Showing posts with label racism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label racism. Show all posts

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Australian Human Rights Commission does not support expansion of the Cashless Debit Card Trial


Excerpts from Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs Senate Inquiry into Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017:

Human rights concerns
As a form of income management, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017 raises a number of human rights concerns, specifically around the right to social security, the right to a private life and the right to equality and non-discrimination. [my yellow highlighting]
The Commission has previously reported its concerns about the cashless debit card (also known as the Healthy Welfare Card) in our submission to the Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015 and in the Social Justice and Native Title reports for 2015 and 2016. 2
The Commission has particularly been concerned about the effects of these income management measures in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, whom we have previously identified to be a group that are disproportionately impacted by such measures.3 As at September 2016, 75% of trial participants in Ceduna and 82% of trial participants in the East Kimberley were Indigenous.4
Whilst the Explanatory Memorandum acknowledges that trials of the cashless debit card are already underway in areas with high Indigenous populations, it proposes that future sites will give priority to locations with lower proportions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.5
The Commission remains concerned that the measures will continue to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, not just in the existing locations of the East Kimberley and Ceduna where Indigenous populations are high, but also in future locations.
This is the case because the measures proposed in the Bill target a section of the population who are receiving income support payments.
Hence, whilst the measures may not directly target Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their practical effect will unduly impact upon them, as government pensions and allowances are a main source of income for approximately 46.9% of this group.6
There are therefore concerns about whether the measures are inconsistent with the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and guarantee Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples equality before the law.
The Commission considers that the measures are not proportionate to the benefits sought by the Bill because their purpose could be achieved through other, less restrictive means and emphasises what it considers to be the preferred features of a system of income management:
* an approach that enables participants to voluntarily opt-in, rather than an automatic quarantining model (which then relies upon individual applications for exemptions)
* an approach that utilises income management as a ‘last resort’, particularly for targeted risk areas such as child protection (that is supported by case management and support services), similar to the Family Responsibilities Commission model in Queensland
* measures that are applied for a defined period and in a manner proportionate to the context.7
The Commission does not accept the arguments in the Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights that the measures justifiably limit the right to social security, privacy and non-discrimination and equality in pursuit of the objectives of Part 3D of the Act.8
As non-voluntary measures, they are applied to all income support recipients of working age in the trial areas,9 including those who do not have any issues with drugs, alcohol or gambling.
For the reasons outlined above and in the Commission’s previous submissions, the Commission does not agree with the assessment that the Bill or existing cashless debit card measures are compatible with human rights standards.10……
It is difficult to attribute the reported positive effects to the current trials as distinct from other factors such as increased support services, and other policy interventions.15 This is further exacerbated by the self-reporting nature of the report’s findings, which the evaluation itself states should be interpreted with caution and are subject to desirability bias.16
However, it is important to consider that where people have experienced modest benefits as a result of income management, when compared to its stated objectives,17 that these need to be weighed against its significant drawbacks.
The Commission does not accept that it is appropriate to extend these measures to additional sites in order to “build on these positive findings, and offer an opportunity to continue to test the card’s effectiveness in different settings and on a larger scale”.18 There is limited evidence to demonstrate that previous income management efforts have been effective and this is confirmed by the findings from the Orima report.
The Commission is therefore of the view that these measures unjustifiably impinge on the rights of trial participants, for little substantive benefit…..
Conclusion
Human rights protections are inadequately addressed in the Bill, the Explanatory Memorandum and in the Statement of Compatibility. The Commission is particularly concerned about the non-voluntary nature of the measures, and the disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and those income support recipients who do not have drug, alcohol or gambling concerns.  [my yellow highlighting]
The Commission is of the view that income management measures which are imposed and not community-driven lack efficacy.
The Commission is of the view that less intrusive measures aimed at changing behaviour rather than limiting access to and use of income will be more effective. It is for this reason that the Commission welcomes the investment of support services into these communities, but hopes that the appropriateness and level of engagement with such services improves.19
In light of these views, the Commission does not support the expansion of these measures as outlined in the Bill.
_______________________________________________________________________
2 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, 6 October 2015, At http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=14a9925c-245c-4a2e-9bfa-eeb6c843e505&subId=403485; Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, 88-97, At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/AHRC_SJNTR_2016.pdf; Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2015, 55-58, At http://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/publication/SJRNTR2015.pdf.
3 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Debit Card Trial) Bill 2015, 6 October 2015, 5.
4 Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Social Justice and Native Title Report 2016, 91-92. See also Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’ (Department of Social Services, 2017), 38, showing similar proportions as at June 2017.
5 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 4, 7. 
7 Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission No 76 to Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs, Inquiry into the Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act Bill 2009 and other Bills (10 February 2010), 26.
8 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 7-8.
9 Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 3.
10 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 8. 
16 Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 118.
17 Department of Social Services, Guide to Social Security Law [11.1.1.30] http://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law/11/1/1/30
18 Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card) Bill 2017, Statement of compatibility with human rights, 3.
19 According to the Orima report, only 19% of those surveyed indicated that they used the drug and alcohol support services provided. Orima Research, ‘Cashless debit card trial evaluation: final evaluation report’, (Department of Social Services, 2017) 8. 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Turnbull Government's insistence on denying a basic human right to so many Australian citizens is a disgrace


