25 April 2011



Mbeki must go and the ANC must reform itself or lose power.
Thabo Mbeki became president of South Africa after Nelson Mandela retired in 1999. Mbeki was thought at the time he became president to be a worthy successor to Mandela because he had been part of the liberation struggle against the apartheid regime while he was in exile. His father, Govan Mbeki had been a close associate of Mandela’s and great hope was placed in his son who was considered a serious-minded intellectual who would lead the country into greater security and prosperity, which Mandela had started to secure from the international community.
Now, at the end of 2007, Mbeki’s government – and the ANC – is plagued by corruption, nepotism, incompetence, and certainly criminal activities, relating to the HIV/AIDS crisis and the continued employment of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as the Health Minister. The disgraceful scaking of her deputy was an international cause celebre, and did nothing to allay the suspicion that the sacking was engineered by Manto.
Mbeki now wants to exercise greater censorship and hopes to get hold of the Sunday Times newspaper which has continued to expose the corruptions in the government and the ANC. The Sunday Times expose of the Health Minister’s criminal behaviour and her alcoholism should have been enough for Mbeki to investigate her ability and her justification for maintaining her portfolio. Instead he has defended her and wants to bring criminal charges against the newspaper which has exposed the scandals.
The following articles were in The Age newspaper on 10 November 2007, from the Guardian newspaper of the UK, and are of such importance that they are here reproduced in full.
Just as there was international pressure against the apartheid regime, and now the Mugabe regime, so there needs to be international pressure to get Mbeki to resign before he takes over the mantle as the Mugabe of South Africa.
Time too for South Africa’s political groupings to reassess their affiliations and provide a strong parliamentary opposition to Mbeki and the ANC government. It is too easy for Mbeki and his supporters to use the smear of racism in their counter-attacks against their opponents, but they clearly need to be made accountable for their corrupt practices. Manto must be made to go sooner rather than later to remove some of the taints which besmirch the government.
Cry for press freedom in South Africa
South African President Thabo Mbeki. Photo: Reuters Stephen Bevan, Pretoria November 10, 2007
IT'S THE kind of thing that might give a banana republic a bad name: the editor of one of South Africa's biggest newspapers threatened with arrest for exposing a minister as a drunk and a thief while the country's top prosecutor is suspended for investigating corruption allegations against the chief of police.
Thirteen years after President Nelson Mandela inspired the world by overseeing a peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy, the shine has rubbed off his successor Thabo Mbeki. The soft-spoken but aloof academic the West regarded as a safe pair of hands has, according to his critics, become increasingly autocratic and paranoid. He has sacked officials and ministers who fail to show "slavish deference" and is accused of leading an assault on press freedom the like of which South Africa has not seen since the dark days of apartheid. For their part, the President's supporters insist the allegations are baseless and part of a political campaign to influence December's crucial African National Congress conference where Mr Mbeki will bid for a third term as party leader against rivals Jacob Zuma, the former deputy president, and businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
The latest target in what one British newspaper called Mr Mbeki's "paranoid war" is the Sunday Times, the country's biggest broadsheet paper whose exposes have regularly embarrassed the Government.
Alarm bells rang last week when the newspaper reported that its owner, Johnnic Communications, had received a bid by a consortium made up of prominent allies of the President, including his political adviser Titus Mafolo, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa and the former chief of state protocol, Billy Modise.
Despite the insistence by the President's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, that the President knew nothing about it, the opposition was quick to claim that this was a back-door attempt by the state to gain control of one of its most persistent critics. What on its own might seem a relatively innocuous business deal similar to others involving members of the powerful ANC elite, has taken on a sinister edge because of its timing.
Just weeks earlier, the paper's young black editor, Mondli Makhanya, was allegedly threatened with arrest after publishing a series of embarrassing stories about the country's controversial Minister of Health, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, based in part on a leaked copy of her medical records.
The newspaper claimed the minister had disgraced herself during a hospital stay in 2005, throwing tantrums and refusing to eat the food. But it was the allegation that alcohol was smuggled into her room and that she was drunk in the hospital on several occasions that struck a chord, appearing to confirm a long-rumoured drinking problem.
A week later the paper alleged there had been a cover-up over a liver transplant that Dr Tshabalala-Msimang had undergone in March after her own liver was said to have been damaged by "auto-immune hepatitis".
In fact, the paper claimed, the minister was suffering from alcoholic liver cirrhosis and she had continued drinking even after the transplant. It also revealed that she had been convicted of theft after stealing watches, jewellery and even shoes from patients at a hospital in Botswana where she had worked as a medical superintendent in the mid-1970s.
The Health Ministry went to court to demand that the medical records be returned. The Cape Town Medi-Clinic, where the minister stayed in 2005, laid a charge of theft against the paper after discovering her medical records were missing.
Last month the newspaper splashed with the news that police investigating the theft had told its editor and his deputy managing editor, Jocelyn Maker, that they would be arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen property. They are also facing charges under the National Health Act, which makes it an offence to publish someone's medical records without their permission.
In the wake of a call by Essop Pahad, Minister in the Presidency, for government advertising to be withdrawn from the paper, many in the media saw it as an attempt to teach the paper a lesson. It was claimed that Mr Mbeki himself was behind the arrests and that a police officer had spent a week in New Zealand to interview the person suspected of leaking the minister's medical records. It was suggested that Ms Maker's phone had been tapped and police had been told to "dig up dirt" on Mr Makhanya and other journalists involved in stories about the Health Minister.
Writing in a British newspaper recently, writer R. W. Johnson compared Mr Mbeki's behaviour to that of Robert Mugabe, President of neighbouring Zimbabwe. Mr Ratshitanga, the presidential spokesman, responded in kind, labelling Johnson a "full blooded racist". There is a strong suspicion that the matter is being pursued with a vigour that is in stark contrast to the resources put into solving many of the 19,000 murders committed last year. Mr Makhanya says he can't discuss the arrest but he is convinced press freedom is under threat.
Also worrying government critics is the ruling ANC's proposal for a media "tribunal" to explore, in the words of ANC information head Smuts Ngonyama "certain biases" within the industry. Karima Brown, veteran political editor of Business Day newspaper (50 per cent owned by Johnnic), points to the recent attempt by the ANC to push a list of approved candidates for the board of the country's largest broadcaster, South African Broadcasting Corporation, as a "clear indication that the state is keen to get its hand on large media institutions".
While the focus has been on the media, there has been a deafening silence from the minister and President on much of the substance of the allegations in the Sunday Times.
On the potentially serious question of whether the minister in charge of the nation's health is an alcoholic, the Government has said nothing.
Weapons deal puts pressure on rival
Chris McGreal, Johannesburg
November 10, 2007
THE bitter power struggle between President Thabo Mbeki and his former deputy, Jacob Zuma, for control of the ruling African National Congress intensified as a South African court opened the way for Mr Zuma to be charged over a multibillion-dollar weapons deal.
The court of appeal's ruling on Thursday that the police seizure of allegedly incriminating documents from Mr Zuma's home and office was legal was expected to undermine his campaign as the favoured candidate to unseat Mr Mbeki as party leader at an ANC congress next month and so become the country's president in 2009.
The court also said investigators could have access to papers about a meeting between Mr Zuma and a French arms company, Thint, at which the payment of a substantial bribe was allegedly discussed.
After Thursday's rulings Mr Zuma said he would seek leave to appeal to the supreme court. The ruling comes six weeks before the ANC leadership election in which Mr Zuma appears to be the only candidate capable of defeating Mr Mbeki.
Mr Mbeki is constitutionally barred from running again for president of the country in 18 months' time, but there is no legal obstacle to him remaining as the ANC's leader. If he were to win next month's vote, he would probably be able to anoint his successor as president and would have considerable influence in parliament, because the party's MPs would answer to him.
But Mr Mbeki faces strong opposition from the trade union confederation and the Communist Party, members of the ruling tripartite alliance with the ANC, because they are unhappy with the Government's market-oriented economic policies. They have thrown their weight behind Mr Zuma, despite corruption allegations that have dogged him for years.
Mbeki allies try to buy media group
Chris McGreal, Johannesburg
November 6, 2007
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki's top political adviser and a senior government official have made a bid to buy a leading South African newspaper group embroiled in a battle with the presidency over its exposure of high-level abuse of power and corruption. The attempt to buy Johncom for 7 billion rand ($A1.16 billion) has raised concerns that it is an attempt to silence one of the country's best-selling newspapers, the Sunday Times.
The paper recently alleged that Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is a convicted thief and an alcoholic who misused her office to obtain a liver transplant while still drinking. The paper has been critical of Mr Mbeki's hostility to the conventional treatment of AIDS, hostility doctors say has cost hundreds of thousands of lives.
It has also accused Mr Mbeki of abusing his powers and using underhand tactics to silence and punish opponents as he struggles to retain the leadership of the ruling African National Congress.
The consortium seeking to buy Johncom includes Mr Mbeki's political adviser, Titus Mafolo, who made headlines five years ago when he was accused of faking his own car-hijacking. He was charged with fraud, perjury and defeating the ends of justice. The charges were later dropped.
Other members of the consortium include Foreign Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa and a former chief of state protocol, Billy Modise. All are close to Mr Mbeki.
Johncom also owns the Sowetan and has a big stake in the country's leading financial daily, Business Day.One prominent ANC MP, Kader Asmal, said there was a danger of independent newspapers falling under political control. He told the Sunday Times that it is "astonishing that civil servants are able to develop time and energy for what is really a takeover bid".
Mr Mamoepa said the bid was a purely commercial venture, while Mr Mbeki's office said the President did not know about it.
Suspicions that it is politically motivated have been strengthened by the increasingly hostile confrontation between the Sunday Times and Mr Mbeki's office.
Last month, police began a criminal investigation of the paper's editor, Mondli Makhanya, for allegedly obtaining the Health Minister's medical records illegally.
Critics said the assigning of a top detective and considerable resources to the case reflected the political nature of the investigation in a country where there were barely enough resources to deal with the horrific murder rate.

