Monday, May 30, 2005

Too cold to rant

Melbourne, April 2005. Too-good-to-be-true 30c days. Should have known that winter would hit mercilessly after the endless summer. Muse that I grew up in a cold climate and have turned into an utter wuss since I moved to Australia. Or perhaps its just middle age, deciding to miss a fuck off party on saturday night in favour of curling up at a fellow ranters home with ducted heating, eating thai takeaways and watching dvds under a blankie on the couch. This is a sad state of affairs turning into some kind of Nana. Will be drinking horlicks next.

There is almost too much to rant about this week. Howards draconian industrial relations legislation, how middle Australia is turning on Indonesia in response to the Corby sentencing and the weather of course. Am planning on a bit of a hybernation for the next week or two. Will return afresh after a trip to the other edge of the continent, some fine wine and all going well some blessed days when the thermometer reads like a warm autumn day again.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The emperor is wearing no clothes

The Amnesty international report is out, looking at the state of play in 149 countries. The "war on terror" is singled out as top of this dubious heap. The introduction to the report states, "The “war on terror” appeared more effective in eroding international human rights principles than in countering international “terrorism”." It went further in its rundown on the Americas.

"The blatant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law in the “war on terror” continued to make a mockery of President George Bush’s claims that the USA was the global champion of human rights. Images of detainees in US custody tortured in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq shocked the world. War crimes in Iraq, and mounting evidence of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US custody in other countries, sent an unequivocal message to the world that human rights may be sacrificed ostensibly in the name of security.

President Bush’s refusal to apply the Geneva Conventions to those captured during the international armed conflict in Afghanistan and transferred to the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was challenged by a judicial decision in November. The ruling resulted in the suspension of trials by military commission in Guantánamo, and the government immediately lodged an appeal. The US administration’s treatment of detainees in the “war on terror” continued to display a marked ambivalence to the opinion of expert bodies such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and even of its own highest judicial body. Six months after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal courts had jurisdiction over the Guantánamo detainees, none had appeared in court. Detainees reportedly considered of high intelligence value remained in secret detention in undisclosed locations. In some cases their situation amounted to “disappearance”."

Bush's role as a champion for humanity is another case of the Emperor's new clothes. The rest of the world stands around murmouring pleasantries despite his apparent lack of regard for human rights, all under the guise of anti-terrorism. Is it going to take a child to stand up and say the bleeding obvious? When will Australia find the guts to put an end to our tacit approval of these crimes and no longer be complicit in them? We can no longer distance ourselves from the attrocities commited by our allies. Bush said at the beginning of his crusade that you were either with him or against him. It is time to change sides, join France, New Zealand and other nations who refused to be bullied by economics and step bravely into the world with our head held high.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

lost in space

I just logged on to look at my site and found it was missing! Words lost in space for unspecified time, hopefully to return soon.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Meat bad for your health



Meat is indeed bad for your health as this 70 yo invalid mum found to her detriment.

Underdone chops lead to mother's stabbing
www.abc.net/news/newsitems/200505/s1374666.htm Monday, May 23, 2005. 11:49am (AEST)

A 49-year-old Melbourne woman has pleaded guilty to stabbing her mother in the stomach because the elderly woman complained about the way her chops were cooked.

Thomastown woman Julie Smith pleaded guilty in the Victorian Supreme Court to stabbing her 70-year-old mother 48 times in the stomach with a butter knife.

The court heard the mother, an invalid, who was confined to her bed most of the time, was unhappy because the lamb chops her daughter prepared for her were not cooked enough.

The court heard Smith cooked the chops further for her mother before saying: "Here's your tea is it good enough for you?"

The daughter then smashed the plate over her mother's head, before attacking her with the knife.

Smith's lawyer told the court his client was terrified of her mother but had ended up being her full-time carer.

He said she simply snapped under the weight of fear, stress and anxiety.

The hearing continues.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

a moment in a garden



Artichoke flower, autumn, The Greengrocer, North Fitzroy.

