August, 2019

Jones, Cottrell and ‘censorship’ questions

Infamous: United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell is seen exiting the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Thursday, July 19, 2018. Cottrell was appealing his 2017 hate speech conviction over a mock beheading in protest over a Bendigo mosque.It’s been a long time since I heard anyonesay, with a ‘lighten-up’ beseech, that “it’s just the internet!”
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This week, digital heavyweights Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest removed U.S. far-right broadcaster and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their platforms.

Jones, who runs InfoWars,is currentlyembroiled in a legal battle with the parents of aSandy Hook victim after he espousedclaims that the 2012 school massacre didn’t happen.

The parents of the many slaughteredchildren have experienced harassment and death threats as a result, including onefamily who have moved seven timessince the event because onlinefabulistshave continually publishedtheir address and stalkedthem.

It’s lazy writing to pull in Holocaust metaphors to lend impact to your argument, not to mention often belittling to the true horror of the actual event. But the parallels of denialismin this case are hard to walk by.

The conversation around censorship is bubbling in the wake of Jones’ self-described ‘purge’from accessingprivate companies who, through some cunning legalities contained in the 1000-word terms and conditions we routinely lie about reading, don’t owe him – or any other user – squat.

One of the earliest lessons I rememberlearning is that there’s two sides to every story. But does that mean a public platform for career-provocateurs who harm people withmisinformation and shock tactics? Do they really represent the ‘other’ side of a balanced, democratic coin?

Back home, United Patriot’s Front leader Blair Cottrell, who advocated for hanging a picture of Hitler in every Australian classroom, received an interview slot on Sky News this week. Public outcry and advertiser chaoscoincided witha swift withdrawal of the slot from Sky News online and an almost-apology from news director Greg Byrnes.

The increasingFox-ification of Sky News in theirafter-darkprogramming aside, Cottrell, a self-employed builder from Melbourne, made himself infamous through his pro-anglosphereviews that align with neo-Nazi ideology.

Cottrell, who declared ‘Yes, I am a racist’ on ABC2’s Hack Live in 2016,was convictedof inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims last year and has also called into question the evidence of the bloody indigenous massacres that splatter Australian history.

Increasingly, I see peoplelauding mainstream media like Fairfax as‘fake news’. But the term‘news’ hasbeen hijacked by commentators like Jones and Cottrell, who use the framework of theFourth Estate as a platform for, well, whatever they’d like.

It’s worth notingthat the threat of censorship is making waves because privileged white males are having their platforms withdrawn. But commentators like Jones and Cottrell, who so proudly defend their own right to ‘free speech’,are themselves censoring the voices of the many people they squash with their dangerous views.

Last week, Australian commentator and media professionalOsman Faruqi tweeted about the lack of adaptability of the Australian people in light of the reaction to the plastic bag ban. After his mobile number was released online, Faruqi washarassed with wave after waveof threatening, racially-motivated calls andmessages.

The reaction was shared and widely seen with thousands of likes and retweets before Faruqi took an indefinite hiatus from the platform. His number was shared by the anti-Islamic right-wingerAvi Yemini, who also appears regularly onSky News. Go figure.

Cottrell, in reacting to his removal from Sky News online, tweeted that he “might as well have raped [journalist] Laura Jayes on air”.Educated, thoughtful conservatives who don’t resort to threats, fear tactics and blatant misinformationmust collectively groan at the way Cottrell and Jones representtheir ideology. The fact is, we can have nuanced conversations that include arange of perspectives without descending to neo-Nazi or conspiracy theoristdepths.

That isn’t‘the other side’. That isn’t a fair,balanced discourse. And it’s misleading at best and dangerous at worstto implyit is.

This isnot about excludingvoices – conservative or progressive –that make ourdemocracy an interesting think tank of dichotomies. Thisisabout being proactive whenharmful viewslike Jones’ and Cottrell’s censorothers. Public debateshould be safe, open and receptive, and those who damagethat with dangerousmisinformation should absolutely have their platform revoked.

Whether or not Jones’ and Cottrell’s revocationsthis week arereally considered‘censorship’ is semantics. But if we use their words, yes–locking apparent neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists out of public discourseis a fairly good place to draw the line.

Emma Elsworthy is a Fairfax journalist.


It’s lush – no drought about it

SWEET PEA: Ellen Martin in her Duckenfield garden which will open to the public for next month’s Maitland Garden Ramble. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.Wemay be in the gripof one of the worst droughts on recordbut that’s notgoing to stop green thumbEllen Martin from nurturing the garden she established from a pile of dirt five years ago.
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Ellen runs her high tea business Ducks in the Field from her 32 acre property, two of those acres she has turned into a stunning formal/cottage garden.

The garden will be one of eight gardens showcased in this year’s Maitland Garden Ramble on September 15 and 16.

The popular annual event, run by Maitland Black and White Committee to raise money for Vision Australia, is tipped to attract thousands over the two days.

Diversity in design, size and plantings are sure to delight visitors to the gardens, at Metford, Hinton, Lorn and Bolwarra.

“It will be spring in all its glory,’’ said a Black and White Committee spokesperson.

‘’The gardens featured will be both large and small, offering a visual feast of colour, sights and sounds.

“People will come from all over the region and further afield to meander through the gardens.

“It is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year with all money raised going to Vision Australia Hunter Division,’’ she added.

Because of recent business commitments Ellen hired a gardener but she willsoon have to take the reins back withthe gardener hospitalised for a hip replacement and out of action for about four months.

“I’ve always wanted a formal garden and I suppose you can describe what I have here as formal and cottage,” she said.

