Saturday, May 31, 2003
Excerpt from Cathy Buckle’s latest letter
This week some truly staggering statistics were published about the state of agricultural production in Zimbabwe three years after 90% of our commercial farms were seized by the government. Prior to 2000 we produced 162 thousand tonnes of soya beans a year, which gave us enough for our own use and allowed for exports. Now we have to import the beans and only manage to grow 30 thousand tonnes ourselves. It is no wonder the World Food Programme had to feed 8 million Zimbabweans last year and are estimating almost the same number will need assistance again this year.
Undoubtedly our government will blame drought but this week even Pope John Paul said that our land reform programme was "an error which would only create tension and discord."
The fuel situation has just got worse and worse throughout the country. By mid week the national airline, Air Zimbabwe was refuelling in Zambia as aviation fuel here was virtually depleted. By Friday newspapers reported that in Harare only one of the city's 25 new ambulances was still running, the rest were parked alongside fire tenders with empty tanks and crews unable to attend emergency calls. This morning the streets of Marondera town were all but deserted with almost no traffic moving, great swathes of empty parking bays and massive queues outside all the filling stations in the town. At the moment there is nothing to queue for but still the people wait, and wait, and wait. We are a nation in waiting - for bread, sugar, maize, milk, margarine, petrol and, ever hopeful, we wait for democracy.
Everywhere you go people look tired, angry, fed up and desperate. In agriculture we went from combine harvesters to ox carts in three years and in transport we've gone from 4 wheel drive luxury cars to bicycles in just three weeks. I'd like to think that this week at least I managed to raise a few smiles in my home town.
After a two decade break, I got on a bicycle and rode with my 10 year old son to school and back every day this week.
I don't know how we are holding on anymore, but, one day at a time, we stagger on and although we've run out of fuel and food, we still have hope.
ZIMBABWE PERSECUTES TEACHERS
From: Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA):
WOZA is in receipt of information that approximately 60 female teachers went to the Ministry of Education on Monday 19 May 2003 to meet with officials and to press for an end to the ‘retribution or forced transfers’ of female teachers. They met with an official who attempted to ‘pass the buck’ by referring them to the Public Service Commission (PSC). They refused to be referred, arguing that the PSC does not deal with transfers; they left their demands promising to return next Monday 26th May 2003.
Just before noon, they left Ministry offices in Ambassador House and walked through Harare CDB in twos and threes without displaying their placards. They were out of city bounds, close to the Harare Polytechnic when Police Defenders swooped and arrested a group of 10 women. 24 women came upon their colleagues being loaded up and insisted that they too be arrested. All 34 were then transported to Harare Central, where they were made to pay a fine of ZD $5 000 each for conduct likely to breach the peace.
Mothers Day Bulawayo arrestees also observed the same phenomena. The Zimbabwe Republic Police now resort to fundraising as they too feel that the Public Order Security Act (POSA) cannot stand constitutional scrutiny.
WOZA founders and members fully support the demand made by our learned sisters for an immediate end to the ‘retribution or forced transfers’. We also note the excessive targeting of female teachers and call upon the Ministry to take the demands and the deadline of one week seriously as it is our social fabric at stake.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Friday, May 30, 2003
Age of Consent
THE NEW SOUTH WALES Legislative Assembly has passed a Government Bill reducing the Age of Consent for male homosexual activities from 18 to 16. The Bill will soon be presented to the NSW Legislative Council.
There exists a major misconception about the intent of “Age of Consent” laws. These exist not for the primary purpose of impeding the sexual activities of young people, although that is an effect – and not necessarily a bad effect – of such laws. The principal purpose of Age of Consent laws is to protect youngsters from seduction by older and potentially exploitative or predatory individuals, by defining sex with a minor as statutory rape.
In most jurisdictions, prosecutions have been rare unknown where consenting parties have been a similar age. However, Age of Consent Laws have been used to charge with Statutory Rape older persons who prey upon youngsters. A famous international example has been movie director Roman Polanski. A local example was the appalling Queensland Labor politician Keith Wright, (who was also convicted of rape).
Campaigns for reduction of Age of Consent Laws may be couched in terms of granting rights to youngsters, but the significant outcome of a reduction in the age of consent is to increase the catchment area for older persons who wish to seduce or prey upon youngsters.
Reduction of the minimum Age of Consent means nothing more nor less than lowering the age at which youngsters are available for legal seduction. Accordingly, any proposal for reduction of the Age of Consent should be approached with great caution.
