11th December 2002


A few years ago about a dozen bodies were reportedly found in barrels in a disused bank in a South Australian town called Snowtown.  Initially, leaked police reports indicated that a gang of mostly unemployed people was killing other unemployed people for the purpose of collecting their social security payments.

Recent emanations from the courthouse where the gang are undergoing the judicial process seems to indicate that the murderous gang was composed of ex-paedophile victims who were preying upon active paedophiles and homosexuals. (Apparently the distinction was not considered to be qualitatively relevant by some gang members).

Many Australians would have sympathy for their stated motives, and probably feel that the gang members should be given medals and released to continue the good work.  Unfortunately, the setting of a legal precedent of rewarding criminals who do something that meets public approval is totally unacceptable.

For instance, imagine the acclaim that might fall to a gang that started eliminating crooked politicians. (Is that a tautology?)


The Australian High Court has unanimously (7 - 0) ruled that Australian mining magnate Gutnik can sue in an Australian court the internet publishers of alleged defamatory material.   This is despite the fact that the defamatory material was uploaded (published) in the USA.  Apparently this ruling follows long standing precedents in the common law that defamation damages are recoverable by the victim in courts within the jurisdiction of which the defamatory material was available.

The problem is that US publishers are less constrained than publishers in most other places in the world, because freedom of speech is guaranteed in the US constitution, and truth is a defense.

Australian public figures, like their colleagues in other strictured representative democracies around the globe, (Singapore springs to mind) have punitive remedies against those who attempt to besmirch their reputations.  In Australia we believe that we have "freedom of speech".  However having spoken, many speakers find to their financial detriment that truth is not a defense, (as in the USA).   Neither may Australian public figures be commented upon "in the public interest" as in the USA.  Circa 1999, two opposing Australian politicians and their wives were awarded around $300,000 because a publisher had intimated that something untoward (& of a sexual nature) might have happened decades earlier, before they were married.

Despite the above diatribe, the High Court judgment on the venue of action on internet defamation was good law.  The fault lies not in the HC decision, but in the severity of Australia's defamation laws.

Australian slander & defamation laws are scandalous.  They should be modified to more nearly match those in the USA, which are much fairer and seem to be more to the public interest (which lies in exposing to the public gaze the crimes & peccadilloes of those in public office, while being more protective of the privacy of those who are not).  If Australians do not modify their defamation laws, then only those US corporations that do not have assets in Australia will be able to publish truthful news on the internet about Australians (and by extension, about any people elsewhere in the world). This is because it is unlikely that US courts would allow execution of Australian orders for damages if those damages would not have been available in US courts.  So damages won in Australia would only be available from those organizations that had substantial assets in Australia, like NEWS LIMITED.

Many remedies are available to publishers.  For instance, a company called "NEWS_LIMITED_ON_THE_ WEB.COM" might be formed.  This company might purchase the exclusive right to republish on the internet under it's own banner anything that is in any NEWS LIMITED publication.

We might even find Australians such as Stephen Mayne of publishing the unvarnished truth about our political masters in the USA, (perhaps under a nom-de-plume, in the USA publication safe from Australian defamation laws because in the USA truth is a defense.

So, despite the wounded bull approach of US editorials, in actuality this judgment might ultimately act to increase the dissemination of truthful information to the Australian people & the international community by causing a revision of local defamation laws.

Despite silence on the matter, I suspect that at least one of the high court judges was aware of the above possible effect of that judgment.


The failure today of the eighth ABM test (Washington Post) should be viewed as a normal part of the development of a new defensive system.  It has been said that we learn more from our mistakes than our successes, and the development of an ABM system would probably follow a similar pattern.

An effective reentry ABM system will render uneconomic any ICBM system, because the cost per unit ABM will inherently tend (after amortization) to be less than the unit cost per ICBM + warhead.

When an ABM shield exists, terrorists will have to rely upon smuggled chemical/biological or nuclear WMD.

Most WMD can be mitigated by decentralization (manufacturing & personnel) & physical (not informatic) isolation.  This means organizations (government, business, social) should adopt a structure like the internet, (with redundant standalone units) rather than like a beehive (one queen bee).

16th December 2002

Our political leaders are belatedly realizing that Sydney Airport, located about 5 Kilometers south of the CBD might be a terrorist target.  They have enacted a law to force all people mailing overseas parcels to show ID.  They also plan to X-Ray overseas letters and parcels, and probably use sniffer dogs to find explosives.  (I warned them last May)

Of course these plans are about as useful as a snowflake in the Great Sandy Desert.

  1. What about intrastate and interstate letters and parcels?  The Bali bomb was estimated to be one kilo of C4.  A mechanism consisting of a balloon & a pin could effectively trigger a pressure switch at an altitude of a thousand meters.
  2. Any competent chemist could concoct a chemical with which to impregnate a letter that would spontaneously combust at a predetermined time after preparation.
  3. What is to stop a suicide bomber boarding with a kilo of C4 coated imperviously, and setting it off while the aeroplane is in takeoff over (say) Woollahra?
  4. What about a SAM in the suburbs?
The only solution is to move Sydney Airport a very long way away from Sydney.  BTW, congratulations to the government on selling the airport before it became obviously useless.

Of course C4 in aeroplanes taking off from inner city airports is just one possible method of terrorism.  There must be thousands.  Off the top of my hat:

  1. Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in the southern residential region of Sydney makes an attractive target for C4.
  2. The water supply of any city is vulnerable.  It would be a simple matter to pump several thousand litters of a suitable chemical (say 1080) or biological (say TB or Anthrax) back through the water taps in a rented flat or house into the water supply of a city or town.  A defense would be for every home to install it's own rainwater tanks, or only drink bottled water.