The Guardian, 2 September 2017:

The former human rights commissioner Gillian Triggs has called for an end to the Northern Territory intervention and the government’s cashless welfare card trial, labelling them violations of international law.

The professor is one of 200 prominent Australians, including Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe and former disability discrimination commissioner Graeme Innes, to support a statement prepared with Indigenous elders that calls the intervention a “crushing” failure.

Speaking at the University of Melbourne on Monday, Triggs said the NT intervention had harmed Indigenous communities since its introduction 10 years ago.

  “Assault and sexual assault convictions are about the same as before. Domestic violence has significantly increased. Incarceration of juveniles is now at world record heights.

“We’ve had a 500% rise in Indigenous youth suicide since the years 2007-11,” she said.

The intervention, enacted in 2007 under the Howard government, suspended the application of the Racial Discrimination Act, enacted harsh penalties on alcohol and pornography, and removed customary laws in certain areas of the territory after reports of high rates of child sexual abuse.

In 2012, the Gillard government passed the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Act, which extended the laws until 2022.

“The Act and its extension breach the Racial Discrimination Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the important Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” Triggs said. 

“While it was nominally designed to protect children, it’s become a chilling act of political cynicism and opportunism, an overreach of executive decision-making, a failure of parliament and the manipulation of truth.”….

Speaking on Monday, Triggs also condemned the NT’s BasicsCard and the government’s trial of cashless welfare cards in Western Australia and South Australia.

“There are significant problems with the card [and] the evidence on the ground is to the contrary. It is wrong and illegal as a matter of international law to penalise Aboriginal Australians where the impact of the BasicsCard is racially discriminatory.”

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

SEIN KAMPF: how many in Germany see Donald John Trump post-Charlottesville


“HIS STRUGGLE
Neonazis, Klu-Klux-Klan,
Racism:
How Donald Trump fuelled hatred in America”
[Stern news magazine, 23 August 2017]

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Millionaire mining magnate Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest's cashless welfare card adopted by the Turnbull Coalition Government is not the answer


NITV, 14 August 2017:

The income management trial was set up in the east Kimberley in April 2016 to help curb problem drinking, gambling and domestic violence - elements that were present in the lives of 13 young Indigenous people who killed themselves over a three-and-a-half year period.

University of Melbourne development studies lecturer, Dr Elise Klein is researching the policy and told the inquest the compulsory program was rolled out without proper community consultation, silencing many Aboriginal voices and causing tension and frustration amongst a diverse population.

Dr Klein told the inquest via video link from Melbourne the scheme represents neo-colonialism and government overreach.

"It's explained as the 'white card'," she said.

"The card has been a symbol of disempowerment, a symbol of state intervention, punitive intervention over someone's life."

Dr Klein said the system was chaotically introduced with design flaws, including a balance-checking mobile app for people who "didn't know how to use the internet let alone own a mobile phone"

Many of the children who claimed their own lives were inadequately fed, but Dr Klein said it was "naive at best" to think controlling parents' consumption would effectively combat this, insisting the card made money management "much harder" for people already living below the poverty line.

Dr Klein said many of the scheme's participants had told her using the card was like going back to the "ration days", referring to when Aboriginal people working on pastoral stations were paid in tea and sugar, as opposed to real wages.

