Anti-terrorism raids in New Zealand

Monday, October 15, 2007

Around 17 people were arrested and a number of guns and weapons were seized earlier this morning (NZDT) at “terrorist” training camps and anarchist group homes following raids by the New Zealand Police around the country. The raids were under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 and Arms Act.

The raids, conducted by over 300 armed police officers, focused on indigenous M?ori and environmental activists, including activist Tame Iti. Iti faces eight counts relating to firearms, including having a semi-automatic shotgun and two molotov cocktails. He is well known in New Zealand for many high profile cases, including a sedition charge for shooting the New Zealand flag, for which he was later acquitted, during Waitangi day in 2005.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad said that those targeted were from various ethnicities and from different motivations.

Commissioner Broad said, “It was military-style activity they were training for”, adding that he did not believe “protest activity involves firearms or other weapons.” One training camp raided by police was “guerilla-style” in the Urewera mountain ranges. Guns, ammunition and grenades were found in the camp.

No one has yet been charged with a crime against the Terrorism Suppression Act, only with charges relating to the Arms Act. “[The Police] are proceeding with full care in talking to people and assessing information before we can determine whether there is sufficient evidence to seek the consent of the Attorney General through the Solicitor General to charge anyone under [the Terrorism Suppression Act],” Commissioner Broad said. “This is the first time that the Terrorism Suppression Act has been considered in terms of an operation.”

Warrants were executed in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland; the capital, Wellington; Christchurch; Palmerston North and towns in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region. The warrants were issued under the Summary Proceedings Act, which allows searching for evidence of committing an offence against the Terrorism Suppression and Arms acts.

The police were informed of the existence of the camps by hunters who stumbled across a training operation being conducted by the groups. The raids were undertaken after evidence was gathered during 2006 and 2007 and followed months of police work. Police had infiltrated the camps, and taken video footage of weapons training. Phone and text message communications and conversations between suspects were recorded. Commissioner Broad said, “Based on the information and the activity known to have taken place, I decided it was prudent that action should be taken in the interests of public safety.”. Reports have indicated a specific threat to the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, was involved.

Prime Minister Helen Clark was briefed on the raids last week by police but refused to comment to reporters earlier today.

Those who have been arrested and appeared in court today were given interim name suppression.

Police shut down Edmonton pizza restaurant for illegally delivering alcohol

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Edmonton police have closed down an Edmonton, Alberta, Canada pizza restaurant for a single day for delivering alcoholic beverages despite not being licensed to do so. It is unclear when this incident occurred, but the CBC reported that it occurred “recently”, after police searched the shop in September.

The alcohol was being delivered in paper bags and pizza boxes, with the same delivery vehicles used to deliver pizza. Curtis Hoople, a Sergeant in the Edmonton Police Service, says that alcohol was also being sold within the restaurant’s premises.

It is estimated that the seized alcohol was worth around CAD$4,000, Hoople said.

Four of the restaurant’s employees were issued a summons, and were accused of violating the Gaming and Liquor Act.

Police have not named the restaurant in question.

Hundreds of thousands rally in Australia against IR legislation

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

People rallied in 300 locations across Australia today to protest the Federal Government’s proposed changes to industrial relations laws, WorkChoices. According to police, around 150,000 people congregated in Melbourne, from where speeches were broadcast throughout the country. In Sydney, thirty thousand gathered in Belmore Park and Martin Place to watch the broadcast before marching to Chifley Square.

Sharan Burrow, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), said that under the changes many working conditions would be under threat, including “penalty rates, public holidays, overtime pay, control over rostered hours, shift penalties, even 4 weeks annual leave.” The government has claimed, despite various expert assesment to the contrary, and opposition from major Australian religious and charity organisations and some concern from its own backbench, that the IR changes will improve the economy and ultimately benefit workers, and dismissed the protests as having “little effect”.

2006 “Stolenwealth” Games to confront Commonwealth Games in Melbourne

Friday, March 3, 2006

The possibility of large-scale protests in the face of the 3,000 journalists covering the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, has event organisers and the Government worried.

The group “Black GST” – which represents Indigenous Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty – are planning demonstrations at prominent Games events unless the Government agrees to a range of demands including an end to Aboriginal genocide, Aboriginal Sovereignty and the signing of a treaty.

