Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Brazilian Priest Finds God

"A Brazilian priest who rode a bundle of party balloons into the horizon to set a flight record has disappeared. Rev. Adelir Antonio di Carli took off from the coastal city of Paranagua in southern Brazil, buoyed by 1,000 helium-filled balloons. Wearing a helmet, aluminum thermal flight suit, waterproof clothes and a parachute, he was attempting to break the 19-hour record of human flight by party balloons. Eight hours after takeoff, di Carli was reported missing after he lost contact with authorities. Rescuers said they have found the balloons floating in the ocean off the coast of southern Brazil but have seen no sign of di Carli, who planned to use money raised from his adventure to finance a "spiritual" rest stop for truckers in Paranagua."

source: CBC News

The Rev di Carli evidently had a great deal of faith; he did not wear a life jacket and although he was carrying a GPS did not know how to use it. You'd have to applaud the priest's bravery and his noble plans for the money raised. You'd definitely have to feel sorry for him. You'd also have the think it was an extremely silly thing to do.

Do events like this cause people to question their faith in god? Surely god would have to be looking after a flying priest raising money for spiritually bankrupt truckers. Evidently not. In early times, people thought god literally lived on top of a mountain (Olympus, Zion etc.). After a while they learned to climb mountains and found god wasn't there. It was then decided god lived above the clouds. After a while longer, basic aviation was discovered and god was still not up there. Now space travel, deep space probes, space telescopes have been discovered but still no god out there. God has now conveniently become a metaphysical entity with no physical dwelling, as science has the annoying habit of encroaching on the unknown. Despite this, a growing number of people are blindly following their religions with increasing fanaticism. This wouldn't be a problem if there wasn't so much killing done in the name of peace and love.

Perhaps the Rev. di Carli is closer to god now; we can only hope. God moves in mysterious ways but so do balloons.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

China steps up to the Olympic plate

Scenes of protesters harrasing the progress of the Olympic torch seem incredibly ironic. They underline the fact that the 'Olympic Spirit' has become something other than the IOC would have us believe.

Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger) is the organisation's motto. Mutual understanding, a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play - that's the definition of the Olympic Spirit from the movement's charter.

How many of these qualities does China's society possess? Even before the Tibetan crackdown human rights abuses by the Chinese authorities were common knowledge, but little action seems to have been taken by western countries. Words of concern and inconsistent economic sanctions aren't enough to make a difference. Granting the Olympics to China is a tacit approval of the heinous abuses and persecution that exists in this, the last great totalitarian dictatorship.

Parallels can be made with the decision to hold the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany.
"The decision by the IOC goes towards justifying a repressive political system that each day flouts freedom and violates human rights... Following the example of Nazi Germany in 1936 and the Soviet Union in 1980, Communist China will use (the games) as a powerful propaganda instrument destined to consolidate its hold on power. The decision by the IOC goes towards justifying a repressive political system that each day flouts freedom and violates human rights." said Francois Loncle, a member of French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's Socialist party.

The question must be asked: why choose China? China's booming economy allows them to throw a huge amount of money at the games, build the best facilities and provide the best junkets for Olympic officials.

The stipulations that athletes do not voice any political opinions could also be seen as an infringement of their human rights. Don't we have a right to freedom of speech? If the hosting nation's human rights record was not a great concern would our sporting bodies be stressing these rules?

Perhaps the Olympic movement's charter should be expanded to include the motto "money, money, money".

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Whale Sushi?

Why are the Japanese killing whales in Australian waters? Are we really to believe they are murdering these beautiful creatures for the purposes of ‘scientific research’? What is the purpose of such research? It has already been established that if you stick a dirty great harpoon in a whale it is likely to die. What do the Japanese actually do with the carcasses? Is whale meat such a delicacy that they are willing to endure international censure and constant protest by groups such as Greenpeace in order to continue the practice. Apparently, yes.

