Politically Speaking Archives


Election Musings

31 August, 2004 1:35 PM

Well it is Election time here in Australia. The PM - the spammer that he is - called an election for 9 October on the weekend. The media frenzy has begun - although I have to say in comparison to what is going on in the US (which I cannot get my head around at all) it is barely a blip on the radar thank goodness.

Our election campaigns only go for a matter of weeks (this one only 6 or so plus some preliminary campaigning in the lead up to the announcement). To me this makes a lot more sense than the months (years?) of what goes on in the US. I don't want to judge a system that I don't know but every time I see vision on the TV of what is going on at the conventions in the US I can't help but wonder what could be achieved if that kind of energy, time and money were to be poured into some issues like poverty, AIDs, peace etc.

I read one estimate that the 2000 presidential election cost $3.9billion (source) and that that figure has gone up from $540million in 1976 - its anyone's guess as to what this next one is costing!

Maybe I'm being a little naive but it all makes me a little sick in the stomach to think about.

Is the Australian Prime Minister is a Spammer?

27 August, 2004 3:54 PM

Last year our government brought in laws making illegal the use of unsolicited email for commercial purposes. Yesterday it became public that the Prime Minister has hired a firm to send unsoliceted emails to his electorate in the lead up to the next election.

"Mr Howard has hired his son Tim's company, Net Harbour, to send emails to voters in the prime minister's blue ribbon Sydney seat of Bennelong.

Labor's technology spokeswoman Kate Lundy said the government's own laws, which came into effect four months ago, banned commercial spamming.

But the laws exempt political parties and charities from using spam, which has become a crucial tool in communicating with voters.

"The prime minister has breached the spirit, if not the letter of anti-spam laws," Senator Lundy said."

Read more at Calls for probe into PM's spam

US Presidential Election Winner

1 July, 2004 11:48 AM

Get all the latest News on a variety of topics at Tractor Lease

Who will win the US Presidential Election? Will George W Bush win another term as US President or will John Kerry win the right to be US President for the next term of office? What will the results be?

The U.S. presidential election of 2004 is will occur on Election Day, Tuesday, November 2, 2004. After an election by the U.S. Electoral College on December 13, the winner will be inaugurated for a four-year term as President of the United States on January 20, 2005.

The Winner of the US Presidential Election won't be known for some time yet so we've put together this helpful list of resources to examine the US Presidential Election and its impending results.

- 2004 US Presidential Election Procedures - U.S. Election Procedures By Michael W. Traugott. 'In general, American voters have the opportunity to participate in more elections than the citizens of most other democracies. Some Americans may have five or six opportunities a year to vote, with each ballot filled with different choices for different offices at various levels of government....'

- CNN US Election Coverage - US Presidential election news, polls, predictions etc.

- John Kerry for President - the official site of John Kerry.

- George W Bush for President - Official site for George W Bush

- The Command Post - US Presidential Election Blog - a blog dedicated to following the US presidential news.

- US Elections 2004 - With latest news from the US Election for President - Election Result Predictions, description of the US Presidential Election procedures etc.

- How the President of the United States is Elected - a description of how the US President is elected. 'The basic process of selecting the President of the United States is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution, and it has been modified by the 12th, 22nd, and 23rd amendments. Many additional steps have been added over the years, by custom and by state law -- the process has changed quite a bit over time. Who Can Run? The President and Vice-President are elected every four years. They must be at least 35 years of age, they must be native-born citizens of the United States, and they must have been residents of the U.S. for at least 14 years. (Also, a person cannot be elected to a third term as President.)...'

- The Green Papers: General Election 2004 - 2004 Presidential Election by State.

- Who Should Win the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election? - written June 2003. 'Two years ago, we discovered the holy grail of Washington D. C., a formula to predict the electability of a presidential candidate before he or she is nominated (Schulman 2001). Now that it seems clear that George W. Bush will receive the Republican nomination, we have applied this formula to both him and to the nine currently-declared Democratic presidential candidates (plus three others who may decide to run). To review for those few readers who have not memorized the formula: Electability = 4P - V - S + R + 9G + 95DCI + 95GEN + 95NUC,...'

- U.S. presidential election, 2004: Meaning (information, definition, explanation) - an explanation of the US presidential election.

- Dave Leip's Atlas of US Presidential Elections - 'The Atlas is a free internet resource providing results of U.S. Presidential Elections to the world community. Data is collected from many official sources and presented here in one convenient location.'

A Passion for Cognitive Dissonance

15 March, 2004 11:59 PM

A challenging post over at Neurotribe comparing the amount spent on The Passion of the Christ with the Debt of of selected small countries.

The End of Feminism?

19 December, 2003 11:51 PM

The Green Man has an interesting post on how Feminism is dying out in more recent generations. It is worth the read.

World AIDS Day

1 December, 2003 9:53 AM

redribbon.jpgToday is World AIDS Day.

Five people worldwide die of AIDS every minute of every day. HIV has hit every corner of the globe, infecting more than 42 million men, women and children, 5 million of them last year alone.

- Worldwide, and in 2002 alone, AIDS claimed 3 million people last year.
- 95% of all AIDS cases occur in the world's poorest countries.
- In several southern African countries, at least one in five adults is HIV positive.
- In 2000, the HIV prevalence rate among pregnant women in South Africa rose to its highest level ever: 24.5%
- The estimated number of people living with HIV/AIDS at the end of 2002 is 42 million
- The total number of AIDS orphans worldwide is estimated to be 13.2 million

More information at UNAIDS

Please consider how you might respond today.

Vatican: Condoms don't stop AIDS

10 October, 2003 12:00 AM

'The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk. The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus.'

I'm not wanting to start a debate over the Catholic Church and its view of contraception - however isn't this approach somewhat irresponsible?

The most disturbing line in the article to me was this one that turned my stomach.

'Sex and the Holy City includes a Catholic nun advising her HIV-infected choirmaster against using condoms with his wife because "the virus can pass through".'

As someone who spent two months living and working in an Aids hospice in a slum in Bangkok this distresses me.

Californian Circus

5 October, 2003 10:58 PM

Is anyone else sick of the coverage of the Californian Governorship circus? Ok - it started off a little interesting, but frankly I can't wait til its all over. How and why does such a local (at the most national) issue get such dominant international coverage in the media? Lets get it over and done with shall we?

