Undergroundnetwork


Voting for violence by underground

The question on the paper reads “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”. When I received my citizen initiated referendum voting paper I asked myself “What accelerant would best burn my ballot?”.

Nine million dollars wasted during a recession. The question is absolute bullshit. Anyone half literate agrees. It does not ask the Government to do anything. If the referendum was binding, nothing would come of any vote. And fortunately anyway, our Prime Minister has the sense to shut the whole thing down before the vote is out.

No is yes and yes is no. The question requires one to acknowledge that  smacking is “good parental correction”, against the judgement of the social agencies who we trust with our most vulnerable and child experts the world over.

We are taught that violence is never the answer for anything. New Zealanders’ pacifist psyche has surprisingly been discarded on this issue. All of a sudden violence is a reasonable way to deal with a situation you cannot handle. Don’t say it is not violence to smack a child. To use physical force to get someone to do what you want, or to stop them doing something you don’t want them to, is violence. What message does this teach children?

The issue has been distorted. The repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act was to remove the defence of “reasonable force”. The cases where this law was used to keep child abusers from justice have been well documented. Those who have distorted this argument are absolving these child abuses of their actions. How was it the country was so easily deceived by coercive lobby groups? The PM has rightly said he will only look at reversing the amendment if it is shown not to work. The police have come out repeatedly saying there is no sign it isn’t working. Is the country not listening?

Social norms change. A referendum 40 or 50 years ago on something like smoking in restaurants or airplanes, women’s rights to choose, homosexuality, corporate punishment or pay equality would have received different results than now. Things that were once not acceptable are now common place and visa versa. It’s called evolving. Otherwise it would be only wealthy landowners casting their votes  while their slaves sustain their lavish lifestyles. Or life in Iran.

People are already using violence less against their children. In thirty years time smacking will be a dirty word. And the Neanderthal’s children will herald a brighter future where violence is not acceptable. Ever.



On winners and losers by underground

Like the sadist I am, sometimes I like to watch Fox News, cheerleaders of religious conservatism, where the likes of O’Reilly and Hannity make the most ridiculous assertions. According to Hannity, Obama is a socialist because of the US’s increasing deficit, despite George W Bush’s efforts to plunge the surplus he inherited into the red. Yesterday, I enjoyed Hannity slating the network’s opposition for their criticism of the Fox-endorsed anti-Obama “tea party” protests. While I believe it is part of the media role to often advocate a cause, organising anti-government protests is hardly fair and unbiased. And who are the people protesting? They are not the millions who took to the streets objecting to Bush’s illegal war and the erosion of civil liberties. They are tens of thousands of people who voted for the guy that did not win a democratic election last year. They are the sorest of losers, who supported a failed president for eight years and have written off the guy who inherited his mess; a troubled economy and a fractured nation. They are Hannity and Co.’s rent-a-crowd.

In New Zealand, the Left have had to stomach a National Government for six months and, even more difficult, the realisation that John Key is not as bad as previously believed. Key’s empty rhetoric and lack of substance pre-election concerned many, but his inclusive, measured governance has caused a re-think from many. There are indications unpopular policy may be in the pipeline and their pre-Christmas rush and their 100-day inaction may have given opponents some amnunition, but for the time being it’s plain sailing for the Government. The losers of the last election will need to regroup and consider their moves for the future. Let’s not see the pathetic sore-loser response shown by the tea baggers across the Pacific.



Israel is not an island. by underground

As if contestants in the TV show survivor, Israeli soldiers have been granted immunity from prosecution by their prime minister for participating in the last game show challenge.

From the BBC:

In Israel, Prime Minister Olmert told a weekly cabinet meeting that soldiers who had put their lives on the line for their country need not fear prosecution for war crimes overseas.

“The commanders and soldiers that were sent on the task in Gaza should know that they are safe from any tribunal and that the State of Israel will assist them in this issue and protect them as they protected us with their bodies during the military operation in Gaza,” he said.

What is Olmert saying here? That international law does not cover Israel? That, theoretically, an Israeli soldier could rape, massacre, torture, in fact do anything they desire,  safe in the knowledge that their PM will not allow them to be held accountable? Does this not encourage the crimes we have heard reported from Gaza in the past conflict? Why concern oneself with abiding by international conventions when you are exempt from their consequences?

Olmert expects the international community to condemn and punish Hamas criminals for violating international law, rightly, however will not play ball and allow his own forces to be held accountable for their actions. In insisting their troops are outside of international law, with the assistance of the US, Olmert and his predecessors are allowing and even encouraging Israeli soldiers to violate human rights. So when kids on beaches are shelled, when homes are bulldozed with the occupants still inside and marked UN buildings and refugee camps are fired upon, Olmert and his associates are as culpable as the commander who gives the order to fire. Perhaps the next time he is outside of his country’s borders, Olmert should be held accountable to the international laws he flouts and be tried at the Hague.



