Michael Darby

Observations on politics and poetry by Australian bush poet, Michael Darby.

Michael was born in Sydney in 1945 and is a former Australian Army Officer who has been writing and broadcasting on politics and economics since 1972.

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Saturday, December 28, 2002


The BBC's Jakarta correspondent, Richard Galpin, quoted a policeman as saying that he had witnessed Muslim fighters stopping civilians at roadblocks and executing those found to be members of the Christian community.

Seven people have been killed in clashes between Muslims and Christians Sectarian violence has escalated in the past few weeks as large numbers of Muslim extremists from other parts of the country have arrived in the province.

Indonesia is currently considering imposing a state of emergency on parts of Sulawesi island where thousands of people have fled their homes amid the religious violence. At least seven people have been killed in the past week and hundreds of homes burnt down during clashes between armed Muslim groups and Christians.

In the province of Sulawesi at least 1,000 people have been killed in religious fighting in the last two years. But until fresh violence broke out last week there had been a period of relative calm. In the mainly Christian town of Tentena on Tuesday, people were reported to be getting their weapons ready for attacks by Muslims who have surrounded the village.

"People in Tentena and the surrounding areas are now living in fear of more violence," said a Catholic priest in the town, Jimmy Tumbelaka. "There is no sense of security left."




As the public continues to chew on (and, largely, spit out) the idea of holding restaurants legally responsible for their patrons' dietary choices, the Columbia Missourian asked its own local experts for their opinions.

Bill Bondenson, a University of Missouri medical ethics professor, took issue with the current rash of lawsuits pointed at McDonald's. "If that lawsuit makes sense," he said, "then we should sue bakeries for making pastries or sugar companies for making sugar. Is there no sense of responsibility anymore? Whatever happened to self control?

"I believe this is the most litigious society in the history of mankind and it's only going to get worse. I suppose someday that if students don't come to class they can start suing us because they won't learn anything_ This is just a ludicrous shifting of the blame to an inappropriate place."

And Amy Bowers Ebertz, a University of Missouri psychologist, noted: "There is not a direct, one-on-one cause and effect for obesity. Things like genetics and environment all factor into it; because of this I don't think it's fair to blame the fast food companies."



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Friday, December 27, 2002

Abd Al-Hamid Al-Ansari, dean of the Faculty of Islamic Law at the University of Qatar, wrote in the London based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat:

"[Arab] ideological, political, and religious positions on current events remind us of a crucial incident in Islamic history that is connected to the present. I refer to the Khawarij, the 'first terrorist organization,' that rose up against the imam Ali*, claming that his rule was man-chosen, and that no [Muslim] rule should be obeyed unless it was the rule of Allah. [The Khawarij demanded] that Ali either mend his ways or face war. From this, they moved on to accusing the entire society of
heresy. They saw anyone with an opinion different from theirs, and anyone who was silent and refrained from joining them, as a heretic; as a result, they permitted the blood of Muslims..."

"The imam Ali and his friends did not hesitate to meet them head-on. He did not clarify his ideas with false explanations, and did not invent deceitful formulas, but fought the Khawarij and thoroughly routed them at Al-Naharwan, in the 37th year of the Hijra [659]."

"But today, we are facing the modern Khawarij, and behold, fortune has smiled on them. They have satellite channels that espouse their ideas, reiterating them tirelessly day and night, and that makes them into popular stars. Host commentators justify and shape their ideas. Religious leaders volunteer to issue religious rulings demanding [that believers] stand by them, and determine that remaining silent or refraining from supporting them is a sin."

"[These religious leaders] call for Jihad against the crusade against Islam, and aspire to incite the Arab public against its governments, who stand by America, the enemy of Islam. Most unfortunately, there are those who believe in this deception, hold demonstrations, and become involved in acts of stupidity against [those] whom they call the enemies of Islam. As a result, they are destroyed, and their families are tragedy-stricken. Afterwards, we allow the imams, who pushed them to the edge of the precipice, to continue to live a life of ease, without being held
accountable in any way!!"

"The religious and logical question is: Jihad against whom? For whose sake? Who has the right [to declare a Jihad]? Will we leave the Jihad to the hysterical preachers and politicians, who are declaring a war that will destroy everything, or is this a right reserved for the ruler?"

