Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Scratching My Underbelly

I am a criminal. I've broken the law. I must be punished. When they come for me, I won't put up a fight. I won't leap out the window, or try to disguise myself as an indoor palm. I will go peacefully, and I will do my time in prison and pray that my deserved incarceration relieves me of the rancid, crippling guilt that infects my very being.

I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway. I couldn't stop myself. I read that pirated copies of the brilliant Australian true-crime TV series Underbelly were up on The Pirate Bay and available for download. And I downloaded them. Not just the three episodes already screened, but this week's episode, and next week's and the week after.

Not only did I watch them, I told others where to score a hit for themselves.

I am a criminal. But I'm not alone. So when I go to prison, I might run into some of the "tens of thousands of Australians (who) have risked a prison term and hefty fines" to illegally download Underbelly episodes. At least we'll all have something to talk about.

All the controversy about Underbelly began a few weeks back when Supreme Court judge Justice Betty King issued a suppression order to stop the show being screened on TV in Victoria. Rightly, Justice King decided the TV series might prejudice a murder trial connected with the gangsters slightly fictionalised in Underbelly.

The problem, of course, is that television is now only one of the many ways people can watch a show. Despite the ban, tens of thousands in Victoria have now seen Underbelly, online, on bootleg DVDs, as MP4 files on their iPods, at Underbelly home parties and in the pubs that have been brave enough to screen the copies flooding in across the border (and online).

But :

Downloading TV show and movies from the internet is illegal under Australian copyright law and anyone caught with copies risks up to five years jail and fines of up to $60,500.

Anyone caught distributing or selling copyrighted footage of Underbelly could be charged with contempt of court.

A spokeswoman for Channel 9 said the network would take legal action against anyone caught downloading or distributing its prized program.

Can you imagine Channel 9 pursuing legal action against anyone for downloading Underbelly? If Channel 9 tried to jail tens of thousands of its viewers for five years, the outrage would be voluminous and fantastic, and deeply embarrassing for anyone connected with Channel 9.

And how much would it cost them to pursue legal action "against anyone" who has made an illegal copy of Underbelly? And for what result? To publicly prove just how behind the times Channel 9 is? To reveal just how out of touch they are with so much of their primary audience, who already watch many hours of TV shows online, and ongadget, each week?

Is it not my fault, or your fault, that Channel 9 is still locked in the 20th century, and insists on drip-feeding its latest series to a hungry audience who would mostly buy all the episodes in one go, for a reasonable price, if only they were made available now.

And it's not like this revolution in how great swathes of Australia' youth, and under 40s, now watch TV has come out of the blue. The old guard of TV knew online video was coming, but they wanted to cling to the old model they knew so well - "we show it and you watch it when we want you to" - even as advertising dollars slipped away, first in a trickle and now (literally) in a torrent.

Nobody should have to watch their favourite shows at a set time, on a chosen night, if they don't want to. What is this? The 1950s?

Video taping allows for a fair bit of freedom, but the technology is there for buying (without ads) TV shows you want to watch, a whole series at once (if it's been made), that you can then view on your wall screen, your laptop, your portable video player, your phone, when you want to. That television channels and studios haven't already introduced a delivery and payment system as simple and convenient as paying for cable TV by direct debit is their problem, not ours. They are behind the marketplace. They are not meeting marketplace demands

That is their fault, and their problem, not yours.

People will pay to watch their favourite shows (without ads) as long as the means of getting the show downloaded and into digital possession is straightforward, as easy as scoring a ringtone.

It's that simple.

If your favourite fruit shop won't have mangoes for a week, and a shop down the road is giving them away, are you expected to go away and wait?


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So why didn't Channel 9 foresee that there would be a huge market for Underbelly on digital download, or even DVD, once a few episodes had been aired on commercial TV. Why isn't there, at the very least, a box set of Underbelly already for sale in JB HiFi?

It's not your fault, or mine, that they are so lacking in vision that they did not know their market well enough to realise they could have flogged 30,000 or 50,000 box sets of Underbelly off the back of the enormous publicity and interest the show has already generated.

I'm not downloading un-aired episodes of Underbelly because I want to steal from Channel 9 or the show's producers. I just don't want to have to wait a week for another 40 minutes of Underbelly, and I don't want to endure all those fucking commercials.

If it was available for paid download right now, I'd pay.

When Underbelly is released as a DVD box set, I'll buy a copy for my library, and I'll buy a copy for my brother as a Christmas present (if it's out before Christmas), even if I do watch all episodes online (illegally) for free.

That's what 20th century TV networks like Channel 9 don't understand. Just because you watched something for free, doesn't mean you won't also go and buy a hard copy of it, if the packaging and poster and booklet are decent enough.

Why this ridiculous delay between first airing and selling a digital version?

It already seems bizarre that a movie like There Will Be Blood is in cinemas, will disappear for a few months and then not show up on DVD until May or June, if not later. There may be a download you can buy when it's in rental stores, but why can't you buy a copy of it for your wall screen, lap top, or phone right now? Tonight? When interest in it is at its peak?

The reason why tens of thousands of people in Australia are downloading episodes of Underbelly, and illegal copies of There Will Be Blood, right now is not because they don't want to pay to watch it. They just don't want to wait to watch it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

From news.com.au :

"This is a great problem on the internet," said University of NSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre executive director David Vaile.

"Legal jurisdiction is typically limited by geography, and by its nature the internet doesn't place much regard to geography."

Mr Vaile believed Justice King may have taken into consideration the possibility that copies of the drama would appear on the internet, but that it would have limited impact on potential jurors.

"(She) may well have decided that something that is not the official publisher's website will not have the same sort of impact," he said.

However watching illegal versions of the underworld drama will not be without risk.

Mr Vaile said people caught uploading clips from Underbelly could face copyright and contempt of court charges.

"There is potential in some circumstances for that order to render people in contempt," Mr Vaile said.

He added that despite the belief that the internet provides anonymity, authorities would be able to track down any culprits.