Bible-toting tax plan

3 July, 2003 11:04 AM

Alabama's Governor is pushing for a A Biblical Tax Policy. Interesting.


2 June, 2003 2:06 PM

Interesting article on how Australia and New Zealand are gradually parting ways on foreign policy. Does this mean I have to cut back on reading my favourite New Zealand Blogs?

WMD - What are we hearing?

2 June, 2003 9:10 AM

A quick trawl through Melbourne's The Age newspaper this morning on the topic of Weapons of Mass Destruction revealed the following articles from the past few days.

Aussie Defence Minister Robert Hill has conceded that flawed intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons capability may have influenced Australia's decision to join the Iraq war and has backed a thorough and open review of the information.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted today Britain and the United States would unearth evidence of Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" and make it public before long. In an interview with Britain's Sky Television at a Russia-European Union summit, Blair said he had already seen plenty of information that his critics had not, but would in due course.

Senior Bush Administration officials have hinted it may take a long time - if ever - before they are able to prove the case they made to justify the war.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has suggested publicly for the first time that Iraq might have destroyed chemical and biological weapons before the war, a possibility that senior US officers in Iraq have raised in recent weeks.

The controversy over the quality of intelligence used to justify the Iraq war flared yesterday after reports that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the information.

Do you think anyone really knows what is going on?

Where are they?

30 May, 2003 9:21 AM

But in recent weeks senior US officials have begun to lower expectations that weapons will be found anytime soon, if at all, suggesting they may have been destroyed, buried or spirited out of the country. US forces moved so quickly into Iraq, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday, that the Iraqis "didn't have time" to use chemical weapons. "They may have had time to destroy them and I don't know the answer," he said.

US Evangelical Views on Islam - Survey Results

11 April, 2003 8:35 PM

Kingdom Space just posted a link to theseSurvey Results examing the view of Evangelical Christians views to Islam. The survey questioned "Evangelical organizations, ranging from churches and missionary associations to relief agencies and political groups" in 2002.

A few results of note

Overall view of Islam - Favorable 13%, Neutral 10%, Unfavorable 77%.

Islam is a religion of violence? - Agree 70%, Neutral 9%, Disagree 20%

Muslims/Christian pray to same God - Agree 17%, Neutral 4%, Disagree 79%

U.S. policies are partly responsible for the attacks of September 11 - Agree 33%, Neutral 10%, Disagree 57%

U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own - Agree 4%, Neutral 6%, Disagree 91%

There's heaps more here

Mc What!

11 April, 2003 5:53 PM

Thought this was was an interesting photoshop commentary!

I guess it speaks for itself.

link via Burnt Toast

Another Iraqi Image

11 April, 2003 12:03 PM

John Campea reminds us of another image of Iraqi people at present. This is chilling - please be warned its a confronting picture that took my breath away.

My 'Commentary'

10 April, 2003 9:12 AM

What do you do when you check your email in the morning only to find another blogger who's taken a different stance to you on an important world issue has sent you an email which seems to be baiting you respond...

He writes: I'm looking forward to your commentary on Iraqis celebrating the fall of Saddam Hussein and his evil regime.

I'm not sure how I'm expected to react to that? I felt like I'd recieved an email from a child gloating after winning a game of snakes and ladders....

Last night well after midnight watched the statue of Saddam topple and I had mixed emotions. I have to run to present a paper I've just written but let me share some of them very briefly with you.

- I was really excited that someone who had done so much harm was gone from power. I felt satisfaction as I saw that statue hit the ground.

- I worried that perhaps this wasn't the end of Saddam and that the celebrations were perhaps a bit premature.

- I felt great happiness to see the joy of those celebrating on the streets of Baghdad.

- I felt amazed at the power and speed of the progress of the 'allies' campaign

- I felt distressed about the 1000 or so Iraqi citizens that have been killed so far in the fighting that brought the regime to topple.

- I felt distressed about the deaths of the soldiers on both sides of this conflict.

- I felt angry that humanity seems to breed characters like Hussein who are often unjust in the way they rule and cause real suffering to so many others.

- I wondered where the Weapons of Mass Destruction that this conflict seemed to be about are? I worried that if they exist they still might be used.

- I felt disillusioned with the worlds leadership that they could not find a peaceful solution to dealing with this complicated situation.

- I felt concerned that the dispute has left our world with major splits - not only between some middle eastern countries and the 'coalition' but also Europe after the France v US fiasco.

- I felt worried about the splits within my country, about how we will resolve our feelings about this war. I worry about the impact of seeing war 24 hours a day on our children.

- I felt desperately worried that whilst many Iraqis celebrated - that this conflict may have actually caused many others to react even more strongly against the West. Has this war inflamed the situation and been a recruiting poster for terrorist action against the US and its allies?

- I felt angry at the waste of money that has been poured into this conflict. Hundreds of billions of dollars blown up in just a few weeks.

- I felt concerned for the Iraqi people who still await aid and relief. For those who have not had fresh water in weeks, for those who are beginning to suffer treatable diseases as they wait.

- I worried about the damage that this conflict has done to relationships between people of different faith communities here in Australia. I felt sad about the reports I've had from Muslim friends who have been verbally abused on the streets of Melbourne from being Saddam's cohorts.

- I worried about 'where to from here?' Who will lead this country? What will their agenda be? How will the different racial groups that live in Iraq move forward? Will this 'peace' last?

- I worried that whilst now there are celebrations in the streets of Iraq that in the months ahead we could see the conflict continue in a messy and ongoing way. Could this be the beginning of something like a civil war in Iraq?

- I prayed, I smiled, I shed a tear and I went to bed and lay next to my wife and wondered about where humanity was headed.

Entertained People

2 April, 2003 10:55 AM

Had a conversation with a friend a few days back about the media coverage of the War. He had read an article in a journal in the past week that reported that the day after the war broke out here in Australia - the amount of people that took sick days off work was over double the normal rate! The analysis of the data was that many Australians actually took time off work to stay at home in front of their televisions watching the 24 hour coverage of the bombings of Iraq.

I was staggered by these figures. The live, blow by blow, reports from reporters 'embedded' with troops on the front line and on the scene in Baghdad have added a new element to this war. As I caught a snippet of such coverage this morning and saw the multi million dollar set that the Coalition forces give their media briefings from I asked myself - "is there an element of Entertainment in what I'm watching?" As I watched the bombs hit in the darkness of Baghdad I had to remind myself that I wasn't watching a harmless fireworks display but rather I could be watching the demise of fellow human beings live on air right before my eyes.

