LINKS are working again. However, a couple of people are having trouble loading this site, for reasons unknown to me. I'll have the tech staff look into things.
AS SOMEONE of Scots ancestry, I deeply resent George Galloway reinforcing the stereotype of my people as miserly, cash-grafting, never-put-our-hands-in-our-pockets penny-mooching scum:
George Galloway yesterday launched an appeal to fund his high court libel battle against two newspapers that claimed he received money from Saddam Hussein's regime.
The beleaguered Labour MP urged supporters and sympathisers to back his court action.
"I expect we will raise a significant fund and we will need it, because it is a daunting undertaking, as I have discovered all over again," he said.
Galloway earns about $US110,000 per year for a weekly newspaper column, nearly $90,000 annually as a member of Parliament, and has previously scored more than $300,000 in lawsuit victories. And don't forget his Mariam Appeal, which raised $160,000 for the sick Iraqi kid but spent more ($200,000) on hiring inner-London offices. Almost $30,000 went to Galloway's wife, while George himself unloaded more than $400,000 of the appeal's funds on self-serving publicity visits (if that's all they were) to Baghdad.
And now he's playing poor and begging for cash. The man is unbelievable. My tartan blood boils.
WITH THE war safely over, The Daily Mirror has decided to retrospectively support British troops:
Two British special forces soldiers were held prisoner in Syria after yomping almost 100 miles in three days.
Pursued by Saddam Hussein's troops, the men from an SAS-SBS team raced to safety when ambushed on a secret mission in Northern Iraq.
Their extraordinary escape was a race against time to sanctuary - and the greatest escape of the Iraq war.
The story, run on the front page of today's Mirror, is one month old. When the extraordinary escape was taking place, the Mirror was running front-page stories like these.
MAYBE misguided peace protesters are simply victims of tainted travel sickness tablets. Sufferers report an array of paranoid peacenik symptoms:
"You get images constantly being bombarded into your brain."
"You get nightmares but you're awake. It's non-stop. It's nightmarish, ghoulish, spiders and other things. You are almost clawing at your head to get them out of it."
"You don't have any control about what's coming into your mind."
"I was in ga-ga land. I sat up on a park bench getting these images coming at me."
"I was acting like a crazy man."
"You don't get much control over them. You get thousands of images at one time. You would have to sit up all night and battle it. You get so tired."
JOE QUEENAN writes that the main victims of New York's smoking ban are non-smokers:
The immediate effect was to force legions of angry, drunken smokers out into the streets where they could congregate in large angry circles and keep everybody in the neighbourhood awake until three o’clock in the morning complaining about not being able to smoke inside any more. New York City used to have a lot of bars. Now it is a bar.
Anyone unfortunate to live anywhere near a bar or a restaurant - in other words, every other resident of Manhattan - has been plagued by the late-night carcinogenic clatches outside the city’s 13,000 bars and restaurants.
All of them should march down to the Mayor's house and, as the saying goes, smoke him out. Then, as another saying goes, beat him up. And, to quote yet another, less well-known saying, attach him to a medievel catapult and fling him into Jersey.
FOLLOWING REPORTS that Mohammad Saeed al-Sahaf is alive, Andrew Sullivan wonders: "Will Roger Ailes offer him a talk show before the military nabs him?" The Fox boss would face a bidding war for Mo's services, however. Reuters reports:
An Arab television network said on Tuesday it wants to give a job to former Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, whose colorful daily briefings during the U.S.-led invasion won him a cult following.
Ali al-Hadethi, supervisor of the Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite channel, told Reuters that Sahaf, who does not figure on Washington's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, was welcome to join the network immediately as a commentator and analyst.
Hadethi said he did not know the former minister's whereabouts and asked him to contact Arabiya to take up his job.
"We want to benefit from the experience of Mr Sahaf and his analysis of the current situation and the future of Iraq," Hadethi said, without giving details of the job package.
He'd make a brilliant sportscaster.
NZ PUNDIT reports that the New Zealand government spent $899,650.00 purchasing a domain name.
THE BUNYIP compares Sydney Morning Herald reporting with actual reporting. Highly instructive.
PHILLIP ADAMS is angry at Kim Beazley's failure to fawn over Phil and his wealthy commie pals:
In one of our few long conversations, I tried to remind Beazley that he was alienating people for whom politics isn't the one day of an election year but a lifetime of involvement. To my astonishment, the nice Kim Beazley wasn't nice at all. He dismissed them as the "chattering classes", using that contemptuous and contemptible expression beloved of Paddy McGuinness.
Poor Phil. Nobody listens to his radio show. His column is read only for mocking fun. And Labor leaders don't want to talk to him.
MOHAMMAD SAID AL-SAHHAF IS ALIVE! The US must rescue him!
Iraq's former information minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf, who denied to the end the presence of US forces in Baghdad, was turned down by US troops after trying to turn himself in, said the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, citing a Kurdish official.
Sahhaf had been at his aunt's house in Baghdad for the past four days and wanted US troops to arrest him so that "they can protect him" but they refused since he was not on their "most wanted" deck of playing cards, said the paper, citing Adel Murad of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Mr Murad said Sahhaf was in Mosul before going to Baghdad and that some PUK partisans saw him in the northern city and that he even asked some of them to intervene on his behalf with US troops, but "we told him that we didn't want to be party to this matter", the paper added.
"Negotiations are still going on to hand him over to them," said Mr Murad.
Please, let it be soon. The world wants mo' of Mo.
JOURNALISM 101, with guest lecturer Dr. Malcolm Bollard, a recognised expert*:
"Hello, students! Selective use of vernacular terminology is an easy way to add some 'zing' to dull copy. Allow me to demonstrate, using this dismal article as a starting point.
"Now read on as I improve the article by deftly replacing a few of the more boring phrases with colourful everyday words and such. The key is to not go overboard - in fact, unless you pay close attention, you may not notice any changes at all!"
NORTHAMPTON - Smith College students earlier this month made a decision some might find mystifying: Although Smith is a skirt college, the chicks voted to change the language of their student constitution so that the pronouns "she" and "her" would be replaced with dickless, unbreasted terms.
The student government vote is an indication of a deeper issue facing Smith College, and other girl-on-girl institutions, which is that a growing number of students identify themselves as she-males, and say they feel uncomfortable with hot femme pronouns.
"Smith College is a college for broads, and within that there is a place for all kinds of ass," said Brenda Allen, director of institutional diversity.
In addition to the issue of gender identity, within the girly-man movement there is also the matter of sex-reassignment surgery, formerly known as "marrying Liza Minelli".
"See? See how with a bare minimum of alterations that terrible article has suddenly become Pulitzer material? See?"
*Dr. Malcolm Bollard is the world's foremost authority.
(Link via Tonguetied.)
A NEW group, the International Academic Friends of Israel, has been formed to fight anti-Israel bigotry in institutes of higher learning worldwide. There is as yet no Australian branch. There needs to be.
BIAS by stealth: reader John Softly writes to point out that in this week's Sydney Morning Herald TV Guide, a piece on rear-projection televisions contains three pictures of said viewing devices - one of them displaying an image of anti-war Susan Sarandon, one showing anti-war Peter Garrett, and one with anti-war Nelson Mandela.
THIS WEEK'S Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Simon Crean, Kim Beazley, John Howard, Smiths, Browns, Joneses, Nguyens, Captain Mainwaring, Corporal Jones, David Marr, US Marine Corporal Ed Chin, Robert Fisk, Phillip Adams, Richard Ackland, and Eric Bogle.
Plus there is an appalling SARS joke.
The proper course, the court may consider, was for the story to be published fairly and with balance and for Galloway to be given an opportunity to respond. Arguably, this is what happened.
The problem for Galloway is that he now appears committed to a libel action. If he were to decline to bring or withdraw such an action or if he were to lose it even on the qualified privilege defence (which would not legally give any credence to the allegations), he may - perhaps unfairly - be widely seen to be culpable of the charges against him. Not only would this damage his reputation, but it is likely to be very costly for him.
The law now recognises much more than before that important matters and allegations should be ventilated in the press. Provided this is done fairly - with a moderate tone, balanced coverage and a right to reply - no action in defamation is likely to succeed. Galloway may come to learn, as fellow politicians Archer, Aitken and Hamilton did before him, to beware of the libel courts.
THE ENTIRE "crushing of free speech" debate in the US may be summarised as follows:
Some wealthy people in the entertainment industry said some stupid things. Folks criticised them for this. Then the entertainers resumed their careers without suffering any losses at all.
(Jonah Goldberg has more on this, but, hey, I don't get paid by the word here.)
BBC executive Mark Damazar said last month that the BBC had erred in its coverage of the war:
"If we have used the word 'liberate' in our own journalism, as in 'such and such a place had been liberated by allied forces', that's a mistake," he said.
"That is the wrong language to use without evidence of Iraqi people feeling as though they have been liberated," Mr Damazer added.
evidence, pal (if more were needed):
In the two weeks since Kirkuk fell to a mix of Kurdish and US forces, free media outlets have been busting out all over: An Internet cafe opened its doors; a radio station called the Voice of Kirkuk started broadcasting part time; a newspaper called New Kurdistan, published in the autonomous northern city of Sulaymaniyah, started circulating here; and people are tuning into several Kurdish television channels broadcasting from the self-rule zone, an offense which in the past could have landed a person in jail, at best.
The race to let new voices be heard is also on in Baghdad, where a new newspaper began its first run on Tuesday.
And the people's choice of television network?
Still desperate for war news, they tune to CNN, BBC, and what appears to be a local favorite, Fox. They like it, people here say, because it has been the most supportive of the war.
For many here, the only foreign channels they can understand are in Arabic, and they are deeply resentful of the most prominent one, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera.
Abu Bakr Mohammed Amin, an elderly man in a red-checkered headdress visiting Salih's television shop, gives them a dismissive flick of the wrist: "They only knew how to support Saddam," he says.
So much for Western voices who hailed Al-Jazeera as the voice of balance and freedom. The battle for liberation continues; Iraq may have Fox, but New Zealand still doesn't.
BANNED CHEMICAL WEAPONS found in Sydney!
THE PHRASE "all jokes aside" usefully functions to indicate that the preceding wasn't a joke (or at least wasn't a funny joke) and that the speaker is probably incapable of making or even recognising a joke. Humourless (yet strangely self-amused) media scold David Marr proves my point.
GERARD HENDERSON on the problems facing the Australian Labor Party:
If the ALP wants to work out what went wrong, it should spend some time reassessing the contemporary meaning of the Anzac legend. Here John Faulkner and Robert Ray, watching the Test cricket in the West Indies on a privately funded holiday, may provide some assistance. The Labor senators could report how Steve Waugh and his team participated in a ceremony to mark Anzac Day. It is unlikely that members of a touring Australian cricket team would have involved themselves in such a ritual a decade or more ago.
It's not that previous Test teams were uninterested in Anzac, but that Australians are now more outwardly patriotic than at any time since the Pacific War. For the first time in many years, the Chief of the Defence Force, Peter Cosgrove, is a well-known and popular figure. Indeed, the military has seldom been so admired.
EVERYONE should stop taking all non-essential vitamin and mineral supplements. Why? Because tainted vitamins are making people sick. According to an Australian government spokeswoman:
"Some people were very, very ill. They tried to jump out of planes, off ships and things like that because of the hallucinatory effect."
The blotter paper should have been a hint that these "vitamins" weren't exactly the regular kind. And the "chewable O'Learys" for children were just plain wrong.
DON'T HAVE a cow, Naomi! Vice-presidential image wrecker Naomi Wolf has been in Australia for maybe three hours or so, and she's already decided that we treat our mothers like common breeding ruminants:
Celebrity feminist Naomi Wolf says Australian mothers are being reduced to a kind of solitary servitude by society's "contempt" for motherhood.
"We need to shower them (mothers) with affirmation, we need to give them money, we need to not act like motherhood is some natural thing you just do like a cow."
Well, guess I'd better take cud off this year's Mother's Day gift list. Australia, as it happens, does give money to mothers. It's a secret we only reveal to visitors after they've been here longer than one day. As for this "contempt" Wolf mentions:
As evidence of the "contempt" in which motherhood is held, Ms Wolf cited "the fact that medical procedures in Australia, as well as the US, tend to treat birth as an emergency rather than a natural process".
So we shouldn't treat motherhood as natural and we should treat motherhood as natural. Stupid mother.
UPDATE. Gareth Parker e-mails to point out that Wolf isn't even in Australia - the interview was a pre-emptive strike via satellite to publicise an upcoming book tour or somesuch. Be warned, Wolf! We hold mothers in contempt!
"APRIL 28, IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY YOU LOSER!"
-- sign placed next to a donkey during Iraqi celebrations marking Saddam Hussein's 66th birthday. Said Sadr resident Ali, 24: "For the first time in my life, I won't be forced to attend Saddam's birthday ceremonies. He was a dictator, he was nothing but a donkey ruling over Iraq."
WHO IS Noah Feldman, and why should you care? The BBC explains:
Noah Feldman, a law professor from New York University, will be advising the future Iraqi interim authority on how to design a new constitution.
He will be working for retired US general Jay Garner - Iraq's interim leader - in the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.
He told BBC News Online that in his view the US should support democracy in Iraq even if it was a not a secular democracy.
Judging by some of Colin Powell's recent remarks on "democratic Islam", Feldman may have some influence among the influential. Which is a concern, as retired blogger Diana Moon points out via e-mail, because Feldman is ... well, let's allow his opinions to speak for themselves:
Feldman laughs at the cliché that Islamists are medievalists. On the contrary, he argues, Islamic parties stress clean government, social welfare and economic equality.
