Rise up against Extinction

SOME TEN  months ago, I published The End of the Anthropocene, my response to the H20 Day Zero crisis in Cape Town. Needless to say, it got people talking about climate change in a new way.

The resulting global debate around extinction has been simply phenomenal.

Not only did the IPCC released a groundbreaking report this year, warning of the dangers of 3 degree climate change, in effect demanding drastic action, but the naturalist Sir David Attenborough was moved last week to issue a statement that climate change is ‘humanity’s greatest threat in thousands of years’.

The BBC reported Attenborough’s statement at the opening ceremony of United Nations-sponsored climate talks

Climate Change, he said ‘could lead to the collapse of civilisations and the extinction of “much of the natural world”.

Thus we can only congratulate the rise of an allied environmental movement Extinction Rebellion, which also intends making waves around the world.

The movement advocates direct action and civil disobedience in defence of human habitat.

“We are facing an unprecedented global emergency. The government has failed to protect us. To survive, it’s going to take everything we’ve got” say Extinction Rebellion.

Extinction rebellion demands:

  1. The Government must tell the truth about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reverse inconsistent policies and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens.
  2. The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels.
  3. A national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.

Meanwhile, our own inept and scandal plagued department of environmental affairs, released a half-hearted statement reiterating the national position on climate change and calling for a ‘just transition to renewables’ amidst ‘aggressive awareness campaigns.’

I’m afraid this type of public relations hot air isn’t going to cut it, and rather a change of government is required.

Advertisements

Johann Rupert’s latest apartheid gaffe

TWO YEARS ago we reported on Johann Rupert’s Magnus Gaffe in which he claimed variously to have been a key figure within the anti-apartheid movement whilst under the whip of Magnus Malan. This week, we can only watch aghast as the CEO of Remgro, Richement and Reinet (R as in Rands figure large in Johann’s inherited wealth and the media cartel his family owns routinely redact his directorships), went from berating millenials for being materialistic compared to his own generation (and denying any involvement in apartheid or the apartheid regime) to claiming intimate ties with the late Steve Biko.

Johann Rupert, also an heriditary academic at Stellenbosh University, appears to not have read his father’s biography, detailing the man’s illustrious business dealings with Nico Diederichs and Owen Horward, the titular State President and apartheid finance minister respectively.

Rupert snr, a kingpin in the financial system backing successive Nat governments, went from making cigarettes in his garage to a global financial market player and international tycoon in three easy steps.

First he setup Rembrandt and aquired a loan from Sanlam, Santam and Saambou to purchase Rothmans International in 1953. Then he bailed out the local banks when they came under pressure due to international sanctions during the 1980s. Next he turned these apartheid-era banks into Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (ABSA) with Rembrandt as major partner and set up a variety of special purpose vehicles for the luxury goods market, all this while sequestering apartheid billions in Switzerland.

Thus Federale Volksbellegings became Rupert Bellegings, as the family acquired much of the asset wealth of the National Party.

Far from being a ‘pragmatic critic of apartheid’, Rupert Snr was not only a sanctions buster, but a collaborator with the military junta under Magnus Malan and PW Botha. Correspondence between the politicians all demonstrate that the man had intimate though tempestuous ties with the National Party. Although somewhat of a dark horse, with Rupert Snr betting on both sides, he finally broke from the broederbond, later becaming involved in the settlement strategy under FW de Klerk.

All whilst promoting himself as a deal broker between the warring parties and effectively rewriting history. The latest round of apartheid revisionism, in which Rupert Jnr, seeks to associate himself with the late Steve Biko whilst casting aside his family’s obvious involvement with the apartheid regime is beneath contempt.

It is consistant with the public relations campaign to recast the entire Rupert family as instrumental in the collapse of apartheid, which undoubtedly they were, not as political activists, but rather as monied insiders orchestrating a shift in power via a well-executed palace coup that retained their grip on the economy in an end-game strategy that lead to the sunset clauses signed-off by the ANC.

The post-historical revision of this period, is similar to the story told by propoganda chief Cliff Saunders who maintains he was out of the country all along and played no major role in Botha’s ‘total onslaught’ strategy. Evidence given by Rupert jnr during the TRC is notable for the lack of corroborating evidence from Die Groot Krokodil, who avoided the commission, in no small part due to the actions of Naspers, a company in business with Remgro.