Something to rest your eyes on amidst the vitriol.

Another Week in the News

What a week: Saddam in his underwear, ‘the worm’ decides Corby’s innocence (this is days before the Australian had a lead article that began “SCHAPELLE Corby's father has admitted he was caught with drugs at a similar age to his 27-year-old daughter, but - like her - says the cannabis "wasn't mine".), a pop princess gets diagnosed with breast cancer and a pop prince announces a plan to open a pregnancy support centre to dissuade women from abortion and offer them “rehabilitation”.

Of the lot it is Guy Sebastion, barely over 20, fundamental Christian and a proud virgin that I find most worthy of a rant. I wonder what he knows of raising a child alone that can offer any woman in this kind of dilemma concrete support? It is the child, unborn and vulnerable that he champions which is all very well on a theoretical level, however it is the female in the equation once more who gets left literally holding the baby. Sebastion’s christian driven agenda is not new, similar ‘counseling’ services currently exist, duping vulnerable women into believing they are getting non-partisan support in making perhaps one of the biggest decisions of their lives. What has raised my ire is this new wonder centre he envisions offers a strange extra -“rehabilitation”. I have mused on what this will entail. ‘Rehabilitating’ a fallen woman by saving her soul most likely. Just what century are we living in?

OtherRants has now been in existence for 6 months. I wrote the first 2 posts quickly on a hastily devised template in order to show a born ranting friend just how easy it is to blog. At the time I had no idea I would be continuing to spew out words this far down the track, nor that a recurrent theme would be the increasing influence of the christian right in Australia. I feel increasing pessimism in the direction this country is going and at times muse of returning across the Tasman to my homeland. NZ is not perfect I know, but at least it has vastly more diverse representation of its people in parliament – a small smattering of god botherers but also a transsexual and a Rastafarian. It has to be a good start.

I have no idea if anyone reads these rants of mine, other than a small trio of commentors, but thank you any who do however silently, though it would be great to hear from you sometime.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Why I don't like lawyers

This article made me almost vomit my muesli. I am too outraged to even begin to comment on it right now.


Make torture legal, say two academics By Liz Minchin May 17, 2005 The Age

Torture should be legalised and is a "morally defensible" interrogation method, even if it causes the death of innocent people, according to an article by two Victorian academics that has sparked outrage here and overseas.

In a paper soon to be published in an American law journal, the head of Deakin University's Law School, Professor Mirko Bagaric, and a fellow Deakin law lecturer, Julie Clarke, argue that when many lives are in imminent danger, "all forms of harm" may be inflicted on the suspect, even if this resulted in "annihilation".

Their views caused such a stir at the University of San Francisco, the journal's home, that last month a public debate on torture was organised, and Professor Bagaric was flown over to talk alongside keynote speaker General Janis Karpinski (since demoted to colonel), the officer formerly in charge of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

And even before their paper has been printed, Professor Bagaric and Mrs Clarke have begun receiving hate mail from students and staff at Deakin University, as well as being heavily criticised by some of their legal peers.

Professor Bagaric told The Age that he expected to be criticised for his views, particularly on torturing innocent people.

"Of course, it is far more repugnant to inflict harm on an innocent person than a wrongdoer," said Professor Bagaric, who has been head of Deakin's law school for more than two years.

"But in some extreme cases, where it is almost certain someone has information that could prevent many lives being lost and there is no other way to obtain that information, the mere fact that they're not directly involved in creating that threat doesn't mean they can wash their hands of responsibility.

" Asked if he believed interrogators should be able to legally torture an innocent person to death if they had evidence the person knew about a major public threat, such as the September 11 attacks, Professor Bagaric replied: "Yes, you could."

He went on: "Let's say that straight after the first plane hit in New York you had a person in custody who admitted they had overheard the S-11 organisers' plans and knew there were going to be further attacks, but then refused to say any more. In those circumstances you would start with a minimum degree of harm, if that didn't work, you would escalate it.