And from his book, After Jihad:
In nearly every Muslim country, however, there are voices today calling for greater democracy. Remarkably, the loudest voices are often those of Islamists, activists who believe that "Islam is the solution" to all problems in politics and private life alike. The Islamists' call for democratic change in the Muslim world marks a fundamental shift in their strategy.
This guy merits close observation.
TAKE the Wonderlic intelligence test (used by NFL scouts to rate possible recruits) and discover if you are smarter than an offensive tackle or dumber than a halfback. Sample question:
These things in front of you, written on the page and composed of letters. What are they called?
a. Me is hungry
b. Blood? Blood for oil?
I exaggerate slightly. Dave Francis has more details, including the information that someone called Javon Walker, out of Florida, scored only nine - out of a possible 50.
MANY YEARS from now somebody will type "snub wobblers" into a search engine. Possibly that person will be drunk. Anyway, this story will appear.
ALL THIS terrible wartime looting! And nobody is doing anything about it:
The United Nations (UN) has extended to May 31 the deadline for senior Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officials to respond to allegations that they looted diamonds and other natural resources during the four-year DRC war.
A UN official said the deadline had been extended from March 31 to give all those implicated by a UN report issued at the end of last year time to meet with the world body's investigating panel and compile their responses to the allegations.
The official, Amin Mohsen, said the UN would publish the responses of those implicated in last year's report on June 20. "There was need to give everyone a chance to dialogue with the investigating panel, exchange views and have adequate time to make detailed responses," Mohsen, the UN official assigned to the DRC, told the Financial Gazette from New York.
Give 'em the full dialogue treatment. That'll show those looters.
As April 25th approaches, let us remember the tremendous contribution of the Australian military to the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom: In the air, its FA-18 Squadron; at sea, the ANZAC and the DARWIN, along with Navy divers; on land, its elite SAS, an Army Commando Task Group and other units.
A component of coalition special-operations forces, the SAS, for instance, captured 60 senior Iraqi officials trying to leave the country with $600,000 in U.S. currency and, more recently, discovered a huge armaments cache that included 51 MIG jets, or half the Iraqi air force. They participated in western Iraq operations that neutralized potential use of SCUD missiles. With their air force and navy counterparts, they will observe Anzac Day thousands of miles from home, but only 900 miles southeast of the site where that day was born.
(Oh, and while you're at Bryon's site, check out his discovery of Sprint's new Vulcan hiring policy.)
WHAT ARE the penalties for lying to the UN? Do they make you stand in a corner?
A leading Iraqi scientist who worked in the country's biological weapons program in the 1980s said he and his colleagues lied to UN inspectors about biological and chemical weapons, The New York Times reported.
The stories he gave the inspectors "were all lies," Nissar Hindawi told the paper.
Iraq "produced huge quantities" of liquid anthrax and botulinum toxin, he said.
So it's little wonder that ...
Only a minority within the Bush administration want UN inspectors to return to Iraq.
"Forget it. On principle, we don't want the United Nations running around Iraq," one official told the paper.
GEORGE GALLOWAY could go away for two years if he's convicted.
TONY BLAIR warns the crows during his latest press conference:
The BBC's Andrew Marr, as always, is given the first question, rather puncturing Mr Blair's domestic electioneering by demanding to know when WMD will be found in Iraq.
Mr Blair says a thousand sites have now been identified, and he is confident such weapons will be found.
Mark Mardell asks why the UN are not invited back into Iraq to independently verify WMD finds.
The prime minister insists there is "no doubt" that Iraq had WMD, and that "people who crow" about their absence now should "wait a little bit".
IF SARS doesn't get you, the vitamins will:
Australians have been warned against taking herbal, vitamin or nutritional supplements following the biggest recall of medical products in the country's history.
The national medicines watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), today suspended the licence of Pan Pharmaceuticals for six months and ordered the immediate withdrawal of 219 of its products following a series of grave safety and quality breaches.
Pan represents 70 per cent of the Australian complementary medicine market and exports to dozens of countries.
Here's a list of the recalled products. I've taken the precaution of removing all vitamins from the house and replacing them with harmless cigarettes. You can't be too careful, you know.
VIA the Bunyip, this March 31 war commentary from the Australian Financial Review's Michael Pascoe (subscription required for AFR link):
It looks like a little dose of reality has finally been allowed into George Junior's war party. It will be rather lonely there by itself but before long it should be joined by its friend, disillusionment.
Together they will stand against a wall, casting dark looks around the room, asking each other in voices growing steadily louder: "How did we get into this mess?"
The rest of the party will try hard to ignore them, then to disparage them, but they won't be silenced. The party will begin to break down as arguments start about who let "them" in. Eventually most will give up and depart, with the remainder left to bickering and finger-pointing, until finally agreeing with the question. "Yeah, how did we get into this mess?"
By the end of the party Tony Blair and John Howard will have lost or resigned their jobs. George Junior will remain in denial, locked like Macbeth into a course where he is so steeped in blood it's as easy to go on as to turn back. He will have guaranteed an escalation and extension of terrorism against the west, destabilised the Middle East further and made sure that, just like his Dad, he's a one-term president.
It's possible to see only one person happy as the party dissolves - the tall skinny guy, smiling broadly under his beard and answering to the name of Osama.
With the Pentagon now admitting publicly what it tried to tell George Junior privately, that this Iraq war will take months, not weeks, there are terrible implications to be thought through. This war so far is going to Saddam's plan, not George's.
The last time I checked, both Tony Blair and John Howard still had their jobs. So does Pascoe, oddly enough.
CHARITY BEGINS at home. Specifically, at
George Galloway's home:
The appeal set up by George Galloway to treat a sick Iraqi child spent more than 800,000 pounds on political campaigns and expenses, including a direct salary payment to his wife, the MP admitted yesterday.
Dr Amineh Abu Zayyad, Mr Galloway's Palestinian wife, was paid around 18,000 pounds by the appeal fund to "look after" Mariam Hamza, the girl who received treatment for leukaemia in Britain and America.
The charity spent £860,000 on anti-sanctions campaigns, expenses and administration, and only £100,000 on the kid. She was effectively used as a front for a propaganda operation.
Interesting to note, too, that Appalling George is still only threatening to sue the Telegraph:
He is threatening to sue The Daily Telegraph for libel and said last week that, if he discovered from his own records that he was not in Iraq at Christmas 1999, "the Telegraph will come down in flames". He has denied ever knowingly meeting Iraqi agents. But confirmation of his presence in Baghdad at the time of the alleged meeting has emerged.
It's not looking good for George. Then again, it never was.
FORMULA ONE garage area in 1973. Note the chap with the oily rag, a mandatory requirement of the era.
And a Formula One garage area today. The surgical-quality lighting gantry probably costs as much as did a team's entire stock of trackside mechanical equipment 30 years earlier. Here's another comparison.
THIS JUST IN: Tribble weighs 820 grams. Developing.
In related news, Acidman reports:
I had a dog named "Wiggles" that could put a whole Krystal hamburger in his mouth, chew it, swallow the burger and spit out the pickle every time.
ACTOR Mike Farrell - well, he was an actor, sometime back in the 1970s - on the brave Hollywood dissidents:
"The Dixie Chicks are back on the air and their record is number one again," he said. "Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are not going to stop making movies for a long time. Janeane Garofalo has a (TV) pilot going forward. These ugly-mouthed people like to think they are more powerful than they are."
They sure do. By the way, what exactly are the qualifications of the Bush-hating intellectual elite?
Cher: Dropped out of school in 9th grade. Career: Singing and acting
Martin Sheen: Flunked exam to enter University of Dayton. Career: Acting
Jessica Lange: Dropped out college mid-freshman year. Career: Acting
Julia Roberts: Completed High School. Career: Acting
George Clooney: Dropped out of University of Kentucky. Career: Acting
Michael Moore: Dropped out first year at University of Michigan. Career: Movie Director
Sarah Jessica Parker: Completed High School. Career: Acting
Jennifer Anniston: Completed High School. Career: Acting
Janeane Garofalo: Dropped out of College. Career: Stand up comedienne
HOORAY for the foamy friar, foe of fanatics:
The Pope yesterday beatified a 17th-century friar credited with halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process gave the world cappuccino coffee.
He should still be punished as a war criminal, not made to feel like a Lottery winner.
Why not force him to stay with George Galloway?
That would teach him.
PHILLIP ADAMS suffers from insomnia. He should try reading his own columns. How does he stay awake while he composes them?
WHOA! Coolest Emmanuelle photograph yet! Emmanuelle and Matt lately visited the regal Layne-Crane estate in Reno. Songs were sung and the gambling precinct invaded. Speaking of songs, Ken's nü metal outfit has been trumped by a Sydney band whose promo flyer I caught a glimpse of last week. It had the umlaut goin' on and the German title and everything.
The band's name?
SOMETHING strange and wrong is happening at the New York Post, and Mickey Kaus is on to it. Editor Col Allan isn't expected in the office today - I just spoke to the city desk - but I'll try to get hold of him at home or tomorrow. Conversations with Col are always entertaining, although I expect on this subject he may be somewhat circumspect. We'll see.
DIANE SAWYER is one interviewer you don't want to mess with.
THANKS FOR calling that one in, Tariq:
The favourable surrender terms agreed between coalition commanders and Tariq Aziz has prompted speculation that Saddam Hussein's trusted foreign policy adviser provided the intelligence responsible for the cruise missile attack on the Iraqi dictator's bunker.
BECOME a Face For Peace! Just like Tough Josh and this pretending-to-be-dead chick and
Kaushalya catalyst for change! You can even be severely retarded or an elderly dictator and still be a Face For Peace! (Fidel's appearance courtesy of this prankster.) EVERYBODY must become a Peace Face! Especially now that the war is over, and we have - peace!
UPDATE. Joe adds his face!
And Lee contributes his peaceful image!
I WONDER how many lives have been altered by blogs?
Reading blogs has changed my world. Lileks is a nightly ritual before I go to sleep and the lack of Bleat will put a small dent in my day. This goes along with the fact that I sprinkle my conversation with references to what Michele has said and the fact that thanks to Tim Blair I know a bit too much about Australian politics. I keep sending friends strips from Day by Day and I insist on referring to George Clooney as an "Asshat" because of Rachel Lucas. Kim Du Toit has convinced me that I need to buy a gun or ten and Pave France has supplied me with a seemingly endless source of frog bashing ammo. Add to that the fact that I have felt an even greater connection to the war in Iraq because of reading Where is Raed and all the military blogs I list to the left (Lt. Smash, Sgt. Stryker, Will, and Primary Main Objective). I have made a greater effort than I normally would have to keep up to date on the events of the war because of my contributions to Command Post.
FROM Randy Robinson's Top Five Signs Your MP May Be On The Take:
3. His face is on the Five of Clubs
Dyareckon he would take that view if the personal blog was filled with "My boss is God. He is the bestest boss. Lovelove for Boss."?
"Lovelove for Boss". Journalists used to send me notes like that all the time back when I worked in offices. Also from Wogblog - a multicultural solution to the looting of Baghdad:
Someone do a stocktake of what's left in the museum, and from the museum but elsewhere in Iraq, so we can work out what stuff has to be recovered from the plunderers.
I am thinking a team of Italian and Spanish shopkeepers can do this job in a weekend.
KINKY FRIEDMAN is hanging with a bad crowd. And not for the first time - in '96 we met Kinky at Austin's Driskill Hotel, and a few days later caught up with him at home (Clinton sign in the yard, natch) to watch baseball on TV and haul down a few cigars. By the way, you think Kinky's wise and funny? You should have met his late father, Tom. Extraordinary, wonderful family.
THE CONCEPT of supply and demand eludes the Daily Mirror. Which is what you'd expect from a paper that thought hiring John Pilger would increase sales.
GEORGE GALLOWAY'S Cuban love toy tells all:
Judy Lonchan Lopez said last night: "George was very important in Cuba. I'm not surprised he was friends with Saddam, because he was close to Fidel Castro.
"He desired me and I respected him. He was very passionate. He had learned some Spanish and he would say things like, 'I adore your body', and, 'You make me fly like a bird when I touch you'."
Here's a few other Spanish phrases George might have learned:
Amo a dictadores
Deme más dinero
Tráigame por favor mi sombrero la cima y monóculo inmediatamente
Saddam Hussein will be 66 on 28 April - that is, if he is still alive. Traditionally his birthday has been a day of great celebration, but who knows where, how, or if he will celebrate this year? What is certain, is that it will be unlike the spectacles of previous years.
Yep. No games of "pin the electrode on the peasant" this year. Maybe Jacques won't even send a card!
LIKE many dissenters, Lahib Nouman demonstrated against her government. She tore up images of government officials. She chanted slogans.
The difference was, she did it in Baghdad.
Time's Aparisim Ghosh tells how her dissent was never quite crushed, despite years of brutality. And Ghosh - with whom I collaborated years ago on sports stories - has also turned up something terrible in Uday Hussein's backyard. Stunning reporting.
EVEN crazy leftie junkie Will Self has his limits:
Shortly before British and American forces began rolling towards Baghdad, I was asked to appear at a Stop the War benefit at the Shepherds Bush Empire.
I had several reasons for declining, but not least of them was that George Galloway MP was to be one of the speakers. In fact, I made it a condition of my support for Stop the War that I wouldn't share a platform with the man.
Anyone who had paid attention to Galloway's pro-Saddam statements should have realised his motives for meddling in Iraqi politics were far from humanitarian.
No humanitarian could ever have sang hymns to the Butcher of Baghdad the way he did. Nor did Galloway's background in the Tammany Hall of Scottish Labour politics lead one to expect a character unsullied by greed.
