Monthly Archives: March 2014

Convergence: The Death or Birth of Radio?

“Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audiences.” – Henry Jenkins (2004)

The technological coup that has rapidly taken hold of the entire planet over the last few decades has had a significant impact upon the continuously changing and evolving nature of the relationship between the producer and the consumer in this digital landscape. No longer are the producers selling a product to their audience, but rather they are selling their audience to their product, and no longer are these consumers passive in the face of the producers, but rather progressively more and more active, expressive and dictatorial (Jenkins, 2004). As a result of this, producers in all fields have had to re-think their pre-historic strategies and ways of thinking in order to avoid becoming forgotten relics themselves (Jenkins, 2004).

In relation to radio, the ability to adapt to this new environment and evolve to survive is best embodied by Pandora Internet Radio. During recent decades consumers have seen a major flaw in the traditional radio: the inability to connect and personalise. Regardless of how broad the music they broadcast may be, no analogue radio station can please all of its listeners. This results in an estranged audience where no one group or person is fully satisfied with their experience. However, what Pandora have done is give their audience that ability to truly connect with and personalise their radio experience through the Music Genome Project (Pandora, 2012). This technology enables users to create their own personal stations based on genre, artist or temporal preference, have an array of free songs selected and played for them based on these preferences, share the music they enjoy and give feedback so to further narrow down Pandora’s selection of music to a very specific musical formula that reflects their tastes, however, only if they agree to the strict terms and conditions surrounding piracy and copyright enforced by Pandora (Pandora, 2012). It is this new ability to “to archive, annotate, appropriate and recirculate media content in powerful (but controlled) new ways” (Jenkins, 2004) that has resulted in Pandora’s huge success.

Reference List:
1. Jenkins, H 2004, The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence, in ‘International Journal of Cultural Studies’, Volume 7(1), pp. 33-42
2. http://www.pandora.com/about, Pandora Media, Inc. 2012, About Pandora, Oakland

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Consider yourself a puppet.

What do you believe to be real? Well depending on who you are, where you live and what your role in society is this question can be answered in many more ways than I think could ever be a good thing. According to Professor Keith Wilson’s study into the power of the media, approximately 75% of Americans believe almost everything that they read, whether that be in the newspaper, an online journal or simply scribbled on the wall of a public toilet (Wilson, 2006). This statistic is quite disconcerting when you think about what history has taught us in regard to the possible outcomes of mass media control, propaganda and censorship.

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A few examples that come to mind include a British newspaper headline referring to the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War I, where 60,000 British soldiers were killed in 24 hours, which read “A very satisfactory first day – slight Allies losses” (Pitt, 2012), Rupert Murdoch’s the Sunday Telegraph’s blatant campaign ad entitled “Australia Needs Tony” that was published on their front page in the lead up to the 2013 Federal election (McMahon, 2013) and the Chinese government’s complete censorship of all media reports about the Tiananmen Square shootings in 1989 and any words or code terms used online that could relate to what Chinese Communist party officials only refer to as the “June 4th Incident” (Kaiman, 2013).

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The original photo of the “Tank Man” in Tiananmen Square alongside various other appropriations and versions that have also been completely censored in China by the Communist government (Ref 4)

Many of us carry on with our lives believing that our thoughts are our own and that we are the masters of our own views and opinions. However, if you were to ask a Japanese high school student about their country’s involvement in World War 2, the war crimes that their government ordered, the 200,000 “comfort women” from territories occupied by Japan that were forced into being sex slaves for troops of the Japanese army and the two atomic bombs that reduced Nagasaki and Hiroshima to charred graveyards in August 1995 many of them would stare back in disbelief (Mariko, 2013). This demonstrates just how much control over the media can impact upon our views of the world that we live in, and how our seemingly ‘individual’ thoughts and opinions can be moulded like soft clay by the people, governments and organisations with monopolies over media ownership. So next time you read something in the newspaper, or from an online journal, or in the 7:30 news or simply on the wall next to the urinal try to stop and think about whether any kind of bias or censorship may be coming through in that text because of the owners of that media outlet and whether you will allow yourself to become just another puppet in the hands of those who control the media that you use.