The Black GST say they hope the focus of the world’s media will draw attention to the plight of indigenous Australians during the Games. Organisers say supporters are converging from across Australia and from overseas. Organisers say up to 20,000 people may take part in talks, rallies, colourful protests and many cultural festivities designed to pressure the Federal Government on Indigeneous rights issues. They want the Government to provide a temporary campsite for the supporters, saying “organised chaos was better than disorganised chaos.”

The 2006 Stolenwealth Games convergence, described by organisers as the “cultural festival of the 2006 Commonwealth Games,” was virtually opened on March 2nd with the launch of the official “Stolenwealth Games” website. Scoop Independent News and Perth Indymedia reported that the launch was held at Federation Square in Melbourne. The site contents were projected via wireless laptop by the Stolenwealth Games General Manager, and a tour of the website was given on the big screen. He said “overwhelming amusement was the response from the audience.” The group say permanent access points to the website are being set up at public internet facilities across Victoria during the coming weeks.

“Interest in the Stolenwealth Games is building all over the world and this fresh, exciting and contemporary site will draw in people from Stolenwealth Nations around the globe to find out about the latest news and events,” said a Stolenwealth Games spokesperson. “We have been getting many requests from around the world wanting to know about the Stolenwealth Games. We have provided many ways that individuals and organisations can support the campaign by spreading the word.”

The Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group (VTOLJG) which represents the first nation groups of Victoria, has announced its support to boycott the 2006 Commonwealth Games until the Government “recognises Traditional Owner rights.” The group asserts that culture has been misappropriated in preparation for the Games.

Organisers of the campaign say they welcome the formal support from the Traditional Owners. “While some seek to divide and discredit Indigenous Australia, this support is further evidence that the Aboriginal people are united in opposition to the ongoing criminal genocide that is being perpetrated against the Aboriginal people” said Black GST supporter and Aboriginal Elder, Robbie Thorpe.

“We now have endorsement from the VTOLJG and the Aboriginal Tent Embassy for the aims and objectives of the Campaign and we are looking forward to hosting all indigenous and non-indigenous supporters from across Australia in March,” he said. The Black GST group have said “the convergence will be held as a peaceful, family-focussed demonstration against genocide, and for the restoration of sovereignty and the negotiations towards a Treaty.”

But the campaign has received flak in mainstream media, such as Melbourne’s Herald Sun, who wrote: “the proposal to allow BlackGST to set up an Aboriginal tent embassy at a site well away from the Commonwealth Games will be interpreted by some as the State Government caving in to a radical protest group. A major concern for the Government… is to protect the event from disruption… no chances should be taken…”

The Black GST has been planning the convergence for months, calling for Aboriginal people and their supporters to converge on Melbourne. The Melbourne-based Indigenous rights group have called on thousands of people concerned about the plight of indigenous Australians to converge on Melbourne during the Games, which they have dubbed “the Stolenwealth Games”. But the choice of Kings Domain has made conflict almost inevitable, as the area is one of the areas gazetted by the State Government as a “Games management zone”.

Under the Commonwealth Games Arrangements Act, any area gazetted as a management zone is subject to a range of specific laws – including bans on protesting, creating a disturbance and other activities. The protest bans will be in effect at different times and places, and offenders can be arrested. A spokeswoman for the Black GST, which advocates peaceful protest, said the site had been chosen because it was close to where the Queen will stay on March 15. “We figured that she is only in Melbourne for 27 hours or something like that so we thought we would make it easy for her to come next door and see us,” she said. “We are a very open, welcoming group, so she will be welcome to come and join us.”

Kings Domain is the burial site for 38 indigenous forefathers of Victoria. Black GST elder, Targan, said trade union groups have offered to install infrastructure at the site. The group initially worked with the State Government to find a suitable camp site, but the relationship broke down when the Government failed to meet a deadline imposed by the protesters. “While we are disappointed the ministers were not able to meet deadline on our request, we thank them for their constructive approach towards negotiations and the open-door policy exercised,” said Targan.