At the risk of sounding jingoistic; these question need to be asked: Didn’t we win the war? Are the Japanese to be allowed to perpetrate the same cruelty on whales as they did on their wartime victims? Can’t we just run a gunboat up there and blow their sorry butts out of the water? The short answers are: yes, yes and no…

Japanese trade and investment is of course much too valuable to this country and most others for governments to offer anything more than a token objection to this carnage. Greenpeace is to be applauded for having the guts to risk life and limb on the high seas in the vain hope of preventing further slaughter. Perhaps governments should consider that the Japanese need us as much as we need them as far as trade goes. Japanese trade will still be there long after the whale is annihilated as a species and the environment is on the brink of destruction.

So will we, but for how much longer?

Rogerson's Underbelly

Disgraced former NSW detective Roger Rogerson has been writing reviews about the hit show Underbelly, which remains banned in Victoria pending outcomes of legal hearings involving key characters in the series. The reviews have appeared in The Daily Telegraph and syndicated Australian media coverage.

“I never liked Melbourne or their crooks. And watching Underbelly last night reminded me why. It wouldn't have happened up here in Sydney like down there. We had more control over the crooks up here, and I reckon most of the crooks would agree. But as entertainment it was pretty good with more sex than violence.”

It seems very ironic for Rogerson to be writing about this program. Rogerson undoubtedly has excellent first hand knowledge of underworld dealings, but having been sent to prison for perverting the course of justice and for lying to the 1999 Police Integrity Commission it seems reasonable to wonder just how close that first hand knowledge is. Rogerson received his first criminal conviction in 1985 for involvement in drug dealing when he was charged with conspiring with notorious Melbourne drug dealer Dennis Allen to supply heroin. The conviction was overturned on appeal. Rogerson was responsible for the shooting death of Warren Lanfranchi. During the inquest the coroner found he was acting in the line of duty, but a jury declined to find he had acted in self-defence. Rogerson was later commended by the police force for his bravery. However, it was alleged by Lanfranchi's partner, Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, and later by the infamouse Neddy Smith, that Rogerson had murdered Lanfranchi as retribution for robbing another heroin dealer who was under police protection and for firing a gun at a police officer. Fellow police officer Michael Drury has alleged that Rogerson was involved in his attempted murder. Drury claims he refused to accept a bribe Rogerson offered to change his evidence in a heroin trafficking trial of convicted Melbourne drug dealer, Alan Williams. On June 6, 1984, Drury was shot twice through his kitchen window as he fed his three-year-old daughter, Belinda. Rogerson was charged with the shooting and Williams testified that Rogerson and Dale Flannery had agreed to murder Drury for $AU50,000 each. However, on November 20, 1989, Rogerson was acquitted.

If the NSW police force had more control over crooks than their counterparts in Victoria did, could it be because the crooks were on their payroll? If the events depicted in the Australian mini series Blue Murder are to be believed, you’d have to say yes. Blue Murder was similarly banned in NSW until legal proceedings involving Rogerson and other characters were completed. Rogerson compares Underbelly favourably with Blue Murder in his column, which again seems ironic as Blue Murder doesn’t exactly paint a flattering portrait of him. I find Underbelly to be more concerned with entertainment than Blue Murder was, and there is definitely much more emphasis on sex. While it seems necessary to the story up to a point; of course cashed up criminals drive fast cars and love fast women, the sex scenes tend to predominate at the expense of the plot at times. Roger has also drawn attention to this tendency. I doubt the sex scenes have damaged the ratings much, but that said; I never miss an episode, it’s absolutely riveting. Blue Murder remains for me a much more realistic and serious work. The violence was cold blooded and chilling and the implications of a state largely run by a corrupt police force in tandem with organised crime quite terrifying.

Interestingly, Roger Rogerson has been much more complimentary towards Underbelly in his most recent column: Daily Telegraph, Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I wonder who’s payroll he’s on now…