25 April 2011



The Age newspaper - and Mark Rabich - are being disingenuous and not really honest when they don't inform readers of the newspaper that Rabich, who has his letters published regularly in this paper, is a creationist christian fundamentalist with rabid right-wing reactionary views. Readers have the right to know whose views they are subjected to and which are favoured by The Age in preference to left-wing atheistic explanations of the world as it is, and not as they wish it to be, as not favoured by The Age.
Fortunately, we blog, therefore we are free - well, until Senator Conroy and his bunch of right-wing politicans get their grubby little hands on our ISPs.
15 December 2007 and beyond – from The Age
AND for an encore, Rob Hulls will now legislate against the laws of physics, since biological science is obviously no great hurdle. Incontrovertible proof we have lunatics in office.
Mark Rabich, Heathmont
Abortion must always be about choice
Anne O'Rourke
December 18, 2007

THOSE with moral objections to abortions should not have abortions. Neither should they be allowed — in a free and democratic society — to impose their particular moral beliefs on others, nor have those beliefs imposed through the law.
The fundamental point to remember in relation to medical practitioners is that they are regulated by law. They are entitled, and indeed obligated, to use their clinical judgement in consultation with their patient to determine what course of action is in the best interests of the patient. The late-term abortion case at the Royal Women's Hospital was a tragic one, particularly for the woman involved, but there is no evidence that the medical professionals involved acted improperly or immorally.
It is well known that the vast bulk of the Australian public supports a woman's right to choose. The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes undertaken in 1987, 1996 and 2004 indicates that support for a woman's right to choose has grown. Even among religious groups, the majority favoured the right to choose.
In a perverse acknowledgement of public support for the right to choose, the religious right keep running a rearguard action by focusing attention on late-term abortions.
Nicholas Tonti-Filippini (Opinion, 14/12) is correct that many Australians are deeply conflicted over the issue of late-term abortions. But it is necessary to put the facts. Such terminations are extremely rare.
According to Jan Dickinson, who reviewed the outcomes for abortion beyond 20 weeks' gestation in Western Australia, between May 1998 and December 31, 2002, only 219 women presented for late terminations. Dickinson found that all pregnancy terminations in these latter stages were for foetal abnormality and those requesting such terminations were statistically older women.
Likewise, associate dean and professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at ANU Medical School, David Ellwood, estimated that across Australia, late-term abortions are somewhere between 0.1% to 0.6% of all births each year. He found that nearly all are at less than 28 weeks' gestation, with the majority less than 24 weeks, and the reason is for severe foetal abnormality that is likely to result in major handicap or perinatal death.
While opponents would like to see late-term abortions made illegal, Dr Lachlan de Crespigny is correct in his view that such laws would be an injustice to women. Because late-term abortions turn on the particular circumstances of the case and in the vast majority involve either a health risk to the mother or severe abnormality, such decisions should be left to the woman or couple and their doctors. It is not the business of third parties to intervene in what is already a highly emotive and stressful situation and inflict their desired outcome on the parents. To make such terminations illegal may in some cases endanger a woman's life.

There is also a lot of mythology about the physical and mental health threats of abortion. Numerous studies in the United States and by the National Academy of Sciences over 20 years have found that there is no basis for supporting the argument that abortion causes severe physical or mental health threats. A two-year study on the psychological effects of abortion found that the majority of women do not experience any mental health problems or regrets two years after an abortion. A third study undertaken in 1991 found that up to 98% of women who had abortions had no regrets and would choose the same course of action again.
The American Psychiatric Association, despite the repeated assertions of anti-choice proponents, does not recognise the so-called "post-abortion syndrome".
Similar research undertaken in Australia by Melbourne psychologist Dr Susie Allanson supports the conclusions of the international studies. It is misleading to suggest that the majority of women suffer harm as a result of having an abortion. The evidence does not support that position.
The insistence that women be required to undergo compulsory counselling is also a distraction. Mandatory counselling and waiting periods assume that all women are unable to reasonably determine what is best for them and are unable to rationally reflect on their decision. This assumption is demeaning to women and undermines their autonomy.
In addition, making counselling mandatory would achieve little, other than become a focus of anger and a cause of distress. Abortion providers and hospitals, private as well as public, already offer counselling services to women seeking terminations.
Criminalisation of abortion is an anachronism and needs to be repealed. If there is to be a law governing abortion, then it must start from the position of respecting women's full human rights, including liberty and security of the person, and the right to determine when and if they have children.
Abortion law reform must also be backed up by a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program that provides high-quality, professional and unbiased information on family planning, pregnancy and terminations, in a timely, affordable and accessible manner. This means that services should be localised; rural women need women's medical centres in regional cities.
The Victorian Parliament should have the courage to follow the example set by the Australian Capital Territory Government and refrain from acting as a watchdog over women's reproductive choices.
Anne O'Rourke is a vice-president of Liberty Victoria, a lawyer and a lecturer at Monash University. Liberty Victoria's submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission inquiry can be found at www.libertyvictoria.org.au