"Do they have the right to incite the public to become involved in acts of sabotage, that victimize innocents and damage state interests? Or should this right be restricted, so that the public interest is unharmed?"

"Who gave the religious parties the right to declare a Jihad and jeopardize the supreme interests of the nation? The Saudi clerics fulfilled their duty by declaring that no one had the right to issue a religious ruling calling for Jihad except the ruler. This is what they taught us, and thus we teach. The clerics must act accordingly..."

"Do the satellite channels have the right to broadcast terrorist opinions and incitement on the pretext of the 'principle of freedom for all,' disseminating hatred in the [hearts of] the viewers, who then [carry out] harmful acts of stupidity? Or must the regime intervene and set limits on irresponsible freedoms?"

"There is a big difference between granting freedom of speech for people who have opposing political opinions [and express them] peacefully... and between leaving the microphones to [be used by] armed groups that commit murder to advance their ideas. The essential question is: Do they have the right, in the name of freedom, to lead us and their societies over the edge of the precipice?"

"As a result of this false incitement, 83% of the participants in a survey on the Internet site of the Al Jazeera satellite channel think that bin Laden is a Jihad fighter, not a terrorist, and that his incitement against Western and American interests constitutes a Jihad"

"What is the meaning of all this sympathy for, and defense of, our modern-day Khawarij? Is blind anti-American sentiment... enough to account for making terrorists into heroes?"

"Unfortunately for the Khawarij of the past, they had no satellite channels... even though they were more merciful than the Khawarij of our generation, as they permitted the blood of Muslims but not of the 'dhimmis' [Jews and Christians], because they wanted to preserve the protection pact given to them. In contrast to them, (the Khawarij of our time - meaning the militant Islamists) have permitted the blood of everyone..."

"The platforms of the various Jihad organizations, and of Al-Qa'ida, do not include fighting Israel. The ideology of all these organizations establishes a single goal: accusing society and the state of heresy, with the aim of reaching power to set up their false state. When they despaired of their series of criminal acts on Arab land, which have claimed hundreds of victims, Satan told them that the Arab regimes were a product of the West. America, they claimed, was the defender of these
regimes. They decided to fight America on its home turf, so America would leave Arab lands, thus enabling them to disseminate their corruption."

"What are the reasons for the phenomenon of terrorism? In my opinion, the human soul, and primarily the Muslim soul, is repelled by terrorism. But terrorist ideas fall on fertile ground when societies are ruled by a fanatic culture that the people absorb in doses. Opponents are blamed of religious heresy; opposition is blamed of political treason. This is a culture of terrorism, which is [easily] absorbed by those who have been exposed to inappropriate education. This culture is rooted in the minds of those who suffered from a closed education that leaves no room for

"We must examine our curriculum, and evaluate our educational methods. We must re-examine our education and our media. This will be the right beginning for the fight against the culture of terrorism."**

* Ali Ibn Abu Talib was the fourth of the "replacements" (Khulafaa) who followed the Prophet Muhammad.
** Al-Hayat (London), November 29, 2001.



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Thursday, December 26, 2002

Letter from Harare resident Jonah Gokova to his brother in the UK, in which he describes his Christmas preparations. Excerpts:

Dear Fungai,

As we approach Christmas I know you are full of anxieties about spending your first Christmas away from home. Without the family, I hope you will still have a wonderful Christmas in the UK.

For us in Zimbabwe, this will probably the worst Christmas since we achieved our national independence 22 years ago.

The current level of inflation (at 175.5%) has already made life unbearable for many people in this country even before we talk about Christmas. A high level of inflation is one thing but the real problem is that basic commodities are just not available.
Long queues are now the order of the day. We spend long hours queuing for bread, salt, sugar, soft drinks, paraffin, petrol, diesel etc. Only two days ago I joined a petrol queue at 9:45pm and only got to the pump at 5:30am. At least I left with a full tank to justify my absence from home for the whole night.

We have not had bread at home for the last week. I stopped taking sugar many years ago but those who must have their tea with sugar are in trouble. There is no sugar in the shops. One has to be prepared to join the queue and that might mean spending many hours under the hot sun.

I have promised many friends and relatives that they can expect a loaf of bread from me as a Christmas present. The scarcity of bread has made this commodity so valuable to qualify for a Christmas present.