"There is a false perception around that activity on the internet is anonymous or that's untraceable. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case," Mr Vaile said.

Which is why I'm confessing to my criminal behaviour here and now. I did it. I downloaded illegal copies of Underbelly, and I watched them on my laptop. I'm not sorry. I will do it again, and again, unless I'm stopped.

I'm waiting for the police to come and arrest me. Channel 9 said they would do me for my crimes. Here I am.

I don't know how many hours of freedom I have left, but I will....oh, wait. Someone's just uploaded Underbelly Episode 7 to The Pirate Bay.

Now I've got something new to watch while I wait for justice to be delivered upon me.

Hopefully I can blog from prison.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Australia's Massive 'Legal' Junkie Problem

For a couple of years in the early 1990s, I lived in and around Kings Cross. I met plenty of junkies.

Junkies, being drug addicts, know a lot about drugs. Some could rhapsodize about the comparative highs from legal and illegal drugs like wine connoisseurs. As the Cross junkies used to tell me, the best drugs of all are not the stuff you score on the street, it's the gear locked away in pharmacy safes, or in "the special drawers" behind the counter.

Heroin addicts don't shoot smack cut with shit because they like getting abscesses. They buy street smack because they can't get their hands on the legal stuff, unlike many doctors, lawyers and the occasional politician. Morphine. Pharmaceutical morphine is, or was, the prize beyond all prizes for the long-term junkheads of Kings Cross. At least four or five junkies I had taken the time to question told me their first opiate high came from a doctor. From a legal prescription.

The trick for those junkies was getting a doctor to prescribe "the diamond gear" for them. That is, pharmacuetical grade opiates. Self-mutilation in the pursuit of a doctor-delivered shot of morphine was not uncommon. A smashed tooth (from a screwdriver) could deliver a few days, or a few weeks (if the shattered gum was doctor-shopped) worth of prescription-only pills chock full of codeine, the little sister of morphine.

One old junkie, let's call him Dave, intervened to stop me getting mugged by three gutless fucks from the Northern Beaches in an alley next to the building where I lived back then. He filled a hypodermic with water from a puddle and then shouted "Oi! C.nts!" When one turned around, Dave squirted him with the brown water from the puddle. At 2am, in an alley sandwiched between tall buildings, it was dark enough for that water to look like blood, which is what Dave told them it was. "AIDS blood c.nts. Want a shot in a vein?"

After that, I always stopped to talk to Dave when I saw him stumbling along Darlinghurst Road. He never hit me up for money, but I probably gave him a few hundred dollars worth of cigarettes in the time I knew him. He gave me in return the wisdom of his years living rough and working harder in his low-income scams than most nine-to-fivers do in their offices.

It was Dave who gave me an education in street junkies versus pharmacy junkies. There might be thousands of smackies, he used to say, but there are hundreds of thousands of legal pill addicts. I found that hard to believe. Impossible, really.

But Dave was right of course. Australians throw down more prescription drugs than just about anyone else in the world, and the numbers of legal pill-popping junkies vastly outweigh those illegal drug-taking junkies your local tabloid columnist so often rants about.

Eight Nurofen-Plus washed down with a few glasses of red wine in half an hour is still drug abuse, even if you bought both drugs legally.

While the media and politicians roar and wail about the hundreds of thousands of Australians who smoke pot or neck an E or two most weekends, without dying, or overdosing, they remain, mostly, remarkably, quiet about the millions of Australians who abuse pharmacy-only and prescription pills on a regular basis and fill casualty wards and emergency rooms.

That's not even getting into the tens of thousands of elderly Australians who haul their old bodies from one doctor to another trading a few minutes of questions for a prescription for painkillers or sleeping tablets.

When the media does report on legal pill popping, the statistics, the levels of human wreckage, are absolutely staggering, and illegal drug abuse stats pales in comparison. Obviously, neither kinds of drug abuse are good, but that's not the point :

Paramedics are treating almost 8000 Melburnians a year for overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter drugs - 11 times the figure for heroin.

In the same period, almost 5100 Melburnians were treated for alcohol-related injuries and poisoning.

Medications are so addictive that 4400 Victorians sought treatment for addiction last year, Department of Human Services figures show.

Medicare's Prescription Shopping Program last year identified 52,925 Australians suspected of "doctor shopping" for more scripts than they needed.

Such medications kill up to three Australians a day - almost as many as die on roads.

Prescription medication is involved in up to 90 per cent of all drug deaths, says the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine's Prof Olaf Drummer.

Australian Medical Association state vice-president Dr Harry Hemley said dealing with prescription-drug addicts was the most serious problem facing doctors.

In the 12 months to last March -- the latest figures available -- paramedics treated almost 8000 people in Melbourne alone for overdoses of prescription and over-the-counter medications. Most victims were aged in their 30s -- and most were women.

Why is it that so many Australians want to get fucked up on pills and booze?

Is reality really that bad, or boring? Or do we simply love getting high?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Australia Declares "Mission Accomplished" In Iraq

By Darryl Mason

When Australian special forces joined the American war to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait in late 1990, a t-shirt that simply said "Fuck Iraq" became as popular as Guns N' Roses merchandise in suburban Australia.

"Fuck Iraq" also became a fast way to strike down any pub conversation about the impending war. You didn't need to hold an opinion on Iraq War I (or The Gulf War), as it was more than acceptable at the time to mutter "Ahh, fuck Iraq" if you were asked what you thought about George HW Bush Vs Saddam Hussein.

"Fuck Iraq" meant "fuck the Iraqis", it also meant "fuck that place", "fuck Saddam" and "fuck if I give a shit."

No interest, no opinion either way, was no big deal back then.

But for Iraq War II (or more accurately The War On Iraq), you had to have an opinion. You were either for or against the war, and and all were for the Iraqi people.

You weren't allowed to say "fuck the Iraqis". That was far, far worse than saying "Fuck Bush" or "Fuck Howard."