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Reference List:
1. Wilson, K (2006), 75% of Americans Believe Everything They Read, Random Perspective, UK
2. Pitt, J (2012), ‘The Great War’, pp 13, Allen & Unwin, Sydney
3. McMahon, J (2013), Political front page causes a stir, Australian Broadcasting Company, Sydney
4. Kaiman, J (2013), Tiananmen Square online searches censored by Chinese authorities, The Guardian, London
5. Mariko, O (2013), What Japanese history lessons leave out, British Broadcasting Company, London
6. Sack, J (2011), Media Puppet Show, Corporate Watch Project, Northwich
7. Mort (2013), The Best Evidence You Have Ever Seen That Puppet Masters Script Mainstream News Reports, Before Its News, California


A quick glimpse into the head of a weirdo.

When I first got told that I had to make a blog for two of my uni subjects I was anything but thrilled. I find it tedious enough changing my Facebook profile picture often enough that I keep up with my age and posting status’ regular enough that society remembers that I’m still alive so the idea of having to write regular blog posts in this thing wasn’t exactly something I was looking forward to. But somehow something weird has happened since then, maybe someone made the commendable effort to trek it out to my house in the middle of nowhere and hit me over the head in my sleep, maybe a bug has crawled inside my brain and is messing with all of my inner wiring or maybe somehow I’m actually just kinda enjoying this for my own reasons.

Anyway, I thought to myself that it was pretty crumby that this blog had to be all about the media and Pandora internet radio and asylum seekers and neo-Nazis and all the other weird stuff I’m going to post about (even though I do find all of that stuff really interesting) when there was so much more creative and fun stuff that I’d like to write about and post here. The only problem is that when it comes to this sort of thing I always find a way to make the single worst first impression humanly possible and then spend an eternity trying to reassure the other person that theres more to me than dead baby jokes and Holocaust puns. However, this time I’ve been determined to say something that, regardless of its likely reception, actually does represent a larger part of me and not just the small talk I put on to get through awkward situations.

That part of me is the writer and the poet. The arty farty snob with the pen and paper who sits on his high chair drinking ridiculous types of exotic tea and correcting the bad grammar of the common folk beneath him. The guy who chains himself to the computer whilst he cyclicly dissects and rearranges one seemingly insignificant sentence until it finally evolves into the beautiful version of itself he always saw in it. The guy who goes out and experiences the most trivial and peculiar of things just so he can write about them with that little bit more authenticity and credibility for his dedicated audience of three: Mum, Dad and my girlfriend, Chantelle.

So anyway, I wrote this piece a week or so ago for my Creative Writing class at uni because I just thought that despite all of the changes in Crime Fiction and Non-Fiction over the years from the original stories of Sherlock Holmes to the absurdist Stoppard play The Real Inspector Hound to the latest season of NCIS or The Mentalist, barely enough writers have ever dared to delve into what every last detail must look and feel like from the perspective of the flawed, damaged murderer and not just the dashing and brilliant detective. As a kid I always liked to see things from the view of the bad guy, from Freddie Krueger to Leatherface to Jigsaw and all of the other wacko characters out there, just to better get a grip of why everything was happening the way it was, and not simply what was happening. Some of you may read that and straight away hear the ‘Serial Killer Alert’ sound ringing all around you, but don’t worry, I assure you I’m much more curious than psychopathic. So anyway, this post has drawn out far too long as do most of the things I write so I’ll finish up by just saying that this story is only a first draft and the first thing that I have written in over 6 months, and also the first time I have ever tried writing something like this so I hope that whoever is reading this finds a way to enjoy it or at least get through it, even if that does in turn make you as weird as me. (And on that note, I’d just like to commend anyone who even made it this far through this post! Well done, you’re getting a gold star either way)

‘The Ripper: The Shadow of Whitechapel’
by Tom Fogarty

I remember she looked so beautiful standing there that night. Her petite hand raised over her juicy lips as she tried to stop her rum breath from leaking out onto the man before her, her shoulders sinking and rising like the tide as she foolishly swayed back and forth, and her twirling blonde hair dancing in the rays of the street light as if to some kind of beautiful melody that fell silent on my ears. There was a whole aura that floated around her like a screen through which the rest of us looked in on. She was nothing like the girls before; the washed up, unwanted, pathetic leftovers of society. No, she was above all of them. She was perfect. And I wanted her.