"Young people watching this play out in their families can only feel extremely debilitated," she said.

The problem is compounded for jobseekers subjected to the coalition's controversial remote work for the dole scheme, which Dr Klein slammed as oppressive.

She called for bottom up, community-led development of services to address the complex social dysfunction plaguing Indigenous communities.

Earlier, one of the last people to speak to a 13-year-old boy before he killed himself, former Kununurra District High School deputy principal Jamieson Coltman, told the inquest child protection authorities failed to intervene despite reports of domestic violence.

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Charlottesville incidents to which US President Donald J. Trump gives tacit support - WARNING: violent and disturbing images




The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2017:

He [President Trump] argued that both sides had been guilty of violence, he noted that the white supremacists indeed had a permit to protest, but the "other group" did not. He insisted that both sides had "bad people" and "very fine people" and he drew an equivalency between George Washington, who help create the United States after the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783, and General Robert E. Lee, who led the secessionist armies that killed more American troops than any other foe in the defence of slavery nearly a century later.

The political and media response afterwards was immediate and shocked. Again Republican leaders were forced to come out to rebuke and distance themselves from their ostensible leader. In a long Twitter statement Marco Rubio declared, "Mr President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I suspect that the reaction to "Unite The Right Rally" marches in Charlottesville is not what Neo-Nazi, Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups were expecting

From 11 to 12 August 2017 extreme right wing groups gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia USA to participate in a two-day rally. Counter protesters also gathered over that same time period.

By the evening of 12 August two police officers and one counter protester were dead and at least twenty counter protesters were wounded.

Unite The Right march participant……

"We are stepping off the Internet in a big way. For instance last night at the Torch Log there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realised they are not atomised individuals, they are part of a larger whole. Because we have been spreading our memes, we have been organising on the Internet and now they are coming out and now as you can see today we greatly outnumbered the anti-white, anti-American filth and at some point we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. That which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. We are starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level – you ain't seen nothin yet." [Robert "Azzmador" Ray, feature writer at The Daily Stormer, video, 12 August 2017]

Reaction to the white supremacist violence……
Facebook has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast..

As of 14 August 2017, Daily Caller —  a conservative web site with a twin nonprofit organization — has scrubbed its site of articles by Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who was an organizer of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend before. 

GoDaddy – the internet domain registrar and web hosting service – and Google cancelled the Daily Stormer's domain name registration on Sunday, saying they prohibit clients from using their sites to incite violence. The Daily Stormer helped organise the violent neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday at which a civil rights activist died.

On Twitter, the Daily Stormer's feed is no longer visible; instead, the page on Wednesday afternoon reflects its account has been "suspended." A spokesperson for Twitter said the company could not comment on individual users, but added: "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies."

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We've stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We've taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare's services ever again.

US companies are blocking hate groups from key services such as payments, cyber security defences and social media sites after the violence in Charlottesville, despite questions over the consequences for freedom of speech. Leading payment and credit card groups MasterCard, American Express, Discover Financial Services and Visa have joined Silicon Valley companies Twitter and Cloudflare to become the latest corporations to try to block neo-Nazis' access to funds and the internet. Several of the payments companies added they did not ban the use of their services because the customers expressed offensive views — but because they violated their terms of service or incited violence.

Most leaders on the councils thought Trump's statement on Monday, in which he condemned the hate groups by name, was sufficient. But they were furious and disgusted with Trump's follow-up remarks on Tuesday, according to the offices of two CEOs.
By Tuesday night, at least nine members decided to drop out individually, and reached out to Schwarzman, who then proposed dismantling the council entirely.
A dozen members of that strategy and policy council participated in a conference call Wednesday, during which they all agreed to dissolve the group, the people close to the decision said. Schwarzman then notified the White House. And after that, Trump tweeted that he was "ending both" advisory councils. The business leaders had expected that Trump would portray the developments as his own decision, the sources said

#BREAKING: #Cville car suspect, #UniteTheRight rally organizer, & alt-right leaders face $3M lawsuit from 2 ppl injured in car attack

RELATED POST


Sunday, 13 August 2017

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture. Part Two


The Time

The 203rd to 206th day of the Trump Regime

The Place

Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

The Events

White supremacists rallies with unarmed counter protesters on the sidelines

The Images




Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN) One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