The many relatives and friends you know who always spend Christmas at their rural homes will not be able to enjoy that pleasure this Christmas. Fuel is in serious short supply, constantly forcing travel costs upwards.

Mother, brother and sisters are doing well under the conditions. But for all of us, this is just Christmas. It will not be a "merry" Christmas




John Hyde, a Liberal backbencher during the Fraser years, has written an important account of the rise and decline of the “Dry” ideal in Australia.

The book,
Dry: In Defence of Economic Freedom, is a timely reminder that the wealth and also the liberties of nations are in only small part due to fortune. Mr Hyde reminds us that Australia's per capita GDP -- when compared with other rich countries--declined fairly dramatically from 1950 to 1992. Since then however, it has been steadily rising. But it did so in spite of the terms of our international trade. This was a fairly remarkable turnaround.

This remarkable reversal in Australia's fortunes was due, in greater part, to the intended consequences of well-chosen public policies adopted five to ten years before. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the 'dry' ideal enjoyed considerable success, especially in Victoria and Canberra. Tariffs were reduced, industries, trades and professions were deregulated, government enterprises were privatised and public waste and public debt were both reduced.

By 2000, inflation had been controlled, unemployment reduced from 11 per cent to 7 per cent and we had weathered the Asian meltdown with barely a hiccough. Then, when the world economy turned sour in 2001, we experienced only a very modest setback -- so far.

John Hyde's story, of course, has no end. If Australians neglect economic freedom and personal responsibility, again allow vested interests to dominate the public interest, and the short term to dominate the long, then they should expect this nation to return to relative economic decline.

Economic policies have long lags, and we are still enjoying the benefits of the Hawke and Kennett Governments' reforms, though those government themselves are both long since gone. Today we have a Federal Government trying to 'buy' electoral favour with policies directed to the most vociferous interest groups and paid for by the wider community.

John Hyde's book is an essential reader to understand the dangers of a cultural mindset that is determined to misunderstand the basis for economic success.



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Wednesday, December 25, 2002


Christmas Message to the people of Zimbabwe from Morgan Tsvangirai, President, Movement for Democratic Change

WE ENTER THE FESTIVE SEASON as a nation in despair. Traditionally the season is a period enabling us to share gifts, express our love, facilitate family reunions and, above all, remember the birth of Christ.

The year 2002 has been the most difficult one for the majority. After the stolen election in March, we were thrust into darkness. We were disabled by the scale of the theft of our voice.

Robert Mugabe's forced stay in office was a mere paper crown. As you have experienced, the situation has worsened since then. We feel vindicated in that our cries and concerns about Zanu PF's inability to turn around the country's fortunes are now glaringly clear to all at home and abroad.

Food has become critically short; jobs are vanishing daily; the nation's health delivery system is on its knees; and essential commodities have long disappeared from the market.

We are under intense pressure for reasons we all know arise from the deepening crisis of governance. This will never disappear until we accept the serious challenges ahead and confront them with a view to pave the way for a better life for all.

We need to get sufficient food at a rate that is fast enough to avert famine. The HIV/Aids pandemic is wreaking havoc, taking away the precious lives of our most productive citizens.

Inflation is currently running at more than 144.2% in an economy entering its fifth straight year of recession and expected to shrink by more than the officially acknowledged 10,6% this year.

Our once vibrant agriculture sector, the mainstay of the economy, is at present in disarray and in need of urgent and constructive attention. This has impacted negatively on the stability of the agro-industrial sector, hit the security of 350 000 permanent farm workers and about 50 000 seasonal workers. With their dependants, this figure translates to the displacement of between two and three million people.

Life expectancy as at the year 2000 had fallen from about 60 years to 37.8 years.

The nation has become de-humanised. The time has come for us to recapture the energy we harnessed early in 2000.

Beyond this sad Christmas period, we must reflect and interrogate ourselves with a view to wade through this darkness and see next year as our year of freedom.

We must have as our lights the values of: compassion, respect, human dignity and collective unity.

We need a fulfilling policy of inclusion rather than policy that excludes. Across the political, racial and cultural divides, we must step forward and play our part especially now that literally everybody, including the staunch Zanu PF supporters, have accepted that Mugabe and their party lack the capacity and willingness to save Zimbabwe.