(Posted in HIV and AIDS)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Malcolm Turnbull is getting desperate - so being a millionaire doesn't always mean getting you own way? Malcolm has done a week later what wife Lucy did on 1 November 2007. On 8 November 2007 there is a full-page advertisement from Malcolm Turnbull in the Sydney Star Observer telling us all what a good friend he is to the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities, and that we must now all vote for him!
In the same issue, the following letter appears:
by Rodney from Potts Point | 7/11/2007 6:52:33 PM

Malcolm, you appear to be a hard-working, friendly, broadminded member of parliament. Unfortunately, no matter how well intentioned your vision may be, people are judged by the company they keep – Bill Heffernan, John Howard, David Clark, Philip Ruddock, Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews, Christopher Pyne, Alex Hawke, et al.
As long as the so-called “broad church” of the Liberal Party is dominated by these and other bigoted, homophobic, extreme right-wing religious fanatics it matters not to my partner and me what redeeming qualities you as an individual may hold. Neanderthals of your party will prevail.

If common sense prevails in the seat of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull will not get a second term in the federal parliament at this time, nor hopefully at any other time!
(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Lucy Turnbull took out a full page advertisement in the Sydney Star Observer on 1 November 2007 telling the gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities that her husband Malcolm has done so much for these communities that they should return the favour and vote for Malcolm for Wentworth.
What Lucy failed to tell everybody was that Malcolm is a member of the coalition of the willing - willing to continue to treat the gay communities as second-class citizens because they are denied the same human rights as the rest of the community which takes these rights for granted.
No matter how hard Lucy tries, she will not be able to persuade people that after nearly 12 years of Howard government discrimination against gay communities this will suddenly change if the Coalition is re-elected.
And if the voters in Wentworth don't want to be conned by the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) they shouldn't vote for the ALP either.
The Greens at this stage are, federally, our only hope in the 24 November 2007 elections for any changes in our favour, and it will be to our advantage to do everything possible to ensure as many votes for the Greens as we can muster.
Lucy says that with Malcolm things always get done - but Malcolm has also given us the pulp mill we don't want, has given us global warming we don't want, and NOT given equal rights to dykes and poofters and trannies which we DO want.
So don't take Lucy's advice and don't vote for Malcolm!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


When we moved from New South Wales to Melbourne at the beginning of 2001, some friends in Sydney gave us a moving-in present for our new house.
The present was a roll of toilet paper and this is what the wrapper looked like:

Howard has won two elections since then - 2001 and 2004. Make sure he doesn't win in 2007!!
Howard has given us, or been responsible for, the following items and a lot more:
and this is only a small portion of what he has given us and done for us!
Enough is enough - stop further degradation of our human rights - and one important item omitted from above:

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


In the 2004 Federal Election Martin Ferguson (ALP) obtained 71.32% of the vote, making Batman one of the safest ALP seats in the country. The seat of Batman covers the Melbourne suburbs of Fairfield, Northcote, Thornbury, Preston, Reservoir, Kingsbury, Macleod and Bundoora.
The seat covers every spectrum of income from the poorest to the richest, and the voters overwhelmingly vote ALP, despite the fact that Martin Ferguson has done probably less for his electorate than most other members of parliament, and has also betrayed one of the basic tenets of what used to be ALP policy - supporting digging uranium out of the ground and selling it overseas. No doubt this covers a hidden agenda to one day support nuclear energy development for Australia - and would he put a nuclear power station in his back yard if he is still a federal member of parliament? You can bet your bottom dollar on that!
The federal ALP has done as much as possible to ensure that they vote with the Coalition on issues relating to gay, lesbian and transgender voters of Batman. The federal ALP has done as little as possible to ensure the welfare of the ageing population, and the member for Batman is part of that team.
The federal ALP has supported the pulp mill for Tasmania, despite the fact that it will be an environmental disaster, and Peter Garrett has become one of the most public turncoats in ALP parliamentary history, and that is saying something!
It is vital that the voters of Batman ensure that the ALP majority is reduced to the extent that Batman becomes a marginal seat at the next election, and in order for that to happen the voters of Batman need to vote for the Greens in both houses of parliament to ensure a balance of power in the Senate and a viable oppostion to both major parties in the lower house of the federal parliament.
The following flyers are your Greens candidates for both the Batman seat and the Victorian senate representative:

