11 March 2024


counterpunch logo Articles CP+ Subscribe Donate Books Login Merch Archives Podcasts January 12, 2024 Making Gaza Unliveable by Joshua Frank Photo: intifada.de via Frank M. Rafik on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

On a picturesque beach in central Gaza, a mile north of the now-flattened Al-Shati refugee camp, long black pipes snake through hills of white sand before disappearing underground. An image released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shows dozens of soldiers laying pipelines and what appear to be mobile pumping stations that are to take water from the Mediterranean Sea and hose it into underground tunnels. The plan, according to various reports, is to flood the vast network of underground shafts and tunnels Hamas has reportedly built and used to carry out its operations.

While Israel is already test-running its flood strategy, it’s not the first time Hamas’s tunnels have been subjected to sabotage by seawater. In 2013, neighboring Egypt began flooding Hamas-controlled tunnels that were allegedly being used to smuggle goods between the country’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. For more than two years, water from the Mediterranean was flushed into the tunnel system, wreaking havoc on Gaza’s environment. Groundwater supplies were quickly polluted with salt brine and, as a result, the dirt became saturated and unstable, causing the ground to collapse and killing numerous people. Once fertile agricultural fields were transformed into salinated pits of mud, and clean drinking water, already in short supply in Gaza, was further degraded.

Israel’s current strategy to drown Hamas’s tunnels will no doubt cause similar, irreparable damage. “It is important to keep in mind,” warns Juliane Schillinger, a researcher at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, “that we are not just talking about water with a high salt content here — seawater along the Mediterranean coast is also polluted with untreated wastewater, which is continuously discharged into the Mediterranean from Gaza’s dysfunctional sewage system.”

This, of course, appears to be part of a broader Israeli objective — not just to dismantle Hamas’s military capabilities but to further degrade and destroy Gaza’s imperiled aquifers (already polluted with sewage that’s leaked from dilapidated pipes). Israeli officials have openly admitted their goal is to ensure that Gaza will be an unlivable place once they end their merciless military campaign.

“We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said shortly after the Hamas attack of October 7th. “We will eliminate everything — they will regret it.”

And Israel is now keeping its promise.

As if its indiscriminate bombing, which has already damaged or destroyed up to 70% of all homes in Gaza, weren’t enough, filling those tunnels with polluted water will ensure that some of the remaining residential buildings will suffer structural problems, too. And if the ground is weak and insecure, Palestinians will have trouble rebuilding.

Flooding tunnels with polluted groundwater “will cause an accumulation of salt and the collapse of the soil, leading to the demolition of thousands of Palestinian homes in the densely populated strip,” says Abdel-Rahman al-Tamimi, director of the Palestinian Hydrologists Group, the largest NGO monitoring pollution in the Palestinian territories. His conclusion couldn’t be more stunning: “The Gaza Strip will become a depopulated area, and it will take about 100 years to get rid of the environmental effects of this war.”

In other words, as al-Tamimi points out, Israel is now “killing the environment.” And in many ways, it all started with the destruction of Palestine’s lush olive groves.

(B)Olives No More

During an average year, Gaza once produced more than 5,000 tons of olive oil from more than 40,000 trees. The fall harvest in October and November was long a celebratory season for thousands of Palestinians. Families and friends sang, shared meals, and gathered in the groves to celebrate under ancient trees, which symbolized “peace, hope, and sustenance.” It was an important tradition, a deep connection both to the land and to a vital economic resource. Last year, olive crops accounted for more than 10% of the Gazan economy, a total of $30 million.

Of course, since October 7th, harvesting has ceased. Israel’s scorched earth tactics have instead ensured the destruction of countless olive groves. Satellite images released in early December affirm that 22% of Gaza’s agricultural land, including countless olive orchards, has been completely destroyed

“We are heartbroken over our crops, which we cannot reach,” explains Ahmed Qudeih, a farmer from Khuza, a town in the Southern Gaza Strip. “We can’t irrigate or observe our land or take care of it. After every devastating war, we pay thousands of shekels to ensure the quality of our crops and to make our soil suitable again for agriculture.”