Morgan Tsvangirai President


Address by Morgan Tsvangirai at a meeting with the MDC members of parliament at the party headquarters at Harvest House, Harare, Zimbabwe -- 18 December 2002

A RELENTLESS AND VICIOUS WAR is being waged by the rogue Mugabe regime against the entire Zimbabwe nation and society. Zimbabwe is now a nation where everything is in short supply except violence, misery, disease and death. The shortage of fuel has reached levels, which can never be tolerated any further. The country is grinding to a halt. The regime is in an advanced state of decay and its total collapse is inevitable.

The state of the nation and the facts on the ground speak for themselves, even Mugabe's patron Muammar Gaddafi has abandoned his bankrupt client. In the eyes of Gaddafi, Mugabe is no longer a puppet worthy of support. This government since 1998 has known the affairs at Noczim. It does not make sense for this old man to start to blame his corrupt officials today. In fact, we understand the Libyans, while accepting to be paid in local currency, they are charging their fuel at the black market rate. So what is the advantage of such an arrangement? In short, Mugabe must accept that he has failed. He must resign.

Mugabe is aware that the end of his regime is near. As a temporary ruse to buy time Mugabe has now embarked on a new desperate diplomatic initiative to save his illegitimate regime from inevitable collapse. This will be his fourth diplomatic gamble. Immediately after the fraudulent March 2002 presidential election, three diplomatic initiatives emerged, all targeted at the resolution of the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe.

You will recall that presidents Bakili Muluzi of Malawi and Joachim Chissano of Mozambique tried to put together what we saw as a "fishing expedition" to persuade us to recognise Mugabe's fraud. The two regarded our principled stand as the usual murmurings of opposition political parties in Africa. As a result, the initiative never took off the ground. We noted that the most important aspect of this failed initiative was that it perceived any resolution of the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe as conceivable and achievable only if there was an unequivocal recognition by the MDC that the Mugabe regime was the government of the day. That we shall never accept.

You will further recall that South Africa and Nigeria then came up with a strategy, conceived in the shadow of the Commonwealth Troika Initiative. The strategy suffered because of critical strategic differences on the way forward. South Africa was interested in the management of the Zimbabwean crisis, not its resolution. Pretoria saw a government of national unity as a solution. This was in a bid to legitimise Mugabe at all costs. In pursuit of this objective, over the past eight months, several high-ranking South Africa government and ANC officials have made public statements and embarked on diplomatic activities which, cumulatively are specifically intended to blunt the modest international pressure which seeks to make Mugabe account for his brutal misrule. They have turned their so-called quiet diplomacy into noisy approval of the regime at any international meeting at which the Zimbabwe crisis comes under discussion. They have routinely called for an end to the isolation of the illegitimate regime and the lifting of targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies.

In fact, South Africa has become part of the Zimbabwe problem because its actions are worsening the crisis. Pretoria's policy has effectively cast serious doubt on the role of President Thabo Mbeki as an honest broker in the rapidly deteriorating situation and the deepening humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe today. The South African government has succumbed to Mugabe's blackmail and threats to plunge the region into a mess. To appease him, they have embarked on an international safari to campaign for Robert Mugabe's regime.

Pretoria is free to pursue its own agenda. But it must realise that Zimbabweans can never be fooled anymore. Open expressions of solidarity with Zanu PF and Mugabe will never resolve the crisis of governance in Zimbabwe today. The paralysis displayed by the Obasanjo-Mbeki initiative was carried into and re-emerged in the subsequent deliberations and decisions of the Commonwealth Troika.

These initiatives, however, lack a common focus because they were purely a reflection of a variegated understanding of the nature, magnitude and depth of the crisis facing this nation. Mugabe and his embattled regime were unclear of the likely regional and international reaction to this grand theft or how to respond to possible hostility and further strangulation from within and beyond our borders. The validation, it must be said, of the stolen election result by the observer missions of Nigeria and South Africa gave Mugabe some temporary breaking space.

Remember, these two countries are key members of the Commonwealth Troika on Zimbabwe. Because of the depth of the crisis, the little oxygen offered to Mugabe soon ran out, making the resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis even more protracted. No single regional and international strategy to engage or confront Mugabe dominated the stage since then. To a large extent these three initiatives cancelled each other or at least neutralised each other, giving the regime further ammunition to mount a repressive machinery against the people and to devise new strategies to crush the broad forces of democracy led by the MDC.

Now that the Troika is set to review its position on Zimbabwe in a few months time, we have begun to witness a number of unsettling developments with regards to the way forward. Mugabe is making overtures to all in a bid to sneak out of the current squeeze. In public, he attacks the British. But, while we all queue for scarce commodities here, Mugabe is now getting his essential supplies and basic groceries including beef, bread and milk from London.

Politically, he is sending signals to both Pretoria and Whitehall in a completely different tone and language. At the same time, a cabal within Zanu PF, working with some businessmen, have hatched a plan to protect Mugabe and his regime, for political convenience, through a further militarisation of Zimbabwe.

One Colonel Lionel Dyke and his business associates are being used to promote an agenda that seeks to legitimise the rogue regime. The names of Emmerson Mnangagwa and General Zvinavashe keep on coming up in this dirty plan which we are told was endorsed by ZANU PF, the British and the South Africans.

We are therefore confronted with this unholy and strange Triple Alliance designed to neutralise the sovereign wishes of the people of Zimbabwe.

The cutting edge of the diabolical onslaught is supposed to come in the form of a summit between Robert Mugabe and myself. I am reliably informed that Mugabe is prepared to meet with me somewhere outside the country to discuss his problems. I want to state clearly and unequivocally that such a summit will remain a 'pie in the sky' unless Mugabe stops the politicisation of food; opens up the country to free political activity; stops the brutalisation of political opponents and commits himself to a dialogue agenda which sets out the conditions for future discussions.

Let me state here that the Anglo-South African plan will fail to take off if it remains predicated on the desire to legitimise the illegitimate Mugabe regime. We will never be used to prop up this dying regime. We are told the cabal's plan includes a further silencing of critics in its final push to reform Zanu PF and engage in acts, which are dangerous to the integrity of the SADC region as a whole.

Let me state here that the ordinary people in Muzarabani, in Binga, in Gokwe, in Hwange and many other places countrywide, who are denied food daily, who are denied access to basic freedoms, who have had to contend with Zanu PF brutality, will never accept a position where their dreams and their wishes are sold out to a civil-military formation by selfish opportunists.

We have arrived at a critical moment in our history. Either we pull forward as a united people or the country slides further into disarray. Some say a strong leader is good for a nation's stability. Stability is a natural process arising from good governance and legitimacy. Forced stability is no stability at all. It is an illusion and people can see through it. National leaders derive their strengths from the people, not from the military or foreign friends.

The world is changing. Gone are the days when it was business as usual simply because of the presence of a strong dictator at the helm. Stability requires conditions beyond mere economic growth. It needs justice, equity, good governance, a culture of tolerance, a free Press and an unfettered access to generic freedoms.

As an oppressed people, we need to realise that we have a duty to liberate ourselves. We are on our own. We shall fight for the people's right to determine their destiny and to reclaim their sovereignty. There can never be any compromise on the fundamental issue of people's power, democracy and freedom.

We know of the attempts to reform Zanu PF and present a re-arranged set of faces to the world in an effort to win international legitimacy through the back door. If Mugabe is to step down today, nothing will change as long as the fundamentals that brought this country to where it is remain unresolved. We are ready to confront the Mugabe stooge at home and show him the way.

The facts on the ground show that Zimbabwe's crisis of governance requires a comprehensive national approach that embraces the nation's diversity. Any initiative on the way forward which fails to deal with the root cause of the crisis, which fails to tackle the burning question of legitimacy and which fails to accord free and fair electoral conditions a priority, is bound to fail. A lasting solution to the Zimbabwean problem lies in Zimbabwe. The people know that solution.

Our position on the WAY FORWARD remains clear and unwavering:

* Mugabe must accept immediate retirement.

* The MDC will support legislative and constitutional amendments through Parliament to facilitate the necessary changes for the management of the interim and transitional arrangements.

* A transitional authority will be set up and the composition must include representatives from key Zimbabwean organisations and political parties.

* This authority should hold office for a limited period and prepare for fresh presidential elections.

* During this time the transitional authority must work to rebuild trust and put in place a conducive climate for free political activity.

* A priority will be to overcome the humanitarian crisis facing our country.

