Is Rudd really better?

Rethinking indigenous policy is worth reading if you’re curious about how Rudd differs from Howard – is he going to fail us after all? At the moment it seems he’s definitely left room for improvement:

rather than simply punishing parents for their children’s non-attendance, the Government should be providing schools, teachers and resources that meet the needs of the Aboriginal community.

This actually made me incredulous:

When the school attendance policy was introduced, it was not done in a way that targeted parents who were not sending their children to school. Instead of a case-by-case approach, the Federal Government prescribed certain Aboriginal communities to be affected by the policy and all people in that community were subject to quarantining if they were on a welfare payment — whether their children were going to school or not, whether they were parents or not.

C’mon Rudd, pull your finger out.

It’s not about China, honest

Really, it’s not. Apparently.
I’m not sure what I think about this – I guess progress and an acknowledgement of the importance of human rights and online access to information is important, and it has to start somewhere.
Big three help online rights

Three of the biggest IT companies in the world have approached the US Congress with suggestions on how to bring human rights laws to the online world.
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have explained how to extend human rights to the internet and what they could do to help spread the laws.
They suggest a code which would be based around a set of principles to which companies would have to adhere, as well as guidelines on ensuring those rights and frameworks on how to enforce the rules and guarantee accountability.
The move follows up from a development in July, when Richard Durbin, a US senator, asked each of the companies to provide suggestions.

Ethical fashion directory

The Guardian have produced an ‘ethical fashion directory’. It’s a little tricksy – click on titles and random new windows open, and you have to click on an image to view different sorts of clothes (which opens new windows in the background, not always obvious), but it’s still useful: Ethical fashion directory.

Over the past few years I’ve frequently heard people say “Well I’d love to buy more ethical fashion, but I’ve no idea where to start …” Here is our solution. Our directory will provide, I hope, a means of navigating the sometimes confusing world of ethical fashion and make it easy for you, the consumer, to find exactly what you are looking for.

Guess who?

From today’s Observer:

‘They have amassed more information about people in 10 years than all the governments of the world put together. They make the Stasi and the KGB look like the innocent old granny next door. This is of immense significance. If someone evil took them over, they could easily become Big Brother.’

The clue is in the article title, Google, 10 years in: big, friendly giant or a greedy Goliath?

Chester, however, is an outspoken critic on a crusade. He continues: ‘Google have been very hypocritical. They try to place a digital halo around their activities. They should be at the forefront of acknowledging that these are the most powerful marketing tools around and there should be safeguards in place. Google claims it’s there to provide information but it’s really there to collect data and provide advertising, and they simply can’t own up to it.’

[Google CEO] Schmidt raised eyebrows on a trip to London last year when he declared: ‘We cannot even answer the most basic questions about you because we don’t know enough about you. The goal is to enable Google users to be able to ask questions such as “What shall I do tomorrow?” and “What job should I take?” This is the most important aspect of Google’s expansion.’
A month later, the human rights watchdog Privacy International ranked the company bottom in a major survey of how securely the leading internet companies handle their users’ personal information. Liberty, the civil liberties organisation, and the National Consumer Council have also expressed concern.

See also Into the future: Pros and cons of a Google world:

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK
We have long-standing concerns about Google regarding the way it is betraying its own principles in going against established international norms around freedom of information. When you go on a Google search engine in London and look for a picture of Tiananmen Square, you get that iconic picture of a man standing in front of a tank. If you go to and do the same search you’ll get a picture of happy smiley tourists. Specific words such as Tibet, democracy, Tiananmen Square are heavily censored. We think that filtering process should be transparent. The rest of us who know that we’re using Google in an uncensored fashion have a duty to stand up for people who don’t have that access.

Going the other way – abortion rights in America?

The Handmaid’s Tale: Fact or Fiction?

This morning, I heard an astonishing interview on WNYC that discussed a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) draft document that was just leaked. This document proposes to redefine nearly all forms of birth control, especially birth control pills, as a form of abortion and allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman’s access to contraception [PDF]. Considering that roughly half of all American women use birth control pills, I think this is a shocking proposal that, if enacted, will change modern American society as we know it.
Currently, the federal government accepts the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ definition of pregnancy as beginning at implantation. However, the HHS proposes to reject that definition — provided by medical experts — and to change the federal definition of pregancy to conform with public polling data

Hard to believe, but incredibly scary if it’s true.

Victoria: new law ‘to give abortion right’

From The Age:

Women in Victoria would have the legal right to choose an abortion under historic legislation expected to be introduced to State Parliament next week.
The Age believes the bill, which will prompt long and emotional debate, would decriminalise abortion during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, providing the woman gives consent.

The bill, which will be the subject of a conscience vote, is certain to split both major parties, but pro-choice advocates are confident it will be passed.

It is believed the bill will ensure that a woman’s consent provides lawful authority for an abortion up to 24 weeks’ gestation. After that, terminations would be unlawful unless doctors deemed continuing the pregnancy would pose a risk of harm to the woman.
Health Minister Daniel Andrews, who will introduce the bill, is expected to argue that it is designed to bring the law into line with community expectations and clinical practice.
Abortion officially remains a crime in Victoria, but an estimated 20,000 pregnancies are terminated each year under the common law protection of a 1969 Supreme Court ruling by Justice Menhennitt that allowed abortions if a woman’s physical or mental health would be put at risk by continuing the pregnancy.

Pro-choice advocates, who have been lobbying for the most liberal option, will be disappointed the Government has opted for the so-called compromise mode

Celeb magazines in ‘evil’ shocker… also, real faces more beautiful…

The Guardian turns the tables for a CELEB MAG EDITOR SPECIAL!

Greetings, stardust consumers, and welcome to Lost in Showbiz’s first ever Circle of Shame feature – wherein we highlight the bits celebrity mag editors would rather you DIDN’T see!
Every week, this collection of ringable body parts heave themselves into their offices, where they churn out unsourced stories, BMI porn, blatant untruths, and endless quotes from anonymous “close pals” of celebrities. But as media influentials, they’re public figures too. How can I prove they are? Because a close pal just told me. So without further ado, let’s get all the juicy goss on their work.

In other news, last week the Sunday Times put a gorgeous, apparently un-airbrushed Naomi Watts on the front cover of their Style magazine. It was surprisingly lovely and touching to see a real face – tiny wrinkles and skin with pores. And she was all the hotter for it – so thank you, Sunday Times.