They stood there for some time, the two of them, their drunken voices echoing out through the quiet, deserted back streets of London. But eventually he lent in and whispered something in her ear, brushing her long hair aside as he did so. She looked up towards the empty sky, as if for some divine intervention, but as he pulled back she brought her head down again and smiled, a small shiver of submission running through her body as she did so. Suddenly his eyes lit up hungrily and a crooked smile stretched across his rough face. His breaths had grown deeper and more deliberate, large clouds of steam escaping from his mouth and nostrils before rapidly dissipating into the light of the lamp above. He reached out and put his hand on her hip, and then after a moment’s hesitation she turned and they walked down Miller’s Court towards her small room, the back of her blood red scarf shining out from beneath her heavy jacket like a flash of fire against the night sky as they faded into the black of the alley.

From outside the cracked window I watched as they fucked. His depraved body on top of hers, beating her into the bed as if out of some malicious hatred. She lay there limply, letting out short artificial moans as he pounded her fragile body into that mattress over and over and over again… And then it was over. She lay there topless on the bed, watching as the cold November rain flowed down the stained glass, slowly leaking in through the fissures and trickling around the small pile of twenty pound notes left on the windowsill. He was gone and she was alone. Like a helpless, wounded animal she began waywardly staggering around the cramped room as she began to tidy up. A light breeze had begun to drift in through the window, playing with her loose white undergarment as she wandered around the space. Her soft, corrupted voice seeped out of the window and into the night as she began to quietly sing to herself as she did so,

“Well I remember my dear old mother’s smile,
As she used to greet me when I returned from toil,
Always knitting in the old arm chair,
Father used to sit and read for all us children there,
But now all is silent around the good old home;
They all have left me in sorrow here to roam,
But while life does remain, in memoriam I’ll retain
This small violet I plucked from mother’s grave…”

She was still singing when I came in through the door, her body facing the far wall as she folded clothes into her bedside cupboard. I waited at first, taking in my last opportunity to watch her as she carried on blissfully unaware of the event to come. My eyes followed her smooth legs up from her feet to the back of her slightly bent knees to her thighs and then to the teasing curved lines just below her lingerie where her rounded buttocks began. And then with one swift movement I leapt forward, like a viper onto a helpless mammal, the soles of my shoes barely gracing the floor as I swept across the room and plummeted into her body. I remember hearing the first raw orgasm of the night leave her wet lips as steel met skin and the untamed deluge of carnality rushed through her panicked veins. Her body trembled at first, shaking back and forth sporadically as choked screams and hysterical breaths continued to leak from her open mouth. I tightened my grip on her arm, holding her still as I drove the blade further into her flesh.

The muscle and organs felt incredible, tightening up just enough that I could feel every soft layer as the knife buried deeper and deeper into them. This was where a woman showed her talent, and where the true beauties of this world rose above the rest. And then suddenly I felt some resistance – I had hit bone. I leant in, putting all of my weight and force into her, pushing and pushing as the agonizing sound of the bone bending and splintering continued to mount until the tension reached breaking point and the explosive crack thundered through her whole body. The blade was then free to plunge in and tear through her, and the conception was finally complete. I held her there for another moment, feeling every drop of heat bleed from her trembling body, flow over my hands and pool around my feet until the final breath left her cold lips and she collapsed like a limp doll in the puddle before me.

I remember the thud of her body hitting the floor echoing around me as if in a distant dream as I stood there consumed by the euphoria. Time seemed to stop and accelerate all at once as the onslaught of silence rung through my ears and the blood trickled out across the room. The whole world seemed to be tearing itself apart and reforming all around me as I lifted her from the timber and spread her out across the bed. If what had just happened was like a waking dream than what followed could only be described as conscious sleepwalking. I was not so much fulfilling my fantasies on her but rather watching on as they were inflicted by another before me. The last thing I recall was turning around as I closed the door and gazing in awe at the beautiful artwork painted all over the room and the fulfilled body lying sprawled upon the bed. It was truly my masterpiece.