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


The following article appears in Socialist Alternative issue 122 November 2007. The whole article has been reproduced because it is vital at this time in the election campaign to know what the options are and what the outcomes after the election will be.
Kick out Howard, but vote Greens to oppose Rudd's right wing agenda
Mick Armstrong
Anybody with even a skerrick of human decency wants to see John Howard driven out of office on 24 November. We in Socialist Alternative would love to see an absolute landslide that deprives Howard and most of his Cabinet of their cushy parliamentary seats.
Socialists, just like millions of other workers and students, will be celebrating long into the night if eleven dire years of Liberal rule are finally ended. Yet on the other hand, we know full well that when we wake up on Sunday after the election, nothing fundamental about our lives will have changed.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will still be raging. The toll of death and human misery will continue to escalate.
But if the five or six minutes we spend in the polling booths are not the be-all and end-all of democracy, that doesn't mean socialists simply dismiss the few, limited democratic rights we do have. We vigorously oppose the Howard government's recent laws that limit the right to vote.
The ideological promoters of capitalism proclaim that free market capitalism and democracy go hand in hand. But the reality is that the few democratic freedoms we have were only won by centuries of struggle by workers and the oppressed. For most of the history of capitalism, it was only the likes of Richard Pratt in their mansions who were allowed to vote.
Until very recent times the intellectual defenders of capitalism denounced democratic freedoms for the masses as leading to chaos and anarchy and the undermining of civilisation. It was only mass upheavals, general strikes and uprisings like the Eureka Stockade that won even a limited right to vote.
So, while socialists don't see elections as the key to social change, we don't think it is irrelevant who you vote for. And we see this election as an important opportunity to get rid of Howard.
But we need to be clear that if the only thing we do is vote against Howard we won't have achieved all that much. We have to be prepared to stand up and fight for our rights, no matter who is in government.
Attacks on the conditions of workers and the oppressed are going to keep coming, whether it's the Liberals or Labor in office. The priorities of the Liberals are crystal clear. You just have to look at their promised tax cuts which are overwhelmingly targeted to the rich. People on $200,000 a year will be $128 a week better off. Meanwhile essential services like health, education, child care and pensions are chronically underfunded.
But Labor is just as determined to rule for the rich and powerful. Time and time again Rudd boasts that he is an "economic conservative". Labor's industrial relations policy is simply WorkChoices-lite.
Big business is not particularly concerned about the prospect of a Labor government. Sure, not many people in Double Bay or Toorak or Ascot will actually deign to vote Labor, but they know full well that their profits will keep rolling in under a Labor government.
There has been no fear campaign by the media moguls against Labor. A section of the ruling class clearly feels that after eleven years Howard has probably had his day and that Rudd will make a very safe right-wing PM.
The bosses' confidence in Labor is hardly surprising when you look at Labor's policies. Labor is promising to be just as tough on unions as the Liberals. Julia Gillard spelt it out very explicitly during the nurses' dispute, asserting that a Labor government would have unleashed the fall force of the law against the nurses.
Labor is for sending more Australian troops to Afghanistan. It fully backs the draconian anti-terror laws. It supports Howard's attacks on Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory.
Labor backs the Tasmanian pulp mill. It endorsed Howard's ban on Sudanese refugees. Rudd is vehemently opposed to gay marriage. The list goes on and on.
Some apologists for the ALP like to claim that Rudd is only saying these things to get elected; that once in government Rudd will change his spots and back away from his right-wing policies. This is fantasy land stuff.
The whole of the ALP leadership, not just Rudd but also supposed left-wingers like Julia Gillard and Lindsay Tanner, is totally committed to running capitalism for the bosses. When Rudd says he is an economic conservative, this is not spin. He is a hard right-winger who cut his teeth as a manager in the Queensland public service by slashing the jobs of health and railway workers. That's how he gained the nickname "Doctor Death."
Rudd's world view is summed up by a speech he gave in August to the Australian American Leadership Dinner. He declared:
"The world needs America. I say that despite Iraq, America is an overwhelming force for good in the world. It is time we sang that from the world's rooftops."
Australia's third-richest man, the cardboard box king Richard Pratt - the corporate crook who ripped off hundreds of millions of dollars from his customers - will still be ensconced in Raheen, his palatial mansion in Studley Park, Kew. His $2 billion dollar fortune will not have been dented by the pinprick of a fine imposed upon him.
And it is people like Murdoch, Pratt and Packer that Rudd and Howard bow and scrape to and take their marching orders from. As soon as he was elected ALP leader, Rudd zoomed off to New York to have his head patted by Murdoch.
In a recent Morgan Poll, 71 per cent of people thought Pratt should be jailed for corporate fraud. The response of Howard and Rudd was the exact opposite. Both of them went out of their way to praise Pratt, to prattle on about what a great man he was - a patron of the arts, an esteemed businessman, a generous philanthropist. It is pretty easy to be generous with the billions you have ripped off from your workers and customers.
Yet when the Victorian nurses, who - unlike parasites such as Pratt, Murdoch and Packer - do work that is essential for all of us, had to take industrial action to improve their dismal wages and stressful conditions, they faced draconian industrial laws. They didn't have Prime Ministers fawning over them. As far as the Rudds and the Howards are concerned, they don't matter.
The people who do the work necessary to keep society running and who create all the wealth are, in the eyes of both Labor and the Liberals, just fodder for exploitation by the big end of town. Both parties agree that the role of government is to hold down wages to prevent the supposedly terrible prospect of a wage break-out.
Of course they are never concerned to prevent a profit break-out. No way. Profits, unlike workers' wages, are sacrosanct. They can never be high enough.
The core reality is that no fundamental change can be achieved via parliament. The gains that workers, students and the oppressed have made over the decades have been achieved by taking a stand, fighting back, arguing, agitating, striking, protesting and stirring up discontent. They have never been handed to us on a platter by enlightened politicians.
That's why socialists enthusiastically backed the Victorian nurses' industrial campaign. Determined mass action like that of the nurses is way more important in terms of achieving genuine social change than any debate in parliament.
Mass collective action forces our rulers to respond, raises the confidence of the working class in its ability to reshape the world and lays the basis not just for winning the immediate demands of a particular group of workers or of a particular campaign, but also for opening up a broader challenge to capitalist rule.
That's why protests like the nationwide Walk Against Warming rallies on Sunday 11 November are so important. They are a chance for the mass of people to intervene in the debate around the elections and to stand up to the appalling right-wing polices of both Howard and Rudd.
Aboriginal people will still be living in utter degradation. Eleven per cent of Australians will still be below the poverty line.
The Tasmanian pulp mill will go ahead. Refugees will still be locked up in concentration camps. Muslims will still be being scapegoated.
Most of us will still have to go to work to make a living and be pushed around by a boss or a supervisor out to maximise profit from our labour. We will have no control over the fundamental decisions that impact on our lives.
Because whether it is Rudd or Howard who is Prime Minister, the rich and powerful who really call the shots in this country will still be firmly in control. Rupert Murdoch's media empire will be intact and will continue to pour out its reactionary garbage.
So any idea that the relentless attacks that workers and the oppressed have suffered over the last two decades are going to let up under a Rudd government is delusional. We live in a cut-throat, increasingly competitive, globalised economy in which the capitalist class sees only one way of maintaining their profit levels - attacking the living standards of workers and their right to organise in unions.
So we are going to have a fight on our hands under a Labor government. We will only preserve what we have got, let alone win genuine improvements by making a determined stand like the Victorian nurses did.
We are going to have to defy their anti-union laws. We are going to have to support our fellow workers who come under attack by taking solidarity action. We are going to have to take to the streets time and time again to assert our rights.
To rally our ranks, to cohere that fight back and to give us a better chance of success, we need to build a socialist alternative to Labor. We need to build a socialist party that on every issue will champion the rights of workers, students and all the oppressed.
We need right now to start building a party that does not want to run the system for the bosses; a party that can provide a political lead to all those who reject the right wing policies of Howard and Rudd; a party that attempts to cohere a concerted fightback to win reforms in the here and now and that is ultimately prepared to challenge the whole basis of capitalist rule.
In this election Socialist Alternative is calling for a first preference vote for the Greens and a second preference to Labor. It is vital to get rid of Howard, but to give a first preference vote to Labor ahead of the Greens will be seen as an endorsement of Rudd's right-wing policies.
If Labor wins in a landslide and the Greens vote goes down, Rudd will argue that it was his right-wing agenda that brought Labor to office. He will take it as a mandate to move even further to the right. So voting Labor ahead of the Greens is simply asking Rudd to beat you over the head.
Everybody on the left, every union activist, everyone that hates war and racism needs to vote Greens in protest against Labor's right-wing agenda. But the main game is not what you do in your five minutes in the polling booth on 24 November.
The main game is taking a stand on an ongoing basis. The first step is coming to the Walk Against Warming rally on Sunday 11 November (see below for details of the rally in your state). We need to back every other anti-Howard protest called in the lead-up to the election. That will help lay the basis for continuing resistance, whoever is in office after the elections. Because we are not going to start turning things around without a concerted fightback, and without building a socialist party that is dedicated heart and soul to advancing that struggle.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Lucy Turnbull is helping her struggling husband Malcolm to retain his Coalition seat in Wentworth by placing a full page advert in the Sydney Star Observer (SSO) issue 891 of 1 November 2007. She writes of how supportive her husband is of his family - his wife and her career choices and his children. She writes of how supportive he is of the gay and lesbian communities and specifically the AIDS Trust and the Bobby Goldsmith Foundation.
What Lucy fails to elaborate on is the fact that her husband Malcolm is part of the Coalition - the ultra-right conservatives who at the moment dominate both houses of the Federal Parliament and who are vehemently opposed to equal rights for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. He is also part of a government that has given in-principle support to the Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania and that has also stated that it intends to support nuclear power in Australia.
Now, what does the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) offer the electorate of Wentworth? George Newhouse belongs to a party with a long record of opposing federally equal rights for the gay, lesbian and transgender communities. This party is also happy to dig uranum out of the ground and sell it to overseas countries to use for whatever those countries require. The ALP also supports, in principle, the proposed Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania.
The Greens support equal rights for all who live in this country and also oppose the proposed Gunns pulp mill in Tasmania as well as the export of uranium.
Who do you vote for?

