Write on



I trust your readers enjoyed the parody of a review of the ABC's "Foreign Correspondent" program on Bougainville (GLW 23/6/93) by Max Watts and Norm Dixon as much as I did.

Just seeing the name Max Watts as a by-line was enough to get me giggling.

But I was roaring with laughter when I got to the third paragraph and read that our program on Bougainville was "the most dishonest" (wait for it) "ever screened"!

I suspect the art of the good parody is to set the parameters early. So you can imagine my anticipation when Watts and Dixon wrote about "a highly distorted picture based on deliberate omissions, falsifications and manipulation of facts".

Then, without erring once, they proceeded to do exactly that.

To save space I'll just deal with the two paragraphs that followed this statement. First, it wasn't "the local PNGDF commanders" who refused to talk or help us — they were ordered not to by the PNGDF Commander in Port Moresby. Second, I never claimed the BRA refused us entry anywhere. Third, Ona's fury at our presence was confirmed by Martin Mirori, the secessionist spokesman in Honiara, who was at the other end of the line when the threat was made, and who tried to dismiss the seriousness of it by saying "it was a joke, probably."

The reality on Bougainville is that most of the people are fed up with mayhem. It was these Bougainvilleans who provided us with "protection". We got away from the PNGDF. Indeed, the only two interviews we conducted when the military was present never went to air. And, as I made it clear in the program, the people haven't given up on Independence — they've given up on the BRA.

Enough. The review was a good laugh.

And amongst those most amused are Bougainvilleans who have had to live through the tragedy. They appreciate the irony of reading what those who haven't been to Bougainville wish the story was like.
Sean Dorney
ABC Papua New Guinea Office

FBI plots

It is obvious that the US security budget needs protection. With no reds under the bed we have brown fundas in the tunnels. Was it a comedy? No it's the FBI and what a corny script.

For color, we have talk of gunpowder, all right for Fawkes but hardly practical for a self-respecting terrorist. And what a consuming list of targets! These and the course of action continuously blabbed to an FBI interloper, who must have had his face blackened. One of course was linked to the WTC bombing, obviously a professional who didn't know too much about bomb making.

The obvious simple big bang would be ammonium nitrate-fuel oil mix and a terrorist who knew his ammonium salt would store this harmless mixture conveniently in the original plastic bags. To pack and charge in the vehicle on appointment. A concrete-mixer or a shovel would be convenient to mix in the critical 6% diesel fuel. In the story one Muslim had a gas station to provide this small quantity of fuel.

As some of the 8, being supernumerary to the tasks, were leaving the US the FBI brought the raid on the "bomb factory" forward. By sheer serendipity they caught them mixing (in 44 gal. drums?) this "witches brew" and it was said that the fumes of this witches brew nearly overcame them! One Muslim with obvious admiration said "we didn't know you were amongst us." Another who had seen FBI movies said "we could get you anytime". The FBI spokeswoman who had seen the same movie said "no you couldn't (buster) no you couldn't."

Then why wouldn't the western media take it seriously?
Dr D J Dawson
Bairnsdale Vic

Environmental vandalism

The text of President Clinton's speech

informs us that one of the reasons for the US cruise missile attack against Baghdad is to punish Saddam Hussein for "environmental vandalism". Coming from the country which devastated Vietnam with defoliants, irradiated countless thousands from its nuclear tests in Nevada and the Pacific and now, most recently, has given thousands of US, British and, maybe, Australian Gulf War veterans radiation sickness (Age, June 24) that's rich!

According to US military papers obtained by the "Foreign Correspondent" team (ABC TV, June 19), the radiation dangers from detonated Uranium depleted (UD) ordnance were well known but were not conveyed to the troops or to the Iraqis. Now Iraqi and perhaps Kuwaiti children and adults are suffering the consequences — hair loss, bleeding gums, facial paralysis and chromosome and genetic damage. Countless thousands may be affected.

Rather than target Baghdad it's a pity those cruise missiles aren't fitted with moral crap detectors, in which case they would take out the Pentagon and the White House! Canberra's Russell Hill should also be targeted for sending Aussie soldiers to fight yet another neo-imperialist war.
Gareth W R Smith
O'Connor ACT

Retrospective legislation

Retrospective legislation making illegal acts that were legal when they were committed is obnoxious enough.