Since that night I have watched the world crumble and the rigor mortis set in as photographs of Mary Jane Kelly leaked out. I have seen the generic sketches and blurred CCTV images plastered on telegraph poles and displayed on televisions around Whitechapel. I have heard the trembled whispers hovering through the streets like a dark cloud over the city. I have smelt the fear permeating from the mothers and fathers and children of this place like a foul odour. I have felt smooth skin turn to goosebumps and quiver under my touch and I have tasted the warm blood that these people have to offer me. And after all of it I can say that everything they have said about me is wrong. I am neither man amongst them nor a demon above them, neither a figure on a screen nor a face on the wall, and neither the salvation nor damnation of the society that I have laid waste to. I am but a name, a myth, a peripheral shadow that moves in the darkness. I am Jack the Ripper.

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Jack The Ripper, wallpoper.com (2012)


Should there be a price for streaming unlimited free music?

“To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text” – Roland Barthes (1967)

The technological revolution of the last few decades has brought with it a deluge of technologies that have changed society as a whole, as well as the way in which we all live and interact with each other in this new interconnected digital age. However, one of the more complex issues that has come to light because of these rapid advancements is that concerning the increase in illegal pirating and copyright abuse, and the subsequent rise in open content licensing.

An open content license can be defined as a licence that grants “the right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, display, communicate, and translate a work” (Creative Commons, 2012) without necessarily having to pay the creator of said work. Since its establishment in 2000, Pandora Internet Radio have been paying 1.85% of its revenue in royalty rates to the artists and record companies who write and produce the music that they distribute (Pandora, 2012). Therefore, it can be seen that Pandora do not operate under an open content license, which for the music industry is vitally important. Here’s why:

In the first quarter of the 2011 financial year, Pandora’s total revenue increased by 136% from the same period in 2010, amounting to approximately $51 million. Additionally, its content acquisition costs in the same quarter stood at close to 54% of its gross profits, amounting to approximately $69.4 million of its total revenue (Pandora, 2012). However, if this media technology could stream music without having to pay royalties than its net income would effectively double and the annual $3 million that it is currently paying Lil’ Wayne, $1 million it is paying Adele and $135,000 it is paying Bon Iver (Fixmer, 2012), along with the royalties it pays to every other artist whose music they stream, for the acquisition of their copyrighted content would instead be staying within Pandora’s possession. As a result, we would see a rapid rise in Pandora’s revenue and share of the market, accompanied by the rapid decline in artist’s who could afford to live off or continue making music.

Reference List:
1. http://www.tbook.constantvzw.org, Barthes, R 1967, Death of the Author, edition 6, Aspen, New York City, New York, pp 1-6
2. http://creativecommons.org, Creative Commons 2012, Creative Commons, Massachusetts
3. http://www.nytimes.com, Sisario, B 2014, Pandora Wins a Battle, but the War Over Royalties Continues, The New York Times, New York, pp 1-4
4. http://investor.en.pandora.net, Pandora Media, Inc. 2012, Annual Report, Oakland
5. http://www.businessweek.com, Fixmer, A 2012, Pandora Is Boxed In by High Royalty Fees, Bloomberg Business Week, Bloomberg, Sydney, pp 1-2
6. http://strugglingmuso.wordpress.com, Fraser, D 2010, Digital Royalty Payout Office, Struggling Muso

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USA’s Next Election: The Good, The Bad and The Nazi?

In the United States, “freedom of speech” is a civil right protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. However, if this speech begins to “exert a corrupting and debasing impact leading to antisocial behavior” (Volokh, 2014) than it can be deemed unprotected by this law. So, where does the advocacy of neo-Nazism fit in with this? Is it the legal right of US citizens to express their political beliefs, even if it is in Nazism, or can this be deemed as “corrupting” and “debasing” towards society?