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


The letter below was in The Age newspaper on 7 November 2007 in response to Barney Zwartz's article the previous day implying that it was necessary for politicians to use their religious convictions in deciding on policies.
Australia is still a secular state and there is no place for religion in the political processes in the federal parliament. It was bad enough that the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) used its preferences for senate outcomes in the 2004 elections which gave a Victorian senate seat to the religious right's Family First. This should never be allowed to happen again!
Hidden agendas of religious camp
BARNEY Zwartz (Opinion, 6/11) uses polemic gymnastics to dodge around secular concerns about religious interference in Australia's democracy. The simple equation is: religion wishes to impose dogma-based restrictions on many aspects of legislation. The opposite and secular camp requires reasoned evaluation in making decisions that will affect us all.
The confirmed worry is that many politicians assess legislation on the basis of personal religious beliefs instead of making the best choices available. When coupled with preference deals allowing religious zealots to hold the balance of power, the distortion of democracy is inevitable. Many in these two groups keep their private agendas hidden from public scrutiny.
David Nicholls, president, Atheist Foundation of Australia, Maitland, SA

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


The Federal election on 24 November 2007 is an opportunity for us to get rid of the reactionary government of John Howard and, because the polls at the moment seem to give Kevin Rudd the election victory, we also have the opportunity to provide a viable third-party opposition to ensure that the voices of the majority of the voting public will have to be listened to in the future.
It will also be an opportunity to ensure that the balance of power in the senate is no longer in the hands of the religious right bigots and the conservatives who have attempted to stifle debate on many major issues affecting so many of us.

The picture above is an edited version of the front cover of the November 2007 issue of the Socialist Alternative magazine.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Every year, around World AIDS Day, a few AIDS organisations in Sydney organise the "Walk for AIDS" day as a fundraiser for the AIDS organisations who organise the "Walk for AIDS" day as a fundraiser for -----------------!!! You get the picture!
And every year the "Walk for AIDS" is held in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens, this year on Sunday 25 November 2007.
Some years ago SPAIDS wrote to the Sydney Star Observer (SSO) that there was a park which held the AIDS Memorial Groves and a Reflection Area as a permanent memorial for people who had died from AIDS.
SPAIDS suggested that the SSO advise the organisers of the "Walk for AIDS" accordingly.
SPAIDS was ignored and the "Walk for AIDS continues to be held in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
SPAIDS organisers have been responsible for the planting of 8000 trees in Sydney Park since 1994 after 33 plantings, and have recorded 1200 names of people who have died of AIDS. People have come from all around Australia as well as visitors from overseas to record the names of partners, family, friends, others they want to remember, by planting a tree in a park that was newly developing in 1994. By 2007 the AIDS Groves are truly Groves, and to date SPAIDS represents the only national AIDS Memorial in Australia.
But the "Walk for AIDS" organisers continue to ignore the existence of SPAIDS!
One wonders what their problems are.
Visit the SPAIDS Groves at: Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves - SPAIDS

(Posted in HIV and AIDS)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link



Fred Phelps and his ghastly daughters are at last beginning to get the come-uppance they should have got years ago. It has taken the courage of one family in the United States to challenge this monster and his brood with a successful outcome. Just think of what happened when Matthew Shepard was murdered and the shocking behaviour of these demented god-botherers who have been at it ever since. This article from PlanetOut at last holds out hope that these fanatical fundamentalist reactionary religious right bigots will have to pay for their disgusting behaviour. And not before time!

Jury awards father $11M in Phelps funeral case

Thursday, November 1, 2007 / 07:56 AM
SUMMARY: Members of a fundamentalist church ordered to pay nearly $11 million in damages to a grieving father vowed that the verdict would not deter them from their homophobic protests at military funerals.

Members of a fundamentalist Kansas church ordered to pay nearly $11 million in damages to a grieving father smiled as they walked out of the courtroom, vowing that the verdict would not deter them from protesting at military funerals.
Members promised to picket future funerals with placards bearing such slogans as "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God hates fags."
"Absolutely, don't you understand this was an act in futility?" said Shirley Phelps-Roper, whose father founded the Westboro Baptist Church.
The group believes that U.S. deaths in the Iraq war are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. They say they are entitled to protest at funerals under the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and religion.
Albert Snyder sued the Topeka, Kan., church after a protest last year at the funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. He claimed the protests intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.
A jury agreed. On Wednesday, the church and three of its leaders -- Fred Phelps and his two daughters, Phelps-Roper and Rebekah Phelps-Davis -- were found liable for invasion of privacy and intent to inflict emotional distress. Jurors awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages and $8 million in punitive damages.
Snyder, of York, Pa., said he hoped other families would consider suing.
"The goal wasn't about the money, it was to set a precedent so other people could do the same thing," he said.
Appearing on NBC's "Today" show Thursday, Sndyer said that while his son was fighting for freedom for Iraqis, "my son did not fight for hate speech.
"And that's basically what it is," he said of the church's protest. "Everybody's under the impression that the First Amendment gives them the right to do anything, say anything any where, any time. And along with the First Amendment also comes responsibility."
Snyder said that on the day of the funeral, he didn't see the protesters or their signs, only the tops of the signs. "But a lot of people at the church did see it," he said. "And it was splattered all over the newspapers the next day."
It's unclear whether Snyder will be able to collect the damages.
The assets of the church and the defendants are less than a million dollars, mainly in homes, cars and retirement accounts, defense attorney Jonathan Katz said. The church has about 75 members and is funded by tithing.
Craig Trebilcock, one of Snyder's lawyers, had asked jurors to question the truthfulness of the defendants' financial documents, one of which show Phelps-Davis having only $306 in the bank. He noted that Phelps-Davis is a practicing attorney, who could afford to travel to spread the church's message.
"Rebekah Phelps-Davis has $306? She must be using Priceline.com. It doesn't make any sense," Trebilcock said.
The attorney had urged jurors to award damages that would send a message to the church: "Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again."
Trebilcock later called the verdict "Judgment Day for the Westboro Baptist Church."
"They're always talking about other people's Judgment Day. Well, this is theirs," he said.
Snyder sobbed when he heard the verdict, while members of the church greeted the news with tightlipped smiles.
They are confident the award will be overturned on appeal, Phelps said.
"Oh, it will take about five minutes to get that thing reversed," he said.
Another of Snyder's attorneys, Sean Summers, said he would tirelessly seek payment of the award. "We will chase them forever if it takes that long," he said. A number of states have passed laws regarding funeral protests, and Congress has passed a law prohibiting such protests at federal cemeteries. Snyder's lawsuit is believed to be the first filed by the family of a fallen serviceman. (Alex Dominguez, AP)

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

2 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link

Page 5 of 14
Last Page | Next Page

ACTIVIST KICKS BACKS - AKB Home | Profile | Archives | Friends

Anti-censorship, anti-homophobia, anti-religious right fanaticism, anti-zionism, pro-human rights for ALL!


