Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jane McGrath (Thanks, Magikquilter)

I just sighed with relief.

I am so tired of researching people who may or may not be terrorists. I know that's very callous of me.

I'm sorry.

I'm still reading Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital which deals with all the stuff I've been researching (terrorism, torture, wrongly accused, etc) It's somewhat eerie that I ended up reading that book at the same time I did research on Hicks and Habib. I put the books randomly on my shelf and then read them in the order from left to right . It just so happened that I ended up reading this book about terrorism just as I started doing research on terrorists. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking, book by the way. I highly recommend it.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Jane McGrath was not a terrorist. Nor do I suspect that she was ever tortured by any military officials. From what I know of her though, it seems she was probably tortured in a way that too many women are tortured. Breast Cancer.

I don't think much about breast cancer. I should think about it more. I should pay attention. So, it's good that I'm doing this research today.

I'm an Ashkenazi Jew. Breast cancer tends to run in our genes. My grandfather had breast cancer. I'm not sure if that increases my chances of getting it or not.

I need to do more breast self-exams. I need to make sure I start getting mammograms when I'm forty. Maybe this research will give me the kick in the ass that I need.

I DID breastfeed Jack for a long time which is supposed to help lower the risk of breast cancer. I didn't breastfeed FOR this reason, but's nice to know I did SOMETHING good for my health.

Okay. Enough about me. It's time to talk about Jane McGrath.

McGrath was born on 4 May 1966.

Birthday website

She's a Taurus and a 4. I checked though with my own little calculator. She's not a 22. She's a 1+3=4.

She was born in England and was a flight attendant for Virgin Atlantic Airways. She met her cricketer husband in a Hong Kong nightclub. I guess that's one of the perks of being a flight attendant.  You get to travel a lot and meet interesting people.

McGrath married her husband in 1999 and became an Australian citizen on Australia Day in 2002.

She discovered she had breast cancer in 1997--before she got married. She was only 31.

Oh shit. Maybe studying terrorists was better than this. I'm starting to get a bit freaked out.

Anyway, McGrath had various fun treatments....mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. How the hell did she plan a wedding with all that going on?

In 1998, she got a clear bill of health. Well, that's good. She was cancer-free on her wedding...or so she thought.

She got a husband. She had two children. She breastfed them. I guess she had to feed them on one breast? Or maybe the mastectomy was done in a way that she could still breastfeed? Either way, I admire her for doing it. I can imagine it wasn't easy.

In 2003, McGrath had bone cancer. She recovered from that. Then in 2006 she had brain cancer. That was successfully removed.

In June 2008, she died. I'm guessing it was from breast cancer. Maybe?

I don't know. This woman had a lot of bad luck when it comes to cancer. I'm guessing that although it occurred in different parts of her body, the cancers were somehow related. It's not just some awful coincidence, right? Maybe it has something to do with her cells being faulty? Some kind of environmental issue?

In 2002 (while it was just breast cancer as her enemy)she started the McGrath Foundation. It's purpose was to raise more money for breast care nurses in rural Australia, and to educate oblivious women like me.

This cricked website has an obituary about McGrath. She died at home. I think that's good. I mean it would be better than dying in a hospital. Maybe? I don't know.

Her bereaved husband said, She would want them to draw strength from the fact that she didn't only 'survive' breast cancer for 11 years, but during that time she lived life to the fullest and found pleasure in the simple things so many people take for granted.

That's very beautiful.

To honor McGrath and her struggles, the Cricket team wore pink ribbons and had pink on their bats when they played against the West Indies.

I'm now going to look at the McGrath Foundation Website.

It says that Jane found it to be a huge help to have a breast care nurse. She didn't have one until 2003. I guess she got one when she was being treated for the bone cancer. Maybe they worried the breast cancer would come back. Or maybe it did come back. The issue is though she didn't have the breast care nurse in 1997 when she had the cancer and she found having one made her feel better.

She and her husband wrote a book for Random House. Originally, the idea was that they'd donate the proceeds to charity. But then they decided to start their own foundation.

Okay, this page has an explanation of what a breast care nurse does. They are are specially trained nurses who act as patient advocates, coordinating care for women with breast cancer, their families and carers.

This page talks about how to check your breasts. It tries to be reassuring. If you find a change in your breast go to your doctor, but don't worry. It will probably be nothing. And breast cancer has an 85% survival rate. Okay, but it's hard to feel reassured when the page has a photo of a beautiful smiling young woman who died of breast cancer. I'd have a lot more hope and peace of mind if she was still alive!

I am feeling my breasts right now. As far as I can tell they're okay. My baby toe seems to be the one with the problem. But still. My breasts are going to be getting a LOT more attention from me for now on.

Oh good. Here's even more information about the nurses. It costs $100,000 per year per nurse. Wow! Really? Is that how much money nurses get in Australia? This website says they get between $40-60 thousand. So, what is with the $100,000? Maybe some of the money goes to training? Or maybe breast nurses get more money?

Now I'm going to read the transcript of Andrew Denton's interview with Jane and her husband Glenn.

The Hong Kong bar they met at was called Joe Bananas. In the interview, Glenn talks about going back there. I wonder if they ever did. That would be very romantic. When I was a preschool teacher, there was a family that returned to their honeymoon destination every year. They took their two kids with them.

This is a fun interview. Jane and Glenn talk about how they first met. Jane says the thing she first noticed about her future husband was that he was tall. And he was the only guy who didn't say hello. She took that as a challenge. I'd probably do the same thing. Maybe. I'd probably go on and on in my head about how this guy is so rude, but then secretly have a crush on him.

It seems she didn't know/understand that Glenn was a big time cricket player. She was dating this guy and didn't know he was famous. People kept coming up to him and saying hello. She thought he was just very popular.

Okay. Now I'm at the part where she finds out she has cancer. She got out of the shower, was combing her hair, and noticed her left breast didn't look right. I usually comb my hair while I'm naked. Maybe I should make sure to look at my breasts while doing that.

McGrath says her breast looked flattened instead of curving underneath. I don't quite get that. She touched it though and it hurt. She thought the pain meant it couldn't be breast cancer. Cancer doesn't hurt. I would probably rationalize it away just like she did. She asked her husband what he thought and he said it looked okay. No worries.

But she did worry. She asked a nursing friend about it and the nursing friend said she had a lump. McGrath went to a doctor who also told her not to worry. But once he knew her family history of cancer (her mom had it) he decided to give her some further attention. She had a mammogram and a biopsy.

She had cancer.

I guess the lesson here is to get a second opinion--especially if the first opinion came from your husband.

I think the problem is most of us are so scared to be sick. So, when someone tells us we're fine, we WANT to believe them. Although, sometimes we also want someone to pay attention to our concerns and not so quickly dismiss them.

When I was in high school, the doctors found sugar in my urine. They set me up with an appointment to have the glucose tolerance test. I was terrified.   And in some ways, I think I felt ashamed. That sounds so stupid looking back as an adult. But I think in some ways, I felt I had done something wrong. It might have been the way the doctor told me...her tone of voice. You have sugar in your urine. It was almost accusatory, like they had found drugs.

Anyway, besides feeling shame, I also felt very scared and anxious. I tried talking to my parents and I remember them constantly reassuring me. I should say they TRIED to reassure me. I think their basic message was don't worry. You don't have it. I understand that they meant well. They wanted me to feel okay. They wanted me to not be scared. But I don't think that helped me. I think what I ended up feeling was very alone and very foolish. What I wanted and needed was someone to say Hey. You probably don't have Diabetes. But there's a chance you might have it and we understand why you're scared. It's okay to be afraid. Let's talk about this and figure out what we'll do if you actually have it.

