one girl’s perspective on life, neopaganism, veganism, politics, books, films, and… stuff.

Posts tagged ‘In The News’

Australia’s Attempts at Prohibition

Well, okay, they’re not actively working towards complete prohibition (the alcohol industry earns waaaaaay too much), but the government is working on impeding on civil liberties. At the moment, what I want to rant talk about is THIS article.

For those too impatient to read the entire thing, it’s basically saying that we should entirely condemn the ‘DrinkWise’ anti-alcohol campaign, because it’s sponsored by the alcohol industry. And then goes on to tangentially mention the sports industry’s support of alcohol products, the “underage drinking epidemic!!!”, and the whole issue of basically “no-one ought to be allowed to smoke, ever”.

Yeah, it’s well thought out and completely rational. *ahem*

For starters, it’s plain stupid to completely condemn the entire campaign because of whence it derives its funding; ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’ springs to mind. As for the argument that it’s because of this source of funding that the campaign doesn’t work – uh, no. They’ve done studies on government funded anti-drinking campaigns, and shown that they also have very little effect on people’s drinking habits. It’s not a question of where the funds come from, it’s a question of finding a method of transmission of information that actually works. Of course, that would basically require a complete overhaul of Australian social values and attitudes, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

One of my main problems with government officials (and every other wealthy bastard) condemning drinking and smoking is this: it’s an individual’s choice. You step in and tell people what they can and can’t do in their lives, as far as personal choice goes (and where it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of others, obviously) and you are setting a dangerous precedent for 1984-esque levels of control (of course, that’s what the government wants, but that’s a whole other rant). Yes, I do understand the argument that these activities cost the health system a shitload of money. Much like, hmm, obesity and the myriad of health problems associated with being overweight. I don’t see the government stepping in and shutting down fast-food chains, or assisting in lowering the price of health food and taxing the fuckery out of anything deep-fried. Ahh, the sweet smell of blatant hypocrisy.

The only thing I agree with in this article is that it’s stupid to have athletic events, such as hand egg ‘football’, financially sponsored by the alcohol and tobacco industry. That being said, Australians like to be distracted by mindless drivel, such as television and sports, and the funding has to come from somewhere. I’d rather see government funding being distributed to things like education than the pursuit of head-injuries. There’s also something delightfully ironic about something that kills brain cells (i.e. alcohol) lending financial support to something so brainless (i.e. sport). But it does provide yet another vehicle by which pro-drinking sentiments enter into social consciousness, which harks back to my earlier point; if you want to stop binge-drinking, etc. then the social norms and mores of Australian society would have to be changed.

Besides, distract the population with brainless pursuits, and you can basically do whatever you want. I thought that was the ultimate goal of any government?

In the News: Biker Gangs Are the New “Terrorists”?

What can I say, I’m the eternal skeptic. This decade has seen some great examples of fear-mongering propaganda sneaking into western ideology, from “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, “Al-Quaeda plot to destroy western society”, “North Korea is going to kill us all”, to “Oh no! Reds under the bed! Russia is going to take over the world… again”.

And now, we have “Bikie gangs are going to have all-out war in Australia.”

I don’t know whether to laugh at the sheer stupidity of this (quick, everyone, let’s race to become the 51st state of the U.S. – first, we need gangs. Next up – relaxed gun laws!), or roll my eyes in disgust that it seems to be working because people are actually believing this shit.

Hmm. Let’s consider this, realistically, for a minute. According to the papers, a man was beaten to death in Sydney airport, as part of an “escalating bikie gang war”. Am I really the only one who sees how ridiculously fabricated this is?

1. Beaten to death; beating someone to death takes at least a little time, no matter how efficient you are. It’s also messy and chaotic, unlike the efficiency of shooting someone with a silencer, where no-one’s sure what happened for a minute, and you can slip away. So, these people are members of “big scary gangs”, and yet they happen to pick THE most inefficient method of execution, in the WORST possible spot. Which brings me to my next point:

2. In Sydney Airport; you know, one of the most secure airports in the world?!? Anyone who’s ever been through it knows that you can’t fucking cough without security guards being on your case. Americans have commented on how strict the security there is, and their country isn’t exactly relaxed about airport security these days. So we’re expected to believe that this happened in the airport, and, mysteriously, no-one showed up to stop it? Bullshit. It had to have been at least partially an “inside job”, in that someone has given a directive to do NOTHING in this clearly pre-arranged event.

3. “Escalating bikie gang war”; I’m pretty sure that, for something to escalate, it has to begin. This is pretty much the first real mention of any such “war” in Sydney, on any large scale. Good fear-mongering emotive use of language though. And now that this “war” has been created (by the politicians and media, not by motorbike riders), we can be publically seen to “do something about it”.