Bloggers of the world, delight!
They're on the run, the religious right!
It'll take some time for all to be out,
but in the end there'll be a rout!!

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Peter Costello and John Howard have caught the Fire and Kevin Rudd doesn't believe in the virgin birth, and the Fire has caught the virulently anti-semitic bug from the League of Rights.
John Howard is also in bed with the Exclusive Brethren, and we no longer have a separation of church and state in Australia. And we all thought we lived in a secular state.
The outcome of this election is now more important than ever, and it is more than necessary to ensure that at least in the senate we have a house of review that will not be a rubber stamp for the two major political parties.
To that end it is necessary to ensure that the Greens obtain more senate seats in order to hold the balance of power and stop the religious right from taking over the country.
The bigots are dangerous enough already. Get them out of secular parliaments and don't ever let them in again!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


The Australian government and its loyal opposition the alternative liberal party (aka ALP) mouth off that they support the policy of no death penalty in Australia, but support it in those countires which have the most appalling human rights records, but with whom we do a great deal of trade and military training and other related activities.
However, when it comes to situations in dealing with one of the ghastliest regimes in the world, the Burmese fascist state, the Australian foreign minister, who ought to be sacked if he won't resign, says we should take in refugees from Burma but keeps Burmese asylum seekers locked up in Nauru in the most disgusting concentration camp conditions which the current Australian government has become specialists in "running".
So it is all right for us to deal with all these murderous regimes which excel in death penalty executions - and we haven't even mentioned the USA in all this - while mouthing their not supporting the death penalty in Australia.
Whichever party wins the election on 24 November 2007, it is probably a good assumption that the death penalty will be back on the local political agenda!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


11 OCTOBER 2007
The article below, and the letters which follow, appeared in The Age newspaper on 11, 12 and 13 October 2007. The people who wrote with the usual zionist perspective give their addresses in the paper as Rushcutters Bay NSW, Malvern, Vic. and Greensborough, Vic. I have said it before, and I say it again, these people live in Australia, and not in Israel. If they are so concerned about the survival of Israel in its present form, surely it is incumbent upon them to go and help defend that country in order to secure the future for it which they write about in their letters. In the case of Israel I believe it is incumbent upon them to put up or shut up!
Israel the roadblock to peace in Middle East
Ghada Karmi
The peace process has been just that - a process with no real outcomes.
EVERYONE wants to see "peace" between Israel and the Arabs. It has now dawned on most people that the terrorist attacks on America and Europe, the al-Qaeda rhetoric about the suffering of fellow Muslims, and the instability in the Middle East are connected with the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The previous British prime minister, Tony Blair, realised this truth while still in office. In his new post as Middle East envoy for the Quartet (the European Union, Russia, the US and the UN), he has put peacemaking in Israel/Palestine at the top of his agenda. The vehicle for this, so beloved of Western policy makers, is the "peace process", a bland term that suggests something is being done while absolving the major players of any responsibility for real thought or action.
The peace process began in 1993 with the Oslo Agreement drawn up between then Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The agreement was supposed to eventually resolve the conflict through stages, ending implicitly in the creation of a Palestinian state. Instead, it initiated years of broken agreements and interminable negotiations, all called "the peace process", and ended in 2000 with the second intifada and the current crisis.
No attempt was made to confront the causes for Oslo's failure, and more peace proposals followed. The Tenet plan and then the Mitchell Report came and went, and in 2002 the "road map" was devised. This called for phased and monitored peace moves between Israel and the Palestinians towards a settlement, supervised by the Quartet, and whose end would be a Palestinian state by 2005. But this also floundered.
A US-inspired international peace conference, planned for next month, is the latest attempt to revive the "peace process". It will bring Israelis, Palestinians and several Arab states together in Washington to endorse a "statement of principles" between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
No negotiations are anticipated, since the parties are expected to have drawn up an agreement before the meeting.
The Arab states, which are reluctant to attend without an agreed agenda, are under US pressure to do so, but may not come. On the face of it, this initiative is more doomed than those before it. Olmert and Abbas are weak leaders with little popular support. Worse still, Abbas represents only one side of the split between Fatah, his party, and Hamas in Gaza. The latter is thus automatically excluded from any deal agreed to at the Washington meeting.
All these manoeuvrings are ostensibly about solving the conflict. But in reality, they substitute process for substance. Finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the problem. The parameters have been clear for decades: Israel's withdrawal from the 1967-occupied territories, the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return of refugees. These are also the components of the 2002 Saudi plan and offer Israel full normalisation of relations with the Arab states in exchange.
The plan is in line with international law and has the support of the Western powers. Yet it has no chance of succeeding, nor has any other peace proposal not to Israel's liking. And that is the nub of the problem. Israel, which ceaselessly professes its desire for peace, has never initiated a peace proposal of its own and has prevaricated when offered one. By postponing a settlement indefinitely, it has sought to gain time to colonise more Palestinian land, making that colonisation irreversible. This ploy has succeeded marvellously.
Today, Israel controls 46 per cent of the West Bank and the whole of Jerusalem. By building its barrier wall on West Bank territory, it has annexed the best Palestinian agricultural land and 80 per cent of its water to the Israeli side of the wall.
It dominates every aspect of Palestinian life, which it has transformed into a living hell through checkpoints and closures, arbitrary arrests, collective punishments, house demolitions and a vicious economic siege.
The dire effects of this regime have all been documented by the World Bank and various aid organisations. Yet this abuse of human rights, condemned by every international agency and legal body, even by some Israelis, continues unchecked.
A real peace process would have started here. By forcing Israel to accept that peace involves giving, not just taking, a proper settlement could begin to emerge. America, which could have made a difference, is hamstrung by its domestic subservience to the Israel lobby, and the EU seems incapable of extricating itself from US policy.
So what will happen? Only three outcomes are possible: doing nothing (the current position), moving towards a two-state solution or creating one common state.
Leaving the status quo to fester will lead to more desperate acts of violence and more dangerous instability. Israel's colonisation has left the Palestinians with enclaves of land, separated by Jews-only roads and "security areas", cut off from each other and from Gaza, making the two-state solution as previously envisaged beyond reach.
Linking the Palestinian enclaves to Jordan in a confederation is under consideration as the only way to preserve a semblance of a Palestinian state, but it is far from agreed on. That leaves the one-state option, rejected out of hand by Israel and its supporters, and viewed as hopelessly utopian by many others. And yet, it is the only one of the three that offers any hope of a lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians and, by extension, everyone else.
But while power lies with Israel and its supporters, all solutions that Israel rejects will be pipe dreams.
Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian academic at the University of Exeter, Britain, and the author of Married to another man: Israel's dilemma in Palestine. She will give a public lecture at 6.30pm today (Thursday 11 October 2007) at the Copeland Theatre, Melbourne University.
Letter No. 1
Israel's best offer not good enough
GEORGE Greenberg repeats the myth of Israel's supposed "generous offer" at Camp David in 2000 (Letters, 12/10). Israel's best offer at Camp David gave the Palestinians all of Gaza and eventual control of 91 per cent of the West Bank with minimal Israeli land as compensation. As Israel wanted to maintain control of the Jordan Valley for up to 20 years, Israel in effect offered the Palestinians immediate control of only 81 per cent of the West Bank. Also, the Israelis were to retain a sliver of land connecting Israel to the Jordan Valley, which effectively split the West Bank in two.
Furthermore, what Israel offered did not even amount to a "state" because it intended to retain control over the borders, air space and water resources of the West Bank and Gaza. The Palestinians were perfectly entitled to reject this offer.
In contrast, the Palestinians at Camp David conceded 78 per cent of Palestine (pre-1967 Israel) to the Israelis, accepted the incorporation into Israel of the main West Bank Jewish settlements in return for a corresponding area of land in Israel, and demanded only a token return of Palestinian refugees to Israel. If anyone rejected a generous offer at Camp David it was the Israelis.