NOW that The Independent is charging Net users for the privilege of reading Robert Fisk, I suppose I should start charging for Fiskings. Two bucks per fact-checked ass!
A FINE IDEA from Mark Steyn:
John Pilger can keep boring on about Vietnam until he's driven away every last Mirror reader, but to any sentient columnist the analogy is irrelevant: indeed, a canny newspaper would design a software programme that crashed a columnist's computer every time he typed in the word.
Of course, some columnists will require crash-words tailored to their specific needs:
UPDATE: The Observer has obviously put Steyn's idea into practice. This US-bashing Terry Jones column contains not one single mention of oil - unlike most earlier Jones pieces. Now if they could just install software to make the lame bastard funny ...
Galloway was once a genuine critic of Saddam's. In the mid-1980s Hansard records him delivering a ferocious assault on the Baath regime, and those in the West who traded with and encouraged it. By 1994, however, he was in Baghdad famously saluting Saddam's courage and indefatigability. He was soon a frequent flyer to Baghdad, and a reveller at Tariq Aziz's Yuletide festivities in 1999 (a fact which Galloway seemed to have forgotten last week, despite my having reminded him of it personally on a television programme in October 2001).
So why did George change? One of the reasons that I ended up supporting this war was that I agreed with Galloway back in the 1980s, and Saddam never got any nicer, or less murderous. What happened?
Leaving aside unproved accusations of personal gain, there are other explanations that might cover George's sudden blindness on the road to Baghdad. And the most obvious is that sin of the committed, the belief that my enemy's enemy is my friend. Or, in the context of the modern world, any anti-American will do. When Iraq stopped being a friend of the West it became a friend of George's.
Aaronovitch's column is quite devastating. Read whole thing.
YAY! GM food in Australia!
LOTS of interesting documents are surfacing in Iraq. The Daily Telegraph reports:
Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998.
And from the Toronto Sars ... er, Star:
The documents were found by correspondent Mitch Potter, the Star's Jerusalem bureau chief. Potter, who has been in and out of Iraq since the war began, was digging through the rubble of the Mukhabarat's Baghdad headquarters with his translator Amir when they uncovered the intelligence treasure trove.
Bin Laden's name appears three times in the handwritten Iraqi file, but each of the references was clumsily concealed with White-Out and then blackened with ink, "presumably by agents of the Mukhabarat," writes Potter, who was travelling with Amir and Inigo Gilmore of London's Sunday Telegraph.
How come Robert Fisk isn't digging through the rubble? Is he frightened by what he might find?
CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON has your gift-giving needs covered. Make mine a Drug Enforcement Agency travel mug!
SPOT the lone voice of reason at this feminist protest.
PERSONALLY, I prefer veal:
The leader of a prominent U.S.-based animal rights group said she had drawn up a will directing that her flesh be barbecued ... Ingrid Newkirk, 53, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said on Thursday she had chosen to donate her body to her organization for use in a variety of startling protests.
But one body part listed in the will is not protest or animal related. It says a small part of her heart should be buried near the Hockenheim Formula One racing circuit in Germany, preferably near the Ferrari pits.
"I love Formula One. I love Michael Schumacher, and I thought I would have a little bit of personal indulgence there," she said.
What, she doesn't like baseball?
OH, this is great. It's 5am, I’ve just finished working on a column, and now I'm under spider attack. A huntsman spider about the span of a child's hand has just skittered across the ceiling above me.
Go get Spider Death Gas. Remind self of relative Tim-spider mass difference. Stop spidey panic.
UPDATE. Gassed and death-bound, my nemesis seeks shelter behind the owl portrait on the wall opposite.
UPDATE UPDATE. And ... then ... it ... reappears ... on ... the ... stairway .. next ... to ... my ... desk ...
UPDATE 3. More death gas. Where is air support? I called in air support, dammit!
UPDATE 4. A thought: What if stairway spider isn't owl portrait spider? What if ... there are more than one?
What if I pass out, say, five seconds from now?
UPDATE 5. The monster, having lunged towards me in a crazed bid for matyrdom, has fallen to the stairs below. He's twitching with resentment. And I am trapped! He's claimed the crucial stair exit point.
To hell with gas. I need a book.
UPDATE 6. May I recommend Media Virus by Douglas Rushkoff? It is beautifully balanced, aerodynamically sound, and lands with murderous accuracy when launched from my third-floor home office. The stairway is liberated. Now I sleep.
THE DAILY Telegraph's David Penberthy becomes the first Australian* journalist to use the phrases "stuttering alcoholic dwarf" and "blistering wedgie" in the same column:
We had some sensational government-sponsored misfits in our street.
The most spectacular was a stuttering alcoholic dwarf who every day would walk though the park to buy an armful of longnecks from the local and on one occasion became so enraged while drunkenly trying to build a rabbit hutch for his kids in the front yard that he threw a hammer through his own front window ...
To the adage about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps we can add: and Canberra will stand behind you giving you a blistering wedgie.
Can any other local match Penbo's achievement? Will any dare try?
* Several international writers have accomplished this feat, including William Shakespeare ("If you wedgie us, do we not blister?" - The Stuttering Alcoholic Dwarf of Venice, act III, scene I) and Robert Fisk ("My blistering wedgie is a symbol of this filthy war ... if I was a stuttering alcoholic dwarf, I would have attacked Robert Fisk").
(Via Peter Kerr)
TIM DUNLOP wants pro-war commentators to apologise for getting everything wrong.
Try not to laugh.
VIA RIGHT-THINKING comes news that the Raelians have honored the delusional leader of another absurd cult:
Remember those Raelians, the pro-cloning sect that believes the truth was bestowed on their mystical leader by aliens in a spaceship? It turns out that they also hand out awards of various kinds. Their latest recipient? According to a press release this week, it's none other than Michael Moore!
Way to boost your credibility, Raelians. Meanwhile the campaign to revoke Moore's Oscar continues. He's got his prestigious Raelian prize; what's he need a stinking Oscar for?
GEORGE W. BUSH joins the Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf fan club:
In describing the war from his perspective, Mr. Bush combined acknowledgments of doubts and pressures with accounts of dramatic moments and humor, including his fascination with the relentlessly upbeat accounts of heroic Iraqi resistance provided by the information minister, Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf.
"He's my man; he was great," said a laughing Mr. Bush. "Somebody accused us of hiring him and putting him there. He was a classic."
BARGARZ writes movingly of Anzac Day:
I haven't checked the news yet but the crowds at the dawn service and the march seemed bigger this year. The crowds lining the length of the march were very deep and it seems that as the numbers of older veterans dwindle, the crowds get bigger and bigger. For the march, we bagged a great perch on a pedestrian overpass overlooking Adelaide St (it soon filled up). We had an excellent view of the entire length of the march and the experience of seeing the servicemen and womens' faces light up and wave up at us was unforgettable. Of course, we all waved, cheered and thanked them back.
And if that wasn't prize enough, I copped quite a few air kisses from some old nurses, God bless 'em. Mrs Bargarz and I, along with many others in our area, cheered and yelled ourselves hoarse thanking and geeing up the marchers and they lapped it up, even the oldest and frailest diggers. For awhile, the barriers seemed to go away and all marchers received rousing cheers. Aussies, Poms, Yanks, Vietnamese, Serbs, Greeks, Poles, Dutch and yes, even the French got some cheers. One particular stand out moment for me was when I gave my Aussie flag to a child next to me who was perched on his dad's shoulders. They were both delighted and the kid was soon waving that flag like a manic mini semophorist. They were Chinese-Aussies and they were just as enthusiastic as any white-bread Aussie could be because that's exactly what they were - Aussies.
Fantastic. And at Samizdata, this fine Anzac tribute.
TED TURNER, the vice chairman of AOL Time Warner CNN Sports Illustrated People Entertainment Weekly Fortune Money In Style Real Simple Time For Kids Sports Illustrated For Kids Teen People People en Español Fortune Small Business Business 2.0 Southern Living Progressive Farmer Southern Accents Sunset Cooking Light Coastal Living For the Love of Cross Stitch For the Love of Quilting Parenting Baby Talk Health In Style U.K. In Style Australia In Style Germany Time Asia Time Canada Time Atlantic Time Latin America Time South Pacific Wallpaper* Who Weekly Popular Science Outdoor Life Field & Stream Golf Magazine Yachting Motor Boating Salt Water Sportsman Ski Skiing Freeze This Old House TransWorld Stance TransWorld Surf TransWorld Skateboarding TransWorld Snowboarding TransWorld Motocross TransWorld Surf BMX Ride BMX Skiing Trade News TransWorld Skateboarding Business TransWorld Snowboarding Business TransWorld Surf Business BMX Business News Amateur Gardening Amateur Photographer Angler's Mail Cage & Aviary Birds Chat Country Life Cycling Weekly Horse & Hound NME Now Shooting Times & Country Magazine Woman Woman's Own Woman's Weekly Woman's Feelgood Series Woman's Own Lifestyle Series Woman's Weekly Home Series TV & Satellite Week TVTimes What's On TV Mizz Mizz Specials Webuser Caravan Magazine The Guitar Magazine VolksWorld World Soccer Beautiful Homes Bird Keeper Cars & Car Conversions Chat Passion Series Classic Boat Country Homes & Interiors Creating Beautiful Homes Cycle Sport Decanter Essentials Eventing Family Circle Golf Monthly Hi-Fi News Homes & Gardens Horse Ideal Home Land Rover World Livingetc Loaded Marie Claire MBR-Mountain Bike Rider MiniWorld Model Collector Motor Caravan Motor Boat & Yachting Motor Boats Monthly Muzik 19 Now Style Series 4x4 Park Home & Holiday Caravan Practical Boat Owner Practical Parenting Prediction Racecar Engineering The Railway Magazine Rugby World Ships Monthly Soaplife Sporting Gun Stamp Magazine The Field The Golf Uncut
What Digital Camera Woman & Home Yachting Monthly Yachting World Aeroplane Monthly Superbike Women & Golf Shoot Monthly Hair Wedding & Home Women's Weekly Fiction Special International Boat Industry Farm Holiday Guides Jets Time Life Inc. Oxmoor House Lesiure Arts Sunset Books Media Networks, Inc. First Moments Targeted Media Inc. Time Inc, Custom Publishing Synapse Time Distribution Services Time Inc. Home Entertainment Time Customer Service Warner Publishing Services This Old House Ventures, Inc. TimePix Essence Communications Partners European Magazines Limited Avantages S.A. CompuServe ICQ MapQuest Moviefone Netscape AOL Music Little, Brown and Company Adult Trade Books Warner Books Little, Brown and Company Children's Publishing Bulfinch Press Warner Faith Time Warner AudioBooks Time Warner Books UK HBO Cinemax Comedy Central HBO Asia HBO Brasil HBO Czech HBO Hungary HBO India HBO Korea HBO Ole HBO Poland HBO Romania A&E Mundo E! Latin America SET Latin America WBTV Latin America Latin America History Channel New Line Cinema Fine Line Features Bay News 9, Tampa, FL Central Florida News 13, Orlando, FL News 8 Austin, TX NY1 News, New York, NY R/News, New York, NY News 14, Carolina Time Warner Telecom, Inc. inDemand Kansas City Cable Partners Texas Cable Partners
TBS Superstation Turner Network Television Cartoon Network Turner Classic Movies Turner South Boomerang TCM Europe Cartoon Network Europe TNT Latin America Cartoon Network Latin America TCM & Cartoon Newtwork Asia Pacific CNN International CNNfn CNN en Español CNNRadio CNN Newsource CNNMoney.com CNN Student News CNNSI.com Cartoon Network Japan Court TV
CETV Castle Rock Entertainment Telepictures Productions Warner Home Video Warner Bros. Consumer Products Warner Bros. International Theatre Looney Tunes Hanna-Barbera DC Comics MAD Magazine The Atlantic Recording Corporation Elektra Entertainment Group Inc. Warner Bros. Records Inc. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. Alternative Distribution Alliance Giant Merchandising Rhino Entertainment WMG Soundtracks Ivy Hill Corporation, claims that too few people own too many media organisations.
"It's not healthy," Turner added.
DAVID USBORNE locates pockets of resistance in New York:
Don't say it out loud, but there are still places where you can go and light up along with your beer. I will be trying a couple of them in the Lower East Side this evening. Just as in the days of prohibition, when liquor was the devil, word of these smoke-easies has slowly spread. But it is hard to know how much longer even they will be available for the refugees from Michael's law. This is because the Health Department allowed one month's grace before the inspectors actually begin to issue the summonses that will bring the fines. That runs out on 1 May, after which it is possible that even the deepest of dives will start to toe the line.
IS THERE a single document in Iraq that doesn't have George Galloway's name on it?
A fresh set of documents uncovered in a Baghdad house used by Saddam Hussein's son Qusay to hide top-secret files detail multimillion dollar payments to an outspoken British member of parliament, George Galloway.
The most recent - and possibly most revealing - documents were obtained earlier this week by the Monitor. The papers include direct orders from the Hussein regime to issue Mr. Galloway six individual payments, starting in July 1992 and ending in January 2003.
The three most recent payment authorizations, beginning on April 4, 2000, and ending on January 14, 2003 are for $3 million each. All three authorizations include statements that show the Iraqi leadership's strong political motivation in paying Galloway for his vociferous opposition to US and British plans to invade Iraq.
George is having a little SARS crisis of his own:
An Iraqi general attached to Hussein's Republican Guard discovered the documents in a house in the Baghdad suburbs used by Qusay, who is chief of Iraq's elite Guard units.