Think of Rudolf Hess, a nazi who flew solo to Scotland, apparently to negotiate peace, but more likely to escape Hitler’s death squads. Again, Mandela’s jailer James Gregory, who also ‘knew’ South Africa’s elder statesman, the founder of modern South Africa initimately, but was most obviously on a very different side of the fence and prison doors.

Whether being a late arrival at the conclusion to the tragic saga, the son of a major role player and beneficiary, qualifies one as a ‘pragmatic critic of apartheid’ is anyone’s guess.

UCT skeletons continue to haunt student body

READERS MAY be familiar with my correspondence with the previous UCT Vice Chancellor, Max Price, and the follow-up penned to his successor,  Mamokgethi Phakeng, written after a seminar ‘Let’s Talk About the History of Racism in Science: Darwin’s Hunch and the Search for Human Origins’ by Christa Kuljian

It turns out that a PhD student at UCT with a thesis focus on “Museums and the Construction (of race identity)” tracing human remains in museums and universities, Wandile Kasibe was denied access to records and collections.

In an article on Vernac News, ‘UCT skeletons in the cupboard not a mistake, but evidence of a colonial crime against humanity Kasibe writes:

“In May 2017, I approached UCT Anatomy Department requesting to be granted access to records and human remains collections that were unethically collected for race ‘science’.

“I submitted a formal application to access information on 9 July 2017 and received a reply denying my request on 18 August 2017 from the curator of the collection, Dr Victoria Gibbon, as follows “The committee has taken a unanimous decision to deny your ‘Request to Access University of Cape Town’s Anatomy Department Collections and Records’”.

Kasibe adds that on 22 August 2017, he expressed his ‘disappointment that the committee had taken a decision to deny me access, thus creating an ethos of exclusion that is in direct contravention of the freedom of information at the University. ”

A motion before the annual UCT Convocation, calls for the institution to establish ‘a dedicated fund to support research into the troubled legacy of apartheid race science including;

1. The varied relationships between the University of Cape Town and the segregationist and racial ideologies of the Colonial and Apartheid eras.

2. The experiences documented, archived or oral – of previously disenfranchised students and staff members at the University of Cape Town since its establishment in 1916.

3. Acts of exclusion, those of commission and omission, including, but not limited to the University of Cape Town’s allocation of resources, access to facilities and curriculum design and content during the Colonial and Apartheid eras.’

As a person affected by academic exclusions, conducted during the apartheid-era state of emergency, the banning of lecturers and the several en masse bannings of campus organisations, I can only hope that the resolution is passed and that both campus administration and UCT student body are serious about addressing our past.

In a further development, Judith du Toit Director, Office of the Vice-Chancellor acknowledged receipt of the open letter, and states for the record “I have followed up on the matter of concern, namely that Emeritus Halton Cheadle serves on the University Senate, and established that he is not a member of Senate.”

To which I responded via email: “Am I to understand then, that Mr Cheadle is not a member of Senate but rather a member of convocation consisting of “c) those former professors and associate professors elected by the senate to be emeritus professors or emeritus associate professors” ?

“In the event, the question remains, does UCT administration support the repugnant apartheid race science and multi-regionalist/multiracialist view of certain members of convocation?”

“I also note here for the record, the ‘ethos of exclusion’ pertaining to the legacy of apartheid race science at the institution, inter alia, the UCT anatomy department ‘skeleton collection’, and previously referred to in my letter.”

Ronnie’s sermon from the Grand Masjid

HE COULD have given a speech from constitutional hill, a lecture from an academic institution or a civil society NGO, instead Ronnie Kasrils, the self-appointed deacon of moral rectitude in the Middle East chose Claremont Main Road Mosque. Delivering a scathing rebuke of the treatment meted out to two pupils by Herzlia, a Jewish day school, following afternoon prayers.

The timing and location of the Friday address by our former ‘intelligence minister’ (surely an oxymoron?) brought into strong contrast the religious and binary nature of the 70-year-old conflict between Palestine and Israel.

Referring to a recent incident at the school ‘where two pupils were punished for kneeling during the singing of  Hatikva, a Jewish poem written by Naphtali Herz Imber, and adopted as the Israeli national anthem.

Kasrils apparently ‘slammed the school’s attitude as bigoted’

Calling the pupil’s gesture in ‘taking the knee ‘a “perfectly peaceful expression of dissent popularised by American athletes” but failing to note that bending the knee within the context of religion, like doffing ones hat, or kneeling and praying, may have a very different motif to that taken within a civil context.

A popular television series about thrones also springs to mind.