Any selection of an arbitrary age limit for any purpose will always cause problems. Examples of arbitrary age limits are minimum 18 years for voting and maximum 70 years for service as a judge, which ignore the certainty of wonderful octogenarian judges and fifteen-year-olds who are capable of exercising a responsible vote. Regarding sexual matters, civilized societies recognize that children are vulnerable to harm – and sometimes grave harm – from seduction by adults. If a child of any particular age is in the category of being vulnerable to harm from seduction by an adult, a change in the Age of Consent which suddenly excludes that child from legal protection may change the legal status of the seducer, but will make no difference to the degree of harm suffered by the child.
On this point, it is interesting to note that some of the campaigners (sadly, successful) for the resignation of Governor-General Dr. Peter Hollingworth have claimed a higher level of concern for the welfare of child victims of sexual assault than they are prepared to accord to Dr Hollingworth. Those anti-Hollingworth campaigners who are well-known for advocating a reduction in the Age of Consent automatically call their own motives into question. Yet another reason why any proposal for reduction of the Age of Consent should be approached with great caution.
The argument for a differential Age of Consent
Some of the opponents of the reduction to sixteen of the Age of Consent for homosexual activities validly suggest that the Age of Consent for all sexual activity be raised to eighteen.
Without asserting what arbitrary ages should best be selected, I want to draw attention to some of the arguments in favour of differential ages for heterosexual activity and (male) homosexual activity, with a lower Age of Consent applying to the latter. The arguments include:
* Young females enjoy a measure of societal protection from potential predators which is not afforded to young males. For example, adult males are not permitted to enter female toilet blocks and changing rooms, and are unlikely to be appointed as coaches of girls’ sporting teams or as housemasters in girls’ boarding schools or as minders at girls’ camps.
* According to the Australian Institute of Criminology’s “Violence: Directions for Australia – 10 Years On”, 18 November 2002, 79 % of victims of sexual assault were female. Various estimates of the percentage of homosexual males in the community have been made, ranging from one percent to five percent. The number of assaults by females upon males being very small, if 21% of the victims of sexual assault are make, then it is hard to avoid the conclusion that individual homosexual males are more likely to commit sexual assaults than individual heterosexual males. An alternative conclusion is that homosexual males who commit assaults do so much more frequently than heterosexual males who commit assaults. Either way, the effect on the victims is the same.
* AIDS is a terrible disease, generally fatal. It is generally accepted that sodomy is the sexual practice most likely to transmit AIDS, and this factor alone may constitute sufficient justification for a lower age of consent for homosexual activity. Sodomy and homosexual practices which may involve ingestion of faecal matter commonly transmit Hepatitis and a range of gastro-intestinal diseases. Homosexuality is a health hazard, by any measure at least as dangerous as smoking.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Thursday, May 29, 2003
The dangerous myth of free credit
By: Gerard Jackson (BrookesNews Economics Editor)
THE MYTH OF FREE CREDIT is probably one of the oldest and certainly the most enduring of economic fallacies. The essence of the myth is very simple: interest is a monetary phenomenon and is determined by the supply of and demand for money. Therefore interest can be virtually if not entirely eliminated by a continuous increase in the supply of money. Once interest has been eliminated society will enjoy an abundance of capital. It should now be clear that this view also sees the scarcity of capital as being artificially created by the existence of interest.
But who creates this scarcity and why? The usual answer is that the banks have been granted a monopoly of credit and that they have used this monopoly privilege to restrict the supply of their product (credit) so as to raise its price (interest) to consumers and businesses. The solution is abundantly clear (except to dreaded economic rationalists like myself), and that is for the government to use the Reserve Bank to bypass the monopoly banks and "make money available to governments or to others free of any charge".
Monetary cranks realise that technically banks are able to reduce the amount of interest on any credit they grant down to their working expenses. From this it is deduced that interest has been created by the monopoly position of the banks, otherwise the "price of credit" would have been bid down to its working costs.
These cranks have also observed that increases in the quantity of credit have the initial effect of lowering short term rates. This fact only confirms their belief that interest is a monetary phenomenon and can be easily eliminated by monetary means. The late Professor von Mises, a prominent Austrian economist, rightly described this view as one "of unsurpassable naivety".
It should now be obvious that according to this doctrine interest should not exist at all. Yet, if interest did not exist land could never be bought because the value of land would be equal to the entire sum of all of its future earnings. Only the existence of interest makes it possible to buy and sell land by discounting the sum of its future earnings. Interest is not and never has been the price of money - if anything, it is the price of time, a ratio of the value of present goods to future goods. It is "a category of human action". It also determines the supply of and demand for capital goods.
Monetary cranks are forever confusing credit with capital. Because they believe abundant credit would eliminate interest they then assume an equally abundant supply of capital would appear. Credit is not capital. As Professor von Lachman and other economists have clearly put it: "Capital is the material means of production" Capital comes from savings and savings are forgone consumption.