There are no short cuts to the restoration of legitimacy and the people's democratic rights.


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Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Merry C*****M**S to all

By: John Leo

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

There was Santa again, on his annual journeys,

Ensnared in a group of eight tiny attorneys.

They looked pretty grim and they threatened to sue,

So we knew in a flash -- "It's the ACLU(1)!"

They paid us no heed, but went straight to their work,

Handcuffing poor Santa, then said with a smirk:

"This is secular airspace, we can't have a saint

"Flying our flightpaths -- we need some restraint.

"A sleigh full of toys is OK, we suppose,

"But faith-based incursions we've got to oppose." (2)

Litigation on Christmas is something we dread,

So we nestled our children all under their beds

The grinch doesn't scare them, and Scrooge they see through,

But what kids are prepared for the ACLU?

The reindeer were shackled as a further incitement,

Then the lawyers unpackaged a 12-count indictment.

"Merry Christmas to all!" they just had to foreclose

(Though they had no complaint about all the "Ho Hos").

One lawyer objected to Santa's red clothing.

"It's religiously tainted," he said with some loathing.

"Poinsettias (the red ones) everybody must note, are

"A church-state offense in St. Paul, Minnesota!" (3)

Santa's climb up each chimney (one lawyer made mention)

Is a symbolic reference to Jesus' ascension.

And the reindeer, of course, recall the Apostles,

And those who deny it are nothing but fossils.

These lawyers had labored at neighborhood schools,

Making Christmas extinct there as part of the rules.

Praise Kwaanza or Ramadan -- they think it's quite splendid,

But say "Merry Christmas" and you might get suspended.

Our children, God bless them, don't get or recall

Why "inclusiveness" doesn't include them at all,

Why diversity theory (as the lawyers insist) must

Require the annual quashing of Christmas.

In Canada, home of post-everything living,

Now "The 12 Days of Christmas" are "The 12 Days of Giving." (4)

Christmas trees aren't part of their season at all,

They buy "multicultural trees" at the mall.

At a hospital (Catholic) the staff is ashamed (5)

To use the word Christmas, so their tree is misnamed

As a "care tree," though some would prefer "tree of life."

(Why not "tall lit-up flora" to avoid any strife?) (6)

Australians are told they should have no compunctions

Calling parties at Christmastime "end-of-year functions." (7)

The idea is to make Christmas somehow unmentionable,

A tactic I think of as wholly contemptionable.

Instead of "White Christmas" they will probably sing,

"I'm dreaming of a snow day some time in pre-spring."

Here's my suggestion, a harsh one I fear,

Why not call Christmas "Christmas"? (It's just an idea.)

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Notes on the poem

(1) American Civil Liberties Union

(2) "Somewhere Santa Claus is weeping. But if he's on public property, I hope the ACLU doesn't get him for trespassing." -- Bill O'Reilly's column of Dec. 7, 2002.

(3) Not this year, though. In St. Paul, red poinsettias were banned last Christmas at Ramsey County Courthouse-City Hall to placate sensitive people who believe they are Christian symbols. White poinsettias were allowed, but unknown and insensitive people smuggled in a few red ones. This year, red poinsettias were restored in the display.

(4) The Royal Canadian Mint made this change in its annual Christmas ad campaign. The Rev. Nancy Murphy, an Anglican priest in Ottawa, said: "You know that campaign for women to take back the night? Well, Christians, take back Christmas." Gerry Bowler, a history professor at the University of Manitoba, says "the umbrage industry" and militant secularism are eliminating Christmas from public institutions.

(5) In Winnipeg, Misericordia (Catholic) Hospital erected a "care tree" and sponsored a Christmas fund-raising campaign that did not use the word "Christmas."

(6) In Montreal last December, a "tree of life" was stationed at City Hall. This year many Christmas trees are placed there. "If you're going to do it, call it what it is -- a Christmas tree," said a spokesman for Mayor Gerald Tremblay. A similar change occurred in Toronto: City Hall switched from a "holiday tree" to a Christmas tree.

(7) Stuart Kollmorgen, workplace relations partner at Deacons law firm in Melbourne, said many firms are calling Christmas parties "end-of-year functions" to avoid litigation and because "a more accepting and inclusive society will result."

©2002 Universal Press Syndicate

From: http://townhall.com