25 April 2011


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
that "the government of any country in the free world could table a Bill
of this kind".
"Without warning, the Government, through Senator Coonan, is proposing
to provide Federal Police with powers to censor the internet," Dr Clarke
"Even worse, ISPs throughout the country are to be the vehicle for
censorship, by being required to block internet content."
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said the Bill would give the Police
Commissioner "enormous power over what political content Australians can
look at" on the web.
"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)

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Another item sent by email from our network connections:
[Redfern-W] Worldwide Women's Protest Against Federal Action In The Northern Territory - called for October 19
Date: Tue, 18 Sep 2007 11:34:23 +1000
From: "Julie Sloggett"
To: "Julie Sloggett"
Hi everyone,
Could you please pass this message along to your networks? International Women's Day is a great opportunity for women to take to the streets in protest and for men to support the actions. I'm sure you all have heaps of contacts who would be interested in this event, so please hit that send button.
From: Redfern-Waterloo@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:Redfern-Waterloo@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of holly creenaune
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2007 8:00 PM
To: Redfern-Waterloo@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [Redfern-W] Worldwide Women's Protest Against Federal Action In The Northern Territory - called for October 19
Press Release
Worldwide Women's Protest Against Federal Action In The Northern Territory
An international women's day of action is planned for Friday, October 19 to protest against the Australian Government's action in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.
Women for Wik, a grassroots organisation of Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, has attracted more than 1500 signatures on its website and at least one international sister group since going public on this issue two weeks ago.
A group of women from Australia, Scotland and France, organised a protest at the Australian Consulate in Edinburgh on September 13.
Organiser Kate Worland, said, 'It is vital to raise awareness all over the world about what is going on right now in Australia. We need to stop the implementation of this draconian legislation any way we can.'
Women for Wik, originally formed in 1997 to combat the Howard Government's attempts to extinguish native title, is calling on Australian women around the world to organise similar events on October 19.
Action kits are available through the Women for Wik website, www.womenforwik. org.
Australian organiser, Associate Professor Claire Smith, says "We live in an interconnected world. Once we started providing access to information about the impact of this Federal action on Aboriginal community people, it was inevitable that this movement would garner international support."
'It is ironic that this occurred on the same day that the UN Declaration of Rights for Indigenous peoples passed. This shows how far Australia is out of step with the rest of the world', says Associate Professor Smith.
Professor Lynn Meskell of Stanford University says: "It is not enough that the Prime Minister has Australians involved in a war abroad that is not our own, we have begun persecuting and dominating our own people at home."
Professor Meskell continues: "Like one million other Australian citizens, I live overseas. This does not mean that I do not notice, or care about, what happens in Australia.'
Legislation allowing the Australian government's action in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities passed the Senate in August. The government seized control of around 70 Aboriginal towncamps and community centres. This has been done without consultation with Aboriginal organisations.
The Government acted in response to the Little Children Are Sacred report that reported widespread child abuse in NT Aboriginal communities. But even the authors of the report say the feel they betrayed by the Government's response to this report.
Federal actions include alcohol and pornography controls and controversial changes to the permit system for access to Indigenous land. Many opponents, including Women for Wik, object to the way the child-abuse issue has been linked to land rights.
"This wouldn't be accepted by any other section of the Australian society," says Olga Havnen, Indigenous leader and CEO of the Combined Aboriginal Organisations of the Northern Territory. "If they tried to implement this against women, or Jews, or gays, the country would be in an uproar. Why do we accept it for Aboriginal people?"
Background Information
The Federal Action in the Northern Territory could provide a unique opportunity to improve conditions in Aboriginal communities, but there is also a real possibility that it may make things worse.
As currently planned, it will undermine key aspects of Aboriginal societies - country, kin and culture. Moreover, by using a top-down approach, it has the potential to work against self-government and, in some instances, contravene human rights. This will not improve the lives of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.
Accordingly, we call on both Federal and Territory governments to recognise the importance of Indigenous identity and develop an environment of mutual respect through cross-cultural awareness, communication and engagement.
Like the many Australians who walked the Sydney Harbour Bridge in support of reconciliation, we believe our generation can ensure a fair go for Indigenous citizens.
Prominent women supporting us monitoring the Federal Action in the Northern Territory include Lady Deane, Tamie Fraser, Lowitja O'Donoghue, Justice Elizabeth Evatt, Helen Caldicott, Anne Deveson, Kate Grenville, Gabi Hollows, Faith Bandler, Anita Heiss, Margaret Fulton and Rosemary Stanton.
Eileen Cummings, Former Policy Advisor to the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory on Aboriginal and Women's Affairs, 0412 463218
Associate Professor Claire Smith, President World Archaeological Congress, 0424388925
Mary O'Malley, Press Officer, 0438881124
Source: Women For Wik: http://www.womenfor wik.org/
-- Holly Creenaune
0417 682 541

. au wik.org/press_ release.html
(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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This was received by email and needs as wide an audience as possible.
Embargoed until 10.30am E.S.T on Friday, 14 September 2007

A new independent voice for Aboriginal Australians

A new national political body for Aboriginal Australians, entirely independent from governments, will be established following a three-day gathering held in Alice Springs this week.

A ‘fighting fund’ will be set up to support the new National Aboriginal Alliance (NAA), with contributions to be sought from Aboriginal people and communities and private sources Australia-wide.

About 100 Aboriginal people from throughout Australia have attended the meeting since Wednesday, including representatives of land councils and legal services, Stolen Generations organisations, health and housing bodies, the national youth forum, media organisations, doctors and Elders, as well as people living in town camps and remote communities and outstations.

The diverse group yesterday agreed upon the principles that will guide the NAA and will now return to their communities and organisations to start to build support for the new body.

The principles that will underpin the NAA include a rejection of the ‘discriminatory and coercive elements’ of the Commonwealth’s so-called ‘emergency intervention’ in the Northern Territory, which the group believes has little to do with the protection of Aboriginal children.

The group urged Aboriginal peoples and communities to actively but peacefully resist the ‘intervention’, and demanded:

• the immediate removal of Commonwealth Business Managers from Aboriginal communities in the NT
• that the Commonwealth respect the property rights of Aboriginal people in the NT and restores the permit system
• that the Commonwealth immediately restores integrity to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, which had been put aside under the Government’s ‘intervention’.
• that Aboriginal communities receive equitable service delivery and infrastructure.

The group affirmed its commitment to protecting Aboriginal children from harm, adding that successive Australian governments had ignored Aboriginal peoples’ repeated cries for help.

“There is not a single reference to child protection in the hundreds of pages that comprise the Commonwealth’s legislative package,” the group said. “Rather than protecting children, this so-called ‘emergency intervention’ is a cynical attempt to subject our people to further genocide.”

The group said the lack of national political representation for Aboriginal people since the abolition of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) had left Aboriginal people vulnerable to harsh government policies and practices.

“These attacks against Aboriginal people in the NT are a consequence of the lack of representation,” it said. “Had there been a powerful black political voice in place, we doubt these attacks could have succeeded.