"And if that unfortunately resulted in an innocent person being killed, in those circumstances that would be justified. I think as a society we would accept that one person being killed to save thousands is legitimate."

The director of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, Paris Aristotle, said he was shocked when a colleague sent him a copy of the paper, which will appear in the July edition of the University of San Francisco Law Review.

"It's the most extreme argument that I've seen for torture, and at many levels it's the shallowest," he said. "Torture is not just the physical application of pain, but requires the complete subjugation of the person at emotional, psychological and spiritual levels, too. To assume that once the physical pain has disappeared that there are no deep scars left behind is simply ignorant of how torture really works, but the authors conveniently skim over that aspect of it." Entitled Not Enough (Official) Torture In The World?, the paper cites Amnesty International reports of torture and ill-treatment in 132 countries to argue that international bans have not stopped torture, and it should therefore be regulated to allow greater public scrutiny.

But Liberty Victoria president Brian Walters, SC, attacked that proposal as illogical, saying, "this article is a stain" on Deakin University's reputation.

"If you accept that torture is widespread and should therefore be legalised, why wouldn't we then legalise crime? Let's sell licences for people to practice their favourite crimes, criminals would be so much more accountable. That is the level of debate this argument turns on and it is absolutely pathetic," he said

. Amnesty International spokeswoman Nicole Bieske, who is also a lawyer, was stunned by the idea of regulating torture. "It's astonishing and appalling that somebody would hold this opinion in relation to such a fundamental issue as torture, and to be justifying it on moral as well as pragmatic grounds," Ms Bieske said.

One of the Deakin staff members to have condemned the paper is the director of psychoanalytic studies, Justin Clemens.

He called the pair's argument "disgusting in the extreme, and symptomatic of a failure of contemporary legal ethics".

Professor Bagaric said that one of the reasons that he and Mrs Clarke had submitted the paper to a American law journal was because they are more open to new ideas on human rights.

"What has surprised me is how different the reaction has been in the US and Australia," he said. "At my talk in the US, some people were for torture, some were against, but most people realised there were different sides of the argument.

"You didn't get the kind of emotive comments that I've had here in Australia, saying that this view is horrendous, unthinking, and irresponsible."

"Let's say that straight after the first plane hit in New York you had a person in custody who admitted they had overheard the S11 organisers' plans and knew there were going to be further attacks, but then refused to say any more. In those circumstances you would start with a minimum degree of harm. If that didn't work, you would escalate it ... I think as a society we would accept that one person being killed to save thousands is legitimate." Professor Mirko Bagaric, head of Deakin University's Law School

"This article is a stain on Deakin University's reputation." Brian Walters SC, Liberty Victoria president

"It's the most extreme argument that I've seen for torture." Paris Aristotle, Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture

Another insult to be sorry for

Tony Abbott is at it again. No, not making misguided claims of paternity, this time casting aspersions on the wellbeing of other people’s children. Tony, in his role of Health Minister, made the claim that aborigines would be healthier if they chose to “eat better and exercise more”. Wow, give the man a degree in Public Health for that one!

From anyone else this could maybe passed off as naïve, however from a senior politician this comes under the category of gross cultural insensitivity at the least. He has chosen to turn a blind eye as to the causes of the disintegrating health of our indigenous people. But first lets actually look at one large factual error. Tony, spend a week in a remote community and see just how challenging it is to eat well. Fresh vegetables are rare and when they are sourced the prices far exceed those for the same produce elsewhere in the country. Eating well in a city of choice is one thing, in an isolated, dusty community entirely something else. The other side to the equation is an implication that indigenous children’s main health concerns have the same aetiology of middle class kids, obesity. As previously ranted, Australian children are obscenely overweight and perhaps they are the ones who would benefit most from ‘eating better and exercising more’. Indigenous children have a more complex raft of health and social problems to deal with. Certainly nutrition plays a major role in their immunity and even mental wellbeing. But the number one immediate health threat to many of these kids is solvent abuse. A cheap but deadly way to get out of it.

