Sunday, 31 July 2011

Social media for socialists

One of the best uses of social media by a government agency in Australia is that of Queensland Police. Their twitter feed (@qpsmedia) and associated Facebook site were invaluable during the Queensland floods and Cyclone Yasi. They effectively engaged the public and harnessed their network to get information out, harvest information from the ground, squash rumours, provide translations of important media releases and so on. A world class effort that provides a good case study on how to use social media for disaster management. Key to that success is the manner in which they proved to be reliable and trustworthy. Since those crises, they have continued to provide updates relating to traffic, crime, action alerts, and police activities. It may not be exciting to read but that is police business and they focus strictly on core business and remain strictly professional.

Some of the worst run social media sites belong to our federal government. Early on, I personally took on Sandi Logan, National Communications Manager of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) for his sloppy twitter feed (@sandihlogan) which, while purporting to be the official DIAC account, carried an ice hockey avatar and was peppered with social banter with his media buddies. He soon corrected that but still persisted in what I would call 'unprofessional banter' from time to time: snitching at wrong media reports or providing his own personal views. I recall criticizing him again some time back, but I only just noticed today that I have been blocked from following his feed. I can only guess that he didn't take too kindly at me telling him to lift his game, hence the block. Don't let any member of the public criticise the work of a public servant, especially one who is a National Communications Manager, an ex-journalist, and likely to be paid well over $100,000 a year, more likely around $150,000. Do not expect a National Communications Manager to have any skill in handling communications either. Communication is not what they are paid for. And far be it for a public servant, paid for by us, to provide easy access to public information, or even properly engage with the public. That may be his job.

One of the more recent misuses of social media came from the public servant behind the @NBNCoLimited twitter account who, on news of Rebekah Brook's resignation from News of the World, tweeted on 14 July 2011:
NBNCoLimited Ding dong the witch has gone!!! Brooks resigns #notw
What that has to do with the NBN is any one's guess and that was quickly pointed out by other twitterati. While the person behind this account subsequently deleted this tweet and apologised to a number of us who had criticised them for it, some of the apologies were equally illuminating and rather self-identifying. From this episode and from the other entries on this feed, I would hazard a guess that the person behind @NBNCoLimited is a junior who is paid as much as what Sandi Logan should be paid. Their communication skills are about the same. As are their political leanings. Although junior at least had some moral sense and apologised. Logan just had a spit.

The most concerning government twitter account I have come across so far however, is the newly created Clean Energy Future (@cefgovau). It describes itself as the 'Official Twitter account for the Clean Energy Future plan, which offers real opportunities for a prosperous and sustainable Australia.' Standard public service gobbledygook. But this is not simply a twitter account with government information or sloganeering for the carbon dioxide tax (for which we can forgive them to some degree). This twitter account is pure propaganda. If @qpsmedia can be a case study for effective use of social media, then @cefgovau belongs in the handbook on social media for socialists.

Have a look at their fifty most recent tweets as at the time I write this. My own comments are in blue:
  1. Want to show someone how a carbon price works? Show them this animation on our YouTube channel http://youtu.be/fQd_DlkdQ1w #cef #auspol

  2. Some great conversations on Aust’s clean energy future taking place on the #CEF Facebook page. Join in! http://on.fb.me/pHLXCD #auspol

  3. Real people, real stories: Thousands across Aus are already working to harness cleaner energy sources. View #CEF ads bit.ly/odktpo

  4. Follow us on Twitter for updates on the Clean Energy Future website http://bit.ly/pc0n35 #CEF is on Facebook too http://on.fb.me/qeYnwM #ff

    Since when were articles on ABC the Drum the basis for public policy?