I think we dismiss other people's health concerns because we're scared to face what's going on.

Once someone I know showed concern that their daughter might have leukemia. She had a few worrisome symptoms. The mother mentioned this to a doctor she knew. Did the doctor ask questions to further understand the mother's concerns? Nope. Did the doctor suggest the mother call the child's pediatrician? Nope. What did he do? He stated simply. She does not have Leukemia. Fortunately, she didn't have it. But how could he know that without giving her an examinati0n?

I think he just wanted to reassure the mother. Hey, don't worry. Your child is okay. I'm sure he meant no harm. But I think an attitude like that can cause harm. At the worst, a diagnosis might be missed. What if the child DID have Leukemia, but the child was never checked because this mother trusted this doctor too much? At the very least, I think it can make a person feel foolish. We shouldn't be made to feel foolish because we have concerns for our health or our children's health. Well, unless we're totally hypochondriacs. That's a WHOLE other story.

I am a hypocrite though, because the other day Jack threw up and Tim freaked out because he thought it was blood. I wasn't exactly understanding about his concerns. To me, the color wasn't alarming. I thought of blood in vomit as being black (or bright red). I should have explained this kindly to Tim. Instead, I think I kind of scoffed at his fears. Tim finally calmed down on his own though when he realized Jack had been eating a lot of red candies. Anyway. Sorry, Tim.

Okay. I'm going to continue with the interview.

She said she would have rather died than lost her breast. This makes sense for someone who doesn't have children yet. Once you have children, I think you'd be happy to give up your breasts, your hair, your eyeballs, vagina, a lung, kidney, etc. I think we'd give everything just to have more time with our children....well, unless we're suicidal. Then that's a whole other story.

McGrath did end up getting her breast removed and wasn't happy about it. She was ashamed for her husband to see it. But he did see it, and like a good boyfriend it mattered more to him that she was alive.

McGrath had a new breast built eventually, but she went five years without it. During that time, she had a prosthetic breast. It would fall out at times. Fun!

In the interview, Denton asks if Glenn did the typical male thing of complaining more than she did. She says yes. What is it with men? Am I being too sexist right now?

It seems the family was co-sleepers....or at least part time ones. Awesome. Denton seems to disapprove though. I think my opinion of him has lowered a few notches. Although he might have been joking, or I might be misunderstanding something.

Denton asks the McGraths if they talk about death. They say no. Jane says it's not an option for her. I don't think it's a good idea to dwell on death, but I also think it's wrong to completely deny it. If you have cancer, there is a chance you could die from it. It's as simple as that.

Death happens.

It's going to claim all of us at one time or another.

Yeah, so the McGrath's were right. Death is NOT an option. It's a requirement. It's just unfortunate when it happens too soon.

Anyway, that ended up being a rather rough topic too. Well, what can I say? We live in a tough world. Bad things happen sometimes. Sometimes, the only thing left to do is cry and hug each other.

I send virtual hugs out to all of you.

Note: I've been a bit scared and sad these past few days. Sometimes, we have those days where we realize that at any moment something bad can happen to us. I wondered how I could deal with such feelings without completely losing it. And then I remembered what my little spirit-guide fortune cards said two days in a row (while I was feeling bad). One of the cards said Enjoy Life. It's a simple message, but it makes perfect sense. Bad things do happen and they can jump into our life at anytime. But instead of worrying about that, we should just enjoy the times that are good.

As for New Years resolutions and plans. I'm not going to make any. Instead, I'm going to follow a quote from the movie Dan in Real Life:

Instead of telling our kids to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.

Some surprises will be good and some will be bad.

I hope all of you who are reading this have much more good surprises than bad.

I love you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mamdouh Habib

I'm going back to Guantanamo Bay.

Mamdouh Habib.

I don't know if this guy is guilty or innocent.

I know you can't go on looks alone.  But he LOOKS very nice. He doesn't look like a terrorist. He looks like someone's really nice neighbor. He looks like someone who owns a restaurant and is always extra nice to the kids who come in.

Lord Wiki doesn't give his exact birthday. He just says that Habib was born in Egypt in 1956. He moved to Australia in 1980. He would have been 34.

In 1990, Habib had problems with the Defense Housing Authority. Habib lost a contract with them and started making threatening phone calls. Lord Wiki says they took out an apprehended violence order against him. I'm guessing this is the same as a restraining order?

The Defense Housing Authority provides housing for members of the Australia Defense Force. I wonder why Habib had a contract with them? Was he part of the defense force? Or perhaps he was an employee of the organization?

Habib ended up in court over the issue. His psychiatrist said he was depressed and on Prozac. It sounds really sad....a lot of crying. Hopelessness. But the psychiatrist believed that Habid was NOT violent or capable of violence.

In 2001, police believed Habid showed hostility towards government organizations. The Protective Services Group did an assessment of him and concluded that his bark was worse than his bite.

In October of that year he was arrested in Pakistan. Australian authorities claimed they had proof that he was involved with Al-Qaeda training camps.

Habib says he was tortured in Pakistan; and that an Australian was there witnessing the whole thing.

He was next sent to Egypt where he says he experienced more torture.

Oh! He used to be a coffee shop owner!  I knew he was a restaurant guy.

Habib confessed to many terrorism crimes. But then later retracted these, saying the confessions were forced out of him with torture.

That's the thing about torture. If torture could bring about the truth, I think it would be a necessary evil. But torture doesn't give us the truth. It just gives the torturers what they want to hear.

After Egypt, Habit went to Guantanamo Bay where he received various types of abuse. He says the interrogators told him his family was dead. That's very cruel.

The US government made several accusations against Habib, but he was never formally charged. These include training the hijackers, transferring chemical weapons, and conducting surveillance.

In January 2005, the US government decided they didn't have enough evidence; and so they let Habib go. Was he welcomed back to Australia with open arms? No. The government took his passport away, and said we'll be watching you.

I think this is interesting. Australia now has a law that says it's illegal to be involved with terrorist organizations. But when Habib was arrested that law was not in place. Therefore, he can't be charged with it. So, is this about a truly innocent man who was wrongly accused? Or is it about a guilty man getting off on a technicality?

John Howard refused to give Habib an apology. Would he have acted any differently if Habib had not been a Muslim?

It seems Habib's problems continued after returning to Australia. In August 2005, he was attacked by three men. They said this should keep you quiet. In March 2006, he witnessed a murder. When he went to the police, they weren't exactly nice to him.

Habib later turned to politics. He tried joining the Labor party via the Auburn seat in Sydney, but he didn't get enough votes.

I'm going to now leave Lord Wiki and look elsewhere.

This BBC article gives Habib's reasons for going to Pakistan. He says he was there because the family was thinking of moving to Pakistan. He was checking out the schools.

Besides the coffee shop, he also drove a taxi and ran a dry cleaning business. He's married to a woman named Maha, and they have four children. He's very religious and taught Islam at a high school.

Habib's wife says his depression came from feeling he was being targeted by Australian authorities. This happened in the early 1990's when he visited his sister in NYC. He also happened to visit a man named Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman. Rahman was later sent to prison for being involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Maha says her husband did not support terrorism. He was just trying to help Rahman with his diabetes. He felt compassion for a sick man. Okay. Maybe I believe this. Maybe I don't. I'm not sure yet.

So, he has the Australian police watching him. That would probably make the average human feel targeted and defensive. Then the best friend of one of Habib's sons was fatally shot. It seems all of this is what made Habib consider abandoning Australia for Pakistan. He went there in July and was arrested in October. Why was he there for so long? That's a long time to be away from one's family just to look at schools.

This New York Times article from 2005 says that Habib still had a bruise on his back, cigarette burn scars on his chest, and a mark on forehead. He says all of these come from being abused and tortured.