“We call upon all Aboriginal people to walk in the footsteps of our Elders whose legacies are now at stake and whose victories are being wound back. We must stand united to seize back the power to shape our own destinies.

“We call on all Australians, to engage with, speak up and support Aboriginal people’s self-determination.”

NITV CEO Pat Turner said this week’s meeting had laid the foundations of something important.

“It is something we hope that all of our brothers and sisters and the many fair-minded Australians will stand shoulder to shoulder with us on,” she said.

“This is the beginning of resistance,” said Tasmanian participant Michael Mansell. “Finally, a national voice of dissent and one that will offer leadership instead of ‘black bashing’.”

NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) Chairwoman, Bev Manton, said her organisation and its 23,000 members were appalled by the Howard government’s actions in the NT.

“We have supported the Aboriginal people of the NT since John Howard announced this so-called intervention,” Ms Manton said. “We have agreed to continue this support in financial terms, for three to six months and will be actively involved in the newly formed National Aboriginal Alliance.

“I urge, encourage and call upon everyone to financially support the NAA to establish a fighting fund to develop a plan of attack against this invasion. By Howard’s actions, he has re-ignited the fire in our bellies and united all of the Aboriginal people across Australia.”

Gunditjmara Elder from Victoria, Alma Thorpe, agreed and urged her fellow Victorians to use the NAA to support the Aboriginal people of the NT.

“I am impressed by this new national body and I intend to be a part of it,” she said. “We must declare and show by our actions that enough is enough.”

Pastor Geoffrey Stokes, a Wongatha man from Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, said the Australian system of government had not worked for Aboriginal people.

“We need a body that can express our aspirations in our way,” he said. “We need the support of other Australians too, about what happens to our people.

“It is time that we as Aboriginal people take our rightful place in this country, it is time that we and our cultural heritage are treated with respect.”

For more information:
Tim Goodwin on (0404) 849 259
Jolene Preece on (08) 8953 4763

Resolutions of the National Aboriginal Alliance
Pioneer Football Club, Stuart Highway, Alice Springs
12-14 September 2007

1. We celebrate the hundreds of years of struggle by our people to maintain our cultural integrity, protect our lands, and fulfill our obligations to future generations. Our Alliance will continue this powerful tradition of activism to determine our own futures as proud and strong Aboriginal people.

1. The lack of national political representation for Aboriginal people has left us vulnerable to harsh government policies, and these attacks against Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory are a consequence of the lack of representation. Had there been a powerful black political voice in place, we doubt these attacks could have succeeded.

1. This national gathering of over 100 people from all parts of Australia recognises the need for an independent national political voice. The National Aboriginal Alliance is established to provide that voice.

1. We affirm our profound commitment to protecting our children from harm. We acknowledge those within our communities who fought for decades to address the complicated issue of child abuse, and we deplore the successive Australian governments who ignored our cries for help.

1. We reject outright the discriminatory and coercive elements of the Commonwealth’s invasion (‘emergency intervention’) in the Northern Territory.

1. The Racial Discrimination Act has only ever been suspended on three occasions – each time to erode the rights of Aboriginal people. This previously occurred in 1998 with the Native Title Amendment Act and the Hindmarsh Island Bridge legislation. We demand that the Commonwealth immediately restore integrity to the Racial Discrimination Act.

1. We demand the immediate removal of Commonwealth Business Managers from Aboriginal communities in the NT. They are comparable to the missionaries and police protectors who exercised despotic control over our forebears and therefore, have no place in our lives. We urge our peoples and communities to actively resist in a peaceful way the so-called intervention in the Northern Territory.

1. We demand that the Commonwealth respect the property rights of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, including the right to control access to our lands through the permit system; rights that generations of our people fought to secure, often in the face of fierce opposition.

1. We demand that the Commonwealth respect the expertise and independence of our community organizations. There is not a single reference to child protection in the hundreds of pages that comprise the Commonwealth’s legislative package. Rather than protecting children, this so-called ‘emergency intervention’ is a cynical attempt to subject our people to further genocide.

1. Many of the socio-economic problems in our communities are the legacies of decades of chronic under-funding in essential service delivery and infrastructure. We demand that our communities receive the equitable services delivery and infrastructure that is our entitlement.

1. We call upon all Aboriginal people to walk in the footsteps of our Elders whose legacies are now at stake and whose victories are being wound back. We must stand united to seize back the power to shape our own destinies.

1. We call on all Australians, to engage with, speak up and support Aboriginal people’s self-determination.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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This was sent to us today, 18 September 2007, by email. And Australia is NOT becoming a police state???
APEC name tags 'compromised safety'
Edmund Tadros
September 18, 2007 - 12:19PM
An investigation into dozens of police not wearing name tags during Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation protests has found there were "real concerns and risks with pin-backed ID tags, which could be used to compromise the safety of officers".
This is despite demonstrators saying police were trying to avoid scrutiny because the tags they saw were backed with velcro.
The Herald revealed that, in a YouTube video, a NSW Police officer seemed to be saying it was one of the policies of "the bosses" that they did not wear identification badges during their summit duties.
The footage, filmed by Drew Bowie, a filmmaker, shows a protester asking an officer why he does not have a name tag. The audio is faint, but the officer seems be saying, off camera: "It's one of the policies the bosses have this week."
Despite this, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said in statement today: "The review found there were real concerns and risks with pin-backed ID tags, which could be used to compromise the safety of officers."
Mr Scipione said that there "was no order approving the practice of not wearing ID" and he denied that it was an attempt on behalf of individual officers to avoid identification.
He said that in future, all NSW Operational Support Group officers rostered for protest operations would be issued with cloth identification tags.
The investigation was conducted by the NSW Police Professional Standards Command.
After the APEC protests one former police officer told the Herald there was no excuse to take off the badges.
"They're saying they don't want anyone to know who they are, then they are demanding that the average citizen produce identification."

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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The item below was sent to Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne, by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
South Africa's situation has become critical with murders of gay, lesbian, transgender and HIV/AIDS people becoming commonplace and the police and the Government doing little to curb this homophobic violence. In fact the South African government's stance on HIV/AIDS is such that it engenders violence and encourages opposition to the new constitution which gives equal rights to these minorities.
The South African government's stance on HIV/AIDS is well known with its president Thabo Mbeki and his Health (sic) Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang doing their best to reduce the AIDS crisis to the laughing stock of the rest of the world - except that it has such tragic consequences. Manto - the alcoholic and disgraceful member of the South African parliament aims to cure people with HIV/AIDS with beetroot and garlic!! These people are criminals and should be locked up - not continue to govern a country of 40 million of which 20% are HIV positive due to government neglect and opposition to the drugs available.
And then activists and others get murdered and their murderers are not caught because the homophobia in the community is fostered by the government.