Gratuitous increases in credit are not and never can be additions to genuine savings. When credit expansion gets under way the rate of interest is artificially lowered and that expands the demand for more credit. The situation then arises where investment exceeds savings: but this only means that we are suffering from inflation. The newly created credit did nothing to increase real savings. (The matter of forced savings is another question).
Eventually, in accordance with the social rate of time preference (society's savings/consumption ratio), the additional spending created by the credit expansion will be spent by labour factors on consumption goods. Increased consumer spending will then bid against the higher stages of production for resources; these stages will then find themselves caught in a price-cost squeeze. With prices rising, foreign exchange problems worsening and the current account deteriorating the government will then impose a credit squeeze. And all of this because it believed in the cheap money fallacy.
By creating as much credit as demanded government would simply create massive inflation.
But monetary cranks claim that the newly-created credit would be selectively used and thus not inflationary. For example, it has been suggested that credit expansion could be used to finance a railway from Alice Springs to Darwin by letting the Treasury borrow from the Reserve bank.
What would happen here is that the Treasury would print several billion dollars of bonds and deposits them in the Reserve Bank at a nominal interest rate of say 1 per cent. The Reserve then credits the Treasury with the face value of the bonds. The Treasury in turn writes out cheques against the bonds which the Reserve then obligingly honour by printing the money. Most of us would call this inflation.
The monetary cranks' views can be easily summed up as:
1. capital is abundant but is kept artificially scarce by interest;
2. interest is created by monopoly banks to exploit the community;
3. interest is a purely monetary phenomenon that can be eliminated by monetary expansion;
4. there really is a Santa Claus.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
DR. PETER HOLLINGWORTH
On Monday 26 May 2003, in an apparent attempt to big-note himself by inflicting further pain on the Governor-General, Opposition Leader Simon Crean, told ABC Radio: “You can’t have people in authority who have covered up for child sexual abuse.”
The first and obvious point is Crean has used a very inaccurate and pejorative description of Dr. Hollingworth’s handling of the cases in question.
The second point, very obvious to all Queenslanders, is that in recent memory the Australian Labor Party has not only covered up for two child sexual abusers, but knowingly maintained them in high public office for years after their wickedness was widely known. Keith Wright is now undeservedly out of gaol. Bill D'Arcy is deservedly still there.
More on the topic from Prof. David Flint, National Convenor, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy:
THE ANNOUNCEMENT by Dr Hollingworth that he will resign as a result of what the President of the Council of Civil Liberties has described as a witch-hunt, is understandable. For the better part of two years Dr. Hollingworth has been subjected to a campaign of unusual venom by his critics, and his decision has, most commendably, to do with the concern he has for the dignity and integrity of the office. Dr Hollingworth has over his many years of service done more for the disadvantaged, the underprivileged and the poor than most in public life in Australia. Indeed this was recognized by many of those who were subsequently to join the pack to bring him down, often merely to demonstrate that the recommendation to appoint him, as well as the judgement of the Prime Minister, were somehow flawed.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
REMEMBER DUNKIRK 1940
SIXTY-THREE YEARS AGO, the most oddly assorted fleet in the history of seafaring began frantically evacuating the British Expeditionary Force and many of their French allies from Dunkirk, and transporting those troops to Dover and other English Ports.
The evacuation commenced on May 27th, 1940, and continued to June 4th, reaching its crescendo late on the twenty ninth of May, when the port of Dunkirk had already fallen and the evacuation was taking place from the beaches, with virtually everything in the Thames and in the south east of England that could float travelling one of the three routes which were designated by the RN as being safe, or probably safe, from mines. The shortest of those routes was 39 miles.
In his radio broadcast Postcript on June 5th 1940, the noted literary figure J.B.Priestly said this:
Oh, what an assorted armada crossed that channel. We've known them and laughed at them, these fussy little steamers, all our lives . . . . . Sometimes they went only as far as the next seaside resort. They seemed to belong to the same ridiculous holiday world as pierots and piers . . . . . But they were called out of that world . . . . . . Yes, these Brighton Belles and Brighton Queens left that foolish innocent world of theirs to sail into the inferno, to defy bombs, shells, magnetic mines, torpedoes, machine gun fire - to rescue our soldiers.
The Dunkirk evacuation was blessed with exceptionally calm weather, and immensely assisted by persistent fog which greatly impeded the activities of the Luftwaffe. Goering of course had assured Hitler that the Luftwaffe would destroy the British in their trap. Nearly 340,000 allied troops were evacuated from Dunkirk.
