Tim Longhurst's Blog

Entries Tagged as 'Peace between people'


August 3rd, 2006 · No Comments

israelIn the past few weeks, Israel has been pounding Lebanon in a series
of strikes aimed at achieving peace by killing hundreds of
innocent people. I’m no military strategist, but I would have thought that a great way to turn average Lebanese civlians into ‘terrorists who hate your country’ would be to kill women and children, and destroy roads and bridges.

One of the reasons that I built this site initially was so that I could
express my thoughts and feelings on events like those that have
unfolded in Lebanon, but on this occasion its taken me weeks to write
anything at all.

From an Australian perspective, it has been incredibly frustrating to watch my local media “focus on the local angle” and lose sight of the fact that bullets and shrapnel hurt just as much whether you hold an Australian passport or don’t. The basic angle has been, “Can we get the Aussies out of this warzone?” or “Is the government doing enough to rescue the Aussies” – what about the 3.8 million Lebanese? What’s the deal? As long as people who know Advance Australia Fair don’t die, every thing’s going to be okay? The bigger story should have been, “Is the International Community doing enough to make sure Israel stops bombing?”.

On my 2002 trip to the USA, I was traveling through the Capital area. I
was on the commuter train from Maryland to Washington DC, and there
were a few ladies on the train dressed in blue and white. I asked them
about their ‘team colours’, and they explained they were going to a
Pro-Israel rally. I knew next to nothing about the Middle East at the
time, so I listened as the women explained that the newly waged “War on
Terror” was all about from a Pro-Israel perspective. The women
encouraged me to join them on the Capital. I went along, as attending a
protest on Capital hill seemed a little more of an adventure than
checking out the Smithsonian with the tourists.

The protest I had stumbled into turned out to be the world’s largest-ever Pro Israel rally – 100,000 are said to have been present.

The mood was generally jubilant, and my presence at the event was
enough to make me everyone’s friend. There was so much energy and
enthusiasm. I remember one common catch cry, duplicated on placards and
t-shirts, was, “AMERICA DON’T WORRY, ISRAEL IS BEHIND YOU” this was
punctuated by the image of an Israeli jet.*

In the months following my attendance at the protest, I began to read
more and more on the plight of Israel and her neighbours. One of the
stand-out speeches I have heard on the topic of Israel came from a
US-based academic named Sut Jhally. (You can download Sut’s presentation at Active Ingredients).

*The irony of this sentiment only dawns on me now, when I consider the fact that the US has been contributing an average of $US1.3 billion a year to Israel’s defence force since 1971.

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Category: Peace between people

World Cup of Generosity – Norway defeats Sweden in close contest

July 5th, 2006 · 1 Comment

norwayThe Kingdom of Norway’s 5 million residents are celebrating tonight as they embrace their title of Most Generous Rich Nation.

“I’m so excited!” 22 year old Didrik Opstvedt exclaimed, “There are so many deserving people all over the world, and knowing my government is leading the charge to make the world a more caring place is a real buzz!

For every $100 Norway brings in as income, 93 cents is set aside for the world’s poorest people. This figure surpasses that of runner-up, Sweden, which gives 92 cents.

Through the United Nations, the world’s 22 richest nations have set a series of ambitious targets for the world. By 2015, these nations aim to reduce the suffering of the world’s poorest people, the targets are known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

Five nations have surpassed the .7% aid target required to achieve the MDG, with another

Swedish Prime Minister, Göran Persson, congratulated Norway on their generosity. “We are generous”, the PM said, “but currently, we are being outdone by our friend and neighbour. Congratulations!”

World’s Eight Most Generous Rich Nations (Percentage of GDP put towards the UN Millennium Development Goals)
Norway 0.93
Sweden 0.92
Luxembourg 0.87
Netherlands 0.82
Denmark 0.81
Belgium 0.53
Austria 0.52
United Kingdom 0.48

Rounding out the League of Sixteen:
Finland 0.47
France 0.47
Switzerland 0.44
Ireland 0.41
Germany 0.35
Canada 0.34
Spain 0.29
Italy 0.29

Failed to Qualify:
Japan 0.28
New Zealand 0.27
Australia 0.25
Greece 0.24
United States 0.22
Portugal 0.21

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Category: Peace between people

Vision for a fairer world: the Millennium Development Goals

July 5th, 2006 · No Comments

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) are a list of targets that aim to make life better for the worlds most ripped-off people. This is what they are:

Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty
Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

The goals have been endorsed by 149 world leaders, including Australia’s John Howard. Naturally, ‘Nice idea!’ is a lot easier to say than ‘Here’s the money!’…

Australia is lucky enough to be one of the world’s 22 “rich nations”, of these, only 3 give less.

While most nations in the “Rich 22” have commited to putting aside 70 cents for every $100 they bring in (some are doing even better than that), Australia is currenty only giving 25 cents. Our stated aim is 36 cents (source). What a cheap, cheap country this is.

(*) Indicates countries that have NOT set a timetable for 0.7%.
(t) Indicates countries even tighter than Australia


Country Aid as % of
Country Aid as % of
Austria 0.52 Luxembourg 0.87
Canada (*) 0.34 New Zealand 0.27
Finland 0.47 Portugal (t) 0.21
Germany 0.35 Sweden 0.92
Ireland 0.41 United Kingdom 0.48

Remember this next time you hear about Australia’s recent tax cuts to
high-income earners – that’s money that could have given a leg-up to
some of the world’s unluckiest citizens.

To read more about the the MDG, check out the UN Millennium Project. To learn about how you can help make sure Australia pulls its weight on this important issue, check out Australia’s Make Poverty History site.

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Iran’s letter to America

May 11th, 2006 · No Comments

mahmoodUnless you’ve been living a kilometre underground for the past two weeks, you’ve probably heard that Iran has written its first letter to the United States in 27 years.

I looked for a full text copy of the letter and finally found it as a PDF. I’ve posted the article on this site because PDF’s are awful. Commentary may follow, but I’ll just leave Mahmood’s letter for now.

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Cost of Australia’s ‘involvement’ in Iraq

March 29th, 2006 · 2 Comments

iraqwar.jpgIn the past I’ve talked about the cost of the Iraq war to Iraqis and today Crikey‘s daily newsletter today has calculated the financial (not moral or ethical) cost of the Iraq war to Australians:

“By June a Australia’s war in Iraq will have cost taxpayers $1.2 billion, according to defence think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute. That’s enough to buy:

  • 42 new high schools each catering for 720 year 7-10 students … or
  • Two 740-bed hospitals … or
  • 116,346 fully subsidised new Long Day Care childcare places (for one year) … or

  • 25 kilometres of six-lane freeway (at $48 million per kilometre) … or
  • 480,000 new places in the New Apprenticeships access program that caters to occupations where there are skills shortages … or
  • 83 new technical colleges.

Depending on your point of view, it’s the price we’re paying for a) securing Iraqi freedom or b) our subscription fee to the Australia-US alliance…”

If you want to see what $1.2 billion helps pay for, check out the photo gallery at Robert Fisk’s website. It’s hard to look at, but I’m sure it’s far more painful for the people in the photos.

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Category: Peace between people