The general, whose initials are "S.A.R.," asked not to be named for fear of retribution from Hussein's assassins. He said he raided the suburban home on April 8 with armed fighters in an effort to secure deeds to property that the regime had confiscated from him years ago. He said he found the new Galloway papers amid documents discussing Kuwaiti prisoners and Hussein's chemical warfare experts, and information about the president's most trusted Republican Guard commanders.
One year after their humiliating defeat in the presidential election, the French Socialists are more divided than ever and facing a national conference next month that could split and even destroy them.
THE DOWNUNDER adventures continue for Andrew Lloyd, currently depleting Australian beer reserves in anticipation of tonight's Sydney-Melbourne AFL match at the SCG. Andrew and wife Karen will attend with Teacher Tony, one of several bloggers who joined us for an evening of mayhem with Andrew on Tuesday night. Those excesses may well be repeated when we catch up after the game. Expect weekend posting to be light and painful.
Talk about your class acts; Andrew brought us a bottle of Junipero to mark this occasion of Anglospheric togetherness. It's sitting menacingly on my desk, awaiting olive and vermouth deployment. Our gift to him in return - he doesn't yet know what it is - will startle and amaze.
A Segway has been spotted making a bakery run in Manhattan. Remain alert for further outbreaks.
A WHILE ago I received an e-mail from a young Hollywood actor who told how he had to conceal his pro-war views in order to avoid blacklisting by liberal McCarthyites. Now Matthew McConaughey reveals that he, too, is a dissenter:
McConaughey sees himself as a proud, patriotic American. He is glad the fighting in Iraq is over, is glad America went in there and got rid of Saddam Hussein. The hard, patient work is ahead, and "it's going to take a decade at least to reform, rebuild and stabilise that place.
"If the hard part's over as far as the fighting goes then this has been, in my mind, extremely efficient, and I believe that our commander-in-chief, George Bush junior, had his heart in the right place."
Susan Sarandon will have his legs broken for this. And Streisand will destroy his bongo drums.
A TRUSTED AUTHORITY on Iraqi affairs comes to the aid of George Galloway.
CATCHY PHRASE ALERT:
US forces have seized four of Saddam Hussein's top officials, including his air defence force commander.
Muzahim Sa'b Hassan al-Tikriti was the highest-ranked of the four captured - number 10 on the American list of the 55 most wanted leaders of the toppled regime.
"I was just following orders," he told the Times.
SAY IT LOUD - I'm wrong and proud:
Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball," began his keynote speech at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting Tuesday with an admission.
"I was wrong about the war," Matthews said in a booming voice, immediately gaining the attention of 600 people at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.
Matthews, who described himself as a liberal, said he thought the Iraqi people would fight American troops, there would be a worldwide Arab uprising, and terrorist groups such as al-Qaida would see "massive" recruitment.
"I thought there would be an Arab revolt, a tremendous uproar," he said. "Nothing happened. I hate being wrong, but I'm glad."
He also said he thinks that more antiwar critics should admit they were wrong.
SPEAKING of wrong, here's a couple of questions for Media Watch:
Was Media Watch aware when it broadcast the flag item that only the matter of location was in doubt? If so, why didn't Media Watch point that out, instead of casting doubt upon the entire flag story?
And here's Media Watch's non-answer:
What we said was clear. The Telegraph made a specific claim about the origin of the flag. That claim was incredible and untrue.
Shameful and gutless.
RUG-BOOSTING PALACE MONKEYS!
Bernadette Chirac, wife of the French president, Jacques Chirac, has been accused in court of illegally taking a 17th century rug from Paris' city hall to the Elysée Palace.
JANEANE GAROFALO complains about tractor Nazis, the "C word" (calliope? cordite? cumulonimbus? Help me out here, intense midget lady), and awful vicious hate mail:
"There are boycotts and guys driving tractors over their CDs - that's Nazi stuff. If you are a woman with the temerity to speak out, then it's 'Burn the witch!' 'How dare you!' The C word comes up a lot in my hate mail. But that's more misogyny than politics. There's a lot of men who come out and yell at the women because they just love the idea of yelling at women - they hate women in general and will attack your looks and sexuality."
Janeane and I must share the same critics. Here are three recent inbox highlights:
"I hope you die you c---. I notice you daily blather of bile and shite gob right wing evil crap has disappeared. I hope it is because you are terminally ill with a painful debilitating disease which will kill you slowly and spread to all those dear to you."
"It looks you and your cadre of filthy war faggots will lose the peace if not the war! Fuck you very much, for getting us into this mess."
"You fucking arrogant c---."
That pesky C-word appears again and again! When will these witch-burning misogynists stop attacking my looks and sexuality?
UPDATE. Frank J. has more quality hate.
"AN AUSTRALIAN flag now flies over al-Asad air base." Tom Allard of the SMH reports on the SAS's war:
The 57 Soviet-made MiGs, helicopters, anti-aircraft batteries, helicopters and 7.9 million kilograms of munitions and ordnance captured will form the basis of the "free Iraq air force" and it is a matter of considerable pride for men who never doubted the value of their mission.
According to the regiment's operational commander, who cannot be named or photographed and is surprisingly young, probably in his late 20s or early 30s, "we are very, very proud we have made Iraq a viable nation state".
Even during conflict, the Australian soldiers never lost sight of crucial national priorities:
In their final act of the campaign, the entire squadron - who usually operate in patrols of five of six members that are widely dispersed - came together with commandos from the 4RAR battalion to take the al-Asad airfield.
Australian F/A18 bombers helped with air support. "It was nice to listen to an Aussie voice on the other end of the radio," the commander says. "It was even better when they told us we had won the World Cup."
BUY your "Galloway Is Innocent" t-shirts here! You get a discount if you pay with money from the oil for food program.
UPDATE. Now an alternative t-shirt - much more appealing - is also offered.
HOT ECONOMIST ACTION! XXX!!
Benjamin James Johnson - an engineer for Fox news - stands accused of bringing into the US 12 paintings taken from a palace belonging to Saddam Hussein's son Uday and also of making false statements to the police.
The correct punishment: Johnson should be forced to display the horrible paintings in his house for 20 years.
THE Dixie Chicks have launched a nude protest against the crushing of their dissent. Pray that Michael Moore doesn't follow suit.
IT'S ELITE REPUBLICAN GEORGE!
MARK STEYN on Iraqi looting:
Am I sorry it happened? Yes, because it has given the naysayers, who were wrong about the millions of dead civilians, humanitarian catastrophe, environmental devastation, regional conflagration, etc., one solitary surviving itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny twig from their petrified forest with which to whack Rumsfeld and Co. The retrospective armchair generals are now complaining the generals didn't devote enough thought to saving armchairs from the early Calcholithic age. It isn't enough for America to kill hardly any civilians or even terribly many enemy combatants or bomb any buildings or unduly disrupt the water or electric supply, it also has to protect Iraq's heritage from Iraqis.
As a devoted right-wing "conservative reader", I feel obliged to come to Tim Blair's defence ... Unlike many leftist hippies, he possesses the wit and intellect to contrive an informed, interesting and humorous column — which I look forward to reading each week.
Is Tim Blair a real person, related to Tony Blair or even just a caricature of a stupid person?
For several weeks I've been trying to work out why a page each issue is devoted to Tim Blair, but I'm no closer to an answer.
Where in the hell did you dredge up Tim Blair? ... this bloke is neither interesting nor funny. He sounds like Alan Jones' idiot son.
Alan Jones has a son?
He already has his own talking doll, countless T-shirts and websites; now Iraq's infamous information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, is to launch an ad campaign for ski trips to Thredbo.
HEALTH EXPERTS say I should avoid Beijing and Toronto.
Consider it done.
GEORGE GALLOWAY says others may have profited from Iraq, but never he:
George Galloway conceded last night that intermediaries in his fund-raising activities could have siphoned off money from Saddam Hussein - but insisted he had never done so.
In The Independent, defiant George offers this spirited defence:
The Telegraph says I traded in oil and food under the oil-for-food programme. To whom did I sell this oil (which, incidentally, is done through the United Nations Sanctions Committee and subject to the most forensic scrutiny)? And what happened to the proceeds? In other words, where is the money? From whom did I buy the food that I allegedly sold to Iraq? Which food? When? Where?
I am genuinely surprised that lawyers on a major national newspaper appear not to have asked these basic questions. Does anyone seriously believe that I, one of the most observed and scrutinised political figures in Britain, could have been in receipt of such sums of money without attracting the attention of the security services?
The Telegraph has yet more George-Iraq news:
Saddam Hussein sought to protect George Galloway by severing the Iraqi intelligence service's contacts with the Labour backbencher, according to an official document found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.
This letter, found in the files of the Iraqi foreign ministry, explained that any disclosure of Mr Galloway's "relationship" with the Mukhabarat, which operated as both secret police and intelligence service, would do great harm to his political career.
And The Independent analyses George's earlier evasions:
He claims he has "never seen a barrel of oil, let alone owned, bought or sold one". Anyone receiving commission would not necessarily have to have done so. He later tells the Telegraph: "I have never solicited nor received money from Iraq for our campaign against war and sanctions." That, in itself, does not address any personal benefit.
"WE'RE down at the old Hitchens place probably twice a month at least."
SADDAM HUSSEIN couldn't buy George Galloway! Er, actually, Saddam couldn't afford him:
Saddam Hussein rejected a request from George Galloway for more money, saying that the Labour backbencher's "exceptional" demands were not affordable, according to an official document found by The Daily Telegraph in Baghdad.
The letter from Saddam's most senior aide was sent in response to Mr Galloway's reported demand for additional funds. This was outlined in a memorandum from the Iraqi intelligence chief disclosed yesterday in The Daily Telegraph.
THE LATEST Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Sir Paul Getty, Tara Gabriel Galaxy Gramophone, Mick Jagger, Bianca Jagger, John Paul Getty III, Keith Miller, Mohammed Said al-Sahaf, Piers Morgan, Rupert Murdoch, Bernard Slattery, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Kim Beazley, Simon Crean, Philip Clark, Deke Wiggins, John Quiggin, and Peter Roebuck.
JOHN PILGER is promoted off the Daily Mirror's front page, although Pilger's last piece ran on April 5 and he's recently been writing for The Independent. What's the deal? Has the Heroic Crusader been pushed aside? Is Dissent being Crushed?
THE Australian Labor Party is in meltdown, which is a stunning achievement for something already molten and ruined:
Federal Opposition Leader Simon Crean today accused former Labor leader Kim Beazley of destabilising the party.
Mr Crean said his predecessor had failed to show him the respect he offered Mr Beazley as deputy ALP leader.
"I don't think he's shown respect ... when I was his deputy I was totally loyal and showed him respect when there were times when I disagreed with his judgment," Mr Crean told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
"I got behind him. That's what deputies do."
The latest division was sparked by the most recent edition of The Bulletin, which included these thoughts from Graham Richardson:
During his travails in the 1980s there was a front page of The Bulletin emblazoned with the headline "Mr 18%". This was a reference to Howard's abysmal performance in the úpreferred-PM poll. The whole world knew that at this level of support his leadership was dead in the water. Last week, the Newspoll reported Crean's ratings had sunk even lower. He has finally set a record that even his most timid colleagues can't ignore. A figure of 16% compared with Howard's thumping 62% is just plain horrible.
ALL THE LATEST ON BRITISH BAGHDADDY GEORGE GALLOWAY.
His lawyers have been mobilised, and at least one Labour MP offers support:
George Galloway, the Labour backbench MP, was locked in a battle to save his controversial political career as he launched a libel action against the Daily Telegraph last night.
Mr Galloway's lawyers acted as the paper accused him of taking as much as 370,000 pounds a year from Saddam Hussein in return for support for the fallen dictator.
"I think it's a miraculous set of circumstances that the Daily Telegraph walks through all the rubble of Baghdad and manages to find a file on George Galloway," said anti-war MP Jeremy Corbyn.
The same question is raised by intelligence experts:
Most intelligence experts claimed yesterday that the documents obtained by the Daily Telegraph are probably the real thing.
However, eyebrows were raised at the fact that they were unearthed with relative ease by a reporter for a British broadsheet which would naturally be critical of George Galloway.
The air was thick with choking clouds of dust and the looters were hammering and shouting in the rooms and corridors around us. Then my translator happened upon an orange box file with the Arabic label "Britain". Its interior was lined with tigerskin wallpaper.
Four blue folders, each stamped with the Iraqi eagle, lay inside. Opening the first, I happened upon George Galloway's letter nominating Fawaz Zureikat as his representative in Baghdad. Another folder contained a letter from Sir Edward Heath thanking the Iraqi representative in London for attending a luncheon in Salisbury.
Two more box files were labelled "Britain". Others were labelled "United States", "Security Council" and "France". Each appeared to contain all the appropriate documents that had crossed the desk of an Iraqi foreign minister.
Meanwhile, George now remembers that he just might have been in Baghdad close to the date cited in the documents:
Labour MP George Galloway - accused of being on Saddam Hussein's payroll - has admitted he could have been in Baghdad with the Iraqi Foreign Minister for Christmas 1999.
Mr Galloway told BBC's Newsnight he could have been in Baghdad with Tariq Aziz for Christmas 1999, just over a week before the memo is dated. The MP claimed he could not remember if he had visited then or the following December.
The Attorney-General is considering action against the money-raising appeal set up by George Galloway which is at the centre of allegations that he was bankrolled by Saddam Hussein.
As the Labour MP began legal action for libel over the claims that he had received 375,000 pounds a year from the Baghdad regime, The Times has learnt that Lord Goldsmith, QC, is studying a separate complaint against him. It is based on an article in The Times showing that Mr Galloway promised to spend all the money raised by the Mariam Appeal on treating sick Iraqi children, but later used it to fund his travelling expenses.
