Saturday, June 14, 2003
THAT LOVABLE CASTRO AGAIN
Excerpt from “Wired” news:
THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT has quietly banned the sale of computers and computer accessories to the public, except in cases where the items are "indispensable" and the purchase is authorized by the Ministry of Internal Commerce.
The computer departments of the retail stores were divided into two zones: a well-stocked area for government buyers, and a smaller area where the public could buy diskettes, CDs and other such items. A store employee told the correspondent she was forbidden from discussing the move, which was also referred to briefly in a newsletter published by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.
"If we didn't have an embargo, there could be computers for everybody," Fernandez replied when asked this question: Are computer sales to the public banned in Cuba?
Several weeks later, a government employee in Cuba sent Wired News, through a Web-based e-mail account, a copy of a resolution mandating the ban. In an interview using an instant-messaging service, the source -- who asked to remain anonymous -- criticized the decree and said it had generated a great deal of controversy within government circles after it was unilaterally mandated by the Minister of Internal Commerce, Barbara Castillo.
According to Article 19, Chapter II, Section 3 of the ministry's Resolution No. 383/2001: "The sale of computers, offset printer equipment, mimeographs, photocopiers, and any other mass printing medium, as well as their parts, pieces and accessories, is prohibited to associations, foundations, civic and nonprofit societies, and natural born citizens. In cases where the acquisition of this equipment or parts, pieces and accessories is indispensable, the authorization of the Ministry of Internal Commerce must be solicited."
The source's decision to send the information was especially daring in light of a gag law that mandates a 3- to 10-year prison term for anyone who collaborates with "enemy news media." Because government officials refused to comment on the ban, the reason for the move is a matter of speculation.
The rise of independent journalists in Cuba, who published articles on the Internet criticizing the Castro regime, may have something to do with it. The correspondents, who risk jail time for their "subversive" reports, send their stories by fax, e-mail or phone dictation to supporters in Miami. "We believe our website had something to do with it," said Manrique Iriarte Sr., who helps run the website for the Cuban Institute of Independent Economists, which launched a few weeks before the ban was passed in late December.
The economists' site offers a sharp contrast to the rosy Marxist dream proffered by Castro, including news of opposition arrests and detailed reports on the decrepit state of the island economy. The site is blocked in Cuba.
Iriarte said he visited several Havana stores in January where employees told him computer equipment was only available for "accredited state entities."
The move didn't surprise Cuba-watchers in the United States. "This just reflects a further restriction on communications with the outside world," said Eugene Pons, of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami.
The government already requires Cubans who can afford Internet accounts -- which cost $260 a month, while the average Cuban salary is $240 a year -- to register with National Center for Automated Data Exchange (CENAI), Pons said. For those who do manage to log on, the Internet experience is limited: The government-controlled ISPs block links to certain foreign media, anti-Castro sites and pornography.
The government has also admitted to monitoring e-mail. To circumvent such spying, residents use Web-based e-mail accounts and chat services to make their communication harder to trace. Indeed, the Cuban source used a Web-based account to reply to a message sent to the person's government account.
"If I disappear from cyberspace one day, it's because they found out I was talking to you," the source said
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Friday, June 13, 2003
The 20/20 foresight of Margaret Thatcher
By Cal Thomas (www.townhall.com)
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher left office years ago but in her book, "Statecraft" (HarperCollins), she settles some old scores and warns of severe consequences if Britain subsumes itself to a Euro currency and the European mentality.
In the book Lady Thatcher again takes on the former leader of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, and buries him. She worries that people will forget what happened in the '80s as revisionists re-write history and pretend that Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were minor players in the Soviet collapse: "...the role of Ronald Reagan has been deliberately diminished; the role of the Europeans, who, with the exception of (former German Chancellor) Helmut Kohl, were often all too keen to undermine America when it mattered, had been sanitized; and the role of Mikhail Gorbachev, who failed spectacularly in his declared objective of saving communism and the Soviet Union, has been absurdly misunderstood."
Thatcher goes on at some length about Gorbachev because she believes the revisionists (including Gorbachev) want us to believe a falsehood. She recalls a Nov. 16, 1999 gathering in Prague attended by some of the "main actors" in the dramatic events that ended with the collapse of Soviet communism. At the meeting, she writes, Gorbachev denied there had been any victor in the Cold War. He accused people such as Thatcher of having a "superiority complex." She states that Gorbachev "asserted that no single ideology...had all the answers, and informed us that 'even the communists wanted to make the world a happier place.' It followed, of course, that since no side had won (or, doubtless more important to Mr. Gorbachev, no side had lost) and no single ideology was sufficient for the needs of the world today, the search for solutions must go on." With exquisite understatement, Thatcher says Gorbachev's views have "doubtful validity."