When dissecting the health needs of these communities, yes they need hands on medical support which the budget is tossing some resources at, but more than anything they need self esteem. With a dominant culture that refuses to say sorry for killing, plundering, raping and kidnapping its ancestors is it any surprise that forthcoming generations see no point in participating with the world they have been born into?

Friday, May 13, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

As the invaders continue plundering the Iraqi resources, claiming them as costs for their ‘humanitarian’ effort to liberate the country from their tyrannical leader, the children continue to starve. Currently about 23% of children in Iraq suffer from malnutrition. They were one of the biggest victims of the West’s sanctions on the country under it’s previous regime. This alarming statistic has not improved under the US and allied forces occupation.

Conversely here in Australia, news has broken that 20% of children are obese. The juxtaposition between the wellbeing of children in these two countries is obscene. While our affluence creates invalids of our youngest generation, our mistaken foreign policy appear to perpetuate they cycle of poverty and hunger in a country we claim to be aiding.

Perhaps the answer is a house swap. How about we exchange the families from Irag and Australia with opposing child health needs for 6 months. We can bulk up those little ones from Iraq in no time, while saving money from our own health system by sending our kids to a fat camp, Bagdhad style.

Just a thought.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Cancer cures from unlikely places

I often wonder what inspires research scientists, perhaps rave culture now attracts a wider variety of nerds? Keep in mind the study is still in the test tube, generally the dodgiest of scientific hypotheses. Sadly the theoretical dosage is lethal at this point, but what a way to go.

(from the BBC News online)
Ecstasy can block cancer growth

Ecstasy and anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac have the potential to stop cancer cell growth, research has found.

A University of Birmingham team tested the impact of amphetamine derivatives such as Ecstasy and weight-loss pills, and antidepressants including Prozac.

They found the drugs were effective at blocking cancer growth in more than half of lymphoma (white blood cell cancer) samples tested.

It is hoped the FASEBJ Journal study will will lead to new cancer therapies.
The study focused on 17 samples of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and multiple myeloma.

Cancer growth was slowed down in nine out of the 17 samples when they were exposed to antidepressants, and in 11 out of 17 when exposed to one or both of the amphetamine derivatives.

Researcher Professor John Gordon said: "We think that a range of psychotropic agents that are being used, or sometimes abused, for other reasons will now help us in our fight against all different types of cancer.

"We are excited that drugs like Prozac are effective in killing these types of cancer cells, as these antidepressants are in such wide circulation and have an impressive safety record."

Ecstasy difficulty

However, the researchers stressed that the use of ecstasy was not so straightforward - the dose required to block cancer growth was so high it would kill the patient.

Dr Nick Barnes, who also worked on the study, said he was still hopeful the drug could be one day be used to combat cancer.

"Perhaps by breaking down the actions of this designer drug we can extract its cancer killing properties from more general toxic effects associated with its use.

The research was supported by the Leukaemia Research Fund. Spokesman Dr David Grant welcomed the findings.

He said: "Around 10,000 people are diagnosed with a lymphoma in the UK each year and so the possibility that some of these patients can be treated with antidepressants that have cancer-killing properties is truly remarkable.

"Clearly there is a lot more work to do before this became a reality but it is very exciting that there may be other, much less aggressive ways, of treating this particular cancer."

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/health/4532569.stm

Published: 2005/05/10 10:29:37 GMT

Monday, May 09, 2005

the politics of god

In previous posts I have pre-empted this by noting that the opposition Leader has begun to sprinkle his sound bites with Christian rhetoric. Now a more direct approach has come from the ranks of the Labour party. Kevin Rudd wants to “reclaim religion for the ALP”, according to last nights “Compass” program on the ABC. The shadow minister for foreign affairs believes that Christian voters should no longer remain the domain of the conservative parties. Accordingly he has outed himself as a churchgoer and wants to grab a slice of the pie.