For or against the War On Iraq, everybody seemed to argue that the people of Iraq were the first priority of concern...okay, maybe second priority behind your own armed forces. But close.

We were there to save the Iraqis this time. Not to fuck them.

This wasn't a war against the people of Iraq, we were repeatedly told, it was a war to disarm Saddam Hussein of his WMDs....then it was a war to find Saddam's WMDs....then it was a war to bring order to Baghdad after mass rioting and looting and the first wave of IED attacks...then it was a war to catch Saddam....or his sons....and then it was a war to see justice served up on Saddam's snapped neck...and then it was a war to escort democratic elections under armed guards to the people of Iraq....then it was a war to pacify Fallujah, again...then it was a war to train Iraqi forces....then it was a war to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq...then it was a war to save democracy in Iraq by supporting the newly elected and thoroughly Iran-allied government
...then it was a war to secure the kind of peace that would allow large-scale troop withdrawals
...then it was a war that couldn't be stopped because it would make the Coalition of the Willing (Few) look weak to jihadists across the planet....

But it was never a war against the people of Iraq. Unless they were insurgents, or heavily armed and objected to 4am raids and a kicked in front door. Which was a lot of Iraqis. Or if they had been unemployed for six months and took $50 to dig holes for IEDs along American supply lines.
It wasn't "Fuck Iraq" this time, it was "Save The Iraqis". Those not trying to kill CoW(F) soldiers anyway, even though it was almost impossible to determine who was who in the ghettos of Baghdad, Basra and Fallujah.

John Howard committed Australian troops to the War On Iraq within days of the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and Washington DC. As a witness to the attack on the Pentagon, Howard was right there in American capital during some of the most tumultuous days in American history. Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were discussed before Howard left Washington DC and flew home.

The 'War On Terror', from its genesis, was never simply about finding and killing Osama Bin Laden and crushing Al Qaeda. It was always planned, and discussed, in the White House, in Downing Street, in Kirribilli House, as a war on terrorists and those who supported them, funded them, sheltered them. Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan were from day one viewed by the war's planners as future locations for combat or special operations to kill terrorists. Howard signed on.

John Howard allowed the Australian Defence Forces to start ramping up the numbers of Australian servicemen in the Gulf in mid-2002. Australia sent hundreds of soldiers and sailors to the Gulf in the last three months of 2002, many of whom knew that they were going there for a war, despite the evening news claiming Howard had still not made a decision.

For the three months before Australian and American rockets and missiles ploughed into Baghdad and other targets, in March 2003, Howard refused to confirm the common knowledge in Canberra, in news media editors offices, and shared amongst nearly every military family in the country, that he had told President Bush Australian troops were committed to fighting the War On Iraq, and that Australians were in the Gulf to fight the war.

Howard needed to lie about the fact that Australians and Americans were there to fight a war, regardless of what did or didn't happen in the United Nations Security Council, because so many Australians were opposed to it. When 1 in 20 Australians took to the streets of every major city in Australia to protest the coming War On Iraq, Howard and his supplicant media drones tried to vilify every single protester, including thousands of World War 2, Korea and Vietnam veterans, by claiming their opposition to the illegal use of military force was like giving comfort to Saddam Hussein. By March 2003, more than 70% of Australians were opposed to military action in Iraq.

Howard finally relented and confirmed Australian forces were committed to fighting the War On Iraq a few hours after the first missiles were fired. He then said Australians would be in Iraq "for months, not years" and then lied, or dodged, about the reasons for the war and why Australian soldiers could not come home for dozens of months more.

There's no doubt that Howard's refusal to listen to the will of the Australian people on Iraq played a factor in his humiliating defeat last November.

Howard knew by April-May 2007 that as far as the Australian Army was concerned, they'd done their duty in training up Iraqi police and security forces and keeping safe provinces in Southern Iraq. They were preparing to withdraw most of their combat forces, and start the long process of restocking and repairing and replacing gear, equipment, weapons and vehicles damaged or lost during the years of desert deployment. This decision was made months before Howard called the election. And he knew that. Howard couldn't force the Australian Army to stay in Iraq, and the decision had been made to withdraw.

So why didn't Howard come clean and tell the Australian people that if elected, he, like Rudd, would oversee the withdrawal of Australian combat troops from Iraq in mid-2008? And why did foreign minister Alexander Downer shout in Parliament that even thinking about "cutting and running" from Iraq was giving in to "the terrorists" when he already knew Australian troops were coming home?

Howard's bizarre refusal to confirm what the military, and military families in particular, along with various news media editors and thousands of public servants, already knew as a fact was a repeat of his scandalous behaviour at the start of the war.

His stubborness, his inability to come clean to the Australian people on the end of the Iraq War, as with its beginning, helped to lose him the election. It wasn't the only reason, but Howard's barely believable illusion-weaving throughout four years of war only encouraged Australians to wonder about his honesty when it came to other vital issues, like interest rates, like WorkChoices. Howard's hundreds of spin-filled, forced-empathy hollowed interviews about the Iraq War planted millions of seeds of doubt - we can't trust him on Iraq, so why should we trust him when he says we won't be worse off under IR changes?

The War On Iraq was not simply a heavy chain around Howard's neck, weighed down further by his man-love blushing over President Bush, it was a constant stream of bright sunlight, illuminating Howard's torturing of truth on numerous issues and exposing his inherent dishonesty.

History will record that Australia went to War On Iraq based on a concoction of outright lies, deception and selective use of downright dodgy intelligence, and all of it will indelibly stain Howard's place in the history books.

History will record that the Australian people's rejection of war in dealing with Iraq brought into the streets of our cities and towns the biggest mass-gatherings and protests ever seen.

History will also record that Australian special forces played a vital role in dissuading key Republican Guard majors and generals from backing Saddam Hussein, with suitcases full of cash, many weeks before the war officially began.

And history will record that Australian troops trained tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police personnel, helping to recruit former insurgents and militia men years before it became a policy of the American military to pay and train those who once tried to kill them.