A small modification …
19 December 2007 – from The Age

JUST a slight rewrite of Anne O'Rourke's opening statement: "Those with moral objections to slavery should not own slaves. Neither should they be allowed — in a free and democratic society — to impose their particular moral beliefs on others, nor have those beliefs imposed through the law." We are in profoundly deep trouble as a civilisation when we cannot recognise the massive logical inconsistencies inherent in popular ideas, and, worse yet, actually campaign to further erode the most basic of human rights: that of drawing one breath after another. Notwithstanding your obfuscation, Anne, abortion is still wrong.
Mark Rabich, Heathmont
Declare war on woolly thinking
THAT a young Australian would opt to support religious-backed terrorism in the 21st century is remarkable and says volumes about the power of charismatic leaders such as Osama bin Laden over naive, gullible and ignorant members of society. Hicks' story hammers home the need to provide all Australians (and everyone else) with sufficient training in critical thinking and science to have the capacity to see through the irrational claims made by cults and religions about future non-earthly rewards and used to motivate the foot soldiers of terrorism. If the war on terror is seen as a war on irrationality we will win most ground, long term, with education rather than with military muscle or fridge magnets.
I look forward to Hicks' apology but rather than attend a police station three times a week as part of his control order, perhaps he could attend some science and philosophy classes instead.
Marc Hendrickx, Berowra Heights, NSW
Religion and power are a bad mix
JOHN Roskam once again rewrites history and ignores obvious facts with his article on religion and politics (Opinion, 2/1). The influence that extreme (and less extreme) religious groups had on the Howard government was a disgrace. Howard quietly introduced huge, crippling fines for even discussing possible methods of euthanasia. He also introduced legal and huge tax exemptions for the Exclusive Brethren and their non-religious businesses in exchange for their large political contributions. Brendan Nelson wanted to introduce teaching of the very non-scientific intelligent design theories into our schools. Then there was the very murky, political RU486 debate. The list goes on. But Roskam wipes this aside with his revisionist nonsense that Howard's critics struggled to provide examples of this pernicious influence of religion. No, John, they struggled to be heard! Teaching intelligent design is not about morality. Nor is giving tax concessions to all non-religious businesses of the Exclusive Brethren. Separation of church and state starts to disappear as soon as a church donates funds to a political party.
Graeme Scarlett, East Malvern
Teach about delusion
MARC Henrickx's analysis (Letters, 31/12) is accurate and we should consider some strategies in order to arrest the imposition of irrational thoughts and teachings on children too young to defend themselves.
A good starting point might be to place Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion on all school syllabuses. It would encourage our youth to think clearly and scientifically, not to swallow traditional superstitions, prejudices and inaccuracies.
Maybe such enlightenment would filter down and prevent any brainwashing of the very young by religious institutions. It was Voltaire who wrote: "If you can make people believe absurdities, you can make them commit atrocities."
Tom O'Connell, Pascoe Vale

Debating Dawkins
IF TOM O'Connell (Letters, 2/1) wants Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion on school syllabuses, then may I suggest, in the interest of stimulating enlightenment, two opposing points of view, namely The Dawkins Delusion by Alister McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath, and The Dawkins Letters: Challenging Atheist Myths by a Scottish pastor, David Robertson.
If Dawkins' book was full of such aspirations to think "clearly and scientifically", Tom, you'll have nothing to fear from that, will you? Or is "brainwashing" OK, so long as it's your brand of imposition? From David Hume to Madalyn Murray O'Hair and now Dawkins, various opponents of Christianity will come and go, along with their ideas. There's a reason for that.
Mark Rabich, Heathmont
Now I understand
WHEN I read Marc Hendrickx's elevation of philosophy as the antidote to religion and fanaticism (Letters, 31/12), I wondered how he could believe this when there have been so many philosophers who were believers and so many others who have endorsed foolish and fanatical ideologies. Thanks to Tom O'Connell (Letters, 2/1) for providing the key: "philosophy" and "education" actually mean indoctrinating children to accept Richard Dawkins.
Andrew Moody, Blackburn South

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

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If you thought there would be a new dispensation for censorship with a change in government from the extreme conservatism of the Howard government and its love affair with right wing reactionary religious bigots to the Rudd Alternative Liberal Party, think again!
For those of us who watched the film on ABC on Sunday night 6 January 2008 called the Chatterley Affair, many memories of the censorship of the post-war periods in the UK, USA, South Africa, Canada, the USA and other so-called "liberal democracies" came flooding back as we remembered with horror what had been perpetrated on us by bigoted right-wing reactionary religious-affiliated governments.
That was the 1960s, this is the 2000s, and we are still in thrall to the same forces of darkness now as we were then despite the Internet and all the modern technology we have today.
Senator Conroy is intending to force ISPs to filter porn to prevent children from having access to it. What is porn, you may well ask? And did the censorship of bygone days stop children from gaining access to so-called porn? Of course not.
Of course the pornography of wars and violence to which we are subjected by the governments with which we are "governed" and which we see all day and every day on our tv screens, computer games and other pieces of technology, are not able to be censored In any event, as everyone knows, including the youngest of the savvy technology-literate youth of today, there are ways of circumventing all of the above, and the time and money spent on trying to stop what governments are trying to stop could well be spent on educating young people about the dangers of believing in the religions with which they are bombarded on a daily basis, and thus there would be an understanding of the nature of sex and all its attributes, so that there would be no moralising on the subject and the taboos would diminish and ultimately disappear.
It is astonishing that religions still control the mindsets of the educators, politicans, ethicists, so many in all walks of life to the extent that they are blinded to the realities of life as we live it.
There are, as the saying goes, none so blind as those who will not see. And therein lies the tragedy of governments in 2008. Democracy and human rights are not for the likes of us - they are reserved for the theoreticians, and we can just forget about being allowed to view, read, hear what we like - nanny and big brother will be watching you, or an ISP near you.
Totalitarian governments are just a step away!

(Posted in Censorship)

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The Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) Government of Kevin Rudd has been quick to follow in the footsteps of the Howard government in relation to David Hicks, making sure that a control order was placed on him for his release from Yatala Prison in South Australia by 29 December 2007.
David Hicks has not had his time in court, has been silenced by the US government until the end of March 2008, and there are now arguments about Hicks profiting from telling his story, because as a convicted criminal he is not supposed to profit from his crimes.
The main trouble with this argument is that Hicks has not been convicted of any crimes in Australia, and is not likely to be either, because there is no case against him which would stand up in any Australian court.
It is also necessary to understand that whatever Hicks is able to tell of his story, it is all coloured permanently by his 5 1/2 years incareceration in the torture chambers known as Guantanamo Bay, the off-shore concentration camp and gulag run by the United States government.
During the period of incarceration the acts of torture are designed to reduce people's thought processes to total acquiescence and subservience, and to damage them irreparably so that they will NEVER be able to be normal members of society again.
We now have the new Australian government behaving no differently from the previous government in its blame game and ensuring that people should think Hicks continue suffering for his "crimes".
And the previous government, which has learnt nothing from its defeat at the recent polls, has people like Christopher Pyne and Alexander Downer mouthing off about the criminality of Hicks. They both, of course, come from the same state as Hicks, South Australia, so feel they have a right to continue defending the indefensible.
Also, not to forget the years in opposition of the current government which gave total acquiescence to the Howard government's "war on terrorism"!
So, we are in for more of the same, and I don't feel I can look forward in 2008 to a more enlightened government running the country and our lives.
As we say in Yiddish, "OI VEY!!".