Which brings me to the point of all this: why bother? Sure, there’s the perpetual government-agenda of keeping the public subdued through fear and intimidation, but there’s another great benefit. Political ratings! Tell people that there’s this huge threat (there isn’t), then tell everyone that you’re taking extreme measures to resolve it (you’re not), and you’re seen as a public hero! And, no doubt as an added bonus, the money you’re (not) “spending” on police task forces or whatever, well, there’s that lovely set of $30,000 curtains you’ve been eyeing…

Wake up and think for yourselves, people. The real thing to worry about is the possibility of what they’re doing to the country, while everyone’s locked indoors and trembling in fear.

Your meat or your life, sir

“The National Cancer Institute study is one of the largest to look at the highly controversial and emotive issue of whether eating meat is indeed bad for health.”

So, once again, in a study not sponsored by the American meat and dairy industry, eating meat (particularly red meat) has been linked with increases in just about every disease, including heart disease and several types of cancer. (Read the full article here.)

They’re right, though: as much as vegetarians and vegans are criticised for being “overly emotional” when it comes to animals, in my experience, few things will get a person more riled up than daring to suggest that eating meat is bad for them, bad for the environment, and it goes without saying that it’s the worst for the animals.

Sure, I’ll get annoyed when people won’t back off, and continue to criticise me for my choices. I’ll get downright angry at people who think there’s some big joke about torturing and brutalising animals. But if I turn around and question their ideals (or, rather, total lack thereof), I’m the worst thing to happen to this country since the Labor party was elected. (If you don’t see the blatant sarcasm there, you’re in the wrong blog.)

From the perspective of meat eaters, why is it a controversial issue? And why the hell is it an emotional one? I understand that you don’t want your civil rights infringed upon, but we’re not forcing you to stop eating meat, we’re trying to educate you so that, hopefully, at some point you’ll be smart enough to see that it’s really the only good choice here. Are you that addicted to the taste of a fatty, lard-dripping cheeseburger that you’d shed tears over it’s loss? Personally I’d cry over the senseless and brutal killing of thousands of animals every day, so that western society can continue to destroy itself through its own gluttony.

As for controversial: it’s only controversial because the meat and dairy industries, who’ve done nothing but cut back jobs instead of profits, and destroy the environment in their quest to spill as much blood as possible, tell us it is. It’s a non-issue. Anyone – who can be bothered getting past their own self-indulgent “But I wanna eat a steak!” bullshit – can see that not eating meat is a logical choice.

And this isn’t even considering the spiritual/humanitarian issues in eating meat. Personally, as a NeoPagan, especially one with strong Wiccan influence, I don’t think you can believe in an ethos of “harming none” and eating meat (this is a topic I’ll write more on, one day). I don’t think you can consider yourself “enlightened” or “progressive” as a species, when you still inflict unimaginable pain and suffering on other animals, based on your own absurd belief in your superiority. And all for no real reason.

Hopefully this is something to think about.

The U.S.’s “perspective” on the Russia-Georgia Conflict

Or, “another irritating example of American audacity and arrogance.”

So, the invasion of Georgia by Russia has been on the news, apparently. Why? Because they’re an American ally (it’s not like we get any world news coverage in this country anymore, unless it relates directly to the U.S. or Australia. Incidentally, isn’t that a scary little bit of subtle censorship? But I digress…), and because the United States are trying desperately to a) restart the Cold War, and b) deflect the world’s hatred of America onto Russia. Personally, I think there’s a lot more backstory to this conflict than we’re being told (isn’t there always?), and I don’t doubt that the Americans have something to do with this. Everything seems just a little too convenient.

But my conspiracy theories, and dislike of the U.S. and it’s attitude towards the rest of the world/humanity aside, I came across this article while trying to find more evidence for my theory. And… wow. It pretty much manages to singularly encapsulate so many of the things that I, and the rest of the intelligent world, hate about the U.S. and it’s current government.

To briefly summarise the article, it’s all about how the U.S. is condemning Russia for “[it’s] “unjustifiable assault” on Georgia.” Shit hey, that’s almost like that… invasion of… wait, what are they? Those middle eastern countries that have been invaded and occupied under completely fabricated pretenses by this big arrogant pseudo-democray? Oh! That’s right! America’s “unjustifiable assault on Iraq and Afghanistan!” How’re those WMD’s going?

The article opens with this pithy little paragraph:

Russia’s conflict with Georgia is the sign of a “weak” Russian nation, not a newly assertive one, and Moscow now has put its place in the world order at risk, the top U.S. diplomat for relations with the country said in an interview yesterday.

Huh. I like it that America, with it’s failing economy, slowly imploding society, and massive, massive, massive internal problems (crime rates, for a start. And the fact that, hey, you’re basically a 3rd world country, with the majority of people living in poverty, trying to convince people you’re really a “leading economic/industrial power”), has decided that it suddenly has the authority, and the omnipotent knowledge, to condemn other countries as “weak”. Not only that, they can, as one unimportant country (sad but true, Europe doesn’t rely on you, economically, whatsoever), decide that this move means that Russia has suddenly completely fucked it’s chances at “playing with the big boys”. Why? Because America “said so”? Man, if the people in the Kremlin have any sense, they’ll stay the hell away from the U.S., and avoid getting caught in it’s slipstream as it slips into obscurity.