More than just setting the record straight, Thatcher believes it's important for the future that the past be correctly remembered. Gorbachev's ideas, she writes, "represent the articulation of a strategy common to the left in many countries, of seeking to escape all blame for communism and then going on to take credit for being more pragmatic, modern and insightful about the world which those who actually fought communism have created. It is a pressing necessity to expose and defeat both distortions."
Thatcher says it was more than loyalty to her "old friend" Reagan that has caused her to remind us of the recent past: "...learning the wrong lessons could still result in adopting the wrong responses," she notes in the book. Which brings her to Europe and the future. Because Europe three times in the last century was home to ideologies that lead to two hot wars and the Cold War, Thatcher passionately asserts in her book that Britain should resist Europe's siren call to scuttle the pound and immerse itself in the Euro and the European mindset. How's this for not mincing words: "Europe as a whole is fundamentally unreformable...Europe's plans for a single currency to rival the dollar, its furtive but rapid moves to create its own armed forces to substitute those of NATO, its ambition to create a common judicial area which will intrude upon national legal systems, and the current project of devising a European Constitution, all betoken one of the most ambitious political projects of modern times."
Thatcher says that the attempt to form a United Europe is fatally flawed because, unlike the United States -- after which the shapers of Europe claim to be patterning their plan -- Europe does not have a common language, culture and values. "It is also flawed because the United States was forged in the 18th century and transformed into a truly federal system in the 19th century through events, above all through the necessities and outcomes of war," Thatcher writes. "By contrast, Europe is the result of plans. It is, in fact, a classic Utopian project, a monument to the vanity of intellectuals, a programme (cq) whose inevitable destiny is failure: only the scale of the final damage is in doubt." No wonder the weenies of the Conservative Party decided 12 years ago that Thatcher must go. She made them all look and sound like castrated chickens. "Statecraft" is more than a memoir. It is a book about Truth at a time when people prefer intellectual junk food to true nourishment.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Thursday, June 12, 2003
MORE ON THE HORSE-MURDERERS
The people of New South Wales should not forget that the brutal behaviour of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has gone unpunished by the NSW Labor Government.
In the latter part of October 2000, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service decided to cull the wild horses of the Guy Fawkes National Park. The reasons advanced include the claim that a bushfire had destroyed all the grass, and an assertion that the horses were in poor condition. The real reason is that the bureaucrats of the NPWS hate horses as an “introduced species”. The brave animals whose relatives carried pioneers across the deserts, or who provided the motive power for the coaches which opened up the nation, or who were proudly ridden by the finest soldiers in history, were brutally mown down by gunmen in helicopters. More than six hundred horses died, many after hours or even days of agony.
My poem, “The Horsekillers” dealt with the subject. I have now discovered a greatly superior poem by multi-multi-award-winning Dubbo writer, Ellis Campbell. Both poems are reproduced below. We should not forget, and I have yet to learn a reason why we should forgive.
SKY OF DEATH
By Ellis Campbell, 1 Lawson St Dubbo 2830
A fearful droning tremors deadly skies;
Then thunderous crack and flash of lightning’s sting.
A squeal of terror from the scrub replies
As tortured brumbies quail before this thing.
The nervous horses scale the steep incline
Their instincts tuned to warn of instant dread.
The snarling bullets ricochet and whine
Awakening the gorges of the dead.
They spew their lethal blast at lightning pace;
The volleys drown the tortured moans of slain.
Disoriented horses blindly race
Beneath the helicopter’s brutal rain.
A futile charge against horrific odds;
Horrendous war where only one can win.
Machine controlled by self-appointed gods
And death dispensed with hell’s unholy din.
Romance of brumbies streaked the poet’s page
On sweeping plains and rugged mountains high.
A gallant symbol roaming freedom’s stage
No pioneering bushman will deny.
The thunder of a thousand pounding hooves
A flash of brilliant colour on the hill
The dash of speed and cunning countermoves
Are lost to fiendish horror of the kill.
The rabbit knows its burrow’s guaranteed
And foxes hide in hollow logs and trees.
The horse’s only weapon is its speed
What use against such death-machines as these?
They swerve and baulk in terror-stricken fright,
And gallop till their mighty hearts near burst.
But shattered legs and backbones halt their flight
A lethal monster’s tactics well rehearsed
His coat of sable rippled when he walked;
His piercing whinny echoed loud and shrill.