He also says he was psychologically tortured. At one point, a female interrogator reached under her skirt and flung what seemed to be menstrual blood in his face. Gross. He was forced to see photographs with his wife's face superimposed on naked bodies.

Australian intelligence officials say that a few days before September 11, Habib called his wife and told him something big was going to happen in the United States. Yikes.

The article describes the torture he received in Pakistan. He was interrogated by Australians and Americans. He was defiant and refused to talk. They started torturing him. First they said he'd never see his family again. Then they gave him to some Pakistani interrogators. He was put into a room where they used a torture technique involving barrels and electric wiring. When he refused to confess to being part of a 1995 terrorist plot, they turned on the electricity. He still refused to confess, and then they gave him back to some American thugs who beat him up.

Then America had a brilliant plan. Since they didn't (at the time) support torture, they sent him to Egypt which does. Yeah. Get the Egyptians to do your dirty work.

The guy received more and more torture.

It's very scary.

He's a troubled man though. Can we believe him? Can we take the word of a man who is both Islamic and hostile towards Australian/American governments?

Are we allowed to be negative towards our government and choose a religion that's not in the mainstream?

Let's see what the World Socialist Website has to say about all of this.

They say Habib is an Australian citizen. I was wondering about that. I didn't know if he was a citizen or a legal resident.

They say he was denied a lawyer until 2004. Oh crap. He was detained for about two years without a lawyer. That's not good.

Oh good. They have an interview with him. He says, I think of the Australian people as part of my family and that this is a peaceful country. The problem is with the government.

This is how I feel about America. I love the people--well, for the most part. I don't think there's really anything wrong with us as a whole. But we do have a seriously awful government right now. And I know people blame us because we voted him in. But that's not exactly true. Close to half of us DIDN'T want Bush. I think most of the other half were brainwashed with fear.

This quote makes me very sad. I’ve tried to explain since I came home that I didn’t commit any crime but had been kidnapped and that the Australian government, which should be like parents and always look after its children, was involved. I still don't know if he was guilty or innocent of being involved with terrorists. But if he was innocent, I feel so incredibly bad for him. I think we count on our countries being there for us. And when they betray and/or deny us, it's a huge rejection. Although he shouldn't be surprised. It's not like he had a friendly relationship with the government before he left for Pakistan. In fact, he was so unhappy in Australia he had wanted to live in Pakistan.

Okay, this is interesting. Habib describes how his arrest in Pakistan happened. He was on a bus. Authorities came and removed two young German men. The German men didn't know English, so Habib tried to help them. When he was helping them, he got arrested along with them. So, if he hadn't been a good Samaritan, would he have been left alone?

Is this the story of a guy who stands up for the underdog and gets in trouble for it. Yeah, I know you might be a Terrorist. But you have Diabetes. You're sick and you need a friend. I'll be there for you.

Maybe he just has a kind heart.

Habib describes a section of Guantanamo Bay called Camp 5. He says its purpose is to drive the prisoners insane. Bright lights are kept on in the cells all day. There is loud music and extreme cold temperatures.

He says Australia has a law that if you're a suspected terrorist they can detain you without telling your family members. If your family members do find out, they're not allowed to go to the media.

The title of this Sydney Morning Herald article expresses my feelings quite well. What should we believe?

The article says that when Habib arrived at Guantanamo he was sent to a military psychiatrist. They diagnosed him as having post traumatic stress disorder and major depression. The American doctors treated him with psychiatric drugs.

So, does this mean the workers at the prison aren't so bad after all?


Probably not.

It's hard to believe one angry and mentally unstable man's allegations of abuse. The thing is, though, other victims have given matching/similar accounts.

Habib said his capture was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Australian authorities disagree. They said they have been actively searching for him in Pakistan. So, what was the deal with the Germans then? Was that just a coincidence?

David Hicks says he saw Habib in Afghanistan. Habib refuses to say whether he was there or not. Why? Why would he refuse answer questions about that. That makes me a little suspicious. If he was not there, why not just say that?

Here's something else suspicious. Habib's claims of abuse in Egypt were ignored. Finally, in court he spoke about them. And then this is when the US decided to drop the charges and send him back to Australia.

This website has a transcript of the 60 Minutes interview with Habib.

Habib says, George Bush, he say he never touched nobody. George Bush is a liar. If I’m the worst, why he release me? If I done anything to him, why am I here now? Why he not charging me?

No. I don't think this proves innocence. I'm not an expert at law or anything, but I think there are cases where someone gets released for reasons other than innocence.

The interviewer talks about his connection to Omar Abdul Rahman. She says Habib had fax and telephone contacts with him and another militant Islamic man. Rahman supported the actions of September 11. The interviewer asked Habib if he supported this. Habib said, I didn’t support anybody for what he did. I said I supported deeply for his sickness, that’s all.

In this interview, Habib does not sound supportive of terrorism. He's asked if he believes there's any justification in killing in the name of Allah. Habib says no. He's asked what he thinks of Osama Bin Laden. He said he thought of him as normal before September 11, but he doesn't support what Bin Laden did.

I like what Habib says here in response to whether he warned his wife about something big happening in the United States. My phone at home has been traced for over two year. How come I tell the … my wife, hey, they have attacked the US. You think I’m a stupid terrorist?

Okay. Here too he refuses to answer questions about whether he was in Afghanistan. Why? It reminds me of Dumbeldore refusing to answer certain questions. What's he trying to hide? Is he trying to protect someone?

He does say he'd answer the question in front of a judge.

Why is he being so difficult about that?

Maybe he just wants an excuse to go to court. The article/interview says he wants to go to court so he can tell his side of the story and get his passport back.

The interviewer says, you would rather sit here and let people think you’re a terrorist than tell me what you were doing in Afghanistan?

He responds with.... they shouldn’t think I’m a terrorist. Because if I’m a terrorist, I would be still in Cuba.

No, not quite. I don't buy that.

He DOES say he was never in an Al Qaeda camp. Okay, so he CAN answer that part. But he won't tell what he was actually doing in Afghanistan...or if he was even IN Afghanistan. It almost sounds like he's trying to keep a surprise party secret or something.

His wife says, He’s the best. He’s crazy about his kids, his family, yes. And I don’t call this a terrorist if you cared about your family. He’s not.

So what they're saying is if you are released from an American prison and you love your family, this has to mean you're not a terrorist.

I'm sorry, but I don't quite agree with that line of thinking.

Habib has a book out--his memoirs. It's called My Story: the tale of a terrorist who wasn't. I like that title. It might be an interesting book to read.

This article talks about the issue of the torture in Egypt. John Howard claimed they had no idea it happened. But a freedom of information act in Australia has forced the Australian government to admit they have 85,000 pages of documents regarding all of this. 85,000 pages? What in the hell could take up 85,000 pages? And I thought my blog posts were too long!

Here's the sticky part. The department is asking for $200,000 to go through all the documents to decide which are required to be released under the freedom of information act. Wait. Who is supposed to be paying the $200,000? I'm confused. Oh! The Australian...the newspaper. It's where the article I'm reading comes from. Yikes.

This reminds me of when I tried to get my medical charts from my doctor. I think what happened is I tried to glance at my medical chart and the nurse rudely snatched it away. That pissed me off. It's my body, right? It's my medical chart. I had a feeling that the doctor was writing rude things about me. I requested the chart but never got it. I mean it's partly my fault. I should have worked harder to get it. I gave up too soon. I vaguely remember reading, though, that although you have the right to get access to your chart, the doctor has the right to have time to rewrite what's written in your chart. So if she writes something nasty about you, she has the chance to delete that part.

The sad thing is I still go to this doctor's office. But they're actually much nicer now.