We continue on with this scary little excerpt:

“U.S. policymakers have debated whether and how Russia should be punished for its incursion into Georgia. Already, a civil nuclear deal between Russia and the United States appears dead in Congress…”

“Punished.” That’s a frightening little choice of language right there. America is now, what, the police of the world? I understand that their country is now quite an efficient police state (good luck expressing any opposition to the government! Or the theocracy that it’s pretending not to be!), but… since when do America get to decide what’s right, what’s wrong, and what should be done about it? And, personally, I don’t think we should be deriving any kind of moral absolutes from a country that has a history of happily justifying it’s mass murder sprees (little things, like massacring civilians in Iraq, Japan , Vietnam, Korea, and Dresden do spring to mind). But that’s ok, because the U.S. assured everyone that all those people were the “bad guys”. Thank God for moral absolutes that justify killing millions of people!

The second frightening thing in that excerpt is the subtle declaration – left intentionally vague – the “civil nuclear deal” between Russia and the U.S. has been rejected. Well, isn’t this incursion into Georgia a convenient little excuse for America to, oh, up the ante on the “arms race”, reinstill the fear of “reds under the bed” in the populace, and (as the kaiser president is no doubt hoping) pick up the Cold War where it left off? And people wonder why I find this all to be suspiciously helpful.

So, let’s think about this: Russia is America’s long time nemesis. America is… well, fucked. But, considering their country is basically ruled by fear alone, wouldn’t reviving the terror of the Soviet Threat be a really good way to quiet the masses? And won’t this “new atrocity” hopefully distract everyone else in the world from the old, ongoing, major-scale atrocities the U.S. are committing in the Middle East? And why the fuck has America assumed that it has all this authority anyway? It’s a time-bomb sitting on the side of the earth – we just don’t yet know if it will implode or explode.

I don’t agree with Russia invading Georgia, or their sudden acknowledgement of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But I think that article’s comment that America is “… determined to prevent Russia from claiming a new sphere of influence in the Caucasus…” says it all. They don’t give a fuck about Georgia (look at the above links, since when do they give a shit about anyone?), they’re worried that Russia will gain more power. And they’re trying to convince the rest of the world to fear it too. So, please, please, please! Review the facts and wake up to what they’re trying to do!

I could keep going. There are a lot more issues with this, but… I’m too disgusted right now.

In the News: Australia Is Apparently a Theocracy

For those of you not in Australia, you may have missed all the (*ahem*) “excitement” revolving around “World Youth Day” – don’t let the name fool you, it has little to do with the younger members of society in general, and more to do with trying to reduce the religious freedom and tolerance in Australia. It’s basically a large day for promoting Christian supremacy in Australian society, and oppressing and dismissing any other religious groups.

Don’t believe me? Check out this news article.

According to the ABC, “Under the new regulations, people who refuse to stop engaging in conduct that causes annoyance or inconvenience to pilgrims can be arrested and fined up to $5,500.” I have numerous problems with these regulations:

  • Why are these people getting special treatment? I get annoyed and inconvenienced on a daily basis, unfortunately I don’t get to hit people with up to a $5,500 fine. Are we perhaps sending just a small message about the supposed primacy of Christianity there?
  • It’s both interesting and bloody dangerous that these regulations are so vague: I know plenty of “Christians” who are offended by hijabs, or burqas, or even pentacle necklaces. So if you happen to, say, live in Sydney and wear one of these, well, look out! It’s an extreme example, but these are pretty extreme regulations. I agree with the NSW Bar Association when they say that these “…new regulations for World Youth Day undermine basic rights and are an affront to freedom of speech”.
  • Stop referring to them as pilgrims. They’re not going to a spiritual destination for a spiritual purpose. The fact that they’ve come up with Draconian, intolerant regulations such as these just point out what a pathetic farce the entire event is, in an attempt to try and regain Christian supremacy in an increasingly atheist country.

On that note, they really need to stop calling it “World Youth Day”. It’s misleading, and infers that it’s inclusive of all the “youths”, when it’s clearly not. I think the above introduction of regulations more than demonstrates how exclusive this little event is.

I could rant more (say, about the fact that the government is wasting taxpayers money on a religious event that promotes intolerance and ideas of Christian superiority and bigotry, flagrantly defying the supposed distinction between Church and State in this country, or the interference with public transport, thus inconveniencing thousands of Sydney commuters), but I think I’ve made my point. I can only hope that plenty of people have the courage to stand up and offend the hell out of these self-righteous bastards in my absence.

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