Note: All images found on Twitter

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Quotes of the Week


“Abdel-Magied's savaging has been so grotesque in its meanness, ugly in its intolerance and alarming in its violence, that it's obvious something else is going on, too – something has been legitimised and unleashed. And it seems to be hostility to Islam, as well as women.” [Julia Baird writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2017]

“A few years ago I talked to [Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] for two hours about climate change, and he had a great grasp of it. Then he turns around and does nothing. To me, that is truly criminal.” [Marine scientist J.E.N. “Charlie” Vernon quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2017]

It has put Australia in a position it's only been in three times before: Minor parties securing more than a quarter of all votes. Every time we have been in this situation, one of the major parties has been reshaped or disappeared.” [Economist Andrew Charlton quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2017]

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Trump supporter's call to "kill the globalists" at CNN


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Their skin colour is not fair, they have a 'foreign' name - what could possibly go wrong for these travellers during the Trump Regime?



FACEBOOK:
Hassan Aden
Details of my CBP Detention at JFK Int. Airport:
After spending a lovely weekend in Paris celebrating my mom’s 80th birthday, I happily boarded my flight to return to the United States-something I have done countless times for 42 years after becoming a U.S. citizen. I had an enjoyable flight to New York’s JFK International Airport. On all of my prior trips, I was greeted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers with a warm smile and the usual, “Welcome home sir”. Not this time. I approached CBP Officer Chow who didn’t say anything when I handed him my passport and looked at me with a gruff expression and simply stated, “are you traveling alone?”, I knew this was a sign of trouble, I answered “yes”, he then said, “Let’s take a walk”.
I was taken to a back office which looked to be a re-purposed storage facility with three desks and signs stating, “Remain seated at all times” and “Use of telephones strictly prohibited” - my first sign that this was not a voluntary situation and, in fact, a detention. By this point I had informed CBP Officer Chow, the one that initially detained me, that I was a retired police chief and a career police officer AND a US citizen-he stated that he had no control over the circumstance and that it didn’t matter what my occupation was. He handed my passport off to another CBP officer who was working at one of the desks. The second CBP officer was indeed kind and appreciated the fact that I was a career police officer and tried to be helpful. He explained that my name was used as an alias by someone on some watch list. He stated that he sent my information to another agency to de-conflict and clear me, so that I could gain passage into the United States….my own country!!!
As I sat in the CBP detention center, numerous, at least 25, foreign nationals were also brought in and quickly released, their detentions were reasonable and appropriate, maybe 5 or so minutes while their passports were checked. I pointed out the irony of this fact to the CBP officer that was attempting to “clear me for entry”. I told him, as he avoided eye contact, how wrong this scenario was that the only US citizen, career US police officer and chief of police, out of the group of detainees, was the one with the longest unreasonable detention- I was held for an hour and a half. I asked several times, “how long of a detention do you consider to be reasonable?”, the answer I was given by CBP Officer Chow was that I was not being detained-he said that with a straight face. I then replied, “But I’m not free to leave-how is that not a detention?” I was in a room with no access to my mobile phone to communicate with my wife and family about what was happening, my movements were restricted to a chair and they had my passport………and he had the audacity to tell me I was not being detained. His ignorance of the law and the Fourth Amendment should disqualify him from being able to wear a CBP badge - but maybe fear and detention is the new mission of the CBP and the Constitution is a mere suggestion. I certainly was not free to leave. As former law enforcement, believe me, I agree that if certain criteria is met, a reasonable investigative detention is not inappropriate-the key here being “reasonable”.
As I continued to sit in the CBP makeshift Detention Center, watching numerous foreign nationals enter my country while I couldn’t, I began thinking about my numerous trips abroad -including five in the past year (all prior to inauguration) - with no problems upon my return and complete with the warm greeting of “Welcome home”.
Fortunately, a CBP officer that had just started her shift took interest in my situation and began to inquire with the “other agency” that was reviewing my information-she aggressively asked them for status updates and eventually called me over to tell me that I was cleared to enter the United States of America. I promptly thanked her and filled her in on how impactful this situation was-she apologized and I was on my way after an hour and a half detention.
I spent nearly 30 years serving the public in law enforcement. Since I retired as the Chief of Police in Greenville, NC, I founded a successful consulting firm that is involved in virtually every aspect of police and criminal justice reform. I interface with high level U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Court officials almost daily. Prior to this administration, I frequently attended meetings at the White House and advised on national police policy reforms-all that to say that If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone with attributes that can be “profiled”. No one is safe from this type of unlawful government intrusion.
As I left the CBP makeshift detention center, I had to go back through security to catch my next flight back to DC, ironically, due to my weekly air travel, I have TSA Pre-check and was whisked through security without a hitch and made my flight by minutes.
This experience has left me feeling vulnerable and unsure of the future of a country that was once great and that I proudly called my own. This experience makes me question if this is indeed home. My freedoms were restricted, and I cannot be sure it won’t happen again, and that it won’t happen to my family, my children, the next time we travel abroad. This country now feels cold, unwelcoming, and in the beginning stages of a country that is isolating itself from the rest of the world - and its own people - in an unprecedented fashion. High levels of hate and injustice have been felt in vulnerable communities for decades-it is now hitting the rest of America.
I have contacted my US senators, and my contacts at the NYT and other media sources to continue to tell the story of what is happening in the United States of America.