And so we come to the official announcement that Australia's key military role in the War On Iraq has ended :

The chief of the Australian Defence Force has told a parliamentary committee it is time for Australian troops to leave Iraq.

The Federal Government has ordered Australian combat troops be withdrawn from Iraq by the middle of the year.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston says Iraqi forces have faced a number of challenges over the past 18 months and always come out on top without any major support from Australia.

"It's been a very pleasing outcome," he told a Senate estimates committee this morning.

"We have achieved our objectives in southern Iraq and frankly if you look at the two provinces, it's time to leave."

Air Chief Marshal Houston said Australia would still be engaged with Iraq through a broader program focused on training, including bringing members of the Iraqi forces to Australia.

"We will be providing training in Australia," he confirmed.

Houston confirms Australian troops would have pulled out of Iraq in 2008 even if John Howard won the election :
Air Chief Marshal Houston said both al-Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces had been under Iraqi security control for almost two years.

"We have seen very pleasing results from the (Iraqi) security forces deployed in the two provinces," he said.

"They have had a number of security challenges over the months and they have come out on top without any support from us . . .

"When you look at the two provinces, it is time to leave."

Australia's withdrawal was likely to have happened even if the federal coalition had retained government at the last election, Air Chief Marshal Houston said

UPDATE : In an earlier ABC News report, the story claimed that "Australia sent troops into Iraq in March 2003 in support of the US push to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein."

Even the notorious House Of Evil Lefties, according to the nuts and Bolts, has finally brought the new myth, and reported it as fact, that Australia joined the War On Iraq to overthrow Saddam.

But only for a few hours. Commenters pointed out that this was a complete lie, and that Australia went to War On Iraq to stop Saddam from firing his alleged WMDs into England within 45 minutes, or giving non-existent nuclear weapons to Osama Bin Laden.

Here's the ABC News corrected version of why we went to War On Iraq :
"Australian troops have been in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003."
No reason at all is given now.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Latest chapter from the ED Day novel is online now. An excerpt :

He then asked Johnny how they were going to organise themselves when thousands of other survivors reached Sydney.

What exactly was Johnny's big plan to cope with that kind of crises? They can feed a few hundred people, but what if two thousand turn up on a cruise ship, all starving?

"Who are you talking about," he asked Bossbloke. "Who's coming here?"

Bossbloke answered, "...other survivors. People from towns and villages up and down the coast. All those people in the mountains, I saw the fires up there. You could have tens of thousands of survivors turning up here in the next six months. And we will have Army or militia roll back into into the city eventually. They were more prepared than most of the civilians….”

Bossbloke said he didn't know who and when, but he said it was inevitable that others would flock to Sydney, and if there were any surviving members of the state or federal government, or the Army or Navy, they too would return and they would have solid plans for how the new society would grow and flourish and be structured.

"It's been almost eight weeks," Johnny said, "no-one's come yet, mate."

"If we aren't organised," Bossbloke said, the impatience clear in his gruffness, "if we don't have our shit together, if we don't have community leaders, if we don't have structure to our society, then the outsiders will take over. They'll see that we're weak and disorganised, that we're as vulnerable as a little kid lost in the desert. They will crush us and take from us everything we've worked so hard for."

Go Here To Read The Latest Chapter From ED Day

Go Here To Read ED Day From Chapter One

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Great Day In Australia's History

The text of the speech prime minister Kevin Rudd intends to deliver at the 'Sorry' ceremony at Parliament House this morning :
“Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history. We reflect on their past mistreatment. We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation. For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians. A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again. A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity. A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed. A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility. A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia.”

So that's it. That's the 'Sorry' statement so very long in the making.

Was that really so hard? Seriously, a decade of fuss and debate and arguments and bile to get to a point where the elected government can make a statement like that?

It's a bit more flowery and wide-ranging than most Australians would have expected, or wanted, but it states clearly what the majority of Australians have long accepted as truth.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How 'Sorry' Could Lead To Civil War In Australia....If You're One Of Bolt's Brethren

Australia's King Of Conspiracy, Andrew Bolt, has been hyping his brethren for weeks now about tomorrow's official 'Sorry' to the Aboriginal people for the forced removal of their children over six decades.

Andrew Bolt sees a dark conspiracy about an official 'Sorry', as he doesn't believe there are enough "genuinely stolen" Aborigines, if any at all, still alive worthy of being apologised to.

'Sorry' Day, according to Bolt, is "celebrating a lie."

Feel the empathy.

Bolt seems genuinely, and rantingly, disturbed at the idea of Aborigines receiving any kind of apology at all. Ever. For anything. It's all a dark Evil Lefty-Greenie-Commie conspiracy to make white Australians feel ashamed of how white Australians treated Aboriginals..

Today, you can almost hear Bolt's brain snapping a few more strands of sanity as he gags on the suggestion that schools fly an Aboriginal flag on Wednesday morning, and allow students to watch the ceremony on TV :
The NSW Government is stealing children - or at least their minds...
Stealing minds, eh Mr Bolt? Will you the spokesman for the "stolen minds" generation?

Bolt handily gives the impression that schools will be forced by Ruddler to fly Aboriginal flags and children will be herded at gunpoint before TV screens for an indoctrination session. He doesn't bother to tell his legion any involvement by public schools in 'Sorry' ceremonies is voluntary and students don't have to take part if they don't want to.

Unlike the millions of Australian children, over generations, who were forced to sing 'God Save The Queen' at school, under the threat of a solid canning, and were taught that the best thing that ever happened to the world was the British empire, no questions or dissent allowed.

Bolt is building himself a whole stable of conspiracies now - climate change is all hype, global warming is a way to make people pay more taxes, Evil Lefties want American and Australian soldiers to die in Iraq, Kevin Rudd is probably Satan, the economy will decay solely thanks to Lefty-Green-Aboriginal Socialism, Barack Obama will only become US president because he is black - all of which his dedicated followers soak up as hungrily as any newbie 9/11 Truther.