The Mariam Appeal is highlighted in the purported Iraqi intelligence documents found in a Baghdad ministry.
Further from The Times on the Mariam Appeal:
George Galloway is notoriously sensitive and secretive about who paid for his globetrotting campaign to lift United Nations sanctions against Saddam Hussein.
Even close associates cannot say with confidence who was really paying for the Mariam Appeal and who was benefiting financially from its immeasurable pot of cash.
Mr Galloway chose not to register the appeal as a charity, so avoiding the scrutiny and transparency that would reassure the public about who was subsidising his foreign travel.
And The Sun delivers this almighty beating:
The world has produced some evil, twisted men throughout history. Saddam Hussein is one of them.
Treacherous Labour MP George Galloway is another.
There have long been questions over the way a nonentity backbencher like Galloway could afford his lavish lifestyle of fast cars and fast women.
His constant travel, always first class, could never be funded by an MP's pay or from proceeds of his litigious pursuit of so-called defamation claims.
Galloway is a silver-tongued bully who has always been surrounded by a cloud of suspicion over his shifty activities, his manipulation of other people's cash and his readiness to punch anyone he could not sue.
He left a slippery trail of scandal wherever he went, from the finances of the once mighty charity War on Want to the funding of his local constituency Labour Party.
A congenital liar, his favourite defence trick was total denial. If that failed, he would claim he had been misquoted.
The Sun's fence-sitting is uncharacteristic. More on George soon.
Blog style? Twice a week?
Fuckselv, could. Thank.
SHARIF HAMMOUD, in the letters pages of the Indy Morning Herald, identifies the key issues facing post-war Iraq:
Iraqis have a right to do as they please. It is their choice whether they want a half-naked Britney Spears on their television screens or a McDonald's store on every corner.
They can't have both?
BRUCE C. WOLPE, ex-US Democrat congressional aide and manager of corporate affairs for Australian media company Fairfax (publishers of The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald), is sad and embarrassed:
It is astounding, and disgusting, but the way this war was conceived, and the diplomacy executed, meant the US and its allies lost a moral edge over the butcher of Baghdad in the eyes of the world, and it has not been recovered. There is no love for Saddam, but neither is there any for the US President.
This is an immense PR defeat, unprecedented since Ho Chi Minh gained ascendancy over LBJ in a war that was much more challenging morally than Iraq.
It is immensely sad to live overseas and have your country and President pilloried.
So tell Fairfax's journalists to quit it, Bruce.
DR FRANK'S "Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy" - go download it now, if you haven't already - is fantastic. Bunch of fun power chords in there. Fine lyrics. And you've never heard the word "democracy" sung so sweetly.
If people aren't screaming along to this in bars across the planet within six weeks, the earth deserves to be killed.
POOR peace protest poster people! Aren't any of the posters entered in their competition genuine? And why can't they tell the difference?
IAIN MURRAY has an insider's view on the reporter who broke the Gorging George Galloway story. Should David Blair's information prove accurate, Galloway will forever be known as the Bagman of Baghdad:
David Blair is, by all accounts, a man of integrity, personally expelled from Zimbabwe by Robert Mugabe, recipient of the top First in Politics from Oxford and former debating partner of a friend of mine. A man of such credentials falling for a forgery is very unlikely. George's days are numbered. Liberation for the people of Glasgow is at hand.
And ex-blogger Diana Moon, intrigued by Galloway's evasive comment about his Baghdad visits ("he says he did spend one Christmas in Baghdad,
possibly in 1999"), has Nexised the bastard. Following are the two best articles Diana (who stresses that she is reserving judgment) has turned up:
From the BBC, December 30, 1999:
The Vice-Chairman of the Revolution Command Council Mr Izzat Ibrahim received today Mr George Galloway, the Labour Party MP currently visiting Iraq. Vice-President [as heard] Ibrahim conveyed the Iraqi people's warm feelings and greetings to Mr Galloway for his initiative and for what it represents in noble and supreme human values, manifesting the true meanings of loving Iraq and its people which has historic links with the British people.
Addressing Mr Galloway, the vice-chairman said: "Your initiative revived the human principles and the principles of chivalry, which many in Britain used to carry, although nowadays we only find a few, regretfully." The vice-chairman said that the Big Ben to Baghdad trip gave the British people a big service not provided by all British governments throughout the last 50 years, because it showed the true feelings of the British people in rejecting injustice, aggression and dominance.
And from AP on December 28, 1999:
Americans who oppose the U.S. government's policy on Iraq ended a Christmas visit Tuesday meant to focus attention on the suffering of Iraqi children.
Another sympathetic visitor, British Member of Parliament George Galloway, was hailed by the official Iraqi media on Monday for his "spirit of knighthood."
Galloway, a member of the ruling Labor Party, had announced plans to fly in a planeload of medicine early next year. Galloway also said he was collecting donations to build a cancer hospital in Baghdad.
As Diana writes: "Make of these what you will."
GEORGE GALLOWAY has some serious explaining to do:
The Labour MP George Galloway issued strenuous denials last night after documents were found in Iraq alleging that he had received regular, large sums of money from the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Confidential papers found in Baghdad purported to show that Mr Galloway had been taking a cut of oil revenue meant for the people of Iraq under the United Nations oil-for-food programme.
Confronted by the evidence of his links, the MP, who has vociferously opposed action against Saddam, claimed that the documents were the product of forgers.
Which they may well be, although George's pleadings don't pass the Columbo logic test:
"The truth is I have never met, to the best of my knowledge, any member of Iraqi Intelligence. I have never in my life seen a barrel of oil, bought or sold one."
Nobody said you did, George. Nobody said you did.
(Via Daily Pundit.)
UPDATE. Galloway is, as they say, no stranger to controversy:
Mr Galloway was paid 5,000 pounds in cash by Al-Fagih in late 1995 to early 1996 to repay costs incurred on behalf of others during the campaign to prevent [bin Laden supporter] Al-Masari's deportation.
In the parliamentary committee's concluding report they found that: 'It is unacceptable for any member to be involved in recycling cash between third parties.
"It is also highly undesirable for any member to act on behalf of any organisation where no full record is kept of all financial transactions with which the member is associated.
"It is bound to be susceptible to misinterpretation and risks bringing the house into disrepute. We are particularly concerned that Mr Galloway's actions were on behalf of an overseas interest."
Latest word from London is that George is threatening to sue. This could become very interesting.
JAMES MORROW on Australian newspapers and the war.
I WISH someone had told me this before Easter:
If family gatherings for you are anything like mine at some point you may feel the urge to harm someone. If you do not want to appear on Cops it is important to not give in to that urge. I have found that on Easter I can best channel my destructive impulses by abusing the most defenseless among us - Marshmallow Peeps.
Too late for ol' Tim.
THE SENSATIONAL peace poster prank of '03 has ended with Ken Layne becoming Satan - as usual. No matter what crazy adventures the likes of Treacher, Layne, and Parrott get up to, Ken invariably winds up all possessed and demonic. It's like in every Scoobie Doo episode; come the final minute, there's always the horns sprouting and the flame pouring from the mouth and Shaggy eating someone's brain.
Maybe I'm getting Scoobie confused with another cartoon. Anyway, I would have chosen A. Beam's poster entry to win, had he submitted it. Or this, which was submitted, and which demonstrates that no matter how many people you kill or torture or starve, you're never as bad in a peacenik's eyes as the man from Crawford.
ANDREW LLOYD has just arrived in Sydney - and headed immediately for the seamiest bars he can find. We'll be catching up with the lively California blogger and his wife tomorrow for fun, laughter, and international neo-con scheming.
WHERE DO COMMIES come from? From Melbourne's Victoria University, which offers a postgraduate course in "public advocacy and action". Andrew Bolt reports:
What makes this course even more dubious is that it's sponsored by Greenpeace, Amnesty International and Oxfam, whose activists will be brought in to help teach.
What right does Greenpeace, which lies and breaks our laws to get publicity, have to teach and recruit at a public institution?
But I doubt my objections will cut much ice with the man whose idea this was, the university's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Jim Falk. See, Falk is a former chairman of Greenpeace Australia.
THE RUSH to bungle: Don D'Cruz tells the NGOs (non-good organisations) to keep the hell out of Iraq.
MICHAEL MOORE is touring America.
THE ABC website promises "investigative journalism at it's best".
The ABC should investigate the number of semi-literates employed by the ABC. Over at Media Watch's Pound ("reserved for all those bungled headlines, miscaptioned photos and silly media stuff ups that add an unintended comic twist to your daily news") they're adding unintended comic twists of their own; Imre's surname is Salusinszky, not Saluzinsky.
Incidentally, Imre is also not Professor Bunyip. (I am partly to blame for this widespread belief, of course. Who can resist tormenting a goddamn Hungarian?) Half the staff at The Australian are convinced that Imre is the elusive Professor. In Melbourne recently, even old friends greeted him with "Hey, Bunyip!"
It's making him crazy. All Imre's denials are ignored. The little guy is tearing his hair out ... er, slapping his forehead in frustration.
As to the actual identity of Professor B., well, I'm not at liberty to say, except that I'm pretty certain he's never even met Imre, let alone inhabited his body. Time to drain the billabong, Bunyip hunters!
HAS The Daily Mirror fired John Pilger? The reader-shedding Mirror hired Pilger as part of a doomed relaunch last year, but today Pilger's screaming nonsense appears in The Independent. What's going on?
LISTEN UP, Mayor Bloomertunes:
Caringbah RSL tried to quit, but found it just couldn't give up.
Eleven months after becoming entirely smoke-free, the club is reintroducing smoking in parts of its premises.
At first things seemed to be going well: the club moved to a renovated building next to the old premises last May, and membership rose from 2000 to 7000.
But the new members just didn't spend much money. And they certainly did not seem to gamble.
So chief executive Brad Pearson is welcoming back the happy, free-spending smoking people:
"We would love to be able to stay non-smoking, but we've just had to open it up to smokers.
"Otherwise we won't be here in two years."
New York City, welcome to your future.
NEO-PINKO Robert Manne rails against the neo-con forces swamping Australia, particularly at The Australian:
The pre-war editorials at The Australian were crisply written, supremely self-confident and brash, reminiscent more of the editorials in a right-wing student newspaper than of those in the quality Australian press.
That they also turned out to be accurate matters little to Manne. He didn't like their tone. Maybe he'd enjoy them more if they'd been run through Manne's patented Pomposticator™ Text Mauler first.
PETER GARRETT, master of the precise and telling metaphor, explains recent trends in environmental politics:
The environment issue "has continued to drift in the wind like a handkerchief that has been put up to try and send a 30-foot yacht down to Hobart in the Sydney-to-Hobart yacht race".
A tiny, handerchief-sized sail would be stretched taut by the task. Garrett's comprehension of the physical universe is as sound as Robert Fisk's.
P.P. McGuinness on Iraq and journalism:
While truth may indeed be the first casualty of war, among its murderers must be counted those journalists who are unable to distinguish between their observations, their opinions and their anti-Americanism (and distaste for any official briefings) on the one hand, and fair reporting on the other.
Read the whole thing.
FROM THE New York Times via The Age, an apparent WMD breakthrough:
A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said.
They said the scientist led Americans to a supply of material that proved to be the building blocks of illegal weapons, which he claimed he had buried to keep as evidence of Iraq's illicit weapons programs.
Of course, the quagmire Left will dismiss this as a media-military conspiracy. Interestingly, the quags have had little to say about the only proven media-military conspiracy to lately emerge: CNN's conspiracy to conceal Iraq's atrocities.
"Come on. Media Watch got it wrong. Why don't you just admit it? Seeing you trying to wriggle out of it now is not an edifying spectacle and is more than a little hypocitical for Australia's premier media 'policeman'.
"I saw the show on Monday night and I have no problem admitting that I didn't believe the Tele's story, either. David Marr's presentation left me in no doubt that Media Watch had exposed the purported origin of the flag at the Pentagon on Septmeber 11 2001 as a fabrication ... There is no doubt that virtually every other viewer of Media Watch would have thought the same as I did and was left convinced that the Tele had fabricated the whole story."
"If MW didn't know the flag was from the Pentagon when it ran the story, then MW was incompetent. If MW knew the flag was from the Pentagon, then MW wasn't telling the full truth."
"Anybody who saw the segment regarding the flag could only have come away with the impression that the entire flag episode was a myth conceived and propagated by the pro-US Murdoch media. I think an on-air apology is owed to the Daily Telegraph, although the chance of getting any apology, from somebody as smug as David Marr, is zero.”
“You guys are kidding, right? Do you really expect anyone who watched the show (or even read the transcript) to believe that the reference to the Daily Telegraph was only intended to cast doubt on the fact that the flag was pulled from under debris, rather that recovered from elsewhere in the Pentagon on 9/11/01? Apart from anything else, what an utterly trivial point that would be to make: who would care if that were the Daily Tele's crime?”
And Media Watch's response to all of this?
No one can vouch for The Tele's claim that the flag came from under the rubble of The Pentagon. Their story was incredible and untrue. Our criticism stands.
Media Watch's criticism stands on the blighted corner of Obfuscate Ave. and Hypocrisy St., with its dacks down and rum on its breath. People walking by avert their eyes in disgust. Pity Media Watch.
MADONNA'S new album isn't exactly receiving rave reviews. And taste these lyrics:
I always wished that I could find
Someone as beautiful as you
But in the process I forgot
That I was special too
Great work, Grandma Hallmark.
