Michael Burrill worries about the porn he’s downloaded – and you should too, now the metadata retention laws have been ushered through – and talks Netanyahu, Blair and Tunisia in his #CurrentAffairsWrap
Labor will attempt to claim a victory for freedom of the press this week after Tone, in order to gain bipartisan support for the bill, agreed to add an amendment to metadata retention laws, forcing police and intelligence agencies to gain warrants (the existence of which it’ll be a crime to publicly reveal) when accessing journalists’ metadata, and providing it for public interest advocates (appointed by the PM…). The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance remain unimpressed with the legislation, as chief executive Paul Murphy argued, “Putting a hurdle like a warrant in the way will not change the outcome: using a journalists’ metadata to pursue a whistle-blower.” I’m inclined to agree with him as the amendment tacitly confirms that the bill, which was sold as being necessary to combat terrorism and pedophilia, will be utilised to track down confidential sources. While journalists’ ability to protect their sources is obviously in the public interest, we should not overlook the fact warrant-less access to the metadata of those outside the media has its own troubling implications. While some may consider it paranoid to suggest the measures could be used against dissenting voices, both history and the fact our politicians are happy enough to leak on members of their own parties in the struggle for power, seem to illustrate the opposite. If you feel like dropping the classic, “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing worry about,” you’re probably partially right. Chances are anything you’ll ever have to add to political discourse will be so inane that revealing your increasingly strange porn habits would be worthless to anyone, except maybe as topic for your friends in the continuation of schoolyard bullying that you all refer to as “banter.”
A survey of 800 Australian Muslims has found that around 75 percent of them feel “anti-terror” laws (of which metadata retention is a part) unfairly target their community. While over 90 percent of those surveyed disagreed that jihad could be defined as “militarised struggle that can be conducted by individuals,” the academics behind the study suggest, “There is a real risk that the types of experiences reported above play into the hands of Islamic violent extremists by providing fuel for a key narrative they use to justify their actions: that Muslims are a suppressed and victimised minority.” In other news on measures playing into the hands of…sorry, used to battle against Salafi Jihadism…a spokesperson for Immigration minister Peter “just following orders” Dutton told the press that the “Border Force Counter-Terrorism Unit” (sounds like a range of action figures) have carried out 75,906 “real-time assessments” in airports over the last six months. The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, criticised the program for its “seemingly random yet profiled manner.” Though it may be doing more harm than good, I guess at least it’ll add a bit of variety amongst the ethnic grannies trying to smuggle in prohibited food stuffs on the next season of Border Security – “Immigration officer Dave Trueblue has stopped passenger Ahmed on suspicion of being Islamic and is about to commence the mandated accusatory questions and invasive search…”
Continuing with the topic of Salafi Jihadism, few would argue that a stable Middle East would go a long way to curbing its power, but this week much of the news has made that appear an even more unrealistic concept than usual. In Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, who rubbished the idea of a future Palestinian state during his campaign, has been re-elected Prime Minister. Meanwhile, a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute found arms sales to the Gulf Cooperation Council (made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE – all but one of which are essentially absolute monarchies) rose by 70 percent between 2010 and 2014, with the US and UK’s large share of these sales once again affirming their strong commitment to peace and freedom in the Middle East.
In its own personal quest for stability in the region, the CIA may have switched tactics. Usually known for funding future enemies, the agency now seems to be funding current ones also, with claims surfacing that $1million from a secret fund they provided to the Afghan government ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda. Elsewhere, in another perfect encapsulation of the West’s farcical Middle Eastern policy, ex-UK PM Tony Blair may be moved from his job as the Quartet’s (the US, EU, UN and Russia) envoy to the now non-existent Israel-Palestine peace process to a more generalised regional role. For me, the real question is how did Tony Blair, one of the driving forces behind the Iraq war, end up anywhere near peace negotiations in the first place? Send your answers in a stamped addressed envelope, with a $5 entry fee enclosed, to: CIA Field Office, The American Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan. Winners will be informed by drone strike. While we take every care to the contrary, we can’t guarantee your entry fee wont end up in possession of Al-Qaeda…
Lastly, an attack (for which IS claimed responsibility) on a museum in the Tunisian capital Tunis has left 23 people dead including one Australian and 20 foreigners overall. Though undeniably tragic, cynics (not me obviously, as regular readers will know I basically shit sunshine) may suggest that the incident would be gaining considerably less coverage if all of the deceased were Tunisian. Furthermore, what with it being in “that part of the world” and no victims to beatify for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, it could also be argued that this story will be forgotten a lot quicker than other attacks I wont specifically mention.