His mighty mane blew wildly as he baulked
To wheel in pirouette below the hill
He fiercely guarded mares and foals from harm
A brumby stallion roaming free and proud.
Bewildered now, his snort a lost alarm,
He cringes in the shadows weak and cowed.
Disbanded horses scatter far and wide;
And quiver when they hear the whining sound.
A rotting carcass fouls the gully’s side
And putrid stench of death is all around.
How few are left to skulk and hide in fright
The glory of the past long nullified.
The gallant horse is not equipped to fight
The tyranny of equine genocide.
By Michael Darby, November 2000
A storm came over the mountain, a storm of fright and fear
As brumbies wheeled and scattered and I felt my mother near
It swept across the gullies where greenest grew the grass
It raced along the ridgelines and through each mountain pass
A deadly hail amongst us, with never a place to hide
From flying things with roaring wings as horses fell or died.
I saw my mother stagger as she whinnied loud with pain
Then she slumped against a boulder beneath the fatal rain
There’s a smell of death in my nostrils and the night feels fearful cold
I’m lying here with a shattered limb, and I’m nearly six weeks old.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Wednesday, June 11, 2003
This letter (The Australian, 31 May 03) is even more valuable in the light of an announcement on 5 June 2003 by the ignoramus who masquerades as the Premier of Victoria, calling on the Prime Minister to “sign the Kyoto accords”. This was breathlessly reported around 6.30am by the ABC Radio PNN announcer, who warned “Victorian temperatures will double in the next hundred years”.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
FROM THE MAILBAG
Excerpts from a circular by Joe Bryant about Australia’s anti-terrorism legislation, passed in 2002:
The so-called Anti-Terrorist Bills are about the parliament taking away our constitutional freedoms, a power grab equal to that of Hitler in 1933 when he established the Third Reich dictatorship. The eight Bills were passed by the House of Representatives in a single day. The other ominous sign is that these bills have received virtually no coverage in the popular media. Sound familiar?
I am obliged to tell you that you are wrong again.
Firstly you are wrong in linking ANZAC Day with any political campaign.
Secondly you are wrong in drawing any comparison with Australian legislation and the 1933 actions of the Nazi, Adolf Hitler (Recommended reading: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - Shirer)
Thirdly you are wrong in using the phrase "Gestapo-type" in respect of any legislation of the Howard-led Liberal-National Government.
Fourthly you are wrong in implying that there is something sinister in eight related Bills passing the House of Representatives in a single day.
Fifthly, your failure to quote the Bills, or even their short titles, suggests to your readers that you might not have read the Bills.
Joe, you are a man with a big heart and good intentions. Please focus your vast energy upon defeating the real enemies of Australia, including socialism, dirigism and islamist anti-bourgeoisism.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Monday, June 09, 2003
BOOK REVIEW: “Thorns Among The Briar Roses”
(ISBN 1 74027 187 4 Ginninderra Press, PO Box 53, Charnswood ACT 2615
Here are some of the reasons why I want this book to be bought in large numbers by Australians. Firstly, Bette and her husband Col are good mates of mine. Secondly, Bette brings all the skills of a talented poet to crafting this high quality work as a pleasure to read and a treasure to keep. Thirdly, this is a book full of love. Col and Bette’s love for each other gets a mention, but the focus is on love, joyful colour-blind selfless compassionate love for children. Fourthly, this book is an inspiration to anyone who has not yet thought about fostering children, adopting children or even parenting children.
The fifth reason is perhaps the most important. Deserted, unwanted, abused or disabled children are very vulnerable human beings deserving of great kindness, immense patience, effective protection and powerful advocacy. Far too often, the people who make the decisions vital to the well being of such children are harshly inflexible bureaucrats, contemptuous of their hapless charges and arrogantly dismissive of those who genuinely want to share the security of their homes, the embrace of their family life and the warmth of their love with kiddies who utterly lack and desperately need these vital elements of happy human existence.
Every extra copy of “Thorns Among the Briar Roses” in circulation spreads the story of the Shiels’ fight against the inadequate welfare system in the quest for justice in the unjust world of fostering children. And every extra copy of “Thorns Among the Briar Roses” in circulation increases that chance of some little girl or boy regaining a stolen childhood, being blessed with an optimistic future, or simply staying alive.
Here is an informative extract, where Bette writes about her anguish at discovering that a four-year-old foster child was the victim of sexual abuse by the child’s own father:
I asked (the social worker) if Paul was going to get home access with Sally, and Jenny was non-committal as usual, saying that the meeting would decide the outcome.
If your local bookstore does not have this wonderful book on sale, insist they get it in for you.