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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Why is this government so determined to look and sound like the previous Coalition government? Because the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) remains just that.
In some ways it is already showing itself to be even more conservative than John Howard's government, and this is nowhere more true than in the area of censorship.
If you thought that the thought police were out to get you, they may not have made it by 24 November 2007, but they are certainly going to have a good go at it from 25 November 2007 onwards.
No matter what Senator Conroy says, his words sound more and more like a fifth-rate dictatorship laying down the law on what its citizens may see, hear, write and have access to on the Internet.
Unless the relevant anti-censorship groups are prepare to become more vocal and active very soon, they will have lost the battle and the war.
Conroy announces mandatory internet filters to protect children
Telecommunications Minister Stephen Conroy says new measures are being
put in place to provide greater protection to children from online
pornography and violent websites.
Senator Conroy says it will be mandatory for all internet service
providers to provide clean feeds, or ISP filtering, to houses and
schools that are free of pornography and inappropriate material.
Online civil libertarians have warned the freedom of the internet is at
stake, but Senator Conroy says that is nonsense.
He says the scheme will better protect children from pornography and
violent websites.
"Labor makes no apologies to those that argue that any regulation of the
internet is like going down the Chinese road," he said.
"If people equate freedom of speech with watching child pornography,
then the Rudd-Labor Government is going to disagree."
Senator Conroy says anyone wanting uncensored access to the internet
will have to opt out of the service, and will work with the industry to
ensure the filters do not affect the speed of the internet.
"There are people who are going to make all sorts of statements about
the impact on the [internet] speed," he said.
"The internet hasn't ground to a halt in the UK, it hasn't ground to a
halt in Scandinavian countries and it's not grinding the internet to a
halt in Europe.
"But that is why we are engaged constructively with the sector, engaging
in trials to find a way to implement this in the best possible way and
to work with the sector."

(Posted in Censorship)

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The following report came from BNews 181, 20 December 2007:
(Victorian) "Police Minister Bob Cameron's office confirmed the government might abandon its eight-year ban on condoms in prisons, after studies showed more than half of Victorian male prisoners have Hepatitis C. Prison officers said they had no objections provided prisoners had to buy the condoms."
Lesbian and Gay Solidarity (Melbourne) has been campaigning for years in New South Wales and Victoria for condoms to be provided in prisons. Most states in Australia lifted the bans some years ago, but the recalcitrant Victorian government seems to have had to wait until evidence shows an alarming increase in diseases which are often sexually transmitted, before taking any action on this community health problem.
HIV/AIDS is also on the increase around Australia, but more so in Victoria than in the other states. This radically right-wing conservative Australian Labor Party government has certainly got blood on its hands from this issue and many other health issues, while showing a healthy increase in its budget surplus for the current financial year.
Hopefully the minor parties with progressive social issue policies will begin to achieve greater representation at all levels of government and so improve the status of those disadvantaged by the two party system.

(Posted in HIV and AIDS)

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years, and the treatment he received there is, mostly, the
responsibility of the Howard government.
The editorial in The Age (29/12/07) discusses the disgraceful
behaviour of the Howard government, but no mention is made of the
disgraceful role the ALP opposition and the media played in this
tragic saga, and the blame attached to them because of their
In order to understand the damage inflicted on David Hicks and
other US detainees, Naomi Klein's book "The Shock Doctrine" tells
of the forms of torture used at Guantanamo Bay and how they came
David Hicks and the others have probably been damaged
irreparably and our governments and media are directly responsible
and should be held to account.
For the new ALP government to support a control order on Hicks
similar to the one on Jack Thomas is a black mark on this "new"
government, and is totally unacceptable.
Mannie De Saxe
The incarceration of David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay for over 5
(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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David Hicks is due for release from Yatala Prison in South Australia in 1 week's time. The new federal government has seen a control order placed on Hicks for the next 12 months, because he "still poses a threat to Australia's National Security".
Pardon us while we puke!
Jack Thomas was number one, David Hicks is number two, who knows who will be next, but while Australia is still involved in Afghanistan - where it has no right to be - and in Iraq - likewise, and while it still supports Israel in its land grab of the whole of Palestine, Australia is still placed at risk from some of the crazed fundamentalists of the world.
We hoped a change of government would start to show a change in direction in foreign policy, but so far not much has changed.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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Two of the worst homophobes in the USA - and that is really saying something!! - died during 2007. Still 10 days to go to the end of 2007 so here's hoping!
The first was Reverend Jerry Falwell, he of the so-called moral majority, which was neither moral nor the majority, nor was he reverent, died of natural causes.
The second was Peter Rudegeiar, a catholic psychologist, and co-founder of Courage, an organisation to turn dykes and poofters of the catholic persuasion into straight baby makers.
He was killed in a car accident.
Well, it's no accident that the world is a better place without these two venerable - or should that be venereal - men.
Fred Phelps is still around, but we live in hope!

(Posted in Homophobia)

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These two items arrived in the same week – one by email from the UK and the other in an article in The Age newspaper. It now seems that Muslim sensitivity has to be protected at the expense of everybody else’s – Jews, Christians, Gays, Lesbians, Transgenders, People living with HIV/AIDS! Ah, yes, and let us not forget the sacking of Norman Finkelstein in the USA by De Paul so-called University – the zionists mustn’t be offended either – despite the fact that Israel has offended everybody else as well!
Hague museum pulls offensive Muslim art

December 3, 2007 - 10:59PM
The city museum of The Hague has decided not to include in an exhibition a work of art that may offend Muslims, it was reported on Monday.
The picture, made by Iranian artist Sooreh Hera, is entitled Adam and Ewald and shows two gay men wearing masks of the Muslim prophet Mohammed and his son-in-law Ali.
It is part of a photoseries the Gemeentemuseum has included in the 7up exhibition due to open on December 15.
The Gemeentemuseum's director Wim van Krimpen told reporters the museum is interested in purchasing Hera's complete series, which he called "high quality works of art".
However, he added he will not exhibit Adam and Ewald in the next few years because "certain people in our society might perceive it as offensive".
Hera responded she was "disappointed" and added "apparently a Muslim minority decides what will be on display in the museum".
Liberal-rightist Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders, condemned the museum's decision, adding it was "based on fear".
Wilders has requested a reaction on the matter from Education and Culture minister Ronald Plasterk.
Meanwhile Siebe Weide, director of the Museum Association, told reporters "all Dutch museums are free to choose what they exhibit and what not".
© 2007 AAP

The following item was received by email on 11 December 2007 from the UK. What next???
It appears 'Ike' was right

It is a matter of history that when Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect: "Get it all on record now - get the films - get the witnesses - because somewhere down the track of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened"

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke

In Memorial

This week, the UK removed The Holocaust from its school curriculum because it "offended" the Muslim population which claims it never occurred.