Within this controversial and complex text are three internationally recognised and conflicting symbols: the Nazi swastika, the American flag and the Confederate Flag of the South. The reason that these three symbols are being displayed by this group of protestors is that these are members of the American Nazi Party, a political group formed in 1959 that advocates for the insertion of their ideals into American politics and law in order to “secure the existence of our people and a future for White children” (2012). This demonstration occurred in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2010 as a support rally for the ‘Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act’, a tough new anti-illegal immigration policy introduced in Arizona (Lakin, 2010). By investigating the meanings of these three symbols we can understand them in the context of this text and why they all contribute to this text’s controversy:

a) The Confederate Flag of the South – this symbol alludes to the race-based beliefs of the South’s forces in the American Civil War that held white Americans as superior to African-Americans. The large stone monument of the Treaty of Holston in the background of this photograph further reiterates this as this treaty established the legal dominance of white Americans over the indigenous Cherokee people in 1792, and the dawn of ‘white supremacy’ in America (Mastromarino, 2000).

b) The swastika symbol and Nazi salute, or “sieg heil” salute – these symbols are allusions to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, who are notoriously remembered for their pursuit of the “Aryan master race” (Fleming, 1984) and “systematic elimination” of 6 million Jewish people between 1933 and 1945 (USHM, 2013), known as the Holocaust.

c) The American flag – this image illustrates how this political party is advocating for the inauguration of the ideologies of the South during the American Civil War and the Nazi Party during WWII into contemporary US politics and law.

These symbols, despite being representative of enemies from two different wars, are shown to be harmonious in nature by these protestors. This is a highly controversial statement due to the fact that approximately 400,000 American soldiers were killed in World War II  and another 750,000 killed in the American Civil War (Chambers, 1999), and as a result could be interpreted by many as incredibly disrespectful. But after all, that is just part of their freedom of speech, isn’t it? Does it matter if some ancient war vet gets upset or some German immigrants feel ashamed when they see these people on the 7:30 news? But then again, is it right to criminalise a person’s basic right to political expression? And if so, what does that mean for the future? These are all questions that this seemingly simple text makes one consider.

Reference List:
1. Volokh, E (2014), Freedom of Speech in the USA, Britannica.com
2. American Nazi Party (2012), Advancing National-Socialism into the 21st Century, ANP.com
3. Lakin, M (2010), Three arrests, no violence at National Socialist Rally, Knoxville News Sentinal, Knoxville
4. Mastromarino, M.A (2000), The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 9, 23 September 1791 – 29 February 1792, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, pp. 178–180
5. Gerald Fleming (1984), Hitler and the Final Solution, University of California Press, Berkley
6. United States Holocaust Museum (2013)
7. Chambers J.W (1999), The Oxford Companion to American Military History, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 849
8. http://www.ozpolitic.com, 2014

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Pandora Internet Radio

Pandora Internet Radio is a music streaming and automated music recommendation service that utilises the musicological information stored in the Music Genome Project in order to create a personalised radio for the user (Pandora, 2013). This media technology is only available in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, and is owned by Pandora Media, Inc. This service plays musical selections based on the user’s artist, genre or time period selection, before taking into account feedback given by the user on the selected songs in order to better select music in the future (Pandora, 2013).

One of the most significant issues that is developing for Pandora is the rapid growth of Apple’s iTunes Radio, which launched in September 2013 and has already gained an 8% share of the market with approximately 19.4 million users worldwide (Levy, 2014). Whilst Pandora still owns a 31% share of the market with approximately 75.3 million users as of March 2014, the immediate success and continued expansion of iTunes Radio is something that has already troubled this service with the number of listeners using its website and app falling from 72.7 million in September to 70.9 million in October of 2013 (Levy, 2014).

iTunes Radio is not the only concern for Pandora, with several other internet radio services such as iHeartRadio, Spotify, Rhapsody, Play Music All Access and Google’s Youtube, which reaches 49.7% of smartphones worldwide, all continuing to grow and develop as individual media technologies, as well as recurring law suits from ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) who continue to seek a rate increase in artist royalties from Pandora’s revenue from 1.85% to 2.5% (AP, 2014). However, with the verdict of Judge Denise Cote of the US District Court, New York in ASCAP’s most recent law suit against Pandora (AP, 2014) already siding with this media technology it is quite possible that their aim to have their royalty rates lowered to 1.7% will be achieved soon (AP, 2014).

Reference List:
* http://www.pandora.com/about, Pandora Media, Inc., 2013, About Pandora, Oakland
* http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/03/12/itunes-radio-is-pandoras-biggest-threat-but-its-no.aspx, Levy, A 2014, iTunes Radio is Pandora Media Inc’s Biggest Threat, But It’s Not the Only One, The Motely Fool, Alexandria
* http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/30025295/judge-leaves-pandora-royalties-unchanged, AP 2014, Judge leaves Pandora royalties unchanged, Fairfax Media, Sydney

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Can we blame the media for Australia’s attitude towards asylum seekers?

‘Asylum seekers’ – the two words that seem to have become their own cliche in modern Australian news and media. An issue that, according to a study by refugee advocate Professor Andrew Markus, is viewed by the general population as the second most significant issue in Australia behind economics (2007). An issue that has divided society to the point where 45% of Australians admit that they would be uncomfortable interacting with a refugee, 51% of Australians believe in negative stereotypes of asylum seekers relative to those they perceived as ‘native white Australians’ and 36% think that asylum seekers pose a threat to Australia’s resources and society (Nickerson, 2004).

So who is to blame for this? The government? With campaign slogans such as Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party’s “Stop the boats” and Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party’s promotion of the method of offshore processing that could seem very justified. What about the media? Well without the media campaigns such as Tony Abbott’s and Kevin Rudd’s never would have reached the living rooms of Australian homes as effectively as they did, and without the media I would not be turning on the tv of a night to be regularly greeted by the sight of scared, dirty and impoverished “boat people” seen to be attempting to ‘jump the queue’ and ‘cheat the system’ by getting on boats and illegally arriving in Australia, a representation that I believe has in fact facilitated the view held by 71% of Australians that we are not guilty of mistreating people who apparently are already trying to cheat us (Nickerson, 2004).

However, is the media entirely to blame for this, or is there also a cultural aspect to this issue? If we look back at Australia’s history and the dehumanisation of Aboriginal people that has occurred since the arrival of the First Fleet, the persecution of Chinese gold miners during the 1850s, the abuse of South Sea Islander ‘kanakas’ who worked in the banana plantations of Northern Queensland throughout the late 19th century, the White Australia Policy that was active throughout the early-mid 20th century, former Australian Prime Minister John Curtin’s statement during the Second World War, “this country shall remain forever the home of the descendants of those people who came here in peace in order to establish in the South Seas an outpost of the British race” (Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 2012) and the current explosion of the ‘We can make it tougher’ competition between the Liberal and Labor parties in relation to federal policy concerning the treatment of asylum seekers, we can come to the conclusion that the despite the wrongdoing of much of the Australian media in its overtly conservative and racist portrayal of asylum seekers, the real issue of racial discrimination and intolerance, xenophobia and ethnocentrism is embedded in Australia’s very culture.

However, despite the fact that the issue itself may not be entirely a result of the media, I do believe that the media and government’s blatant dehumanisation and demonisation of asylum seekers and their facilitation of a national attitude that Human Rights Watch has dubbed “extremely harsh and egregious” (Millar, 2014) towards these people does justify the blame that they do receive from many Australian and international citizens and organisations.

Reference List:
1. Markus, A (2007), Asylum seekers and social cohesion, SBS World News, Melbourne
2. Nickerson, A (2004), Australians’ Attitudes to Asylum Seekers, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane
3. Department of Immigration and Border Protection (2012), Fact Sheet 8: Abolition of ‘White Australia’ Policy, Canberra
4. Millar, L (2014), Human Rights Watch annual report says Australia’s record damaged by treatment of asylum seekers, Australian Broadcasting Company, Ultimo
5. Jones, G, McPhedran, I (2012), Malaysia set to trade asylum seekers in detention centre deal with Australia, Herald Sun, Southbank

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