Israel’s relentless military thrashing of Gaza has taken an unfathomable toll on human life (more than 22,000 dead, including significant numbers of women and children, and thousands more bodies believed to be buried under the rubble and so uncountable). And consider this latest round of horror just a particularly grim continuation of a seven decade-long campaign to eviscerate the Palestinian cultural heritage. Since 1967, Israel has uprooted more than 800,000 native Palestinian olive trees, sometimes to make way for new illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank; in other instances, out of alleged security concerns, or from pure, visceral Zionist rage.

Wild groves of olive trees have been harvested by inhabitants of the region for thousands of years, dating back to the Chalcolithic period in the Levant (4,300-3,300 BCE), and the razing of such groves has had calamitous environmental consequences. “[The] removal of trees is directly linked to irreversible climate change, soil erosion, and a reduction in crops,” according to a 2023 Yale Review of International Studies report. “The perennial, woody bark acts as a carbon sink … [an] olive tree absorbs 11 kg of CO2 per liter of olive oil produced.”

Besides providing a harvestable crop and cultural value, olive groves are vital to Palestine’s ecosystem. Numerous bird species, including the Eurasian Jay, Green Finch, Hooded Crow, Masked Shrike, Palestine Sunbird, and Sardinian Warbler rely on the biodiversity provided by Palestine’s wild trees, six species of which are often found in native olive groves: the Aleppo pine, almond, olive, Palestine buckhorn, piny hawthorne, and fig.

As Simon Awad and Omar Attum wrote in a 2017 issue of the Jordan Journal of Natural History:

“[Olive] groves in Palestine could be considered cultural landscapes or be designated as globally important agricultural systems because of the combination of their biodiversity, cultural, and economic values. The biodiversity value of historic olive groves has been recognized in other parts of the Mediterranean, with some proposing these areas should receive protection because they are habitat used by some rare and threatened species and are important in maintaining regional biodiversity.”

An ancient, native olive tree should be considered a testament to the very existence of Palestinians and their struggle for freedom. With its thick spiraling trunk, the olive tree stands as a cautionary tale to Israel, not because of the fruit it bears, but because of the stories its roots hold of a scarred landscape and a battered people that have been callously and relentlessly besieged for more than 75 years.

White Phosphorus and Bombs, Bombs, and More Bombs

While contaminating aquifers and uprooting olive groves, Israel is now also poisoning Gaza from above. Numerous videos analyzed by Amnesty International and confirmed by the Washington Post display footage of flares and plumes of white phosphorus raining down on densely populated urban areas. First used on World War I battlefields to provide cover for troop movements, white phosphorus is known to be toxic and dangerous to human health. Dropping it on urban environments is now considered illegal under international law, and Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. “Any time that white phosphorus is used in crowded civilian areas, it poses a high risk of excruciating burns and lifelong suffering,” says Lama Fakih, director for the Middle East and North Africa at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

While white phosphorus is highly toxic to humans, significant concentrations of it also have deleterious effects on plants and animals. It can disrupt soil composition, making it too acidic to grow crops. And that’s just one part of the mountain of munitions Israel has fired at Gaza over the past three months. The war (if you can call such an asymmetrical assault a “war”) has been the deadliest and most destructive in recent memory, by some estimates at least as bad as the Allied bombing of Germany during World War II, which annihilated 60 German cities and killed an estimated half-million people.

Like the Allied forces of World War II, Israel is killing indiscriminately. Of the 29,000 air-to-surface munitions fired, 40% have been unguided bombs dropped on crowded residential areas. The U.N. estimates that, as of late December, 70% of all schools in Gaza, many of which served as shelters for Palestinians fleeing Israel’s onslaught, had been severely damaged. Hundreds of mosques and churches have also been struck and 70% of Gaza’s 36 hospitals have been hit and are no longer functioning


A War That Exceeds All Predictions

“Gaza is one of the most intense civilian punishment campaigns in history,” claims Robert Pape, a historian at the University of Chicago. “It now sits comfortably in the top quartile of the most devastating bombing campaigns ever.”

It’s still difficult to grasp the toll being inflicted, day by day, week by week, not just on Gaza’s infrastructure and civilian life but on its environment as well. Each building that explodes leaves a lingering cloud of toxic dust and climate-warming vapors. “In conflict-affected areas, the detonation of explosives can release significant amounts of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter,” says Dr. Erum Zahir, a chemistry professor at the University of Karachi.

