The day after...

The day after...

And then came September 12...

And the bombing of two countries back into the stone age. The murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The injuries to hundreds of thousands. The anguish of millions. The destruction, the torture, the damage to all forms of life.

The scarring of body and mind.

Or as Noam Chomsky put it: Revenge knows few limits when the privileged and powerful are subjected to the kind of terror they regularly mete out to their victims.

Tom Koo


Drug testing just pot luck

I dont really think everyone who has used pot within 60 days will get busted in the new roadside saliva testing... thats a misunderstanding in your important story. Probably from me talking too much!

If they test blood, pot can register for even longer than two months, but saliva is a whole new ball game with an element of pot luck it seems.

From what I can find out, if six of us smoke a joint, soon after three of us wont register on saliva, but one or two may still register in a day or two. Then they take you into the big white van...

Its all a bit uncertain and unreliable.

Michael Balderstone

Nimbin HEMP Embassy

Words of encouragement

Thank you Barry Walsh for your support. I appreciate your thoughtful comments, and your excellent sense of humour. I agree that there is always room for change, and we certainly do not have the same views and beliefs for the whole of our lives.

Thanks again,

Sarah Hort (age 13)


Lone danger

Bloody disgrace it was! eard it on the radio not long back. Some old bloke, 73, dies after bein released from ospital up in the Territory. Air ambulance flies im all the way back to is home town an just leaves im on the edge of the airstrip an hes so crook e just wanders off into the bush an dies. Bloody awful, mate. Seems the pilot didnt even check to see if anyone was there to meet im. Fair dinkum, an old fella like that. Mate, ya wouldnt do that to a bloody blackfella!

e was.

e was what?

A blackfella.

Yeah? Geez. Didnt know that... Bit of a shame, eh.

Yeah... Silly ol bugger. e shouldve told em e was comin. Probly is own fault.

Yeah, reckon it woulda been. Anyway, whos gonna win the footie next weekend?

Barry Walsh


Not giving peace a chance

Same old, same old, same old... John Lenon!

What planet does this being come from? Which century is he living in? Surely not an era where ignorance is bliss, he is clearly a very unhappy chappy. Or what about the legal world where ignorance is no excuse? Fear-based ignorance could be a reason, perhaps, for his 19th century Anglo-phobic opinions.

Mostly, I have a problem with his name. Nowadays, I only have to read the first paragraph and run down the voluminous columns to identify him. Same old garbage. A dreadful lifetimes worth of it. If I had any compassion to spare, Id have pity.

Instead, I have a lurking suspicion. In another place, at another time, in a parallel universe, in a very dark, dusty influential location, his non-de-plume/alter ego/devils advocate is channelling this destructive mis-information on his behalf. Perhaps he is a re-incarnation of Joh-Bjelke Peterson, come to berate us from the tomb. At any rate, it doesnt matter, it is all offensive and inaccurate. Poisonous too DO NOT INGEST!

It is too real a bastardisation, a reminder of a much more evolved being who went by the same name. In the words of the real John Lennon theres one thing you cant hide, its when youre crippled inside.

Billie Fonteyne


Hidden dangers of defence

Recently the Prime Minister announced that our defence department would recruit an additional 2000 personnel. As the North Coast has a high percentage of unemployed young people who may be tempted to join up it is essential they are made aware of a grave risk which understandably doesnt get much publicity.

The United States commenced using weapons made from depleted uranium in the 1991 Gulf War and has continued in Afghanistan and the present war in Iraq. Depleted uranium is depleted only in the sense that one form of uranium has been removed to make fuel rods for nuclear power plants. What is left, mainly U238, is highly radioactive and dangerous. This is a very dense material and is used to make military shells, bombs and bullets etc. When these shells strike their target a high percentage of the uranium burns at a high temperature releasing ceramic radioactive particles smaller than a virus. Anyone breathing these has a permanent dose that is very difficult to excrete. After the shock and awe bombing of Baghdad it took only nine hours for these particles to reach Britain. There is no way to clean up and as it has a half-life of four billion years the countries will remain contaminated. Any young person considering a career in the armed forces should consider this danger and do more research.

