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Tuesday, December 23, 2003

MERRY CHRISTMAS 

A special Merry Christmas to all those in the Western Sydney Peace Group as well as those globally who have been involved in the global movement for peace and justice. I pray that at this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus (the Prince of Peace), people around the world will reflect on their own actions, as well as those of their leaders, and question the continued spread of racist, hateful propaganda comming from so many sources. The whole world would run a lot smoother if people started to seek the best for others and not only themselves.
There is a long way to go, but keep stong and do not give in.

Evil triumphs when good people do nothing. Thank you for doing something!

Tim

Govt liable for strikers: Reynolds  

December 18, 2003 - 6:30AM

The Australian government would be legally liable if any of the 36 asylum seekers on a hunger strike in Nauru died, former Labor Senator Margaret Reynolds said.

Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said this week the asylum seekers were not the Australian government's problem.

But Ms Reynolds, the president of the United Nations Association of Australia, said the federal government was legally responsible for the 284 asylum seekers on the Pacific island.

She said the hunger strike was bringing shame to all Australians.

"I cannot understand how in the week before Christmas when probably the prime minister will go to church, and he will make some pious statement about the Christmas spirit, and they're just sitting on their hands and refusing to acknowledge these people's plight," Ms Reynolds said.

"Whether you agree with their situation or not, whether you agree with the government's policy or not, the reality is there are desperate people in a desperate circumstance on Nauru and Australians are just going about their business celebrating, drinking and eating too much. It really is just a shameful situation."

Hassan Ghulam, president of the Hazara Ethnic Society of Australia, said 11 more men joined the hunger strike.

He said one man remained in hospital.

The Immigration Department said 11 people had been hospitalised at various times during the hunger strike which began on December 10.

Mr Ghulam said more of the asylum seekers were preparing to join the hunger strike, including women and children.

"The number is going to increase because they have reached the bottom," Mr Ghulam said in Brisbane.

"They have made one very specific demand, that is freedom or death. There is no more negotiation."

Nine of the asylum seekers began the strike last week, including four who sewed their lips together.

The number of protesters have increased four-fold since then.

Ms Reynolds said the hunger strike was gaining international media interest, particularly within Europe and Japan.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/12/18/1071337056470.html

Defeating the US Empire 

Featuring: Humphrey McQueen, plus veteran North American anti-war and socialist activists Barry Sheppard and Richard Fidler

10am-5.30pm, Saturday, JANUARY 10
Resistance Activist Centre,
23 Abercrombie St, Chippendale (near Broadway)
For further info call 9690 1230 or 0421 322 175 or 0425 237 285

10am Feature
Already a Century of War and Resistance
(Barry Sheppard, Richard Fidler)
11.30: Workshops
* What is imperialism?
* “Multitudes” and proletariat – who will change the world?
* Palestine: a road-map to liberation

1pm: Lunch

2pm Feature
The Collapse of Imperialism
(Humphrey McQueen)
3.30: Workshops
* Can you make a revolution without “taking power”?
* Defying Uncle Sam: Resistance in the Americas Today
* Youth and students in the anti-Vietnam war movement

4.30 Feature
A Guide to Regime-Change at Home
(Lisa Macdonald, Socialist Alliance National Co-convenor)

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

ADI site St Marys 

This is an in interesting thing to come to if you are interested in saving the ADI site at St Marys and want to help the residents action group take the issue to a broader audience in other parts of Sydney. It also sounds like great fun for the family.

ADI Site Stall
Saturday the 20th December
10am
Bradfield Park, Kirribilli, Nth Sydney. Near Milsons Pt Raliway Station.


Anthony Stimson of Australian Wildlife Displays will be bringing some of his native animals to Nth Sydney on Saturday the 20th December.

The aim of the event is to educate Sydney siders about the ADI site and what we all stand to lose if the site is allowed to be developed. Anthony, a licenced fauna handler, will have with him a selection of his animals including; a joey, lace monitor, flying fox, frogmouth owl. green and golden bell frog, green tree frog etc.