A spokesman for Games Minister Justin Madden said the Government was still investigating other sites. Victoria Police Games security commander Brendan Bannan said he was not convinced the Black GST represented the views of most indigenous people. “We are dealing with the Aboriginal community and they don’t seem to support it at all … the wider Aboriginal community don’t support disruption to the Games at all,” he said.

The Government was told that Black GST supporters would camp in Fitzroy Gardens and other city parks should it fail to nominate a site. A spokesman for Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavan Jennings said the Government was taking the issue seriously, but had not been able to finalise a campsite before the deadline.

Under special Games laws, people protesting or causing a disturbance in “Games management zones” can be arrested and fined. While prominent public spaces such as Federation Square, Birrarung Marr, Albert Park and the Alexandra Gardens fall under the legislation, such tough anti-protest laws cannot be enforced in the nearby Fitzroy Gardens.

Games chairman Ron Walker has urged the group to choose another date for its protest march through the city, which is currently planned to coincide with the opening ceremony on March 15. The group believes that an opportunity to gain attention for indigenous issues was lost at the Sydney Olympics and has vowed to make a highly visible presence at the Games.

The Black GST said the Australian Aboriginal Tent Embassy’s sacred flame, burning over many years at the Canberra site will be carried to Melbourne before the Games, and its arrival would mark the opening of the protest camp from where a march will proceed to the MCG before the Opening Ceremony.

Black GST claims supporters from all over Australia, including three busloads from the West Australian Land Council, will gather in Melbourne during the Games for peaceful protests.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings had offered Victoria Park to the protesters. Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club, where one of the strongest statements of Aboriginal pride, when St Kilda star Nicky Winmar in 1993 raised his jumper and pointed to his bare chest after racial taunts from the Collingwood crowd.

Black GST, which has labelled the Games the Stolenwealth Games, said the State Government had failed to find a suitable venue. Black GST may encourage protesters to camp in prominent parks such as Fitzroy Gardens and Treasury Gardens. Graffiti supporting the action has also appeared in central Melbourne.

Melbourne City councillor Fraser Brindley has offered his home to the Black GST organisers. “I offered my home up to people who are organising visitors to come to the Games,” he said. Cr Brindley will be overseas when the Commonwealth Games are held and has offered the free accommodation at his flat at Parkville. He said he agreed with the protesters’ view that treaties needed to be signed with indigenous Australians. “I’m offering it up to the indigenous people who are coming to remind Her Majesty that her Empire took this land from them,” said Cr Brindlley. Nationals leader Peter Ryan said: “This extremist group has no part in the Australian community.” Melbourne councillor Peter Clarke said the actions were embarrassing and that he would try to discourage him. “It’s not in the spirit of the Games,” he said.

Aboriginal elder, Targan, said the possibility of securing Victoria Park was delightfully ironic. “There’s a lot of irony going on,” Targan, 53, a PhD student at Melbourne University, said. “GST stands for Genocide, Sovereignty and Treaty. We want the genocide of our people to stop; we want some sovereignty over traditional land, certainly how it is used, and we want a treaty with the government,” Targan said.

US Republicans query Linux Foundation about open-source security

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

On Monday, two US Republican Party legislators, Greg Walden and Frank Pallone Jr., respectively the chairman and the ranking member of the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce, co-wrote a public letter to Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation, about open-source software (OSS) and improving its security. They requested Zemlin to answer their questions by no later than April 16.

The letter contained the following four questions; each of the first two has a further two follow-up questions.

  1. Has the CII [Core Infrastructure Initiative] performed a comprehensive study of which pieces of OSS are most crucial to the “global information infrastructure”?
    1. If not, does the CII plan to perform such a study?
    2. What would the CII need in order to do so?
  2. Has the CII, or any other organizations, compiled any statistics on OSS usage?
    1. If not, does the CII plan to perform such a study?
    2. What would the CII need in order to do so?
  3. In your estimation, how sustainable and stable is the OSS ecosystem?
  4. Based on your response to the previous question, how can the OSS ecosystem be made more sustainable and stable?

Walden and Pallone exemplified Heartbleed, a “critical cybersecurity vulnerability” that allowed the hacking of websites and passwords, and millions of medical records in 2014. They also wrote that, in response to that vulnerability, The Linux Foundation established a multi-million dollar project, the Core Infrastructure Initiative, intended to improve the global infrastucture of such software.