Bolt's Truthers now believe that saying 'Sorry,' flying an Aboriginal flag at a school for one day and encouraging students to watch an historical event and parlimentary ceremony will destroy the nation as we know it and lead to an Aboriginal Vs Whitey civil war, backed by Evil Lefties, Green Nazis and Communists.

Of course, Bolt himself doesn't bother to discourage his brethren from believing they may soon be at war with Aborigines in the streets of their hometowns.

The ranting, the paranoia, the gnashing goes on and on :
"Rudd and co., the activists etc. wont be happy until Australia has a civil war under way I
feel. And our own modern day Che Guevara to boot."

"Stephen Hawke interviewed by the Hills Gazette in WA calls the aboriginies who attacked settlers in the nations early days “guerilla fighters” so its not difficult to see what is in the wind."

"Aboriginies in Adelaide have threatened to “rise up” if the government attempts to remove their aboriginal “embassy” as it is relocated to a more visible site. Now that Rudd and co. have gained government all bets are off "

"All decent Australians should fly the national flag upside down as a sign of distress..."

"...how much of the billions in “compensation” may be perhaps used to continue the
guerilla fight against mainstream Australians which seems to be the prevailing trend at the moment as “Sorry” and “Guilt of the Nation” day fast approaches."

"Parents should consider taking legal action against the moronic schools who will participate in this circus - this is nothing more than brain washing..."

"Can our Australia, after enduring 3 years of this terrifying form of manipulation and indoctrination, actually be salvaged or will it be “game over?”

"They are trying to breed conservatism out and may very well succeed. What brainwashing doesn’t achieve, censorship will."

"The indoctrination is already well in place. I tried to reason with my two teenage daughters about this issue last night and I was howled down with a litany of “stolen generation” propaganda."

"It looks like a scene out of the movie 1984. The next step in this process is to set up the thought police."

"...neo-pagan aboriginal worship."

"While driving to work this morning listening to the ABC’s Radio Communist I mean National..."

"History is being rewritten in front of our eyes. No different to Trotsky and others being airbrushed out of later Soviet pictures."

"...this is how nazi germany started....goebels couldn’t have done any better."

"I have always wondered how on earth Hitler swept people into marching, singing and following him blindly. Now I can see it happening in front of my eyes. I also can see how moderate, thinking people have no weapon against mass-hysteria."

"Just as in Nazi Germany where Hitler’s zealots attacked any who warned them of the error of their ways & the negative consequences upon their own nation. Is it not interesting how these brain dead individuals attack the very people who despair & care about where our nation is heading."

Yes, saying 'Sorry' to the Aboriginal people is a lot like the formation of Nazi Germany. Who can't see that? Nurse, medication.

Perhaps Bolt is looking forward to the dark conspiracies he has seeded amongst his followers actually coming true?

Then, at least, he could claim he was right, on something.
This Is News, Apparently

News.com.au readers are less than impressed, and know they are being fed garbage news :
"Corey has been on news.com.au everyday for the past 2weeks. your site has lost a lot of my respect.

"Please stop reporting on this nobody!!!! Nobody cares about him. Everybody is sick of him. If you did not report stories about him nobody would be sitting around wondering what Corey is up to. He is a retarded phenomena created by a media with nothing to report and elevated to fame by a poor A Current Affair presenter who has no interviewing skills whatsoever."

"Why not put him on Wikipedia and have articles on him everyday? Your agenda is clear - to steer us away from the real news and news behind the news that affects our daily lives."

"Why would you need to still be putting this LOSER in the news. Thought we had seen the last of this jerk. Media must be hard up for news stories.

"...look how far we have come. NEWS.COM.AU should hang your heads in shame at still reporting on this kid."

"Someone was awake at 2:00am writing this "news" article?"

Monday, February 11, 2008

A New Wave In Funerals

When the weather's right, could there be any better, or more Australian, way than this to end a funeral?

Just a few hours earlier, Williams was among (Heath) Ledger's closest family and friends who romped in the waves at Cottesloe Beach, still wearing their funeral clothes, in a joyous celebration of his life as the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

The group laughed and whooped in the water as the hot summer's day came to an end.

Heath Ledger's father Kim shouted, "Hip hip hooray," from the balcony of the Indiana Teahouse, a beachfront restaurant hired for the wake. It was a fitting send-off for the surf-loving actor, who died almost three weeks ago in his New York apartment of an accidental drug overdose.

"It's what Heath would have wanted," one mourner said as he emerged dripping wet from the water.

The impromptu dip summed up the joyous atmosphere at the wake, where several hundred mourners talked, laughed and toasted Ledger into the night on the restaurant's verandas overlooking the sea.

Australia Must Pull Out Of 2008 Olympics If Athletes Are Forced To Sign STFU Contracts By Chinese Government

By Darryl Mason

There are some things more important than sport. China is about to find out what that really means.

British athletes have been told they must sign contracts that will censor them from telling the truth about the China they see and experience during this year's Olympic Games.

No talk of human rights, or intolerably cruel training regimes inflicted on children, nor talk of the occupation of Tibet will be allowed by British athletes when they are in front of the media at Beijing in a few months time.

If they break the rule, if they use freedom of speech - the most basic human right of all - they will be propelled towards the next plane home. If enough of them speak out at once, as a group, there will probably be a special plane waiting to remove them from the country.

How can Australian athletes be subjected to the denial of freedom of speech, and freedom to publicly empathise, and still board a plane to Beijing?

You would expect that many Australian athletes, or all of them, will refuse to agree to this appalling demand by the Chinese government.

You would expect to hear our prime minister publicly state that unless the Chinese government withdraws its demands for Australians at the 2008 Olympics to not talk about their experiences in China, there will be no Australian Olympic team in Beijing.

You would expect the prime minister to back the side of human rights and freedom of speech and not agree with the Chinese government.

But will he?

The story :

The controversial clause has been inserted into athletes' contracts for the first time and forbids them from making any political comment about countries staging the Olympic Games.

