Despite the best efforts by the Pentagon to conceal or distort the facts, cases of American soldiers mass murdering Iraqi civilians keep on surfacing, to the horror and outrage of most of the world.
The latest bloodbath happened in the town of Ishaqi, where American marines burst into a family home, murdering 11 people, including five children (one of them only six months old), and a 75-year-old grandmother. All of them were shot in the head at point-blank range by the marines, who then proceeded to bulldoze the house on top of the murdered family, in an attempt to conceal their crime.
Lets just pause here for a moment, and ask: what kind of creature could point a rifle to the head of a six-month-old baby and then go on pulling the trigger?
It is inconceivable that humans would behave this way at the turn of the 21st century.
It is also unbelievable that Australia is allied to and supporting a country that goes on behaving like this over and over again. That support by Australia is untenable both in the moral and in the pragmatical sense.
The moral point should be self-evident, or else you need urgent psychiatric intervention.
As far as pragmatism is concerned, there is an old saying: If you sleep with dogs, you will wake up with fleas. And on this scale, the bite of the flea could even collapse a couple of skyscrapers, as we have already seen.
A law unto themselves
In a grotesque example of hypocrisy and dishonesty last week, the US president called for his troops in Iraq to attend classes on the laws and ethics of warfare following the revelations of the latest US military atrocity in a depressingly long list of such outrages.
Any war crimes committed by US troops in Iraq are a consequence of the initial and far greater war crimes committed by the US government in the invasion of Iraq and other practices such as extreme rendition, a euphemism for torture in another country, and operating an illegal prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, outside its own courts jurisdiction. These acts are outlawed by the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.
The invasion of Iraq is itself a violation of international law. There does not have to be a Security Council resolution to oppose it. The UN Charter outlaws attacks against any country except in self-defence.
Clearly the USA was not defending itself against Iraq, an absurd suggestion, which is why they trumped up the WMD allegations in an attempt to justify the invasion. They now claim the removal of the evil dictator Saddam Hussein is the justification for invasion. Why then did they not invade Iraq 20 years earlier instead of sending Donald Rumsfeld there as an arms salesman?
If the US government violates international laws and conventions of warfare as and when it suits itself is it any wonder that its soldiers do likewise? If the sovereignty of other nations can be ignored and brushed aside without a second thought then so too can the rights and even lives of their citizens. Anybody who opposes this world order and tries to do anything about it is, of course, labelled a terrorist.
I would remind people living on Mongogarie and Upper Mongogarie Road and associated areas that Richmond Valley Council has reduced road funding for our area from $100,000 to $20,000 for this year. This is outrageous in view of the developments which are taking place in Upper Mongogarie: a chicken factory and a subdivision of land. Also, in view of the continuing poor state of lower Mongogarie, it is entirely unsatisfactory.
Objections to the Draft Management Plan in which this reduced budget appears must be lodged with the Council by this Friday, June 9. I urge everyone to inform the Council that we expect a better deal. Also, in the future, as our roads deteriorate under this increased traffic, Request Action Management System (RAMS) forms are available at the Council to lodge a complaint about the state of our roads.
A sign of the times?
Recently, Istood up for myself, politely and respectfully, when a constable wanted to book me for speeding through a roadworks zone, where there were no roadworks, on the way to Casino. He lost his cool. I kept mine. He regained his cool, listened to my argument and kindly let me off. 60kph on a 100kph road when there are no roadworks is just plain stupid. It must be illegal of the RTA and the Council to incorrectly sign a road. These false signs have been left there when workmen are not presentand no work is being done. It has been happening for at least the 12 months that I have been noticing this malpractice. We become, then, like Pavlovs dog, which salivated when the bell rang but no dog food was being served. It is called classical conditioning in psychology. Are we like dogs to be trainedby signs that have no meaning but must be taken literally? This is the Australia of the politically correct, the bureaucrat, the legal eagle, the signs that have no substance, the obeying of signs that have no meaning other than the literal meaning, an Australia where seeing the obvious is being an enemy of the people. What has Australia come to?
Phew! That was close we almost lost another of the family jewels. For now, weve still got the Snowy Hydro.
Privatisation has already claimed many of our icons Qantas, the Commonwealth Bank, Telstra and now Medibank Private and others we dont know about are in the pipeline.
Where will it all end?