Dust from the collapsed World Trade Center towers on 9/11 ravaged first responders. A 2020 study found that rescuers were “41 percent more likely to develop leukemia than other individuals.” Some 10,000 New Yorkers suffered short-term health ailments following the attack, and it took a year for air quality in Lower Manhattan to return to pre-9/11 levels.

While it’s impossible to analyze all of the impacts of Israel’s nonstop bombing, it’s safe to assume that the ongoing leveling of Gaza will have far worse effects than 9/11 had on New York City. Nasreen Tamimi, head of the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority, believes that an environmental assessment of Gaza now would “exceed all predictions.”

Central to the dilemma that faced Palestinians in Gaza, even before October 7th, was access to clean drinking water and it’s only been horrifically exacerbated by Israel’s nonstop bombardment. A 2019 report by UNICEF noted that “96 percent of water from Gaza’s sole aquifer is unfit for human consumption.”

Intermittent electricity, a direct result of Israel’s blockade, has also damaged Gaza’s sanitation facilities, leading to increased groundwater contamination, which has, in turn, led to various infections and massive outbreaks of preventable waterborne diseases. According to HRW, Israel is using a lack of food and drinking water as a tool of warfare, which many international observers argue is a form of collective punishment — a war crime of the first order. Israeli forces have intentionally destroyed farmland and bombed water and sanitation facilities in what certainly seems like an effort to make Gaza all too literally unlivable.

“I have to walk three kilometers to get one gallon [of water],” 30-year-old Marwan told HRW. Along with hundreds of thousands of other Gazans, Marwan fled to the south with his pregnant wife and two children in early November. “And there is no food. If we are able to find food, it is canned food. Not all of us are eating well.”

In the south of Gaza, near the overcrowded city of Khan Younis, raw sewage flows through the streets as sanitation services have ceased operation. In the southern town of Rafah, where so many Gazans have fled, conditions are beyond dire. Makeshift U.N. hospitals are overwhelmed, food and water are in short supply, and starvation is significantly on the rise. In late December, the World Health Organization (WHO) documented more than 100,000 cases of diarrhea and 150,000 respiratory infections in a Gazan population of about 2.3 million. And those numbers are likely massive undercounts and will undoubtedly increase as Israel’s offensive drags on, having already displaced 1.9 million people, or more than 85% of the population, half of whom are now facing starvation, according to the U.N.

“For over two months, Israel has been depriving Gaza’s population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare,” reports Omar Shakir of Human Rights Watch.

Rarely, if ever, have the perpetrators of mass murder (reportedly now afraid of South Africa’s filing at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, accusing Israel of genocide) so plainly laid out their cruel intentions. As Israeli President Isaac Herzog put it in a callous attempt to justify the atrocities now being faced by Palestinian civilians, “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible [for October 7th]. This rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved, it’s absolutely not true. They could’ve risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime.”

The violence inflicted on Palestinians by an Israel backed so strikingly by President Biden and his foreign policy team is unlike anything we had previously witnessed in more or less real-time in the news and on social media. Gaza, its people, and the lands that have sustained them for centuries are being desecrated and transformed into an all too unlivable hellscape, the impact of which will be felt — it’s a guarantee — for generations to come.

This piece first appeared at TomDispatch.

JOSHUA FRANK is the managing editor of CounterPunch. He is the author of the new book, Atomic Days: The Untold Story of the Most Toxic Place in America, published by Haymarket Books. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank.

02 September 2022


Our web pages got lost when this laptop jammed because it got too full, so that the normal FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL programmes wouldn't work any longer.

Fortunately the Wayback Machine, part of the INTERNET ARCHIVE, based in San Francisco, provided some answers. Hopefully, here they are:

1) red-jos


2) josken


12 August 2022


A cross of remembrance during the commemoration on 16 August 2016 of the 2012 Marikana massacre in Rustenburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Antonio Muchave) Maverick Citizen


The legacy of the Marikana massacre, ten years later By Benjamin Fogel 11 Aug 2022 0

For many, the massacre was the moment when the blinkers were removed and the underlying injustices that have stunted the development of South African democracy were revealed in all their brutality.