Jamaica Observer, 20 March 2017:
HOUSTON, Texas — A Jamaican woman was whisked back to the island and her visa revoked after she arrived at the William P Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday night.
The woman’s family sought answers from United States media outlet KHOU 11 News, which aired their story.
Veronica Gaubault, who was sent back to Jamaica, told the Houston media that US Customs and Border Protection revoked her visa after agents inspected (CBP) her iPhone, iPad and other belongings.
Her cousin, paediatrician Kareen Smith, said she waited for approximately four hours before customs agents told her that Gaubault would not be allowed to enter the country.
“[They] just decided they were not going to let her in,” she told KHOU 11 News.
“It is important to note that issuance of a visa or a visa waiver does not guarantee entry,” a statement from the US Customs and Border Protection said, adding that “a CBP officer at the port of entry will conduct an inspection to determine if the individual is eligible for admission into the US”.
When asked why the woman’s belongings were searched, they said it was for “administrative causes”, KHOU 11 News reported.
Smith said text conversations between her and Gaubault were also scrutinised.
“She visits me, she visits other family we have in New York or Florida, and she goes home,” Smith said. “She never overstays her time. She always honours her visa and, for some reason, this is the first time she’s been denied.”

The Huffington Post, 7 March 2017:
A Muslim Canadian woman says she was turned away at the United States border after a lengthy interrogation on her religion and thoughts on President Donald Trump.
"I felt humiliated, treated as if I was less than nothing,” Fadwa Alaoui told CBC News on Wednesday.
Alaoui was travelling to Burlington, Vt. to do some shopping with her cousin and two children. The Canadian citizen was born in Morocco and has been in Quebec for 20 years, according to La Presse…..
Border agents took Alaoui and her cousin’s cellphones and asked for the passwords. She was asked questions almost exclusively about her Islamic practice, as well as whether she knew any victims killed in the deadly shooting spree at a Quebec City mosque…..
When border agents asked what she thought of Trump, Alaoui said she responded that he can do what he wants in his own country.
The group was fingerprinted and sent on their way after four hours.

