westnet:

Top cop warns of anti-Islamic bias

The nation’s top policeman says there is a risk of creating a generation of Australians with a bias against Islam, which in turn will incite more terrorism.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty called for moderation in media coverage of issues including controversial comments by Australia’s most senior Islamic cleric. Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali compared skimpily-dressed women to “uncovered meat” and suggested they were “the problem” that caused sexual attacks, The Australian reported.

Mr Keelty said if true, the comments were inflammatory. The sheik has since apologised for any offence caused by the comments.

“Obviously what was said is going to be offensive to many of us in the community,” Mr Keelty said in Adelaide. “But I would also point out that there are many other people in the community who say offensive things from time to time as well, and many of them are white Caucasian Australians. Clearly things are going to be said from time to time that I guess inflame the situation and for all us, we have got to look at ways to try and keep some element of moderation about what we say and what we do.”

In an address to the South Australian Press Club, Mr Keelty said: “if we are not careful, I think we risk raising a generation of Australians who will have a bias against Islam. As I travel around the country and speak to different Islamic communities … you hear more and more stories of treatment of the Islamic community that really is sub-standard by members of our own wider community. If we don’t get a handle on this now, if we don’t actually teach the values to future generations that we were brought up with, we do risk, I think, having a bigger problem in our own future than what we have in our past.”

Mr Keelty said he was concerned some media coverage may incite terrorism. “If we are not careful, the way we treat the issues of security and terrorism can in fact incite others to become involved,” he said.

He cited reported threats to the safety of the Australian cricket team during last year’s Ashes series in England as an example, saying Australian media followed a story of “questionable background” from the United Kingdom. “It was the story of a friend of a friend of an alleged friend of an alleged bomber that made the front pages and drove our media here for over 24 hours,” he said.


LOL!

25 October, 2006

Courtesy of the Library & Information Service of Western Australia (LISWA) (link) – An artist’s impression in the Western Mail (one of Perth’s several dailies in times past) in their 1929 centenary issue as to what Perth would look like 23 years from now:


Small Arms Trade Treaty

25 October, 2006

I don’t normally give a lot of attention to specific causes – I work on the basis that people in the field are far better at handling these matters and answering questions. But later this week, the United Nations will be considering a General Assembly resolution to open the way for an arms trade treaty. For those not in the know, small arms are basically anything a soldier can carry, ranging from pistols and shotguns through rifles, automatic weapons and even some types of launchers. The significance of this relates to the unregulated trade of small arms such as AK-47s in world trouble spots. The fact that companies from mainly western countries supply these to pretty much anyone on the open market has kept many fires blazing all over the world.

Governments have tended to turn a blind eye to things their companies do in the developing world – I need only remind Australians of the Kilwa incident in the Congo, the Esmerelda mine in Romania as well as incidents involving Australian staples Rio Tinto and BHP in the near-Pacific, not to mention the unfolding story of AWB’s dealings with Iraq where an arm of the government may have assisted in breaches of UN sanctions, to emphasise that the Australian government (irrespective of party) is often fairly blasé about its companies’ behaviour in less regulated parts of the world. There is less international regulation on small arms than there is on wheat, coal or sugar.

The impact of a supplier country pulling their support can be seen in my homeland of Northern Ireland, and also in Israel/Palestine, where one side suddenly realised peace was in its best interests when its means of fighting a protracted war evaporated due to the sudden termination of overseas support. One only needs to look at Sudan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and some former parts of the Soviet Union to see the worst that can happen – Amnesty claims 1,000 people are dying per day as a result of unregulated small arms.

The measure is being supported by Britain, not to mention a heap of well-respected Nobel laureates, and France is now on board (important as France is/was the largest trader in these items), but the US, Russia and China, whose corporate interests earn quite a fair amount from the trade, are all opposed to it. Nevertheless, it is likely to pass with majority support in the General Assembly, with Britain saying it has the support of 107 of the UN’s 192 member states, with a vote on a finished treaty likely in 2008.

Amnesty International is one of the key drivers of this campaign, as part of the joint Control Arms campaign. Their secretary-general told the Guardian newspaper, “It is crunch time at the UN. Governments should take a historic step to stop irresponsible and immoral arms transfers by voting to develop a treaty that will prevent the death, rape and displacement of thousands of people.” They have been essential in getting many smaller countries on board with this.
I am already supporting Amnesty International but I urge you all to support them either by making others aware of this campaign, or by making donations to them, so that they can ensure that any carried vote is actually enforced and doesn’t go the route of so many other well-intentioned plans (NPT or START I, anyone?)
Amnesty Australia’s page on the campaign is here.


Remember September

24 October, 2006

I do, and thankfully I remember what I was going to write then. Every time I go to put virtual pen to paper, however, something has gone wrong – be it downtime on the server, illness or just simply being busy or away. I intend to keep this blog up to date from now on, having just returned from Bunbury yesterday.


From another blog…

24 October, 2006

“Top 10 Lies by Australian PM John Howard” by Vishal Sharma, brought to my attention by PerthNorg.

I have compiled these top 10 lies by second longest serving Prime Minister of Australia – Mr. John Howard. These are his top 10 lies which has affected the Australian community deeply and the damage caused by this is irreparable.