Yesterday the British Olympic Association (BOA) confirmed to The Mail on Sunday that any athlete who refuses to sign the agreements will not be allowed to travel to Beijing.
The BOA took the decision even though other countries – including the United States, Canada, Finland, and Australia – have pledged that their athletes would be free to speak about any issue concerning China.

Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates said: “What we will be saying to the athletes is that it's best to concentrate on your competitions.

“But they're entitled to have their opinions and express them. They're free to speak.”

So that means Australian athletes will not sign the STFU contracts, right?

Go Here To Read Darryl Mason's New Online Novel, ED Day, Telling Of The Lives Of 300 Survivors In Sydney After The Bird Flu Pandemic

The insertion of a clause that forbids Olympic athletes from making 'political comment' about the host is not just for China.

The STFU deal will also be in force when the 2012 Olympics roll around.

In London.

Update : The English language version of China's 'theme' for this year's Olympics is :

Only the one dream?

From the 'One World, One Dream' site :
"One World, One Dream" is simple in expressions, but profound in meaning.

It voices the aspirations of 1.3 billion Chinese people to contribute to the establishment of a peaceful and bright world.

In Chinese, the word "tongyi", which means "the same", is used for the English word "One". It highlights the theme of "the whole Mankind lives in the same world and seeks for the same dream and ideal".

One World. Same World.

The difference between those two descriptions of a united world could not be more immense. Or pronounced.

Do we all really 'seek for the same dream and ideal'?

Is that the kind of world we want to live in?

Sounds boring.

And more than a little creepy.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Afghan Heroin Express

Good news junkies :
A resurgent Taliban and its terrorist activities isn't the only concern with Afghanistan.

In recent months there's been a big increase in the production of heroin and more of the drug is finding its way onto Australian streets.

Afghan Brown heroin used to be rare in Australia, but a boom in opium production has made Afghanistan a major exporter and Australia a prime market.

...According to figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Afghan opium production is booming. It now accounts for 90 per cent of the world's supply. And much of this is produced in areas controlled by the Taliban.

Traditionally, Australian heroin users preferred so-called China White heroin which is imported from south-east Asia. But now drug users' groups say there is an unprecedented shift towards Afghan Brown heroin in some parts of the country.

Cheaper, smokeable heroin means more weekend users and more junkies. More junkies, more crime. More crime, higher insurance.

What the Taliban once took away, the 'War on Terror' has now returned.
Party Colleagues Want Brendan Nelson Gone From Leadership Within A Year

Nelson "Insincere, Fake....A Nobody"

Opposition leader Brendan Nelson must be a haunted man. Particularly after reading this article.

Nelson's obvious disgust at having to back Labor on the long overdue end to the stalling and conspiracy-mongering of saying 'Sorry' to Aborigines made him look a truly pathetic man when he had to front the media and declare he had changed his mind on one of the most controversial issues of the John Howard era in only a handful of weeks.

Brendan Nelson - November, 2007 :
"...we have no responsibility to apologise or take ownership for what was done by earlier generations," he said.

The 'Sorry' problem for the Liberals is intense, and it keeps detonating again and again under their feet, like unexploded daisy cutter mines had been scattered throughout their offices by the Labor Party.

Malcolm Turnbull is said to have lost his shot at the leadership of the Liberal Party because he supported a national 'Sorry' statement and official apology for numerous past crimes against the Aboriginal People, and because he did not consult enough, or often enough, with the partyroom before he went to the media and started making declarations.

Nelson supposedly did the right thing, by "consulting with the partyroom" before he announced that numerous Liberals who believe in the Andrew Bolt "unstolen generation" conspiracy would keep their mouths shut and give their backing to something they truly didn't believe in.

A number of senior Liberals find the word "stolen", as in "stolen generation", utterly repellent.

Why, they wonder, can't we simply call them "The Saved Generation."?

Malcolm Turnbull recently got an insight into how some senior Liberals regard him when he was told he was being "too fucking sensitive" by the Opposition senate leader, Nick Minchin, in front of colleagues :

The row started outside of the party room on Thursday, after Senator Minchin went on ABC radio and confirmed Mr Turnbull lost the leadership because his public support for an apology to the stolen generation suggested he would not consult the partyroom.

After Mr Turnbull told him the comments were "unhelpful'' because the whole leadership debate was settling down, Senator Minchin is understood to have yelled at his frontbench colleague, declaring he was "too f..king sensitive'' as he walked away.

Brendan Nelson's leadership of the Liberal Party is stripping away the layers of Howard-era conservatism. Now they're 'Sorry', they're against killing whales, they like Green things, they don't like WorkChoices.

What other old beliefs, clinging on like barnacles, will Liberal conservatives have to betray or cast aside to re-sell themselves to under 40s Australians as "The Ones Who Really Care. Really."

Whatever kind of Liberal Party emerges at the other end of its Renovation Rescue-like attempt to revive a staid room by only changing the curtains, it probably won't have Brendan Nelson as its leader :

"He's a nobody, who is insincere and fake,'' one Liberal said.

"If he was here by the end of the year I would be very surprised. (Turnbull) is clearly the preferred person.''
Sometimes it's not so nice to know what your colleagues really think of you. Particularly if you're Brendan Nelson.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

This Violent Pisshead Nation

The Cronulla Race Riots : the day the world saw the savage, ugly face of alcohol-fueled violence in Australia

The British still lead the world for alcohol-related violence, abuse and psychotic levels of binge-drinking. But Australians are rapidly closing the gap :

The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AER) says the level of alcohol abuse in Australia is unacceptable, and it is causing more harm than tobacco smoking.

A study commissioned by the AER asked 1,000 people about their experiences with alcohol over the Chrismas-New Year period.

Head of the foundation, Daryl Smeaton, says in that time 2.2 million Australians over the age of 14 experienced physical or verbal abuse from someone who had been drinking.

"It's involved in so much family violence and sexual assault and child abuse," he said.

"It is the major contributor to harms from personal assaults, it still contributes to 30 per cent of the deaths from motor vehicle accidents."