Even more obnoxious is retrospective legislation that legalises acts that contravened existing legislation.

Yet the Australian Government intends to do just that by legalising every illegal extinction of native title done by various governments since 1975 in contravention of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Two questions arise: Is that act worthless when it comes to Aboriginal people? If so, why did Australia bother sending delegates to the recent international conference on human rights?
C.M. Friel
Alawa NT

US celebrations

The 5th July edition of the Sydney Morning Herald featured a photograph of a white American holding aloft a (presumably) African-American child during the US Independence Day celebrations at Darling Harbour.

This happy picture belies the true state of affairs in USA. It is ironic that a few days previously the US Supreme Court ruled that it is "constitutional" to execute juveniles in Texas, and most of the death row juveniles in Texas are African-Americans. Curtis Harris was executed by lethal injection (poison) on 1st July and Gary Graham is likely to be executed today (July 5), for alleged crimes committed under the age of 18. Both boys are (or were) African-Americans.

I notice there were no photographs of the people at Darling Harbour who were protesting the executions being carried out in USA.
Stephanie Wilkinson
Seven Hills NSW

Army manual

I think that we should not be surprised at the existence of the army's Manual of Land Warfare as discussed by Greg Ogle in your June 23rd edition. The world over, the role of the military is one of the active repression of people's basic human rights. It would be more surprising if our army didn't have any such plans for the suppression of internal dissent.

What the leaking of this document really does, is remind us of the ruthless determination of the owning classes to retain their privileges. Time and again we have seen the military step in when such evils as a populist government is elected: Spain, Chile, Indonesia, even Fiji; all have suffered under coups and subsequent dictatorships.

That such extreme events are possible in Australia seems remote. However, we have already seen a willingness on the government's part to use the military in civil issues here in our own nation. The army has been used for breaking strikes on the wharves in the past, and more recently the airforce was used as scab labour in the pilots dispute. In both examples it was a so-called labour government involved.

The existence of such plans of repression starkly show the limitations of bourgeois parliamentary democracy and remind us all that a struggle for a free and equitable society is an uncompromising one — that takes place in our places of work, in our homes and on the streets.
David Munro
Northcote Vic

Urban ecology

Urban Ecology Australia is a non-profit community group set up with the specific aim of making our cities worth saving. The EcoCity 2 Conference we organised last year in Adelaide brought together researchers and activists on the cutting edge of the ecological city movement worldwide.

It is encouraging to see Greenpeace addressing the problems of our urban environment ("Greenpeace — How to save our cities?", GLW 9/6/93). However, it is sad to see an organisation which has been an inspiration to the whole of the environmental movement for so long, losing its way over the means to this end.

The jargonistic vagueness and condescending air of Karla Bell's description of Greenpeace's current gameplan, show an admirable grasp of the language of the government. I hope that acting like politicians is not what Greenpeace mean by "taking a leadership role". (I am still trying to work out how the Biodiversity Treaty "will stabilise greenhouse emissions by the year 2000".) Direct speech and direct action, by contrast, have always been the essence of Greenpeace's popularity.

There are other ways of creating a showpiece of ecological city than prostituting ourselves to the Sydney Olympics campaign which wants to waste millions on circuses when all too many of us lack bread.

The Halifax EcoCity Project proposed for the Adelaide City Council's old depot site in the centre of the city would provide a real demonstration of what an ecocity could be like. The process of making this proposal a reality is itself a model of the principles of grassroots democracy and community empowerment by which a city must be shaped if it is to be truly ecological. Anyone who wishes to become part of this

process can contact Urban Ecology Australia (08) 223 3197.
David Munn

Bombing of Baghdad

The recent missile attack on Baghdad must be seen as another US attempt to convince the outside world about US military superiority.

And this is done by the combined powers of the CIA, the Pentagon and the entire defence industry together overruling a president who himself is not trigger-happy, thank God! Mind you, even the President in the US is also a mere tool of these bodies. Indeed, to remain leaders in world affairs one must show military superiority sometimes.