Two weeks later, on 17 June, Marshall Petain asked Germany for an armistice. Britain and her Empire then stood alone against the Nazis, but, thanks to thousands of acts of individual courage, Britain's army had survived.
UCC calls for The Pulitzer Prizes Board to revoke tainted award
By: Ostap Skrypnyk
IN THE 1930s, while stationed in Moscow, a correspondent for the New York Times, Walter Duranty, published a series of articles that deliberately denied the existence of the Famine/Genocide in Ukraine of 1932-33. Duranty intentionally denied that over 7 million Ukrainians were being deliberately starved to death by the Soviet regime. His articles contributed to the Soviet cover-up of this horrendous genocide perpetrated by Stalin and his cohorts against the Ukrainian people.
Therefore, on May 1, 2003 as part of a series of actions to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Famine/Genocide in Ukraine of 1932-33, Ukrainians around the world have initiated a campaign to convince the Board of The Pulitzer Prizes to revoke Walter Duranty’s Pulitzer Prize.
The Ukrainian Canadian Congress supports this campaign because of Duranty's willful denial of the Famine/Genocide in Ukraine of 1932-33.
To learn more about the Famine/Genocide in Ukraine, visit our web site:
While at the website, please take the time to print and post the attached card addressed to the Pulitzer Prizes Board.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Monday, May 26, 2003
THE MIDDLE-EAST "PEACE PROCESS"
Excerpts from an article by Thomas Sowell. Via townhall.com
Wars usually end with both sides sitting down at a table and signing a peace agreement. From this, some people seem to think that the way to get peace is to start sitting down at a table and beginning negotiations. In other words, start "the peace process" -- whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. If this were so, then why didn't we just sit down with representatives of Japan and Germany sooner during World War II and avoid all that bloodshed at Iwo Jima and Normandy?
Part of the problem is the confusion between a mechanism and a cause. Why did the Japanese representative finally sit down and sign a peace treaty on the battleship Missouri, ending World War II? It was not because of negotiations but because of what had already happened at Iwo Jima, at Normandy and -- above all -- at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
When people talk about a "peace process," they are usually talking about something that matches their preconception that negotiations end wars. But, if we are really interested in peace, then we have to look at the hard evidence of what has in fact led to peace.
If Middle East negotiations -- endlessly described as "the peace process" -- actually promoted peace, then the Middle East would be one of the most peaceful places on earth. Nowhere have there been more negotiations, more countries involved, more agreements made (and broken) or more photo ops.
When will peace come to the Middle East? When neither side has anything more to gain by war. That is when peace comes everywhere.
The Israelis have already reached that point, judging by their willingness to make large concessions to Yasser Arafat two years ago. But Arafat obviously has not, given his rejection of those concessions, which most observers considered extraordinary.
If Arafat realizes that he cannot exterminate Israel, he may also realize that other Palestinians may exterminate him if he permanently calls off the war against Israel. The much discussed "Arab street" may not be willing to have peace with Israel -- at least not until they have tired of repeatedly suffering painful and devastating consequences from continuing the war. But so long as "world opinion" repeatedly intervenes to spare them the full consequences of their own aggression, that day can be postponed indefinitely.
Those who look for "root causes" might consider this: Several years before there was a state of Israel, Winston Churchill said that the Jews in Palestine had "made the desert bloom." Had they not done so, there might be peace in the Middle East today. Nothing has promoted more fierce and lasting hatred than assaulting people's egos by blatantly outperforming them.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Sunday, May 25, 2003
CHEMICAL AFTEREFFECTS OF WAR
The harm which war does to soldiers does not cease with an armistice. It is an historical fact that the lifespan of veterans is shortened, and this applies to veterans who returned with no obvious injuries.
Part of the problem is exposure to the deadly cocktail of chemicals which applies in a battlefield environment. To pesticides, rodenticides, herbicides, fuels, and solvents may be added the wide range of unpleasant chemicals contained in munitions and medications including anti-malarials.
Colonel Allan E. Limburg,CVO, US LoH CFC,MBIM, AFAIM,Dip, BA, AIBA, (Retd), jssc,im,psc, like many other Korean War veterans, is a victim of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS). Colonel Limburg has devoted years to research into the mortality and health of Korean War veterans, and to campaigning for recognition of MCS as a war-caused disease.
Colonel Limburg’s alarming conclusion is:
There is a clear thread running through the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and other recent conflicts, of the devastating disabling effects of exposures to a wide range of toxic chemicals.
Here are some recent extracts from the writings of Colonel Limburg:
21 December 1999:Â Letter to the Korean Veterans' Mortality Study Consultative Committee.
Comments? Email Michael Darby