I wonder if their could be some correlation between the way this war is being reported and the changing public opinion of the war. Since the day it officially began there has been a rise in Aussies supporting the war. The polls say our country is still split almost evenly on the issue but there has been increasing support for our PM's stance.

I wonder if perhaps for some, watching the conflict live has had some sort of a 'numbing' experience which has influeced their opinion.

Prayers for Peace

1 April, 2003 4:36 PM

Josh at Blogs 4 God today posted about the US Congress passing "a resolution urging the president to set aside a day of fasting and prayer for divine protection of US troops in Iraq and a population threatened by terrorists."

I had mixed reactions when I read it (as per usual). Great....the more prayer the better...but the focus of the prayers seems somewhat incomplete to me if this is its focus. Perhaps Josh's interpretation of the resolution is a little more narrow than the resolution itself. I would hope that such a day of prayer and fasting might also include prayers for the Iraqi people, their soldiers, leaders and the region around the country.

Phil from Signposts told me about these prayers for peace gathering that they had recently which to me is perhaps little more inclusive in its focus. Check it out.

Why I made that speech - Michael Moore

31 March, 2003 8:37 AM

In todays Age newspaper is an article by Michael Moore talking about why he made the speech that he did at the Oscars.

He begins with the words:

"A word of advice to future Oscar winners: don't begin Oscar day by going to church. That is where I found myself last Sunday morning, at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Santa Monica Boulevard, at Mass with my sister and my dad. My problem with the Catholic Mass is that sometimes I find my mind wandering after I hear something the priest says, and I start thinking all these crazy thoughts like how it is wrong to kill people and that you are not allowed to use violence upon another human being unless it is in true self-defence."

For the rest of the article go here


30 March, 2003 3:21 PM

In today's edition of Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper was a double page spread dedicated to those that have given their lives for the campaign for freedom in Iraq. The page was filled with the faces of American and English soldiers, 'our best', who have given their lives for the cause.

I sat there in the comfort of the cafe I was having lunch in and was quite confronted by the vast loss of life. While I do not agree with the necessity of this war I am amazed and challenged by anyone that is willing to give their life for a 'cause', whatever it may be.

I was reminded of the call of Jesus to give up our lives for 'the cause' and found myself wondering to what level would I be willing to 'give' in response to his call.

The other reaction that I had as I gazed at the faces of these young people was to ask 'V' - 'where are the others that have given their lives for this cause?' Where is the acknowledgement that other innocent people have had their lives taken? I notice that today the counter on my site says that between 320 and 428 civilians have been killed so far in this conflict.

Where are their photos, where is the acknowledgement of their pain and sacrifice for the 'cause'? After all these are the people 'our best' have gone to fight for the freedom of - so surely their passing deserves some recognition also.

On this day I wish to remember the lives of both our soldiers but also those whom we do not know the names or faces of - all who have given their lives in these violent times.

UN estimates 1200 have been killed in Iraq

29 March, 2003 8:20 AM

From John Campea:

The United Nations Health envoy has given an initial estimate of death casualties in the current Iraqi conflict. Roughly 100 coalition soldiers, 350 Iraqi civilians and close to 800 Iraqi military have been killed with an additional 4000 Iraqi civilians injured. British officials say these numbers &"sound generally accurate". All this in a couple of weeks. The U.N. envoy expressed "deep concern" that the coalition now says the conflict could last months.

Thats pretty full on - with after only a week or so conflict we are at these levels - I am deeply saddened by the thought of this continuing for months.

Imagery of War

27 March, 2003 12:04 PM

has a great collage of pictures of War that communicate a number of perspectives and themes. Tis cool

Civilian Count

19 March, 2003 11:24 PM

I've decided to add the counter to the right to this blog. It is morbid, it is a stark contrast to the 'living' theme of this site and it is confronting.

I have not added it to make a political point - but rather as a reminder to me of the impact of this war upon the people of Iraq. I have seen a number of campaigns on blogs to pray for and support the troops of the 'coalition of the willing' - I think its good to be praying for these men and women. But I also think its important to be in prayer for those on the other side of the attack.

Thanks to Presurfer for the link.

Letter to the PM

19 March, 2003 11:34 AM

Just found this open letter to Mr John Howard our Prime Minister. Not sure where it was originally published as I found it in a news group - posted there by Rowland (which by the way is an AMAZING resource site in itself). Its written by a prominant Aussie - Hugh Mackay. Its long so I've put most of it in the 'please sir, can I have some more' section.

Update - originally published at here

March 15 2003

Dear Prime Minister,

Speaking as one of the mob, I've had enough. Like 49 per cent of voters,
I've never been a supporter of your Government, but I have often had reason
to respect your political skills. Now, having so resolutely ignored the mind
and mood of the Australian people, you seem destined to go down in history
as the prime minister who made us feel ashamed of being Australians.

It's a pity our military leaders don't have the freedom to disobey your
orders when those orders contravene both international law and common sense.
What a sweet moment it would be if the top brass could simply say, "Sorry,
we won't act unjustly. If you want to invade Iraq, get someone else to do
the job. We're coming home."

As things stand, we are in imminent danger of aligning ourselves with the
infamous "rogue states" you and your mad mate, George Bush, keep talking
about - the states that ignore the military and humanitarian rules and
resolutions of the United Nations.

If I've got it straight, your logic runs like this: because Iraq has failed
to respect its obligations to the UN, Australia should do the same. We'll
invade Iraq and, in the process, give our imprimatur to international
lawlessness and thuggery.

Is that to be your legacy - to be identified, throughout history, as the
prime minister who said that we, like Saddam Hussein, should thumb our noses
at the UN?

Apart from your single-minded determination to drag us into an ill-conceived
war, a couple of other things worry me. For instance, your failure to draw
the proper distinction between acts of terrorism and acts of war. Bush's
rhetoric notwithstanding, terrorism is not war; it is criminal activity that
should be dealt with like any other crime. Tracking down terrorists is a job
for intelligence services and police forces, not armies.

The Bali terrorists are being arrested by the Indonesian police, as is
proper. But the unsuccessful hunt for Osama bin Laden involved the invasion
of Afghanistan by a mighty army (or was that war really about "regime
change"? I'm confused).