This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.

This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated while the German and Russian peoples looked the other way! (NOT TO MENTION THE GAY AND LESBIAN MURDERS IN THE CONCENTRATION CAMPS NOT INCLUDED, WITH MANY OTHER CATEGORIES ALSO OMITTED – editor)

Now, more than ever, with Iran , among others, claiming the Holocaust to be "a myth," it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide!

Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.

Don't just delete this. It will take a minute to pass this along.
And in my innocence I thought the world condemned Neville Chamberlain because in 1938/1939 he appeased the Nazis and condemned the world to the Second World War!

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

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This article was in The Age newspaper on 14 December 2007. The more information which is published, the more it is to be hoped that there will be such public outrage at what is being foisted on an unsuspecting public that action will follow causing governments to back down from their haste to allow genetic modification to our foods. And one of the worst aspects of the situation is that food labelling laws in Australia are such that food manufacturers are able to get away with insufficient, inaccurate and misleading labelling.
Make a fuss and ensure that governments are forced to retreat!
GM foods can be dangerous. But you do the research

Mitchell Harper
December 14, 2007

PLEASE don't read this and think all genetically modified applications are bad. Please don't read this and think I am against genetic research. Quite the contrary — I think much good will come from it, particularly in medical research.
Now, if you've been following the debate on the lifting of the moratorium on GM crops, you may be bracing yourself for another barrage on how good these crops will be for the economy, farmers, feeding the world, and so on. This is not the case at all. On balance, I have grave reservations about these crops. Farmers are not being told all the risks involved. But you don't have to take my word for it, you can see for yourself. I'll show you how in a moment.
When these issues first arose, I looked at the logic behind herbicide-resistant crops and found it compelling. It was every farmer's answer to weed control.
When Roundup ready soy was released in the United States, a lot of farmers eagerly adopted the new technology. But they were in for a shock. Their crops curled up and died due to an epidemic of sudden death syndrome. This disease is caused by a soil-borne fungus of the Fusarium family.
Robert Kremer, a microbiologist from the US Department of Agriculture, did some tests. He found that every time Roundup was applied to the soil, a spike in the Fusarium population occurred. While he did not find evidence for disease in his trials, every farmer reading this will know the significance of his findings.
Fungal diseases need the right environmental conditions to cause disease. The severity of the disease depends on how much fungus is in the soil — the inoculum. A high inoculum means more severe infection and greater losses. And Roundup causes a higher inoculum.
When Roundup ready canola was first introduced in Canada, a Fusarium-induced wilt caused major damage. In northern NSW and Queensland, Fusarium is devastating cotton at a cost of about $100 million a year.
I wonder how many farmers have been warned of this potential risk? Has there been any testing of local fungal pathogens to find out how they may react? They should find out before they think of planting these crops in March next year. Particularly if we keep having this humid spring weather in the future. They should ask the regulators and advisers if blackleg, for example, has been tested, because we now know that Fusarium is not the only fungus Roundup encourages.
They should also ask about trace elements. Our soils are old, and have poorer levels of trace elements, such as copper, iron and manganese. Don Huber, emeritus professor of botany and plant pathology at Purdue University in Indiana, has been concerned with this emerging problem for some time.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, acts like a pair of tiny chemical tweezers and can prevent the plant from using these trace metals. If plants lack these nutrients, anything that consumes them will also receive less. Huber is looking at the knock-on effects of these deficiencies. He writes: "The impact on animal and human health is emerging from micronutrient deficiency — especially in dairy and pork industries."

He mentions anaemia, gout, wasting, diarrhoea and young mortality as serious concerns.
So why haven't our regulatory authorities picked up on these issues? To be fair, the problems with nutrient deficiency have only begun to emerge — an international symposium on glyphosate-disease interactions was held as recently as September. And the Office of the Gene Technology Regulator is reviewing the literature on genetically modified crops. It would be nice if some clearer direction to farmers arrived before the planting season.
It would also be nice if a more reliable estimate of prospective yields were on the table. It is true that in some cases genetically modified crops yield more, but in other cases they yield less than conventional crops. A 2002 report from the USDA says: "Perhaps the biggest issue raised by these results is how to explain the rapid adoption of GE crops when farm financial impacts appear to be mixed or even negative."
Now, as I said before, you don't have to take my word for all this. You can Google it. Try, for example, "glyphosate fusarium", or "yield of GM crops", or even "use of herbicide in GM crops". Or how about "GM crops the weed problem". You'll find arguments on both sides of the coin, but can refine your searches until you get to the original articles.
And you'll certainly get plenty of food for thought.
Mitchell Harper is a former scientist with research experience in microbiology and immunology, and has taught biology and genetics for more than 30 years.

(Posted in Genetic Modifications - Food)

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The Iranian regime has been guilty of many crimes over the years, but amongst their most heinous are the crimes they commit against gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS people.

The latest outrage, documented below by the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, shows a complete disregard for world opinion.

Iran may continue to flout human rights and continue to violate those rights in relation to homosexuals, but they should know that ultimately their regime will collapse and justice will be done, and be seen to be done.

Strange is it not that all the mullahs, priests and rabbis, to name but a few religious practitioners, dress in female garb but treat women as inferior beings and wonder why people see them as odd!

What is even odder is the number of these practitioners who are so perverted that they have been guilty of criminal actions of every type under all criminal codes – paedophilia, gay male rape, financial frauds – to name but a few, and in certain countries such as Australia the organizations of which they are part obtain exemptions from anti-discrimination legislation, exemptions from rates and taxes on properties and many other types of legislation which allow them to get away, literally, with unspeakable crimes.

How many of these religious bigots are themselves closeted homosexuals? We may not be able to find out but there is evidence accumulated over many years that those who hide their sexuality practise every kind of gay bashing imaginable and are the most perverted people in our societies.

Iranian religious fanatics are no exception but at this stage the murder of a young man who has not committed any crime but was murdered by official sanction indicates that the murderers have a great deal to hide and believe they will get away with this type of murder.