Listen to this article 0:00 / 8:01 BeyondWords This Op-Ed forms part of “Marikana, 10 Years On”, a one-day symposium which will be held at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on 20 August from 12pm to 6.30pm. If one were to pick a moment when the narrative of post-apartheid South Africa as a nation, for all its faults, generally stumbling forward in the right direction ended; no moment stands out as clearly as the Marikana massacre, when on 16 August 2012, 34 striking mineworkers were gunned down by the police on live TV. In the week preceding the massacre, 10 others had been killed. Over the 10 years since the massacre, the country has become poorer, more violent and divided. GDP per capita has declined from just over $8,000 to under $7,000, unemployment is now close to 50%, the basic functions of government have collapsed in much of the country, the labour movement has grown weaker and more divided, and the threat of political violence to activists is ever more apparent. Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter. Each week that passes in South Africa seems to bring with it a report of some new atrocity, from mass tavern shootings to xenophobic attacks and political assassinations. Last year’s July insurrection reflected that the country faces a growing threat posed by mass unrest, political mafias and right-wing ethno-nationalist politics (most notably by a slate of black majority parties) which the state is evidently ill-equipped to manage; in large part because the influence of these mafias extends across all levels of government. But what does this all have to do with Marikana? If one were to ask, how did we get to the South Africa of 2022 after State Capture, following the absurdly corrupt and brutal Covid lockdown regulations, the July insurrection, the Life Esidimeni tragedy, and suffering regular blackouts and with a burnt-out hollow shell where there used to be our Parliament? Marikana is a good place to begin. Marikana was the moment when the core institutions of South African democracy — not just limited to the state — failed. It was the worst massacre of its kind under the democratic order, in which the police — who belonged to Cosatu, the same trade union federation as many of the striking mineworkers — shot and killed striking workers under the auspices of the ANC government that promised a better future for workers. An atrocity that was defended by Cosatu leaders and the SA Communist Party. In the aftermath of the atrocity, with some notable exceptions, our civil society — from NGOs to media, social movements and trade unions — failed to hold the government to account or even provide meaningful solidarity with the victims of the massacre, either opting for silence or in some cases actively reproducing the state’s justifications. The failure of much of the South African media remains even more apparent, given that the killings were broadcast on live television. The core institutions of our democracy, from the National Prosecuting Authority to Parliament, failed to hold the government and police to account, even after an inquiry found that former police commissioner Riah Phiyega should be held responsible for the deaths of the 34 mineworkers. Since 2012, no police officer has been charged for any of the shootings. If anything, the police are more violent and incompetent than ever. Instead, it took the work of a few dedicated journalists and researchers for the actual story of what happened that day to be revealed to the public. It took even longer for the documentary Miners Shot Down and the findings of the Farlam Commission to change public consciousness about what transpired on 16 August 2012. Political amnesia Marikana stands out as one of the political moments in South Africa that has fallen victim to the plague of political amnesia that stalks the country, as the warring factions of the ANC use it as a weapon for their internal struggles: members of the pro-Jacob Zuma Radical Economic Transformation faction use it to attack President Cyril Ramaphosa, despite the fact that the massacre occurred under Zuma’s watch. Others still refer to it as though it was some sort of natural disaster, a tragedy that ultimately nobody was responsible for. Ten years later, justice remains elusive for most survivors of Marikana. While 35 families have been paid compensation of approximately R70-million, a larger group of more than 300 miners who were injured during the shooting rampage are still trying to claim compensation of R1-billion. In a recent development, the high court ruled that Ramaphosa could be found liable for the events that led up to the massacre for his role as a Lonmin director. However, proving civil liability will be up to the mineworkers to try to accomplish in court. There is also the ongoing trial of former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe and other police officers for the murder of five people at Marikana on 13 August 2012. Mpembe and his colleagues face five counts of murder and attempted murder as well as contravening the Commissions Act for giving false information during the Farlam Commission. But 10 years later, public interest has all but dissipated and the old legal maxim could not be truer: justice delayed is justice denied. While political battles are waged through protracted court proceedings, the workers of the Platinum Belt in North West face ongoing exploitation, dysfunctional government, political violence (at least 22 workers have been murdered since the massacre), material deprivation and the predatory lending schemes of mashonisas (loan sharks) and payday loan companies. For many, including myself, the massacre was the moment when the blinkers were removed and the underlying injustices that have stunted the development of South African democracy were revealed in all their brutality. The lack of public outrage in the wake of the massacre and the absence of mass protests and solidarity remain a cause of shame for the country. The indifference of the public became even starker even as the workers of the Platinum Belt embarked on one of the largest wildcat strikes in our history, and in 2014-2015 would win the longest strike in South African history. Marikana has come to serve as a potent symbol of resistance for the South African working class, employed by protesting students, striking workers and community protests. The Marikana strikes went on to influence and inspire other workers’ movements outside the Platinum Belt, like the farmworker strikes in De Doorns in the Western Cape in 2012-13 which galvanised more than 9,000 participants in their mission to improve their working conditions. The lesson of Marikana is that even under the most difficult circumstances effective mobilisation and organisation are possible — workers across the Platinum Belt opted to join and expand the strike rather than mourn silently or surrender. It is this extraordinary moment that provides a rallying cry for those who still wish to see a more just and equal South Africa. DM Benjamin Fogel is a PhD candidate in Latin American history at New York University and a Jacobin contributing editor. Fogel is one of the organisers of “Marikana, 10 Years On”, a one-day symposium at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on 20 August from 12pm to 6.30pm. The symposium will also be streamed online. The event is presented by Africa Is a Country, with support from Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (Southern African Office). Logistical details will be posted at http://africasacountry.com