August 9, 2007

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Liberation 4 all Africans Holds Vigil to Honor Fallen LGBT & HIV/AIDS Activists, as well as Protest Hate Crimes Against Lesbians in South Africa

IGLHRC believes that a vital part of our mission is supporting the work of other activist organizations by disseminating important information on human rights issues affecting LGBT communities worldwide. To this end we are reposting the following announcement from one of our partners.

(New York, August 8, 2007) - On August 14, 2007, members of the US-based Liberation 4 all Africans committee will hold a vigil to protest the increasing rate of hate crimes against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) and HIV/AIDS activists in South Africa, and it's prevalence throughout the continent.

Enraged, then mobilized by the unsolved July 7, 2007, murders of Sizakele Sigasa and Salome Masooa, the group stands in solidarity with the Joint Working Group, the alliance for Campaign 07-07-07, all LGBT organizations in Africa, pro-LGBT rights groups internationally and people of conscience around the world in condemning the impunity with which hate crimes against LGBT Africans are committed.

We honor the lives of Thokozane Qwabe, Sizakele Sigasa, Salome Masooa, Simangele Nhlapho, Madoe Mafubedu, Zoliswa Nonkonyana, Fannyann Eddy, Erelu Oludare Odumuye and all those who have died as a result of hate crimes and/or the lack of access to HIV medication and care.

We join the families and friends of all victims and survivors of hate crimes in demanding thorough and timely investigations of all reported cases, and the conviction of all perpetrators of these egregious acts.

We join South African LGBT communities on National Women's Day, August 9, 2007, in calling for the eradication of all forms of violence against women & girls, gender nonconforming people, and members of LGBT communities.

We demand medical services and treatment for people who are living with HIV/AIDS, and the provision of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for all rape survivors.

Having been inspired in 1996, by the new South African Constitution's Bill of Rights enshrining non-discrimination on the basis of among other things, gender and sexual orientation, we are deeply disappointed by the emerging trend of abstentions by South African UN delegations on critical votes concerning international LGBT human rights, most recently on July 20, 2007, at the UN Economic and Social Council [ECOSOC].

We will not stand idly by as the lives of our most courageous leaders and most marginalized community members continue to be cut short at their prime.

Please join us in letting the South African government know that we demand equal protection for LGBT people and people living with HIV/AIDS!

Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2007 at 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Location: In front of South African Consulate, New York
333 E 38th St, between 1st & 2nd Avenues
New York, NY 10016

Directions: Take 4/5/6 to Grand Central Station (42nd St. & Lexington) walk south to 38th St. & east to 1st Ave.

Kagendo Murungi Tel: +1-646-287-5394; email: kagendo2003@yahoo.com Doyin Ola Tel: +1-917-952-0347; email: doyino@hotmail.com

Liberation 4 all Africans is a committee of African lesbians, gender nonconforming and transgender people based in the US.


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 San Francisco, Johannesburg, and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information.

email: executive_director@iglhrc.org
phone: 212-268-8040
web: http://www.iglhrc.org
The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression and/or HIV status.

(Posted in Homophobia)

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The following article appeared in PlanetOut on 10 September 2007. It is an interesting situation which has occurred in a country - Israel - founded ostensibly on persecution of Jews in many countries, including Nazi Germany, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
In 2007 Israel is confronted with Nazi so-called Israeli citizens, youths behaving similarly to the actions of the IDF as they occupy more and more Palestinian territory, and the authorities express their horror at what has been uncovered in Israel, showing the ugly side of Israelis brutalised by the actions of their governments since 1948.
Police break up Israeli neo-Nazi ring

SUMMARY: Nine young ex-Soviet immigrants are linked to 15 attacks against religious Jews, workers from Asia, drug addicts, the homeless and gays.
Police said Sunday in Jerusalem they have broken up a cell of young Israeli neo-Nazis accused of a string of brutal racist and anti-Semitic attacks, videos of which were played on television to a stunned national audience.
The eight suspects, all immigrants from the former Soviet Union in their late teens or early 20s, are seen in the videos kicking victims on the ground to a bloody pulp, hitting a man over the head with an empty beer bottle and proclaiming their allegiance to Adolf Hitler with a Nazi salute.
Sixty years after the Nazi Holocaust killed 6 million Jews, incidents of anti-Semitism continue to outrage Israelis and the discovery of such violence in their own country dominated morning radio shows and made the front pages of newspapers with headlines such as "Unbelievable."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who viewed the footage with his ministers at the weekly Cabinet meeting, called it "violence for the sake of violence."
"I am sure that there is not a person in Israel who can remain indifferent to these scenes, which indicate that we too as a society have failed in the education of these youths," he said.
While Israel has experienced isolated incidents of anti-Semitism in the past, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the arrests were the first time an organized cell has been discovered.
The eight youths, who immigrated to Israel as children, were arrested over the past two months in connection with at least 15 attacks against religious Jews, foreign workers from Asia, drug addicts, the homeless and gays. A ninth member has fled the country, he said.
A court decided Sunday to keep the suspects in custody on assault and vandalism charges.
All eight had loose connections to Jewish heritage. They did not identify themselves as Jews and their families had come to Israel to escape hardships in the former Soviet Union, police said.
Under the Israeli "law of return," a person can claim automatic citizenship if a parent or grandparent has Jewish roots. Authorities say that formula allowed many Soviets with questionable ties to Judaism to immigrate here after the Soviet Union disintegrated.
About 1 million Soviets have moved here since the early 1990s, making up a significant part of Israel's 7 million citizens.
Olmert warned that the acts of the few should not tarnish the great achievements of the Russian immigrants, who include doctors, professors, scientists and Cabinet ministers. ''I stress that we should not implicate an entire community and engage in generalizations,'' he said.
Cabinet Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party said he would propose taking away the suspects' citizenship. Several others suggested amending the law of return.
Ironically, Israel doesn't specifically have a hate crimes law, and the case has also drawn calls for new legislation.
The arrests drew condemnations from the Anti-Defamation League, a U.S.-based group that fights anti-Semitism, and Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
''The tragic irony in this is that they would have been chosen for annihilation by the Nazis they strive to emulate,'' the ADL said.
"While this is a marginal and extreme case, it is nevertheless intolerable," said Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev.
The young men covered their faces with their shirts during the court hearing Sunday, revealing Nazi-themed tattoos on their arms. Some of the men had tattoos of the number "88," code for "Heil Hitler" because "H" is the eighth letter of the alphabet. Others wore tattoos of Celtic crosses -- a symbol adopted by white supremacists -- and barbed wire fences.
The gang documented its activities in detail on film and in photographs. Israeli TV stations showed grainy footage of the gang attacking victims with their fists, feet, buckets and bottles, leaving blood-splattered floors in their wake. The youths, whose faces were blurred or covered with Nazi insignia, also posed with German flags and giving the Nazi salute.
Authorities also found knives, spiked balls, explosives and other weapons in their possession, Rosenfeld said.
Police discovered the ring after investigating the desecration of two synagogues that had been sprayed with swastikas in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva more than a year ago, Rosenfeld said. Police computer experts determined the group maintained contacts with neo-Nazi groups abroad, and materials seized include a German-language video about neo-Nazis in the United States.
The group leader was identified as Eli Boanitov, 19, of Petah Tikva, known as "Eli the Nazi," police said.
"I won't ever give up. I was a Nazi and I will stay a Nazi. Until we kill them all I will not rest," Boanitov was quoted as saying in a police statement.
Amos Herman, an official with the semiofficial Jewish Agency, which works with the government to encourage immigration to Israel, called the gang a group of frustrated, disgruntled youths trying to draw attention by striking at the nation's most sensitive core.
"We thought that it would never happen here, but it has and we have to deal with it," he said. (Aron Heller, AP)