Kasrils opined “the school authorities have demonstrated contempt for what Jewish culture has once been famous for: and that is open mindedness, tolerance, the encouragement of independent thinking and freedom of expression.”

“Secondly, they treat the student’s actions as shameful – yet the bending of the knee is totally passive and peaceful; a very dignified non-violent demonstration of dissent,” he said.”

Readers may remember a similar case in which an openly lesbian Methodist minister Ecclesia de Lange failed in her bid to have sanctions by the Methodist church overturned.

And the silence of Kasrils when it comes to the topic of secularism and religious pluralism.

In 2011 the country banned the Dalai Lama.

There has been quite a bit of debate online about the Herzlia incident. None of the authors of the various articles and documents, including a missive by Herzlia alumni, make any reference to religious pluralism, secularism and the prevailing law in South Africa, fraught as it is, by the legacy of theocracy during apartheid.

The constitutional values which Kasrils purports to defend, including the right to dissent, (values with which I wholeheartedly agree and support), are certainly not bolstered by pitting one religion against another, and Kasrils has been rather shy when it comes to defending secular identity in this respect.

The constant parade of photo-opportunities and news briefings attended by religious leaders, usually Christian or Muslim, is positively nauseating, as too the lack of any platform for representatives from mainstream Judaism, secular Judaism and civil society for that matter.

The ongoing theme of my recent writing on the subject, that of injustice versus injustice has therefore once again played itself out. Thus Kasrils’ religion vs religion is merely injustice versus injustice squared. And the binary position taken by the man is surely contrary to secular identity, especially when it comes to the complexity of the problem?

Imam Rashied Omar is thus reported to have ‘commended Kasrils for speaking out against injustices to the Muslim community in the Israel-Palestine conflict.’

No word on the injustices meted out to secular Jews because of their views, since as the Herzlia alumni are at pains to point out, we don’t count. Not every Jew in South Africa has attended a Jewish day school, nor has visited Israel on holiday camp, nor even intends to do so in the near future.

The comment by Iman Omar comes after Kasrils said “this makes BDS a powerful tool, as was the case during the Struggle against racist South Africa, to isolate Israel until change comes.”

Or until the Messiah arrives, you be the judge?

A BDS video on Youtube purporting to carry the views of the late Nelson Mandela on the subject of Palestine, redacts an interview with Ted Koppel, by removing any reference to Mandela’s equal support for Israel, and hence Jewish nationalism and self-determination.

Mandela’s bipartisan, nuanced and pragmatic position in regard to his support for the 1967 borders are thus turned into an open endorsement of the prevailing position within BDS on South African campuses, that of the complete and utter removal of the country from the face of the earth.

Not that one necessarily supports nation-statism, Global Jihad nor even Kasrilism, but if readers are going to get involved with BDS, at least know what it is that you are supporting.

For the record, as a person of Jewish descent, I support limited sanctions including an arms embargo, a pragmatic approach with achievable goals, not the extremes of the BDS platform bordering upon persecution, and one most certainly opposed to the role played by religious leaders in prosecuting the conflict.

Vegter doesn’t understand science let alone physics

IN A RAMBLING and shoddy piece of quackery published by Daily Maverick, discredited anti-humanist curmudgeon Ivor Vegter claims, inter alia “a lot of opposition to nuclear power is motivated by fears over the safety of nuclear reactors. Chernobyl and Fukushima scared the pants off people. But they’re wrong. Nuclear is by far the safest form of energy on the planet, bar none.”

It is clear from the manner in which the purported facts are presented, that Vegter doesn’t understand science, let alone scientific evidence. Is opposed to humanism and the manner in which scientific consensus is driven by published research, peer review and moderation.

So far as Vegter is concerned, not a single person has died as a result of direct exposure to radiation in the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters. Vegter thus proceeds to impute the findings of the Japanese government, who likewise impute the findings of the World Health Organisation attributing an increase in infant mortality as a result of radiation exposure.

Did anyone die because of Fukushima?

Thyroid screening of under 18-year-olds, conducted in the aftermath following the Fukushima disaster “detected a large number of thyroid cysts and solid nodules”, ‘including a number of thyroid cancers that would not have been detected without such intensive screening.’

A UNSCEAR report quoted by Vegter, and used apparently as strong evidence of ‘no deterministic effects from radiation exposure’ is a merely a ‘white paper’ to ‘update and consolidate’ some of the earlier findings and conclusions of an assessment of the ‘radiological consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi accident’ and fails to note the deaths of workers.