The Star, 6 March 2017:
MONTREAL— A Montrealer who is a Canadian citizen by birth says she was barred from entering the United States and told to get a valid visa if she ever wants to cross the border.
Manpreet Kooner said she was turned away at a crossing along the Quebec-Vermont border on Sunday after a six-hour wait where she was fingerprinted, photographed and questioned before being refused.
She said she was told she was an immigrant without a valid U.S. visa.
Kooner, 30, is of Indian descent and was born in Montreal to parents who came to Canada from India in the 1960s and have lived in the same LaSalle district duplex for decades.
There have been several reports of Canadians encountering issues at the U.S. border, including a Canadian Muslim woman from Quebec who believes she was denied entry because of her religion.
Kooner said she’s perplexed given she was travelling on a Canadian passport and has no criminal record.
The only issue she had was a computer glitch that prevented her from crossing into New York state for 24 hours in December.
Kooner didn’t think much of that snafu until Sunday when she was stopped at Highgate Springs as she was travelling with two white girlfriends.
Her friends were not questioned but she was asked about the December incident.
“At the end of it, they told me I was not allowed going in and that I would need a visa if I ever went in the States again,” Kooner said.
Kooner claims the border agent told her, “I know you might feel like you’re being Trumped,” in reference to U.S. President Donald Trump — a statement she found odd.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman said Monday the department can’t comment on individual admissibility inspections, but noted that possession of a valid travel document does not guarantee entry to the United States.
Asked how she feels, Kooner said, “Just so bad, I feel like I’ve done something wrong, like I’m a criminal or something, but I’m not.”
Kooner went to the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, as suggested at the border, and was told the situation was “odd” and that a visa isn’t necessary for Canadians.
“Maybe there is no valid reason, maybe this is something that I can’t shake because I’m born like this,” Kooner said of her skin colour.
Her travel plans are up in the air: Kooner is supposed to go to a U.S. music festival at the end of March and her bachelorette in Miami in May.
“I’ve never had issues before, that’s the part that kills me,” Kooner said. “Now I’m just debating whether I should cancel.”

Artnet, 1 March 2017:
Juan Garcia Mosqueda, owner of the Chelsea design gallery Chamber NYC, was inexplicably denied entry to the US on Friday after a trip to his native Argentina, according to an open letter he titled “The Visible Wall” and shared with friends and colleagues yesterday.
Mosqueda, who was sent back to Argentina, explains the “dehumanizing and degrading” experience he was subjected to at the border, including being questioned under oath, denied legal counsel, held without food for 14 hours, prohibited from using any means of communication, and denied privacy when using the bathroom.
His belongings—which he could not access while kept in holding—were searched, and his legal documents were kept from him until he arrived back in Buenos Aires. He was escorted onto the plane by armed officers.
“This thirty-six hour nightmare is nothing but clear evidence of a deeply flawed immigration system in the United States, carried out by an administration that is more interested in expelling people than admitting them,“ he writes.
The curator and gallerist explains he has been a legal resident of the US for ten years, as a student, employee, and proprietor.
“Although I am not an American citizen, Chamber is an American product that I hope adds to the cultural landscape of the country,” he writes….
This is just one of many cases of non-US citizens, even with proper visas or green cards, being turned away at the US border under Trump’s travel restrictions, which came in the form of an executive order in January, and were subsequently blocked by a federal judge in Washington state.
Mosqueda’s case, however, is, on the surface, particularly baffling. Under the initial order, travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries—Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen—were banned from entering the US. A revised version, set to be introduced this week, bans travelers from all the aforementioned except Iraq, as well as the temporary suspension of all foreign refugees. Legal residents of the US should not be barred under the order.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Turnbull and Co announce they are taking their ideological razors to the Racial Discrimination Act and Human Rights Commission legislation


During this decade there have been three cases close to the hearts of the far right of the political spectrum in Australia.

The first was Pat Eatock v Andrew Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times Pty Ltd in the Federal Court of Australia, the second the Cynthia Prior complaint to the Human Rights Commission and, the third was the complaint against Bill Leak lodged with the Human Rights Commission.


The Federal Court found against News Corp journalist Andrew Bolt, the Commission terminated the Prior complaint on the basis it was satisfied that there was no reasonable prospect of the matter being settled by conciliation (the complainant later commencing unsuccessful litigation) and, the complaint against cartoonist Bill Leak was eventually withdrawn by Ms. Dinnison.

The Racial Discrimination Act and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act appear to have operated as intended by the original law makers in all three instances.

Yet such was the angst in Liberal Party and ‘flying monkey’ circles that an attempt to significantly alter the Act and neuter the Commission is now underway.

Excerpts from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Bligh Turnbull statements at a joint press conference on 21 March 2017:

Good afternoon. Today I am here with the Attorney and we are announcing changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and the Human Rights Commission legislation, which will strengthen the protection of Australians from racial vilification and strengthen the protection of free speech, one of the fundamental freedoms upon which our democracy depends.

We are defending the law by making it clearer. We are defending Australians from racial vilification, by replacing language which has been discredited and has lost credibility. It has lost the credibility that a good law needs.