05 March 2022


South Africa

Security Branch cops killed Neil Aggett, judge rules

Fawu members hold up a banner with Aggett and other unionists' photos outside the Johannesburg High Cour.Photo:Ufrieda Ho
By Ufrieda Ho
4 Mar 2022

The trade unionist and doctor Neil Aggett did not die by suicide but by the hand of security branch cops, Judge Motsamai Makume ruled, calling the magistrate's findings from the original inquest 'a serious error of judgment' and his conclusions 'mind-blowing'.

The overturning of findings of the 1982 inquest into the death in detention of activist and trade unionist Dr Neil Aggett on 4 March brings to close a two-year court journey. It also sets in motion avenues to prosecute the Security Branch police officers linked to his killing.

Judge Motsamai Makume gave his ruling in the Johannesburg High Court, calling Magistrate Pieter Kotze’s finding from the original inquest “a serious error of judgment”. He also said some of Kotze’s conclusions were “mind-blowing”. Makume ruled that Aggett, who was found hanged in his police cell in John Vorster Square police station on 5 February 1981, did not die by suicide, as Kotze had ruled, and he said Security Branch police officers were responsible for Aggett’s murder in the early hours of that morning.

Neil Aggett’s nephews from his older brother Michael and his sister-in-law Mavis were in the Johannesburg High Court to hear the ruling. From left are Jonathan Aggett, David Aggett, Mavis Aggett, Simon Aggett and Stephen Aggett.Photo:Ufrieda Ho

In recapping the key evidence that came before his court on and off over the past two years, Makume was unequivocal about the Security Branch’s culture of torture and abuse of political detainees, an entrenched web of cover-ups and a still-persistent allegiance demonstrated in his court to protect its members – even those who have died in the 40 years since Aggett was killed.

The judge said it was unfortunate that Lieutenant Steve Whitehead, who was the chief interrogator in Aggett’s case and implicated in his killing, died before he could testify in court.

Whitehead died of cancer just days before the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) finally announced that it would reopen the inquest in April 2019. That Whitehead and Major Arthur Conwright, who was head of the Security Branch at John Vorster Square, never had to face questioning in a court has remained a bitter pill to swallow for activists and families of activists who died in detention. It continues to raise questions about the reasons for delays and the political interference standing in the way of bringing conclusion to cases that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended for investigation by the NPA in 2003 already.

Fawu organiser Thabo Kota was among the union members who gathered outside court awaiting the ruling.Photo:Ufrieda Ho

Yasmin Sooka, executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) that has supported the Aggett family to find the truth about his final days in detention, said the next step is to explore criminal prosecutions of the surviving former Security Branch police officers implicated in Aggett’s killing.

“This ruling is unequivocal and the judge has clearly set up the next phase of investigation for murder and the cover-up of murder – that’s amazing. We need to place pressure on the Hawks and the NPA to conduct investigations while Nicolaas Deleefs, Johannes Nicolaas Visser, Daniel Elardus Swanepoel and Magezi Eddie Chauke are still alive. If they do this quickly enough we may have indictments for murder,” Sooka said.


*This is a developing story and more in-depth reporting will be published in the next few days.