Comments? Email Michael Darby
Sunday, June 08, 2003
The Zimbabwe ‘Stay Away’ Push: Reports
THE BRUISED, BATTERED, robbed, tortured and starved people of Zimbabwe are simply not prepared to take any more. The widespread belief is that nothing can be worse than the continuation of Mugabe’s illegal and despotic rule. So in great numbers the people have been responding to the call for a nation-wide “Stay-away”, in the full knowledge that they face, unarmed and unassisted, the whole State apparatus of repression
Robert Mugabe long ago declared war on his own people, much as Stalin declared war on the unfortunate citizens of the Captive Nations of Europe. That one-sided war now incorporates every imaginable brutality. The victims are no longer safe anywhere, even in a hospital.
Following are recent despatches from the brave men and women whose friends and families are being attacked as you read this.
Personal Account from Jenni Williams
AFTER 24 HOURS of reports of intimidation of family members attempting to bring food to those brave people being held for participation in the week of action, Human Rights Activists Jenni Williams and Sheba Dube-Phiri entered the Bulawayo Central Police Station with food. Some suspects being moved around from suburban station-to-station could have not been fed since Monday 2nd June.
On 2nd June 3 family members had been arrested feeding those arrested and had themselves been arrested and are still in custody. Today alone the Crisis Information Centre (CIC) had received 6 messages from families of suspects requesting assistance with food and the delivery of it to police stations as they were facing harassment.
Due to these arrests, the prominent activists sought the company of two human rights lawyers, Trevor Ndebele and Kosam Ncube.
All went well initially with the activists being made to carry the food to the fence surrounding the Cells. Several plain-clothes officers entered the courtyard and one embarrassed officer approached us and indicated that he had ‘received orders from above’ that we were to go back into the front charge office and await return of food containers.
We sat there for some time before a tall Central Intelligence Officer reeking of alcohol came to us and said, “MaPhiri what are you doing feeding people – Come here”. We all got up and accompanied him to the courtyard where he stopped us.
This officer is known to Sheba Phiri as Muchena, he is always drunk and disorderly and shabbily dressed. He was in a green shirt.
He then started to ask why she had bought all this food and why she was feeding these people. Shouting loudly, he switched to the lawyers and asked why they were here and asked if their bills had been paid. “Do you know that we have food here we do not need your food. Do you know why these people are here?
The lawyers proffered their cards and indicated that they had a right to feed their clients.
“If you are supporting them in what they are doing you must go inside with them.” By then other officers had come to observe and spotting one, he said to one called Banda to take us upstairs and arrest us.
Phoning furiously we made our way up the steps to law and order, a place most Byo activists are familiar with and when we arrived we were greeted by Mr Matshazi (a green bomber elevated to police officer) who told us to go into an office.
In that office, we saw another officer interviewing Sibothe Mpofu, a personal aide to MDC MP Fletcher Dulini-Ncube. He had obvious injuries but we could not speak with him.
After some minutes, Officer Banda came in and said, “It is a little thing that will be solved soon,” and he left. After some minutes our arresting officer, Muchena came in and started to verbally abuse us threatening to kill us. Two officers came in and cautiously tried to coax him away in an obvious attempt to stop him from arresting us. It is obvious from they way they gently touched him that they knew he would lash out at us at any minute.
He once again berated Sheba for coming to feed people. He then asked the lawyers for their cards and asked me if I was a lawyer. I replied by explaining that I was there for Human rights and he said you and Phiri are ok to feed people but not the lawyers.
Turning back to the lawyers, he lectured them on the fact that the law and order department were working tirelessly to restore law and order but there is a Hondo (war). “Don’t you know that I can make you disappear (can abduct and kill you)?”
He was then pulled away with the lawyer’s cards in his hand. He returned after a few minutes with more vitriol. He said if we fed people without tasting the food, it could be poisoned. A position we agreed with but the officers in the detention room had not allowed us time to do so and once we taste it we must have visual sight of it reaching the recipients, which we could not do as we had been chased into the front charge office. He then said you can go and we did not have to wait for him to say this twice and after a 20-minute detention, we left to return another day.
We began to make our way out to comments from Matchazi, which we ignored. It was wonderful to arrive home safe and sound and I look forward to supper and a good night’s sleep. Some 300 activists will not enjoy the same tonight as they remain in ‘state accommodation’ but at least 40 of them had a wholesome and plentiful supper tonight!
In closing I pay tribute to Monica Lubimbi, Sikhanisiwe Ngulube and Alice Mkhandla in detention since yesterday morning; they went as I did to feed people and got arrested for it!