A shameful act by a shameful regime!
December 5, 2007

Iran: Young Man Executed for Alleged Sex Crime

For Immediate Release
Contact: Hossein Alizadeh, IGLHRC Communications Coordinator, 212-430-6016

(New York, Wednesday December 5, 2007) - The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned today that despite an order by the Iranian Chief Justice to nullify his death sentence, Mr. Makvan Mouloodzadeh was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison at 5 a.m. this morning, Iranian time. Neither Mr. Mouloodzadeh's family or his lawyer were told about the execution until after it occurred. IGLHRC is still investigating the facts in this case.

"This is a shameful and outrageous travesty of justice and international human rights law," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC's executive director. "How many more young Iranians have to die before the international community takes action?"

Mr. Mouloodzadeh was a 21-year-old Iranian citizen who was accused of committing anal rape (ighab) with other young boys when he was 13 years old. However, at Mr. Mouloodzadeh's trial, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. On June 7, 2007, the Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Despite his lawyer's appeal, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence on August 1, 2007. The case caused an international uproar, and prompted a letter writing campaign by IGLHRC and similar actions by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Outrage! and Everyone Group.

In response to mounting public pressure, and following a detailed petition submitted to the Iranian Chief Justice by Mr. Mouloodzadeh's lawyer, the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, nullified the impending death sentence of Mr. Mouloodzadeh. In his November 10, 2007 opinion (1/86/8607), the Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land.

In accordance with Iranian legal procedure, Mr. Mouloodzadeh's case was sent to the Special Supervision Bureau of the Iranian Justice Department, a designated group of judges who are responsible for reviewing and ordering retrials of flawed cases flagged by the Iranian Chief Justice. However, in defiance of the Chief Justice, the judges decided to ratify the original court's ruling and ordered the local authorities to carry out the execution.

Mr. Mouloodzadeh's execution came days after a panel at the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.

You can read IGLHRC's action alert on our website: http://www.iglhrc.org/site/iglhrc/section.php?id=5&detail=797

Our Letter to the Iranian authorities is also posted on our website in both English and Persian: http://www.iglhrc.org/site/iglhrc/section.php?id=5&detail=798

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Johannesburg and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information

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(Posted in Homophobia)

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The following article appeared in The Age newspaper on 5 December 2007, and tells of the ongoing tragedy of the US involvement with Israel to ensure that a Palestinian state NEVER becomes a possibility. Israel is determined to ultimately control all of the areas in which the Palestinians live, and the human rights consequences for the Palestinians are dire unless the world finally gets off its collective backside and does something to provide justice after all these years of suffering inflicted on the people whose land they stole and occupied. The Holocaust long ceased to be a justification for Israel’s continued existence in its present form and testament to this is the fact that Israel has never been able to get the diaspora Jews to move to Israel to settle.
This has been shown by the fact that half the world’s Jewish population lives outside Israel, and also shown by the number of Israelis who have emigrated to safer shores.
The only solution to the ongoing situation is for there to be a one-state democratic Israel/Palestine, where each of the two main groups living in what was called Palestine before World War II will have to compromise and live at peace with each other. Most of South Africa’s 40 million people have managed to do this, so Israel/Palestine’s 13 or 14 million people will learn to do likewise.
Otherwise the war for the land will continue with no satisfactory outcome for either group.
No peace in Israel-Palestine
Michael Shaik and Antony Loewenstein
December 5, 2007
It is difficult to overstate the lost opportunity that last week's Annapolis conference represents.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had agreed to all of Israel's preconditions for negotiations by dissolving the Palestinian government of national unity, closing down more than 100 Hamas affiliated charities and sending Palestinian security forces into Nablus to liquidate the resistance cells that have held out against the Israeli army for the last seven years.
Having demonstrated his commitment to Israel's security, he needed to secure a reciprocal commitment from Israel that he can present to his people as a vindication of his policies. The peace conference at Annapolis, he was at pains to emphasise, had to produce a clear statement of principles on the core issues of the conflict (Jerusalem, borders, water and refugees) within clearly defined timeframes.
Instead he was forced to settle for an empty statement that heralded "a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition" and declared that both sides intended to reach an agreement before the end of 2008.
As with every other peace conference of the last 15 years, the statement bears little relation to reality.
In 2005 ambassadors representing 25 European nations with missions in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Tel Aviv submitted a joint report that Israel is deliberately violating both its obligations under the Roadmap for Peace and international law by working to make a viable Palestinian state impossible.
Specifically, the report warned that the completion of Israel's "Separation Barrier" and the new E1 settlement bloc in the centre of the West Bank would "complete the isolation of East Jerusalem - the political, commercial and infrastructural centre of Palestinian life".
More ominously still, the ambassadors noted that the demolition of Palestinian houses in Jerusalem and its discriminatory policies concerning Palestinian residence in the city are "almost certainly" intended "to reduce the Palestinian population of Jerusalem, while exerting efforts to boost the number of Israelis living in the city."
The former Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir, once boasted that his strategy for peace negotiations was to drag them out for ten years, by which time Israel's annexation of the West Bank would have become an accomplished fact. Since his retirement, every Israeli-Palestinian "peace process" has taken place against a backdrop of Jewish settlement expansion.
Recently the Israeli NGO, Peace Now, reported that this year Israel has already built 762 settler housing units in the West Bank and had 602 under construction. On Tuesday the Israeli government announced its intention to expand the Har Homa settlement overlooking Bethlehem by 307 new homes.
Rather than confronting Israel over its colonisation of Palestinian land, the Bush administration has chosen to embrace Tony Blair's program of promoting Palestinian economic development, while ignoring Israel's deepening occupation.
The contradictions of such a policy are obvious. Factories throughout the Gaza Strip have been forced to close due to Israel's five month blockade, giving rise to an unemployment rate of 50%. According to the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights, hospitals in Gaza are being forced to operate without essential medicines, medical equipment, electricity and even such basics as toilet paper and cleaning materials.
This month the UN noted the emergence of a new generation of Palestinian refugees who had been separated from their lands by the "Separation Barrier" that Israel is building through the West Bank. Last week, the UN Relief and Works Agency warned that Israel's tightening of movement restrictions throughout the Occupied Territories could lead to a threefold increase in the cost of providing food aid to Palestinians.
In their recently published book on the Israel Lobby, the American professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt hypothesise that pro-Israeli advocates have so thoroughly infiltrated the American body politic that the US government is no longer capable of recognising its national interests in the Middle East. On Friday Israeli diplomats demanded that the US withdraw a resolution to the UN Security Council endorsing the Annapolis summit on the grounds that the UN is insufficiently pro-Israeli to be involved in the peace process. The resolution was promptly withdrawn.
Since the invasion of Iraq, Israel's advocates around the world have relentlessly lobbied for a "pre-emptive" attack on Iran to stifle the country's alleged WMD program. Before such an attack could take place, America would wish to secure as much Arab support as possible by creating the impression of progress on a resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
This, regrettably, has become the primary function of the Israeli-Palestinian "peace process".
Peace is the absence of violence. In the Middle East the term "peace process" has become a euphemism for normalising the violent dispossession of an occupied population.
This year the entire Arab world restated its offer to fully normalise relations with Israel in return for its withdrawal form the Occupied Territories. At a time when the West's standing in the Middle East is already compromised by its refusal to recognise the outcome of last year's Palestinian elections, the United States will gain nothing from fighting a war with Iran to uphold Israel's regional monopoly on nuclear weapons.
Michael Shaik is the public advocate for Australian for Palestine. Antony Loewenstein is journalist and co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices.