The politicians noted large tech companies like Microsoft, Apple Inc., and Adobe Systems respond more quickly to such critical vulnerabilities than distributors and developers of open-source software.

Open-source software is “publicly accessible” and usually freely-licensed for a wide range of use, such as modification and commercial uses. Walden and Pallone also expressed praise toward open-source software and cited a 2015 survey conducted by Black Duck Software saying 78% of companies used such software.

Kenyan conservancy euthanises last male northern white rhino; only two females remain

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Yesterday, Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy announced they had euthanised the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, on Monday, after consulting with wildlife officials. Sudan was 45-years-old, and now only two northern white rhinos, both female and descendants of Sudan, remain.

“Sudan was being treated for age-related complications that led to degenerative changes in muscles and bones combined with extensive skin wounds”, the conservancy said. “His condition worsened significantly in the last 24 hours; he was unable to stand up and was suffering a great deal”, they added.

Sudan, who was born in the early 1970s, suffered a wound in his right hind leg in late February. He was born in South Sudan, and at that time around 700 northern white rhinos were alive.

Sudan was in captivity for the last 38 years. Earlier, he was kept at the Dv?r Králové Zoo in Czech Republic before he was moved to Kenya. He stayed in a 90 thousand acre (about 140 square mile, 364 square kilometre) reserve with the only two remaining female northern white rhinos, 27-year-old Najin and seventeen-year-old Fatu. Najin and Fatu are Sudan’s daughter and granddaughter, respectively.

Ol Pejeta said they collected Sudan’s genetic material on Monday. The conservancy said, “The only hope for the preservation of the subspecies now lies in developing in-vitro fertilisation techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.”

Last year, an account was opened on dating platform Tinder on Sudan’s behalf, to raise money for a fertility treatment after attempts at natural mating proved futile. Suni, second to last male of the subspecies, died four years ago, in October 2014 in San Diego Zoo, US. He was 42.

Ol Pejeta’s CEO, Richard Vigne, said Sudan “was a great ambassador for his species and will be remembered for the work he did to raise awareness globally on the plight facing not only rhinos, but also the many thousands of other species facing extinction as a result of unstable human activity”.

In 2008, the World Wildlife Foundation declared northern white rhinos extinct in the wild.


British MP calls for ban on Aspartame

Monday, January 2, 2006

Roger Williams, a UK Member of Parliament, has called for emergency action to ban the artificial sweetener Aspartame (aspartamine), questioning its safety. The MP said that there was “compelling and reliable evidence for this carcinogenic substance to be banned from the UK food and drinks market altogether.”

Reservations of some U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists about the safety of Aspartame were overridden when the agency initially approved the food additive in 1981, but many other countries followed the U.S. lead in endorsing the chemical sweetener for general public use. Aspartame has been linked in various studies cited by Mr. Williams to brain tumors, anxiety attacks, neurological impairment and other side effects, particularly in experimental animals; however, several reviews by government agencies have found no credible proof of such risk to humans and no country has banned or limited the substance for human consumption and such non-governmental groups as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association assert that extensive investigation has not shown any serious adverse effects attributable to Aspartame. Nonetheless, organized groups continue to debate the issue vigorously and there are calls for class action law suits. The initiative by MP Roger Williams may now bring the debate into the open political arena of the House of Commons.

New research on combining Aspartame with other common food additives suggests that while each substance alone may be safe enough, some combinations frequently found in commercial products interfere with the development and function of the nervous system in rats. (Lau, et al.) Few, if any, other experiments with combinations have been conducted. On the other hand, surveys of human populations, which consume Aspartame in various combinations with artificial colorings and flavorings, have failed to convincingly show significant harm.

Aspartame is sold under the brand names of Equal, Nutrasweet and Canderel and is an ingredient of thousands of “diet” or “lite” products.

Two nuclear leaks in two weeks trigger security and safety reviews in France

Saturday, July 26, 2008

On July 7 and again on July 23, there were accidental leaks at the Tricastin Nuclear Power Center in France, which is a collection of sites in four different communes: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux and Pierrelatte in Drôme, and Bollène and Lapalud in Vaucluse.