Mr Smeaton says the Federal Government has already identified alcohol as one of the main causes of chronic disease.

"They need to go further, they need to acknowledge that alcohol is the number one health and social problem in Australia," he said.

He says the first step is restricting the trading hours of bars, to prevent drunk people congregating on the streets late at night.

When I was a kid growing up in Sydney's western suburbs, not only was gutter-crawling alcoholism socially acceptable, stumbling drunk children were a perfectly reasonable source of comedy at school and town fetes and local rugby league games. Booze-soaked domestic violence was nothing out of the ordinary. The beaten wife was usually regarded as the problem, not the heavy drinking husband.

I still remember adults in the local supermarket gossiping about a young woman doing her weekly shopping whose entire face was black, blue and purple. Her husband was a known violent alcoholic, but was usually referred to as "a bloody great bloke".

"She shouldn't wind him up like she does," one of the gossiping, older woman said about the savagely beaten young woman. "But she'll learn."

Her husband beat her to death a few years later.

It's a rare day indeed that you see headlines containing the words 'Cannabis Fueled Violence'.

Alcohol Use Amongst Adolescents Linked To Violent, Suicidal Behaviour

Alcohol Fuels Nationwide Violence

"Go Study Porn" Teacher Gets Promoted

It's a fair bet that a number of this teacher's students were already studying the topic :
Mark Heiberg won a promotion after Victoria's teacher watchdog dismissed a complaint about his assignment entitled: "Is Nudity and Pornography the same thing?"
He told his year eight male students to use the internet for study purposes.
Mr Heiberg said he did not intend for children to download pornographic images, and stood by the assignment.

"When I said use the internet, I didn't mean look at pictures of pornography. It was to get a definition," he told the Herald Sun.

"I think it's appropriate that kids know the difference, because there's so much out there."

The aim of the task, which asks students to define nudity and pornography, is to help students clarify their values.

The Department of Education said the children did not embark on the task...

"Students never undertook this assignment, as it was removed from their computers as soon as the principal became aware of its existence," spokeswoman Melissa Arch said.
How deep into the pages of Google search results would you have to delve to find anything on porn that did not contain pornographic images?

Excuse me, I have to go now and clarify my values.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Police Association Warns Against Fast Introduction Of Harsher Ant-Terror Laws

Many in the Australian media are still picking their jaws back up off the ground following a speech by Mick Keelty, the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, which many in the media claimed was a barely disguised call for a ban to be imposed that would block news media from reporting on terrorism cases.

Mick Keelty

Call me old fashioned, but I don't believe anyone accused of, or charged with, a crime can receive a fair trial if the matter is tested in the court of public opinion before being appropriately tested in a court of law.

It will always be a challenge to get the equilibrium just right, but let's not forget that it is these freedoms that we want to enjoy and protect for the whole community.

(At times when) I find myself not in complete agreement with the conclusions reached by some members of the press, I try to remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said: "Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."

Now the chief executive of the Australian Federal Police Association has issued a warning of his own - that Australian citizens, police and politicians enough time to get their heads around the harsh changes to freedom and liberty in Australia imposed by the former Howard government before new, and more extreme anti-terror laws are introduced :

Echoing the fears of civil libertarians across Australia, AFPA chief executive officer Jim Torr warned against the rapid adoption of new counter-terrorist powers.

"We are of the view that the counter-terrorism legislation is so wide ranging as it stands, and so new to policing and concepts of policing, that any further changes to it should proceed with caution."

Mr Torr warned that the counter-terrorism legislation already introduced in Australia needed digesting before anything new was added.

"It involves concepts that are alien to decades and decades of policing, that is, taking a person into custody without immediately taking them before a magistrate or a bail court or a judge," he said.

"And that is new to policing; it's entirely new."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Incoming : Classified US Spy Satellite Could Plough Into Australia

Skylab debris in the Esperance museum (photo credit)

The US government refuses to confirm that the surveillance satellite now falling from orbit and possibly heading for Australia in the next few weeks is the classified military satellite USA 193.

But specialists and amateur satellite trackers have few doubts about which satellite is coming down.

The USA 193 weighs about 4000 kilograms and is the size of a small bus. Most of the satellite is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, but large pieces of debris may be heading for Australia.

The Australian government agency Emergency Management Australia has "a number of contingency plans" if the satellite ends up on course for Australia. An approximate destination for the satellite debris is not expected to be known until a day or two before it impacts.

Considering the USA 193 is a classified American military spy satellite, you'd presume that American military agencies already based in Australia are helping formulate those contingency plans :

The plan was developed in 2001 when there was a remote possibility of debris from the Mir space station falling on Australia.

"It's expected to land somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, and that's a big space...Mind you, Skylab was supposed to land in the ocean."

The 78-tonne US space station's crash to earth in 1979 spread debris across the south of Western Australia.

How did some of the affected WA shires respond. Esperance issued the US government with a $400 littering fine and then put some of the Skylab debris on display its shire museum.

There is plenty of informed speculation that the "hazardous materials" on board USA 193 is hydrazine (a propellant) and possibly beryllium (used in satellite solar panels and mirrors).

Neither is good news.

Hydrazine is highly toxic and dangerously unstable, especially in the anhydrous form. Symptoms of acute exposure to high levels of hydrazine in humans may include irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, dizziness, headache, nausea, pulmonary edema, seizures, coma, and it can also damage the liver, kidneys, and central nervous system. The liquid is corrosive and may produce dermatitis from skin contact in humans and animals. Effects to the lungs, liver, spleen, and thyroid have been reported in animals chronically exposed to hydrazine via inhalation. Increased incidences of lung, nasal cavity, and liver tumors have been observed in rodents exposed to hydrazine.
Beryllium :
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), beryllium and beryllium compounds are Category 1 carcinogens; they are carcinogenic to both animals and humans.
Some more on USA 193 :
The experimental L-21 classified satellite, built for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, was launched successfully on Dec. 14 but has been out of touch since reaching its low-earth orbit.