If you want to see some unique fauna come along, bring your friends and make a day of it.

Further inquiries contact Imogen on 0415 102984

Seasons Greetings for David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib 

Candlelight vigil
5pm Friday 19 December
Sydney Town Hall


Organised by the Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group and the Stop the War Coalition (a similar action is also planned in Adelaide for that evening)

The vigil will be an important time to keep community attention focused on the plight of these two men who have spent around two years in tiny cages in Guantanamo Bay. Although Hicks has been given the opportunity to speak with
his (military-appointed) lawyer and a trial, he has not been officially charged and the independence or fairness of that US military trial is by no means assured. Habib, on the other hand, hasn’t even been granted that much – he continues to be held without charge as an “enemy combatant”. Despite next to no public scrutiny of the prison being permitted, it is generally accepted by human rights groups that both men have been physically and psychologically tortured by their captors. For more info on the vigil, visit http://www.fairgofordavid.org or contact the Canterbury-Bankstown Peace Group (0401 758 871) or the Stop the War Coalition (0419 135 019 or 0409 762 081)

Free the Refugees Campaign 

Challenge the myths; Open our hearts
Help make Parramatta a refugee welcome zone!

Food on the Run


Eat some delicious food, have a chat and check out some art work and music from local refugees.

Where:
Near the Parramatta Town Hall, Church St Mall, Parramatta.

When:
11am - 3pm, Saturday 20 December.

Public Forum

After the festival (at 3pm), there will be a public forum, upstairs, in the Parramatta Town Hall.

Speakers will include:

Father Frank Brennan (Jesuit Refugee Service)
Ms Soraya Kassim (Immigrant Women's Speakout)
Deputy Mayor, Cr. Julia Finn (Parramatta City Council).
Refugee speakers will also address the forum.


Sponsored by:

Young Christian Workers
Ph: 9682-6719

Free the Refugees Campaign
Ph: 0414242729

We Finally Got Our Frankenstein... and He Was In a Spider Hole! -- by Michael Moore 

December 14, 2003

Thank God Saddam is finally back in American hands! He must have really missed us. Man, he sure looked bad! But, at least he got a free dental exam today. That's something most Americans can't get.

America used to like Saddam. We LOVED Saddam. We funded him. We armed him. We helped him gas Iranian troops.

But then he screwed up. He invaded the dictatorship of Kuwait and, in doing so, did the worst thing imaginable -- he threatened an even BETTER friend of ours: the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia, and its vast oil reserves. The Bushes and the Saudi royal family were and are close business partners, and Saddam, back in 1990, committed a royal blunder by getting a little too close to their wealthy holdings. Things went downhill for Saddam from there.

But it wasn't always that way. Saddam was our good friend and ally. We supported his regime. It wasn’t the first time we had helped a murderer. We liked playing Dr. Frankenstein. We created a lot of monsters -- the Shah of Iran, Somoza of Nicaragua, Pinochet of Chile -- and then we expressed ignorance or shock when they ran amok and massacred people. We liked Saddam because he was willing to fight the Ayatollah. So we made sure that he got billions of dollars to purchase weapons. Weapons of mass destruction. That's right, he had them. We should know -- we gave them to him!

We allowed and encouraged American corporations to do business with Saddam in the 1980s. That's how he got chemical and biological agents so he could use them in chemical and biological weapons. Here's the list of some of the stuff we sent him (according to a 1994 U.S. Senate report):

* Bacillus Anthracis, cause of anthrax.
* Clostridium Botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin.
* Histoplasma Capsulatam, cause of a disease attacking lungs, brain, spinal cord, and heart.
* Brucella Melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs.
* Clostridium Perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria causing systemic illness.
* Clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic substance.

And here are some of the American corporations who helped to prop Saddam up by doing business with him: AT&T, Bechtel, Caterpillar, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM (for a full list of companies and descriptions of how they helped Saddam, go here).

