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The Journey from Apartheid to Pistorious

Social media is alive with news of the sentence in the trial of Oscar Pistorious in a South African court.

There is another story here which we are overlooking. Let us not forget that black South Africans first voted in 1994 in post-apartheid South Africa. That is a mere twenty years ago. Nelson Mandela spent twenty-seven years in prison, battling for freedom.

Tonight we witnessed  a black South African woman sentence a white South African man to jail. Despite what any of us may or may not feel about the actual sentence, there is no denying this was a momentous occasion.

Judge Masipa would have been a teenager or young child when apartheid ended. Her people were not even entitled to vote. Today she sat in judgement of a fellow citizen.

There is no question this was a high profile case that attracted international news coverage. We could watch the sentencing live.

While I personally think the sentence should have been longer I take into consideration the prosecution failed to disprove Pistorious did not shoot at a perceived intruder. I do not know the sentencing standards in South Africa, but I did listen to the Judge’s reasoning comparing similar cases and her rationale. So while in my country I would have expected a longer sentence, I take into account my ignorance about the South African legal system. Many experts had been predicting no jail time, so I think any jail time is better than none. I recall OJ Simpson was acquitted.

Let us not let our debate about the length of the sentence overshadow the advances black South Africans have made in a mere twenty years. Many of us in the Western world have little comprehension of the history.

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Muhammad Ali in full flight – why is everything white

This video says SO much. Watch his cheeky grin and you know this is edutainment. Of course, being an atheist I can’t buy Muhammad’s “learning the truth”, HOWEVER given Islam abhors racism it is see clear why he  reverted and much of the truth he talks about IS truth (losing names and history etc).  The title in YouTube is “funniest video”; yes, it is funny but the message is deep.  Muhammad’s brain was faster than his famous fists.

It is interesting that his sentiments here about the now versus the hereafter differ from the views expressed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

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I claimed asylum before passport control not after

This experience came to my attention today. I am publishing with the permission of the writer. I have made some minor grammar and spelling corrections as requested by the writer.

I came in Australia in August 2012 with a visa which I received from Australian embassy in Moscow however I’m considered as an illegal arrival by the Department of Immigration because I claimed asylum before passport control not after, my visa been cancelled and I was pronounced non legal non citizen and placed in Villawood Detention Centre for 6 month with my then 4 years old daughter.

So technically I wasn’t ” immigration cleared ”  – I don’t have an entry stamp of Australia in my Russian passport, as the officials from the DIBP saying this is why I was issued with temporary protection visa in February 2014 instead of permanent one. Australian government twists the laws as they please in their favour, same as any politicians in any country of the world, they are not different.

I fulfilled all the required criteria to come to Australia by plane, with passport and visa but not, that’s not enough for them, they are saying I should have claimed asylum after passport control not before, I should have claimed asylum once I’ve got entry stamp in my passport . What a nonsense?? Then in 2012 I didn’t know that Scott Morrison will change the law and will want those who arrive in Australia first be stamped with entry stamp in their passport and only after that claim asylum. Do you imagine absurdness of the situation? Isn’t it that the potential asylum seekers should ask for help on the first possible opportunity, not after having passport being stamped? Any judge will put under doubt asylum seeker’s claim should he or she not to apply for protection immediately upon arrival. The new requirement imposed by Scott Morrison first pass passport control, stamp your passport with entry stamp, then claim asylum doesn’t make sense. Put yourself in shoes of the asylum seekers who fled danger. Will you wait or you will ask for help immediately upon arrival?

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Grattan on Friday: Tony, pick up the phone to Barack on Ebola

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By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Here’s a thought for Tony Abbott. Why doesn’t he ring up Barack Obama and David Cameron and ask them to help remove the impediment that’s apparently stopping the Australian government providing assistance on the ground for the West African Ebola crisis?

If it is really beyond the wit of officialdom to make arrangements to evacuate any Australian who contracted the virus, surely this would be a logical step, especially as Obama was pressing nations this week for more effort.

Abbott was quick to offer every assistance to the US for the action against Islamic State. Nothing was too much trouble for Australia.

Yet everything seems too much trouble when it comes to the West African crisis, which Obama has called “a top national security priority”.

The government’s attitude is not “how can we find ways to give greater help?” (beyond the $18 million Australia has donated) but “it’s too hard”.

The government and its officials keep talking about the 30 hours it would take to bring an infected person back.

“We don’t believe … an Australian health worker put into harm’s way in West Africa would survive the 30-hour flight back to Australia to be repatriated to receive medical support if they were to contract the virus,” Health Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday.

This is a furphy, and the government knows it. No one would be contemplating an evacuation to Australia, so why talk about it? Any evacuations would be to countries much closer.

It is also being said that other countries are not willing to take – or guarantee to take – Australian nationals.

Non-government organisations with health workers on the ground – 30 Australians are volunteering at the moment – have emergency evacuation arrangements. But these third country arrangements are “not secure”, Dutton said.

