Electoral backlash in Aussie bush
Brisbane: Australia's economic-political crisis deepened as large numbers of voters in Queensland state embraced the anti-Asian, protectionist platform of the One Nation Party on Saturday.
With 80 percent of the vote counted, One Nation had 23 percent -- ballots that in previous elections have gone to either the conservative coalition or the more liberal Labor Party in the northwestern state.
One Nation's federal leader, Pauline Hanson, has described Asian immigrants as an alien presence bringing crime and disease to Australia. Mrs Hanson is promising an end to all immigration into Australia, an end to special funding for aborigines and a retreat from globalisation.
Hanson said the result showed that Mr Howard had ``let down the Australian people ... he definitely needs a wake-up call''. And the tide of economic disappointment has kept trekking to the right to be harnessed by One Nation's simplistic view of the world.
But the editorial collective of New Dawn Magazine said last night the result could be a re-run of Germany in 1933."The sham patriots in the One Nation Party are gaining due to the masses rejection of traitorous established parties," New Dawn said."The masses are rejecting globalisation and demanding Australian independence, but have no where to turn but to the neo-fascist One Nation Party.
The American cable news giant CNN said the election had changed the political face of Australia, with One Nation making the "most major" debut by a political party in Australia, while Associated Press, reporting from Gympie, said: "For the first time since the White Australia policy was abolished in 1973, an Australian political party that appeals to a belief (in) racial superiority is firmly established as a viable alternative to the mainstream parties."
Australia's reputation as a tolerant, open society is at risk from One Nation's racist overtones on issues such as Aboriginal affairs and immigration. Commentators are afraid this could also damage Australia's relations with its neighbours in south-east Asia, where Pauline Hanson's views on Asian immigrants have been reported extensively.
But there's been widespread anger in Australia at delays to a national
anti-racism campaign. The Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of
Australia said an anti-racism campaign is urgently needed, as there is
a lot of bigotry in some sections of the community. And the chairman of
the New South Wales Ethnic Affairs Commission, Stepan Kerkyasharian, said
there's no federal government committment to fighting racism.
Racists planned to poison Mandela
Cape Town: South Africa's apartheid-era government had plans to damage Nelson Mandela's brain by slipping him a drug that attacked the nervous system, a scientist said Wednesday.
In testimony before a panel investigating apartheid crimes, Schalk van Rensburg said his superior, Andre Immelman, told him of plans to disable Mandela by giving him thallium. The plot was discussed at the end of Mandela's 27 years in prison and for a short time after his release in 1990. "The intention, I understood, was to reduce his level of intellectuality and effectiveness by inducing brain damage," he said.
A 1986 report from the State Security Council, which coordinated the crackdown on anti-apartheid activists, suggested Mandela could be released only when he was in such a poor state of health that he could not continue to lead the ANC.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is investigating the former apartheid army's chemical and biological weapons project "Operation Coast", headed by Wouter Basson, who ran the operation through an elaborate network of front companies.
This week scientists admitted having experimented on baboons to devise drugs to reduce black fertility. One described how he had been ordered to manufacture a tonne of ecstasy and a tonne of mandrax in an attempt to demoralise the black liberation movements by flooding the townships with narcotics.
Dr Schalk van Rensburg, former director of Roodeplaats Research Laboratories, confirmed that apartheid poisoners were behind the mysterious 1989 illness that nearly killed the then South African Council of Churches leader Reverend Frank Chikane, an anti-apartheid activist who survived to join Mandela's Government.
Chikane was almost killed by organophosphate contact poisons which had been secretly painted onto his underwear. Dr van Rensburg said other means of administering poison, including needles disguised as screwdrivers and powder-puffing signet rings, were also developed and given to police and military agents.
Lawyers acting for the commission were able to present one reluctant witness with an official list of products produced for the security forces bv RRL's laboratory, including whisky spiked with toxic herbicide, cigarettes dipped in anthrax and chocolates poisoned with botulism.
At the centre of the web of front companies was Dr Wouter Basson, a brigadier in the South African Defence Forces and at one time President P.W. Botha's personal physician. In 1983, Basson was appointed to command Operation Coast, South Africa's chemical and biological weapons programme, and encouraged to set civilian companies to do the research.