21 January 2022


Day of reckoning long overdue for police who ignored gay hate crimes
Daniel Glick
Investigative journalist
19 January 2022

It really didn’t have to be this hard. More than three decades after a brilliant young man’s life was taken from us in a fit of homophobic rage, the killer stunned a closed courtroom with an admission: “Guilty. I am guilty. Guilty.”>

Yes, Scott White admitted to killing Scott Russell Johnson in December 1988. His conviction affirms the incredible 33-year-long odyssey of Scott’s brother Steve, who always believed that foul play took his brother’s life, not self-harm. But it also raises questions about why it took so long, and how many other gay bashers, killers, and their police enablers still roam free.

Steve Johnson, the brother of murdered Scott Johnson, has finally got closure over the death of his brother.

Steve Johnson, the brother of murdered Scott Johnson, has finally got closure over the death of his brother.

Through a mutual friend, Steve Johnson contacted me in early 2007 and asked me to go to Sydney to investigate his brother’s death. Even though a 2005 coronial inquest had detailed multiple brutal attacks on gay men in the Bondi area, police steadfastly stuck to their belief that homophobic violence miraculously stopped at the Harbour Bridge.

When I met Steve and first poured over the scant materials he had obtained from the original 1989 inquest finding that Scott had committed suicide, I frankly thought the cause of death was a toss-up. The picture painted in the inquest documents was vague, but it seemed possible that the 27-year-old maths genius was too sensitive for this world. His partner had stated that Scott had thought about suicide once before (which turns out to be an elaborately misleading if not completely false story). Being gay in 1988 was particularly difficult at the height of the AIDS epidemic and the era of the Grim Reaper ads. On the other hand, Scott was an incredibly high-achieving, kind, “out” and apparently happy young man who had moved to Australia to be with his lover and complete his PhD.

I agreed to go to Sydney in May 2007. Before leaving, Steve put me in touch with Stephen Page, a former NSW Police detective sergeant who had investigated the Bondi gay killings. Page had retired and didn’t want to get officially involved, but suggested I focus on two things: was the place where Scott died an active beat at the time; and had there been incidents of anti-gay violence on the Northern Beaches?

During that first trip to Sydney in May 2007, the balance of probabilities shifted so fast it was breathtaking. Within a few hours of arriving, I talked to a (presumably) straight man who had worked at the sewerage plant since the 1980s and who said that gay men met up at the headlands near Blue Fish Point area “all the time, mate”. I met a gay man who had been stabbed up there. I found names of more than a dozen men who were known gay bashers on the Northern Beaches around the time of Scott’s death, from Narrabeen to North Sydney. This all took place in one week. After an article appeared in The Manly Daily about Steve Johnson’s search for his brother’s killer with my email address on it, I received a deluge of leads from citizens, gay and straight.>/p> Man pleads guilty to Scott Johnson's cold case murder

A man has pleaded guilty to the cold case gay hate murder of Scott Johnson in 1988.

What I couldn’t figure out, and still can’t understand, is why police at the time pretended not to know any of this or make any possible connection to Scott’s death.

Over the ensuing years, this second piece — police culpability — became almost as much a question as “who killed Scott?” The intransigence of the police towards Steve in 1988 continued through 2006, even after the Taradale findings into the Bondi cases, which is why Steve hired me.

When presented with our initial findings in 2007, which clearly raised questions about the initial suicide verdict, we were met with stone silence. That continued for years, even as we amassed more evidence that Scott had been murdered and we had compiled a credible list of people who might have done it or knew about it.

After public pressure on the police when ABC’s Australia Story aired an episode about Scott’s case in 2013, we thought we had turned a corner when the Unsolved Homicide Unit formed a taskforce to investigate Scott’s death. Unfortunately, that turned into one of the most monumental wastes of taxpayer dollars I have witnessed in my 30 years as a journalist. That team roundly ignored evidence and doggedly pursued its own theory that Scott had killed himself.

Steve Johnson persevered and petitioned for a third inquest, which returned a homicide finding – and a gay-hate motivated one at that. It was only after the third inquest that new police leadership took this investigation seriously and by all accounts did an amazing job.

What I still want to know is this: Where is the accountability for all of the past mistakes that individual police officers made, for the anguish they perpetrated not just on Scott Johnson’s family but for the dozens if not hundreds of other people who were murdered, beaten, marginalised, and otherwise ignored as this epidemic of homophobic violence swept through NSW? We know who the police officers were. We know many of the perpetrators of this violence, unlike Scott White, are still walking the streets, their crimes unsolved and solvable.