Anyway, back to Habib.

I really don't know what to believe.

Is Habib an innocent man who was wrongly imprisoned because his religion and origin of birth?

I don't know.

Was Habib involved in Terrorist activities?

I don't know.

Should anyone (whether innocent or guilty) be subjected to repetitive psychological and physical abuse?

No! Definitely not.

Should innocent Americans and Australians be victims of Terrorist attacks?

No! Definitely not.

We're living in a complicated world. There's a lot of very cruel people out there.

Monday, December 29, 2008

David Hicks

I know who David Hicks is.

There's a part of me that really dreads researching this topic. I guess I'm afraid of what I'll find. Although I know who he is; I don't know much about the story. I don't know if he was completely innocent and wrongly accused. Maybe he was slightly guilty but the punishment didn't fit the crime. I don't know.

I'm scared to face what my own country did. I've kept myself as ignorant as possible about Guantanamo Bay. I barely know how to pronounce it.

I mean I knew it's in Cuba and that it involved torture. But that's it. I haven't read any articles about it. I've avoided the topic. I just know it was bad.

Well, I guess I'll go ahead and figure out more.

David Hicks was born on 7 August 1975 in Adelaide. He's three years younger than me.

He's a Leo and a 1 in numerology. I think he's the first 1 I've found while doing my research.

I picture this type of person being a charismatic leader. 1 is about independence and leadership.

Lord Wiki paints Hicks as a bit of a troubled child. He experimented with drugs and alcohol as a teenager. Okay...not very unusual. He did get expelled from Smithfield Plains High School at the age of 14. Now that IS a bit unusual.

Lord Wiki says, Hicks was given dispensation by his father from attending school. I'm not sure what that means. I don't think I've encountered the word dispensation before. I looked at the dictionary and that didn't really clear anything up for me.

Oh well.

Hicks had various jobs in his young adult years, including skinning kangaroos at a meat-packing factory, and working at various outback cattle stations.

In a town called Borroloola in the Northern Territory, he met his partner Jodi Sparrow. This was in 1992. He was only sixteen. And it's here that he began to study the Qu'ran. I wonder how and why he became interested in that.

Sparrow and Hicks had two children. They separated in 1996. Hicks moved to Japan and became a horse trainer.

In 1999, Hicks joined the Kosovo Liberation Army in Albania. He did this for two months and then returned to Australia. He tried to join the Australia Army, but was rejected because he didn't have enough formal education.

Hicks converted to Islam around this time. He joined a mosque in a suburb near Adelaide.

In November 1999, Hicks went to Pakistan to study Islam. He joined a terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Toiba. The guy seems very infatuated with warfare and weapons. I'm not liking him so far. I mean I don't think he deserved to be tortured. But I also don't think he's the type of person I want to have a picnic with.

In January 2001, he went to Afghanistan and joined Al Qaeda. I was a newly pregnant mom at this time.

It seems Hicks helped Osama Bin Laden by translating training materials into English.

This gets confusing now. It's all allegations and conflicting stories. I don't know who to believe. The US military paints a picture of a man who somewhat drifted away from Al Qaeda, but when he saw the September 11 stuff he was inspired to get involved again. They make him sound callous and blood thirsty. A show on ABC called Four Corners had Hicks claiming that he disapproved of the September 11 attacks, but was unable to get out of Afghanistan.

Hicks was captured by a group called The Northern Alliance in December 2001. This group is made up of people who used to fight against each other, but had put aside their differences to fight together against the Taliban. The Northern Alliance sold Hicks to the US government for $1000.

Hick's father tried to get his son back to Australia.

Hick says he was tortured by the US military.

Yikes. This goes all way over my head.

Lord Wiki has too much information here. It's making me dizzy. I'm going to go look at other websites.

This article talks about how he was detained for five years before finally getting convicted. In 2004, he was formally charged with conspiracy, attempted murder and aiding the enemy. Hicks pleaded not guilty. The charges were dropped though because the Supreme Court ruled that the military trials were not lawful.

The US military tried again a few years later. In February 2007, Hicks was charged with providing material support for terrorism. What does that mean? This time he pleaded guilty. He also withdrew claims that he had been abused by the US military. Why did he withdraw these claims? Did someone threaten him....offer him a deal? Or had he lied previously? But why would he now want to come forward and be "honest"?

On March 30, he was formally convicted. He was the first person to be formally convicted at Guantanamo Bay prison. Wow. That would be a fun thing to put on your resume. Did he get a special fun sticker or medal?

His sentence was seven years, but he'd get to return to Australia. The article says he would have to serve only nine months. I never get that. Why do they sentence people for a long time and then give them all this time off? If it was supposed to be only nine months, why not just sentence him for nine months?

Hicks returned to Australia on May 20, 2007. He was barred from speaking to the media for twelve months. Well, that time is up. Has he spoken yet? I hope so. I'd be interested to read what he has to say.

The article says that in 2004 he wrote a letter to his family saying he was being abused by the US military. He complained of mood swings and confusion. No offense, but he didn't seem like the most mentally stable person in the first place. It's not like this was some sweet kid who was emotionally destroyed by being in prison. It's more about a damaged person becoming even more damaged.

The Australia government was accused of not doing enough to help Hicks. Daddy Hicks did a lot of campaigning to get the government to pay attention. It seems this father is a bit idealistic when it comes to his son. The article says the parents described him as a typical boy who couldn't settle down. Typical? Getting expelled from school is not typical.

I think this father is delusional. But I think if Jack turned out like David Hicks, I'd be delusional too. I think no matter what my son did, I would do everything in my power to protect him. I wouldn't want my son far away in a foreign prison. I'd want him to come home. I'd be angry, disgusted, and disappointed in him. But I'd still want to shield him from harm.

All right. More signs of ignorant parenting. The article says that Hicks called his parents to tell him he had joined the KLA. This was the Kosovo Liberation Army. His father says he thought it was an airline. Oh! Give me a break. If your child goes off to a foreign land and joins an Acronym, find out what it stands for!

I'm trying not to judge this family, but they seem really messed up.

This New York Times article says that it was this very month that Hicks became fully free. Before that he was on control order. This meant he had to be home from 6 pm to 6 am. He had to report to the police twice a week. He couldn't leave his state without police permission.

Now that's over.

Oh....the end of the article says Hicks is not yet ready to speak to the media. Well, that article was published eight days ago. Maybe he's changed his mind since then.

A man named Brett Solomon campaigned against the earlier control order. He said No reasonable person could believe that David Hicks is a threat to national security. 

Well, Mr. Solomon. I guess I'm unreasonable then. I don't like the Bush administration. Link I think they're evil. They scare me. But just because they did wrong when it comes to Hicks....well, I don't think that means Hicks is good and innocent. He seems like a scary character to me. Maybe I'm missing information here. I'll keep digging.

The Australian has excerpts from David Hicks' letters.

I spent around three months in a muslim military training camp in the mountains.I learnt about weapons such as ballistic missiles, surface to surface and shoulder fired missiles, anti aircraft and anti-tank rockets, rapid fire heavy and light machine guns, pistols, AK47s, mines and explosives.

I would NOT be happy if we got a letter from Jack that said that. I would be a bit disturbed.

Real jihad is possible just like before in the Prophets day where martyrs die with a smile on their faces and their bodies stay smelling of beautiful perfume for weeks after death.

Oh! Well, here we go. I have been worrying about smelling bad after I die. I guess I'll be a martyr so I can smell like perfume. Do we get to pick out which perfume we smell like?

It seems Hicks has a new girlfriend. Aloysia Brooks. She's a post-graduate student who defended Hicks on a newspaper website. She says, David Hicks is someone's brother, son, and father. He gets scared, bleeds and feels pain just like you or I ... He is someone who deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and compassion no matter what he has done.

