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Indonesian judge adjourns Bali Nine appeal

(Transcript from World News Radio)

An Indonesian judge has adjourned an appeal mounted by lawyers for the two Australians facing the firing squad.

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The lawyers went before a state administrative court which had ruled last month that it didn’t have the authority to hear a legal challenge against President Joko Widodo’s refusal to grant the pair a reprieve.

The judge adjourned the hearing until March 19 because some of the necessary paperwork had not been submitted and a lawyer for President Widodo arrived at court without a signed legal authority from the president.

The convicted drug smugglers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran are among prisoners from several countries that Indonesia wants to execute.

As the legal appeals continue, a delegation of Australian Islamic leaders is in Jakarta making the case for clemency.

Greg Dyett reports.

The Grand Mufti of Australia, Professor Ibrahim Abu Mohamed has travelled to Indonesia with three other Islamic clerics.

He released a statement after meeting with Indonesia’s Minister for Religious Affairs.

“We as Islamic leaders, respect the position of the Indonesian Government in its firm pursuit of the drug scourge in Indonesia. We offer no criticism of the justice system in recent cases. However, we note that mercy and forgiveness lies at the heart of Islam for those who repent and have reformed their ways. We urge that the heritage of mercy in our religion is fully and deeply considered in the application of State Law.”

The Grand Mufti has stressed the Islamic delegation’s visit to Indonesia is independent of the Australian government.

“On behalf of the Islamic community of Australia, we plead, with respect and humility, for mercy for the lives of two young Australian men, who have not only shown repentance for their serious crimes, but have rehabilitated themselves and indeed others.”

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is also in Jakarta.

He told the ABC the Grand Mufti made a dignified and impassioned speech to the local media.

“I’m here in Jakarta to talk to as many people as I can to plead for mercy for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukamaran. As is the view of the entire Australian parliament. The Grand Mufti’s delegation in Jakarta can only do good for these two young Australians condemned on death row. He gave a dignified, impassioned statement to the Indonesia media which I hope will cause those Indonesians in favour of executing these two young Australians pause for thought.”

Amid efforts to achieve a deal to save the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, the Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has written to her Australian counterpart Julie Bishop ruling out a prisoner swap.

Asked if Indonesia had stopped listening to Australia’s pleas, Julie Bishop denied Australia has been lecturing the Indonesians.

“Well we’re not telling it what to do. We are asking in the most respectful way at President Widodo show the same mercy and forgiveness and humanity to two Australians on death row as the Indonesian authorities ask of other countries who have Indonesian citizens on death row. We’re not asking for anything more than Indonesia asks and receives from other countries.”

Julie Bishop says Australia will continue to do whatever it can to try to convince the Indonesian president to reconsider.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says the government has Labor’s full backing.

“I do support the government doing whatever it can to prevent this absolutely needless execution going ahead.”

 

 

 

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Thousands of NSW election online votes ‘open to tampering’

Vanessa Teague, University of Melbourne and J.

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Alex Halderman, University of Michigan

If you’re one of the 66,000 people from New South Wales who voted in the state election using iVote between Monday March 16 and midday on Saturday March 21, your vote could have been exposed or changed without you knowing.

How do we know that? Because we uncovered a security flaw in the popular iVote system that would have let us do exactly that, if we’d chosen to. That’s despite repeated assurances from the New South Wales Electoral Commission that:

People’s vote is completely secret. It’s fully encrypted and safeguarded, it can’t be tampered with

As we’ve been able to show, that’s not true.

 

A screenshot demonstrating how a security flaw could have allowed two online security experts to intercept and change votes using the NSW iVote system. Vanessa Teague, Author provided

We should stress that rather than do anything illegal or disrupt the March 28 state election result, we tested this security weakness only on our own practice vote at the iVote practice server. After checking that the same weakness affected the real voting server, we alerted the authorities late last week. We also waited until we could see the problem had been fixed before talking publicly about it.

Less than a week to expose iVote’s vulnerability

The problem we found was that the voting server had loaded some code from a third-party site vulnerable to the FREAK attack, a major security flaw that left Apple and Google devices vulnerable to hacking (you can read a recent Washington Post article explaining the FREAK flaw).

How did that global security problem affect iVote? For a longer, more technical explanation of what we did and found, read more here.

The shorter version is that with less than a week of concerted effort, the two of us discovered that the FREAK flaw allowed us – or potentially anyone with the right technical knowledge – to intercept a NSW voter’s internet traffic, and insert different code into vulnerable web browsers. Many, but not all, browsers have been appropriately patched over the last week – this site lets you check whether yours is still vulnerable.

We demonstrated that we could make the voter’s web browser display what the voter wanted, but secretly send a different vote to the iVote voting server.

 

Real hackers rarely leave such obvious clues – but online security experts testing the NSW iVote system used this Ned Kelly symbol. Vanessa Teague, Author provided

The iVote system does include a vote verification process for people who choose to vote online or by phone, where they can subsequently call an automated interactive phone line to double-check what vote the system holds for them.

However, that verification system could have errors or security vulnerabilities; we can’t tell you with any certainty either way, since there’s no publicly-available source code or system details.

Given the supposedly “fully encrypted and safeguarded” iVote system proved so vulnerable to attack, we certainly would not recommend people take any chances by voting online in the NSW election.

The NSW online vote is globally significant

The 2015 NSW election is Australia’s biggest-ever test of electronic voting, which has largely been limited to small trials in the past. The official predictions have been that 200,000 to 250,000 people would vote using iVote in this election.

And this NSW election already ranks as one of the world’s biggest online votes to date, on track to exceed the 70,090 Norwegians who voted electronically in 2013, and perhaps even beat the 176,491 people who voted online in the 2015 Estonian election.

In just its first week, even apart from our discovery things haven’t run smoothly.

Early voting using iVote opened at 8am on Monday March 16, and it will close at 6pm on election night, Saturday March 28.

On Tuesday March 17, the NSW Electoral Commission suspended voting for six hours after it turned out that two minor parties had been left off the “above the line” section of the NSW upper house online ballot paper. That problem, blamed on human error, was fixed – but not before 19,000 votes had already been cast.

Serious human errors do sometimes happen in elections, and they can affect paper ballots too.

Our concern about online voting – and specifically about the NSW iVote system – is that security flaws like the one we found last week are still too prevalent and predictable.

NSW vs Washington DC’s approach

Less than a fortnight ago, one of us (Dr Teague) wrote in The Conversation about the potential privacy and vote tampering problems with iVote. That article reflected concerns expressed in a letter to the NSW Electoral Commission in 2013. Yet the commission has never responded meaningfully to those concerns, and also chose not to publicly comment on the FREAK security flaw that we exposed.

However, that’s not the approach taken by electoral authorities elsewhere wanting to deliver trustworthy election results.

For example, in 2010, the Washington D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics invited a team of experts from University of Michigan (led by Professor Halderman) to try to hack the district’s new online voting system.

Within 48 hours, the University of Michigan team had broken in, taken over the election server, added fictional movie and TV characters as candidates (including for mayor and the member of congress), changed every vote, and revealed almost every secret ballot.

The election officials didn’t realise their system had been hacked for nearly two business days. When they did, it was only because the hacking team left behind a musical “calling card”, changing the Thank You page that appeared at the end of the voting process so that it played the University of Michigan fight song.

A final note for NSW voters

We hope there are no more exploitable security problems in iVote and that the rest of the NSW election runs more smoothly.

But since we’ve had no opportunity to inspect the server side code or systems, there’s no way to be sure. When you’re working on the internet, new vulnerabilities emerge all the time.

That’s why, if you want to be sure your vote counts in the NSW election, we recommend you stick with an old-fashioned paper ballot.

* You can view a short TV news clip confirming that about 66,000 votes were cast with iVote before this security flaw was fixed, via ABC News NSW (play from 12:18). You can also read more of The Conversation’s coverage of the 2015 NSW election.

Dr Vanessa Teague receives funding from the Australian Research Council for work in electronic voting privacy. She is on the advisory board of Verifiedvoting南宁夜生活,. She worked on a voluntary basis for the Victorian Electoral Commission’s electronic voting project.

Prof. J. Alex Halderman receives funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the New America Foundation, and the University of Michigan. He serves on the advisory board of Verifiedvoting南宁夜生活,.

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NZ paceman Milne ruled out of World Cup

The 22-year-old had been suffering pain in his left heel for the last two weeks, coach Mike Hesson said.

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While he was pain-free before the quarter-final against West Indies, it had ‘flared up again’.

“It’s to a point now where he wasn’t able to bowl so he’s unable to bowl and he’s in a lot of pain when he bowls,” Hesson told reporters at Eden Park.

“He’s fine walking in a straight line but unfortunately when he bowls it’s become increasingly uncomfortable to a point where he’s unable to carry on.”

Milne’s injury has created a selection dilemma, with virtually the same side picked for all of New Zealand’s World Cup matches.

Hesson was loathe to confirm whether Henry, whose inclusion was yet to be ratified by the governing International Cricket Council, would come into the side as a ‘like-for-like’ pick.

“Once we get to the ground tomorrow we’ll look at whoever is available in the squad and we’ll look at the wicket again and we’ll pick what we deem to be the best squad tomorrow,” he said.

Swing bowler Kyle Mills and left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan are also available, though Mills often opens the bowling and it would be a difficult decision to split the new ball pairing of Trent Boult and Tim Southee.

Unlike Mills, McClenaghan bowled in the tournament when he replaced Milne in the final pool game against Bangladesh but he struggled for line and length and was expensive.

The 23-year-old Henry has been playing steady cricket in New Zealand’s first-class competition.

“It’s certainly something that’s in his advantage but we’ve got plenty of options,” Hesson said.

(Editing by Mark Meadows / Ian Ransom)

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Don’t close the door on Indigenous opportunities on country

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett plans to close up to 150 of the state’s 274 remote Aboriginal communities after a federal funding cut.

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed, stating we cannot “endlessly subsidise lifestyle choices if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have.”

Since the Prime Minister made his highly revealing and profoundly ill-conceived remarks Aboriginal leaders all over the country have been loud and unanimous in their condemnation of the term “lifestyle choice” as a reason for remote community living, pointing to the cultural obligations of living on their traditional country, and the many health and social benefits of keeping out of towns and fringe camps where alcohol and abuse issues are far more common.

You don’t ‘Close the Gap’ by closing down the communities.

What has been less talked about are the very real loss of jobs and opportunities that having Indigenous people on country brings. Jobs and opportunities that have been slowly building from the ground up in ways that have built resilience, bearing and sustainability in both Indigenous peoples and the work they are doing.

The burgeoning livelihoods and opportunities that are the success story in remote areas, such as the Kimberley, are the Indigenous Protected Areas (IPA) and the Working on Country (WoC) Indigenous Ranger programs. Originally an initiative of the Howard government, these projects have grown from the Indigenous peoples aspirations to look after their living country and culture.

In the Kimberley there are around 150 Indigenous Rangers from a dozen different Ranger groups and the numbers are growing. Their work includes management of significant Cultural sites, tourist management, feral animal and weed control, monitoring and maintenance of data bases. Other programs such as the Kimberley Fire Abatement Program are successfully supressing destructive Dry Season wildfires by carrying out a controlled burning regime in the cooler seasons.

In the 2014 fire season alone, more than 60 traditional owners were employed in the Kimberley Land Council’s, North Kimberley Fire Abatement Project. During the 40-day burning period the Rangers worked over an area of 35000 square kilometres of remote country. As well as employment and environmental benefits the project also generating a return income through selling carbon credits from the greenhouse gas reductions that the program results in.

