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Snap! #13 Out Now! - US Ambassador Goes Ape!

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US Ambassador Goes Ape!

SNAP! can reveal that the US ambassador Charles 'Butch' Swin-dells has swung into the big time by scoring a part in King Kong.

Swindells accepted the role when the possibility of John Kerry becoming president threatened his day job. He was nominated by George Bush after helping raise $42,000 to elect President Bush and his cronies in 2000. Filming of his debut is likely to take place over the next week at the Wellington Opera House.

Since his arrival Swindells has made menacing hooting noises and publicly beat his chest over New Zealand's nuclear free policy and Helen Clark's insipid comments about the US invasion of Iraq. It is unknown what character he will be playing.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

About 30 people gathered in Civic Square recently to mark the sixth annual Trans-gender Day of Remembrance. Members of the transgendered communi-ty, partners and friends listened to speeches and readings and observed a moment of silence in memory of the more than 300 people murdered around the world simply because they were different. These reported cases are suspected to be only the tip of the iceberg.

In the last decade alone, an average of one transperson per month has been killed simply for being part of a gender rainbow in a black and white world. At least four of these murders occurred in New Zealand. 21 people were killed in the last twelve months.

The many hues of transwomen, transmen, intersex, cross-dressers and genderqueer were reflected in colourful chalk body outlines covering the square that contained the names and dates of death for each victim.

Claudia McKay of Agender noted that the vigil raised awareness in the face of media sensationalism: "…the key is changing people's hearts and minds - we are not something to be hated and feared." She expressed hope that the Gender Identity Bill will be passed so that transgender people will be granted the basic right of non-discrimination under law.

Discrimination in many forms is a fact of life for many gender-variant people. As Jack Byrne of online chat group nztransguys said "Murder is an extreme manifestation of anti-trans-gender prej-udice, but we also face milder forms every day with a lack of healthcare, media reports representing us as freaks and a 'series of operations' rather than people, police and medical authorities using the wrong pronouns and names in articles... here today I see a community of very special people who have seen both sides and contribute a lot to society…those who buy in to such prejudice are really missing out." This was the first time the Transgender Day of Remembrance had been observed in New Zealand.

Activists Upstage Transit CEO

ANTI-BYPASS activists added their voice to the Sustainable Land Transport Conference held in Wellington last week. The conference, whose sponsors included Transit New Zealand, attracted a raft of civil engineers, construction companies and transport industry representatives.

As Mr Rick van Barneveld, the chief executive of Transit, made the closing speech on the last day of the conference, two anti-bypass activists disguised in ties and carrying cell phones, walked into the auditorium while a noisy protest outside distracted security guards. They introduced themselves as representatives of Te Aro people who opposed the bypass. They called for a halt to construction and held up cards calling for Transit and Fulton Hogan to get out of Te Aro, and with the damning quote from Transit planners "all we ever do is move the congestion point."

While a few of the audience left, most stayed to listen, and clapped when the activists had finished. One person commented that they were "glad to see that there was still some democracy."

Indigenous Uprising

ON NOVEMBER 19th on Palm Island, an island off the coast of Queensland and home to over 4000 indigenous Australians, an Aboriginal man by the name of Cameron Doomagee was arrested for singing a song on the street. Just over an hour and half later he was dead in a police cell.

The coroner's report found that he had four broken ribs and died of intra-abdominal haemorrhage caused by a ruptured liver and portal vein - an "accident" resulting from a "fall" outside the police station. This report was accepted despite an eyewitness stating that he had seen an officer strike Mr Doomagee as he was being led out of a paddy wagon, and the fact that Queensland has the highest rate of deaths in custody of indigenous people, with 19 deaths in 2003 alone.

The shock and anger over the incident erupted into an uprising. The courthouse and police residence were burnt down. A state of emergency was declared and over a hundred police were sent to the island to "calm" the community.

Eighteen islanders are appearing in the Magistrates Court on various charges, including attempted murder. The Queensland government also issued orders for the island to be raided by two military jets - which were called off at the last minute.

Mr Wyles, a spokesperson for people picketing the courthouse, who had earlier protested against racism and "on-going genocide" in Townsville, said the death was the latest example of institutional racism in North Queensland. He said it dredged up memories of the police investigation into the death of his 15-year-old son, Errol Jr, who was killed when a car deliberately reversed over him last year.

"The Crime and Misconduct Commission covered up that whole investigation, the police services covered it up, didn't use the evidence in hand... they just told lies in the court."

Mr Wyles said it was likely more protests would occur this week. "We have had enough, Palm Island has had enough, Townsville has had enough," he said.

No Pay Rise in Donkey's Ages

Wallace Award winning artist et al's infamous donkey in the toilet art work has left Wellington's City Gallery, but staff still have something to bray about. Front line staff haven't had a pay rise since Wellington City Council established the Wellington Museum's Trust in 1996, and have been refused a pay review. This is in spite of the Museum's Trust acknowledging that its success in taking out the top "Vibrant Gold" Wellington Dominion Post tourism award in 2004 was largely thanks to staff.

City Gallery staff have now been forced to take direct action. The "No Pay Rise in Donkey's Ages" posters have been pasted on Wellington billboards - often over the City Gallery's own advertising.

Along with the poster campaign spokesperson Ms McCormick says visitors to City Gallery can support staff by putting notes in the donation box. "We sometimes hand out purpose made ones that say, "Overdue notice City Gallery staff haven't had a pay rise in donkey's ages!" but people are welcome to improvise with their own messages and distinctive donkey picture. If the donation boxes have been removed, please leave your protest note somewhere visible like the counter or brochure racks."


Anti-Bypass Demonstration of Creative Resistance. Bring noisemakers and friends to Civic Square 12 noon Friday December 10. Join the campaign to stop the 'bypass'! Public Meeting Thursday December 16, Aro Hall, 7.30pm. Direct Action enthusiasts welcome. Te Aro: A Recent History - Photos by Andrew Ross. At Photospace Gallery, 37 Courtenay Place.

'Savour the Flavour': a documentation of creative people and the area that inspires them - the designated bypass route. End of Left Bank (off Cuba St.). Opening Saturday, December 4, 7pm.

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