How much respect and compassion? We don't want prisoners being tortured, right? But do they deserve complete freedom? To me, Hicks sounds like a dangerous asshole. I guess the issue is did he really convict a crime? Is being involved with terrorists enough reason for conviction? Is this just a matter of guilt by association?

Hicks has renounced Islam. Why?

The Amnesty International USA site has an open letter to John Howard from Irene Khan. She's the secretary general of Amnesty International. She says, The camp in Guantánamo Bay is a legal black hole designed to put detainees outside the rule of law and the US Administration beyond the rule of law. It must be shut down. The detainees held there should either be released or, if they are suspected of having committed a recognizably criminal offense, they should be charged immediately and tried in fair proceedings.

I do agree with this. It's scary. Bush has used September 11 as an excuse to do really scary and unfair things. I'm actually reading a novel about such stuff right now. It's Orpheus Lost by Janette Turner Hospital. Have any of you read it? I haven't read much of it yet, but it really makes me paranoid. It's like there's scary things on both sides. We have to worry about the terrorists. They could strike and kill us at any time. Yet, we also have to fear the people who fight the terrorists. They do NOT play fair.

This all reminds me of the whole Scientology thing. I don't like psychiatry. We could say I'm fairly anti-psychiatry. The Scientologists don't like Psychiatry either. I wish I could find comfort and support from them. But those people scare me as well. Now there's a group that fights Scientologists. They call themselves Anonymous. These people disturb me as much as the Scientologists and the Psychiatrists. I don't really like ANY of the groups.

I think the Scientology issue is kind of giving me an analogy here. If Scientology is a creepy unethical group and they hate Psychiatry does that make Psychiatry a good thing? No, I don't think so. Hitler was a mass murderer and was a vegetarian. Does that mean eating meat is a good thing?

The Bush administration is corrupt and does very bad things. But does that make David Hicks innocent? Does that make him a hero? No, I don't think so.

Amnesty International Australia has a story on Hicks. It's funny how people report things. Hicks has had many jobs. He was a drifter. It seems a lot of the mainstream news articles put emphasis on the fact that Hicks skinned kangaroos. That doesn't give the reader a very pleasant image. I think we begin to associate such a profession with serial killers torturing animals. Amnesty International skips the dead kangaroo stuff and describes Hicks as being a former horse trainer. It makes him seem very innocent. This guy is like Claire McLeod. He's a gentle man who trains animals. Who would want to imprison such a man?

Their David Hicks seems like a man who simply wanted to learn more about Islam. They talk little about his military involvement--his love for weapons. Instead they say he wanted to study ancient Arabic. David Hicks is an intellectual who trains gentle animals. They make him seem quite lovable. Let's get him out of prison and cuddle him!

The Australian Democrats speak out against what happened to Hicks. I'm going to read this now. It says because of his horrific treatment, Hicks will need counseling. I agree with this, but I think the guy already needed some counseling. Did he receive any when he was young? Did his parents get him any help when he was expelled from school?

The Australian Democrats say that Hicks was forbidden to speak about his experience at Guantanamo for 3 months after he finished his sentence. They say this is not keeping with Australian Democratic principles. Why three months? Is that like a magic number? Why did the US government want him quiet for that length of time?

 It's so mysterious.

An organization called The Justice Project has written about Hicks. I like what this organization says about their values. We believe that border protection and protection of our community from acts of terrorism are legitimate objectives, but that these must be balanced against humanitarian considerations. We believe we can protect our community without eroding our traditional Australian values.

I think that's a nice moderate approach.

Anyway, they talked about how Hicks was denied an unfair trial. He was denied a fair go. I guess the issue is that even though I don't like Hicks, he still deserves to be treated fairly. But I don't think this means he should be treated as hero or as an innocent victim. I think it just means that the government should have given him a fair trial. They shouldn't have locked him up the way they did. That's scary. You know why? What if the same treatment happened to someone else who WAS completely innocent? What if a good man got himself involved with a bad misunderstanding? What if a good man just had the "wrong" skin color? What if he simply practiced the "wrong" religion?

The SBS has an article from this November. They say he's broken his silence. Hey, I'm getting conflicting information here. The New York Times article says he hasn't broken his silence yet. Maybe what they really meant is Hicks isn't ready to speak to them specifically. I don't know.

Hicks complains about being on control. He says it will interfere with him getting on with his life. It doesn't sound like such a huge deal to me. He was sentenced to seven years and had to serve only nine months. Well, I guess we could say he served enough time before being sentenced. Maybe that's the deal here. I think I would have more respect for Hicks if he broke his silence by showing his remorse for being involved with Al Qaeda, or at least showing some embarrassment/shame for it. Instead, he worries about having to report to the police twice a week. Is it that much of a burden? Would it really make it impossible for him to get on with his life as he claims. Now the ban is lifted. David Hicks, you're a free man now. What are you going to do with that freedom?

ABC has the video of Hicks complaining about the control order. In my opinion, he sounds like a man who constantly blames others for his problems, and takes no responsibility for his own actions. I'm betting this is partly because of the way his father stuck up for him and made excuses. Yes, he's just a typical child who got expelled from school. Don't all kids do that? In letters to his parents, he puts a lot of blame on the Jews. We do make very good scapegoats. Now Hicks complains about the control order messing up his ability to get on with his life. Yes, it would be more challenging to live life if you were under police control. It does suck that you can't go traveling around the country, and you can't run off to Thailand and sip drinks by the beach. But I think you CAN do SOMETHING productive while under police watch? Right? He could have gotten therapy. He could have read books. He could have taken ballroom dancing. There were still opportunities for him to improve his life. Did Hicks try to do that, or did he just sit there complaining about how unfairly he was being treated?

I like with this blog says. Certainly travelling overseas, changing your religion and even agreeing with another’s ideology is okay, but joining a camp where they train to blow up airliners, is a bit over the line.

Yes! Thank you. Is it a crime to join a dangerous terrorist organization? Is that illegal? I really don't know actually. But even if it's not technically a crime, I think it's....well, I think it's bad. I don't have sympathy for a person who does this. I mean maybe I would if it involved some guy who joined because he saw his younger sister eaten by ravage cannibals. What if it was a horrific case of a bad thing happening to a good person? He goes nuts and joins a terrorist group. Yes, then I would have loads of sympathy. But David Hicks just sounds like a bad kid to me. I mean maybe something in his early childhood messed him up. And maybe I should have sympathy for that.

I don't know.

We interrupt this blog post for an important message: I have hurt my toe very badly. I'm in a lot of pain. Please give me sympathy. Thank you. We now return to the scheduled program.

The World Socialist Website
has some interesting information. If it's true, it's pretty disturbing in regard to the US government. The Socialist group say Hicks was compelled to declare that he was not treated illegally during his detainment. They said this was part of the plea deal. He was also required to promise not to sue the US government.

Hicks was also forced to apologize to the US and Australia governments.

This is all very disturbing to me. It's bribery. That's what it is. We'll let you get out of this awful place if you keep your mouth shut.

I hope he doesn't keep his mouth shut.

But this does NOT mean I like David Hicks. I still haven't changed my mind about that.

I'm just a little more scared of the Bush government. I'm sighing with relief that Bush will be out of there in a few weeks. Please let things get better! I include my two little baby toes in this plea.

This blog has a video done by Daddy Hicks. It's a plea to get his son released from Guantanamo. His technique is to use a picture of his son at age 9. He looks sweet and innocent. What child doesn't look sweet and innocent at nine years old? The Bush campaign could play the same game with a picture of George W. at nine-years-old. Yes, he has destroyed our economy and put us in a horrible war. Yes, he really has no morals. But he's my son. He was nine-years-old once. Let's be nice to him.