Most touchingly, we know that hundreds if not thousands of gay men and their loved ones have lived with nightmares from their bashings and the fear of going to the police to report it. I hope that in some small way, they will also find vindication in this guilty verdict in Scott Johnson’s case. I also still hold out hope that the responsible parties — police and perpetrators — face some sort of reckoning.

Daniel Glick is an American investigative journalist.

11 January 2022


Kendall Lovett was born on 6 October 1922 in Hobart, Tasmania and when he was about 7 years old and the world was in the middle of a terrible depression and his father, an electrician, was out of a job, and moved his family to Sydney, where Ken grew up.

He went to school in North Bondi and was bullied at school - and outside school. When he was about 12, he started high school at Sydney boys' high school, but didn't get very far before he ws struck by rheumatic fever and was in hospital for a few months, then had a relapse and didn't go back to school - in a formal sense.

In the early years of his adolescence, he discovered early on that he was attracted to males, not females, and subsequently lived his life as a gay man.

Homosexuality was illegal at that stage and remaimed so until gay people started fighting for their rights and gay liberation was formed and the fight was on.

In the USA, apart from small movements amongst gays and lesbians, liberation was not forthcoming until an explosion occurred when the police in New York raided a bar in New York called the Stonewall in 1969 and the fight was on for gay liberation.

As movements around the world grew, and gay voices were being heard everywhere, gay hatred grew as well, aided and abetted by religions which became louder and louder over time and gay people were assaulted - and worse - everywhere, leading to murders in increasing numbers, often aided by those in the community who were hired by government organisations to "keep the peace" - mainly the police.

Ken was a very quietly spoken and mild-mannered person but he discovered early on in his adult years that gays were not tolerated in society and, like many around him in the society in which he lived - he kept his sexual orientation well and truly in the closet.

On the other hand, he discovered the "closet" world and lived his life accordingly. He found gay men in Sydney, and in his late 20s, he and another young man who he was meeting in Sydney and one night the two of them were sitting and talking at the top of the Botanic Gardens in Sydney when some policemen started asking them questions and they had a narrow escape from being arrested.

I learnt bits and pieces of his early life beacuse I only met him when we were both in our 60s but over the years I amanged to fill in bits and pieces of his life as he became involved in many ways with gay politics. and homophobia which was,and still is, so prevalent in our societies.

Ken ran aways with the young man he had been with in Macquarie Street at the beginning of the 1950s and came to Melbourne, where he lived for almost the next 10 years. The young man came home to their residence one night and found Ken in bed with soemone, and that was the end of that relationship, but it didn't take long for Ken to get involved with another man, and when the other man got transferred to London at the beginning of the 1960s, Ken went to London to be with him and they lived together until the other man, also Ken, was transferred back to Australia, to Canberra because that Ken - Skinner - worked for the Australian government and had to go where he was posted. Ken Lovett did not want to go and live in Canberra, so in 1964 when Ken Skinner left Lodnon, Ken Lovett remained until the late 1960s, when his father asked him to return to Sydney and in 1968 he left London for Sydney.

When he returned to Sydney, he stayed with his parents in Willoughby till 1970 when he managed to rent a house in Woolloomooloo and lived there until 1994 when he retired from Choice - Australian Conaumer Association - at th age of 70 and bought a small house in Maryville, Newcastle and stayed there until we bought a house in Preston, Melbourne in 2000 and where we were when Ken died of Metastatic Prostate Cancer in October 2020, leaving me alone and bereft.

From 1970 until his death in 2020 Ken was an activist to the end, covering as many issues as possible considering his work and family and other activities, encompassing human rights and their abuses.

Living in Woolloomooloo in the heart of the gay world, homophobia and assault did not escape him, and a few times he was lucky to escape injury, after suffering a few burglaries and chases down Crown Street where he lived to escape from the bullies chasing him.

I met Ken in 1988, the year I started coming out as a gay man and I was already getting involved in socialist activist groups by 1988 and after attending a demonstration and ending up in the Domain in Sydney, some young people holding a banner which they were folding, they handed me a leaflet about a demo being held outside the building where the UK consulate was housed. Margaret Thatcher was introducing a homophobic bill called clause 28 to the British parliament making vrious homosexual activities in schools illegal and there were several other anti-gsy items in the bill which contained many human rights aouses.