(Posted in Jewish and Israel and Palestine)

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The following article appeared in PlanetOut on 4 September 2007, only a day after we received newspaper articles from South Africa detailing the criminal activities of the
South African Health Minister, and her role in the criminal behaviour of her President
and his government including his health minister in relation to the AIDS crisis in South Africa.
President Mbeki sacked the Deputy Health Minister after her recent trip to Spain to attend an
AIDS conference, and his excuse was that the trip was unauthorised and she had besmirched
the name of the government in relation to its treatment of AIDS in South Africa.
The time has long passed when the world can sit by and allow the criminal activities of the
South African government and its handling of the worst AIDS crisis in the world.
Those of us who have been involved in HIV/AIDS for many years have a duty to publicly
decry these criminals and to demand immediate change in South Africa. If this is the best that
the ANC government can do, then the ANC government has got to go!

S. Africa slams Tutu's attacks on its AIDS policy

Tuesday, September 4, 2007 / 10:30 AM
SUMMARY: Desmond Tutu says those killed in the anti-apartheid struggle would be shocked by "Dr. Beetroot" and "the vast deterioration in health standards of our land."
South Africa's president called critics of his embattled health minister "wild animals" in a remarkable display of support for a woman decried by AIDS activists for advocating beets and garlic as remedies for the disease.
His defense of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang came as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel laureate often regarded as the moral conscience of the nation, said in a speech Friday that the Health Ministry has presided over the vast deterioration in health standards of our land."
Tshabalala-Msimang has been condemned at home and abroad for her unorthodox views on the AIDS virus, which has infected an estimated 5.4 million South Africans -- the highest number for any country in the world.
At news conferences, she has made plain her mistrust of antiretroviral medicines, repeatedly espousing a diet heavy on garlic, beetroot, lemon and olive oil as more effective in treating HIV/AIDS. The comments have earned her ridicule and the nicknames "Dr. Beetroot" and "Dr. Garlic."
South Africa's stand at the international AIDS conference in Canada last year included garlic and other foodstuffs, prompting international scientists to write an unprecedented joint letter of protest to President Thabo Mbeki.
For years, Mbeki has been accused of downplaying the extent of the AIDS crisis and has steadfastly stood by his health minister.
But his weekly ANC Today online newsletter, published Friday, took his support to new heights. Mbeki said history would honor the minister as "one of the pioneer architects of a South African public health system constructed to ensure that we achieve the objective of health for all our people, and especially the poor."
"In our tradition as the ANC, we do not normally celebrate our heroes and heroines publicly, such as Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, until they have died," he wrote, referring to the ruling African National Congress. "Violating this tradition, I have now written about Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as I have because some . . . have chosen to sit as judges."
Mbeki slammed The Sunday Times newspaper for intruding in Tshabalala-Msimang's private life by reporting that she had jumped a waiting list when she underwent liver transplant surgery in March. The paper reported that she needed the transplant because of years of alcohol abuse.
Tshabalala-Msimang denied the allegations and successfully sued to recover medical records that served as the source for some of the newspaper's allegations.
"It is obvious that those who deliberately manufactured and peddled these lies did so to argue that Manto Tshabalala-Msimang should not have been treated and should have been allowed to suffer and die," Mbeki wrote.
"Some in our society, and elsewhere in the world, seem determined to applaud this truly frightening behavior, which, in reality, belongs to wild animals," he said.
Mbeki and Tshabalala-Msimang have known each other for 45 years and went into exile from the apartheid government together in 1962. The minister's husband is the treasurer of the African National Congress.
In his speech Friday night, Tutu lamented that "too many died unnecessarily because of bizarre theories held on high," in a thinly veiled reference to the president and his health minister.
Tutu said the heroes and heroines killed in the anti-apartheid struggle -- if they were alive today -- would be shocked by the devastation of HIV/AIDS. The disease kills 900 South Africans -- the equivalent of three jumbo jet crashes -- every day.
"They would be distressed by the latest episodes in the saga of a health department that has been less than efficient and has presided over the vast deterioration in health standards of our land," he said.
AIDS activists say Tshabalala-Msimang's promotion of untested remedies and her public pronouncements have led to confusion and undermined confidence in scientific medicine.
Nathan Geffen, policy coordinator of the Treatment Action Campaign, said Saturday that the AIDS activist movement would continue to press for the health minister's dismissal. The movement has demanded Mbeki respond by Sept. 7 to its detailed reasons why she must be dismissed.
Geffen listed the minister's failings: the slow provision of drugs to prevent HIV positive mothers passing on the virus to children; delays in giving treatment to people with AIDS; and her department's failure to provide proper staffing and expertise.
"The failure to manage the HIV crisis has had a knock-on effect on the management of the entire health system," Geffen told The Associated Press, citing the spread of drug-resistant tuberculosis -- closely associated with AIDS -- as an example.
Tshabalala-Msimang was sidelined for months with ill health this year. During that time, Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge joined forces with private groups and AIDS activists to draw up an ambitious five-year plan to halve the number of new infections and provide care and treatment to 80 percent of those in need by 2011.
But Mbeki fired Madlala-Routledge last month, ostensibly because she went on an unauthorized trip to an AIDS conference in Spain and did not work as part of a team. AIDS activists said Madlala-Routledge was victim of a political vendetta orchestrated by her boss, the minister. (Clare Nullis, AP)

(Posted in HIV and AIDS)

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


The latest from John Howard is something called "aspirational nationalism". Howard seems lately to have been inspired by Hitler's philosophies and actions after he became Chancellor of Germany on 31 January 1933.
Interfering in states' and territories' rights and taking over their functions, as Howard is doing and threatening to do more and more is nationalising and federal controlling of the rights of citizens throughout the country. Added to the anti-terrorism legislation, control of both houses of parliament and a pliant opposition which doesn't oppose and you have a one party state.
This opens the way to a police state and a declaration of a state of emergency, as Howard is hoping to do during or after the APEC meeting in Sydney on 8 September 2007 and you are left with no possiblility of opposition.
Concentration camps have been operating in Australia since Paul Keating had them set up in 1992, and already they are being used to confine those deemed by the state to be a threat - they are labelled terrorists and they have been accused of plotting the violent overthrow of the government. Many have not yet appeared in court and nor have they been charged with any offences, but have been confined under the harshest conditions without recourse to legqal representation.
Post Nazi Germany we have had Stalinist USSR, Pinochet's Chile,apartheid South Africa, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Chairman Mao's China - to mention only a few of the 20th century's ghastly regimes - and it is easy to see how a country can head down the path of totalitarianism.
It is not enough to be afraid, as one is, it is necessary for those still able to vote, to vote this government out of existence and to ensure that all future governments are held to account every step of the way.
If we fail we are doomed!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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NEWS - WHAT NEWS????? 14.8.2007