It is not yet clear to what extent any of these drugs or biological agents were used, within or without South Africa. In 1992, a secret report drawn up for President F. W. de Klerk concluded there was evidence that South Africa's Seventh Medical Divisionócommanded by Bassonó had been involved in a chemical bomb attack against the Mozambique Government in the late 1980s.
Earlier this week, scientists involved in Basson's projects described
working in a factory that churned out chocolates, drinks and cigarettes
spiked with lethal chemicals used by government hit squads.
The truth commission's chairman, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, said he was
horrified at the the details that had emerged about the apartheid government's
biological and chemical weapons arsenal this week. "For me it's actually
the worst thing in two years," Tutu said. "I'm trying to retain faith in
UN addresses World Drug Problem
United Nations: The General Assembly targeted commitments to reduce the demand for illicit drugs, the manufacture of psychotropic substances by the year 2008 this week. In addition, they decided to give attention to demand reduction by working with youth through education, information activities and other preventive measures.
That action was taken at the conclusion of the General Assembly's twentieth special session on countering the world drug problem together, as it adopted, without a vote, a Political Declaration, a Declaration on the Guiding Principles of Drug Demand Reduction and a resolution on measures to enhance international cooperation to counter the world drug problem -- the first ever international agreements aimed solely at examining individual and collective problems arising from drug abuse.
The global drug situation has been exacerbated by the recent changes in the world economic system, many speakers said. Globalization, the liberalization of international markets and the suppression of borders have allowed the drug trade to flourish. The development of satellite communications and other technical advancements have endowed trafficking networks with new and efficient working tools to adapt, and better exploit, the world economic system.
Moreover, money-laundering also threatens the security of financial systems, many speakers pointed out. It also threatens the international trading system and provides vast financial resources to international drug cartels.
"At both national and international levels, attention should be turned not only to the illicit activities of the poor, but also to denying profits generated by the money-laundering industry. Estimates indicate that approximately $2 trillion cross the globe every day," the representative of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China.
"Developing countries, grappling with the consequences of poverty, were not able to fully participate in solutions to the drug problem," Makarim Wibisono said."The desperate plight of those countries becomes more evident and more tragic in light of the fact that revenue from illegal drug trade was nearly 10 times the level of official development assistance (ODA). The importance of development, and the role of poverty and socio-economic exclusion in illicit activities cannot be overstressed."
The prerequisites for combating the drug problem were overwhelming and exceeded the capability of most developing countries, many of which were grappling with the consequences of poverty. Given market access, stable prices for crops and fair trade, most of the millions of people involved in producing, trafficking and consuming would choose alternative lifestyles.
Drug trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar industry, leaving no country untouched. The International Monetary Fund estimates that 2 to 5 per cent of the world's Gross Domestic Product comes from laundered money.
By the Political Declaration, Member States committed themselves to achieving significant and measurable results in demand reduction by the year 2008. They also committed themselves to establishing the year 2003 as a target date for new or enhanced drug demand-reduction strategies and programmes set up in collaboration with public health, social welfare and law enforcement authorities.
In a closing statement, delivered on his behalf by Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug Control Programme, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the end of the session marked the start of a new chapter in global drug control.
"We are not starting a new 'War on Drugs'. In fact, there never was
one. Instead, the better analogy for the international community is that
of a doctor facing a deadly disease. Drugs -- quite simply -- kill people.
And it is our responsibility to help find the cure. With the adoption of
the Political Declaration and the Action Plans, we took further steps forward
towards a drug-free world."
Papal envoy calls for end of embargo on Iraq
Baghdad: Pope John Paul's envoy Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, ending a visit to Iraq on Saturday called for an end to the eight-year sanctions imposed on Iraq.
``The embargo, through its perverse and its uncontrollable effects, is destroying the spirit of the Iraqi people,'' Etchegaray said in a statement issued before his departure on Friday.
Etchegaray arrived in Baghdad last Sunday to attend a "The Church in the Service of Peace and Humanity" conference of Christian churches. Conference sources said more than 120 religious personalities attended Iraq's three-day church conference which began last Monday.
