Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Last week New Zealand, this week France.

C’est à vous Julia or Tony

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And now in New Zealand, everyone may marry the person they love.

over to you Julia Gillard… or Tony Abbott.


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Well, what do you know?

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US gun laws are a semi-automatic jaw dropper.

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In Australia, supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths appear to be nothing more than an extortion racket, and those outside the eastern seaboard are captive to them.

Independent supermarkets don’t have the power to properly challenge them, and politicians won’t legislate to challenge them.

From politics there is only spin and rhetoric that bemoans (lip service) the duopoly of Coles and Woollies. The only viable challenger to this situation is a chain that consistently has lower prices across the board… a chain like (the new kid on the block) Aldi, but Aldi will not let go of the security blanket of the Eastern states.

How does Aldi benefit by this?

Stories of how increased competition between the supermarket chains in the eastern states are regular occurrences on television. As the major networks are based in either Melbourne or Sydney, these stories include how Aldi are affecting the pricing of the behemoths Coles and Wollies. These stories, for those outside of the eastern states, do nothing more than to rub the faces of those struggling with grocery prices into their captivity of the two large chains.

The newspapers are the same. read a story in the local newspaper’s website, and there will be links to related stories in newspapers in other cities – like in Brisbane, or Sydney.

It is clear how Coles and Woolworths benefit by this arrangement. In places where there is no serious competition, they can price largely how they like… but put an aldi (or an Aldi-like) supermarket in place for competition, you get cheaper groceries.

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Every day the world turns, history follows its course, countries and governments rise and fall, and our eyes are focussed on what is happening in the here and now.

Suddenly echoes of momentous events long ago can be heard within the din of the contemporary, and the ghosts of those times tap us on the shoulder to point to what they did.

Versailles, and all what it may have stood for, is finally fulfilled on Sunday. The bill the allied powers imposed on Germany in 1919 will have been paid… and the dead can finally rest…. but can we?

What lessons have we learned from the newly fulfilled treaty?

What mistakes do we, to this day, repeat?

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I have read an article or two suggesting that homosexuality does exist not in the natural world, and is therefore not natural. While some animals engage in homosexual behaviour, so the argument goes,  animals are not homosexual, therefore homosexuality (as we understand it) is not natural, is solely a human phenomenon, and is rightly subject to all the prohibitions and sanctions it receives.

If the argument is that an activity or a lifestyle that is not recognised in the animal world is not natural, then I have a question…

Has anyone ever seen an animal practising religion?

Animals do not practise religion… taking the previous argument to its logical conclusion… If animals do not practise religion – religion (as it is understood) can not be natural.

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We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Words from the United States’ declaration of independence, wonderful sentiments, a great creed for a nation to aspire to, a bar by which the US set itself, at its inception, to be measured, and the creed by which I measure the US.

This creed is a dream. It is a dream that Martin Luther King Junior alluded to in his famous 1963 ‘I have a dream’ speech. It is a bar that the US has never reached, but from time to time it does something to show the world that it is aware that that bar is still there. The most recent example of this is the election of Barack Obama. At all other times, the US appears to me, to be at war with what it stands for.

The United States’ ongoing war with its own creed, while frustrating in its outcomes, is highly entertaining to watch.

The California Supreme Court today has guaranteed another series of episodes of this war, specifically the battles surrounding the right to marry, by validating both Proposition 8 (which banned same sex marriage), and those same sex marriages that were legal at the time they were performed. It has guaranteed such a sequel by delivering a decision that gives each side of the issue, both heart, and a direct cause to fight again for their point of view. Conservatives would have been heartened by the court’s validation of prop 8 but not the validation of the 18, 000 marriages. Progressives would have been heartened by the court’s validation of the marriages, but not the validation of prop 8.

Let me set the scene for this inevitable sequel. Same sex marriage is illegal in California as per the legally validated Proposition 8… BUT, the 18,000 same sex marriages that were performed before Prop 8 was voted on have been declared valid. 18, 000 couples are in essence legal precedents. In a state where only straight people can be legally married, these couples are in effect  ‘honorary straights‘ in relation to marriage law.