We were so cozy with dear old Saddam that we decided to feed him satellite images so he could locate where the Iranian troops were. We pretty much knew how he would use the information, and sure enough, as soon as we sent him the spy photos, he gassed those troops. And we kept quiet. Because he was our friend, and the Iranians were the "enemy." A year after he first gassed the Iranians, we reestablished full diplomatic relations with him!

Later he gassed his own people, the Kurds. You would think that would force us to disassociate ourselves from him. Congress tried to impose economic sanctions on Saddam, but the Reagan White House quickly rejected that idea -- they wouldn’t let anything derail their good buddy Saddam. We had a virtual love fest with this Frankenstein whom we (in part) created.

And, just like the mythical Frankenstein, Saddam eventually spun out of control. He would no longer do what he was told by his master. Saddam had to be caught. And now that he has been brought back from the wilderness, perhaps he will have something to say about his creators. Maybe we can learn something... interesting. Maybe Don Rumsfeld could smile and shake Saddam's hand again. Just like he did when he went to see him in 1983 (see the photo here).

Maybe we never would have been in the situation we're in if Rumsfeld, Bush, Sr., and company hadn't been so excited back in the 80s about their friendly monster in the desert.

Meanwhile, anybody know where the guy is who killed 3,000 people on 9/11? Our other Frankenstein?? Maybe he's in a mouse hole.

So many of our little monsters, so little time before the next election.

Stay strong, Democratic candidates. Quit sounding like a bunch of wusses. These bastards sent us to war on a lie, the killing will not stop, the Arab world hates us with a passion, and we will pay for this out of our pockets for years to come. Nothing that happened today (or in the past 9 months) has made us ONE BIT safer in our post-9/11 world. Saddam was never a threat to our national security.

Only our desire to play Dr. Frankenstein dooms us all.


Yours,

Michael Moore
mmflint@aol.com
www.michaelmoore.com

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Western Sydney Peace Group meeting... 

Last Monday (8th December) we held the last meeting for the year, and watched the film "War is so 20th Century", the latest documentary by the Sydney video collective, Radical Vision.

The video examines the role played by young people in a series of anti-war rallies and marches held early in 2003, which were the largest in Australian history.

Those who attended will all testify to what a fantastic film it is, and how well it captures all the positives of the anti-war movement in Sydney, where thousands of previously unpolitical people took to the streets as active citizens to stop a war which we now have seen proven to be based on lies and deciet.

If you want to get your hands on a copy on DVD then call me on 0404 273313, or email me at timothy.k.vollmer@uts.edu.au

Below is Rob Gowland's review -- Rob is the Guardian's well known film critic -- of "War is so 20th Century":

"Well done, Radical Vision!

Formed on the initiative of several CPA members in Sydney, Radical Vision comprises a fluid group of currently eight to ten CPA and CYA members, supporters and friends.

They began by filming a local peace march early this year in the Sydney suburb of Auburn. Emboldened, they went on to film other peace marches and rallies in Sydney, covering events as diverse as the Books Not Bombs schoolkids' strike and
the Palm Sunday march.

The peace rallies and marches from roughly the first half of the year have now been edited down to a half hour film which was premiered at a function in the CPA headquarters immediately following the successful anti-Bush rally on October
19th.

The title, "War is so 20th Century", was taken from a sign carried prominently by a school student in one sequence. For the film's emphasis is on the enthusiastic participation by young people in the rallies and marches and their sincere and strongly felt opposition to war.

The informative commentary by Darryl Mason left plenty of space for numerous "vox pops", in which participants in the marches and rallies spoke directly to camera about why they were there. Fluent, sometimes witty, always passionate,
these sequences are the highlight of the film.

Set to a funky soundtrack, the film has been skilfully and professionally edited by Peter Lamont, who has honed what must have been a very large amount of raw footage down to tight, dynamic and punchy half hour or so.

Lamont and Andrew Lund, who worked on the music track, have given the film at times the pace and the feel of a music video, but one with substance.