If you listen to the radio or watch news on television - the non-commercial varieties, you may be wondering what has happened to such "events" as the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Darfur, and other such "trivia" occurring in remote and far-away places.
Well, there is an election in the offing, and the federal police state controls media such as ABC radio and television and so you now see and hear just what the government permits you to see or hear.
Fortunately they have not yet learnt to control the Internet - nor will they - and we are still able to get uncensored news from around the world. Otherwise you could be forgiven for believing that all that matters is the federal government and its loyal opposition.
The above cartoon from The Age on 8 August 2007 couldn't have put it much better, and no doubt the worst is yet to come.
The bullletins could well start: "The time is six o'clock and here is the abuse!"
Goodbye and good luck!

(Posted in Censorship)

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Hiroshima Day - what is that, I hear you ask?? If you were born after August 1945 it is a question you might well ask in Australia 2007!
In Melbourne on Sunday 5 August 2007 about 500 people turned out on a cold and damp winter day in Swanston Street outside the State Library to commemorate the events of 1945 - an annual event - and to hear about the current Australian government's attempts to extend uranium mining and to push for nuclear energy for Australia.
The event was also to talk about the Howard government's land grab in the Northern Territory ensuring that Aboriginal people are pushed off their traditional land so that uranium mining would be able to go ahead unhindered by any land claims by the original owners of the land.
This land grab is supported by the loyal opposition, the Alternative Liberal Party (ALP), who support the uranium policies of the Howard government and also share the racism inherent in the land grab.
Interesting to note that the media - print and radio and television - ignored the event as if it hadn't happened. We assume that Hiroshima Day was remembered in other cities and towns around Australia, but you would never know it if you depended on the media to tell you about it.
Interesting also, that the new reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney, only recently commissioned, has sprung a leak and we are assured and reassured that no danger was posed to anybody anywhere. Good news for those who unavoidably live around the area.
And where were the thousands who don't want uranium dug out of the ground because of the potential dangers inherent in the process and subsequent use of the uranium, sold and processed around the world and leaving some expended material to be used in ammunition as depleted uranium which goes on killing and killing long after the bombs themselves have exploded?
And why the media silence? Bad for business to give such demos any publicity! Never mind that radiation can affect each and every one of us if the processes are allowed to continue unchecked - industry requires ongoing uranium mining and exploitation of us all!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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It has taken a long time - the word apartheid became current in South Africa during the Verwoerd years of the 1960s - and is now being used in Palestine with its Israeli-built Berlin Wall - but in Australia, where apartheid has been an actuality for the last 200 years, it has at last been given the name in an article in The Age on 7 August 2007.
The criminal activities of the Howard government with respect to the Aboriginal communities in Australia is of course not new. When Howard came to government in 1996 one of his first planks was to take over the racist thrust of Pauline Hanson and her cronies, and as the years have passed, the racism has become more entrenched. When a prime minister sees pictures of the soldiers of his country dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes and headgear and states it is just a prank, that all young people get involved with pranks - one knows that things are seriously wrong!
And when that same prime minister invades part of Australia which is not independent of Canberra with soldiers and police and with the intention of a land grab for the purpose of uranium mining, then we are in big trouble.
Even worse, to try and justify the invasion on the grounds that it is for the welfare of the Aboriginal people and the welfare of the children of those communities, after 11 years of governmental neglect, we know this government is plumbing the depths. And to make matters worse, the Alternative Liberal Government is giving bi-partisan support to the invasion, because it too supports uranium mining and export.
Apartheid Australia has been, and always will be, an easier ideology to sustain than in South Africa merely by sheer weight of numbers. In South Africa this immoral behaviour was unable ultimately to be maintained by 5 million whites pitted against 35 million blacks, but in Australia, the reversed numbers are totally of a different proportion and the white majority is something like 60 to 1 and the picture becomes clear that the Aborigines of Australia are having genocide committed against them and the Howard government is upset by the use of the word genocide.
What is even more distressing is the fact that, for the most part, most non-Aboriginal Australians are not even aware of the existence of the indigenous population and know nothing of their history. The few groups fighting for the human rights and welfare of Aborigines are generally not enough to make any difference against corporate greed and general indifference in the population at large.
A massive public education campaign would be required to inform people of the shameful condition of the Aboriginal population and to shock them into action to ensure that something is done to change this disgraceful situation.
Publicity, publicity, publicity!

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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19 JULY 2007


This picture, on the front page of The Age newspaper on Thursday 19 July 2007, sent shudders through my system. My first thought was that it was a Steve Biko situation - picture to yourself September/October 1977, when the South African apartheid police state regime beat up Steve Biko in Port Elizabeth, and then put the dying, naked man in the back of a police van and drove him 750km to Pretoria where he was, of course, dead on arrival! The photos below of Steve Biko's brutal treatment by that heinous government are from Donald Woods' book on Biko.
The Howard government is not really very different - it has long had established concentration camps where scrutiny of the treatment of people locked up in them is not subject to monitoring by human rights groups who are basically prevented from inspecting them. The treatment being given to Dr Mohammed Haneef is beginning to look very similar to the South African humna rights abuses, when one sees a pictuer of a barefoot man in a position of total humiliation locked in a police van for Kafkaesque type "crimes" which he has - or has not - committed!
The Howard government is already guilty of so many human rights abuses in its 11 years in power that another one should barely rate a mention, but this one has overtones of the David Hicks affair and may yet end up as a cause celebre of huge proportions like the Dreyfus affair in France at the turn of the 20th century. The Hneef affair looks like it will add to the other abuses of the Howard government's record in the early years of the21st century.
The government is busy showing that it is a law unto itself, that it is not answerable to the courts of the land, and when the laws operate in a way which stops them from their excesses, they will change the law accordingly. This has been more or less stated by the main law officer of the country, the federal attorney general, Philip Ruddock, who looks more and more like the vicious rulers of apartheid South Africa every day that passes! And he still has the absolute audacity to wear an Amnesty International badge, and Amnesty International is sufficiently lily-livered to not kick Ruddock out of its membership! Shame on all of them!
And just as much shame- perhaps even more so - on the loyal federal opposition, the Alternative Liberal Party or ALP, for supporting this corrupt government every step of the way! And all in the name of anti-terrorism.
Why does one remember the 12 February 1978 Hilton Bombing in Sydney with a sense of deja vu in relation to smears and making them stick to the extent that in the Hilton bombing case, three innocent men, Allister, Dunn and Anderson spent 7 years behind bars, were released, and a few years later Anderson was again charged and locked up for a further 3 years - all not so long ago, in the late 1980s and early 1990s?