As I understnand it, and in my opinion, the situation that the California Supreme Court has presented, is not only contradictory, it is untenable and will be resolved in one of two ways.

Firstly ballot initiatives. Opponents of prop 8 will raise signatures to place a question removing prop 8 law from the California Constitution onto the 2010 Ballot; and proponents of prop 8  will also raise signatures to place a question to invalidate the 18,000 marriages onto the same ballot. I cannot wait to read about and follow those battles.

Secondly, the issue will be taken to the US Supreme Court. This is where the whole issue of same sex marriage in the US may eventually have to be resolved anyway, as was the issue of mixed-race marriage resolved there in 1967.

So, coming soon to a news servise or blogsphere near you, a gripping saga with a 2010 release date, PROPOSITION 8 – THE SEQUEL, when the US is once again at war with what it stands for.

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If the denial to gay and lesbian people of the right to marry is based upon a PERCEIVED threat to children – it must then stand to reason that those people who are ACTUALLY a threat to children, or who have who have been found GUILTY of ACTUAL child abuse, ought have their right to marry revoked.

In my opinion, if you take the Christian right’s arguments against marriage equality to their logical conclusion, then the right to marriage can be revoked on many levels. For example, a couple of old chestnuts… Claim – Marriage is about procreation. Logical conclusion – non-productive consummation of marriage is grounds for annulment of that marriage, as they have done damage to the institution as a conduit for procreation… another… Claim – The love between a man and a woman is special/sacred and must be treated as such. Logical Conclusion – Those found guilty of spousal abuse ought have their right to marry revoked, as they have done damage to the institution as a special/sacred loving union.

Religious rightists railing against marriage equality between hetero and homosexual people are not really interested in protecting’ marriage, nor are they really interested in protecting children, nor are they really interested in protecting the wellbeing of those in marriage. They are by their words, coupled by their lack of action in actually doing what they say they are defending, are simply protecting and defending their own ideology and positions of power.

The institution of marriage, of itself, does not create nor protect children, it does not protect those in a marriage from each other, nor does it elevate one class of couple’s love above another’s – for love simply is… The quality of, relevance of, protectiveness of, and the loving and nurturing nature of the institution of marriage can only be generated in the hearts and minds of those involved in such relationships. Such virtues are not the sole preserve of one class of person or couple, are not found in greater or lesser quantities in straight, gay, bi, or asexual people – but are intrinsic to individuals, and are amplified when coupled through love.

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Obama says that he will not prosecute people who practised the actual hands-on torture (enhanced interogation techniques), arguing that those people were carrying out orders and committing acts that they were lead to believed were legal… They were ordered to do something they were told was legal at that time by their county’s powers that be…. they were just following orders… The Nuremberg defence!!!

If torture techniques are important and successful ways of obtaining information for the Americans… wouldn’t torture techniques have been seen as important and successful ways of obtaining information for the Nazis, Japanese, the Chinese, etc.?? and the Americans prosecuted some of those people and some were sentenced to death because of their acts of torture…. But when it is Americans who are accused and implicated in perpetrating torture how thick and fast the excuses flow…I cannot believe that Americans can justify what has gone on through the Bush administration – especially with what is emerging from torture memoranda and discussions.

The logical conclusion to the arguments supporting the “enhanced interrogation techniques” is that the ends justify the means; that is to say that if lives were saved, it doesn’t matter HOW they were saved… it doesn’t matter HOW information was obtained to potentially save those lives, it doesn’t matter HOW the people who threatened those lives were treated – ANY behaviour, ANY policy, ANY technique  can be justified if the desired ends are achieved… If Americans believe that, then America (the idea of what America once claimed itself to be. The dream of what America stood for – as articulated in its Declaration of independence) as a moral leader in the world is dead, and George W Bush killed it… I hope Obama will not be the undertaker but the resuscitator.

I understand that by international law and by treaty, waterboarding is defined as torture. The US is a signatory to such laws and treaty and as such is duty bound to act against those who prepared and perpetrated such torture… all else is hypocrisy.

Prosecute the guilty without fear or favour

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