Is the attack on Iraq being carried out in the name of the so-called "war on
terrorism" or not? If it is, then, as well as being illegal, it's based on a
category mistake.

I notice you and Bush keep shifting your ground on Iraq, and that makes me
nervous too. Long ago, I was taught that if someone gives you two reasons
for declining an invitation, that probably means they're hiding the truth
(which is, presumably, that they simply don't want to come). The anti-Iraq
propaganda is a bit like that.

First we were told Saddam had to be disarmed by force before he had a chance
to deploy his weapons of mass destruction. When it became less certain that
he had such weapons, and even less clear why or where he might want to
deploy them, the focus switched to the need for "regime change" in order to
establish democracy in Iraq (though not, we assume, the Florida-style
democracy that installed Bush in the White House).

Now we're being told an invasion can be justified on humanitarian grounds
and we will be the heroic liberators of an oppressed people. Too many
reasons, John.

And another thing: Bush isn't our president ... and neither are you. You are
our Prime Minister, yet you seem, on this issue, to be acting against
Australia's interests and in defiance of public opinion. Where's the
consultation with the Australian people? Where's the parliamentary debate
that should precede any decision to deploy Australian troops - especially
when they are about to undertake an unprecedented and unprovoked invasion of
another country?

We've heard your legalistic assertion that this is a decision for cabinet,
not Parliament. And we've heard your undertaking to recall Parliament to
debate the question once the decision has been made. (What's the point of
that, by the way?) But when you seem prepared to do what no other Australian
prime minister has ever contemplated doing, tarnishing our nation's
reputation or integrity in the process, mightn't a bit more collegiality, a
bit more inclusiveness, have been in order?

As for your breathtakingly cynical attempt to forge an emotional link
between Iraq and Bali - suggesting we should make ourselves feel better
about soldiers coming home from the Gulf in body bags by recalling our
outrage over the Bali massacre - well, this time, you went too far. We saw
through that cheap rhetorical trick: it looked like a last desperate attempt
to win support for your war - yours and Bush's - and we rejected it.

Please think again, Prime Minister. The word on the street is: no, John, no

Australia is in....

18 March, 2003 1:47 PM

I'm sitting here watching Australian Prime Minister making a speech to the Australian Federal Parliament. He and his cabinet have made a commitment to the 'coalition of the willing' to send troops to the coming conflict in Iraq. Of course he says that they've only been there for the past weeks and months for aclimatisation and the decision has only been made today.

I'm saddened, unconvinced and bitterly disappointed that he and our nations leadership at this time. I think I've said all I need to say about it in previous posts for the time being.

Freedom Fries

12 March, 2003 11:57 AM

bloggedy blog draws our attention to the Congress boycott of french fries (they are calling them freedom fries instead out of protest for Frances stand in the UN. That will teach those french to threaten vetoing US resolutions!!!)

Andrew asks the question - 'did anyone bother to tell the legislators that hamburgers are named after a city in that other "old Europe" ex-ally, Germany?'

I think this is actually an incredible opportunity for US backing countries to get in on the act of taking over the monopoly France has on its naming rights of food.

From now on lets rename French Fries - British Fries and we'll call French Toast Aussie Toast. French bread, French onion soup and French dressing are also up for grabs for other nations willing to back US action in Iraq - you'd better get in quick though. There will also be an opening for a country willing to rename French Kissing - that's sure to be popularl

So form a line - heads of state who don't support US action need not apply.

What a load of crap! - pardon my French

Human and Humanitarian Consequences of a War on Iraq

6 March, 2003 5:04 PM

The Human and Humanitarian Consequences of a War on Iraq is a site that has a wealth of information for anyone thinking through the war on Iraq issue. It has numerous articles covering issues such as the increase in refugees out of such a conflict, the impact upon children, public health implications etc. There is too much information on this site to summarise here - go have a look for yourself.

No matter what position we take on this issue - we need to be aware of what the implications of action upon Iraq will be so that we are ready to respond to them. For instance - I hope my country is willing to increase its refugee intake if it insists of being part of such an attack on this country.


5 March, 2003 12:13 PM

Josh's Post disturbs me today. The suggestion is that the US with hold foreign aid to Turkey, Egypt, Russia and North Korea.

The suggestion appears to be that the amount withheld should correlate with the percentage of times the countries have voted against the US in the UN Assembly.

Josh qualifies by stating that he is not suggesting that foreing aid be used as a bribe to get UN votes - however I'm afraid I don't see the logic of including the voting statistics in the post if this is the case?

The countries mentioned by Josh (along with many others that the US generously supports - and I think its great that they do) face incredible hardships. From conversations that I've had with friends working for development agencies around the world it seems that this aid is doing great things for the population in these nations.

Whilst I do not agree with Josh's stand on Iraq - I do understand the frustration that he and other are feeling over these (and other countries) rejecting the US's calls for war. However as I've said before here, there needs to be a forum where the actions of powerful nations are analysed and questioned. There needs to be a place where nations are held accountable for the power they have and the ways they exercise this power. The UN is this place (despites its inefficiencies and problems - its the best we've got). All nations represented at the UN have a right to vote as they wish and should not be held to ransom by how their vote goes.

If we are reject the call to help the disadvantaged purely because they do not fully accept our position or work towards the bring about of our own interests then this looks like bribery to me.

Miscellaneous War Talk

26 February, 2003 11:08 PM

Interesting comment today from a caller on talkback radio who asked the question "Why Iraq? Are there not other regimes in the world who have committed the same 'crimes' as Iraq?"

He suggested China (to name just one) also had a non democratically elected government, had weapons of mass destruction, had an appalling human rights history and could be seen as a threat to the West.

I hadn't considered that before.

Was also interested to hear tonight that Canada had taken a different approach to the conflict to Australia. Canada seems to have made the decision to not support any strike until it has UN backing. (yep I'm a bit late with this news....its been a busy week) They seem to be proposing a middle ground approach. This is a little unusual because so often our countries are aligned in their approach - however the 'experts' on the radio tonight felt Australia has more of a need to win over the favor of the US than Canada does as we don't share any borders with our powerful allie and are less likely to have US forces come to our aid if attacked.