The reaction of the audience at the first showing was summed up by one young woman's comment: "It's so empowering!" The Party intends to make copies available on tape and DVD as soon as possible.

I had seen some of the raw footage from the first Auburn peace march and I thought the members of the unit, especially Peter Lamont, did a splendid job on a very tight budget to make a very watchable, enjoyable and politically positive
film.

Indeed, bringing out the positive aspect of the rallies and marches was one of the unit's aims in making the film. As unit member Edward Mason said at the screening, the mass media give scant coverage to these events and reserve what
screen time they do give them for scenes of scuffles or abuse, especially ones involving the police.

But as the film showed, the people in the rallies, especially the young people, are filled with optimism and high ideals, are not prepared to be silenced and are not afraid to stand up for what is right.

The effect is uplifting, and for the jaded activist a good source for recharging your batteries."

Turkeys on the Moon... from Michael Moore  

December 8, 2003

Dear Mr. Bush,

Well, it's going on two weeks now since your surprise visit to one of the two countries you now run and, I have to say, I'm still warmed by the gesture. Man, take me along next time! I understand only 13 members of the media went with you -- and it turns out only ONE of them was an actual reporter for a newspaper. But you did take along FIVE photographers (hey, I get it, screw the words, it's all about the pictures!), a couple wire service guys, and a crew from the Fox News Channel (fair and balanced!).

Then, I read in the paper this weekend that that big turkey you were holding in Baghdad (you know, the picture that's supposed to replace the now-embarrassing footage of you on that aircraft carrier with the sign "Mission Accomplished") -- well, it turns out that big, beautiful turkey of yours was never eaten by the troops! It wasn't eaten by anyone! That's because it wasn't real! It was a STUNT turkey, brought in to look like a real edible turkey for all those great camera angles.

Now I know some people will say you are into props (like the one in the lower extremities of your flyboy suit), but hey, I get it, this is theater! So what if it was a bogus turkey? The whole trip was bogus, all staged to look like "news." The fake honey glaze on that bird wasn't much different from the fake honey glaze that covers this war. And the fake stuffing in the fake bird was just the right symbol for our country during these times. America loves fake honey glaze, it loves to be stuffed, and, dammit, YOU knew that -- that's what makes you so in touch with the people you lead!

It was also a good idea that you made the "press" on that trip to Baghdad pull the shades down on the plane. No one in the media entourage complained. They like the shades pulled and they like to be kept in the dark. It's more fun that way. And, when you made them take the batteries out of their cell phones so they wouldn't be able to call anyone, and they dutifully complied -- that was genius! I think if you had told them to put their hands on their heads and touch their noses with their tongues, they would have done that, too! That's how much they like you. You could have played "Simon Says" the whole way over there. It wouldn't have been that much different from "Karl Says," a game they LOVE to play every day with Mr. Rove.

Well, if you're planning any surprises for Christmas, don't forget to include me. When I heard last week that you wanted to send a man back to the moon, I thought, get the fake goose ready -- that's where ol' George is going for the holidays! I don't blame you, what with nearly 3 million jobs disappeared, and a $281 billion surplus disappeared, and the USA stuck in a war that will never end -- who wouldn't want to go to the moon! This time, take ALL the media with you! Embed them on the moon! They'll love it there! It looks just like Crawford! You can golf on the moon, too. You'll have so much fun up there, you might not want to come back. Better take Cheney with you, too. Pretend it's a medical experiment or something. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for every American who's sick and tired of all this crap."

Yours,

Michael Moore

mmflint@aol.com

www.michaelmoore.com

Season's Greetings for David and Mamdouh  

When: Friday 19 December 2003

Time: 5-7pm

Where: Sydney Town Hall.