So the changes we are proposing to section 18C will provide the right balance between defending Australians from racial vilification and defending and enabling their right of free speech upon which our democracy, our way of life, depends.

We are also amending the law so as to ensure that the Human Rights Commission will offer procedural fairness, will deal with cases promptly and swiftly and fairly. That's very important too.

We need to restore confidence to the Racial Discrimination Act and to the Human Rights Commissions' administration of it. The changes we're proposing have been supported from all sides of the political spectrum.

Granted, there will be many critics and opponents. But this is an issue of values. Free speech. Free speech is a value at the very core of our party. It should be at the core of every party.
Ensuring Australians are protected from racial vilification, likewise, is part of that mutual respect of which I often speak, which is the foundation of our success as the greatest and most successful multicultural society in the world.

We’ve struck the balance right. We've done this carefully. There's been a scrupulously careful examination of this matter by the Human Rights Committee and we thank the Chairman, Ian Goodenough, and the members for their work.

What we presented today strikes the right balance. Defending freedom of speech, so that cartoonists will not be hauled up and accused of racism. So that university students won't be dragged through the courts and had hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal costs imposed on them over spurious claims of racism.

The time has come to get the balance right, to get the language right, to defend our freedom of speech and defend Australians with effective laws, clear laws, against racial vilification. That's what we're doing today. We're defending Australians with a stronger, fairer law…..

The language, the new language will better and more clearly protect people from racial vilification, in a more generic term, from harassment or intimidation because the language is clearer.

The problem with the language at the moment - using the language insult and offend – the problem is that, of course, on its face, its natural and ordinary meaning, it includes very small slights. So people have said: “Oh, well, you know, there are court cases that say it only means really serious insults.” Well isn't it better that laws actually say what they mean? Isn't it better that laws are clear? Isn't it better when you’re dealing with freedom of speech and you're dealing with protecting people from racial vilification, that the law is clear and in language people can understand? That's what we're doing.

….. you have got to remember that if you have language that does not reflect the object, or the proper object of the legislation, it has a chilling effect on free speech. So let’s be very clear. Ask this question: “What is it we that we are seeking to prohibit”?

We believe that “harassment”, “intimidation” are the better terms. They are clearer and they clearly express the type of conduct that should be prohibited, not mere slights or the taking of offence or hurt feelings. That is not what the law should be about…..

….. We believe that the law has lost its credibility. I mean, all of you have seen the criticism that has come around recent cases, the QUT and the Bill Leak case being classic examples. When a law loses its credibility, it lacks its ability to achieve any of its objectives.

So this is why it’s important to restate the language in terms that better reflect the objects of the legislation. As the Attorney said, right from the outset, if you go back decades, it better reflects the object of the legislation then, and it clearly prohibits conduct of a kind that we condemn, that we abhor, that we do not accept.

We are the most successful multicultural society in the world. It’s built on a foundation of mutual respect, and that mutual respect - that foundation - is strengthened by stronger, clearer, fairer laws.

BACKGROUND

Excerpt from a paper by the Chair of Melbourne University Law School Professor Adrienne Stone in Melbourne University Law Review 926 on the judgment in Eatock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103 (28 September 2011):

In a short judgment following his initial finding, Bromberg J granted two remedies: the Herald Sun (published by the Herald and Weekly Times) was required to publish a ‘corrective notice’ as specified in the judgment, and Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times were restrained from further publishing or republishing the offending articles.[67]

The remedies are notably insubstantial. They are considerably less onerous than damages, a fact which is especially notable given it seems entirely possible that Eatock could have successfully claimed damages in a defamation action.[68] The lenity of the remedy becomes even clearer in light of an additional order which allowed the Herald Sun to continue to make the offending newspaper articles available ‘for historical or archival purposes’, provided that the publication was accompanied by the required corrective notice.[69] The result of this latter order is that the offending articles remain available online.[70] The ready availability of the offending articles considerably weakens claims that Bolt has been silenced by the action, and more general claims that freedom of speech has been chilled. The ideas in his articles continue to be communicated to those who seek them out.