My mother died when I was five
And all I did was sit and cry
I cried and cried and cried all day
Until the neighbours went away
To get rifles, probably. Madonna's next single: a remix of Ipsy Wipsy Spider.
ACCORDING to this test, I have about the same systemizing ability as someone with high functioning autism. Cool!
UPDATE. NZPundit is a high functioning autistic too! Time for a HFA high-five (swing ... miss!).
THE SILENCE of the lame: CNN's avoidance of any bad news out of Iraq for the last dozen years has at last been mentioned in the Australian press.
READER JENNIFER rejects my crude slurs against the knitting community, and makes an extraordinary offer:
I am a knitter, though not a church goer. I want to make you a lovely hand-made gift, because I really enjoy your website, and would hate to have you believe all knitters are dullards and gossips. Please choose:
Give me a little time, as I also knit bootsocks for the troops, and - sorry - they have top priority.
Bed socks are boring, but hell, I thought I'd give you an easy non-offensive option.
THE SPECTATOR'S Stephen Glover on Robert Fisk's "dreadful war":
The Independent was less balanced, chiefly because of its near-total reliance on Robert Fisk, who must be the most famous foreign correspondent of our day. As I said a couple of weeks ago, I revere Robert. I can even claim to have been one of those who persuaded him, when in a different life I was foreign editor of the Independent, to jump ship from the Times. I often found myself defending Robert against the accusation made by Marcus Sieff, chairman of the Independent and an ardent Zionist, that our new star correspondent was biased against Israel. He is a brave and brilliant correspondent, and so it grieves me to say that on this occasion he has allowed his anti-Americanism to get the better of him, and has had a pretty dreadful war.
Even his old pals are against him now. Fisko Duck is playing a tune nobody wants to hear.
WHAT THE hell? We've got to wait until October?
GET YOUR Most Wanted Iraqi playing cards from UK manufacturer Firebox, who also provide these military card factoids:
The playing card idea is not a new one. It was used all the way back in WWII to help soldiers familiarise themselves with German military equipment, so they could more quickly recognise friend from foe and gauge the strength of the enemy in a local area. These packs have gone on to become very valuable collectors items.
In the Vietnam war soldiers were issued with packs of cards that contained nothing but the Ace of Spades. These cards were useful in psychological warfare. The Viet Cong were very superstitious and highly frightened by this ace. The cards were deliberately scattered in the jungle and in hostile villages during raids. The very sight of it was said to cause many Viet Cong to flee.
And if the card didn't work, the Motorhead song always did. By the way, 10% of Firebox's card profits will go to the Red Cross.
To take up a job training journalists.
(Via Peter Kerr, who puts Highfield's departure in the correct perspective.)
AUSTRALIA started the war:
General Peter Cosgrove yesterday revealed details of how Australia's SAS fired the first shots in the Iraq war.
The mission has been cloaked in secrecy, and General Cosgrove said much of the covert operation must remain secret.
He said the attack was launched hours after the deadline for Saddam Hussein to stand down expired on March 20.
"At the first moment, with support of other coalition forces, our people crossed the border into Iraq and made a significant dash by night to our operating area. On the way we encountered several dozen Iraqis, whom we dealt with," he said.
THE YOUTH anti-war movement was a fantastic success, at least according to the youth anti-war movement. Given this claim, some might conclude that stopping the war was possibly not a primary aim.
(Via Angela Bell.)
UPDATE. A source close to the stupidity writes:
Considering that their primary aim was to recruit more members for the Workers World Party *cough* I mean Books Not Bombs, then yes, it was a resounding success.
I know Damien Dupuis and Vicky Kasidis, both heavily involved in BNB and Socialist Alternative. And I can tell you I've heard straight from these horses' mouths that the anti-war protests were designed with recruitment in mind.
I am completely disillusioned.
CLARE SHORT is all over the place on Iraq - again. Tony Blair must be keeping her in Cabinet just for the laughs.
IS THERE a word for reverse looting?
WORST Saddam Hussein impersonator yet.
SO WHAT'S old Robert Mugabe been up to lately? You'll never guess ...
Hidden from a world whose gaze has been fixed on Iraq, a full-scale reign of terror has been unleashed on opponents of the Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Zimbabweans were arrested and tortured as Mr Mugabe, apparently taking advantage of the lull in international scrutiny, stepped up his campaign of repression during the three weeks of the United States' war on Saddam Hussein.
Hello, United Nations? Hello? You're the guys who stop these things, right? Could've fixed Iraq if only you had the time, yes? Well, here's your chance to prove yourselves.
Let's see you remove Mugabe.
Within three weeks.
UNITING CHURCH peacenik Reverend Dr Peter Matheson has a sinister warning for all of us pro-war types:
It would be very unwise to underestimate the degree of outrage in Christian congregations on this issue.
I'll take my chances, Churchy. What is your fearsome Lamington Militia going to do about it? Drag me away to one of your Uniting Church atrocity camps, with the Feast of the Infinite Boredom and the Old Women Who Knit and Talk and Sew and Talk and Talk and Talk?
Actually, that is pretty scary. I take it all back. Please forget I said anything.
KEN PARISH, the Wogblogger, and Tug Boy Potemkin all have opinions on the continuing Media Watch debris debacle. As usual, permalinks are bloggered (to use Tim Dunlop's fine word) so scroll down on sites where the relevant post isn't immediately obvious. Or scroll up, just for the giddy pleasure of redundant up-scrolling.
On MW, reader Bill Tyroler of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, writes:
Media Watch originally disparaged *a* claim by the Telegraph -- but there were necessarily multiple claims: the flag was at the Pentagon 9/11, *and* that it was recovered under debris. MW's argument that it meant to separate out the claims and focus purely on the latter is at best casuistic. Even if a reader were to put any credence in their transparent dodge, they'd still owe an apology, for fatal ambiguity -- a serious enough transgression for a self-anointed media watchdog group.
Their defense is insultingly flimsy. The emotive power of the original account derived from the fact that the flag was *at* the Pentagon 9/11. Who cares precisely where it was found at the site? It could have been blown a mile away and the symbolism would resonate no less for that: American resiliency. This is obvious, which makes your rebuttal spot-on -- that being *nearby* debris suffices.
(For that matter, the Telegraph's account says the flag was found under "the debris." There was a helluva lot of debris at the site; it wasn't a unitary whole. Take away the definitive article and the claim is plausible on its face. Media Watch likely drew a rash assumption that the flag was supposedly pulled from tons of debris, something they apparently thought implausible, and that therefore the flag had not in fact been at the Pentagon that day. Rash assumptions -- just what you'd expect from a media watchdog.)
CHINA has its own looting problem, to which it applies the standard Chinese solution:
Three people have been sentenced to death and executed on the same day for looting tombs in northeast China, according to state press.
The men were found guilty of looting a number of tombs that dated back 2000 years in Jilin province, the China Daily said.
WHERE'S MY apology, Mr I'm-so-sorry-to-Tim-Robbins-and-Susan-Sarandon?
I wasn't even invited to the Famous Baseball Hut in the first place. My right to free speech - crushed! It's because I'm Australian, isn't it? Isn't it? Racist hegemonsters.
IRAQIS miss the good old days. Remember all the fun of being suspended from meat hooks, and the thrill of having family members simply disappear? Man, those were some crazy times! Oh, mercy!
THERE'S big money in spam:
The US Federal Trade Commission is taking a spam operation to court, alleging that it flooded email accounts with pornographic material disguised behind bland subject lines like "new movie info" and "wanna hear a joke?".
In the complaint filed Tuesday, the FTC accused Brian D. Westby, of Ballwin, of sending millions of emails to drive business to more than 20 adult websites centered on one called "Married But Lonely." Mr Westby earned more than $US1 million in commissions from this spam, the FTC said.
A swath of North Korea's military and scientific elite, among them key nuclear specialists, has defected to the US and its allies through a highly secret smuggling operation involving the tiny Pacific island of Nauru.
The defections have taken place since last October and have been made possible through the help of 11 countries that agreed to provide consular protection to smuggle the targets from neighbouring China, according to sources close to the operation, which has now been wound up.
And the name of this top-secret deal? Operation Weasel!
UPDATE. Mucho comments about this over at LGF.
OUR BOYS are on a roll:
Australian special forces have discovered more than 50 Soviet-made fighter jets, an underground weapons cache and a vast store of anti-aircraft guns and munitions at an Iraqi base west of Baghdad.
Australian commander Brigadier Maurie McNarn said a French-made Roland anti-aircraft missile system was also found, although it was too early to say when it was acquired and how. He also revealed that secret contacts with Iraqi air force commanders had played a big role in persuading them not to deploy their weapons against US-led forces.
About 200 Australians were involved in the raid. They came under fire as they landed but soon secured control of the base after a light presence of Iraqi forces fled when their fire was returned.
HAPPY EGGDAY or Overpass or Holy Bunnykins or whatever it is you're celebrating today. Here in Australia, where everything is upside down and back to front, we mark Easter by forcing rabbits to eat chocolate. It's a regional thing.
In short, Iraqis laid waste to the museum in Baghdad because it had become the symbol of a hated regime. And little wonder. Saddam stole his country's treasures, hauling off truckloads for his enrichment. But he also misappropriated Iraq's history by making it a tool of his personality cult.
In time some of those objects may find their way back to Baghdad. But with Saddam now gone, their past is once again their own.
WHILE WE'RE talking about The Great Exaggerator, check out this superheated Fisk prose:
The National Library and Archives - a priceless treasure of Ottoman historical documents, including the old royal archives of Iraq - were turned to ashes in 3,000 degrees of heat.
No fact eludes ThermoFisk, the molten media megaman! Still, 3,000 degrees does seem a little warm. It's the sort of temperature you achieve in industrial furnaces rather than paper fires. Heat experts: send me a note.
UPDATE. From Mark Brothers in Oklahoma City:
I'm not a heat expert, but I am a blacksmith. 2,000F is the temperature you get in a forge to weld steel, and it takes a good fire and draft - from a blower - to get there. I doubt you could get 3000F in any normal fire in a structure.
Anthony brings his fire expertise to the issue:
For a little while, I worked in the fire zone of the Oakland Hills fires, assessing the damage. The firestorm was fed by trees (mainly eucalypts and pine - nice resiny fuel sources) and wooden houses, with a little assistance from natural gas lines which weren't immediately cut off.
In the wreckage, there was a *lot* of softened glass, but not that much that had actually melted. Glass melts at about 1400 degrees C, or about 2550 degrees F. So - most of the fire zone saw temperatures of less than 2500 degrees F. That's for a fire fed by higher temperature fuels than paper.
Florida's Maureen Lamson examined data from the World Trade Center fires and smaller blazes, and writes:
The fires in the National Archives and Library of Qurans in Baghdad are diffuse fires, and given that each building contained a great amount of paper (especially old, dry paper without fire retardant coatings), they might fit into a "fuel rich" category. Average house fires reach 500-650 degrees Celsius (932-1202 degrees Fahrenheit), whereas the WTC fire, fuel rich because of the 90,000L of jet fuel (which is more like kerosene than gasoline), may have reached a maximum of 1,000 degrees Celsius (1,832 degrees Fahrenheit).
I don't have a formula to calculate the likely temperature of the archives or library, but they were clearly between 932-1,832 degrees Fahrenheit -- the house low and the WTC high--nowhere near 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As we know from Ray Bradbury, paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit, but doubling the fuel does not proportionately double the heat (e.g., throwing a second log on the fire does not provide twice the heat, it simply makes the fire burn twice as long). My own unscientific estimate would be that the Baghdad buildings burned at a temperature near the upper range of a house fire -- 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit -- given the amount and quality of the paper contained in the buildings and assuming the arsonist did not use any accelerants.
I love your blog, and thank you for posting it and also for leading me to Professor Bunyip. I'm beginning to think Australians are the funniest people on the planet.
If only we were as funny as Three Thousand Degree Bob. Mark Sloboda points out:
3000 degrees celsius is the temperature of the cooler areas of the sun (the sunspots).
At 100,000 atm at 3000 degrees celsius graphite converts to diamond.
That must be some really special paper they're using there.
Robert Fisk - now revealed, as if there were any doubt, to be pathologically incapable of accuracy - might be using something special as well. Imagine if he was a sports writer: "The Anaheim Angels have won the 2002 World Series after a 620-mile David Eckstein centerfield blast drove in all 36 base runners late in the 89th innings. The diminutive (3' 2") Eckstein punched the air with all four fists as he rounded 17th base, his interstate swat having delivered the series to the Angels and earning Eckstein the MVHA (Most Valuable Human Alive) award for the 110th consecutive year. He celebrated by invading Palestine."
RETIRED US ARMY soldier Joe Butin, of Kansas City, writes:
I want to express my thanks to the Australian government for their support, and most of all to the brave Australian forces who have been fighting alongside American forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
From Frank Gaines in California:
Just a note from a Southern Californian to the Australian public via your blog - we thank you for the courageous participation of your troops, your Prime Minister's backbone, and a job well done.
Be advised that the price of your excellent wines may rise as I and all of my friends have switched from French to Australian (and, of course, our own Californian) wines. As they say down here San Diego way - Gracias!
Virginia's Victoria Salmon writes:
We love you guys! Australians are too cool! Thanks for all the help!
Incoming from Chicago's Rick T.:
Sincere thanks to all down there who supported the war in Iraq, especially the brave SAS and your Prime Minister. Must walk funny with the size of stones he has. Look forward to his visit next month.
And John J. Coupal, of Lexington, Kentucky, is in a mood to celebrate:
I think it's time for me to go out and buy some Australian wine, to replace that French stuff! We Yanks are very grateful for the splendid accomplishments of the SAS.
Tons of similarly appreciative e-mails have arrived. I'll post more as I find them beneath Spam Mountain, and forward 'em to whoever is the correct Australian Army contact.
HAIRCUTS ARE MY BUSINESS. Ken Layne tells a Marlowesque tale of his visit to The Bad Barber of Old Reno Town:
It was a plain little text ad in a box with the words "REGULAR HAIRCUTS" in the middle. Oh, and it had the little barber pole clip-art. I found the place, waited for an hour with the old Newsweeks and Playboys, and finally got called to the chair.
This dude was old, but not in the good way.
He nicked my ear with the clippers, cut my neck with the razor and left me looking like a goddamned duck. And then he charged me $15 for this crap. Also, he had nothing to say -- just a lot of gruesome coughing and snorting. And the asswipe didn't even thank me for the 20 percent tip I stupidly gave him for this pathetic haircut. I hope the sonofabitch had a stroke that night.
Sounds like Ken's skullslasher might have had one the previous night.
WHO THE HELL would cover a corpse with bacon?
Islamic organisations and family members today told of their horror at the discovery of the body of a Muslim woman in a hospital mortuary covered with rashers of bacon.
The Metropolitan police's racial crime task force is investigating the desecration of the body of the 65-year-old grandmother, who had died from cancer, at Hillingdon hospital in west London.
The crime was discovered as staff arranged for the body to be viewed by family members.
Forensic experts have also examined the bacon and the gown the woman was wearing.
Although the Guardian doesn't say, the violation happened two months ago. Strange that a story this troubling and weird was kept quiet for so long.
SPEAKING OF the coalition's failure to locate weapons of mass destruction (well, I wasn't, but I guess someone is, somewhere) David Nieporent makes an excellent point:
I thought the UN was going to need months to finish their inspections. So how come the U.S. was supposed to find them in three weeks -- especially when preoccupied with other matters in that time period, such as winning a war?
That's a subject these people might discuss the next time they, er, "miss" their train.
(Train link via Nigel Kearney.)
THE WORLD'S favourite political satirist is now available in doll form:
A US company has produced a speaking doll of the former Iraqi information minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, whose news conferences during the assault on Baghdad brought him brief fame, a cult following and the sarcastic nickname "Comical Ali".
In tribute to what it called Sahhaf's "one-man battle against the observable facts", Hero Builders has produced 30-centimetre images, that were available today on its website.
The "Iraqi Dis-Information Minister" doll is for sale at $US24.95 ($A40.80), with the talking version available for $US35.95 ($A59) saying: "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" and "Our initial assessment is that they will all die."
The doll isn't much smaller than the real thing, reports Kim Sengupta:
He is a tiny man - not much over 5ft tall - and has a lugubrious face faintly resembling Walter Matthau.
Sengupta, writing in The Spectator, has some intriguing Sahhaf biographical details - and salacious gossip, spread by aides to the Spinmaster himself:
He was born in 1940, and worked as an English teacher in Baghdad before joining the Baath party in his twenties. It is said that he came to the notice of the local leadership as someone worthy of nurturing when he denounced his brother for disloyalty.
There is a rumour, repeated with relish by the 'minders' from the information ministry, that he is gay. That, however, may have something to do with the fact that he is one of the very few men without a moustache one sees in Baghdad.
BRIT PM TONY BLAIR was prepared to quit over Iraq, reports The Times (in Breaking News):
Tony Blair has disclosed that he instructed officials to prepare for his resignation if he lost a crucial Commons vote on war with Iraq. In a press report today, the Prime Minister confirmed that he had been ready to quit if he was defeated in last month's vote authorising military action by rebel Labour MPs. "In the end, it is a decision you put the whole of the premiership on the line for," he said.
HOW HARD does Puce rock? As the man himself might say, "I am rock out the hardist, all american chuby pipple know it. CLICK"
FIDEL CASTRO is so wicked he's almost an ... Ashcroft! Matt Welch crushes a delusion outbreak in the LA Weekly.
SOME FINE work lately from the Wogblogger:
You know how sometimes you see or hear a person and you wish they would get stung by a bee in the eye ... or something else natural but hurty.
Earthmother Susan Sarandon, to whom the above is directed, would appreciate the nature-based sentiment.
WHAT do we want?
The right to dissent!
When do we want it?
THE GREAT Media Watch brawl continues! Cornered, frightened, and wrong in so many ways, the Media Watch collective is fighting back like a shack-bound survivalist down to his last bullet.
I detect a Media Watch wriggle going on here.
The nub of your original claim was that it was seemingly implausible for the Tele to say that the flag which happened to adorn Saddam's face could have somehow been one from the Pentagon when it was attacked on September 11. It has since come to light, quite extraodinarily, that it may indeed have been the case. AP says so, Cpl Chin's family says so, and other reports such as the Daily Telegraph in London say so.
The Tele may have stretched the truth and placed the flag under the debris - but are you really that surprised a tabloid would do that?
For Media Watch to now start splitting hairs about the flag being "recovered from the Pentagon" rather than "under the debris" damages Media Watch's reputation.
If that flag WAS recovered from anywhere at the Pentagon, then acknowledge it. You expect better of others, and we are entitled to expect better of Media Watch.
The unnamed moderator at the Media Watch guest board - I suspect the anxious hand of Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy - snapped back:
Go back and read the transcript or see the video to find out what we actually said rather than making up your own nub for our claim.
While you're at it check the other sources as well. The Daily Telegraph (London) and The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) talk about the flag being "recovered from the Pentagon" or found "under the debris". AP doesn't say that and the quotes attributed to Lt McLaughlin and his family don't either.
When will Tim Blair apologise?
Short answer: never. Long answer: never, you wrongness-committing, poor research-doing tax drain! I sent this note:
The Daily Telegraph claimed:
"The Stars and Stripes used by US Marine Corporal Ed Chin to cover the statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square was under the debris at the Pentagon following the September 11 al-Qaeda terrorist attack."
Media Watch described the entire claim as "incredible", wondered if it could be true, and asked a Navy PR man in Qatar about "the Tele's claim". He "seriously doubted it".
It now turns out the claim is true, with the only point of dispute being whether the flag had been under debris. Is that why you called the US Navy in Qatar - to ask about debris? How could Ensign Luckett in Qatar be expected to know about debris in the Pentagon on September 11, 2001? What questions did you put to him? And what element of the claim was he addressing with his answer? Awaiting your response, and your correction.
Mr Moderator's cranky answer didn't address my questions:
So the claim is true except for the bit that's false.
That's not really much of an apology for someone who has got it so wrong.
The bit that's false is the bit that matters. The Tele claimed that a flag rescued from under the rubble of the Pentagon, found its way to Baghdad to be wrapped around Saddam's statue. That was, and remains incredible.
The Tele can't back that up and neither can you.
What was that you said about us being a disgrace?
I'll spell it out: D-I-S-G-R-A-C-E. Media Watch's report didn't point out any isolated "bit that's false". It presented the whole claim - the Pentagon, September 11, flag to Baghdad - as false.
But the flag did come from the Pentagon. It was there on September 11. And it covered the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. All Media Watch has left is that the flag wasn't beneath debris - in which case we can assume it was at least nearby to debris, because it was in the Pentagon.
In light of Media Watch's reaction to their error, this quote from Media Watch host David Marr - uttered when he was first appointed to the godless job - is hilarious:
Marr agrees that in the past Media Watch was quicker to point out others' mistakes than correct its own. He aims to redress that. "We've got to let our critics have a bit of air."
WHY MUST all the great comedians die young?
(Via Rand Simberg, who is as heartbroken as I.)
FROM THE Weekly Standard:
You may have heard the story about how Colin Powell forced the U.N. to cover Picasso's "Guernica" while he made the case for war in Iraq. It isn't true.
FREEDOM! Freedom for the oppressed!
THE PRICE of protest: $110,000!
One of the two peace activists who climbed the Opera House and painted a red "No War" slogan on the tallest of its white sails said outside court yesterday that he did not regret the protest.
"I did what I felt I had to do. I hope to never have to do it again, but I don't regret what we did," said Will Saunders, a British scientist in Australia on a working visa.
Police prosecutor Jeff Philippe told the court the cost of the damage to the Opera House was about $111,000.
Make 'em pay every cent.
OUR BOYS DO GOOD:
Australian SAS troops have captured up to 60 Ba'ath Party leaders and Fedayeen fighters as they attempted to flee into neighbouring Syria.
The captures in north-western Iraq this week underline the unsung role that Australia has played in the war against Saddam.
Key among the 2,000-strong Australian contingent is a squadron of about 150 Australian SAS, highly respected in the special forces world. They worked closely with British and American counterparts and were involved in the seizure of air bases in western Iraq.
MAKE NO MISTAKE, Phillip Adams is mining Indymedia for his columns:
Make no mistake, if the US can't find those chemical weapons in Iraq, it'll smuggle some in and plant them.
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE DEBRIS. Media Watch is now claiming that its dismissal of the "Pentagon flag on Saddam's statue" story is based entirely on the Daily Telegraph's description of the position of Pentagon debris relative to the flag prior to its recovery on September 11. Here's the original Telegraph report:
The Stars and Stripes used by US Marine Corporal Ed Chin to cover the statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square was under the debris at the Pentagon following the September 11 al-Qaeda terrorist attack.
Media Watch dismissed the Telegraph's claim - not specifically the claim that the flag had been under debris, but the claim in general - as "incredible even by the Tele's standards". The program contacted U.S. Central Command in Qatar to determine if "the Tele’s claim could possibly be true".
An unnamed "moderator" at Media Watch's website now offers this:
We can't find any other source to support the claim that this flag was pulled from under the debris of the Pentagon attack. Lt McLaughlin doesn't make that claim nor does Associated Press. But The Tele does and that's why they were singled out.
As part of our research last week we wrote to The Tele and asked them "Could you explain why you believe the flag to be from under the debris of The Pentagon?" We have received no reply.
Only The Tele and Tim Blair claim it was rescued from the debris of The Pentagon after the attack.
(I never made any such claim, but that's Media Watch for you. Scroll down the page to read my earlier piece on this.)
The London paper wasn't quite as graphic in its claims as its Sydney namesake. They said the flag was "recovered from the Pentagon" rather than "under the debris". Still waiting for Tim Blair's correction.
And I'm still waiting for theirs (incidentally, it's perhaps a measure of the program's confidence in their ultra-legal, microfine-splitting defence that nobody from Media Watch has contacted me requesting a correction).
Media Watch's original criticism didn't focus upon the flag's precise Pentagon recovery point. Rather, Media Watch called into question the entire issue of the Pentagon as the source of the flag. Or are we expected to believe that Media Watch didn't think it was "incredible" that the flag had come from the Pentagon, didn't wonder if it "could possibly be true" that the flag had been at the Pentagon on September 11, but was sceptical only about the debris?
If so, why didn't they say that?
REUTERS could really have taken just a little more care with this intro:
Doctors at a Kuwaiti hospital on Wednesday began treating an Iraqi child who touched hearts around the world after he lost his arms.
BILL CLINTON is having some sort of Scott Ritter reversal-of-earlier-policies moment:
"We can't run," Clinton pointed out. "If you got an interdependent world, and you cannot kill, jail or occupy all your adversaries, sooner or later you have to make a deal."
Like ... what, for example? Cede Iowa to Islam? Let Mullah Omah throw the first ball of the World Series? Enforce the death penalty for adultery? What "deal" you be proposin', Bill?
He said he believed Washington overreacted to German and French opposition to US plans for military action against Iraq and suggested that the current administration had trouble juggling foreign and domestic issues.
"Since September 11, it looks like we can't hold two guns at the same time," Clinton said. "If you fight terrorism, you can't make America a better place to be."
Clinton sure did less than he should have to fight terrorism. And, as we know, everything turned out just great!
"THE NETHERLANDS is way too tolerant":
The killer of the Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was sentenced to 18 years in prison yesterday. Prosecutors had demanded a life term.
Volkert van der Graaf, 33, a vegan animal rights activist, had confessed to shooting Mr Fortuyn outside a radio station in Hilversum on 6 May, 2002, days before the general election. He was arrested minutes later the murder weapon in his pocket, gunpowder on his hands and Mr Fortuyn's blood on his trousers.
"The accused deliberately and premeditatedly robbed Pim Fortuyn of his life. After calm consideration he shot five bullets into the neck, back and skull of Fortuyn who died from his wounds," Frans Bauduin, the presiding judge, said.
The judges said it was unlikely Van der Graaf would kill again ...
Unless he meets someone special.
... and he deserved a chance to rejoin society. The prosecution said it had not decided whether to appeal.
Mr Fortuyn's supporters in the gallery jeered and stamped their feet as the sentence was read. One of them, Patricia Houdkamp, wept. "What do you have to do to get a life sentence? The Netherlands is way too tolerant."
It gets worse:
Van der Graaf looked relieved. With good behaviour and time served taken into account, he could be free by 2014.
THE AUSSIE Street is certain to react angrily after this cultural slur:
Actor Tim Robbins pleaded with listeners at the National Press Club yesterday to "defy the intimidation that is visited upon us daily in the name of national security and warped notions of patriotism" after calling some members of the press "Aussie gossip rags" and "talk-radio patriots."
Holy Imam Barry will place a Foster's Fatwa on Robbins tomorrow, with these words of Australian scripture: "You're dead, mate."
ROBERT FISK is acting all unilateral again:
I saw the looters. One of them cursed me when I tried to reclaim a book of Islamic law from a boy of no more than 10.
Impose his Western values on the youngster, would he? White imperialist bastard.