I do give credit to what Daddy Hicks SAYS in the video. He says he thinks his son should face the consequences of his actions, but he wants his son to have a fair trial.

The writers of this article decided to track down David Hick's long lost children. He has a daughter that's fourteen and a son that's twelve. They live near Adelaide. Their maternal grandfather says the kids want nothing to do with their father. She says he never cared about the kids, but now he wants to see them. She thinks it's all just a ploy to make him look good. The grandpa says, He didn't care about them enough to stay around so I don't want to hear all this crap about him missing them now.

David Hicks, I am really not liking you. Maybe your ex father-in-law isn't telling the truth. But if he dare you use your children as pawns like that?

The mother of the children doesn't have much love for Hicks either. She refuses to have anything to do with him.

Oh. Well, I guess they changed their mind. This article, published four months later, says the kids are willing to give him a second chance.

The son, Terry said he was disappointed in his father, but he did defend his father's honor in a fight. Aren't most of us like that with our family? We can think bad things about them.  But if someone else says something bad we defend them.

Bonnie, the daughter, has not forgiven her father for abandoning her. But she does think he's been in prison long enough.

The mother of the children visited her ex. She reported back that he seemed fairly normal. What's her definition of normal?

Okay. This softens my cold heart a bit. She says he wrote to her while in prison. He said, Dear Jodie, thank you for for doing a great job of bringing them up. You've always been an excellent mother. As soon as I stop writing this I'm going to write to the children. It's going to be the hardest thing I've done my whole life. What do I do? What do I say.

That's really sweet. It's the first thing I've read about David Hicks that didn't disgust me. He actually seems fairly decent in that letter.

This SMH article talks about how Hicks has been adjusting. It makes him sound like a fairly decent person--or at least someone who's TRYING to be decent. I'm trying not to be skeptical.

He's been doing volunteer work at a nursery and other environmental agencies. Okay. So, that would mean he wasn't just sitting on his butt complaining about the control order. That's good to know.

It sounds like he's trying to clear his name. He wants to be a normal boring member of society. But what's going on in his head? I want to know MORE. Why did he join such a hateful and violent group in the first place? Why did he hate Jews and Americans? Why was he willing to become a martyr? I mean I understand he wants his corpse to smell good, but there has to be more to it. Right? And has he changed his views on these things? Does he have regrets about joining the Taliban, or does he just regret being imprisoned for his involvement?

This Adelaide paper has an interesting article. It says Daddy Hicks used to call his son Indiana Jones. Yeah. The thing is Indiana Jones fought the Nazis who hated Jews. David Hicks hated Jews. In the letters to his family he said, Jews and Americans in the western world are determined to prevent it to come back again. Jihad is still valid today and will be for all time. The West is full of poison. The western society is controlled by the Jews with music, TV, houses, cars, free sex takes Muslims away from the true Islam keeps Islam week and in the third world.

That sure doesn't sound like Indiana Jones to me.

The article talks about his high school years. They say he was expelled, but the school record contains no negative remarks. If there's nothing negative, why was he expelled? Or are they not legally allowed to talk about it.

He dabbled in Satanism. What kind? The Christian mythological type, or the Atheist one?

Anyway, I'm going to stop researching now.

I hope this all has a happy ending.

I hope Obama shuts down Guantanamo Bay. I hope America stops using the excuse of national security to wrongly detain and torture people.

I don't think David Hicks is a hero. I think he's a selfish delusional asshole. But I always have hope that people can become better. He's not a hero now, but he could BECOME a hero. I hope he does that. I hope he finds a spiritual and/or ethical system that brings him peace.

I hope we all have peace.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tim Costello

I first came across Tim Costello's name while researching Sarah Hanson-Young. Now (like usual) I can't remember who he is.

Help me, Lord Wiki!

Well, it turns out that Tim is Peter's brother! I'm a bit surprised about that. I figured the same last name was just a coincidence. Although, I think when I wrote about Peter Costello, I might have mentioned him having a Baptist minister as a brother.

I didn't put two and two together when I was reading about Hanson-Young.

My excuse? My little brain is a bit overloaded with information.


Let's start.

Tim is Peter's older brother. There's about a 2.5 years age difference.

Little Timothy was born on 4 March 1955.

Birthday Website time!

At this moment (that I'm writing this) Costello is 28, 306, 801 minutes old! That's a lot of minutes.

He's a 9 in numerology and a Pisces. I would think of that type of person as being a spiritual humanitarian. That might fit this Tim Costello.

Speaking of numerology, it has come to my attention that this birthday website does not count 22's. It marks them as being a 4. So some of these people I've labeled as 4's might really be 22. 22 is an AWESOME number. I haven't checked back on all the 4's, but I did calculate Howard Holt's number. I think he's a 22. Michael, you might be a 22. Maybe?

Little Tim went to the same school in Victoria as his brother. Carey Baptist Grammar School. Although they don't use the label, it seems their early childhood program is yet another one to use a Reggio Emilia approach. It actually sounds like a very lovely school. It's very Christian and they emphasize spirituality and faith. Yet, they're also open to the fact that some people believe in other things.

Tim and Peter also went to the same university. Monash University. They both got a degree in law. In the late 1970's, Tim Costello was a solicitor in family and criminal law. He then went to Switzerland with his wife. They studied theology. Interesting. Did he got there with this plan in mind? Or did something change and inspire him when he was in Switzerland?

Costello was ordained as a Baptist Minister in 1987. He helped rebuild the Baptist congregation in St. Kilda. Lord Wiki says he continued to do legal work--helping those who would not easily be able to obtain legal assistance.

Like his brother, Tim got himself involved with politics. For a short time, he was mayor of the St. Kilda council. As mayor, he had conflicts with the Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett. It seems that even though they went to the same schools and had the same family, Peter and Tim had different political ideologies. Tim Costello seems much more on the left than his younger brother. That's one of the reasons, Kennett didn't like Tim.

Lord Wiki says that from 1995-2003, Costello was minister of the Collins Street Baptist Church in Melbourne. The church website has a heartwarming story of how they helped some asylum seekers. They do a lot for Indigenous Australians. On Sundays, they host a dinner for people who are having financial problems. That's REALLY nice.

I love this. They use a worship program called seasons of creation which emphasizes healing the earth. And they do recycling.

This sounds like a really great church. They do some many great things, including working to abolish the modern slave trade. I think a lot of us assume slavery is part of the past, but there's an estimated 27 million slaves out there. That's incredibly sad.

The church has a program called Urban Seed. Tim Costello was the director of it. The program helps people who are marginalized by society. It seems they do a lot to help substance abusers, including providing needle disposal, overdose help, and assistance to those ready to beat their addiction.

This Costello guy definitely lives up to his numerology number.

He has been a patron of Baptist World Aid. This has a child sponsorship program. He's a member of an ecological organization called Earth Charter Australia. He's a spokesperson against gambling. Lord Wiki says he was seen in the media a lot during the late 1990's and early 2000's regarding this subject.

Costello supports gun control.

He is currently the CEO of World Vision Australia. I think I could totally love this organization. It seems they do a LOT to help the world. They have a tree-planting program called Twice as Green which emphasis sustainable farming and reducing CO2 gases. The main goal is helping families who are suffering from the effects of climate change.

World Vision works to provide clean water to those who need it. They provide emergency relief to people involved in catastrophes. They have an adorable gift program, similar to the one I've seen on Oxfam. I totally love these things. You get to buy things to help people around the world. This one on World Vision even has a gift registry. I'm going to register now.

Or maybe not. The website is a bit slow at the moment.

I'm going to move onto something else. Maybe I'll come back to that.

I love these gift things though. It's such a great alternative to the question of what do you get the person who already has everything. The only thing is.... I'm not sure I feel it's right to give a in lue of gift unless the person asks for it. If someone says they prefer a charitable gift, I'm happy to give it to them. But I would feel weird ordering this type of gift for someone if they didn't request it. I guess it would depend on whether I'm expected to give them a gift. I think I'd be okay giving it to a friend who I normally wouldn't buy a birthday gift for....maybe someone I met online? My family always exchanges gifts on birthdays. It's expected you're going to get SOMETHING. I wouldn't feel right giving them a virtual-type charity gift unless they requested that.

Crap. World Vision might do good things for people in need. But I have to say...their website is driving me a bit insane here. It could be my Internet connection. I don't know.

Okay. This part of their website seems to be working. The evils of chocolate. I've been so bad about this. I'm ashamed. I eat tons of chocolate that comes to me via the exploitation of my fellow human beings. I'm really hoping to stop this. I'm trying to cut out as much sugar as possible from my diet. The past two days, I totally fell off the wagon. I'm going to get myself back up on the wagon. I might let myself cheat every so often (as RARE as possible) but I'm going to try to forbid myself from eating chocolate that's not free trade. Oh no. That means no Max Brenner in Manly. Oh, maybe I'll allow myself that one single evil transgression. Or maybe we'll find an alternate fair trade chocolate shop. I don't even think the food at Max Brenner is that delicious. I think it's just the idea of it all that appeals to me.

The interesting thing is World Vision says NOT to boycott the chocolates because this will hurt the farming families even more. I can see their point...a little bit. We stop buying and these families will be completely out of work. Maybe? World Vision says what we should do instead is campaign against the practice with the big evil chocolate companies. The problem is they did this and it seems the big evil chocolate companies didn't give much of a positive response. I like their other suggestion better--put more of our support into fair trade chocolate. This can be hard because it's so expensive. For the price of one fair trade chocolate bar you can probably buy multiple Nestle Bars. See, and that way you can support both the modern slave trade and the unethical marketing of artificial infant milk with one delicious bite.

Costello was this year's winner of the Australia Peace Price. I think the guy definitely deserves it.

Preventing unhealthy gambling seems to be one of his big passions. He previously was involved with an organization called Know the Odds. The purpose of this group is not lobbying against gambling or telling people that it's bad. Instead, they try to educate people...get them to make an informed decision.

I have mixed feelings about gambling. In my opinion, it's just another way to throw away money. But if you can afford it, and you're playing a game that's fun, I think it's no worse than other ways we throw away money. To me, buying a diamond ring is throwing away money. For other people, it brings them great meaning and joy. An atheist might think it's throwing away money to pay for a tarot card reading or a meeting with a medium. If you believe in that stuff, it's not throwing away money. I think most of us waste money everyday. To me, it's a matter of balance. If someone dedicates a moderate amount of money a year to psychic readings, I see no harm. If they're making huge financial sacrifices to get readings, than something is not right. The same goes for gambling. The problem with most things like that though is addiction can become part of the picture.

Costello has a MySpace page! He last logged in on December 8 and his mood was adventurous. He has 739 MySpace friends.

I'm going to look at Google News now--try to find some current stuff.

Costello recently expressed anger over gambling ads being shown during a Boxing Day cricket game. He said this exposed children to gambling. You've got families and kids here. Of course gambling is part of life, but I think when it's a family cultural event like the Boxing Day Test, the advertising is inappropriate.

This article talks about how charities are not always ethical about how they use their money. It says Costello's salary is more than $250,000 a year. Yikes.

Costello was involved with a campaign that encouraged people not to use government handouts on gambling. I have to say I agree with that. I mean I think it's fine to have a night of fun with a small percentage. But it would be sad if someone blew a significant proportion of the money.

Okay. I'm back at the World Vision gift website. It's working better, but I'm having trouble registering. I think I'm doing something wrong.   I think it's made more for someone who is living in Australia.

I guess I'll do Oxfam instead.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cheryl Kernot (Thanks, Dave)

Cheryl Kernot was suggested to me by the same friend who suggested Natasha Stott Despoja and Bob Brown. Those two were interesting. Hopefully, I'll find Kernot to be interesting too.

She was a Democrat. I kind of hoped to be done with those people.

Oh well. She was on my list.

I feel weird taking people off my list. I don't know why. I've done it only once before.

Speaking of the list......

I have my new celebrity crush up there. I look forward to that day of research.

Okay......back to Cheryl Kernot.

She was born on 5 December 1948. She's a few months younger than my mom. Oh, and she shares a birthday with Harold Holt!

Birthday website time!

She's a Sagittarius and a 3 in numerology. I imagine that type of person would be fun, flighty, and social.

Lord Wiki doesn't have a huge amount of information about her. He doesn't even say where she's born; nor does he have anything about her childhood.

She was a school teacher and a political activist. She became a senator for Queensland in 1990 as part of the Australian Democrats. Kernot was a bit of a rabble-rouser. As soon as she got into government, she tried to change it. She worked to get rid of the current leader, Janet Powell. John Coulter took Powell's place. If I'm reading this right, that happened in 1991. Soon after (1993) Kernot herself became the leader. Meg Lees became her deputy.

Within the party, Kernot was not very popular. Out of protest, some members of the party resigned. Yikes. Lord Wiki says she was a good spokesperson though, and for awhile she made the party popular.

Some people have a lot of charm. They make an excellent impression on those who don't get too close. It's easier to like these people when you're looking in from the outside.

In 1997, Kernot swam over to a new political party. She joined the ALP (Australian Labor Party). This is how Meg Lees became leader. Interesting.

While still a Democrat, Kernot had an extramarital affair with someone in the Labor Party. Is that part of the reason she switched sides? I'm guessing the main reason was the fact that she wasn't popular within the other party.

Kernot is now out of politics and working at the Centre for Social Impact. I'm trying to figure out what exactly this group does. They say their goal is supporting and strengthening the social enterprises of today. Educating and inspiring the social entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

I don't really understand that. I think it's something to do with charitable organizations. Maybe it teaches people how to have a better charitable organization? Yeah, I think I might be right. They have a course regarding not-for-profit management.

Tim will be working for a nonprofit company for the first time. Maybe he could benefit from the course. It would be an excuse for us to return to Australia.

This Britannica website has some information that Lord Wiki was missing.

In 1995, she created a calender about successful woman. She used herself for one of the months. That's pretty bold. Kernot said the message she wanted to emphasize, with the calender, was that success for women did not have to be about being famous, wealthy, fashionable or thin.

Kernot's birthplace was Maitland New South Wales. That sounds familiar to me. I don't know why. Maybe it was on one of those Australia map quiz things. Anyway....Google Maps says it's near Newcastle.

She studied education in school and then was a secondary teacher for ten years. She also worked as a freelance radio producer. Really? I wonder how she got involved with that.

This ABC website said her switch of political parties was very hard on the Democrats and might have been the beginning of the end. I guess we could say it's when the Australian Democrats jumped the shark.

Kernot lost her ALP seat. That was bad, but things only got worse for the woman when she published her memoirs. She revealed a lot, but failed to mention her little illicit romance.

Oh! Cool. After the biographical information, there's an actual interview with Kernot.
It seems she ran away to the UK for awhile.

Okay. I'm not the only dumb one out there. The person doing the interview mentions that many people don't know what a social entrepreneur is. Good. See. I kind of thought it was one of those fancy words that people use to make other people feel dumb. But here Kernot says that she thinks it's a horrible term. THANK YOU!