MIDNIGHT 4TH JUNE 2003: News just received that 40 MDC youth members were arrested at their base on the outskirts of Bulawayo. Assumed amongst those arrested are George Moyo, the organising secretary and the owner of the house. The group were pounced on by police and army in two army trucks and it is unclear whether they have been taken.
State concedes no law prohibits stayaways
THE ILLEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT of Zimbabwe today admitted that there was no law which forbids any citizen from organising or participating in a stay away. This admission was made by the Attorney-General's office in the treason trial in which the state is seeking an order from High Court Judge Paddington Garwe to alter the bail conditions of Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Welshman Ncube to include a condition which bars them from saying anything which the state considers could lead to public disorder.
The admission comes against the background of the fact that MDC vice-president Gibson Sibanda was last month arrested and put on leg irons and held in police custody for a week on allegations of organising an illegal stay away. Many other MDC parliamentarians, leaders and activists have been arrested and tortured on the same charge. This means that all these people were arrested and tortured using a law that does not exist.
This also proves that all the propaganda by junior minister Jonathan Moyo about stay aways being illegal is based on ignorance and lack of basic understanding of ZImbabwe's laws. Zimbabweans must therefore realise that in arresting people for organising or participating in stay aways, they will be breaking the law.
Tichaona Kaguru confirmed murdered by the army and police.
MDC ACTIVIST TICHONA KAGURU (33) is confirmed dead after being abducted and brutally tortured by the ZRP and members of the Zimbabwe National Army allegedly led by one Marange officer-in-charge of Mbare. Kaguru was abducted with Sydney Mazaranhanga at the house of Mazaranhanga who is the Councillor for MDC in Mbare at around 4pm.
Mazaranhanga who narrated the ordeal that the two went through confirmed this. An army truck and a police truck arrived at the house and they searched the whole house alleging that a meeting was being held at this house. When they failed to find anyone they abducted Mazaranhanga and his nephew Tichaona Kaguru and threw them into the army truck and started assaulting them. They assaulted them with batons, wires and booted feet all over their bodies and heads. As this was happening the truck was driving towards Chikurubi and they stopped near a bush in Mabvuku where some sewage pipes had burst. The two were made to roll over in this sewage.
They were further assaulted and then threatened with death if they ever revealed their ordeal as this would tarnish the image of the police force and the Government of Zimbabwe. Kaguru was very weak and could hardly walk and so Mazaranhanga went to seek help. He managed to get a vehicle from Circle Cement, which took the two to Chikurubi Clinic. All the staff there refused to attend the two saying that the clinic only catered for the police. They insisted that they had to call an ambulance. The two waited for an ambulance for over two hours. When it finally came Kaguru was pronounced dead. His body was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital. Mazaranhanga was also treated at Parirenyatwa and discharged this morning.
This brutality in which innocent Zimbabweans are abducted from their homes and brutally murdered by the police and members of the National Army proves that Zimbabweans are living in an era of barbarism that is sanctioned by an illegitimate regime. The freedom that the people won in 1980 has effectively been taken away. Not only has this regime failed to provide food and jobs for the people of Zimbabwe, it goes to their homes to take away precious lives and beloved breadwinners of families. Kaguru leaves behind a wife and three children.
Last month Tonderai Machiridza was taken from his home and tortured to death at St Mary’s Police Station. Steven Tonera also died in Ruwa as a result of torture by state agents in Ruwa.
This death will not deter us. Instead it will inspire the people of Zimbabwe to strengthen their resolve in demanding freedom, justice and accountability.
Sadly we know that this will not happen under the illegitimate Mugabe regime. We know that the perpetrators of this crime will walk free while Kaguru’s family and all the people of Zimbabwe mourn yet another precious life.
MP denied bail
MILTON GWETU, MDC member of parliament for Mpopoma was denied bail today when he appeared in court in Bulawayo. He was remnded in custody until Friday. He appeared with other MDC officials, Getrude Mtombeni, Abraham Mdlongwa and a 13 year boy who was only identified as Mpofu. The 13 year old boy is in police custody and his bail application is being done tomorrow.
Two women, Monica Luwindi and Sikhanyisiwe Ngulube were arrested by the police after they had gone with food to give to some MDC supporters who are police custody . Police in Bulawayo have been looking for five MDC councillors.
Ten MDC supporters who were arrested in Bulawayo are missing . Their whereabouts are not known.
The lawyers representing the MDC supporters, Costa Ncube have not found them. He has been making frantic efforts to find them but the police are not eager to give information. He was almost arrested.
Comments? Email Michael Darby