There are some oldestablished trees, box hedges and conifers.

Even in drought the garden is looking good -as it should with Ellen’s summer time quarterly water bills around the $1500 mark.

“They were a little better the last quarter, around $400,” she said.

“Despite being in drought we have been lucky.

“The last decent rainfall we had managed to soak in a little so we have some decent sub-soil moistureout here.

“To be honest I haven’t watered since the second week of winter, however the garden does need a drink now.”

The Garden Ramble’s eight propertieswillopenfrom 10am to 4pm both days.

A café, barbecue and gift stalls are available at selected gardens.

Tickets are available at each garden, Maitland Visitor Information Centre, Heritage Gardens Nursery, Bolwarra Café, Sharpe’s Nursery Bar Beach and Poppy’s Nursery Gateshead.Costs are adults $35 and aged concession $25; shuttle bus and ticket $45 and concession $35 and $5 an individual garden. Children are free.

Last year’s ramble raised more than $35,000.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


UPDATE: Timothy Andrew Whiteley, accused of murdering Tarro toddler, refused bail

UPDATE: Timothy Andrew Whiteley, accused of murdering Tarro toddler, refused bail TweetFacebookFairfax Mediathe young girlhad presented to hospitalwith wounds prior toher death.
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But the girl was returned to her family home after she was released. Within weeks of thathospitalisation, she was killed.

The 26-year-old man accused of the girl’s murder was in a de-facto relationship with her motherand had been living with them, but was not her biologicalfather.

He was arrested on Thursday morning at the Tanilba Bay home of another woman he hadrecently started a relationship with.

It comes after Homicide Squad detectives and Port Stephens-Hunter policeestablished Strike Force Nerium after the girl’s death withinvestigations ongoing since.

Earlier report: Man arrested over toddler’s death at TarroChief Inspector Walpolesaid while “no one was going home” until police had a result, it was a tough case for all of those involved.

“Any murder has its challengesand has its emotional ride, but when you’re dealing with the murder of a 20-month-old baby it’s even more so,” he said.

Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Walpole of the Homicide Squad

“Especially when a lot of the detectives have got young families themselves.”

While he commended the work the detectiveshad completed so far, Chief Inspector Walpole said investigations into the matter werestill ongoing.

However he would not be drawn on whether further arrests were pending.

“We still believe there are people that can assist with this investigation,” hesaid.

“We believe that there are people who may have information in relation to the injuries the young baby suffered and we’durge them to come forward.”

Anyone who has information regarding the incident shouldreport itto Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Getaway delights within easy reach

ALL ABOARD: BIG4 Happy Hallidays at Hallidays Point is great for family getaways with plenty of activities to keep the kids busy for hours while parents can relax and unwind. If you’re looking for a winter escape close to Newcastle, Secura Lifestyle has two locations within easy “getaway distance”.
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CHILL OUT: Secura Lifestyle Lakeside Forster offers relaxing waterside accommodation on beautiful Wallis Lake where you can savour the sunset.

Secura Lifestyle Lakeside Forster offers a choice of waterfront accommodation at beautiful Wallis Lake where you are treated to stunning sunsets and lakeside views.

All cabins are heated for guest comfort – ideal for chilly mornings and cozy evenings. Perfect for the romantic winter escape.

BIG4 Happy Hallidays at Hallidays Point is great for family getaways with plenty of activities to keep the kids busy for hours while parents can relax and unwind.

From iconic train rides, jumping pillow and playground fun, to tennis, mini-golf and more. There’s even a games room and indoor kid’s nook to keep rainy day blues at bay. The heated indoor pool is also a favourite for splash time during chilly, winter days.

“Many guests do come up from Newie to escape the hustle of bustle of their daily grind,” Secura Lifestyle chief customer officer Allyson Porter said.“You spend less time planning and travelling, more time relaxing.”

There are nine Secura Lifestyle Holiday Parks located along the Australian seaboard.

All offer a range of accommodation set amongst peaceful, natural surrounds with convenient facilities and that trademark tranquil and relaxed atmosphere.

Guests staying at multiple locations can save up to 10 per cent by taking advantage of the Secura Traveller discount.


Korean coal-tax increase could hit Bylong mine proposal

GIANTS: A stacker-reclaimer operating between coal stockpiles at Port Waratah Coal Service’s Kooragang Coal Terminal. Picture: Darren PatemanA PRO-RENEWABLES group says a decision by South Korea to lift a consumption tax on thermal coal by 20 per cent to about $40 a tonne is another blow to the Korean-owned Bylong coal proposal near Mudgee.
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Bylong coal would be exported through Newcastle if the mine goes ahead. High-quality thermal coal is selling for about $115 a tonne at present.

The pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis says it has written a new report for theBylong Valley Protection Alliance in which it urges the NSW Department of Planning to “revise its previous support for the mine, in light of the reduced economic justification for it and the severity of its environmental and social impacts”. The institute says the extra tax on thermal coal would be another hit on Bylong’s economics.

The pro-coal NSW Minerals Council disagrees, saying the tax is unlikely to have a major impact. An industry journal, the Australian Coal Report, says the proposed $8.93-a-tonne rise is the fifth rise in five years.

Minerals council chief executive Stephen Galilee said: “While the economics of individual projects are a matter for the proponents, its worth noting that NSW has a long history of exporting thermal coal to Korea, which has become one of our biggest export markets.

“Coal exports to Korea actually grew last year, and strong demand from Korea is expected to continue due the high quality of our coal and suitability for energy generation and steel production.”


Tomago aluminium smelter and IEEFA’s Tim Buckley go head to head