Bob Duncan


Tortured souls

George W Bush has just sent a Bill to the USA Congress which will make legal some of the following interrogation techniques:

Waterboarding, that is, tying a prisoner to a plank and pouring water through a cloth over his face so he feels as if he is drowning; induced hypothermia by keeping prisoners naked in cold cells and covering them in water; forcing prisoners to stand indefinitely by tying their wrists to ceilings or posts; and sleep deprivation for up to two months.

Not torture, we are reminded, but methods of protecting our way of life against terrorists. No matter that under Stalin, these techniques were perfected. No matter that the terrorist is someone accused. No matter that these techniques are used now on suspects off USA soil (by virtue of rendition).

Oh, another part of that Bill... to legalise the military tribunals the Supreme Court had found unconstitutional in June, and grant retroactive legal impunity to all civilian officials who had authorised torture and war crimes since 9/11.

Now that is an admission that torture and war crimes have been committed by his administration, given that the Bill wants to abolish any right to sue private citizens (such as himself) in the future. Now wheres a Nuremberg trial when you need it?

Is this what happens when democracy is threatened ? Most democratic rights are taken away. Our Government allies us with Bush who together destroy democracy as they destroy lives. David Hicks has a lot to look forward to...

Aniko Cripps Clark


I love Lismore

Having experienced almost eight years in these Northern Rivers, based at Lismore, I have found three things I love about this remarkable and beautiful place. For three years now I have not travelled more than three kilometres from the CBD. So, I believe that this qualifies me to comment.

The first is these very pages of this newspaper; these letters to The Echo editor. No hype of international journalistic propaganda here, just comments on every truly important issue from real actual people. Everything from war commentary, local, national and state politics, thanks for helping a charity statements, conspiracy theories, counter conspiracy theories. In fact so much information that I could categorise these letters ad infinitum. Yes, I learn very much about how ordinary unique folk feel. Also the news it discusses is more valid and down to earth; community rules.

The second joy is the poets night at the Rous, for very much the same reason that these letters are enjoyed by me. Unique and individual opinions, though presented with such remarkable entertainment value, even the occasional amateur poet is enlightening. Still I dont want to build it up too much as it is a quite intimate space and wouldnt like to see it become too crowded. David might have to put the low admission price up.

The third is laughing at the many ridiculous folk like John Lenon (Echo, August 24 and September 7) all he is saying is dont give peace a chance so much unlike his namesake. He says, rather boasts, I am bilious heres more bile. Then says I went to war, lets all hate things as much as me, I have friends like me. Be like me. Just because someone said that we should be kind to illegal immigrants.

Yes, it is fun to laugh at those who love their own ignorance, but it is much easier to love the uniqueness of all, especially in this wonderful Bundjalung land. Keep on going Echo, keep on going poets night and I hope Mr Lenon gets better.

Keith A Stone

North Lismore

Unbiased solution

My reply to Julie Nathan and Colin Cussel.

Both Julie and Colin are mistaken if they think I blame Israel for the problems that country has with Palestine. I have only endeavoured to give the Palestinian side of the problem. The Israeli view, to date, has been given plenty of media coverage. Thankfully this seems to have changed since the Lebanon conflict.

Yes Colin, elections have recently been held in both countries and Israel does favour a two state solution, but not on 1967 borders, so Palestine elects a government they feel will obtain all their 1967 territory. Of course Hamas and Hezbollah are out to destroy Israel but I suspect Israels aim is to destroy Palestine. Why establish colonies in Palestine if this isnt their aim?

Thankfully Julie has given up her original solution of the Arabs giving up their arms and now agrees with my solution of two states on 1967 boundaries. Finally I will repeat what I have proposed all along. The Arabs must recognise the state of Israel and Israel must withdraw to 1967 borders. Where is the bias in this?

L Clarke


Wrong again

Julie Nathan once again is completely wrong in relation to Palestine-Israel (Echo, September 7), this time by claiming, without a shred of evidence, that the majority of Palestinians, and Arab states, still seek the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Arab state, free of Jews.