(Posted in Jewish and Israel and Palestine)

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Now that the elections are out of the way, we need to get back to the issues that matter, not just here in Australia, but around the world.
One of these major issues is that of slave labour, of both children and adults, and with the holiday season in full swing, do you give any thoughts about the origins of the items you buy for gifts or for yourselves?
Think of chocolate, not just at the present but the whole year round. Most people we know love chocolate, but don't stop to think of where the cocoa beans come from and who picks the beans.
Spend a little time looking at the web pages of "Stop the Traffik" and think of the issues discussed. Then

(Posted in International Politics)

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28 NOVEMBER 2007

Two Australian state governments have this week decided to lift the moratorium on the planting of genetically modified canola crops and Monsanto and Bayer and other similar companies must be looking at the increased profits they will be banking and providing extra dividends to their share-holders!
John Brumby (Victoria) and Morris Iemma (NSW) will end up losing government over their arrogant disregard for the wishes of the people of their states. They have caved in to farming lobbies and to the big chemical companies who have been pressuring them to lift the ban when the time came to review the situation.
Evidence from overseas countries continues to alarm, and Europe is still opposed to GM foods as is also Japan. Victorian and NSW premiers have decided that GM would be good for the economies of their states, but they may decide otherwise after they have seen the results of letting the genie out of the bottle into which it can not be returned. They will live to regret their decisions based on their arrogant disregard for the realities of the fact that long-term effects of GM introduction to foods will have a deleterious effect on the health of humans and animals ingesting this tampering with nature.
Some of us will not be around to suffer the effects of GM, but those who will be around in the decades to come will discover all sorts of problems which haven't yet even been thought of!
Here are some of the items which have appeared in The Age newspaper. Remember, you have been warned - and warned - and warned!!!
Furore as ban on crops lifted
• David Rood
November 28, 2007
Latest related coverage
A DECISION to allow genetically modified canola to be grown in Victoria has inflamed dissent in the Brumby Government and sparked warnings that non-GM farms could be contaminated.
Anti-GM activists have also lashed the decision, saying consumers face a growing array of food made from GM material — without always knowing when they are buying it. But the move was welcomed by rural interests as sensible, and backed by scientists who say the risks of adverse consequences are minimal.
Farmers in Victoria and NSW will be free to plant genetically modified canola from early next year after both states yesterday announced the lifting of bans on the controversial crops — despite appeals not to do so from Western Australia and Tasmania.
The Brumby Government accepted a recommendation from a scientific panel headed by Victoria's chief scientist, Sir Gustav Nossal.
Announcing the decision, Premier John Brumby said it would boost the economy and help the environment.
Cabinet approved the lifting of the ban on Monday, despite stinging criticism of the Premier from some of his own MPs.
Copies of Sir Gustav's review were released by the Premier only after it was announced that the ban would be removed.
Labor MP Tammy Lobato said she was disappointed that MPs had been left out of the process. She said an independent panel should have investigated the issues and its report released for public discussion.
Another MP, who declined to be named, said Mr Brumby was "treating caucus like idiots". But another MP came to Mr Brumby's defence, saying he had been open on the issue and given all sides a good hearing.
The Age revealed on Saturday that Mr Brumby faced a revolt over the issue, with one MP branding him arrogant and criticising his "crash-through" style. "He just won't listen," the MP told The Age. "He's good at numbers but he can't read people."
Five Labor MPs wrote to Sir Gustav's panel expressing fears about GM crops and calling for the moratorium to be kept.
Yesterday Mr Brumby was unapologetic, saying it was the "nature of politics" that people with strong views would be critical of views they didn't like.
"I have listened to the views of caucus and in my own heart I have done everything right in terms of listening," he said.
Mr Brumby said removing the ban would deliver greater choice to farmers and consumers and generate $115 million in economic activity in Victoria over eight years.
He said GM canola would also benefit the environment by requiring less pesticide on crops, and argued that GM technology could bring other benefits such as salt-resistant and drought-resistant grains and allergy-resistant grass.
Sir Gustav said he was confident that industry could keep GM products segregated from the farm gate to the supermarket. Keeping the moratorium, on the other hand, would have had a negative impact on scientific research and development.
He said he was "sure as I can be of any other thing that the health and environment aspects of GM canola have been thoroughly examined". But he conceded that in some people's eyes, there would be damage to Victoria's clean, green image.
Bob Phelps of Gene Ethics said there was no labelling of GM canola foods so the food on shelves would leave shoppers without a choice.
Canola products, such as margarine and oil, are heavily refined and are therefore not covered by labelling requirements on GM products.
The organic food sector criticised the Government for not introducing buffer zones around GM crops.
The Victorian Farmers Federation, backing the decision, said farmers had to compete against 10 million farmers in 22 countries using GM products. "It is unfair to the Australian farmer not to have the choice to use that technology," the federation's Simon Ramsay said.
The Nationals said the decision was a victory for common sense. "GM crops will require less pest and weed control, use less water and potentially reclaim salt-affected land," leader Peter Ryan said.
But Greens upper house MP Greg Barber said GM canola could contaminate nearby crops and genetic traits, such as herbicide resistance, could cross into weed species.