In his statement, written in French, Etchegaray said Iraq's Christian conference ``testifies to the evangelical solidarity with Iraqi Christians who share the sufferings of a whole population which is wounding to the depths of its human dignity.''
Just one day before his departure, Cardinal Etchegaray led a group of Christian clergymen in a trip dubbed by a Vatican official as "pilgrimage of faith'' to the Iraqi town of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham revered by Jews, Christians and Moslems.
The French cardinal, who heads the Vatican's committee for the year 2000, has said the Pope is studying the possibility of marking the millennium by visiting the Iraqi town of Ur, birthplace of the patriarch Abraham revered by Jews, Christians and Moslems.
``It is in this religious sense on the eve of new millennium which will celebrate 2000 years since the birth of Christ that Pope John Paul II wishes to make a pilgrimage to the land which saw the birth of Abraham,'' his statement read.
Iraq's Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs Abdul-Muneim Ahmed Saleh said more than 190 mosques and churches were destroyed in Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War and called the continued sanctions on Iraq a ``mark of shame on those in Britain and the United States who pretend to belong to Christianity.''
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, himself a Christian, earlier this year traveled to meet Pope John Paul II, brought the campaign against the UN embargo to the Vatican where he found a sympathetic ear from the pontiff in a private meeting and from other top Roman Catholic officials.
During his stay in Iraq, Etchegaray said the church denounced ``the folly of the solution of armaments as well as the injustice of economic weapon when it does not cease wounding an innocent population.'' His comments were echoed by Raphael Bidawid, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon and leader of Iraq's largest Christian community, who criticised the ``unjust embargo'' on Iraq and also said peace could not be reached through one-sided disarmament.
The sanctions, which Iraq blames for the death of 1.5 million people,
cannot be lifted until Iraq convinces Richard Butler and UNSCOM that
it has scrapped all weapons of mass destruction.
US rejects UN Proposal for PNG
Washington has reportedly objected to United Nations proposals for a five-man UN political office in Papua New Guinea on Friday.
The AFP newsagency quotes diplomats as saying the United States was seeking further financial clarifications on the proposals. The UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, plans to deploy the mission to support a peace agreement signed at the end of April between separatist leaders on the island of Bougainville and Port Moresby.
AFP says that during closed-door consultations at the UN Security Council, the American delegation wanted to ensure the 1.4 million dollars needed for the operation would not be added to the UN regular budget.
Washington, which owes more than one billion dollars in UN dues, has
established tough criteria for supporting new U-N operations. AFP says
that during the meeting, Britain's Ambassador, Sir John Weston, expressed
frustration with the US position.
US wharf protest in MUA support
Los Angeles: A rowdy but peaceful assembly of unionists and community activists voiced strong protest over the anti-union policies of the Howard Government and to smash the Maritime Union of Australia.
Chanting MUA -Here to stay, no scab labor in LA. One of the more popular chants was about the Australian prime minister, "John Howard, has got to go!" On 19th floor inside the Australian Consulate over 100 people presented in person a written statement to an Australian Consular official.
The representative from the Australian government, told the demonstrators he would personnaly make sure that Prime Minister John Howard and the Australian Industrial Relations Minister would receive the letter immediately.
"On our way out of the consulate, we ended up having a long discussion with the Australian govt representative about Harry Bridges, and why we are so proud of him, how the American govt tried so many times to deport him back to Australian, but the American workers would not let it happen,and how Harry's spirit was in the room at the moment,"Teresa Conrow - an activist confided. "He was proud that Harry was an Australian, but needless to say we made it clear that we were even prouder of him and that he was ours, and it was our day."
Meanwhile Australia has been ordered to appear before the standards committee of the International Labor Office's (ILO) annual conference in Geneva to face criticism of the Federal Workplace Relations Act.
It is the first time Australia has had to make such an appearance. Australia's federal industrial relations law has been held up to public scrutiny in the international forum of the ILO's annual convention.
Union delegates from Japan and New Zealand, as well as Australia, have
criticised the Act, while an Australian Government representative argued
that it was inappropriate that the Government be required to appear