While a handful of MP’s showed their faces on camera attending the party’s new committee on “faith, values and politics”, it was noted that the presence of the film crew may be responsible for the fewer than usual numbers. The leader of the party, who openly prays for hostage Douglas Wood, was not in attendance. It was implied that the prevalent culture of the ALP is a godless one and that by making a grab for the Christian vote they may be displacing some of their traditional constituency. This implied Kevin was a Very Brave Man, to attempt to put his catholic values on the table.

Rudd talked uncomfortably about his vision of the party embracing the “fully rounded christian gospel”. He made it clear this was a Christian socialist vision of an all caring government who nurtured everyone within its borders, trying to distance himself from the Bush Born Again ideology.

But I found something about this both cynical and a bit insidious. Julia Gilard captured the cynicism, by acknowledging the ALP “shouldn’t be shy at forging connections with the evangelical churches”. Hers came across as the words of a strategist not a believer. Lindsay Tanner got his face on the box, no doubt part of his desperate attempt to raise his profile before the next leadership spill, saying nothing memorable, making no clear statement on his position. This is the same MP who recently decided to not make it clear where he stood on abortion. As the holder of a relatively safe central Melbourne, small l liberal seat, it seems to be another piece of politicking so as not to polarise the wider community if he were to become leader.

Insidious? If this is not wholly a cynical political move on behalf of the ALP, then the christianisation of a previously non aligned major party is of great concern. Do we want our nation’s agenda to be dictated by a group of fundamentalists? I fear this heralds a firm continuation of the West sliding further into the mire of conservatism. These are very interesting times.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Another strike for 'equality'

News of more equality in sex offender sentencing continues this week. Yesterday Melbourne school teacher Karen Ellis had her suspended sentence overturned and has been sent to prison for 6 months for her 6 week sexual relationship with a 15 yo student. The Court of Appeal judges mentioned that they were giving her the same sentence they would a man in this situation.

It is an interesting situation, the boy was very happy indeed with the relationship but it was his mother that blew the whistle. The mother blames the relationship on her 'loosing' her son who has become estranged from her, but reading between the lines it appears to be her moral attitudes that has severed the son-mother bonds.

As always I welcome equality in all its guises, just can't wait for men to do 50% of household chores and women equally represented as CEOs of companies throughout the country.

Strangely punishment always seems to lead rewards in the road to a change in community attitudes once more. Though punishing women for being sexual creatures is certainly not a new thing.

Sex offender teacher weeps as she is jailed

By Stephen Moynihan
May 6, 2005


Karen Ellis was a glamorous physical education teacher who loved being the centre of attention. Not surprisingly, she was the subject of a schoolboy crush.


One day in September 2003 she bumped into a 15-year-old student at the school gym. A dare was posed over a game of basketball. "If I get this in... you can give me a kiss," the boy said to Ellis.


That adolescent remark set off a chain of events that ended yesterday with Ellis being told by three of the state's most senior judges that, as a sex offender, she would have to spend the next six months in jail.


The boy, who had earlier written an emotional plea for Ellis not to be jailed, was not there to see her led by an armed guard to the cells below Melbourne's Court of Appeal.


Nor was her husband, who had supported her in earlier court appearances over her six-week affair with the boy.


Now she was alone, wiping away tears, her wedding ring absent from her finger.


The three Court of Appeal judges were unanimous in their ruling to overturn a November County Court decision to impose a 22-month suspended jail term.

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That decision had sparked an outcry among victims and child abuse and parents' groups, and drawn accusations of leniency, particularly in the aftermath of the case involving international tennis coach Gavin Hopper, who was sentenced to a minimum of two years and three months over a relationship with a Wesley College student in the 1980s.


At the time County Court judge John Smallwood said it was dangerous to compare the two cases as Hopper had shown no remorse and the victim had suffered considerable trauma.


"Those factors do not exist in this particular situation to anything like the extent they occurred in Hopper," Judge Smallwood said.