Paul Dixon, Fraser, ACT
Letter No. 2
A one-sided view
PEACE in the Middle East, like any agreement, requires two partners. The parameters listed by Ghada Karmi (Opinion, 11/10) required to solve the Israel-Arab conflict are ridiculously one-sided. Karmi reproaches Israel for failing to adhere to these parameters and labels this as the roadblock to peace. But what about the Palestinian side of the deal? No mention is made of any obligation for them to accept the right of Israel to exist, to renounce terrorist attacks or to root out and stop terrorist activities. Contrary to Karmi's assertion, Israel does want peace, but it is very difficult to go anywhere with this when Israel's very existence is under constant threat. The peace plans Karmi describes as not to Israel's liking are those that make Israel's continuing existence untenable.
Further, the implication that the Arabs are the only ones offering peace is unfounded. Israel has put forward many proposals for peace that the Palestinian leadership has rejected.

Ilana Parkes, Greensborough
Letter No. 3
Pointing the finger
GHADA Karmi (Opinion, 11/10) claims that "the terrorist attacks on America and Europe, the al-Qaeda rhetoric about the suffering of fellow Muslims, and the instability in the Middle East are connected with the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict". This doesn't explain why many more Muslims are killed by other Muslims than by Israel, or why non-Muslims are being oppressed and killed in areas (both in the Middle East and worldwide) where there is not a single Israeli or American on whom to pin the blame.
The biggest roadblock to peace is apologists for Islamist terrorism trying to blame everybody else for the mess the Arab world has become as a result of corrupt leaders, Islamist death-worship and pure hatred.

Daniel Lewis, Rushcutters Bay, NSW
Letter No. 4
National suicide? No thanks
IN SOME ways, Ghada Karmi has done a favour for those of us who care about Middle East peace. She has shown how difficult it will be for Israel to achieve peace when a supposedly reasonable academic like herself demands, as the price of peace, that Israel cease to exist as a Jewish state.
She claims Israel "has never initiated a peace proposal of its own". At Camp David in 2000, Israel offered a Palestinian state in all of Gaza and most of the West Bank, with Israeli land in compensation for the rest, and a capital in East Jerusalem. Karmi clearly doesn't regard this as a peace proposal. Both her options, a "right of return" for millions of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and her preferred one-state solution, would mean Israel's Jews becoming a minority in their own country. That's not peace; it's national suicide, to which no country would ever agree.

George Greenberg, Malvern

(Posted in Jewish and Israel and Palestine)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Kevin Andrews is a racist. All the denials in the world won't alter the fact, and his attack on the Sudanese as asylum seekers or refugees has already been the trigger for attacks on members of that community since the murder of the Sudanese young man about a week ago.
The Howard government's racism was built in from the start when Howard took over Pauline Hanson's platform and made it his own, thus taking the ground from under Hanson's feet and reducing her power base to nil as it became Liberal Party policy.
Adding to the current outbreak of racism by Kevin Andrews is the fanning of the flames by the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) which of course supports the stand taken by the Howard government on refugee intake from the African continent - black is out, white is in!
To add to Kevin Andrews' hypocrisy is his holier than thou so-called adherence to some religious right philosophy - his god says he is doing the right thing, and the more right the better!
The government denies it is being racist and in its latest incarnation of hypocrisy, Howard is now making approaches to the Aboriginal communities, supported by Noel Pearson who has also joined the ranks of the hypocrities supporting the government's Aboriginal policies. Where have they all been for the last 11 years when the Aboriginal people's plight has been all but pushed under the carpet and forgotten about until it has suddenly become politically expedient, just before an election which he will hopefully lose in a landslide?
So just to balance the equation, what we take away from the Sudanese, we will now give to the Aborigines.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

1 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


John Howard's latest take on the death penalty is that he opposes it inside Australia - at the moment! - but is happy about it being applied in other countries, whether it is applied to Australians or not.
Kevin Rudd has joined the chorus - and it is amazing to see how far to the right this cristian has gone in showing compassion for his fellow human beings. Whatever happened to human rights? Whatever happened to the idea that the death penalty does not act as a deterrent to whatever "crimes" it is it is supposed to be deterring. Whatever happened to the idea that maybe the people condemned to death may actually be innocent? Whatever happened to the idea that two wrongs don't make a right?
Whatever happened to 21st century civilised standards of behaviour and comassion towards one's fellow humans?
Whatever happened to Australia's politicians?
However, don't despair - there is a federal election in the offing and here is your chance to vote against both major parties and their dishonest power brokers. It can be done, but it needs to be done now!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


4 OCTOBER 2007
The following article was in the Sydney Star Observer issue 887, and shows, yet again, how the federal government functions with the religious right making the agenda and calling the shots. It is yet another example of this government's retreat backwards to the late 19th, early 20th centuries, and indicates what you should expect more of if the government is re-elected at the next federal election, due before the end of 2007. Having said that, you can expect no difference if the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP) under Kevin Rudd is elected - they will not change or challenge anything Howard's government has perpetrated for the last 12 years:
by Harley Dennett
A second Melbourne store stocking imported gay and lesbian films has been ordered to empty its shelves after being targeted by the federal Attorney-General’s Department.
Rowland Thomson, owner of gay bookshop Hares and Hyenas, received a letter from the department ordering him to remove 10 DVD titles, including television soaps and critically acclaimed documentaries.
“They got the titles from the website,” Thomson said. “Things like Boy Meets Boy; Noah’s Arc; and The Aggressives, a documentary about butch New York lesbians.”
Also on the list was the 1997 film Bent, about the suffering of gay men in Nazi concentration camps, which has also been performed as a stage play in Australia for the last 20 years.
“Could you imagine if books had to be presented for classification? It’s a class thing; film being a more popular medium. We can sell the French Rugby calendar, but we can’t sell the Making Of DVD,” he said.
“This is a censorship due to minority interests.”
The cost to classify a three-hour film was quoted at $2,500, and came under attack in The Age earlier this week for unfairly hurting minority groups.
OutVideo owner Paul Hollingworth, who last month received a similar order from the department and faces removing more than half his stock, said feedback had been mixed
Adult stores have been able to stock unclassified material by ignoring the department’s warnings, but Hollingworth said that wasn’t the answer.
“Something needs to change; maybe an American-style system of voluntary classification that’s just a parenting advisory,” he said.
“It doesn’t only affect us. A lot of the foreign communities, with maybe only a few thousand people living here, still want to see something from their country.”
A spokeswoman for Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the department was simply enforcing the law.