  5. RT @abcTheDrum Richard Lambert takes a look at some of Australia's climate change myths http://bit.ly/nZbZby #cef #climate #auspol

  6. Aust Govt’s Clean Energy legislation released for public comment: http://bit.ly/nXvcJI #cef #climate #auspol

  7. Clean Energy Future has four parts: #carbonprice, #renewable, energy efficiency and land. Min Combet explains here http://bit.ly/n7WIfa #cef
  8. The #CEF website is constantly being updated with new info. The latest is a fact sheet on China’s actions http://bit.ly/psv9tO #auspol
  9. RT CSIRONews Blog: Aus playing with the big boys in #solar now - cranking it up to 150MW. http://ow.ly/5OagN #energy #cef #auspol
  10. RT @MegClement: The sun may not shine all the time, but we can get baseload power from #renewable #energy. http://bit.ly/rtExaW #cef #auspol

    Why is our public service pushing propaganda from Meg Clement who describes herself as a "j
    ournalist for @ConversationEDU. Contributer to @OurSayAust".

  11. MT @SayYesAustralia Have you seen the Businesses for a Green Economy website? http://bit.ly/rtRCZV #cef Why is the public service pushing propaganda from Say Yes Australia (@SayYesAustralia) a consortium of green-left-union lobby groups, namely: Australian Conservation Foundation, ACTU, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Climate Action Network Australia, The Climate Institute, Environment Victoria, GetUp!, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, and World Wildlife Fund Australia. That's right the very goons who gave us the misleading ads with Carbon Cate. Some of the goons who featured in Chris Kenny's article and in my last post. And Greenpeace is the anti-science group which destroyed public property at the CSIRO recently. Why is our public service promoting criminals again?

  12. RT @GreenfleetAust tip #18 – Did you know that traveling at 110km/h uses up to 25% more fuel than cruising at 90km/h? http://bit.ly/qkUIXa Why is our public service pushing tips from a carbon offset business? What business is it of our public service or our government as to how fast we drive? Do they know you can be booked for travelling TOO SLOWLY in a designated speed zone?

  13. RT @AusConservation Want 2 know how much financial assistance u'll get with a #carbontax in Aus? Calculate now http://acf.to/pDvJp4 #cef

    Why is our public service pushing propaganda from green left socialist lobby group Australian Conservation Foundation (@AusConservation) who are watching this legislation 'like hawks'and who polluted the #qt twitter feed with their inane #priceonpollution 'social media' campaigns when Gillard first announced the carbon tax?

  14. RT @AusConservation ACF CEO Don Henry on how the climate package can help our farmers: acf.to/qBhFDW #AusPol #Landcare #Carbontax #cef
    Why is our public service pushing propaganda from green left socialist lobby group Australian Conservation Foundation (@AusConservation) who are watching this legislation 'like hawks'and who polluted the #qt twitter feed with one of their inane #priceonpollution 'social media' campaigns when Gillard first announced the carbon tax?

  15. MT @camogomez I actively support carbon tax. It'll boost investment in green techs & put caring for the environ on Aussie companies' agenda
    Why is our public service pushing propaganda from a spanish language SBS journo, who thinks the world is ending? Why should we artifically boost investment in green techs? If they can't survive the market now then they are not worth the investment. Perhaps they want us to be like socialist left Spain where green policies have driven Spain to economic ruin? Economy contracting, 21.29 percent unemployment -the highest in European Union - as well as soaring energy prices pushing up inflation? What?

  16. The #CEF website has 45 Q&As covering many topics such as the average increase in cost of living http://bit.ly/oFRQwL #auspol #carbonprice

  17. Some great conversations on Aust’s clean energy future taking place on the #CEF FB page. Join in! http://on.fb.me/pHLXCD #carbon #auspol

  18. New technologies & sources of energy like geothermal are a reality right now. See the video on our FB pg http://on.fb.me/oKbkIe #cef #auspol

  19. RT @ConversationEDU Businesses could benefit from efficiency under #carbontax http://bit.ly/qlty5x #cef #carbonprice #auspol

  20. RT @bencubby The chief of the IPCC urges nations not to delay #climate change action, says "we have enough evidence" bit.ly/qUFUMj #cef

    Why is a public service twitter feed citing SMH environment reporter Ben Cubby, a climate change cultist, who consistently misreports climate science and other environment issues, even resorts to smears
    ? Why is the public service even pushing Rajendra Pachauri, the discredited chief of the IPPC? Or perhaps they agree with him when he said:
    We have been so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more whatever the cost to the environment that we’re on a totally unsustainable path. I am not going to rest easy until I have articulated in every possible forum the need to bring about major structural changes in economic growth and development. That’s the real issue. Climate change is just a part of it.
    In other words, this carbon tax has nothing to do with climate change or even clean energy. This about controlling your behaviour, FORCED redistribution of wealth, lowering your standard of living, pure socialism.

    Would the public service or the Gillard government care to put this 'evidence' on the table for public examination and debate? Would they care to explain why the empirical data contradicts climate model predictions, and that these models can therefore not be used to predict the future climate, much less be used for policy making?

  21. Want to explain the benefits of #pricepollution to someone? Show them this animation http://bit.ly/oXNkm7 #cef #carbonprice #auspol

  22. Visit the Clean Energy Future website http://bit.ly/pc0n35 for info on how the Govt plans to price pollution #cef #carbon #auspol

  23. Some great conversations on Aust’s clean energy future taking place on the #CEF FB page. Join in! http://on.fb.me/pHLXCD #carbon #auspol

  24. Real people, real stories: Thousands across Aus are already working to harness cleaner energy sources. View #CEF ads bit.ly/odktpo

  25. RT @guardianeco Reading @businessgreen China to launch carbon trading trial http://bit.ly/qhpVu6 #auspol #cef

  26. RT @cazazz Whether or not you support the carbon tax, starting to think greener makes sound business sense: http://bit.ly/qgkcUG

  27. RT @csodholz Check out this free CSIRO eBook: Climate Change: Science and Solutions for Australia. tinyurl.com/3pr8fg4 #cef #carbon #auspol

  28. Our climate is changing. The evidence is unequivocal. View #CEF video of Prof Will Steffen on science of #climatechange bit.ly/nOigXP
  29. View #cef case study from CSIRO bit.ly/odktpo on solving the energy puzzle and join the discussion on FB on.fb.me/op48ra

  30. Jobs under #CEF? CEF spoke to Chris at Capital Wind Farm about opportunities in renewables bit.ly/odktpo #carbonprice #carbontax

  31. Real people, real stories: Thousands across Aus are already working to harness cleaner energy sources. View #CEF ads bit.ly/odktpo

  32. MT @solargaze http://bit.ly/nTIW10 Farmers will receive $1.9b over 6 years. Agriculture is part of the answer #CEF #carbonprice #auspol
  33. The #CEF website has 45 Q&As covering many topics such as the average increase in cost of living http://bit.ly/oFRQwL #auspol #carbonprice
  34. Join the conversation on our #CEF FB page about the $13 billion to be invested in clean energy projects on.fb.me/ovCu2d #renewable

  35. Join the conversation on our #CEF FB page about the $13 billion to be invested in clean energy projects http://on.fb.me/ovCu2d #renewable

  36. RT @cleannrgcouncil: The Cook Islands plan to be 100% renewable by 2020 reeep.org/index.php?id=4… #CEF #renewable

  37. RT @A_Greenfield: My 10 yr old reduced heater 1degree and put on a jumper so we don't pay more. Change behavior, change the environment #cef

    How infantalising. And if I want to put up my heater one degree, what business is it of the public service or this government or even of Greenfield? But here's a clue. Given how often @A_Greenfield posts #carbontax tips, I am betting Greenfield is not a 'real person with a real story' but part of another orchestrated campaign - like the ACF polluting twitter with #priceonpollution slogans. So the $64 question is, to which little greenie group does Greenfield belong?

  38. RT @amworldtodaypm Forests absorb 1/3 of all fossil fuel CO2 emissions http://bit.ly/pQvqNp #cef #carbonprice #auspol

  39. What action are other countries taking? China? US? India? Europe? NZ? Find the facts on our #CEF interactive map http://bit.ly/nSM90f

  40. MT @SayYesAustralia Awesome development, giving us the opportunity to make renewable energy better and better! http://bit.ly/oTfnMU #cef

  41. #CEF Jobs & Competitiveness Prog will provide $9.2 billion of assistance over first 3 yrs of the carbon price http://on.fb.me/qMEaqB #auspol

  42. The #CEF website has 45 Q&As covering many topics such as the average increase in cost of living http://bit.ly/oFRQwL #auspol #carbonprice

  43. Visit the #CEF website for info on Aust Govt assistance for jobs and business http://bit.ly/pIOK97 #cleanenergy #auspol #carbonprice

  44. Two ways to learn how a #carbonprice works. The animation http://bit.ly/pp4WLX and the detail http://bit.ly/qqLNhI #cef #auspol

  45. Don’t forget, if you want to stay connected on the Aust Govt’s plan for a Clean Energy Future then follow us! #FF #cef #auspol #carbonprice

  46. Have you visited the #CEF YouTube channel yet? Here's our animation on how the carbon price works http://bit.ly/pp4WLX #ClimateForum11

  47. See Prof Will Steffen’s 2min #cef video on impacts of #climatechange in Aus bit.ly/r9QU76 #ClimateForum11

  48. Clean Energy Future is now on Twitter! Follow #cef for Aust Govt’s plan for a prosperous & sustainable future for Aust #ClimateForum11

  49. Prof Will Steffen’s 2min #cef vid on impacts of #climatechange in Aus bit.ly/r9QU76 asks: 'Do we face a 2 or 4 degree world?'#auspol

  50. 500 polluters will pay the #carbontax. Here's the fact sheet on how they’ll measure & report emissions http://bit.ly/oBopeW #cef #npc

    Has anyone actually seen the list of 500 polluters? Why won't the government tell us? The author behind BarnabyisRight tried to reconstruct this list based on other government sources. If he is right, even in part, the list includes water and gas utilities, Woolworths, even universities. But it's not up to him to reconstruct it. It's up to the government to tell us. There is no point chanting the mantra of '500 polluter's if you can't release the list of the 500 companies (most likely to be) liable for carbon tax. If it's 'only 500' then why not tell us? What is the government hiding?

  51. Clean Energy Future is now on Twitter! Follow #cef for Aust Govt’s plan for a prosperous & sustainable future for Aust #npc #pricepollution
I will update this post with further background on some of the sources if I have time, and welcome any further information from you - just leave a comment. But this twitter feed alone suggests our public servants are not interested in evidence-based policy but are purely ideologically driven, and driven by every socialist green left wannabe group out there. And if this reflects the quality of advice given by the public service to our government (and I am not going to let Gillard and her cronies off the hook with that), or worse still, if this reflects the sort of information our government wants public servants to push, then we are really in a very sorry state indeed.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Jeremy Thompson, the ABC and the art of guilt by footnote association

A number of Australian media outlets have published articles today claiming the Norway killer Anders Behring Breivik praised Australian conservatives in his 1500 page manifesto-come-diary which he published on the internet.

International journalists, bloggers and tweeters had been onto this manifesto (which Norwegian authorities have confirmed is authentic) since Sunday, and they had already noted that a considerable amount had been lifted from various sources: a large part of it was lifted from internet documents, some of it outright plagiarized, while the rest was written by the killer himself. Americans particularly noted the large excerpts from Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynksi.

Aussies were a bit slower on the uptake. Last night, references to Australians being cited in this manifesto started to appear on Australian twitter accounts, and today our journalists got into the act.

But did our journalists give us the facts and enough background for us to make a reasonable judgement?

Try Jeremy Thompson of the ABC. I've reproduced his article below and added notes in red.
Norway killer's manifesto praises Australian conservatives

Updated July 26, 2011 15:39:39

Accused Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik praised four Australian conservative leaders - including former prime minister John Howard - in his 1,500-page manifesto.

Breivik faced a closed court in Norway overnight accused of carrying out the attacks which police now say killed 76 people - mostly teenagers attending a summer camp - on Friday.

The judge in the case said Breivik - who was arrested after massacring 68 people on the island of Utoya - had admitted the facts of the case but had not pleaded guilty.