Research sways farming hopefuls
Orietta Guerrera
November 28, 2007
AFTER returning from a research tour through North and South America and Europe last year, any doubts that third-generation grain grower Andrew Broad had about the benefits of genetically modified canola subsided.
"I spent a lot of time talking to farmers who have been growing the crop for 10 to 12 years, and I asked them if they could turn back the clock what are the mistakes they've made and have they made the right decision, both environmental and financially," he said yesterday.
"I saw both sides of the argument, but most of the farmers I spoke to … were overwhelming in support of the technology.
"Farmers tell the truth to other farmers."
Mr Broad, 32, intends to be among the first Victorian farmers to grow GM canola after the State Government announced yesterday that it would not extend its ban on the commercial production of GM canola when it expires in February.
Rejecting the current canola varieties on the market as "substandard", the young farmer from Bridgewater, north-west of Bendigo, has over the past four years gradually halved the area he sows with canola. But with the ban now lifted, he plans once again to increase his crop to close to 400 hectares.
On what is a highly controversial topic among consumers and agricultural communities, Mr Broad denies he is a "one-eyed" GM supporter.
He said he had been swayed by research showing that GM canola can boost yields, reduce on-farms costs and use of pesticides, and help with weed management.
"I just felt that this is something where Australian agriculture was being left behind in the global market," Mr Broad said.
Only limited GM canola will be available for next autumn's planting season because of a shortage of seed. But Premier John Brumby said it should be available to all farmers by 2010.
"I think we'll see a slow uptake at the start, but that would be a matter of choice for farmers," he said.
Genes, canola and the health concerns
• November 28, 2007
What is genetic modification?
Also known as genetic engineering, this allows scientists to take a gene from one organism and insert it into another to produce particular characteristics, for example resistance to herbicides or disease. It can also mean switching genes on or off in an organism.
What is canola?
A plant also called oilseed rape or rapeseed. Canola oil, produced by the crushing of canola seed, is used in margarines, oils and some processed foods, like biscuits. Canola meal is used as a feed supplement for livestock. Biofuel is an emerging use for canola. Along with corn and soy, it was targeted early in GM research; they were widely grown and there was considerable scientific understanding of the plants.
What GM canola will we see in Australia?
The federal Gene Technology Regulator has approved the commercial release of Bayer CropScience's InVigor canola, and Monsanto Australia's Roundup Ready canola. InVigor canola is genetically modified so that it produces hybrid seeds - which increases seed production - and is tolerant to the herbicide glufosinate ammonium. Roundup Ready is genetically modified to be tolerant to the herbicide glyphosate.
What are the expected benefits of GM canola?
Supporters say it could lead to increased production, as the non-GM herbicide-tolerant canola that makes up most of the country's crop has resulted in reduced yields. They say GM canola will also have environmental benefits, including reduced tillage - leading to less soil erosion - and a decrease in the use of pesticides and herbicides.
What are the risks to human health and the environment?
The federal Gene Technology Regulator says the two GM canola varieties pose no greater risk to human health or the environment than conventionally bred canola.
But GM opponents are not convinced, saying there have been no long-term studies of the effect of GM food on human health, and that studies with rats have suggested it leads to stunted growth. Anti-GM advocates also fear the introduction of GM canola could lead to contamination of non-GM crops through pollen drift, and the development of herbicide-resistant "superweeds".
What do experts say about superweeds?
The director of the Co-operative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management, Dr Rachel McFadyen, believes the fears are unfounded, and GM canola is no more likely to become a weed outside the crop than ordinary canola. But she says there is a potential for common weeds like ryegrass and wild radish to become resistant to glyphosate, requiring alternative weed management strategies, including the use of different herbicides.
What is the likelihood of contamination?
Scientists studying the spread of a non-GM variety of canola in Australia picked up traces of it three kilometres away from where crops were planted, but in proportions ranging from zero to 0.07%, and an average of 0.009% - within the 0.09% threshold. GM opponents remain adamant that segregation in other countries has failed and contamination will occur, but the Victorian review panel believes industry can achieve effective separation of GM and non-GM crops through self-regulation.
Who has the responsibility for GM?
The Commonwealth's Office of the Gene Technology Regulator is responsible for assessing any potential health and environmental risks of a genetically modified organism. Food Standards Australia New Zealand checks whether GM foods are safe to eat. All approved GM foods must show they are GM on the label, but there are exemptions including highly refined products - such as canola oil - and food prepared in restaurants. In Victoria, procedures to deal with the consideration of future commercial GM crops are yet to be developed. "We haven't had the applications, so we haven't set up the process," Premier John Brumby said yesterday.

(Posted in Genetic Modifications - Food)

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The feeling around the country is very strong - Howard's End is nigh, and about time too! 2004 should have seen the end, but events at that time played into his grubby little paws and he was saved, even though we weren't!
But this time, despite the last-minute dirty tricks by others in the Coalition than Heffernan, who is still doubtless behind some of the grubby events, nothing will save the prime minister!
People around the country, even including those who have voted for him for all these years are now having doubts and intend to vote differently on Saturday 24 November 2007.
Make sure you help to get rid of him, and also, in the process, send a protest message to that Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) who may win government by voting Greens in both houses - your vote will not be lost under any circumstances, despite the major parties telling you not to waste your vote on minor parties. They just do it to scare you!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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This letter appeared in The Age newspaper on 20 November 2007. The horrors of GM food have not yet adequately been seen in Australia, but if the genie is let out of the bottle we will all be the losers - except the big companies such as Monsanto. So, be afraid, be very afraid!
GM food, it's not farmers that win
RECENTLY the genetic engineering fraternity has been publishing opinions as if from independent authorities.
They promise that if we lift the genetically modified crop bans farmers will become wealthy, crops will grow during drought in salty soils, the starving will be fed, and the environment will be saved. Wow, pretty impressive — if these claims weren't simply hot air.
Their first green revolution enriched chemical companies, not farmers. Farmers' wealth, their landholding, is declining in places due to that technology bringing over-production, dead soils, depleted rivers and, sadly, suicides.
Governments that can't make the connection between 50 years of chemical agriculture and the pandemic of human diseases aren't playing with a straight deck. It's the food, stupid. GMO is just more chemical agriculture, this time on steroids.
GM's PhD mouthpieces mislead people by touting that American farmers can "choose" to use GMO. That comes at the loss of choice for every American consumer who is not allowed to choose what they eat because US labelling laws hide the presence of genetically modified organisms in their cereals, beverages, dairy and meat.
If the only way to get consumers to eat GMO is to mislead them or take away their choice, then just what is going on here?
This GMO experiment, if we let it proceed, will only end in suffering.