On 8 December it will be two years since David Hicks was kidnapped in Afghanistan by the Northern Alliance forces and handed to the US army. It is two years and two months since Mamdouh Habib was arrested in Pakistan by the Pakistani police and handed to the US army. David and Mamdouh, Australian citizens, are being held with another 660 men and children at Guantanamo Bay, US Base. Dave and Mamdouh are kept in inhumane conditions - in a 6ft x 8ft cage, in shackles, with 2 x 15 minutes exercise routine per week. They are held incommunicado and have not had contact with their families or personal legal advisers. As yet no charges have been laid against them.

The Australian government has yet to request David and Mamdouh's repatriation or release. In fact the Australian government has given the US authorities free reign to do as they please with these two Australian citizens. David and Mamdouh have become the 'sacrificial lambs' in the alliance of the coalition of the killing!

Vigils will be held in major cities of Australia on the above date. .Two Season's Greetings cards will be made available to the public to sign. These will be presented to Alexander Downer in his electoral office of South Australia to present to Dave and Mamdouh.

Come and join us; hold a Vigil in your city or town; distribute information; write to John Howard demanding the repatriation of these two Australians.

Contact: Marlene Obeid on 0401 758 871 - Justice for Hicks and Habib.

Australia-US free trade agreement 

It is getting closer and closer to the deadlines given by both governments and yet they appear no closer to an agreement on the key area of agriculture. The government is less confident than they have been in securing this deal, now is the perfect time to increase the pressure. Join in the campaign to stop the FTA…. Please read, take action and forward this message on.

1. 5th round of negotiations start today in Washington
2. Release of senate report from the Senate Inquiry into GATS and the Australia-US FTA
3. GET ACTIVE: Join in The big FTA fax-in
4. Greens Motion on GE and the AUSFTA

1. Negotiations start today in Washington: Organisations from the US join the campaign
The fifth round of negotiations begins today in Washington. Both governments want this to be the last round of negotiations, and want to tie the deal up before George Bush enters election campaign mode mid next year. An FTA with the US will greatly restrict our ability to legislate in the public and environmental interest. Howard and the Trade Minister Mark Vaile have clearly indicated that they are willing to trade away access to cheap pharmaceuticals, Australian culture, GE labelling laws and our quarantine standards in a bid to improve the deal for Australian farmers….even through the massive US agricultural subsidies, increased only last year, are not negotiable.

Today, the Australian Greens and the Green Party of the United States today released a joint statement condemning the AUSFTA and calling for Fair Trade. Joint statements with organisations in the US were also released by the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Public Health Association of Australia and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

Last week, a coalition of six environmental organisations from the US, representing millions of Americans, sent a letter to Mark Vaile regarding the potentially devastating impact of an FTA with the US in Australia and in America.

2. Release of senate report from the Senate Inquiry into GATS and the Australia-US FTA
Last Thursday the Senate Committee Inquiry into GATS and the AUSFTA released their report damning government secrecy and the lack of parliamentary scrutiny. The Committee Inquiry came out strongly in opposition to the Australia-US free trade agreement, calling for a range of exemptions such as the PBS, Australia Post, quarantine laws and the Australian Wheat Board.

Full report including the Greens Additional Comments: http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/FADT_CTTE/gats/report/index.htm

3. NOW IS THE TIME TO GET ACTIVE: THIS WEEK, December 1 – 10.
Tell the government to implement the recommendations of the Senate Inquiry Committee Report: ‘Voting on Trade’. Tell them to STOP THE NEGOTIATIONS NOW!

FAX/EMAIL YOUR MESSAGE TO:
Trade Minister Mark Vaile Fax: 02 6273 4128 or
Shadow Minister Stephen Conroy Fax: 02 6277 3317 or
By post: Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600
Remember that letters and faxes are a lot harder to delete!
For a complete Greens Action Kit on the AUSFTA including background information and form letters visit the AUSFTA campaign page of Kerry Nettle’s web site or contact the electorate office on senator.nettle@aph.gov.au

4. Greens Motion on GE and the AUSFTA
Last Thursday the Green’s motion calling for the exemption of GE laws and regulations from the FTA was supported by the Senate. The motion follows:

