(Original post July 2013, for some unidentified reason WP re-dated this post when I edited a couple of typo’s during the summer.)

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.

So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.

I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.

Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.

What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.

The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Chelsea Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.

This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

NORML protest poster 29 Oct

Billy McKee is facing four charges of selling small quantities of cannabis to an undercover policeman, and one of cultivating the plant. He is being sentenced 30th October at Palmerston North High Court.

So here’s the plan, we are arriving at Palmerston North High Court on 29th October by 4:00 pm for a public display of non-violent civil disobedience at 4:20 pm, we will then picket the courthouse until 8pm at which our overnight candlelight vigil will begin, devoted to Billy McKee and in solidarity with all medical cannabis users around NZ and the world.

From 10am on 30th October we will picket the courthouse and sit with him in the courtroom until he is sentenced and freed.

Everyone is encouraged to come along. We need to people to share this event and invite their friends, social media is a very powerful tool so let’s use it!

We are traveling from around the country to support Billy McKee, who is a medical cannabis user, amputee and director of GreenCross.org.nz

Recently Green party co-Leader Meteria Turei wrote a post on frogblog about Billy’s case – Billy McKee should be discharged.

Billy McKee, who hosts the GreenCross NZ medical cannabis users website, was arrested in 2010 on charges relating to his medical cannabis use.

Billy campaigns for legalisation of cannabis, and considers that it is one of the best medications to deal with chronic pain.

Supporters from Invercargill to Auckland converged on Palmerston North on September 3, 2012 outside the District Court to stage a peaceful protest in support of Billy Mckee.

Billy lost a leg below the knee when a drunk driver deliberately rammed his motorbike over 30 years ago. The incident resulted in him being confined to a wheelchair and in constant pain from nerve damage to the stump as well as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

The pain medications he was prescribed by doctors caused intolerable side effects where even driving was considered unsafe. He found that the only thing that controlled his pain, depression, irritability and other symptoms, while still allowing him to function, was cannabis.

This led him to study the medical benefits of cannabis, become a counsellor and form GreenCross, an organisation devoted to helping sick people obtain relief through the medicinal use of cannabis.

McKee now faces jail time for running GreenCross and helping sick patients obtain their medicine.

He was entrapped by an undercover police officer posing as someone suffering from severe migraines. McKee said that migraines can indicate in the early stages of brain tumors and many people have found that cannabis relieves the symptoms of migraines and allows them to function normally.

McKee accepted the young man as being a genuine sufferer. The undercover cop appealed to his compassion in asking Billy to supply him with cannabis. Billy says, “I was really worried about him.”

As a result of trying to help someone, Billy is now facing charges that could see him sent to prison for up to eight years. Prison terms have also been imposed on other medical cannabis users due to a law that lacks compassion.

McKee, who is going to a jury trial, is calling for jury nullification of the charges of the grounds they breach his human rights.

The case continues on Tuesday morning, beginning at 10.00am in Palmerston North District Court.

Update:

Tuesday’s Court hearings were mostly held in closed Court, due to Police undercover investigators testifying. Evidence was not completed by the close of day and the hearings were adjourned until Wednesday morning.

Wednesday saw the end of evidence production and summing up by the Crown prosecutor and defense. The Jury retired at 11am to consider the charges, and came out with verdicts at 2.25pm after breaking for lunch.
Billy McKee was convicted on five charges. Sentencing has been set down for Palmerston North District Court on the 30th October, 2012. Billy has been bailed to his home address while awaiting sentencing.

Back Benches returned to our screens last week with a ‘What were the issues in 2011’ review show, which was a comfy memory jog when I finally caught up with it on Sunday morning. I’m still in holiday mode, what can I say. 04 Jan and 11 Jan 12 episodes for those who like links supplied.

There has been some very valid commentary in the Listener about the demise of Stratos, and the threat to TV7, made by Toby Manhire. There’s also a profile of Wallace in the issue that appeared 14th January, by the estimable Jane Tolerton, whose collective biographies have been very popular.

In case any of the rest of you are also travelling, you might want to coincide your travels with the itinerary of Back Benches as it takes to the road and hits the provinces, starting with Hamilton this Wednesday. The venue is House on Hood, 27 Hood St, Hamilton, for those who are locals. Be there around 7pm to get a meal, or 8pm to get a seat & a drink before filming begins (assuming ‘home rules’ apply in out of town venues, lol.) I can’t vouch for the place, haven’t been there despite rellies in the Waikato, but I’m sure Wallace and Damian have had it well-vetted by the Production Crew. Apparently Pam Corkery will be in attendance, along with the panel of MP’s Tim Macindoe (Nat) Catherine Delahunty (Greens) Sue Moroney (Lab) , Tracey Martin (NZ First).

Then the Tour continues to Rotorua on the 25th of January, at The Shed, 1166 Amohau Street, Rotorua, which will be broadcast live, and followed on the 26th in Taupo at The Shed, 18 Tuwharetoa Street, Taupo – which will be broadcast the following week as a pre-recorded show.
After a week off, they come down to Wanganui to Stellar, 2 Victoria Avenue, Wanganui, for the final live-to-air session on the 8th February. For more details on these sessions, see Wallace’s blog.
There may be continued presence of NORML/ALCP campaigners, they seem to be a tenacious bunch, and fond of pub politics. Might be a bit early in the year for the campus political groups, however. All the more reason to tune in & see what comes up.

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