Instead of affirming the earlier prognosis of no deterministic effects, it rather provides a political platform for a ‘Recapitulation of the earlier 2013 report’, in effect carrying news of  ‘a controversial document stating a radiation-induced increase in thyroid cancer incidence’ amongst the public where the authors reported ‘a 50-fold (95% CI: 25, 90) excess in Fukushima Prefecture.’

UNSCEAR however discount the controversial finding,  as ‘too susceptible to bias’, thereby upholding the validity of the earlier committee findings and paving the way for new data and experimentation. Far from being definitive, the UN committee sponsor merely restates the areas and vectors of investigation requiring more research, alongside abnormalities (or lack thereof) in the gonadal tissues of frogs, collected from sites with elevated levels of radionuclide concentrations and ‘morphological defects in Fir trees’.

Continue reading

And so Harber sues a political party

THE ERSTWHILE editor of the Weekly Mail, one Anton Harber is suing a local political party. Alongside SABC journalist Thandeka Gqubule, both are fingered by Winnie Mandela in a documentary carrying allegations of Stratcom activity in apartheid-era newsrooms, the same claims repeated by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.

Gqubule claims to have gained access to ‘declassified records’ held by the state allegedly ‘proving her innocence’. Instead of being a spy for Stratcom, she alleges she was rather the ‘object of an intelligence gathering exercise’ and thus seeks to have her day in court where the records will no doubt be examined to determine which version is true.

The EFF have been given one week to provide evidence supporting their own allegations. Like South Press, Grassroots and New Nation, I have no doubt that the former Weekly Mail was the target of a dirty tricks campaign. The gory details are not the subject of this piece, but rather, the opportunity to examine the failure of Harber to uphold any of the values he purports to serve.

Hence the criticism below that what comes around, goes around. Harber himself has used similar smear tactics.  The Mail & Guardian, the successor to the parochial Weekly Mail resoundingly failed to defend the historical record of struggle journos and has gone so far as censoring my own writing (see here). One has therefore got to challenge Harber’s tacit claim to being the sole representative of the struggle press in South Africa.

Like Max du Preez, whose position as former publisher of the Afrikaans duel-medium Vrye Weekblad, who then turned himself into a monument made from apartheid-era granite at News24.com, ( a racist rag if ever there was one), Harber moved on from publishing out of Houghton, and the nascent white counter-culture of Johannesburg, to rooting for Remgro, Big Capital and ENCA.

If one reads Harber, these days you could easily make the mistake of thinking the old Weekly Mail was the only periodical of its time. The trouble with having unchallenged opinion and editorial conceit writ large by the likes of Harber and du Preez, is that the truth and reality are rather different.

The all-white newsrooms of the ‘white alternative press’ though allies of the struggle, only operated because they enjoyed privileges gained from decades of race segregation, and separate development. Harber et al, were nowhere close to the coalface of activism as the black press on the frontlines and barricades. Black periodicals such as Grassroots which bore the brunt of Stratcom dirty tricks were closed down, without the funds needed to secure any legacy defense.

Significantly, Harber was never detained as such, nor imprisoned for his views, on the contrary, this treatment was regularly meted out by the Bureau for State Security (BOSS) upon editors who dared to defy the Botha government whilst being black, and guilty of insurrection.

Time for a radical re-assessment of the period.

SEE Harber used same tactics

Open letter to UCT Vice-Chancellor

PO BOX 4398

Cape Town

8000

 

17 October 2018

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
The Vice-Chancellor
Vice Chancellor’s Office
University of Cape Town

vc@uct.ac.za

Dear Madam,

 

CHEADLE’S FOLLEY: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

Since this correspondence predates your ascendancy as the new Vice-Chancellor, let me congratulate you, apparently the first ‘black womxn’ VC.

I place the above in parenthesis since I am certain that linguists and social scientists will find cause to question any descriptive words attributed to the phenomena of the facts.

Last week I attended a packed Human Evolution Research Institute (HERI) seminar in the Beattie Building entitled: “Let’s Talk About the History of Racism in Science: Darwin’s Hunch and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian”.

In which Kuljan made a good show at answering various questions inter alia, “What impact did colonial thinking and the concept of ‘race typology’ have on the views of scientists, including Raymond Dart, in their search for human origins? How did the concept of ‘race typology’ influence Phillip Tobias and his colleagues under apartheid? How have the changing scientific views about race – and racism – shaped efforts to understand human evolution? “

Kuljian’s special focus on the fields of palaeo-anthropology and genetics over the past century has ‘lead her to review more recent research in human genetics and mitochondrial DNA that confirms that all living humans have common origins in Africa.’