This stinks

20 February, 2003 4:07 PM

The response of some to France and Germany questioning the stance of the US call to arms against Iraq has been to set up these two websites. FranceStinks and GermanyStinks see themselves as "The All-American Answer To The 'Axis of Weasels'". They say

"The MAIN THRUST of these two sister sites is that we give you, the loyal American patriot, a chance to comment on the perfidy of our fair-weather allies in Old Europe. To do this and to see the uncensored, unvarnished feelings of other patriots, join our one unified web log or "blog" for an ongoing discussion by clicking this link. Post, comment on the posts of others, and stay tuned every day to keep track of the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way! Blog On!

The sites include photos of French and German leaders with Saddam - (they go right back to the 70's - I wonder what would happen if we went searching back through the archives as to the types of people US leaders had entertained or visited in their times - there are skeletons in all countries closets are there not?), French and German jokes, Latest News on the issue, French and German products to boycott buying and of course a shop where you can purchase the campaigns merchandise!!!

I'm a little confused as to the point of it all.... I think my words in my last post speak of what I feel on this one too.

Anti American

20 February, 2003 2:00 PM

Once again I've been accused of being Anti American in some of my postings below. Specifically 'Anon' who's email address and webpage are both 'Anon' writes:

"I am sick of your Anit-American Comments Darren. You obviously have a problem with our nation and the direction we are headed. You look for every opportunity to knock us down even though we are one of the last chances our world has at freedom. God is using our Nation to bring about peace, harmony and freedom in our world and yet you continue to question our motives! You are a short sighted, ignorant man!"

Why don't other people seem to get comments like these???

I would like to say for the record that I have no issues with America - I am not Anti America - I do not hate America. I have numerous close friends who are American - some I see on a weekly basis here in Aus, others I have met through this blog. They are all good people - I like Americans as people. I think America has given alot to the world. As a nation it has done many things to help our world. It does lead the way on many things. It is a powerful nation and in its history it has used this power for good many times!

However - whenever one is given power, one should also be held accountable for how they use that power. We can see throughout history many occassions when nations, groups and individuals have abused their power because they were not asked the tough questions, they were not held accountable or challenged when they made certain decisions.

I do not believe that America is 'Gods chosen nation' any more than any other nation or individual is. I believe we are all called to bring freedom, peace and justice to our world - America does not have a monopoly on these things. Therefore I think I have a right to ask questions of the most powerful nation of the world.

To take this freedom to question away from any individual would be to go against what I suspect most Americans would say is one their nations founding principles. Perhaps it is you Anon who is Anti American in suggesting that I keep my mouth shut!?

I think America is big and strong enough to handle being asked some questions by other nations and individuals. I think the critiques and questioning from around the world will only strengthen what America is trying to do in bringing peace and freedom to our world.

War Talks

17 February, 2003 1:08 PM

In surfing my regular blogs this morning I found a number that touched on the topic of war (and peace) that stimulated my thinking.

Rachel painstakingly collated all the different Peace demonstrations around the world over the weekend. I was astonished by the mass of people that got out there on the streets to make their point! Wow. It gave me some hope.

Signposts headed me in the direction of this article in the Age which reports our Prime Ministers response to the hundreds of thousands that hit the streets in our country. He doesn't believe that such demonstrations give an indication of what public opinion is.

He says, "What I'm doing here is what I think is right for Australia." This may be the case - but what is you are wrong Mr Howard? What if the 200,000 people that showed up in Melbourne last Friday night (despite it being Valentines Day) are more in touch with what is right or wrong?

Martin Roth who supports American action to remove Saddam writes about what he calls "a kind of American triumphalism, a sense that America is arrogantly asserting its right to do what it pleases, anywhere in the world."

Later he writes, "But some of President Bush's statements — like his claim that America is �the greatest nation, the most decent nation, the most compassionate nation on the face of this earth� - display a hardness, an unloving quality, even when, as happens, God's name is being invoked. It all sounds too — how can I put this? — too Old Testament."

And then further on, "But the message of Jesus involves much more. Humility, for example. And repentance. My friends, not to mention myself and — I suspect — many, many others around the world would be encouraged were we to see America humbly repent: for its past arming of Saddam Hussein; for its profligate use of oil; for paying billions of dollars to Israel as that country expanded its settlements; for unyielding support of despots in the Middle East and elsewhere."

Whilst Martin comes to a different end point to me (a blessing for George Bush and his troops as they enter into this war) I find his comments insightful.

Peace Rally

15 February, 2003 3:40 PM

Check out Signposts for a first hand report on the peace rally in Melbourne last night that attracted between 100000-200000 people and which made V late for our Valentines dinner! (I figure it was for a worthy cause that her tram was delayed)

Iraq's Children - Part II

14 February, 2003 8:48 AM

After logging on this morning to see the debate happening in the comments of the last post and to read Rachels latest post and the one Josh put up last night - I guess I feel saddened that the point in my last post was sort of missed by some.

Josh writes in my comments "C'mon Darren, that suffering is at the hands of Saddam Hussein and you know that but refuse to admit it. Removing him is the only way to truly relieve the suffering you mention here."

If one reads my previous post they will see I was not denying that Saddam is causing incredible problems in his country - that he is oppressing his people - that he is the cause behind some of those horrific statistics that I quoted. Yes I acknowledge that he is largely at fault - there would be few people in the world who wouldn't. This is why in my last paragraph (sorry, maybe I should have put it at the top and in bold instead of where most people tend not to read) I said "there are also consequences of the children of Iraq of not going to war and allowing Saddam to continue to dictate as he currently is.

The point behind my post was not to identify who is at fault, but rather to help us think through what the consequences of a War will be on those that we don't think about so much - the children.

I think its very easy when we talk about War to lose perspective on the fact that our enemy is not just one man, a dictator, an oppressor - but when we launch an attack upon him we launch an attack on an already broken nation, made up of people like you and I. We launch an attack upon men, women and children who breathe and who bleed just like we do. In the midst of the media frenzy its easy to lose sight of the humanity of the people of Iraq. This report looks at the impact of a war upon these people.

I understand that the plan is to minimise civilian casualties - I appreciate that that is the hope and desire of Bush - however my previous observations of war are that no matter how hard to try to minimise these things that the innocent die and suffer- usually in incredible numbers. This happens in two ways, firstly as a direct result of the weaponry used and secondly because of disruption of essential services, displacement etc.

