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Monday, December 12, 2005

Cry, the racist country - 2

I am not going to post to this blog until sometime in January. This blog is a commentary on social, religious, and political matters. Those of you who have been dropping on by regularly will realise that my lodestar is the teaching of Jesus - particularly in relation to justice. I am completely overwhelmed by the events of yesterday: violence from Cronulla to Perth, back to Brighton le Sands and the southern beaches of Sydney. What are words in the face of such attacks, such racism, such violence. This is happening in my Australia, my nation, my country. I have posted before on Australia as a racist country. I have wished for this nation to admit to its racism. Perhaps the events of yesterday are part of the answer to this wish: an incontrovertible display of racism. Prime Minister John Howard has denied that Australia is a racist nation. I believe that he is part of the problem: not part of the solution. His track record does not speak of effective respectful racial conciliation either with Australia's First Nations or with a number of non-European constituents.

Besides my emotional abhorrence to all this, what do I do? I am getting older and feel there are limitations to my contribution. My health has been an issue which has provided and continues to provide its own limitations. So, recognizing the insignificance of my words in the life of my nation, I am going to retreat, withdraw for a while. I want to focus on the feast, the great feast of love - where Someone loved us all so much that he came down and became one of us, lived with us, loved us and rescued us setting a pattern for each of us to follow. I will continue to post to The Trad Pad which is a commentary free zone and is full of more personal doings. Please take my silence as a time of constructive reflection, a time when I focus on the season of goodwill to all and hope that I can have some constructive insight into what ails my beloved South Land of the Holy Spirit.

May you and yours be blessed at this time and in the year ahead.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


You might have seen Peter Garrett and two female colleagues singing a new and relevant version of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Singing is more appropriate than carolling. Carolling bespeaks joy and the IR legislation brings no joy to ordinary humanity. In case you didn't get the words, pop over to Rooster and Mushroom to whom I am indebted.

Senator Fielding's vandalism

Family First Senator Steve Fielding has had his Mount Waverley office vandalised within 24 hours of casting the decisive vote in favour of voluntary student unionism at Australia's universities. While not condoning illegal entry and vandalism, I would suggest that the people who carried out the vandalism consider that, on Friday 9 December 2005, Steve Fielding became complicit in an act of vandalism against universities. Astonishing is his reported comment that he could not see a contradiction in a Family First senator supporting likely cuts for child-care services on university campuses. "Everyone else in the community needs to get access to child care and they need to pay for it," he said. Well, Senator Fielding, students paying their students' union fees are paying for their child-care. They are paying for a wide range of campus services which support their daily lives as students. It is amazing that people who received a free university education albeit paying students' union fees find it an overwhelming imperative that others now pay and acccumulate vast indebtedness - some students and their families are cast into a poverty from which it will be difficult to emerge - for a tertiary education.

Anyway, Steve it seems you are no different from other minor party and independent senators who seek to deal themselves into the political game; who seek to have themselves seen to be relevant. We thank you for your vote against the Howard Gang's IR legislation. We are just stunned that you lost your courage on VSU. You obviously could not cut yourself off from the government. You want to deal - but you haven't the guts to count the cost. Just remember Steve how many people are being alienated by toxic Howard and his gang of vandals. It could be that, in 2006 and 2007, there will a critical mass from varied constituencies. You will then have to deal with the long memories of the ALP and the Greens.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Nobel Lecture - Literature 2005

Michael Billington in his 1996 book published by Faber and Faber, The Life and Work of Harold Pinter, said:
Pinter remains to his credit, a permanent public nuisance, a questioner of
accepted truths, both in life and art. In fact the two persistently

Harold Pinter has been awarded the the 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature. Pinter, in his Nobel Lecture to the Swedish Academy, makes the case for US brutality at international level since the second world war. In fact, Pinter says, America is on a permanent war footing. Read the speech in full here.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Free the Christian Peacemakers - 2

To-day is the day when those holding the Christian Peacemakers as hostages want their demands to be met. If you have not yet signed the petition, could you please go to and add your name. Among those who have already added their names are:

Arundhati Roy - author, The God of Small Things
Tariq Ali - author, Bush in Babylon
Denis Halliday - former U.N. Asst. Secretary General & Head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq (1997-1998)
Cindy Sheehan - mother of Casey Sheehan
Noam Chomsky - Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Haifa Zangana - Iraqi novelist
Kamil Mahdi - Iraqi economist and anti-occupation activist. Lecturer, University of Exeter
Mahmood Mamdani - Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University
Rashid Khalidi - Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Middle East Institute, Columbia University
Cindy and Craig Corrie - parents of Rachel Corrie, killed by Israeli military
Hasan Abu Nimah - Permanent Representative of Jordan at the United Nations (1995-2000)
Ralph Nader - former independent presidential candidate
James Abourezk - former US Senator
Howard Zinn - historian
Naseer Aruri - Professor (Emeritus) University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Kathy Kelly - Voices for Creative Nonviolence/Nobel Peace Prize Nominee
Naomi Klein - author/journalist
Michael Ratner - President, Center for Constitutional Rights
Rev. Daniel Berrigan - poet
Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou - National Coordinator, Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq
Jeremy Scahill - independent journalist
Mazin Qumsiyeh - author, Sharing the Land Of Canaan, board member US Campaign to End the Occupation
Milan Rai - author, War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against War on Iraq
Sam Husseini - writer
Dahr Jamail - independent journalist
Ali Abunimah - Co-founder, Electronic Iraq
Leslie Cagan - National Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
Eve Ensler - author
Jennifer Harbury - Director, Stop Torture Permanently Campaign
Omar Diop - Président de la Coalition Sénégalaise des Défenseurs des Droits humains
Anthony Arnove - author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal
Medea Benjamin - Global Exchange
G. Simon Harak - War Resisters League
Michael Albert - ZNet
Dave McReynolds - former Chair, War Resisters International
Bishop Gabino Zavala - President, Pax Christi USA