I understand from previous correspondence with former Vice-Chancellor Max Price, that H Cheadle, (now law professor emeritus) has been retired from his post at UCT Law School since 31 December 2014, and this was confirmed by Pat Lucas on 20 May 2016. Needless to say, it appears that UCT Law Dept failed to receive the memo, and are still under the impression that Cheadle is lecturing part-time, and/or is a member of Senate by virtue of his professorship at your institution.

I therefore once again bring to your attention Cheadle’s directorship of a labour brokerage firm whilst adjudicating a matter involving his client and business partner, and whilst also holding various posts at your institution (NPA, 9/2/12-386/2014).

In particular, and in the light of the growing consensus on the subject, I now bring to your attention Cheadle’s pathetic condonation of a racist inquiry at the behest of an apartheid media firm. A repugnant inquiry into my alleged race identity on the basis of blood quantum, in particular Adv Kahanovitz’ Anti-Enlightenment and Anti-Secular assertions that I am inter alia, ‘black whenever I feel like it and white when I want to be’, ‘wanted to help the respondent because I am coloured’, ‘ have become one of them, the oppressed’, ‘am not Jewish and/or am a Jew in breach of my religion.’

I also wish to draw attention to the racist and irregularly gained 2010 decision of the labour court of South Africa in which Cheadle openly attacks my credibility on the basis of my opposition to apartheid and reduces my identity to nothing more than an absurdity in the eyes of the law. (SUBMISSIONS: “manifest bias in Lewis v Media24′ and also extracts from my complaint to the Cape Bar Council and Judicial Service Commission are available upon request).

For the record, I am a graduate of the UCT Centre for African Studies, was banned en masse during 1987 whilst a member of the UCT Swapo Solidarity Committee, and End Conscription Campaigns, both registered as societies with the SRC, and also the Congress of South African Writers.

Further, I struggled to gain access to my degree, whilst Peter Horn, my lecturer in English Literary Theory was banned in name, and never attended graduation.

As a person formerly classified as white by the regime and subsequently dis-enrolled from the ‘white race’ via a series of excisions, beginning with my being placed as a young scholar on a list for wanting to check out a book by N R Mandela from the Jagger library, and culminating in the repeal of the Population Registration Act during 1991, I take exception to your institution’s continued support for Mr Cheadle, and thus apartheid race science and the multiracialist school.

The lecture given by Kuljian may as well be titled: CHEADLE’S FOLLEY: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins, since it traverses many of the aspects of evidence lead by myself during the labour court proceeding in which I quoted the late Dr Neville Alexander and hence the views of the Unity Movement and its contention that the human species represented one common stream of evolution, and thus an idea very far removed from the multiregionalist and multiracialist approach taken by Cheadle.

Cheadle tragically and painfully accepted the respondent’s pleadings in the matter, arriving at the bizarre conclusion that race profiling and de facto race segregation at the People’s Post, was merely the result of a ‘coincidence of homogeneity” (and/or an accident of nature and/or a miracle of sameness). Ditto separate development.

As I write this letter I am forced to consider the fact that I will be representing myself come 23 October 2018 in the High Court of South Africa in a matter distantly related to the labour court ruling (Lewis v Legal Aid SA). It pains me to have to place my head in an academic vice as it were, in order to alert you to the travesty which is occurring in our country in the aftermath of the TRC and the failure of the Minister of Justice to afford legal representation to the victims and survivors of the apartheid system.

I am therefore demanding restitution of my rights as a human being and the removal of Mr Cheadle from Senate, failing which I will have no recourse other than to renew the call for an academic boycott of UCT on the basis of its continued support for apartheid race science.

It is disingenuous to suggest as Max Price has previously, that Cheadle’s academic position and persona at UCT is somehow separate to his involvement with our legal system. Any reasonable person would arrive at the conclusion that Cheadle acted as an officer of the labour court because he had previously received academic credentials and status conferred upon him by the institution, and was a member of Senate in good standing, not to mention a staff member.

A full inquiry and examination of the apartheid ‘skeleton collection’ at UCT and thus the legalistic bones in the Kramer Building which continue to cast a long shadow — repugnant but important apartheid memorabilia illustrated in the many books and periodicals printed by your institution over decades — is long overdue.

 

Sincerely yours

D R Lewis

021 788 3119
082 425 1454