Let us also not forget that Howard and his govenment have been complicit with George W Bush and Tony Blair from the beginning in ensuring they would have Iraqi oil for as long as it lasts, and that these countires are guilty of all the extreme human rights abuses taking place in that benighted country on a daily basis. It was no doubt only by accident that the Abu Ghraib scandal surfaced, but it didn't stop "Rendition" by the US, nor did it stop all the other ongoing abuses by all of them


As one looks at the pictures of the degrading death of Steve Biko at the hands of his torturers in the South African regime, and then one looks at the top picture of the degrading situation of Dr Haneef perpetrated by the Howard regime, one can't help but be drawn to the parallels in all these situations.
What the outcome will be, no one can guess at this stage. All one can say to date - on 21 July 2007 - is that it does seem at last as if the Australian population has had enough of the ghastly behaviour of its government, even some of the more conservative elements of this society, so maybe, just maybe, there will be enough presuure to drive out these evil people and attempts will be made to keep the next evil people under better control.
One has to have some hope, otherwise what is the point of it all?

21 JULY 2007

This item was sent to us today, 21 July 2007, and is being posted here for a wider audience to understand the behaviour of all those involved:
Haneef verballed? It's evidence overboard
Greg Barns writes:
The handling of Mohammed Haneef’s case by the Howard government and the law enforcement agencies grows more problematic everyday In fact, one wonders now if Dr Haneef is the victim of some serious injustice.
The Australian’s Hedley Thomas has conducted a thorough analysis, comparing the leaked Haneef record of interview with the affidavit material the AFP and its lawyers put before the courts to justify both the original detention without charge and their opposition to bail for Dr Haneef.
It’s worth recounting what Thomas has found because it raises serious questions about the integrity of this investigation. In two key areas it appears that Dr Haneef has been "verballed" by the authorities.
Firstly, according to Thomas, “The police affidavit states: 'On 2 July and 3 July 2007 Dr Haneef participated in a taped record of interview with the AFP and stated the following: Whilst in the UK he resided with suspects 1 and 2 (alleged suicide bomber Kafeel Ahmed and his brother Dr Sabeel Ahmed), at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool.'"
But as Thomas says, “However, in the record of interview ... Dr Haneef tells police that he lived at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool, with several doctors, whom he names. None are the two suspects. Dr Haneef tells police he visited Cambridge on two occasions in 2004 and stayed for up to six days with Kafeel Ahmed. Dr Haneef also states that he had moved out of 13 Bentley Road when Dr Sabeel Ahmed subsequently stayed there."
Yet, Thomas notes, an Immigration Department document used to advise Mr Andrews, states "Dr Haneef advised the AFP that he resided with Dr Sabeel Ahmed at a boarding house located at 13 Bentley Road, Liverpool, UK."
Second, the police affidavit, according to Thomas, “asserts that Dr Haneef, 27, a Gold Coast Hospital registrar since September last year, 'had no explanation as to why he did not have a return ticket' from India to Australia. Dr Haneef, whose wife, Firdous Arshiya, gave birth to their first child by emergency caesarean section on June 26 in Bangalore, India, was trying to leave Australia on July 2 on a one-way ticket bought the same day by his father-in-law in India.''
Thomas then writes, “While the police affidavit stated Dr Haneef 'had no explanation' about his one-way ticket, the record of interview shows that he gave a detailed explanation to police while answering questions. Dr Haneef told police that as he did not have funds in his Australian bank account his father-in-law had booked and paid for the one-way ticket with an understanding that "when I go there we can arrange for the coming back ticket. Because I just got 7 days' leave approved".
If there is no explanation for these discrepancies then legitimate questions can be raised about the AFP and Immigration Department’s conduct in this matter. Verballing a suspect – that is, twisting what they say or putting words in their mouth -- is about as serious a breach of fairness as there is. It’s an age old practice which has been mitigated in recent years by the use of taped and video recorded interviews by police with suspects.
Instead of Mr Ruddock and Mr Keelty pointing the finger at the brave and principled actions of Dr Haneef’s barrister Stephen Keim in releasing his client’s record of interview to The Australian this week, they should be looking long and hard at the actions of their own officers and lawyers.

21 JULY 2007

Curr: LEST WE FORGET.......

As the detention of Doctor Haneef once more highlights the seemingly limitless power of the Immigration Act, it is worth remembering other cases where people have been released by the Courts and the Immigration Minister has then turned gaoler under his own powers. When charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, the 27 crew members of the Pong Su were released by the Court, only to be scooped up by the Immigration department (then DIMA-now DIAC) and taken out to Baxter detention centre. There they languished in secret in a formerly, unused compound until the day that other detainees became aware of their presence.
Policy changes in the Baxter hellhole allowed detainees to be escorted on foot between compounds instead of in locked vans. On one such occasion, detainees attention was called to this never used compound by cries and eyes peering over the compound walls. Detainee contacted advocates with their concern for these people. “We don’t know who they are but they are crying for help and we can only see their eyes. We don’t think that they are Chinese- we can’t understand their language.” The guard asked them to disregard what they had seen because “you will get me in trouble”.
Subsequent investigations revealed that they might be the crew of the ‘Pong Su’. This was confirmed when a list of names was produced. The list indicated the likelihood that many of these sailors were most likely fathers and sons. They were not seeking asylum. They desperately wanted to go home to their families but DIMA were holding them for their own purposes. It was only after it was revealed how distressed they were at being held incommunicado that they were finally granted their wish to leave- 13 weeks after the Courts had found them not guilty of any crime.
Technically the power to detain under the Migration act is so that persons can be removed from Australia, however as we have witnessed in the case of long term detainees, this power in reality allows the Australian government to hold a person for their entire lives without charge or judicial oversight.
http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1060109.htm http://www.abc.net.au/news/australia/vic/bendigo/200603/s1584323.htm http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/20/1050777169083.html

Is immigration detention worse than prison?