Obamania: Sickness or cure? by underground

I was bored today. That is the only way I can explain me watching Entertainment Tonight’s inauguration special. I now know what Barack, Michelle and the girls were wearing, who performed live, who thought what, when, why and how. Thousands of people were in the streets, celebrating as though World War Two had just been declared over. Everyone was so excited, every superlative exhausted, every glowing face crying tears of liquid patriotism. It was beautiful. It was history. It was mindnumbing crap.

On a level with perhaps only JFK, Obama is as much a politician as he is a celebrity. What he wears and who he is seen with is as important as what he says and what he does. For all some people seem to care, he could be a chart topping rapper. His number one single is “Yes we can” and his Gold selling album is “Change we can believe in”. People are going crazy over a politician. A politician!  Is this a good thing?

Is this a case of style over substance? Surely it is great people are inspired and interested in politics and ideals, but is Obama much more than slogans and great oratary skills? During the campaign he initially impressed me, particular during the Democratic Primaries, but gradually he has appeared to me as less of a deviation from the status quo as his slogans declare him to be. I was excited as anyone when he won the election, as excited as a non-American could (should) be, but I believe the hype is going over board. Is this man really the messiah? I’m not writing him off, I know he will be an improvement on his predecessor, but considering the mammoth tasks ahead of him I’m keeping my expectations low!

The question I am pondering, is will Obama get people who previously didn’t care about politics, society or the world to follow important issues with interest and participate actively in democracy, or is he simply a cult of personality, divorced from any substance, popular for who he isn’t, worshipped like a teen heart-throb?

I suppose I’ll know in four years time.



Ceasefire: Hope for the gullible. by underground

Delivering a speech laced with propaganda Goebbels would be proud of, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has announced a unilateral ceasefire in Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Apparently Israel has achieved its objectives in the war, which must have been to inflict as many casualties on the Gaza’s civilian population. Claims by Olmert that the military have resisted attacking “terrorists” in some cases during the operation because of the potential harm to civilians runs contrary to media reports and UN claims. No doubt the insulated ignorant within Israels borders will lap up Olmerts assurances. Few outside the nation will.

The unilateral ceasefire is hope for the gullible. Hamas is not a signitary and have pledged to continue the fight while occupying forces remain in Gaza. Israel have reserved the right to respond. Considering it was Israels inability to honour the conditions of the last ceasefire which began this disgusting war, this ceasefire is as worthless as Olmert’s word.

So what has been achieved? Israel points to the damage inflicted on Hamas and the governments infrastructure as evidence of the operation’s success. Hamas leaders are dead or in hiding. Many militants are dead. However Hamas will not struggle to recruit replacements. With over 1,000 dead and 5,000 injured, it won’t be hard to find people who want to fight against the Israeli aggressors. Israel has won no support from Palestinians. With every war crime a new terrorist/freedom fighter is born. Peace is very clearly not on Olmert’s agenda. And so the war continues.



Caveat emptor or something like that. by underground

I bought a TV the other day. I had no idea what I was looking at when I bought it, I just wanted the cheapest one with a screen large enough to be seen from the beanbag positioned one and a half metres away. I’m pleased with the one I got, despite the poor reception we have to put up with and will continue to put up with until I get up on the roof to wiggle the aerial or pay to get the satellite operating as more than a roof ornament.

Dubbed the “4x4s of the living room” plasma screens have just been banned in Britain. Turns out they are “energy guzzlers”, and hardly the acquisition of a responsible world citizen. And with global warming an accepted reality for everyone that can comprehend that pollution must obviously have an adverse effect on our environment, banning the sale of these living room equivalents to a coal-power station makes sense, doesn’t it?

Apparently not. Continue reading



Defending the indefensible by underground

After the bombing of UN schools, mosques and universities, as well as firing at marked aid workers and their vehicles, it is evident Israel has no concern for civilian populations in their latest military campaign against the people of Gaza. From the same military who coated parts of Lebanon in cluster bombs, indiscriminate killing devices, in the final hours of the 2006 war with Hezbollah after a cease fire was agreed, as well as past refugee camp massacres and the shelling of a Gaza beach two years ago, no one is surprised, however most are shocked. For most commentators, politicians and people on the street, there is no defence for Israel’s military actions.

However there are some who do support these actions. And not just Israelis who lap up their military’s “defensive” attacks, intended to muster electoral support for an ailing government. Letters to editors and blog comments show the aggressive state has supporters outside its borders. Opponents of Israel are labelled “anti-Semitic” wilfully ignorant to the fact the Palestinians are also Semites! According to these people the conflict traces back only as far as the pitiful Hamas rockets fired into Israeli southern towns, cited as Hamas breaking an existing truce, ignoring Israel’s own failure to honour the agreement. To these people, who choose to see only half the story, Israel’s aggressive bombing campaign and invasion are entirely justified; every innocent death is merely unfortunate, collateral damage in Israel’s pursuit for peace. Continue reading