Apart from the typical Zionist lie that the destruction of the current Zionist state of Israel necessarily entails the murder or expulsion of Jewish Israelis, its not at all clear that most Palestinians still hold to the aim of a single state in all of historic Palestine.

A survey reported by the Al Jazeera website on January 30, soon after Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, found that 73 per cent of respondents believed that Hamas should change its position on the elimination of the state of Israel. Not only did an overall 84 per cent support a peace agreement with Israel, but 77 per cent of Hamas voters also wanted a settlement.

While its not clear what exactly was asked (i.e. many respondents might have been opposing the elimination of Jews rather than a single state), this supports the widely reported view that Palestinians supported Hamas due to its social programs, apparent lack of corruption and determination to fight for their national rights, rather than its formal goal of an Islamic state in historic Palestine (at least one Christian stood on the Hamas ticket, by the way).

While Im no supporter, its important to note that, contrary to Julies false claims, the Hamas charter says nothing of murder or expulsion of Jews, rather: Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions Islam, Christianity and Judaism to coexist in peace and quiet with each other, a view reiterated by Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh in a comment article in the September 9 UK Guardian, in stating it is only through justice that peace will prevail in our region and Muslims, Christians and Jews once again live in harmony.

The second largest party, Fatah, has for decades supported a two state solution. Socialists such as those in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who still (correctly) call for a secular, democratic state in all of historic Palestine (which by the way would have a significant Palestinian majority if the refugees expelled in 1947 returned), do so on the basis that Jewish Israeli workers and poor can eventually understand that Zionism suits not their interests but those of their own ruling class and of US imperialism.

Hopefully Julie will eventually understand that nationalism and racism are just as much divide and rule tactics in the service of the ruling elite in Israel as in Australia, and maybe then stop vilifying a whole people in quite offensive terms.

Nick Fredman


Questionable ethics

Just when you think youve heard it all, Robert Cunningham in his article Ethically Speaking (Echo, September 7) attempts to justify the use of pornography in order to raise money for environmental or other benevolent causes.

There are several things that confuse me about what he says. Perhaps he can clear up my confusion for the benefit of us all.

He claims hes not religious but then goes on to make a very religious claim: everything is sacred. But doesnt that statement everything is sacred mean that nothing in particular is sacred? Isnt that a bit like the wistful lyrics of a recent song: youre special just like everybody else?

And what is the basis for this religious claim? He believes that the entire planet is absolutely amazing. But how does that make it sacred? I think Shane Warne is an absolutely amazing spin bowler, but hey, does that make him sacred?

He claims he has trouble accepting that sex is more sacred than land. But how does that philosophy work out in daily life? Honey Im home lets put the kids to bed early and have some pleasurable and meaningful land tonight! Does that really work? Does the earth move that way for you? Isnt that what philosophers call a category error?

Finally he admits that pornography may not be ethical but he seeks to justify it by claiming that it is no less ethical than the capitalist system itself which relentlessly commodifies the sacred.

Now several things could be argued at this point about the ethics of capitalism, but even if we accept his claims, couldnt this form of argument justify just about anything you wanted to? For example: The killing of animals for pleasure may be ethically wrong, but people eat meat and enjoy it. If it is okay to eat meat and enjoy it, then we can just as easily accept money for a good cause raised by a wildlife shoot as a good nosh up! Is that argument valid?

Perhaps Robert can clear up these annoying questions for us because otherwise I dont see any possible way that the end can justify the means when it comes to the use of pornography to save the planet or any other worthwhile cause for that matter.

John Hannaford


Consider your actions

Ethically Speaking (Echo, September 7) exemplified that those without strong religious convictions invariably rely on capitalism for a sense of values, that becoming a substitute religion.

In a wider sense, much of the anguish seen is likewise a result of mistaking the materialistic ethos for a comprehensive philosophy.

That is a delusion capitalism is simply a structure for dealing efficiently with bodily needs and cannot fulfill the role of nourishing mental development.

The reason such a misjudgment occurs is that with the hiatus in institutional religions, materialism is ubiquitous. A similar error is widespread with the reverence for creative which, because of its calming influence is a very good foundation for mind development, but we are above animals and there are aspects of nature it is not profitable to cultivate.