Indeed, this claim of silencing is at once made and disproved by  Andrew Bolt  himself. In his response to the decision, Bolt wrote ‘Silencing Me Impedes Unity’, a commentary in which he argues that his ideas have been ‘banned’ and yet goes on to repeat, at quite some length, his argument that Aboriginal people of mixed heritage should not claim Aboriginal identity.[71]

This irony deepens when one considers the common refrain amongst critics of 
s 18C (and the respondents in Eatock v Bolt in particular) that the complainants should have responded to the criticisms by defending themselves in public debate.[72] This suggestion taps into an important idea in the political theory of freedom of speech that the victims of harms caused by speech ought to ‘speak back’, and that the ‘fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones’.[73] The irony arises because, in effect, Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times have themselves been subject to a certain kind of ‘speaking back’.[74] They have not been required to apologise, to pay damages, or — crucially — to remove the material from the internet. The sum total in effect of the measure imposed on them is that the articles are labelled as having infringed the RDA.

In other words, the remedy imposed inEatock v Bolt was predominantly expressive  rather than coercive. It neither required compensation nor imposed any other sanction on the respondents. Rather, the state signals its disapproval of the message conveyed — labelling it as contrary to the RDA — but does not prevent its communication. The state’s action is akin to the ‘speaking back’ that the respondents and their defenders encourage. Moreover, just as the respondents and their defenders encouraged the complainants in this case, if the respondents are troubled by being labelled in this way, they are, of course, able themselves to ‘speak back’. Therefore, one way to understand the effect of Eatock v Bolt is that it makes a contribution to the public debate about racial identity (labelling the particular contribution of Bolt as discriminatory), but does not prevent Bolt’s message from being heard.

This argument will, no doubt, not satisfy those deeply committed to a strong libertarian vision of freedom of speech — in which the role of the state is to be minimised — and who will find even expressive remedies offensive to their underlying conception of liberty.[75] The state is an especially powerful ‘speaker’ and its intervention through expressive remedies might be cast as dangerously distorting.

However, libertarian conceptions of freedom of speech are themselves contested both in theory[76] and exceptional in practice.[77] So those campaigning to amend s 18C cannot simply claim to be defending freedom of speech against those who disregard it or prefer other values or interests. They are defending a particular, rather unusual, and strongly contested version of freedom of speech and they are doing so in the face of alternative conceptions that powerfully defended in theory[78] and widely adopted in practice.[79] By neglecting even to notice the expressive nature of the remedy, the opponents of the law have thus failed to see that it may advance, rather than chill, free speech values.

Legal meaning of 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate'

2.21 The Federal Court in Jones v Scully explicitly set out the dictionary definitions of the terms 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' in an attempt to establish the meaning to be given to each word individually.14 The ordinary meaning of the words provided in Jones v Scully provide some guidance, but must also be consistent with the threshold established by Kiefel J,15 in Creek v Cairns Post Pty Ltd,16 that section 18C only applies to conduct having 'profound and serious effects, not to be likened to mere slights'. This standard has been affirmed in the case law.17

2.22 It is worth noting, however, that the Court generally does not consider each term in isolation. Although in McGlade v Lightfoot the relevant conduct was found to be reasonably likely to 'offend' and 'insult', the Court made it very clear that it was not  reasonably likely to humiliate or intimidate.18 This means that the legal meaning of 'offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate' does not wholly correspond with the ordinary or 'common sense' meaning of the terms. In other words, as interpreted by the courts, conduct that is merely offensive or merely insulting will not be captured by section 18C of the RDA, but only more serious forms of conduct on the basis of race. While some submitters suggested that the words used in section 18C created uncertainty, the committee received evidence from other witnesses that the legal meaning and judicial interpretation of section 18C was well settled as applying only to conduct at the more serious end of the range.19
14 [2002] FCA 1080.
15 Kiefel J is now the Chief Justice of the High Court.
16 [2001] FCA 1007, [16].
17 Bropho v Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (2004) 135 FCR 105 at 131, [70]
(French J) (Bropho); Jones v Scully (2002) 120 FCR 243, [102]; Eatock v Bolt (2011) 197 FCR 261
at [267]-[268] (Justice Bromberg) (Eatock).
18 McGlade v Lightfoot (2002) 124 FCR 106, 120 at [61]-[62].
19 See, for example: Law Institute of Victoria, Submission 184, 4; Mr Iain Anderson, Deputy
Secretary, Attorney-General's Department, Committee Hansard, 17 February 2017, 21-22.