10 January 2022


‘Love will always win’: Gay A-League star hits out at homophobic abuse
By Vince Rugari
9 January 2022

Adelaide United defender Josh Cavallo has called out homophobic abuse he says was targeted at him during Saturday night’s A-League draw with Melbourne Victory, saying he could not find the words to describe how disappointed he was.

Cavallo also criticised Instagram and Twitter for doing little to stop further “hateful and hurtful messages” he received after the match.

Josh Cavallo has hit out at homophobic abuse he says was targeted at him in person on Saturday night and on social media afterwards.

Josh Cavallo has hit out at homophobic abuse he says was targeted at him in person on Saturday night and on social media afterwards.Credit:Getty

The 22-year-old became the first active top-flight male professional footballer in the world to come out as gay in October.

Little more than two months later, he is suffering from the sort of homophobic slurs he said he knew would inevitably be used against him after his historic announcement, which triggered a global outpouring of support from some of football’s biggest clubs and personalities.

Cavallo played 36 minutes off the bench in Adelaide’s dramatic 1-1 draw against Victory at Melbourne’s AAMI Park, but came off during injury time with a suspected concussion after an accidental elbow to the head from Lleyton Brooks.

Club sources indicate Cavallo also complained of similar homophobic abuse during United’s FFA Cup quarter-final loss to Victory on Wednesday night, which was played at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide.

Both clubs have condemned Saturday night’s events, which are now the subject of an investigation by the Australian Professional Leagues, with any perpetrators to be banned from attending matches.

“I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t see or hear the homophobic abuse at the game last night. There are no words to tell you how disappointed I was,” Cavallo wrote on Instagram.

“As a society this it shows we still face these problems in 2022. This shouldn’t be acceptable and we need to do more to hold this people accountable. Hate never will win. I will never apologise for living my truth and most recently who I am outside of football.

“To all the young people who have received homophobic abuse, hold your heads up high and keep chasing your dreams. Know that there is no place in the game for this. Football is a game for everyone no matter of who you are, what colour your skin is or where you come from.

“To @instagram I don’t want any child or adult to have to receive the hateful and hurtful messages that I’ve received. I knew truely being who I am that I was going to come across this. It’s a sad reality that your platforms are not doing enough to stop these messages.”

Cavallo finished his post by thanking those who had sent him messages of love and support, saying they outweighed the negativity, and praised people who “reached out after making a stand at the game. I commend you. Thank you to those fans, you had me emotional. Love will always win.”

Melbourne Victory said in a statement that the club was working with Adelaide, the APL and AAMI Park to identify those responsible.

“The club is committed to celebrating diversity in football, and strongly condemns this behaviour which has no place at our club or in our game,” the statement read. “Melbourne Victory sees football as a platform to unite fans no matter what background.

Spectators found to have breached these standards will be banned from future matches.”

APL chief executive Danny Townsend said: “Our players, staff and fans have the right to feel safe on and off the pitch. There is no place for bullying, harassment or abuse in Australian football and we have zero tolerance for this harmful behaviour.

“We are working with both clubs to investigate the incident and will issue sanctions to any people found to be involved. We fully support Josh Cavallo and want to ensure he can focus on his football performance, rather than on vile abuse. We will continue to concentrate our efforts on creating safe and welcoming A-Leagues for all.”

Adelaide United CEO Nathan Kosmina said the club was “appalled” by the abuse Cavallo received.

“Adelaide United is proud to be an inclusive and diverse football club, and to see one of our players subjected to homophobic abuse is disappointing and upsetting,” he said. “Josh continues to show immense courage and we join him in calling out abuse, which has no place in society, and it will not be tolerated by our club.”

Beau Busch and Kate Gill, the joint chief executives of Professional Footballers Australia, said Cavallo’s abusers had “illustrated their cowardice.”

“There is no place in our game, our society, for those who seek to direct abhorrent abuse at others,” they said in a statement. “Josh will continue to have the full support of the PFA and his peers and we will work with the APL, and the authorities, to ensure that those who sought to subject Josh to vile abuse are dealt with and that as a game we live up to our zero tolerance commitment.”


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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