In both cases, the overvaluing of capitalism and the wholesale embracing of nature, an acute sense of discrimination would be required to avoid serious pitfalls.

That is beyond my capacity and it seems prudent to examine in practice the insights bequeathed by the Buddha, one of the worlds great penetrative minds.

The situation from the Buddhas life which applies to the ethical problem in question was his attitude toward meat.

He advocated the non-harming of all sentient beings, however, he would accept meat, provided it was not killed specifically for him.

This is based on the scientific law that any action, through body, speech or mind, has equal consequences which, sooner or or later, when conditions are ripe, must be experienced by the acts perpetrator.

Paul Griffin


Empty promises?

The cancellation of the Great Eastern Fly-In seems to have generated sudden interest and generosity on the part of Richmond Valley Council staff and the Ballina Ex-Services Home, if press reports are true. A press release from Richmond Valley Councils general manager on Friday indicates both organisations will put $2500 each for three years toward the event to defray costs. However the organising committee for the Great Eastern hasnt heard a word from either party at time of writing. We learned of the offer after the media forwarded the press release for comment.

When we met with Council staff on August 14 there was not a hint that Council was prepared to change its tune and help us. We left the meeting demoralised having had the user pays principle repeatedly reinforced by staff when in fact Councils Plan of Management makes it clear that its role is to encourage and facilitate the Great Eastern.God only knows wed been telling them for ages that their proposed fees and charges were not sustainable as are a number of other onerous conditions. No-one would come to the Fly-In was the message weve given them repeatedly.

The problem was made worse by the fact that Council staff had not done their homework on other fly-ins where such exorbitant fees and charges are not made, and where councils go out of their way to facilitate fly-ins because of economic benefits to the community. Nevertheless, we still put in a detailed proposal after the meeting and indicated we were discontinuing the Fly-In until various matters were dealt with satisfactorily. As a community-based volunteer organisation we couldnt take the risk of financial failure.

All of this of course begs the question: If there is a genuine desire to support the event, why has it taken so long for Council staff to begin to come to the party? Here we are in the middle of September and still no word from Council. The offers seems to be playing out in the media without reference to us yet we are the organisers of the event. Were drowning as a result of the rough seas created by Council and Council puts out a press release to tell the world theyre planning to offer us a life jacket. Were still waiting. Perhaps the life jacket wasnt for us after all. I could have sworn I heard someone cry children overboard.

Richard Gates


Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee

Rough treatment

Recently the Great Eastern Fly-In at Evans Head was cancelled due to the excessive demands of Richmond Valley Council.

This is a familiar pattern. If I recall correctly there was a recent attempt to dispose of the aerodrome, which was averted. Now they will try to price its use out of existence so they will then have a better chance next time they try to sell it off to developers.

My wife and I attended the last Fly-In and we enjoyed it thoroughly. We must have spent at least $100 over the New Year and we were frugal. Im willing to bet that pretty much every participant would have spent something similar. The Evans Head community just lost that New Years income.

It seems this is a bit of a spin off from a few common misconceptions.

Firstly let me assure you that those of us who own, hire or fly planes do not do it because it makes us wealthy. My wife and I are pensioners, and I scrape and save every spare dollar so I can enjoy my aviation hobby. We do it out of love and many of us go without to do it. Would you go to a New Years celebration in your local park if the council wanted you to pay $100 minimum to park your car?

Some may think we fly in there with everything we need, spend a happy NYE there and pack up and leave without ever dropping a dollar or two into the local economy. Aircraft are not like cars we cannot just pile it in and go. For the most part we cannot bring the kitchen sink with us. Weight constraints usually mean we fly with bare necessities and buy whatever else we may want (food, drinks, etc) once we arrive. That usually equates to dollars in local registers.

When it comes to us leaving our aircraft unattended in an unfamiliar place well, its just not going to happen, yet they expected us to set up camp on an industrial wasteland 100m or moreaway from our machines. That is not only an unrealistic expectation but also posed a security risk. Were we (the participants) going to be expected to foot the bill for security too once we could not be close to our planes?