27/11/03

HEALTH: GENETICALLY ENGINEERED PRODUCTS

Senator NETTLE (New South Wales) (11.11 a.m.) —by leave—I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) the European Union has recently introduced labelling of animal feed and of highly processed ingredients derived from genetically-engineered (GE) crops, neither of which are currently labelled under the Australian regulatory system, and

(ii) Australian farmers face great uncertainty because the 3-year study by the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Mr Truss) into whether it is possible to grow and process genetically-modified (GM) produce without contaminating non-GM produce will not be complete until July 2004, and a commercial release of GM canola has already been approved; and

(b) calls on the Australian Government to:
(i) exempt any changes to the GE regulatory and labelling system in Australia from the current free trade agreement negotiations with the United States of America,

(ii) ensure that the Government maintains the ability to improve and extend the labelling laws, to bring them into line with international best practice, and

(iii) ensure that the federal regulatory system protects the rights of Australian consumers and farmers to GE-free food.

Question agreed to.
For more information please visit www.kerrynettle.org.au, www.howardbush.com.
Fair Go for Will & Dave!
Stop them being gaoled for an anti-war protest!


Will Saunders and Dave Burgess are facing the possibility of a three year gaol term for their courageous anti-war protest on March 18. Two days befire the US launched its illegal invasion of Iraq, Will and Dave climbed the Opera House and painted 'No War' in a bold declaration of the mass opposition to Australian involvement. Your solidarity is needed...

DEMONSTRATE
9am Thursday December 11
District Court, Downing Centre
141-147 Liverpool St (Cnr Elizabeth St)

Ph 0409 762 081 or 0403 902 588

Email Stop the War Coalition stwcoalition@yahoo.com.au
check www.OperaHouseNoWar.org or www.StopDubya.org

Gaol: “a very real prospect”

On March the 18th – at precisely the same time as George W Bush, John Howard and Tony Blair were declaring an illegal war on Iraq – Dr Will Saunders and Dave Burgess climbed the Sydney Opera House and painted ‘No War’ on its highest sail. They were arrested and charged with malicious damage and willfully marking a building with paint. The Opera House claims the paint costs $166,000 to remove and Will and Dave are being pursued to pay this.

The malicious damage charge was heard before a district court jury in early September. They were found guilty and on December 11th they will be sentenced by Judge Blackmore, who left them with the parting words: “You have a very real prospect of going to gaol.”

Both Will and Dave had prepared extensive defense cases. Part of this defense was based on Section 418 of the NSW Crimes Act, which states that you are not guilty of a crime if it was committed with the aim of preventing injury or death, damage to property, deprivation of liberty or criminal trespass. It is now clear that the illegal war in Iraq has resulted in all of these things happening.

However, Judge Blackmore didn’t allow Will or Dave to present their case to the jury. They were not allowed to tell the jury why, or even to state that their defense had been ruled inadmissible. All they could do was stand up and say that no defense case would be presented.

There were other aspects of the case which Will and Dave also felt were unfair and so they have lodged an appeal, but sentencing comes first and they may become the first activists to be imprisoned for peaceful protest since Vietnam. Both acknowledge they painted the Opera House and both have indicated they would attempt to pay the REAL costs of cleaning. Court proceedings were adjourned earlier in the year to give them a chance to talk with the Opera House about the costs. However the Opera House refused and Will and Dave are being sued for $166,000.

Will and Dave’s protest was seen around the globe and sent a clear message to the rest of the world that most Australians do not agree with the war-like intentions of the Howard government.

Please support Will and Dave by joining the protest at the sentencing on December 11, 9am at the District Court, and donating if you can.

To donate, send cheques / money order to:
“Opera House No War Clean-Up Fund”
PO Box 928 Glebe NSW 2037

or a make a deposit to:
“Opera House No War Clean-Up Fund”
Bendigo Bank (Strathfield Branch)
BSB # 633 000 ACCT # 119414043

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