Along with two other minor incidents on July 18, it has prompted the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (Criirad) to order a review of security and safety. Already last week, Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said the ground water near all reactors should be tested and the state of waste storage sites assessed.

In the latest incident, a hundred workers were exposed to radiation. They all work for Électricité de France (EDF), which runs the Tricastin facilities with Areva. This marks the largest number of workers to be collectively contaminated in French nuclear history.

The leak was at reactor number four, which was shut for refuelling. Workers were exposed to Cobalt 58 dust which escaped while maintenance work was being carried out. Sensors noticed a rise in the level of radiation and the workers were then evacuated.

“Seventy of them show low traces of radioelements, below one fortieth of the authorized limit,” EDF said. A spokesperson later raised the number to 97 people. Criirad warned, however, that the limit was “not the level from which risk begins but the maximum acceptable level.”

“We have an alarm system which is meant to protect the staff from contamination via the atmosphere,” said Tricastin director Alain Peckre. “If a problem is detected, the alarms go off, our security procedures swing into place and everyone is evacuated from the building.”

A union representative from Confédération générale du travail (CGT) alleged that EDF was reducing maintenance and increasingly using sub-contractors, putting workers at risk in exchange for profitability.

“We spend 1.5 billion euros a year on ensuring our plants are in optimum condition,” countered an EDF spokesperson. “Safety is our top priority over and above providing electricity to the network. Since our power stations were set up, 80 per cent of maintenance operations on reactors that have been temporarily turned off are carried out by external contractors. They are the most competent to maintain and repair specific parts of the reactor, some of which they have taken part in building.”

The previous incident, on July 8, involved a 74kg spill of liquid containing unenriched uranium. Thirty cubic metres of water overflowed while a tank was being emptied. Subsequent test showed that contamination may have occurred for years.

Local wine growers Coteaux du Tricastin AOC have already become concerned about the negative association with “Tricastin” and have begun considering changing the name of their Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC).

“It’s only a question of image as nuclear and food don’t mix very well in consumers’ minds,” said the AOC’s president, Henri Bour, to The Daily Telegraph. Nuclear authorities “didn’t understand our move, doubtless not wanting to admit that the nuclear industry’s image is perhaps not perfect,” he added.

“Nuclear was progress and we wanted that. We thought people were competent. Now we ask, were there previous incidents we weren’t told about?” said local resident Roger Eymard to The Guardian.

Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), a nuclear safety authority, has already criticised Areva for its handling of the first incident. ASN complained of poor communication with authorities and unsatisfactory security measures and operational procedures.

The leaks have occurred just as President Nicolas Sarkozy has been promoting the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) as a solution to rising energy costs and global warming.

France has the second largest nuclear power network in the world and generates over 80% of its electricity through nuclear power.

Eric Bogosian on writing and the creative urge

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Eric Bogosian is one of America’s great multi-dimensional talents. “There’s sort of three different careers, and any one of them could exist by itself, on its own two feet. There was that solo stuff, and then I started writing plays in the late seventies.” Although his work has spanned genres, most readers will recognize Bogosian for his acting, which has included a memorable performance in Woody Allen‘s Deconstructing Harry to co-writing and starring in the Oliver Stone movie Talk Radio (based upon his Pulitzer Prize-nominated play) to playing the bad guy in Under Siege 2 to his current role in Law & Order: Criminal Intent as Captain Danny Ross. They may not know, however, that he had collaborated with Frank Zappa on a album, worked with Sonic Youth, and was a voice on Mike Judge‘s Beavis & Butthead Do America. He started one of New York City’s largest dance companies, The Kitchen, which is still in existence. He starred alongside Val Kilmer in Wonderland and his play Talk Radio was recently revived on Broadway with Liev Schreiber in the role Bogosian wrote and made famous.

Currently at work on his third novel, tentatively titled The Artist, Bogosian spoke with David Shankbone about the craft of writing and his life as a creative.


  • 1 Bogosian’s view of his work
  • 2 How Bogosian approaches his writing
  • 3 How Bogosian works himself into his writing
  • 4 The future of the narrative
  • 5 Collaborations with Steven Spielberg and Frank Zappa
  • 6 Source