Now, the old mantra, just as it was with Weapons of Mass Destruction, is being orchestrated with the nuclear debate, with talk about supply, disposal, power stations.
How about pouring large resources and development into solar energy and giving non-privatisation priority. It could be economically feasible, especially since nobody owns the sun.
Walk a mile in my shoes
I write in regard to Lynne Oldfields letter (Echo, May 25).
Lynne, you refer to the medication of ADHD children as expensive, ineffective, self-indulgent and often fatal. Do you have a child with ADHD? Both my 11-year-old sister and her eight-year-old friend have the condition. Contrary to popular opinion, these children are not merely naughty kids whose parents keep them drugged up because they cant cope. Do you understand, Lynne, what it is like to fear for your childs life every minute of every day? Before medication, my sister would repeatedly bang her head against the wall, screaming that she hated herself, and often attempted to run onto the highway while waiting for the school bus. Her young friend repeatedly ran away from school, disappearing into deserted cane fields.
So Lynne, before you refer to the medication of children with ADHD as a symptom of a decaying, drug-addicted society, think about what you would do if your little girl not only wished she was dead, but risked her life on a daily basis.
Way to go
In the words of Lynne Oldfield (Echo, May 25) western society is in a state of decay, but marijuana and escapism are not the answer.
To take individual responsibility and develop mental stability through meditation, that is the legitimate way.
That may seem a long and lonely process but the question is raised Is life indulgence or is it suffering?
Through personal experience and as a Buddhist, I believe the latter to be the case. One only has to look at the results of the earthquake in Indonesia or the troubles in Timor to see examples.
Once this fundamental question has been answered, then a being sees that it is more profitable to expend what energy they have acknowledging through meditation, or perhaps even helping those less fortunate.
Two much fluoride
There are two, of many, flourides that are commonly spoken about in relation to the health of teeth. Two very different products. In fact its like lemons and bananas: one is sour and the other is sweet, but are both called fruit.
1. Sodium Fluoride (NaF) also Hexafluorosilic acid salt (Na2SiF6) (ANA Sodium Fluoride); and
2. Calcium Fluoride CaF2.
Sodium fluoride is a manufactured chemical, a difficult to dispose of industry waste product. It is used for fluoridating water supplies and toothpaste because it is soluble. It is a toxic and corrosive poison.
Calcium fluoride occurs naturally. Is available in a tablet, a gum to chew and paints for dentist application. It has numerous proven health benefits to humans and is only toxic in large doses.
The man in the street is largely unaware of what is going into the water supply because the media over time has spoken of fluoride and its benefits. In most part they would not know which fluoride they were writing about. Ask most people the question, Do you think it would be a good idea to fluoridate the water supply? and the answer in apparent ignorance would be yes. Explain the difference and the answer is very different.
The apparent tactic used by NSW Health in conducting their survey makes it obvious that they wish to force fluoride into the water supply no matter what. For any council or Rous Water to hand the decision to NSW Health is as futile as jumping out of an airplane without a parachute.
The makers of The Da Vinci Code movie, recently reviewed in The Echo, might be facing plagiarism charges.
The old-message-in-blood trick is a plot lifted from an episode of Get Smart in which an agent with vital information is gunned down whilst waiting for Max.
Before dying, he spells out a message on the wet cement of a foundation stone against which he is lying. This is carried back to Control HQ, but makes no sense till the Chief explains its a brilliant idea a code by which a dying agent can get his last message back.
The Chief takes out a file, the likes of which Max has never seen. It rolls out from both sides, and rolls out, and rolls out, like some great, long, ancient parchment, the writing in wonky, drunken looking letters, lying on their sides, as though spilt from packets of alphabet soup. The Chief tells them, These are The Dead Spy Scrawls.
Is there room for another conspiracy theory? Is KAOS another tentacle of Opus Dei?
Re: In the name of the Lord (Echo, June 1).
As JW Joubert has published his (or her?) Statement of Beliefs his fanatical (sic) religious (sic) beliefs the only way this good man can now live without violating his conscience and making himself the ultimate hypocrite (rather than those of us who drive our cars to church to fellowship with our friends and Friend on Sabbath), is to now go and live, naked, in a cave somewhere out in never-never. (He would have to be naked as he couldnt even take his clothes with him they were made on wicked metal machines running on wicked electricity in wicked factories. Perhaps he could sew some fig-tree leaves together and make himself some breeches. Oh, but then, that too might smite his conscience, using the resources of nature tu-tut! Mustnt destroy now, must we?)