(Posted in Censorship)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


John Howard, having taken over Pauline Hanson's despicable racist programme as his own, has outdone even himself with the latets racist pre-election vote-winning attempt.
This time his target is black Africans attempting to come to Australia as refugees from a country that the world has refused to help - Sudan. Kevin Andrews, on behalf of His Master's Voice, has stated that the intake of Africans from countries such as Sudan will be stopped as they are unable to integrate into the "Australian" way of life and Australian society. This happened almost simultaneously on the murder of a young Sudanese refugee in Melbourne by two people who are to face court soon, and who are not Sudanese refugees.
Racism in Australia has been ever present since 1788, so it is not new. What is again new in the sense that what goes around comes around is the use of racism in elections as a vote-winning ploy.
The Age newspaper has a readers' poll during the week and Thursday's (4 October 2007) poll was: "Do you agree with the decision to cut the number of African refugees accepted into Australia?"
4110 votes were recorded and 33% voted "yes" while 67% voted "no". This would indicate, even from readers of The Age newspaper, that racism is alive and well in Australia and that at least 1 in 3 people is a racist.
Now let's ask this question slightly differently. There are people wanting to come to Australia from African countries who are not black, such as white South African and white Zimbabweans. Will they be turned away from these shores? You can bet your bottom dollar that they will be considered for entry here, and will in fact probably be given consideration ahead of would-be refugees from other countries around the world, particularly refugees who don't happen to be white.
Australia is a racist society and getting worse, and the Howard government has pushed this agenda for the last 11 years. They must be removed from office at the next election, and the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP), should it be elected, will have to be closely monitored. Let's hope that the Greens achieve some lower house seats and increase their senate seats to the extent that they hold the balance of power which would then be removed from the Family First religious right's hold on the Australian parliament.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Burma kills its opponents by shooting them, torturing them, incarcerating them, starving them and other human rights abuses.
Singapore hangs those it doesn't like, runs the island state as a police state and is one of Burma's main supporters.
Democracy is as far from Singapore as it is from Burma, but at least from Burma there is no pretence! Singapore pretends!
So, what is the difference between Burma and Singapore? In Burma they encourage the growth and sale of drugs to finance their repressive regime, and in Singapore, while they hang the small people caught trafficking in drugs, the big drug barons escape and help finance the regime in Burma.
The hypocrisy of it all is so awful, but governments, including most of the so-called democracies, are hypocrites who finance with one hand and kill or wage war or lock up or censor opponents with the other.
The only thing those of us opposed to these corruptions can do is to use whatever activist abilities we have and let the world know that there are people out there, many of us, who feel the same.
Just think what we in Australia do to those seeking asylum here!
Don't forget the whole class struggle dictum: Workers of the world unite - you have nothing to lose but your chains!

(Posted in International Politics)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


The first question that needs to be asked is: do Kevin Andrews' prohibitions on Africans being included in Australia's refugee intake programme also include white South Africans and white Zimbabweans?
Of course not!
Racism is not new in Australia. It has been around since 1788, but since 1996 it has been encouraged and expanded, made into mainstream politics, and now extends to those from the African continent - who are mostly black, of course.
Oh, and don't forget that some Burmese refugees are rotting with other asylum seekers on Nauru while our compassionate government thinks of what else it can do to get votes for the forthcoming election!
The tragedy of all of this is that it has the support of the loyal opposition, and this means, in effect, that if one wants to make any protests against this scandalous government, one will have to vote Greens or vote informal. The Greens may not be perfect, may not have all the answers, but in the longer term they will have to be a better proposition than either the Coalition or the Alternative Liberal Party!
Hoewever, this is not the answer at the moment to the disgusting and blatant racism exhibited by Kevin Andrews and his government.
To use the cliche, ask not what this government has done to you, but what you can do to this government!
0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


I would like to thank the very kind person who has rated my blog with a five-star rating. It is encouraging to know that someone out there has read my postings and feels sufficiently supportive of what is there to give me a rating.
I am more than flattered. This sort of support doesn't happen very often, and when it does it is necessary for those who offer their support to know how much it is appreciated.
This is to let you know that I will continue to try to post items which have met with your approval, and hope I don't let you down.
Many thanks again for your kindness, unknown supporter!
0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


Subject: Lesbian Film Banned By OFLC
From: "Tony Comstock"
Date: Tue, September 25, 2007 2:29 am
To: kenjos_at_pacific_net_au
Priority: Normal
Options: View Full Header | View Printable Version | Download this as a file| Add to Addressbook | View Message details

Dear Mannie and Ken, My name is Tony Comstock, I am an American documentary
filmmaker, and I've run into a bit of trouble with the Australian government
around the upcoming screening of my latest film, "Ashley and Kisha: Finding
the Right Fit". The film has already received positive notices in the
Australian press, including LOTL, Bnews, The Sydney Star Observer, and
Melbourne Community Voice. It had been schedule to play this Saturday as a
part of the Melbourne Underground Film Festival, but the Office of Film
and Literature Classification has not seen fit to grant an exemption for the
screening (exemptions are required for all unclassified foreign films.)
"Ashley and Kisha" is a documentary exploring the role of love and
sexuality in the relationship between its principals, an African- American
couple from the South. In this country, being out and proud is perhaps most
difficult for Southern, African-American women, and "Ashley and Kisha" is
touching, yet defiant testimony to the struggle and rewards of being true to
one's sexual self. In it's decision the OFLC has cited the sexual content
of the film as the reason for not granting a festival exemption for the film.
Yet that very same night, across town at ACMI, the film "Destricted" will
be playing under OFLC exemption. "Destricted" infamously contains very
explicit sex act, nearly all depicted outside the context of love or
commitment. We believe the OFLC has erred in its decision, but there is no
recourse within the OFLC structure for making an appeal. There is also some
question about the OFLC's impartiality. Last year the OFLC prevent a
screening of our film "Damon and Hunter" at Sydney's queerDOC festival, an
action we protested vehemently. There are some aspects of this most recent
OFLC action that smack of retaliation. Appended below are two letters
I've written that give a more detailed account of what's happened to date,
and contact information for the OFLC. I hope after reading these letters,
you will find you have common cause with us in our hour of need, and will
send this along to whatever community or press contacts you have. Thank you
for your time. Yours very sincerely, Tony Comstock tony@comstockfilms.com
(212) 956-3226
Another round with the OFLC, another defeat. But a few points scored.

Late last night I had three long phone calls with a representative of
the OFLC. Here's the news:

"Ashley and Kisha" is considered an unclassified foreign film, which
meant that the OFLC could have done what they do in every other case,
and given the film a festival exemption to play at MUFF.

But the OFLC refused to give it a festival exemption on the basis
that my previous three films were classified X. The X classification
is why the OFLC wouldn't allow our previous film "Damon and Hunter"
to play at QueerDOC last year.

I asked why Destricted, which features work by Larry Clark, who's
previous film was refused classification, was given a festival
exemption and they could not answer. (It's scheduled to play the same
night as "Ashley and Kisha" was, across Melbourne at ACMI.)

I asked why Destricted, which features brutally mercenary depictions
of the most loveless anal sex, was given a festival exemption and
they could not answer.

Their suggestion was that we submit "Ashley and Kisha" for rush
classification, in the hopes that we would receive a R classification.


When I asked why 9 Songs, which feature actors performing cunelingus,
felatio, ejaculation, and penetration was given an R, while our films
which depict actual lovers are given an X, they could not answer.

When I asked why Shortbus, which features, among other things, an
actor masturbating and then ejaculating on his face was given an R,
while our film, which explore sexual pleasure inside the context of
committed loving relationships, they could not answer.

When I asked why numerous videos from the Sinclair Institute, which
feature various sex acts performed by paid models, and presented
under the guise of education are given R , while our films, which are
held in the libraries of The Kinsey Institute at the University of
Indiana, Planned Parenthood, The Gay Mens Health Crisis, The San
Francisco Sex Information Hotline and many other health and education
organizations are given an X, they could not answer.

They have told me the process is subjective and imperfect, yet this
process has a "perfect" track record of marginalizing my films.

Now they would ask that I once again submit my work to this
subjective and imperfect process, pay $1,000 for the privilege of
doing so, against the hope that the fifth time's the charm.

Writing about "Ashley and Kisha" Australian Film critic Megan Spencer
said, "The sweetest thing - Kisha & Ashley is one of the sweetest
love stories you're ever likely to see committed to film. The
Comstocks once again put their perfect documentary formula to good
use - true love and real sex - on screen; what's not to like?!"

True love and real sex, what's not to like indeed?

Obviously the OFLC has no problem with real sex. It has granted its R
classification to 9 Songs, Shortbus, and many other videos containing
real sex. It has granted a festival exemption to Destricted, which
contains real sex.

One can only conclude that the problem the OFLC has is with true
love, and what a pity that is; for this film, for the people who
wanted to see it, and for Australia.

It's worth noting that the OFLC representative I spoke with was just
as beside himself as I was, "Until Australians educate themselves
about how the OFLC works, and take a stand about what goes on here,
movies like yours are going to keep falling through the cracks."

I guess that's nice to hear, but it would have been nicer if the
screening of "Ashley and Kisha" could have gone ahead as scheduled.