1. his comments are being “read out of context”

2. he “wasn’t told or had wrong advice”

3. “The Australian Government knows that Iraq still has chemical and biological weapons and that Iraq wants to develop nuclear weapons.” “Iraq continues to work on developing nuclear weapons-uranium has been sought from Africa that has no civil nuclear application in Iraq”
4 February 2003

4. “The Government’s position remains that we were advised by Defence that children were thrown overboard, we made those allegations on the basis of that advice, and until I get Defence advice to the contrary I will maintain that position”. 9 November 2001

5. “Nothing can alter the fact that I have in my possession an ONA report that states baldly . . . that children were thrown in the water.” 8 November 2001

6. “No, there’s no way that a GST will ever be part of our policy.” 2 May, 1995

7. “It is our policy, without qualification, to retain Medicare . . . Not only does Medicare stay but so does bulk billing . . . They are the fundamentals, the underpinnings of the policy.” 12 February 1996

8. “I can guarantee we’re not going to have $100,000 university degree courses.” 15 October 1999

9. “There’ll be no more than a 1.9% rise in ordinary beer.” 23 September 1998

10. “I can promise you that we will follow policies which will, over a period of time, bring down the foreign debt . . . our first priority in Government economically will be to tackle the current account deficit.” 20 September 1995

I have always believed that politics is the best place to test your lying and deception capability and John Howard has done that brilliantly in his political carrier. Prime minister you are leading by example!


Daylight saving on the cards

20 October, 2006

It seems democracy doesn’t matter much to the current Western Australian government. Their response to three referendums telling them “no” to daylight saving (the last two after trial periods of one year) is to try and force it on Western Australians without a vote, with the staunch support of our limited media sources (The West Australian and News Ltd, who’ve adopted almost a preachy tone in recent issues on the subject). Their strongest supporters are Labor MPs for some of the newest Perth areas, many of whose people clearly would like Western Australia to conform to their ideas of home, much as the English did when they arrived here in 1829 and started trying to plant English gardens and social rules wherever they went in complete defiance of the local weather and climate.

Now I know that some (including some of my friends) would like to see it come in, but not one person has given me a good reason why it should be implemented. I’ve heard a lot of derision about somewhat obscure arguments relating to dairy farming and faded curtains, but that is not and has never been the reasoning of myself and those I know who have argued against it.

Many of the reasons given offer no benefit to Perth, a city of seemingly eternal summer sunshine at 32°S latitude. A point often missed by commentators is that the benefits enjoyed by Melburnians in particular relate to their higher latitude – at around 38°S, there is more difference between summer and winter. At that latitude, entire nights can be made light by the idea, with almost no sacrifice in the mornings, due to longer daylight hours to start with. They compensate by having comparatively short days to Perth in winter. I saw this in Vancouver, Canada, as well, a city of 49°N latitude where the sun was setting at almost 10pm in the peak of summer under daylight saving, and rising at 4am.

In Perth, however, this seasonal variance is much slighter. The shortest day rises two hours later and sets two hours earlier than in winter. In Geraldton and in our mining centres this is as little as 45 minutes. At the other end of the day, for three months of the period one is getting up in the dark to go to work or school if one has any kind of commute at all. With such a vast state, cutting it in half is impractical, especially when strong trading relationships exist within the state – I briefly worked in the transport industry (sorry to disappoint, just data entry :)) and was forever sending truckloads of stuff to places all over the northwest and Kimberley.

The second issue is one of weather. Anyone who has been to, or spent any time in Melbourne, Sydney or Newcastle will know that the sort of dry, open sunshine we get for months on end in Perth simply doesn’t happen there. I well remember my first visit to Melbourne in mid-January 1997 where it was 42 one day then 22 and wet the next – the words “four seasons in one day” seem to have been written for it. Sydney’s humidity, having a sub-tropical rather than temperate climate despite being 2° latitude south of us, ensures the burning sun requiring SPF 30+ for even short exposures isn’t nearly the issue there that it is here. What converted me and, it seems, a number of people during the last trial was that kids coming home from school were now doing it at 2pm in GMT+8 instead of 3pm, which as we all remember falls within the sun danger zone. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and WA the highest within Australia. We should be doing everything we can as a state to get this level down.

Thirdly, and very importantly, the fact that a majority of Western Australians do not want it. I raise the issue neutrally wherever I go and it seems to go about 2/3 in favour of the status quo.

Finally, the “everybody else is doing it so why can’t we” argument. We live in a globalised world where our primary resources are our main export and our primary clients are in Asia. By some blessing of geography, we are in the same time zone as Singapore, Malaysia and China. Also, our partners in the US, Europe etc go the opposite direction – some nationally based companies with predominant trading relationships with Europe have located their national head offices in Perth or Brisbane to take advantage of this.

What a few eastern states (not even all) decided to do at some point in the 1970s for reasons that made sense in their climate and circumstances does not bind us into some sort of inferiority complex mentality that we have to somehow “keep up” with the “eastern states”. It’s such a parochial mentality, and the fact so many Sydneysiders are moving here suggests otherwise anyway.

I say fix the shopping hours and never mind the whingers, or the cows. 🙂 The state government should be focussing on core issues like health and education and not trying to divide the community on non-issues.