So as he is going forth from us now, to live his new life as a caveman, I wish him all happiness and goodwill for the future. I do not expect a reply back from him, unless he chooses to make a retraction, admitting that he took an extreme position? Why, in his view, even owning a Bible must add to the general destruction of things (trees had to be cut down to make the paper, electricity used, metal printing presses, transportation, on and on and on).
In response to B Parker (Echo, June 1).
Actually the debate on the topic of gay and lesbian marriage in this letters column stopped being healthy some time ago. It had long since been reduced to clichs, generalisations, and esoteric quotes from the bible.
But you took it to an even lower level to that of personal attacks. I could justifiably reply in kind, but I wont.
For the record, I was hoping that the Editor, who has ultimate control over what is published and what is not published, would use my letter as a line in the sand. As a chance for all readers of The Echo to start discussing things they actually can influence because endless debate on the legality and morality of gay and lesbian marriages will not change peoples views.
In politics, you need to choose both your battles and your battlegrounds wisely. The readers of the NR Echo letters pages are well aware that some feel aggrieved at, and disagree with, the status quo. Some of us agree with you. Some dont.
Nevertheless, the endless barrage of letters does not help promote the change you are seeking. People are either with you or theyre against you. But the longer this debate in this letters column, the more Joe and Joanne Average (the people who you really want to influence) will tune out to your message. You will have lost ground, not gained it.
Write to politicians. Get petitions signed. Do all those things. But in this letters column a tanker full of oil is being forced down a straw.
As for me keeping my opinions to myself again that is the Editors decision. But I am a Lismore ratepayer. And while I dont live in the area at the moment, I am sure you will be pleased to hear that I will one day return. As such, I feel as entitled to expressing my view in the local paper as the next person.
Since the Editor saw fit to publish your letter to me, I trust I will at least be allowed to respond.
While there is room in the letters pages and no-one else is missing out on space as a result, people are welcome to continue this debate. Ed.
In last weeks Echo P De Gray writes, Denying a group access to rights others in the same society freely enjoy purely on the basis of sexual orientation is and always will be discrimination, no matter how you disguise it.
I wonder what his view would be about the Charity Freedom and Diversity political party in Amsterdam who this week announced they want to cut the legal age for sexual relations to 12 and legalise child pornography and sex with animals.
Thanks from sold-out symphony
On behalf of the committee and members of the Lismore Symphony Orchestra, I wish to thank the people of Lismore and surrounding towns for their support of our concert featuring Carmina Burana held at Lismore City Hall on Sunday, May 28.
Although over 500 seats were sold, many more people were disappointed when tickets sold out the week before the concert.
Thanks must go to this newspaper for the support given to this musical production.
I wish to apologise to those who missed out on tickets, and trust that you will continue to support your community orchestra in the next series to be held later this year.
A sorry effort
I write on the evening of May 26, when TV news declared Today National Sorry Day ceremonies of reconciliation were held across the nation.
But where I live, one would hardly have noticed it. Did the past weeks newspapers mention it?
Hardly a single word, article or report about that important weeks events. Not in the Northern Star, Northern Rivers Echo or North Coast Advocate.
I try the NSW Reconciliation Council website. Only one solitary Far North Coast happening nourished the Spirit of Reconciliation in Byron Bay, reported in Saturdays Northern Star.
I publicly call upon our leaders to each tell us what you did to foster reconciliation in Reconciliation Week. How did you personally strive to touch the people of this region with the reconciliation spirit? What did you each do to help say sorry to our indigenous friends?
Speak up: Federal members Causley and Elliot; state members George and Page; every elected Lismore and Ballina councillor; every council heritage officer; and every newspaper editor. Were you all on holidays?
Good government involves being reminded at least once a year of the single deepest and most enduring source of grievance, shame and discontent that our nation knows; our treatment of the first inhabitants.
Hear Professor Robert Manne (Sydney Morning Herald, May 23): The Howard Prime Ministership has had a strangely mesmeric quality that has put the national moral conscience to sleep.
How true. Does anyone in government national, state or local still have a moral conscience?