The Director of Public Prosecutions subsequently appealed, and yesterday succeeded.


two years and eight months' jail, with all but six months suspended.


At her sentencing in the County Court, Judge Smallwood said he had shown "a degree of mercy", but Ellis' conduct could not be condoned. Her life had become "a freak show", she would never teach again and would be placed on the sex offenders registry.


For the next 15 years, Ellis has to notify police of where she lives, when children stay at her home and of when she leaves Victoria.


Ellis told police she had an affair with the boy for 61/2 weeks during October and November 2003. In that time she sent the boy 499 text messages, with the pair maintaining contact even after her arrest.


She was charged with six counts of sexual penetration with a child under 16, a crime she admitted at the first instance.


The affair blossomed from stealing kisses at school to having unprotected sex in the Eltham North home she shared with her husband and three children.


On one occasion the pair had sex before Ellis took the boy to McDonald's and then dropped him off at school.


The victim's mother became aware of the affair after seeing her son getting into Ellis' car. The teacher and her son looked like "husband and wife".


Yesterday, the boy's mother told a Melbourne radio station that she felt justice had finally been done.


"At times she (Ellis) didn't seem to have any understanding of just how evil it was what she'd done," the mother said.


The woman no longer has a relationship with her son. She worries about her boy.


"I still don't have my son and I'm not sure if I ever will," she said.


On several occasions the boy has said he suffered no trauma over the affair, even going as far to go on a television show to say that although he felt guilty about Ellis' predicament, he had not been seduced.


"Everyone at school thought she was a bit of all right and so did I," he said.


Yesterday, the founder of the Bravehearts organisation for abuse victims, Hetty Johnston, said Ellis was finally paying the price for her actions.


"If they can't keep their hands off our kids they shouldn't be teachers," Ms Johnston said.


There was a similar reaction from Gail McHardy, president of Parents Victoria. "It sends a powerful message to the community that people in positions of trust (have) to be accountable, regardless of their gender."


The judge presiding over the Court of Appeal, Justice Frank Callaway, said the earlier sentence was too lenient and did not reflect the seriousness of the crime. "It can be only explained by unconscious sympathy with a female offender or belief that no real harm has been done to the victim," he said. "The respondent (Ellis) violated the victim's mother's trust and the trust that the community reposes in the teaching profession."


Justice Callaway said the failure to jail Ellis had "unintentionally violated the rule of equality before the law, including equality of concern for male and female victims and equality in the sentencing of male and female offenders".


"Nevertheless I have concluded that, even now, the respondent must be required to serve part of her sentence in prison. Unless that is done, the principle of equality will not be observed."


Ellis, 37, was sentenced to two years and eight months' jail, with all but six months suspended.


At her sentencing in the County Court, Judge Smallwood said he had shown "a degree of mercy", but Ellis' conduct could not be condoned. Her life had become "a freak show", she would never teach again and would be placed on the sex offenders registry.


For the next 15 years, Ellis has to notify police of where she lives, when children stay at her home and of when she leaves Victoria.


Ellis told police she had an affair with the boy for 61/2 weeks during October and November 2003. In that time she sent the boy 499 text messages, with the pair maintaining contact even after her arrest.


She was charged with six counts of sexual penetration with a child under 16, a crime she admitted at the first instance.


The affair blossomed from stealing kisses at school to having unprotected sex in the Eltham North home she shared with her husband and three children.


On one occasion the pair had sex before Ellis took the boy to McDonald's and then dropped him off at school.


The victim's mother became aware of the affair after seeing her son getting into Ellis' car. The teacher and her son looked like "husband and wife".


Yesterday, the boy's mother told a Melbourne radio station that she felt justice had finally been done.


"At times she (Ellis) didn't seem to have any understanding of just how evil it was what she'd done," the mother said.


The woman no longer has a relationship with her son. She worries about her boy.


"I still don't have my son and I'm not sure if I ever will," she said.