By Charles Richardson
Another remarkable development yesterday in the sad case of Dr Mohamed Haneef, when his legal advisers opted not to post bail, and he was therefore transferred to Wolston Correctional Centre in Brisbane instead of being sent to immigration detention The obvious conclusion is that immigration detention -- which is, remember, primarily for people who not only haven't been convicted but have not even been accused of any crime -- is regarded as worse than prison, even though in the latter he will be in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.
The usual rationale for immigration detention is that it's a regrettable necessity for the protection of the community. People arrive on small boats from who knows where, often with no identification, so they need to be interned while their claims are assessed and proper checks are undertaken on their health, criminal record and so on.
But if this were really the basis for the system, there would be no reason why detention should be like prison, except for the maintenance of security. Inmates would be guarded, but otherwise treated like guests, not prisoners, with all their usual rights of personal movement and social interaction preserved.
In fact, immigration detention is nothing like that. Detention centres are like maximum security prisons, run by the same sort of personnel with the same sort of rules.
This makes plain what the government sometimes admits in its more honest moments: that the purpose of immigration detention is deterrence. The experience is supposed to be unpleasant, to deter other refugees from exercising their legal right to come here to apply for asylum.
The same goes for other sorts of preventative detention, such as the measures now available in most states to keep certain offenders in jail after the expiration of their sentences if they are found to be still "dangerous". If this was really about the protection of the community, there would be no reason to treat them like prisoners.
But it's not about protection, and at some level it's probably not really about deterrence either. It's about punishment. Governments don't like asylum seekers, or s-x offenders, or people awaiting trial, and they think they deserve whatever happens to them, regardless of what the law says.
It's just possible that Dr Haneef's case will open a few people's eyes on the subject.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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Dr Mohammed Haneef may yet indirectly be a part of determining the outcome of the federal election due later this year (2007).
The federal government's action in re-arresting him before his actual release - on bail - in Brisbane is reminiscent of the worst days of excess in South Africa's apartheid regime during the 1960s to 1990s.
One hopes that Howard and his cronies are on their way out, and that actions of this sort will help the process. The disgusting behaviour of Ruddock and Andrews and their role in the arrest and possible incarceration in Villawood of Dr Haneef is an indication of how this government is determined to continue its scare campaign about the possible threat of terrorism in Australia.The trouble is that the loyal Alternative Liberal Party aka ALP supports their actions and therefore become part of the problem, not part of the solution.
A small indication of how out of touch both sides of the two-party system operating in Australia at the moment are, a look at the poll in The Age of 17 July 2007 shows a bigger number of people registering their votes than on many other newspaper polls in that paper. There were over 5000 votes, and 83% overwhelmingly supported Haneef being freed. Only 17% voted the other way!!!
The whole eposide would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic in its implications for the other people connected to Dr Haneef. And at last the Indian government has started to make some noises in the right direction. Whether they will do more than just carpet the Australian ambassador is a moot point, but one has to hope something will develop from this.
At the other end of the world, in the UK, where some of the people arrested have connections with Dr Haneef, the defending legal team there are now concerned that his re-arrest in Australia will affect the fair trials of their clients in the UK.
But that of course is now justice 21st century style in both countries. And Australia becomes more like apartheid South Africa every day.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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DeeCee needed to ensure that we understand who is Lord of the Manor in this household, and in order to consolidate his claim, he has taken possession of the bed.
"This is mine, so take it or leave it! I am very comfortable here and have no intention of allowing anyone to dispossess me!"

(Posted in Atheists and religions)

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Plus ca change-------!
The Australian government is rapidly going down the path of apartheid South Africa's police state with the latest outrage being the "release" on bail of Dr Mohammed Haneef from custody in Brisbane, and his arrest and subsequent detention in Villawood in Sydney.
The parallels to the South African police state model grow every day, with utterences by Philip Ruddock sounding as if they could have come from the lips of Jimmy Kruger, the minster of "justice" in the infamous apartheid regime.
On top of that, the legislative changes Ruddock is proposing before the APEC meeting in Sydney in September 2007 are such that people opposed to the meeting and demonstrating against it will be able to be arrested and have "terrorism" or equivalent charges laid against them.
As I have said before, be afraid, be very afraid!!!
The new Mamdouh Habib, the new David Hicks? Remember yet again the words of Pastor Niemoller in Nazi Germany, and consider the democratic future of Australia. In this context, remember also that the loyal opposition is not called the Alternative Liberal Party - ALP for nothing. Their justice spokesperson and shadow minister has agreed with the arrest of Dr Haneef.

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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The pardon granted to Libby by George W bush has to be one of the most corrupt actions by the leader of a democracy anywhere in the world.
Bush has been guilty of other acts of corruption, but when he says that the sentence on Libby was too harsh and should never have been imposed, coming from a man who presided over the state with the largest number of executions of any state in the USA and reaching world record proportions - coming in close to China - one has got to pause to get one's breath back.
If one includes the executions taking place in prisoner rendition situations in those countries which the US has supported to do its dirty work, then nothing should cause any surprises - one can only recoil in horror!

(Posted in International Politics)

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This was sent to us by likeminded people in the community who have been horrified by Howard's land grab and invasion of Aboriginal territory for his own cynical - and outrageously economic - purposes!
Below is the text of an article by Jennifer Martiniello which will be
forwarded to major newspapers in Australia. Please pass on to your
networks. Jennifer Martiniello is a writer and academic of Arrernte,
Chinese and Anglo descent. She is a former Deputy Chair of the
Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Arts Board of the Australia
Council for the Arts, and a current member of the Advisory Board of
the Australian Centre for Indigenous History at the ANU.

Howard's New Tampa - Aboriginal Children Overboard

Howard's new Tampa children overboard are our Aboriginal children.
The Little Children are Sacred report does not advocate physically
and psychologically invasive examinations of Aboriginal children,
which could only be carried out anally and vaginally. It does not
recommend scrapping the permit system to enter Aboriginal lands, nor
does it recommend taking over Aboriginal 'towns' by enforced leases.
These latter two points in the Howard scheme hide the true reason for
the Federal Government's use of the latest report for blatant
political opportunism.

It has been an openly stated agenda that Howard wants to move
Aboriginal people off their lands, and has made recent attempts to
buy off Aboriginal people by offering them millions for agreeing to
lease their lands to the Federal Government, e.g. Tiwi Islands and
Tangentyere in Alice Springs. There was also the statement by the
Federal Government that it could not continue (?!) to provide
essential services to remote communities, which raised an uproar of
responses in the press. The focus on the sexual abuse of children is
guaranteed to evoke the most emotive responses, and therefore command
attention, just like the manipulation of the Tampa situation. But
while the attention of the media and the public is being emotionally
coerced, what is being sneaked in under the covers?
Two issues specifically - mining companies have applied for more
exploration permits in the Northern Territory, the Jabiluka uranium
mining operations at Kakadu have already hit the media because of the
mining company's applications to the Government to significantly
expand its operations, including establishing new mines at Coronation
Hill, and another critical issue - nuclear waste. The Howard
Government has already mooted that nuclear waste should be dumped in
the Northern Territory, on Aboriginal lands. Aboriginal traditional
owners are absolutely opposed to this. We have a long history of
deaths and illness from radiation, from the atomic tests at Woomera
in the 1950s to the current high incidences of carcinomas in the
community at Kakadu near the Jabiluka site. The main obstacle to the
Federal Government's desired expansion of mining operations in the
Northern Territory and nuclear waste dumping is, of course, the
Aboriginal people who have occupancy of, and rights under the common
law to, their traditional lands.