It's also worth noting that the director of the OFLC, Donald
McDonald, would not come to the phone. I'm told he thought it was
"inappropriate" to discus his decision with me.

If you'd pass along addresses where your readers might register their
dismay at this censorship by OFLC, here are some contacts:

Amy Wooding, Exemptions Officer, the person who made the decision not
to grant A&K an exemption

David.Emery, Manager, Applications, Amy Wooding's director
supervisor, whom I spoke with at length, and expressed his deep
person disappointment over the decision.

Donald McDonald, head of the OFLC, who refused to come to the phone.
I'm told he said discussing the decision with me would be
"inappropriate". Letters of complaint that are written directly to
Donald McDonald are required, by law, to be included in the OFLC's
annual report. The only people who ever do it are radical social
conservatives, who complain about lax classification standards. Maybe
we can change that.

The OFLC has a feedback form with issue drop-down menus here:

An overview of classification policy can be found here:

The physical address of the OFLC is:

Classification Operations Branch
Attorney-General's Department
Locked Bag 3, Haymarket NSW 1240
T: 02 9289 7118
F: 02 92897199

Also, perhaps you've already heard, but in addition to OutDVD being
threatened by the AGs office over carrying unclassified DVDs, Hares
and Hyenas also received unwelcome visitors from the AG's office and
was "asked" to remove similar material from their website and store.

Lastly, you should know that thousands of unclassified Bollywood and
Kung Fu titles are readily available in Australia, with no efforts
made to prevent their sale. The laws, which apply to all unclassified
DVDs are always applied to DVDs that have a sexual context. Sometime
that context is explicit, such as "Ashley and Kisha", but more often
it is merely the sexual orientation of the audience to whom the
titles appeal.

Thanks for your support. I don't know that this a fight we can win,
but I know it's a fight that's worth fighting!

Yours very sincerely,
Tony Comstock



Over the last 48 hours we’ve been writing and talking to a lot of
people, including Amy Wooding, exemptions officer at the OFLC.

What has become clear is that the OFLC’s decision to ban seven films
from this year’s Melbourne Underground Film Festival is an act of

In Australia, film festivals are required to submit a list of the
unclassified films they wish to screen to the OFLC and get permission
to screen them. Unclassified films would include student work,
undistributed work, films from outside Australia that do not yet have
Australian distribution, basically any film that has not, and perhaps
will never be put through Australia’s manditory ~$800 classification

Last year MUFF’s list included our film “Damon and Hunter: Doing it
Together”, which had already been classified X by the OFLC, and the
OFLC refused to grant a festival exemption to screen the film, and
warned the festival not to screen the film. (The full details Aussie
classification system, and the Kafkaesque x-rating is a subject for
another post.)

MUFF went ahead and put “Damon and Hunter” on the program anyway. The
fact that this was being done in defiance of OFLC orders was kept
secret, even from me. This was our first festival outting, and we
didn’t know what to expect. But we postered, blitzed the local press
and hoped for the best.

In fact, so many people turned out that only by the luck that our
distributor had another copy in her bag were there able to put the
film up on a second screen for the overflow. By all accounts the
screening was very well received.

From there the film was invited to screen at Sydney’s QueerDOC, and
was scheduled to play two nights. Again the OFLC rejected the
festival’s request for an exemption, only QueerDOC, citing among
other things, their need to ask the OFLC’s permission to screen
nearly all of the films they program, and their dependence on
government funding, complied with the OFLC’s demands.

At the time, I was rather angry that QueerDOC did not go ahead with
the screening of “Damon and Hunter.” But in light of the retaliatory
action by the OFLC against MUFF, it would seem that QueerDOC’s course
of action, if not especially courageous, was prudent. MUFF receives
no government funding, but the OFLC has punnished MUFF by applying
its censorship powers as broadly as it can to MUFF’s 2007 roster of

What happens next? Who knows.

Every Aussie filmmaker who hopes to see their work play outside the
edit bay must bear in mind the OFLC as they cut their film. Every
distributor and festival programmer knows they must submit their
films to the OFLC. Every DVD shop knows that when they sell DVDs of
films that have not been classfied by the OFLC, they do so in the
halflight of a selectively enforce law. I don’t know how many of our
Australian collegues want to speak out against this tyranical action
by the OFLC. I don’t know if any of them feel they can risk speaking

Our Aussie distributor is beside herself. She’s the sort of
distributor every independent filmmaker dreams of finding, a
passionate, tireless advocate of our work. But for now, she and MUFF
would seem to stand alone. There has been no outcry, no call to arms.
Right now would seem as if the Australian film community simply looks
on and says, “There but for the grace of God go I” – and maybe
they’re right.

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


The following article appeared in the Good Weekend magazine dated 22 September 2007. After at least 25 years of AIDS in South Africa, Mbeki and his health minister are still in denial and are therefore personally responsible for the deaths of thousands of South Africans every year.
Mbeki and Manto are the laughing stock of the world's AIDS commmunities , but it is no laughing matter for the HIV communities existing in South Africa. Mbeki sacked his deputy Health Minister who knew what she was talking about and who also tried to do something about the terrible crisis existing there, but Mbeki and Manto are still doing the "cure" with garlic and beetroot, while the drugs desperately needed and which South Africa can well afford are not made available to the general population. As for educating the population about HIV and AIDS - well, that is just beyond the understanding of the ANC and its government.
There were such high hopes in South Africa when the ANC gained government in 1994, and since 1999 Mbeki has helped squander the goodwill and support of many people around the world. It is time for Mbeki and his criminal health minister to go. It is a crime for both of them still to be there at the end of 2007!

(Posted in HIV and AIDS)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


This article was received by email on 21 September 2007. It is something that everyone should be aware of as the insidiousness of the Howard govenment's censorship creeps on and on and on. It was published inThe Australian newspaper:
Coonan seeks to censor the Web
by Karen Dearne | September 20, 2007
THE Federal Police commissioner will have the power to block and ban
websites believed to be crime or terrorism related under an internet
censorship amendment bill introduced into Parliament today by Helen Coonan.
Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan proposes to include
terrorism and cyber-crime sites on ACMA's hit list.
The bombshell web ban bill was tabled in the Senate at 9:58am, without
prior notice.
Communications Minister Senator Helen Coonan proposes to expand the
"black list" of internet addresses (URLs) currently maintained by the
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to include
terrorism and cyber-crime sites.
At present, ACMA has the power to act against websites containing
pornography or offensive content.
Under the proposed amendment, Federal Police will inform ACMA of
websites to be blocked, and the agency must then notify the relevant
internet service providers. ISPs will be required to "take reasonable
steps" to prevent users accessing the website or content.
Australian Privacy Foundation chair Roger Clarke expressed disbelief
"This gives the Commissioner sweeping powers which could potentially be
applied to millions of websites," she said. "The Government has dropped
the Bill into the Senate on the eve of an election with virtually no
Senator Nettle said environmental organisations such as Greenpeace had
been accused of crime or terrorism-related actions. "Will the Police
Commissioner call for Greenpeace's website to be shut down?"
The requirement to filter or block content would impose another enormous
burden on local ISPs at a time when the IT industry faced growing costs
related to other national security legislation, she said.
Meanwhile, Senator Coonan today extended the Government's $189 million
NetAlert - Protecting Australian Families Online program to agencies
such as Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support and the Tax Office.
Information about internet filtering and the free content filters from
NetAlert will be promoted through the agency shopfronts as part of the
plan to prevent children accessing inappropriate material online.

(Posted in Censorship)

0 Comments | Post Comment | Permanent Link


No comments:

Post a Comment


Welcome to my blog and let me know what you think about my postings.

My web pages also have a wide range of topics which are added to when possible. Look for them in any search engine under


I hope you find items of interest!

Search This Blog


Blog Archive

Total Pageviews

About Me

My photo
Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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