Limited data received from the satellite indicated that its on-board computer tried rebooting several times, but those efforts failed, said one official, who is knowledgeable about the program and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The satellite carried sophisticated cameras to take high-resolution pictures and test equipment intended for use on the broader Future Imagery Architecture (FIA) program, in which both Boeing Co. and Lockheed are involved.
More info from Arms Control Wonk, and some interesting comments, here.

The most likely time period for re-entry of USA 193, according to this site, is late March.

Crashed US Spy Satellite May Be Boon For Souvenir Hunters Wanting To Flog Parts On E-Bay

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Rare Find

Australian soldier Jack Millet tried to escape from German prisoner of war camps so often, during WW2, he was shifted to the 'Alcatraz of German prison camps', also known as Colditz. He planned to escape from there, too.

Recently, hand drawn maps of the countryside surrounding the prison camp came to light when it went up for auction in Perth. The maps are now part of the Australian War Memorial's extensive collection of Colditz memorabilia.

Amazing story :

The maps were drawn by Western Australian Lieutenant Jack Millet who was captured in Crete in 1941 and sent to the Oflag IV-C high security camp two years later after several escape attempts.

Oflag IV-C - more commonly known as Colditz - was a converted castle in the eastern German town of Colditz near Dresden that was used to hold high risk POW's who had tried to escape from other camps.

AWM curator Nick Fletcher says the Germans considered Colditz escape proof.

Map expert Dianne Rutherford says if Lieutenant Millet had been caught making the maps he would have certainly been put in solitary confinement.

"As the main map maker, he would have been a key person in the escape committees and he was most likely encouraged not to escape because his skills as a map maker would have been so important that they would have preferred for him to remain in the camp to assist others in escaping," she said.

Blair Is Back...But Not Up To Full Speed

Tim Blair is out from under the knife and back home recovering. Probably to his bemusement, and even slight dismay, Blair has had to admit that :

Leftist bloggers have been extremely kind and encouraging in comments about my illness.

Most of them. I deleted three anonymous comments from a previous post about Blair's cancer battle, but they were so over-the-top and ridiculously vile they could have only come from someone wanting to supply material for a later "Lookit! Lookit those sick Lefties so full of hate! Hate I tell you!"

Of course Evil Lefties don't want Tim Blair to log off permanently. Where's the fun in that?

I'll put it down to his no doubt hard and painful recovery, but Blair has been completely suckered in by a heavily parsed quote from Bill Clinton where he supposedly said :
We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.’
It's the kind of Evil Lefties Want To Destroy World Economies money shot quote that gets the anti-progress Righties all het up and frothy.

Bill Clinton's a bloated old windbag, but even he wouldn't be stupid enough to give the anti-progress, anti-renewable energy chorus such a ammo dump of a quote. Here's what Clinton actually said :

"And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada -- the rich counties -- would say, 'OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' We could do that.

But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.”

I expect Andrew Bolt will be suckered in by this heavily parsed Clinton quote as well.

UPDATE : Tim Blair gets the message :
The US ABC network’s Jake Tapper, source of the Clinton quote, has badly misrepresented him - as have I by repeating it.

....there’s no way (Clinton) could fairly be accused of urging an economic slowdown.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Power Of Heath Ledger....And The 'Drug Video'

An early poster showing Heath Ledger as The Joker in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight. Already tipped to be one of the most collectible movie posters in years.

One of the world's most popular TV shows focusing on Hollywood yesterday went all-out with its heavy promotion of a cell phone video it planned to air "exclusively" tonight showing Heath Ledger talking about how heavily he used to smoke pot, while others in the hotel room snorted (presumably) cocaine off a table.

But within hours of pumping the 'Ledger drug video', Entertainment Tonight has pulled the plug on its plan to air the video, which would have likely proved to be one of the biggest ratings draws of the year.

The show's producers claim they decided to dump the "exclusive" out of respect for Heath Ledger's family.

Yeah, right.

But the word coming back from friends in LA is that everyone is talking about a planned boycott of Entertainment Tonight by some of the world's biggest movie, music and TV stars if the screening of the 'Ledger drug video' went ahead.

That Entertainment Tonight had even planned to air the video has apparently caused a number of high-profile movie stars, with big movies to promote in the coming months, to already pull out of scheduled interviews with Entertainment Tonight. One LA friend claims the list includes Christian Bale (co-star of The Dark Knight, in which Ledger plays The Joker) and Harrison Ford (who is about to start pumping the fourth Indiana Jones movie).

So the threat from the movie, TV and music stars was : do this and you won't have a show, because you won't get anything more from us.

The threat clearly worked.

But while Ledger clearly had some close friends in Hollywood, and many admirers as well, there's more to the planned boycott of Entertainment Tonight than mere good will and respect to Ledger's family.

The other part of the story is that the owner of the 'Ledger drug video' reportedly scored more than $200,000 for his/her cell phone clip. This was big news across all the American TV networks.

That sort of bounty might prove to be far too tempting for many Hollywood movie, TV and music stars to continue trusting their personal staff, drivers, office secretaries and just about anyone they come into contact with.

Not everyone supposedly involved in the planned boycott threat to Entertainment Tonight is afraid they will be videod banging back drugs and rambling about their consumption, because plenty of them have left those days far behind, but there are obviously still enough big stars doing drugs to worry about what sort of precedent Entertainment Tonight was about to set.

Hollywood stars will tolerate shows like Entertainment Tonight, with vast audiences, reporting on their infidelities, their marriage breakdowns, their divorces, their drunk driving convictions, but lifting the lid on Hollywood & Drugs appears to go beyond the beyond.

Clips from the 'banned' video, meanwhile, are getting massive air-time on Australian TV and online media.

So much for Ledger's family and friends being spared having to be exposed to the footage.

UPDATE : The story of how Hollywood stars rallied to stop Entertainment Tonight airing the Ledger 'drug video' has now hit the mainstream media.