In a manifesto posted online under the Anglicised pseudonym Andrew Berwick, the killer quoted Mr Howard, former treasurer Peter Costello, Catholic Cardinal George Pell and conservative writer and historian Keith Windschuttle.

The manifesto includes discussions of European history and Islam as well as instructions on how to buy arms and equipment over the internet and how to plan high-impact terrorist attacks.

Saying Mr Howard had urged Islamic migrants to adopt Australian values, Breivik noted the former prime minister "caused outrage in Australia's Islamic community when he said Muslims needed to speak English and show respect to women".

He praised the Howard government's border protection policies: "They have taken serious steps towards actually enforcing their own borders [and] despite the predictable outcries from various NGOs and anti-racists, prime minister John Howard has repeatedly proven to be one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world."

Breivik also mentioned Mr Costello in the document, saying the former treasurer wanted Islamic immigrants to adopt Australian ways.

"Federal treasurer Peter Costello said Australian Muslim leaders need to stand up and publicly denounce terrorism in all its forms. Mr Costello has also backed calls by prime minister John Howard for Islamic migrants to adopt Australian values," the manifesto says.

At the time of publication Mr Howard had not returned calls from the ABC requesting comment.

In a statement, Mr Costello told ABC News Online that Breivik had "committed a monstrous crime".

"Nothing justifies it and certainly not his deluded rantings about Islam or political correctness. My sympathy goes out to the victims of this despicable act."

Breivik also praised the then Archbishop Pell, who he quoted as saying: "Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for far-reaching renovation is severely limited. I'd also say that Islam is a much more warlike culture than Christianity."

Cardinal Pell is currently travelling and ABC News Online was not able to contact him.

Breivik wrote that Mr Windschuttle "is tired of that anti-Western slant that permeates academia".

"For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed," he quoted Mr Windschuttle as saying.

Mr Windschuttle told ABC News Online that it was "the first I've heard of it" but at the time of publication he had not commented further.

Key excerpts

Following are some of the key excerpts from Breivik's manifesto that reference Australian figures.

Quoting Keith Windschuttle: (from this Windschuttle article, still available on the internet)

Australian writer Keith Windschuttle, a former Marxist, is tired of that anti-Western slant that permeates academia:

"For the past three decades and more, many of the leading opinion makers in our universities, the media and the arts have regarded Western culture as, at best, something to be ashamed of, or at worst, something to be opposed. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many ways of knowing. Cultural relativism claims there are no absolute standards for assessing human culture. Hence all cultures should be regarded as equal, though different. The plea for acceptance and open-mindedness does not extend to Western culture itself, whose history is regarded as little more than a crime against the rest of humanity. The West cannot judge other cultures but must condemn its own."

He urges us to remember how unique some elements of our culture are:

"The concepts of free enquiry and free expression and the right to criticise entrenched beliefs are things we take so much for granted they are almost part of the air we breathe. We need to recognise them as distinctly Western phenomena. They were never produced by Confucian or Hindu culture."

But without this concept, the world would not be as it is today. There would have been no Copernicus, Galileo, Newton or Darwin.

Quoting John Howard and Peter Costello: (Not quite. This was lifted off a news.com.au article - the original has been archived - but an excerpt is here)

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello said Australian Muslim leaders need to stand up and publicly denounce terrorism in all its forms. Mr Costello has also backed calls by Prime Minister John Howard for Islamic migrants to adopt Australian values. Mr Howard caused outrage in Australia‘s Islamic community when he said Muslims needed to speak English and show respect to women.

Quoting Cardinal George Pell: (Not quite. He was quoting a 2007 blog post at Americans for Serbia which references The American Council for Kosovo)

Luckily, not all Christian leaders are appeasers of Islam. One of the intelligent ones comes from Australia, a country that has been fairly resistant to Political Correctness.

They have taken serious steps towards actually enforcing their own borders, despite the predictable outcries from various NGOs and anti-racists, and Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly proven to be one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world.

George Cardinal Pell [sic], Archbishop of Sydney, tells of how September 11 was a wake-up call for him personally:

"I recognised that I had to know more about Islam." "In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence. There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages."