On several occasions the boy has said he suffered no trauma over the affair, even going as far to go on a television show to say that although he felt guilty about Ellis' predicament, he had not been seduced.


"Everyone at school thought she was a bit of all right and so did I," he said.


Yesterday, the founder of the Bravehearts organisation for abuse victims, Hetty Johnston, said Ellis was finally paying the price for her actions.


"If they can't keep their hands off our kids they shouldn't be teachers," Ms Johnston said.


There was a similar reaction from Gail McHardy, president of Parents Victoria. "It sends a powerful message to the community that people in positions of trust (have) to be accountable, regardless of their gender."

The Age 6/5/05

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Reality TV, Iraqi style

Douglas Wood doesn’t want to die. We have the video to prove it. Mujahahedden militants hold a gun to his head as he utters his pleas. It is compelling ‘reality tv’. As much as I believe that Australian (et al) troops do not belong in Iraq, I am suspicious that if Mr Wood believed this too, he would not have been there in the first place.

News reports of just what he is doing there is sketchy. Most reporters fall on the catch phrase that he is “working as a private contractor on reconstruction projects for the US military” whatever that means. In his 60’s he seems a tad too old to be a mercenary, but not impossible as this is the true job of many of the ‘contractors’ that now populate Iraq. He is a middle class man with a family who wanted to chase the dollar and ignore the risks. Greed in other words. It is a gamble that looks like it hasn’t paid off.

I doubt Douglas Wood is in the same boat as many of the Fijjian contractors lured there by Bush’s recruiters. For the last year or so the military has been visiting many of the numerous, far flung Fijiian villages luring able bodied young men away from their communities with American dollars and contracts in Iraq helping them ‘rebuild’ a foreign country many of them have never heard of. I don’t want to paint these kids as ignorant but it is fair to say they are hugely under resourced, in a village with one phone, no electricity and not plugged into the net – what do they know of the situation? All they hear is more money than they have ever dreamed of and a ticket out of a tiny world of subsistence living and no employment prospects. As the young men leave so do most of the hands that are vital to the daily running of the village.

While the saga of Douglas Wood’s holiday with the Mujahedeen unfold,s back in the country of his birth the politicians put on grave faces and invoke god. I am sure his family are comforted that he is in the prayers of opposition leader ‘bomber’ Beasley, who seems to have taken a leaf out of the Prime Minister’s book when it comes to peppering sound bites with Christian homolies.

Hostage or not, its time for the troops to come home and leave Iraq to rebuild with dignity and respect.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Everyman's dream? Apparently not!

I don't know about you, but I once had a boyfriend who fantasised about this happening to him. The waking up to a woman going down on him bit, not the sending her to jail for 9 months as a consequence. While I applaud equality and a rape law encompassing that a victim may be drugged for the purpose of not being able to oppose unwanted sex - the bit that i don't get is - the guy genuninely didn't want it?

Norwegian Court Convicts First Woman for Rape
Thu Apr 28, 9:15 AM ET


A Norwegian court has sentenced a woman to nine months in jail for raping a man, the first such conviction in the Scandinavian country that prides itself for its egalitarianism.


The 31-year-old man fell asleep on a sofa at a party in January last year and told the court in the western city of Bergen he woke to find the 23-year-old woman was having oral sex with him.


Under Norwegian law, all sexual acts with someone who is "unconscious or for other reasons unable to oppose the act" are considered rape.


The court sentenced the woman Wednesday to nine months in jail and ordered her to pay 40,000 Norwegian crowns ($6,355) in compensation.


"This is a very harsh sentence," the woman's lawyer, Per Magne Kristiansen, told the Norwegian news agency NTB. The woman argued the man had been awake and consented.


The prosecutor had sought a 10-month sentence and argued the court should not be more lenient with a woman than a man. It was Norway's first conviction of a woman for rape.


Norway has long traditions of equality -- 40 percent of the cabinet of Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, for instance, are women.

Copyright © 2005 Reuters Limited
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