Following the stages of the Howard Government's usual modus operandi
(defund, blame, eliminate), defunding of critical programs for remote
Aboriginal community projects began in July 2004, with coerced
changes to funding contracts, and monies for critically needed youth
and health programs in remote areas being the first dollars to go.
Take Mutitjulu for example, which was notoriously profiled by the
ABC's Nightline program. I say notorious because one of Senator Mal
Brough's personal staffers was the so-called ex-youth worker
interviewed on that program, and the content of that interview was
laden with myths and mistruths. The staffer in question failed to
appear when summoned before a Senate inquiry to explain and the
Senator's office is yet to issue a statement. When the community
lodged a formal protest to Government, it was raided and their
computers seized. But the program did show the effects of the Howard
Government defunding of essential programs on that community, in
particular the youth centre and health centre. The people at
Mutitjulu also just happen to be the traditional owners of Uluru, one
of this country's most lucrative tourist attractions. The Howard
Government would not like us to ask who benefits by the people of
Mutitjulu being forced off their community. Under the amendments to
Native Title made by the Howard Government, once Aboriginal people
have left their traditional lands, forcibly or otherwise, their
rights under the common law that every other Australian enjoys over
their land are significantly impaired.

Progressive defunding of Aboriginal art centres has also begun, with
a range of community art centres not having their funding renewed by
DCITA in July 2005 and 2006 in the Northern Territory, from
communities in Arnhemland to mid and southern Territory communities.
The art production facilitated by those Aboriginal art centres are
the only means through which members of those communities can
actually earn a living, as opposed to being on welfare. But then,
dependent people are easier to control by means of that dependency.
The Howard Government's failed Shared Responsibility Agreements
(SRAs) have also been the catalyst for further blame shifting and
progressive defunding, take Wadeye for example.

Our Aboriginal communities are being squeezed further into
dysfunction and disenfranchisement by carefully targeted political
engineering, the systemic and ruthless roll-out of a planned agenda.
It is no accident that Howard's scheme to address what he calls the
urgency of the Little Children are Sacred report's 97 recommendations
was trotted out so very quickly, and addresses so very few of those
recommendations. It is sheer political opportunism to advance an
already in motion agenda, and to score points in an election year.
After all, The Little Children are Sacred report is not the first of
such reports, nor are its findings and recommendations new. The
Federal Government has had the 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997 and 2002
reports gathering dust and deliberate inaction on its shelves.
Perhaps Mr Howard has been saving them up for a rainy election year?
And of course Mr Howard's scheme targets only Aboriginal communities,
despite the fact that the findings specifically state that non-
Aboriginal men, that is, white men, are a significant proportion of
the offenders, who are black-marketeering in petrol and alcohol to
gain access to Aboriginal children. What measures is the Howard
Government going to take about non-Aboriginal sex offenders,
pornographers, substance traffickers and the like? Nothing according
to the measures announced, but then, they're not Aboriginal and they
don't live on the Aboriginal communities where their victims live.

So who are the real victims here, the silenced victims of John
Howard's scheme? Aboriginal children, of course, who will be subject
to physically and psychologically invasive medical examinations,
irrespective of their home and family circumstances, and who will
deal with the mental and emotional fall-out from that? Aboriginal
men, too, who become the silenced scapegoats, painted by default by
John Howard as all being drunken, child-raping monsters. Perhaps the
fact that almost every picture shown of Aboriginal men in the media
these days shows them drunk, with a slab, cask or bottle under their
arms leads Mr Howard to expect that one to pass unchallenged,
irrespective of the fact that statistics show that only 15% of
Aboriginal people drink alcohol, socially or otherwise, compared to
around 87% of non-Aboriginal Australians. The greater majority of
Aboriginal men are good, decent people. Perhaps the media would like
to rethink its portrayals of Aboriginal men? How about some photos of
the other alcoholics, you know, the white ones. There's more of them.

And what of our communities? The Howard Government also hasn't
mentioned that the majority of Aboriginal communities in the Northern
Territory are already dry communities, decided and enforced by those
communities. But then that would spoil the picture Mr Howard wants to
paint of our Aboriginal communities. Other large communities, such as
Daly River, have controlled the situation by only having alcohol
available from the community's club and enforce a strict four can
limit. Also forgotten in the current politically opportunistic furore
is the fact that Aboriginal communities around Tennant Creek and
Katherine have been lobbying Governments and town councils for
decades to restrict the sale of alcohol on Thursdays, when Aboriginal
community people come to town for supplies. So far their pleas have
been rejected. Nothing in Mr Howard's plan to facilitate that,
either. Or about the control of alcohol when those people, once
forced off the communities into the towns, bring their problems with
them, child abuse or alcoholism and all the rest. Of course that
would make access to Aboriginal children a lot easier for white
offenders, they won't have to go so far to find a victim.

One last word on focus of attention. In the famous Redfern Address,
the then Prime Minister, Paul Keating asked perhaps the most
important question for all Australians to consider. He said 'We
failed to ask the most basic of questions. We failed to ask - What if
this were done to us?' What if this were done to us - to Mr and Mrs
Average Australian, to our schools, youth centres, health centres,
access to medical care, communities, homes, children, grandchildren?
After all, current national health reports from a wide range of
health organisations name sexual abuse of non-Indigenous Australian
children as a crisis area in need of urgent attention. And the
numbers of victims are higher. National reports into mainstream
domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse also call for urgent
action, again the issues are at crisis level, and the numbers of
victims and abusers are far higher than in the Little Children are
Sacred report. None of the recommendations in all of those hundreds
of national health reports recommend compulsory sexual health tests
for every Australian child under sixteen. Not one of them recommends
that a viable solution is closing down youth and health programs, in
fact they all advocate that more are needed. None recommend that the
victims' or the offenders' communities and homes should be
surrendered to the Federal Government and put under compulsory lease
agreements, and none advocate processes which would lead to either
the victims or the abusers losing their rights under common law to
their property as measure to control or remedy the occurrence of
abuse. Would the Howard Government even dare to contemplate such as
that? I think not. It would be un-Australian, and the Government it
would expect immediate legal repercussions on the grounds of
impairment of human rights, extinguishment of rights under common
law, discrimination, and a raft of other constitutional issues.
Besides, Mr and Mrs Average Australian don't, for the most part, live
on top of uranium and mineral deposits or future nuclear waste dumps.

But seriously, the most critical question for all Australians to ask
themselves in the lead up to this year's Federal Election is just
that - What if it were done to us? With full acknowledgment of what
has already been done to workers, trade unions, student unions,
public primary, secondary and tertiary education, elderly care,
palliative care, medicare, crisis health care, nurses, teachers,
multicultural affairs, migrant groups, women, child care, small
businesses and artsworkers, among the many, through the exercise of
policies of social engineering and fear, your answer at the polling
booth may just determine whether it will be done to you, or continue
to be done to you. As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald 25th
June, the Howard Government last week used the military to seize
control of 60 Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, which
are now under military occupation. This is not Israel and Palestine.
The Northern Territory is not Gaza or the West Bank. This is
Australia - but is it the Australia you thought you lived in? Walk in
our shoes, Aboriginal Australia's, and ask yourselves, what would it
be like to have this done to us? And then, walk with us.

Jennifer Martiniello

(Posted in Australian politics and politicians)

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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