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Free the Christian Peacemakers

Members of a Christian Peacemakers Team - Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, and Norman Kember - are being held captive in Iraq. You can find out how to take action towards freeing the captives by going here including signing a petition.

Time is of the essence so please act now -
and continue to uphold them in your prayers.

Foucault's Pendulum resolved

Some years ago I read Umberto Eco's book, Foucault's Pendulum. This is a 600 page tour de force. Focault's Pendulum is about three editors who cook up a hoax involving the Knights Templar, Stonehenge, the Kabbalah, the Rosicruicians and Brazilian voodoo -among other things - that suddenly becomes all too real. I got to the end and wondered what it was all about. The only conclusion I could come to was that it was a satire about the occult and the conspiracy-type theories they breed. But after all these years, I think I may have Eco's own answer to my question of what it is all about. It is here in a simple article which speaks to our current spiritual condition. And in all this, Eco still builds the Christmas crib with his grandson.

As a postscript, I should add that I have not bothered to read the Da Vinci Code. Having read Focault's Pendulum and Holy Blood Holy Grail (whose authors are suing Dan Brown) and having a theological understanding of gnosticism I didn't feel so inclined.

Eureka Sunday : Sedition Sunday

With the inglorious passage of the new anti-terror legislation,
it might be time to dust off the Old Beauty and march with her again.
It is over 150 years since the
Eureka Stockade and its challenge to authority.
The flag of rebellion will be unfurled in the streets again.

We swear by the Southern Cross
to stand truly by each other
and fight to defend our rights and liberties.
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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Scary rumours on Liberal Party preselections

That Modia Minotaur is spreading the scariest rumours about what could happen with Liberal Party preselections. They're dreadful and the worst and nastiest of the lot is that Andrew Bolt could replace Petro Georgiou in Kooyong. (Slight adjournment while I am sick in a corner). If the Liberal Party is to lurch even further to the right - which would probably put them further right than Hitler and Genghis Khan - and casts out talented moderates within the Liberal Party, then it could be that another political party could emerge or they could move to the Democrats and transform them into something viable.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Corbett appointed to the RBA Board

He influences the price of the food we put in our mouths. He influences the price of the fuel we put in our petrol tanks. He puts banking into Woolworths stores. Now Roger Corbett, CEO and Group Managing Director of Woolworths, is going to nfluence the price we pay for our money. Woolworths takes lots of advice from Wal-Mart connections in the USA - the huge down market retailer who gets into deep water with their particular brand of employee relations. But even Wal-Mart's founder and at one time the world's richest man, Sam Walton, didn't get to influence the US greenback. At a time when Industrial Relations is high on Australia's political agenda Woolworths - who in the late 80s and early 90s cut a swathe through its permanent workforce replacing most of the permanents with part-time workers - gets a voice at the table. Is such extensive economic influence what ordinary every day Australians want to encourage?

Gerard resigns from the RBA Board

Robert Gerard has gone from the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia. Howard and Costello have been dismissive each day at Question Time in the House of Representatives. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating and to-day we have the result. Gerard has had to acknowledge - and therefore resign - that his position is untenable. Particularly when it became clear that his settlement with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) did not occur until well after he joined the Board. The ALP has a rare scalp. Let's hope it encourages them to add a few more.

Singapore kills Nguyen Tuong Van

I have not posted on the case of Nguyen Tuong Van previously. The case is so sad, the Singaporean government so intransigent - what can my words add. I prepare this post on the morning of his death. As I think about my words, I think about him and his preparations for death at 6am Singapore time, 9am AEDST. The reports tell of his composure, his preparations for death in Christ, his love for his family and his friends. Lord, welcome him into your kingdom.

I pray that Australians continue to remember the reality of the merciless Singapore government. If ever there was a need for regime change, it is needed in Singapore. We must never forget that:

In all that the Australian Government did or failed to do in the Nguyen Tuong Van case, it put the inter-governmental relationship with Singapore at the heart of the matter, entree to the forums of south-east Asia at the heart of the matter, consideration for Singapore's feelings at the heart of the matter. What evidence is there that Singapore ever considered the ethos or feelings of the majority of Australians? A touch of a mother's hand?