Heath writes in my comments " Personally I'm not so concerned about some Muslim kid dying if it means freedom for the rest of the world."

I want to apologise to my Moslem friends who read this blog for this comment, I'm offended by it too. Heath, I don't know whether you ended up on my site through Christian links or not - I don't know your background as your email address is either a broken link, fake or you are not replying so I'll reply here - however I want to say to you that as a Christian I follow a guy called Jesus who gave me a pattern to live. He said things like 'whatever you do to the least of these you do to me' and 'to enter the kingdom of God you must do it like a child'. He also hung out with the ostracised, people from other cultures and other belief systems from time to time. He ate with them (a powerful symbol of unconditional acceptance in his time and culture), he touched them and he loved them. The pattern I see him establishing for me was to align himself with the powerless, the insignificant (in the eyes of the world) and those that could not defend themselves. This is what I guess I was attempting to do with my last post.

I acknowledge again that this is not a simple issue - however again I ask us to consider the 'them' as we debate war from the relative safety of our comfortable homes many miles away from those that will be directly impacted in horrific ways by the war that threatens to disrupt their lives again.

Iraq's Children - Weighing up the Cost of War

13 February, 2003 8:24 PM

After chewing over another very stimulating post on Rachel's Journal today (read it!) where she asks the confronting question - "I ask, will the war on Iraq relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people, or add to it?" and after following the link from Mike in her comments section to this page entitled War Child Canada I read the following findings from the executive summary of a report on the impact on the 13 million children of Iraq of a new war. (for more comprehensive discussion on these findings read the full report on this page)

Key Findings of Our Common Responsibility: The Impact of a New War on Iraqi Children:

- Iraqi children are even more vulnerable now than they were in 1990, before the 1991 Gulf War.

- 16 million Iraqi civilians are 100 percent dependent on government distributed food rations. If war breaks out, this distribution system will be disrupted, leading to food shortages, malnutrition and possibly starvation.

- There is only an estimated one month's supply of food in Iraq. If war occurs, food imports will be disrupted.

- Approximately 500,000 Iraqi children are acutely malnourished or underweight. These children are particularly vulnerable to disease and death should war occur.

- The health care system is worn down and only a fraction of its pre-1991 state. The UN estimates that hospitals and clinics will run out of medicines within 3-4 weeks of a conflict.

- The death rate of children under 5 years of age is already 2.5 times greater than it was in 1990. Most children (70%) die of diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases. This greater vulnerability means greater illness and death under conflict circumstances.

- Iraq's water and sanitation systems are in bad need of repair following 12 years of sanctions. 500,000 metric tons of raw sewage is dumped into fresh water bodies each day. Only 60% of Iraqis have access to fresh (potable) water. Further disruption to these services, as occurred during the 1991 Gulf War, would be catastrophic for Iraqi children.

- The UN estimates that a war could lead to more than 1.4 million refugees and as many as 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

- Iraqi children are already badly traumatised by 12 years of economic sanctions. With war looming, Iraqi children are fearful, anxious and depressed. Many have nightmares. And 40 percent do not think that life is worth living. (did you get that....40% DO NOT THINK THAT LIFE IS WORTH LIVING!)

- The United Nations estimates that, in the event of war, as many as 500,000 persons could require emergency medical treatment.

- The level of emergency preparedness is currently very low. It will not be enough to respond to the expected humanitarian emergency.

In summary, a new war in Iraq would be catastrophic to Iraq's 13 million children, already highly vulnerable due to prolonged economic sanctions. Iraqi children are at grave risk of starvation, disease, death and psychological trauma.

The International Study Team is forecasting, should war occur, a grave humanitarian disaster. While it is impossible to predict both the nature of any war and the number of expected deaths and injuries, casualties among children will be in the thousands, probably the tens of thousands, and possibly in the hundreds of thousands.

I do understand that this whole situation is complicated - there are also consequences of the children of Iraq of not going to war and allowing Saddam to continue to dictate as he currently is. But I did find this report very helpful at putting a human face on Iraq people. We need to be reminded of the consequences of war, not only upon ourselves and our own nations, but also on the 'enemy' on the other end of our missiles. I encourage you to take the time to read this full article and let it sit with you a while. I'd be interested to hear your reactions...


11 February, 2003 4:53 PM

Feeling mighty uneasy about this whole Iraq Us thing this afternoon. Ever since Powells presentation of evidence to the UN I've not felt at peace about it all - but unable to articulate it. (I'm a bit slow - have patience with me)

I guess part of my uneasyness comes down to the impression that I'm getting that most of the evidence against Iraq seems to be coming from one source, the US. They are the main investigator. In addition to this they are also the main analyser of this evidence. They are also seem to be the main nation calling for action and the country that will be the main contributor to the firepower that will come.

I guess I'm uneasy because the information we are being presented with is not really independent enough. Where is the accountability, where are the checks and balances? These are things that must be kept in place to ensure that the power that some countries have is not abused. At the moment I fear that the US is gathering itself for a war no matter what the checks and balances might say.

I'm still confused about it - still trying to put words to my fears...meanwhile today Australia's Prime Minister Howard met with President Bush for 'war talks'. He insists that no committment to war has been made by our country, no promises have been made to Bush - no matter what the leaked papers from the governments offices might say to the contrary. It also seems that Bush is pretty convinced that we're 'in'. After an hour of talks between the two Bush was asked today whether he felt confident Australia would join the US in the conflict - he said 'yes I do'. Howard sitting next to him looked rather uncomfy after weeks of saying no decision has been made.

God help us.

hate in the body

10 February, 2003 7:22 PM

Received some critical email today from a number of people about a very old post (one of my first) - a story about the day I visited the local Mosque. It looks like the post has been passed around a group of Christians who despises Moslems - a comment was left at the post that will give you an idea of what was said - I've had to edit it.

I won't quote the email - it was not productive - actually it was quite inflammatory - however it concerns me and confuses me that people can twist the gospel message of Jesus - the one who constantly crossed barriers and borders - the one who constantly surprises those watching him by touching the untouchable - the one who eats with the 'unholy'. How can anyone read and accept the story of Jesus and still have such hatred for a fellow human being from another culture or religion?

It saddens me that such hatred emanates from those that call themselves Christ's Body. How it must sadden him to look at his body and to see what comes from it sometimes. Can you imagine looking down at your own body and seeing it do the exact opposite of what you passionately stand for? To look at your feet do something that sickens you to the core - to look at your mouth and see it speaking words that go directly against the words you wish it would speak - to see your hands inflict hurt upon someone that you love with everything within you! To see your own body doing these things of its own accord and be helpless to stop it? Is this what we do to Jesus?

That is the picture that I got this afternoon as I read these emails - my stomach turned - my heart broke and I realized that maybe I'm probably part of the problem. What are we doing???

Osama and Saddam - one in the same?

7 February, 2003 9:19 PM

From BoingBoing

1,200 US citizens were asked: "To the best of your knowledge, how many of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens?"

Of those surveyed, only 17 percent knew the correct answer: that none of the hijackers were Iraqi. Forty-four percent of Americans believe that most or some of the hijackers were Iraqi; another 6 percent believe that one of the hijackers was a citizen of that most notorious node in the axis of evil. That leaves 33 percent who did not know enough to offer an answer.

Salon who originally posted these results comments: "The Bush propaganda machine has convinced Americans that Saddam and the no-longer-mentioned Osama are the same person -- and the polls prove it."

The Gospel for a Just War

5 February, 2003 9:00 AM

Fellow Melbournian blogger Beth posted a really interesting review (Feb 4th) on this article by Catholic Archbishop George Pell. I'm not convinced by his arguements about 'just war' - and as I finish the arguement he almost seems to be straddling the fence a little. He is happy for us Aussies to send troops to put pressure on Iraq - but wants more evidence before we start shooting. Maybe my confusion over his arguements has more to do with a lack of my mid morning caffine rush to the brain....

I'm uncomfortable with using the words of Jesus 'give Ceaser what is his' as a justification for letting our government decide whether we go to war or not without the Church really being an influence in the decision. I'm not sure how Jesus would react to this situation - but I'm not sure it would include adding another $US15billion (for starters) to the annual defence budget.

I agree with George that the final decision about these things belongs to our government - but I do think that the Church needs to speak up and be a part of the debate. Unfortunately 'the debate' seems to be one in hindsight as our troops are already on route to a seemingly unavoidable conflict.

Who is the biggest threat to world peace - poll results in

4 February, 2003 3:18 PM

Green Little Footballs is doing a poll on 'who is the largest threat to world peace'. Interesting results so far....a tad bizarre maybe

1. Saudi Arabia - 1063 votes - 25.4%

2. North Korea - 603 votes - 14.4%

3. United States - 588 votes - 14.1%

4. France - 512 votes - 12.3%

5. Iraq - 481 votes- 11.5%

Of course with 6th ranking being Geraldo Rivera (350 votes - 8.4%) you've got to wonder about accuracy of such polls...

Frodo failed?

2 February, 2003 7:19 PM

Shuttle Tragedy

2 February, 2003 1:01 PM

This morning as I drove to church I heard the news on the radio of this event. My first reaction was of horror as I thought of the circumstances that those on board the shuttle must have faced and then of the grief that their friends and family must be feeling. How heart breaking it is to lose a loved one. My sympathy goes to the friends and family of the American, Indian and Israeli astronauts lost in this terrible event.

As the day has progressed I've looked at the many many blog entries that have been written about this tragedy. As a relatively new person to the blogging scene - I realised that I'd never seen a blogging response to a disaster before. I have been amazed by the minute by minute entries of many - updating their readers on the latest reports, expert opinions etc on the situation. Its amazing stuff to see such comprehensive reporting so quickly. Some of my fellow Christian bloggers have even notified readers that they intend to post about nothing else but the shuttle tragedy for the next few days.

As I've read I've been amazed and impressed - but I can also not help but feel a little disturbed by the frenzy that seems to be happening - both in blogging, the wider media and even in conversations that I've had with friends at church this morning. This disaster is on everyones lips - its on the front pages - its the lead story. I think its a subject worth reporting, worth talking about - but I have to ask - why do some stories seem to generate so much attention while others do not?

In the past few days 40 were killed in a train collision in Zimbabwe, 6 died as jet crashed in East Timor and 8 died in another train crash in Sydney.

Four terrible accidents involving similar amounts of people passing away as their vehicles were destroyed. In each situation families are left grieving - investigations are underway - countries mourn.

Each one has been reported here in Australia to different degrees - but I suspect only one will be remembered globally in 12 months time. I suspect that in only one case the names of each person killed will be broadcast on news reports around the world.

There are probably no easy answers to my question of why the death of some seem to go largely unnoticed while some gather so much attention - I don't know myself. I'm not saying we should not talk about the shuttle disaster - we should report it, mourn the loss, support the families and talk about the lessons that are learnt. But I guess I would also like to encourage us all to keep some perspective as we reflect upon this sad event and to allow our eyes to see the other tragedies that happen each day around our world.

what a day!

23 January, 2003 10:17 PM

Well the conversation has continued - unfortunately I don't have time to catalogue all the latest comments and thoughts around the place except to say - have a look at Dean Peters post atBlogs4God. He issues an apology to those offended. For that I am very appreciative.

Joshua Claybourn's post caught my attention for two reasons. Firstly he encourages us to remember that we are also talking about unborn children. I agree with this - we've talked alot about the offended adults so far and need to remember the other life in what we're talking about. I guess I talked about mothers inparticularly in my last post - not because I think its all about them - not at all - my concern is for the life within the also - but because I've had to sit in an office twice now and hear the pain of a victim of rape dealing with their situation. So thanks Josh - I appreciate the reminder, I need to continue to keep perspective too.

I guess the other thing that caught my attention about Josh's post is his last paragraph. I'm still uncomfortable with some of the language - I'm sorry mate - wish we could all sit down in person to talk as I wonder how much of what this is about is the imperfection of communication via the net!?

The sense I get in this last paragraph is that the pain of the unborn baby is more important than the pain of the mother. The idea that we should stop abortion and THEN work on the hurt of the mothers doesn't sit well for me. I agree the hurt of the unborn is important, but I'm not comfortable with ranking either as a higher pain or priority.

Don't hear me wrong, I'm not putting mums b4 babies - all I'm trying to say is that its more complex than all that. In the same way I don't think we can say that the posters of PP are 'even more hurtful' than the posters we saw on b4g this morning. How do we measure the hurt and asign one as more hurtful than another.

Am I being too nitpicky here? Am I getting caught up in the details? Please tell me if I am - I just feel strongly that the language we use conveys so much more than we often give it credit for. Happy to hear your thoughts. Its late here - I hope I've made some sort of sense....

Anti-Massacre Movement?

23 January, 2003 9:40 AM

I've been struggling whether to respond to this 'pro life'/'planned parenthood' campaign on Blogs4God. When I looked at the site on my morning round of the blogs I had a strong internal reaction to these strongly worded posters. I guess that this is the reaction that I was supposed to have. It is an important issue to talk through and debate (as we have been for decades now) and therefore part of me thinks the posters and slogans are worthwhile as they will stimulate debate. HOWEVER I am also very uncomfortable with them and the slogans in the links on the site.

In having a poster and slogan competition are we perhaps trivializing and emotionalizing an issue that touches on a very deep part of so many?

I guess I speak out of my involvement as a minister with two people who were deeply affected by this very issue. They struggle on a daily basis with it because for different reasons they made decisions to terminate pregnancy. Whether their decisions were right or wrong is not something I wish to discuss here apart from to say that they were not simply cases of 'poorly planned pregnancy' - the situations were complex and incredibly painful for all concerned.

My question is how will these two women react to posters like the one above from B4G? How do they react to slogans like Gregory Popcak's "Just Kill It", "Genocide - It's not just for Nazis anymore!", "This holiday season, give the gift of death." or "Babies. The other white meat." or Mark Shea's "Depopulating the world one person at a time", "Life without consequences", "Reach out and abort someone" or "Betcha can't kill just one".

Where is the Grace that Jesus talked about? For a woman who is struggling with such an emotional decision to be confronted with such an emotive slogan or poster by Christians (by anyone!) is a shocking thing. How is she supposed to react to that? What will it do to her emotional wellbeing, to her self esteem and to her faith?

Are we over simplifying, humorising and trivializing something complex with such a campaign? Are we polarizing things into black and white without hearing the pain of people living in the grey? Are we casting stones at broken women that Jesus would have stood alongside and loved.

Yes we need to continue to talk - but perhaps we can think about the impact of the way we stimulate the debate.

UPDATE have been saddened to find this comment left in the last hour or so by Sally a hurting woman in response to this campaign (Mark Sheas site). Puts a personal face to things doesn't it.

UPDATE 2 alot of blogging is being done on the topic - Kathryn (original poster on B4G) shares a personal and appreciated response to the criticism of her post, Rachel, Richard and Richard all add to the conversation with good posts.

PM Rushing to War

22 January, 2003 3:57 PM

I'm not sure I'd be describing our Prime Minister (pictured far left if you're confused) as a Rambo like figure (I can see at least one or two differences in the pictures)- however the way he is going leaves me wondering just how well we are thinking through our joining the war effort. The Australian Newspaper article about Howard sending the first Aussie troops to the middle east tomorrow concerns me greatly. It says; 'Mr Rudd (from the opposition) today said Australia was now one of only three countries out of the 191 UN member states that had forward deployed troops to the Middle East before weapons inspectors had delivered their findings.'

Are we perhaps rushing things a little? My concern with international affairs (and I don't pretend to be an expert here) is that so often Australian governments seem to jump on the bandwagon (led generally by the US) so quickly without really thinking through the issues as they pertain to us and the world we live in.

The way I described it to an American friend recently is that its like a child accepting the beliefs/theology/morals etc of their parents. There comes a time in most children's lives where they have to think these things through for themselves. One can't go through life always allowing the 'big people' in your life to think through the big decisions and just accept their reasoning.

Now hear me right - America MIGHT be coming to some good decisions as it seems to be heading down the path of war with Iraq - however the decisions its making should not just be swallowed without strenuous examination by the rest of the world. There needs to be debate, there needs to be conclusive evidence and their needs to be space given so that a reasonable decision can be made. If at the end of this debate and scrutiny of the problem through the lens of our own context we come to the same conclusions as the US then I'm perhaps a little more open to the idea of sending troops (although I suspect I'll still have grave concerns).

War is not something for our country to move towards lightly. I fear that we are moving towards it too quickly and for the wrong motivation - pandering to the whims of the 'big boys' on the block and not thinking through the issues sensibly.

Phil just messaged me about this article in the Age newspaper (by David Day) which picks up the same thing - although perhaps a tad more controversially than I just have. Day writes about mateship - something us Aussie boast about all the time. In particularly this article looks at the 'mateship' between Australia and America and how Australia is followin the US off to war under the pretense of mateship - although this has not been resiprocated in the past (WW2 being one of these times). Day writes:

'Sometimes, though, a mate should refuse to go into battle, and not only for the sake of protecting its own interests. Sometimes, a great power needs lesser powers to restrain it from making a costly mistake.

Raging Discussion

14 January, 2003 4:06 PM

Quite the 'discussion' is being had in comments over Rach's last post in response to an article What is an American

The day after the night b4

14 January, 2003 3:26 PM

Thanks for all the comments on last nights blog. I don't really have much to add today - am feeling a little drained having blurted all that out - it had been a bit of an internal struggle as to whether I should have shared that publically or not but I felt that if the story had affected and shaped me so much that maybe it was worth sharing with others.

Alan referred to 'unbounded sets' in his comment to Margarets story. The times I've told this story in my preaching I've then gone onto develop the idea of bounded and unbounded sets communities. I'm not sure how many readers are familiar with this theory(?) of community so chose last night not to blog about it - however if people are interested I'm happy to write more on it. Although I'm not sure 'unbounded communities' are easily applied to all communities and I'm not completely satisfied with the 'model' as I've seen it written about previously, I do feel its a definate step towards the type of community that Jesus formed and talked about.

Osama Speaks...

9 January, 2003 10:43 AM

Osama bin Laden's 'Letter to the American people' is reportedly written by Osama - whether it is authentically of his hand or not it gives a chilling insight into an extremist Muslims thinking. What do you think of the reasoning? Thanks again Diddle for the heads up on this one.

This Aussie protest group M1

1 December, 2002 7:00 PM

This Aussie protest group M1 (or are they world wide?) is renowned for their protests of major globalisation conferences. On their site on 'civil disobedience' they list their heros - people that changed the world through civil disobedience.

And topping the list - you guessed it - Jesus.