To try to illustrate what this social entrepreneur thing is, Kernot talks about a bottle of water. She says this certain company uses local water, and the bottle itself is made out of cornstarch. The proceeds from the bottle goes towards helping people( in less fortunate situations) get water. One bottle of water buys a month of clean water for others. 

Kernot says, here are people who are entrepreneurial in spirit who don't want to use that entrepreneurialism simply to maximize their own wealth. Ah! Now that's putting it into a language I can understand. And I like that.

I think this goes along with Kernot's calender. What else besides wealth, fame, and physical beauty could make someone feel successful? Here we have it. You can succeed by helping others.

There's talk in the interview of whether it was the GST issues or Kernot's switching parties that was the beginning of the end. I don't know. Maybe we can blame Kernot either way because when she left, Meg Lees took over, and it's with Lees that the whole GST thing happened.

This website has a photo of Kernot. It seems she joined the Centre for Social Impact rather recently. She's an associate professor with them. Her five years in London probably helped her get ready for the role. She worked as a Programme Director at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurs, and at Oxford University she was Director of Learning at the School for Social Entrepreneurs.

I'm getting bored.

I don't know if I should just end soon, or keep going and see if anything exciting comes up. I'm tired of the Australian Democrats. Or maybe I'm just in a blah mood.

Maybe if I think of her as part of the Labor party, I'll have a better attitude about this.

All right. Actually, I just took a thirty minute break. Sometimes that helps. Jack and I watched Arthur together. One of the episodes sparked me to ask Jack, what's more important...winning or helping someone? He gave the answer I wanted to hear. But then I started thinking, why can't it be both? Why can't we win BY helping someone?

This made me think of the whole social entrepreneur thing. Human beings are competitive by nature. Instead of suppressing this or denying it, why not use it to better the world? Instead of trying to be the richest, the most famous, the best at sports, get the best grades, etc. how about trying to be the one who donates the highest percentage of our disposable income? Or we could try to be the person with the greenest home.

Of course, mild competition is lovely. Anything beyond that can get nasty. Oh, you think you're so great because you adopted three girls from China? We've adopted twenty kids and they all have Down Syndrome. You have a Hybrid car? Who cares? We don't have any car. We ride our bikes everywhere.

A utopia, where no one felt the need to compete and everyone was cooperative, would be ideal. But I doubt that's ever going to happen, so we might as direct our competitive nature to something more righteous.

This SMH article talks about Kernot's move to London. It says she doesn't like the suggestion that she moved to London to run away. She said she moved to heal her soul. Uh....yeah. I don't really see that much of a difference. I don't see what's so shameful about escaping for awhile. I mean if you're a fugitive that's one thing. But I think if you're getting bad press, there's nothing wrong with taking a breather and using that time to do something productive. We all need a change now and then.

The article says she was married to a guy named Gavin for twenty years. That ended. They had one child together. Sian. She took time away from her studies and came to be with her mom in London.

She has a therapist.

I almost went to a therapist this summer. I made contact with two and then they never contacted me back. I felt rejected. My feeling then was that a therapist would not solve my problems. They'd just be another person with the potential to hurt and reject me. I'm not trying to sound pathetic and dramatic. But a therapist is just another human being. Besides, I don't think I really want someone to help me. I think I just want someone to listen to me. And friends are perfect for that. I feel if I went to a therapist, when they said what I wanted to hear I would feel all high and mighty. I would think Ha! She's a therapist and she agrees with me. I'm SO right. When she disagreed with me, I'd scoff at her degrees. Yeah. What does she know?

I probably DO need therapy. I also need a haircut. I might need an Exorcism. Okay. The truth is I'm really bad at making appointments. I have some kind of weird aversion to it. The other stuff above is true as well though. Let's just say it's complicated.

In the meantime, this blog is pretty therapeutic.

Finally! I have found something fun and interesting! There was a musical called Keating! the Musical Have any of you seen it? It started in Melbourne, but has toured around Australia. There's a song in it about Kernot and her lover, Gareth Evans. It talks about them being married. Adultery is a very crazy and painful thing. But I personally have more sympathy for two unhappily married people finding comfort in each other than I do with a single person getting in the middle of a marriage. I think the former is usually about being unsatisfied and desperate for attention. I think the latter is usually about being selfish and competitive. He likes me better than his wife! She's married, but it's me that she wants. Ha! Her husband is such a loser. His wife is a controlling bitch. He's so much happier with me.

As for politics and adultery..... I really don't care who sleeps with who or who gets a blow job from who. You can be a great spouse and a horrible politician. You can be a great leader and a horrible spouse. Should Kernot have revealed her indiscretions in her book? I don't really know. I guess it would depend on the nature of the book. If she's pointing fingers at other people's PERSONAL issues and not revealing her own....well, that's tacky. But if the book wasn't like that, I don't think she's obligated to say anything. I DO think she's obligated not to lie. If she said something in the book like I have never cheated on my husband....well, that's fraud. Did she do that? Or did she just avoid mentioning a certain aspect of her life?

I mean I'm not obligated to tell you guys everything. You don't know that I have a cat that pees all over the place; that our house almost always smells like urine. That's really none of your business. Nor is it any of your business that I read when I'm on the toilet. Okay? I do NOT have to tell you guys everything.

All right. Here we go. I found an article about the love affair. Well, it doesn't really answer my questions. The person who revealed the whole thing (Laurie Oakes) felt the affair had an impact on why Kernot switched parties. I'm less surprised about adultery in politics than I am at the fact that Laurie Oakes has boy parts instead of girl parts. I think of Laurie as a girl's name. It's my mom's name. Although isn't there a famous literary character named Laurie?

Anyway, MR. Oakes said ....aspersions were cast on a whole lot of other people, blame was cast as to what happened to her, when obviously this underlying thing, this steamy affair, was crucial to what happened to her, crucial to her lapses of judgment.

I don't know. I might agree with him. I might not. Is he right? Did the affair have a huge effect on her politics? Did she switch parties because she was madly in love? Or is Laurie just defending his intrusive reporting?

You, know I'm a little less bored now. Adultery and media ethics has the tendency to spice things up a bit.

But I think I'm going to end here because we're going out to dinner. I need to put some decent clothes on.

Note: Something a bit strange just happened. I wrote all of the above yesterday. Okay. Anyway, I went to sleep. Sometimes, I have these very "random" things pop into my brain. Sometimes it's an image. Sometimes it's a number. Sometimes it's a name. I'll google it later, and in most cases I never figure anything out. This morning the name Charles Mott popped into my head. It was a very strong and persistent thought.

 After doing my morning ritual of writing down my dreams, I googled Charles Mott. At first, I came up with an American Philanthropist. I figured I'd look at that later...if needed. I thought it would be best to find an Australian Mott, so I googled that. I found this. My heart skipped a couple of beats because the article mentioned Charles Mott in relation to Gareth Evans. Evans appointed Mott to be Ambassador to Brazil.

I was 80% sure that I had NOT seen Mott's name yesterday while doing research. Outside of his romantic connection to Kernot, I didn't really read much about Evans. After doing some more digging on this Charles Mott, I'm now 99.9% sure I didn't read about him. It was hard to find his name. I mean there are a LOT of Charles Mott's out there, but not much about this particular Mott. The most I could find out about him was that he had been the Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, a foreign service officer in Pakistan and the Australian Ambassador to Brazil, Spain and UNESCO. After that he became a professor at La Trobe University. I'm not sure if he's still there or not.

I feel this is some kind of weird psychic thing. I have these every so often. The thing is they never turn out to be exciting or meaningful. I never stop a murder or find a missing child. Once I had a psychic thing and all it did was allow me to remind Tim that the new season of 24 was coming on (I think that night?); and he should remember to tape it.