It all stinks, and the smell is one of greed and hidden agendas. This is a familiar pattern Ive seen use very effectively at other fields. The developers want the land, the council wants the money, so they jack up fees and price the bulk of the users out. Then the council moves to sell a disused airfield and the minority (the pilots and passengers who use the facility) get the rough end of the pineapple, and ultimately the community loses a valuable resource and what could be a life saving capability in the airfeild.

Peter Bancks


Not happy, John

When submitting letters to your paper I usually try to keep them brief and to the point, but I am afraid Madam Editor that it will be difficult for me to do so on this occasion, as I feel that John Lenon (Echo, September 7) is so very wrong, in so many ways, in his reply to Helen Coyle (August 31) that I must do my best to ease the pain that you, John Lenon, would surely have inflicted on a very good, gentle and caring person.

Unlike you, I do know her personally, but unfortunately not well enough to be able to contact her and remind her that she has plenty of support from people like me, in spite of unwarranted criticisms from people like you.

This disagreement began when Helen wrote (August 10) asking that Australia not build a floating prison for asylum seekers and illegal fishermen to keep them offshore, as she expressed a belief that this would lead to a denial of their human rights. But you, John Lenon, read into her letter all sorts of tree hugging, terrorist loving unAustralian activities that I could not find in her letter, just a desire for compassion. towards fellow humans.

Without communication or consultation Helen and I both answered your nasty letter (August 31) but you chose to ignore mine and attack a very good, caring person in Helen Coyle, who can always be seen any Anzac Day, Remembrance Day, Vietnam Veterans Day etc. How did I come to know Helen? I am one of those people you say that Helen should talk to (Royal Australian Navy 1943-1946. Returned from active service. Badge No 52019. RSL Badge No 81965).

You say you hate do gooders; why dont you save your hatred for the greedy, uncaring people of this world, who dont lift a finger to help the sick and especially the children.

Doug Myler

Lismore Heights

Love thy neighbour

I am writing again in response to John Lenons recent letter (Echo, September 7) just to set him straight on a few facts. I have gone to several Anzac Day marches over the years in honour of my family and friends. I was born in 1964 so I wasnt a thrower at soldiers returning as you accuse me of from Vietnam. Nor would I have wanted to. My uncle briefly lost his mind after WWII. His 21st birthday was September 3 1939 the day the war was announced. He joined up the day after. He served in Europe and the New Guinea campaign. My father (who passed away when I was seven) served in the Australian Navy (1943-45). My late dear friends Doreen and Terry served in Australia during WWII. My late Salvation Army friend Colonel Meluttie Brouwer was captured in Japan in 1942 and spent three and a half years in a prison camp for women run by the Japanese. My late friend Gladys Garvin lost her husband on the Burma railway. I dont know where you get your weird idea from that I am insulting Australian soldiers and service women!

Im not an angry person like you wrongly stated about me. I just believe in a just and fair society for all. If people were more tolerant and didnt lust after greed and power we wouldnt have wars in which people die so unnecessarily.

You are entitled to your opinion and I to mine. When you stated that you are glad you didnt know me personally you still proceed to make false accusations against me that makes me think that maybe you have a problem with tolerance. People who have had family members and friends suffer because of war can in fact be our best advocates for peace and tolerance. I feel really sorry that you appear not to have such compassion in your heart.

I could be wrong and maybe somewhere you do have some. Youre entitled to stand up for what you believe in just like I am. I have never supported sending our troops into Iraq where the place has now descended into a hell of a mess. In fact, me and 5000 other residents protested before the invasion. Our PM sent our troops into a war Australians clearly did and still do not want. We are right now being condemned to repeat history because so much of society hasnt learnt from the past. I dont hate our soldiers at all Mr Lenon!

I wonder, Mr Lenon, if at some stage among these so called vermin that you call refugees that our country keeps caging up, may possibly be among those the future return of Jesus Christ as maybe a Middle Eastern man or maybe Chinese or Iraqi? Its worth thinking about. Jesus said: Love thy neighbour as thyself.

Anyhow, hopefully I set you right on a few facts about myself. Have a nice day.

Helen Coyle

South Lismore

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