This time the excuse was the visit of Mr Bush to Kuwait and the subsequent murder plot conjured up there and then. And all murder plots are good for playing games in politics for the reason that you can accuse anyone you like afterwards. Anyway, what was Mr Bush doing in Kuwait?

If missiles are fired on Baghdad just after one visit of Mr Bush to Kuwait, could not Sydney also have been hit by US missiles? After all, Mr Bush has been here on a visit also one or two years ago and here in Australia it is quite easy to find some crims who for money are prepared to say that they were involved in some sort of murder plot.

So let us not blame President Clinton for missile attacks no matter what the media say, but let us rather be on the lookout for certain events in politics that could be used as an excuse to undertake missile attacks and if possible, a major war.

And the Middle East is always a good place to start a major war. After all it is an old fashioned global war that always brings in the money for big business and there is nothing more important than the economy of the nation, is there? That is why ex-presidents can be used the same way as K.A.L. planes which are ordered to fly over enemy territory (that is, being off course by only 200 km by "accident").

Yes there is more to politics than just

setting fire to oil wells and keeping them out of order for a long time. That is why Mr Bush, though he is not president any more, can still be useful in many different ways. Timing is very important in business as well as politics and that is why missile attacks can be arranged at such time as not to interfere with human rights conferences, because human rights and missile attacks just don't go together.
H. Hout
[Edited for length.]

Clinton's undoing

President Clinton's obscene attack on Baghdad recently — an action which I believe will destroy him both physically and mentally (much the way Vietnam did President Johnson) — is the more stupid because of the profundity of this period in our planet's history.

What I find more sickening is the almost gleeful delight emanating from supposed world leaders in praising Clinton's actions. I noted especially President Mitterrand of France — the same president whose government ordered the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand — no doubt he's waiting for a few salutary missiles into the Elysées Palace to assuage his guilt.

And then there's the alleged victim — one George Bush — his the first act of international bastardry by the "New World Order"; the invasion of Panama and the capture of its president ("oh no, not the President, George!") who's now a prisoner of war in the US — not to mention the 5-7000 Panamanian civilians massacred and secretly buried in mass graves. Worthy perhaps of a dignified farewell a la a few flattened US cities. But why would anyone bother; a country that has 70% of its citizens believing in angels and quietly accepts 40,000 gun deaths every year, more needs our sympathy rather than the fully deserved ridicule.
Robert Wood
Surry Hills NSW

.PC 35

Health standards

Recently I attended the first Annual Delegates Conference of the Australian Nursing Federation (SA Branch). Martyn Evans, Minister for Health, filled a 15 minute spot and used it to argue that there is not a crisis in the SA health system.

When challenged that his perception was not congruent with that of nurses, he asserted that if he was going to talk about a crisis he would refer to the situation in Somalia, not that in South Australia.

Such a reply sparked anger and unease in me. Are Somalian standards the measure these days and because they have not yet been met in South Australia should we be filled with joy?

The Arnold strategy depends on lowering of standards and cutting services. Resistance and redirection is needed. Yes, change is needed but it is where the initiative for change comes from and the quality of life created by that change which counts.
Marg McHugh

Republican debate

I know what the republican debate is about. More beer. Darn if I can see anything else in it. The nation is to become one big grog shop.

It stands to reason; don't blink when I run it past you again please: rePUBlic. Get it! It's a debate about pubs, hostelieries, rubberdies, watering holes, rub a dub dubs ... Keating is going into franchising. He is merchandising parliament. Big government is coming to your local.

Imbibe for the nation. Pubs are for people. Public houses for public policy. In grog there is truth. A drunken PM is a truthful man. Share an ale for democracy.

We are on the threshold of a new openness in government. That'll be the spirit (or mixer). Wowsers can go to Woop Woop. PM Paul is only stopping the monarchists from spoiling our fun.

When we raise our proud republican R across the land McDonald's can take their M and go jump. Have a nice day, Australia, because peoples power now comes in a fresh glass.

Even Mrs Meek of Blacktown (pensioner and mother of three grown up children all with far better marriages than some we could mention) can be queen at least for a day under this scheme.She's in

for a right royal time.

So don't knock this cabaret. It's Paul Keating's shout. I can already hear the clinking of glasses as the nation settles in for some serious drinking.
Dave Riley
Nundah Qld

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