The Guardian 6 July, 2005

Dingo bytes

US military personnel stationed in overseas bases may rape, assault and kill with impunity. The Japanese people know this all too well with the US military on the base in Okinawa getting away with rape and murder for decades. As the presence of US forces in Australia grows those kind of incidents will increase, as Queensland university student Heath Twomey has discovered. Mr Twomey was stabbed and hit with a bottle by two US marines last year in Townsville. The American authorities swept the marines out of Australia, conducted an in-house military trial and exonerated them. They spoke to the victim once, briefly, but he wasn’t told the trial was taking place. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock waived jurisdiction so the case could go to US military law.

A program in NSW to have public schools do performance reports so they can be ranked is set to be taken up by other states. The reports will be used to measure literacy and numeracy levels. These are to be introduced in the guise of giving parents "choice". But they are a massive invasion of privacy, allowing for information, such as the amount of leave taken by teachers, to be made public. The NSW Teachers’ Federation reminded the Carr Government that teachers had boycotted a similar plan in 1999 and would do so again. "There is no other profession where employee attendance and turnover are publicised", said the Federation’s President Maree O’Halloran. "This is an invasion of privacy."

Carr’s vision for public education may well be along the lines of the Australian Teachers of Media organisation which is creating study guides based on Hollywood blockbusters. The guides are e-mailed directly to teachers, bypassing the NSW Department of Education and Board of Studies. And the purpose? Here’s the marketing manager of United International Pictures: "I’d love to say it was altruistic and we just wanted to share, but obviously there’s an opportunity to get the film in front of students", i.e. to market new films to kids in the classroom.

CAPITALIST HOG OF THE WEEK: is Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell. In a vote on Japan’s use of "scientific" whaling in the International Whaling Commission last month, Nauru voted with Japan, and even though the vote against won by 30 to 27, Campbell attacked the tiny Pacific island nation as though he expected its delegate, Marcus Stephen, to follow lamely along behind Australia. But there was more to this than whales. Nauru has long been the victim of bullying by the Howard Government and Campbell’s "no" to whaling vote was clearly an attempt to put some shine on his government’s otherwise filthy record on the environment. But Nauru had other ideas, with Stephen totally ignoring Australian officials, instead having a pre-vote conference with the Japanese delegation. Nauru, like Australia, knew which way the vote would go, and that Japan would ignore it anyway. The message to Canberra is: Nauru has had enough of your neo-colonialist arrogance.

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