"The predominant grammatical form in which jihad is used in the Koran carries the sense of fighting or waging war." "Considered strictly on its own terms, Islam is not a tolerant religion and its capacity for fear-reaching renovation [sic] is severely limited." "I'd also say that Islam is a much more war-like culture than Christianity."

"I've had it asserted to me is that in the relationship between the Islamic and non-Islamic world, the normal thing is a situation of tension if not war, or outright hostility."

Quoting Cardinal Pell again: (This is actually a quote from Norwegian blogger Fjordman, who currently blogs at Gates of Vienna. It appears in a 2007 article he wrote for Global Politician. Fjordman writes he agrees with Lee Harris and Theodore Dalrymple and continues...)

As long as there is separation between religion and state, those of us who don't have any religious belief should prefer religions which tend to create reasonable and prosperous communities.

Our traditional Judeo-Christian religions have proven this capability. Islam never has, and probably never will.

As Australia's Cardinal George Pell says, "some seculars are so deeply anti-Christian, that anyone opposed to Christianity is seen as their ally. That could be one of the most spectacularly disastrous miscalculations in history."

Indeed it could.

Quoting former Liberal Party MP Ross Cameron: (this is from a 2006 article by Fjordman posted at The Brussels Journal)
A study from the United States identified the main barriers to men tying the knot. Heading the list was their ability to get sex without marriage more easily than in the past. The second was that they can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.

The report lends weight to remarks by Ross Cameron, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services, who chided Australian men, blaming Australia‘s looming fertility crisis on men‘s commitment phobia.

"The principal reason young women say they don‘t get around to having children is they can‘t find a bloke they like who is willing to commit," he said. "This commitment aversion in the Australian male is a real problem."

Regarding an Australian publishing dispute: (this is lifted from another 2007 Fjordman article, originally published at Jihad Watch, also at the Global Politician, and at Gates of Vienna)

This kind of intimidation has taken its toll. In November 2006, publisher Scholastic Australia pulled the plug on the book the Army of the Pure after booksellers said they would not stock the adventure thriller for youngsters because the "baddie" was a Muslim terrorist. Because two characters were Arabic-speaking and the plot involves a mujaheddin extremist group, Scholastic‘s decision was based "100 per cent (on) the Muslim issue".

This decision was at odds with the publication of Richard Flanagan's bestselling The Unknown Terrorist and Andrew McGahan's Underground in which terrorists are portrayed as victims driven to extreme acts by the failings of the West.

The Unknown Terrorist describes Jesus Christ as "history‘s first ... suicide bomber".

In McGahan‘s Underground, Muslims are executed or herded into ghettos in an Australia rendered unrecognisable by the war on terror

So who was the Oslo killer quoting?

Did Thompson explain this manifesto and its nature and contents?

Did Thompson cite the excerpts accurately?

Did Thompson note the wider context of these excerpts?

Was Jeremy Thompson correct to say, that the killer 'quoted' Cardinal Pell? What did the killer really say about John Howard, if anything at all?

Did Thompson in any way point out that these quotes were not the killer's own words, but copied from other authors?

Did Thompson point out that they may not reflect the killer's own point of view or that they may reflect his opinion but may have not been formed from personal knowledge of Australian identities, or from closely following Australian current events?

We know the killer constructed an elaborate double life. Did Thompson or any other Australian media report mention the possibility that this may have been part of that elaborate cover?

Or was Thompson subtly suggesting some sort of association which just wasn't there?

An association which all the usual suspects from the left have already pounced on - certainly on Twitter - and used as ammunition to smear conservatives (and no doubt in time, they will demand conservatives not be allowed to speak lest they "incite" someone to something. "Remember Oslo!", they will cry.).

Just what is Jeremy Thompson and the ABC up to?

A final note: International journalists did a little better but are not innocent. Some were quick to note how often Fjordman was cited throughout the manifesto and said by the killer to come closest to representing his own views. Naturally, careless journalists and all the usual suspects amongst bloggers and the twitterati descended like a pack on Fjordman, prompting him to put up this post on his blog.

Can we do a little better than this people?