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Ebola – is this the Bubonic Plague of our generation?

I remember the first outbreak of ebola in 1979. It only killed a few poor, black people, right? Wasn’t impacting on the rich, white people, after all. So why worry about it?

Ebola virus

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Think for yourself

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Jones felt burning heat and fierce throbbing

Continued from Pain.  If you have just joined this story and wish to start from the beginning, go to What goes around comes around.

Some semblance of quiet settled over the tent. The baby was quiet now and the soft murmur of the women’s voices hung in the air as a reminder of the cycle of life. It was late, darkness crept ominously across the inhabitants of the tent. Jones feared never seeing daylight again. Finally he slept. Exhaustion took over both his mind and his body.

He was woken before dawn by the pain in his neck. It was getting worse. Jones felt burning heat and fierce throbbing, as if his neck was about to explode. He knew he was suffering an infection. He felt for the call button to summon a nurse before he remembered there wasn’t one. Instead his hand hit the water running beside his mattress, instantly reminding him where he was. He reached up to touch his neck and could feel a large swelling and something oozing. He smelt his fingers, the odour was putrid: rotting flesh. The doctor had been very clear there were not medicines available, everything had been used treating the ever-increasing hordes of humanity that had descended on this tiny nation. His chances of survival seemed marginal. Any thoughts he had of escaping now turned to simply living another day,  another hour.

Jones started to shiver. He knew this indicated fever had set in. Fever, the body’s natural mechanism to fight infection: would it be enough to save his life?

The doctor appeared as a ghostly shape; Jones struggled to focus his gaze, but he could see the doctor wasn’t looking at him in a hopeful way.

“You have developed a serious infection in that wound”, the doctor stated dispassionately, “and there is little I can do to help. We will wash out the wound and redress it as best we can, but we have no antibiotics.”

The doctor turned and walked away. Jones felt abandon. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t find the energy: he was burning up. The doctor returned with a steaming bowl of water, some cloths that had clearly once been tea-towels and a wooden stick. His eyes filled with the sorrow he felt for this person upon whom he was about to inflict pain beyond imagination.

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Support or not? Australians donning the Hijab

A scarf

Given the terrible actions against innocent Muslims in our community of late, I joined a social media group of everyday Australians supporting our Muslim brothers and sisters. Through my participation in this group I became aware of the #WISH campaign, Women in Solidarity with Hijabis.

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Synvisc One and Osteoarthritis of the Knee

As regular readers know, I recently discovered I have degenerative changes in my knee, otherwise known as osteoarthritis. When I last wrote, I thought it wasn’t too bad. The doctor, I discovered, is somewhat a master at understatement. When I finally got a copy of the MRI report it had lovely words like “severe” and “advanced”, not phrases like “a little bit”. My physiotherapist suggested I talk to my doctor about knee replacement. Maybe a partial might be possible, she suggested.

Back to the doctor where the conversation went a little like this.

“Dr A, you and I need to have a little talk!”

“Oh… why?”

“You are, it seems, the master of understatement.”

“I am?”

“Yes. You said a little bit of bone on bone. The MRI report uses words like severe and advanced.”

“Hmmmm, well, yes, your knee is basically done for.”

He didn’t actually use “done for”, but close enough. I’m figuring it looks something like the either of the last two images below.

Knee Damage

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The Muslim assimilation question

I have noticed questions about the integration of Muslims into Western societies, from both Muslims and non-Muslims. The questions vary, of course, but tend to boil down to two basic questions: 1) Why don’t Muslims assimilate and 2) Why do non-Muslims think we don’t assimilate?

I am going to share my thoughts in an attempt to provide some insights to both the above perspectives. There will no doubt be readers who disagree. I ask both sides to consider that understanding of difference is the way to build tolerance and friendship in our community. No-one has to agree or believe as another does, but understanding of another can go a very long way to building bridges.

As I have stated before (and do again for new readers) I am a humanist, an atheist. How I look at Christian and Islamic beliefs will differ from those who follow those faiths. Many Australians do not follow any religion. Yet we need to ensure we can all get along in a multi-cultural society. You may ask, as an atheist, why do I care at all? Wouldn’t I prefer to ban religion? Yes, actually, I would prefer there were no religions at all, but I know whenever we ban anything, we push it underground and historically that hasn’t worked too well, has it? Prohibition in the USA failed miserably. Prostitution is the oldest profession on the planet and has never been eradicated. Making drugs illegal seems to bring many problems I won’t go into here. The best solution is to build tolerance and understanding. Making the burka illegal is not an appropriate approach either. Education and inclusion, not exclusion, are the appropriate paths to change, if change is warranted or desired.

The Islamic faith has some beliefs that Western society could adopt: the spirit of charity, living a virtuous life (I interpret that as a life in which one is  honest, ethical and does not cheat, steal, lie etc) and to refrain from vice and evil actions. We could do with a little more of all of that.

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