(Posted in Genetic Modifications - Food)

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The following article appeared in the Sydney Star Observer dated 15 November 2007 - yet another reason to be wary, very wary, about how you cast your votes on Saturday 24 November 2007. It really is time gays, lesbians, transgenders, people living with HIV/AIDS realised who is supporting them and who is opposing them always!
Vote Greens and put us all back in the picture with hope for the future.


John Challis

Three days after Malcolm Turnbull’s re-announcement of interdependency reforms to superannuation, gay and lesbian constituents were still waiting for the Liberal Party to acknowledge the commitment.

Despite the blanket media coverage, Wentworth residents who phoned the Liberal headquarters were told variations on “I’m not sure he said that” and “we haven’t made any announcement”.

Turnbull’s address to the Gay and Lesbian Business Association pipped the much quieter real announcement by Finance Minister Nick Minchin over the weekend.

The policy release coincided with a Galaxy poll that found Turnbull neck and neck with Labor’s George Newhouse, with Greens preferences.

But if Turnbull hoped it would help win votes in the marginal seat, it has instead been received with widespread disappointment for not going further.

“The Coalition is not ruling out removing discrimination against interdependent relationships in other areas,” a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said.

“The [superannuation] reforms will be implemented as soon as possible subject to competing legislative priorities.”

Over half a million members in military, judiciary, parliamentary and public service schemes will be eligible to nominate a same-sex or interdependent partner for a reversionary pension or an annuity payout on death.

The estimated cost is $40 million over the next term, with a total unfunded liability of $1.8 billion – half of which pertains to same-sex couples.

“The Government has been disposed to making this change for some time, but until recently, the cost of expanding the range of relationships eligible for death benefits was prohibitive,” Minchin said.

Former ABC employee John Challis had been the loudest voice campaigning on the issue of superannuation equality – saying at age 79 he and his partner couldn’t afford the luxury of patience.

But having received a commitment from both potential governments, Challis said he is now free to vote on other issues – like global warming.

Meanwhile, Senate preferences in NSW have been announced with the Coalition giving first priority to the Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group) followed by Family First.

Labor has nominated first preference to the Greens, who have in turn placed Labor before the Coalition.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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This is part two of the great Howard homo romances. See part one at FUNDAMENTALIST BIGAMOUS GAY MARRIAGES
Tandberg does it again!!! in The Age newspaper of 20 November 2007 - the Clayton's marriage - the gay marriage we had to have when we weren't having a gay marriage!
And then, to top up the first part of the story, Tandberg does the next part in The Age on 21 November 2007, and Janette is becoming more and more confused - first it was George W Bush, then it was Tony Blair, then it was Kim Beazley, now, of all people, it is Peter Costello!
Where will it all end, you may well ask? and the answer will probably be given on Saturday 24 November 2007 at about 10pm when it becomes clear that John has lost the election and lost Bennelong and so loses all the boy friends!
This will be good for the gay community who are not really that happy to acknowledge him as one of their number - he was never a gay activist, so he is really out of place in his current role!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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Two letters from The Age newspaper showing yet again the devastating consequences of having a government totally out of control and not accountable.
We can only hope the next government will be forced to act in ways which make it more accountable to the people who voted for it and whom it supposedly represents:
Tran case highlights need for inquiry
ASSUMING the story about Tony Tran (The Age, 14/11) is true, just what sort of operation is the Department of Immigration running? This new case also raises the question: how many others are lost in the detention system? Maybe an independent inquiry would be a good start to improving what appears to be a deeply flawed system.
Chris Bridge, South Yarra
Beneath the barrel
THE Bakhtiyari family were detained for four years, then illegally deported to the wrong country with the truth of their Afghan nationality known to the Department of Immigration as early as June 2000 but denied for years, and we thought we had hit the bottom.
When Cornelia Rau was discovered in Baxter, we thought we had reached bottom when we discovered that the department already believed she was an Australian as early as November 2004 but promptly stuck her in isolation for 65 days while pretending to "find" her in Europe.
Vivian Alvarez Solon's case shocked not just Australia but the world with the callous disregard for her life and the welfare of her young children, and the four-year cover-up by two departments that knew she was Australian and didn't care. And we thought we had touched bottom.
Now we see Tony Tran and his little son and the shame continues unabated. We are beneath the barrel after all.
Marilyn Shepherd, Kensington

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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It is a fact of Australian life that many religious organisations still have exemptions from all sorts of issues which the rest of non-religious organisations are unable to obtain.
Exemptions covering discrimination in employment, paying taxes, to mention but a few.
This is a secular society in a secular country, and nominally the governments are secular too.
However, religion has been creeping more and more into the 2007 federal election campaign with religious lobby groups doing their best to influence the main political parties, whose leaders all profess a profound belief in thie own particular brands of religion. Not that their actions bear this out - but that is another matter!
The following letter from The Age newspaper of 17 November 2007 illustrates the points above:
No taxes, please. I'm an atheist

THE FULL bench of the Federal Court has ruled that churches and charities can run businesses and claim tax exemption for these businesses as long as the profits are entirely used for the charity and to advance religion (The Age, 16/11).
In this day and age, why is religion being given tax exemption? Charities I agree with, but why religion? Obviously I should establish the church of atheism and claim tax exemption for the spreading of atheism.
A definition of religion is something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience or a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.
Please explain why my taxes allow religions to receive an advantage over other businesses? Isn't it time to remove this archaic benefit to religion? Which century are we living in?
Paul Gosling, Langwarrin

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

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The Greens are polling well, particularly in the ACT, but this is no time for complacency - less than a week to go - thank goodness!!! - and much work still to be done!
The Coalition must be defeated, and defeated decisively, but the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP), should it win the election, needs to have a voice in both houses to temper its excesses which run parallel to the Coalition's.
Saturday 24 November 2007 will be a very interesting day in the political life of Australia. We have to strive to make it a political event which will long be remembered!
---------and may the GREENS be with us!!

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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm