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DIDGE - The View From Down Under

An Aussie’s ridgy-didge view of world affairs and popular culture.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Homes destroyed in Zimbabwe, China, India

In a deplorable trend several countries governments have demolished civilian homes and businesses, leaving thousands homeless.

In Zimbabwe psycho President Robert Mugabe has ordered homes and businesses in areas of Harare to be destroyed, and his forces have been doing so for the past three weeks. The UN estimates that 200,000 homes have been demolished, leaving thousands homeless. Many of the homes were destroyed in areas in which anti-Mugabe sentiment is rife, however homes where pro-Mugabe residents lived have been destroyed too. There have also been reports that a mosque had been ruined.

The government says the operation is aimed at cleaning up the streets from criminals and to “restore sanity.” Yes, only in the mind of a truly madman could these human rights violations be described as sane.

Over in China around a thousand people have had their land seized by the government for Olympics related projects. Many have also said they were forcibly evicted from their homes. The farmers have set up a blockade at the entrance of the site, protesting against their treatment. And good on them. I just hope nothing too bad happens to them for speaking up in China. And remember all the homes that have been lost or will be lost due to China’s massive dam projects, not to mention the effect it will have on the environment.

While over in India thousands of illegal slums in Mumbai have been demolished, leaving many homeless. The government says they will provide new housing for residents that can prove they lived in the shanty town only after 1995, however that still leaves many families, with children and babies, with no where to go, and a bleak future without any hope.

And if that’s not enough, hundreds of Palestinians might have their homes bulldozed for a national park.

What lies behind the Zimbabwe demolitions?
"In no time the cottage I had called home for three years was gone. Then it dawned on me that I was now homeless, you try and pinch yourself and wake up but this was no dream. My life had been shattered before my very own eyes."
India's 'biggest slum demolitions'
I ask demolition man Vijay Kalam Patil if he is thinking about the fate of the thousands of sleepless, hungry evictees who are squatting, fighting, and defecating in the cold, squalid ruins. "If they set up unauthorised constructions and squat on government land, why should I think about them?" he asks.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A day in the life of Sophie Panopoulos

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

These fans deserve a red card

It seems we can’t go a day without another story linking sporting stars and rape allegations. The latest case involves Dutch footballer Robin van Persie, who is currently contracted to English club Arsenal. Very few facts are know about the case so I can’t comment on it, but what I do want to comment on are the reactions of some fans on the internet. Most were shocked, angry and disappointed, but not for the reasons you might first expect…

“His arsenal career could be over if this is true. Hope it’s not.”

“Shit, if this is true, there goes his Highbury future.”

“We should support him until there is a definitive answer. Afterwards, we will decide how to judge him - then we can start saying 'wasted talented etc'. But not yet.”

“[Arsenal manager] Wenger wont stand for any stupid behaviour and if he's guilty his Arsenal career will be over......don’t need this right now.”

“I just hope it's a mad bint accusing him and not an actual victim. He was doing so well, why throw all that hard work down the drain?”

“There goes his future! So much for the 'next Bergkamp'…”

“Very sad for van Persie if this is true, but I hope it's only bullshit. This would not be good for his career…”

“If he does go down for Rape that will be a waste of money by Arsenal.”

Yes, what a horrible, horrible situation… for the man. Assuming that the allegation is true (and I’m not) why is a rapist’s sporting career more important than the fact that a woman has been despicably violated? Why so much lamentation for a criminal than the victim? Why, when a sportsmen is accused of rape, is the first thought ‘Oh no, his career is destroyed’ and not ‘poor, poor woman.”? I think this illustrates that misogyny is still incredibly prevalent in society and can rear its ugly head in a manner of disturbing ways. And then there were the fans getting sex mixed up with rape…

“Frankly, girls would go for him... he need not have to rape one.”

“Why would he need to rape a girl? I mean he's a football star for crying out loud. Loads of girls will just jump on him with no effort at all. I'd fuck him and I'm not even gay.”

“[van Persie] doesn't need to rape girls, we have heard about his nightclub exploits or whatever.”

“I doubt he's done it because I doubt footballers really need to but you never know.”

“The man can't be stupid enough to rape a girl. No matter how hot she is, if he wants to get some he can get it from a girl who is very willing I'm sure.”

“It could have been [Arsenal teammate] Cole.”
-“Nah, if I was banging Tweedy, I wouldn't risk shagging some other bird in case she found out.”

Rape is not about sex, it is an act of violence. Rapists have power issues, which they inflict on other people. Rape is NOT about feeling horny and wanting a good time. It is a violent, degrading act performed by people who feel they need to avow power over others. But at least these fans were not making jokes…

“If he's found guilty and sent down, do you think the Dutch prison authority would have a football match: The Screws vs The Screwers?”

“I thought Robin van Persie said Michael Jackson was his idol. I think he took it too seriously.”

“And there was me thinking he was gay.”

“Did van Persie go to the Mike Tyson school?”

“Summertime makes the hormone’s go crazy!”

Some were comparing goal scoring poses and joking about what he might have looked like during the rape. And if you thought that was bad…

“Well I hope the girl was worth it.”

“Men are always innocent. I'd blame the two girls for:
1. Wearing skirts allowing easy access
2. Allowing van Persie to play”

“Maybe they liked it.”

Comments like this just make me sick. No matter what clothes a woman wears it is NEVER an excuse for rape, ever. And even if a woman is flirting, that is also NEVER an excuse for rape. There is absolutely no excuse for rape AT ALL.

But for all the ignorant, callous creeps there were some fans speaking sense:

“Please remember that rape is an extremely emotive subject and IS NOT A SUBJECT FOR CHEAP JOKES.”

“This whole thing about good looking athletes getting anyone they want and therefore not needing to rape is a load of crap!!!!! Let's dispel this right now!!! Rape is less about sex than it is about dominance.”

“No, he was spotted in London almost 2 weeks ago with his hand up 2 skirts! I personally think that’s quite impressive! “
-“What has that got to do with this case? This is an alleged rape, it doesn't show love of ladies, quite the opposite in fact.”

“OK lads, we can do without the crappy jokes.”

“If this is true I hate him sooooooooooo much.”

“Rape IMO is one of the worst things you can do.”

I was incredibly disappointed by the reactions and comments made by some football fans, however the comments I just highlighted show that many are sensitive to the topic and understand how damaging rape is. But the majority of the comments were either not supportive or entirely offensive.

This is a situation that can have no happy ending. It has been brought up by many in the internet forums discussing the allegations that countless believe the accuser of lying to get attention and money. As I said I’m refusing to judge anything involving the case until there is concrete information, however if the alleged victim is lying that is incredibly shameful. Rape is one of the worst things that can happen to a human being and to exploit that is disgusting. So either van Persie is a rapist or the woman is lying, as I said above, a situation without a happy ending.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Australia is revolting…

If by some horrible chance of fortune you have been living ignorant of Australia’s biggest story since, well forever, I have a little news for you: Schapelle Corby was found guilty, and will spend twenty years in jail.

For those of you who have not been bombarded by the circus that was/is the Corby drugs trial (you lucky people) I’ll fill you in on the details. 27-year-old Australian Schapelle Corby was arrested for allegedly smuggling marijuana into Bali. She went on trial, cried a lot, collapsed, cried some more and always insisted on her innocence. And 90% of Australia believed her. There was talk of the death penalty, which got the media stirred up, but that was later taken off the table. Fast-forward to last week and Corby was found guilty and sentenced to twenty years behind bars.

The Australian public was apparently appalled, and then the boycott calls started.

I am not surprised about people being angry over this whole affair. The media certainly turned it into an emotional extravaganza that few average Australians could resist sinking their teeth into. I never had an opinion on her guilt or innocence, I haven’t been privy to all the evidence, so I don‘t think it‘s fair to make a judgement. I am, however, in the minority. With opinion polls consistently saying 80%-90% of Australians believe Corby was innocent it’s not unexpected that many in the community are angry. But I was not prepared for how far that anger would be expressed.

Not long after the December 26 Asian tsunami tore apart millions of lives, Australia held various charity benefits, all raising an incredible amount of money. So too the Australian Government, offering a billion dollars to Indonesia alone. Indeed, it was a proud time to be an Australian. But now that pride has been torn to shreds by several incredibly shameful people. Get this: there are actually Australians who want their donations returned. That’s right, people who donated money to help the Indonesians want their money back. Many people have also stated they won’t donate to the Red Cross’s Red Shield Appeal if the money goes to Indonesia (which just shows their level of ignorance, for the Red Shield Appeal is solely for Australians).

There have been signs erected on Freeway overpasses, such as: “Honk if U H8 Bali”. Several travel websites have stopped booking flights to Indonesia, while many ordinary people say they will boycott Bali by not travelling there. And to make matters worse a biological agent was sent to the Indonesian embassy in Australia, the first “biological terrorist act” on Australia’s soil.

It’s a persons right to protest, however things get murky when the target of the anger and the consequence of that anger fly in different directions. Why lash out at people who have been ravaged by the forces of nature, and who had no hand in the verdict at all. Fine, if you believe Corby is innocent then target your anger towards the judges that sentenced her. Just leave the innocent people who have absolutely nothing to do with the judgement alone.

Wanting donations returned that could help people who have been made homeless and had their lives destroyed is not only repulsive but also smacks of racism.

Come on Australia, where has that compassionate spirit that showed itself after the tsunami gone?

Bacteria alert at Indonesia mission

Indonesia's embassy in Canberra has closed after receiving a package containing bacteria. The incident comes amid Australian anger over the fate of Schapelle Corby, who was jailed for 20 years last week for smuggling drugs into Bali.

Terror shame over bio attack
The finger of blame points to Australia, with anger over the Schapelle Corby sentence behind the attack. Mr Howard labelled the attack a "reckless act of indifference to human life."

Australian guilty on drugs charge
An Indonesian court has found Australian woman Schapelle Corby guilty of smuggling drugs into Bali and sentenced her to 20 years in jail. Her case has stirred widespread public sympathy in Australia.

UPDATE: [Friday, June 3]

Howard warns of powder revenge
Despite triggering a full-scale emergency and evacuation of the embassy on Wednesday, and the Prime Minister claiming the incident was "murderously criminal", The Australian has learned the letter contained talcum powder laced with a the bacterial agent bacillus. Although anthrax has been ruled out, police were continuing to test it to establish its exact nature last night.