While these programs are funded through government programs and grants, the work is real and adds value to the National estate. These jobs are of at least equal value to any other government funded department or private operation that work in natural resource management. In fact they are often more important due to the off-shoot benefits to community members.

Indigenous Projected Areas (IPA’s) and Working on Country (WoC) funded programs have been rolled out under budget and deliver improved social outcomes as well as contributing significantly to our national reserves. For example IPA communities report 95% economic participation, 85% improvement in school participation, a 75% improvement in substance abuse and contribute to maintaining strong community and family relations.

These schemes have often succeeded where more expensive government programs have failed. Money has been wasted because historically they are top down paternalistic models that create more employment and opportunity outside the community than within. Put simply they don’t talk to communities when they design such programs.

These programs results have been so strong because they build on the aspirations of Traditional Owners, give a sense of pride, offer training and capacity building and are owned by the community. Given more support and encouragement these opportunities can only grow with many more spin-off for Cultural eco-tourism, Bush tucker enterprises, Arts and Cultural services, Environmental services and other management opportunities.

Blaming Indigenous peoples for the costs of keeping open remote communities is simply wrong – but to threaten the foundations of the only real development and opportunities that remote Indigenous community peoples themselves have built is a massive step backward. You don’t ‘Close the Gap’ by closing down the communities.

Wade Freeman is the Broome based Kimberley Project Officer for the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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Djokovic beats Federer to win Indian Wells

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer 6-3 6-7 (5/7) 6-2 to successfully defend his Indian Wells crown and claim his 50th career ATP title on Sunday.

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The 27-year-old world No.1 from Serbia also captured his fourth Indian Wells crown and is now tied with world No.2 Federer for the most men’s titles in the California desert.

“The trophy is very heavy,” Djokovic told the crowd as he celebrated adding to the titles he won in 2008 and 2011.

It was another epic struggle in a long list of hardcourt battles between the two top players in the world, who have met 38 times with Swiss great Federer still holding a slight 20-18 edge.

Djokovic had lost his last two matches to Federer in straight sets after beating him in last year’s Wimbledon final.

Djokovic also needed three sets to beat Federer in the 2014 Indian Wells title match.

Federer insisted people shouldn’t read too much into this loss.

“I have beat him the last couple times. It is not like I lost 10 in a row,” Federer said.

“A lot depends on how well he serves and returns. We usually play in finals so we are both peaking at the same time.”

The two have combined to win eight of the last 12 Indian Wells titles but this is the first time they have met in back-to-back finals.

Djokovic blasted eight aces, 26 winners and broke Federer five times in the two hour, 17 minute battle in front of a crowd of about 15,000 on inside the Tennis Garden stadium.

Djokovic surpassed his coach Boris Becker (49) to become the 12th player in Open Era history with 50 ATP Tour titles.

Even though he had the crowd on his side, Federer couldn’t overcome his poor serving and 43 unforced errors.

“Novak did well to sustain the lead for most of the match,” Federer said.

“I think he found an extra gear in the end. Controlled aggression was the key out there.”

Djokovic jumped all over Federer’s serve, allowing the Swiss to win just 15 points off the second serve.

“He (Djokovic) returns so well off the second serve. That is what was also was tough today against him,” Federer said.

“I am disappointed the end was flat from my side.”

Federer’s best moments came in the last half of the second set when he broke Djokovic for the first time in the match to rally from an earlier break and level the set at 4-4.

Federer won the second set tiebreaker 7-5 but he got some help from Djokovic who made three double faults and then hammered a backhand long on set point.

But Djokovic broke Federer again early in the third to grab a 2-0 lead. The Swiss got one back in a 10-minute third game that extended the epic battle to the two-hour mark.

The tight third game went back and forth until Federer won it on the fifth break chance after Djokovic slammed a backhand into the net.

“My best spell was midway through the second to midway through the third set,” Federer said.

“It was disappointing to let it slip away.”

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