NICE PIECE in the SMH mentioning my TV pal Bryan Cockerill, who is actually much more unpredictable and chaotic than anything that appears on his show:
While Gibson does his character voices, sound wizard Julian Maskell interweaves them with sound effects and the video clips. Cockerill constantly peppers his commentary with "that's great!", "sensational!" and "perfection!"
During filming, he continues to bubble. "She was hot! That was incredible. Tell her how good it was," he says down the phone. He's talking about the show's new host, Toni Pearen, whom he calls "the glue that holds the show together".
If ever you imagine that TV is easy, you should go watch someone like Bryan at work. Fifteen tasks per second, all day long. Beats me how people do that.
I'LL BE at Sky News this afternoon to record an Australian Agenda panel program with fellow guests crazy Kerry Nettle,
raving Reverend Ray Richmond, and
reasonable Ross Cameron. The show goes to air at 7.30 tonight and will be repeated three times during the week. A serene, contemplative performance is predicted.
MEET GI JOE - from Australia:
Warrant Officer Joe Day has seen action in the Iraq war like no other Australian soldier.
The 36-year-old from Victoria has been with US forces since they crossed the border from Kuwait four weeks ago to when they liberated Baghdad and headed north towards Iraqi Kurdistan.
I HAVEN'T answered any e-mail in days. What the hell is wrong with me? No, wait; the problem isn't me, it's the e-mail, which keeps returning sent messages. Sometimes I get us mixed up.
Ozemail are fixing things. Until then, some people will get e-mails, and most won't.
LIBERATION is at hand! Thousands cheer as Michael Moore's statue comes crashing down.
SLIDIN' SIMON continues his graceful exit:
Simon Crean faces a caucus showdown during next month's budget session of parliament as public support nosedives for his leadership and the Labor Party.
The Australian has learned that internal ALP polling reveals the party is in dire shape and would lose a string of marginal seats in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.
"We are headed for a massive defeat," said one senior Labor figure who has been privy to the secret polling.
DOG-KILLING hop-monsters have taken over small Australian towns:
Starving kangaroos have besieged several towns in central Victoria, sparking renewed calls for a cull.
Some Heathcote and Rushworth residents are in fear after reports of huge mobs attacking and killing a local dog.
Someone fetch the wheelchair, and top up the swimming pool ...
THIS WEEK'S Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Phillip Adams, Mike Carlton, Geoff Kitney, Matt Price, Jonathan Holmes, George W. Bush, Heath Ledger, Leo DiCaprio, the Fremantle Dockers, Saddam Hussein, human shields, the BBC, the SAS, Uzma Bashir, Donna Mulhearn, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, Fidel Castro, Stephanie Schaudel, Colonel Sanders, Eason Jordan, CNN, Uday Hussein, and my cold medicine/psychotropic drugs/narcolepsy treatment/vanilla Coke addiction.
Bulletin readers looking for Eason Jordan's confession (barely reported in Australia, by the way): click here.
ON MONDAY night, Media Watch host David Marr casually dismissed the whole "Pentagon flag on Saddam's statue" story as bogus:
MARR: That most enthusiastic barracker for the war, Murdoch's Daily Telegraph, called this a "Moment in history ..." and then made a claim incredible even by the Tele's standards:
DAILY TELEGRAPH: "The Stars and Stripes used by US Marine Corporal Ed Chin to cover the statue in Baghdad's Firdos Square was under the debris at the Pentagon following the September 11 al-Qaeda terrorist attack."
MARR: We asked U.S. Central Command in Qatar if the Tele's claim could possibly be true.
NAVY ENSIGN DAVID LUCKETT: I seriously doubt it …
And that's where Marr concludes his investigation - with a solitary abbrieviated quote from the US Navy's media guy, gathered on a date unknown, and serving to imply that the many people who've provided accounts supporting the Pentagon flag story are liars.
You'd think that Media Watch would have contacted several further sources before airing so serious an accusation. You'd think that Media Watch - assembled by 30 or so people, including three reseachers - would have at least contacted the parents of US Marine First Lieutenant Tim McLaughlin, the man who handed the flag to Corporal Chin. In fact, Media Watch didn't have to go to the trouble; the Associated Press already had, days earlier:
''Obviously his mother and I are extraordinarily proud that he is out there in front of things doing what he is doing,'' Philip McLaughlin said Thursday.
He said Tim had sustained a serious training injury and was working a staff job in the Pentagon when the airliner crashed into the building on Sept. 11, 2001.
''Tim actually went back into the Pentagon and assisted after the attack occurred. He was given a flag that day and has kept it with him ever since,'' McLaughlin said. ''In fact, I saw him pack it when I was out to see him in 29 Palms Marine Base in January.''
McLaughlin's local newspaper in New Hampshire also contacted the Marine's parents:
Local Attorney Phil McLaughlin spoke with The Citizen on Thursday ... He responded to his son's reported actions by saying they exemplify the character of a man dedicated to his country.
"I am not the least bit surprised by what was reported ... my son is a combat Marine," he explained.
The father pointed out that his son has been carrying the flag with him ever since it was given to him on Sept. 11.
Marr and his crack team of truth-seekers - don't they read any newspapers besides Sydney's Telegraph? - overlooked this report and interview from Stephen Farrell, in Baghdad for the Times of London:
Watching from the sidelines, Lieutenant McLaughlin took his Stars and Stripes out of a sealed pouch, so that it could be wrapped around the statue's hollow metal head.
The 25-year-old Russian language and poetry graduate explained later that a broken leg had taken him to room 5E678 at the Pentagon, where he was working as a general's aide on September 11, 2001.
"I had just gone for my morning run and I was right at the Jefferson Memorial when the plane hit the Pentagon. I sprinted back because my older brother also works there. After I searched for him and found he was all right I spent the rest of the day at Ground Zero, helping out the ambulance and firefighting guys ...
"This flag was given to me on September 11. Now it is in Baghdad and now I am happy."
Lara Marlowe of The Irish Times provides helpful corroborating detail to Farrell's mention of the "sealed pouch":
"That flag came from the Pentagon on 9/11," Sgt Lambert said with something like awe in his voice. "Lt Tim McGloughlan [sic] was there on the day. We brought it all the way from 29 Palms. We drove our tanks all the way from Kuwait City with the flag in a plastic bag."
Marr and his Media Watchers appear to have run with the first opinion they received that supported their prejudiced notion that the Telegraph had fabricated the flag story. They've either ignored or never sought out the articles cited above, and cast as untrue the statements of Lieutenant McLaughlin, his family, and several of his fellow Marines. Media Watch is a disgrace.
Think they'll apologise? I seriously doubt it. Send them a note here.
NO BLOOD FOR SLOGANS! Right from the start, this illegal and immoral war was a conspiracy to prop up greedy western badge corporations:
John Trowbridge's little badge-making firm, Better Badges, has been in existence for 20 years, and business has never been better. He and his two colleagues have seen sales multiply by a factor of 10 thanks to the war. He has supplied 200,000 badges to the Stop the War Coalition, with slogans ranging from Don't Attack Iraq to Not in My Name and Stop the War. "Mr Blair has managed to politicise the whole country," says Trowbridge, a lifelong leftie. "And he's done me the world of good."
Why do you think the only building they're protecting in Baghdad is the Ministry of Badge? That says it all.
THROUGH TEETH clenched so hard the enamel is beginning to fuse, the New York Times reports:
Americans overwhelmingly consider the war in Iraq a success, and a majority say the victory will stand even if Saddam Hussein remains at large or if the United States fails to unearth chemical or nuclear weapons, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.
The poll, taken over the weekend, found that for the first time since 2001, a majority of Americans, 62 percent, believe that the nation is winning the war on terrorism.
ONLY SO FAR?
Although it would be foolish to predict what will happen in Iraq now, the apocalyptic predictions of as many as 500,000 civilian deaths (from a widely quoted leaked UN report) have so far proved exaggerated.
SIMON CREAN is toast, as usual:
Voters are clamouring for Kim Beazley to regain leadership of the federal ALP, with almost four times as many voters supporting him over Simon Crean to steer Labor to the next election.
After almost 18 months as Opposition Leader, only one in 10 Australians wants Mr Crean to spearhead Labor's next election campaign, compared with 36 per cent support for Mr Beazley.
And even more damaging for Mr Crean is that only 13 per cent of Labor voters want him to remain at the helm.
Bob McMullan remains (publicly) hopeful:
The upcoming Federal budget process would give Opposition leader Simon Crean the chance to put Labor's position to the public, ALP frontbencher Bob McMullan said today.
And so does Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf:
"The people love the Great Simon and will defend to the exhaustion of their preference votes his right to create disorder out of harmony."
HERE'S a bunch of media goofs for the kids at Media Watch to make fun of: The Bulletin's editor-in-chief (not editor) is Garry Linnell; Robert Fisk's surname doesn't include an 'e'; General Vincent Brooks (who addresses journalists at Camp Doha, not 'camp' Doha) is never General Vincent Brook's; and John Mcnamara would probably prefer that his name feature a capital N.
UPDATE. Reader Jason Cakebread points out:
The correct official name of Central Command's HQ is Camp As Sayliyah, which is outside Doha, which is the capital of Qatar.
EXCELLENT letter in today's Australian:
A left-hander winning the US Masters! I didn't think Augusta National let them play.
WITCHCRAFT is to be decriminalised in Victoria. Several ex-girlfriends will be ecstatic.
ANDREW BOLT refuses to let the anti-war Left off the hook:
Recall just some of "peace" activists' predictions to show how they dreamed of a war in which millions died, and Iraqis greeted our soldiers not with kisses but bullets ...
ABC star Terry Lane wrote in The Sunday Age: "I want the army of my country, which is engaged in an act of gross immorality, to be defeated."
Phillip Adams gleefully wrote just two weeks before Baghdad's fall that the war brought "back memories of fiascos and failures -- from Vietnam to Somalia", and looked like ending with "a Stalingrad-style battle in the city".
SBS did much as you'd expect from a public broadcaster whose vice-chairman, Neville Roach, asked that "journalists . . . in every article, every editorial, every report, highlight the murder and mayhem that our nation is about to release".
Remember Carmen Lawrence predicting the death toll could reach 480,000, and our soldiers would be "complicit in mass murder"?
Bolt has further examples. Many cited said the same things about Afghanistan.
CHEESE-EATING DISTORTION MONKEYS:
Prime Minister John Howard wants to reform the United Nations, saying the presence of France as a permanent member of the Security Council "distorts" the council.
He wants Japan, a South American country and India to be represented on the Security Council. France was there only because it was a global power at the end of World War II, he said.
FORMER MAOIST Barry York writes that good Marxists would have supported the war in Iraq:
It is too late for the so-called Left in Australia to stand anywhere but condemned for its failure to support the successful war to liberate Iraq. It stood on the side of reaction, and the history books must place its leaders alongside the British pacifists of the '30s who, as George Orwell pointed out, gave comfort and objective support to Hitler. The pseudo-Left proved not just that it can be wrong but that in the name of anti-Americanism it can support fascism.
The leaders of the anti-war movement predicted the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the war. They warned of ferocious resistance to US-led forces by a people whose opposition to Saddam Hussein would be displaced by hatred of the invaders. I had a different view: I was confident the paper tiger would crumple. Faced with a choice between a fascist regime in Iraq or a bourgeois-democratic one, I retained enough Marxism to tick the right box.
IRAQI information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf is now universal journalistic shorthand for comical inaccuracy. Kinda funny, considering how mainstream outlets like the BBC weren't treating him like a joke when he was actually saying all the stupid things in the first place.
GLOAT-WATCH! P.P. McGuinness charts left/right triumphalism from the outbreak of war to the present.
THE INDEPENDENT'S Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is offended:
It is not just the vulgar, premature bawdiness of pro-war triumphalists which I find revolting. It is that they accuse anti-war people of being uncaring about the people of Iraq, and the lack of concern that these proponents of war show for the bodies of the killed and those maimed and injured by their invasion.
Yes, Saddam Hussein is gone and, for Iraqis (except the innocent families of his supporters), that is deliverance. But at what cost - present and future? And with what consequences - foreseen and unplanned?
Always with the plans. Lefties don't get it. You can't plan a free society. Yasmin would apparently prefer Saddam's "plans" to the chaos of a citizenry happily running around unencumbered by electrodes.
I wrote that the Americans were receiving no "overwhelming welcome" and that is still true. That statue in Baghdad was pulled down by US troops with around 200 Iraqis as extras. Warniks feel vindicated and are foolishly cheering with all of Rupert Murdoch's outlets. But that is no reason to subscribe to such delusions.
Let's indulge Yasmin for a moment, and assume that her figure of 200 is accurate. What does she think it means when 200 people do something that only a couple of months earlier would have had them all killed?
In 1970, I was on the streets of Kampala with hundreds of thousands of others screaming and dancing for joy the day Idi Amin came into power, placed there by the US, the UK and Israel. Mobs are not dependable nor good at foresight when momentous changes take place.
Depends on the mob, depends on the changes. (By the way, wasn't this "mob" described only a few words earlier as being only 200 people?) I didn't notice Yasmin dismissing the anti-war mobs for their lack of foresight.
The scenes of bedlam are going to be very useful to the occupation because they will enable the US to "reluctantly" impose rule over barbaric natives (who by that time will be begging for it in ever greater numbers) – ever the reason for imperialism. We are back to the days of the scramble for Africa when colonial white powers took over countries to "protect and civilise" them.
That is exactly what the colonial imperialist Robert Fisk has been urging. If The Independent was the White House, this might be described as a "rift".
The US regime says it wants a "democratic" Iraq but with leaders it approves of; that it wants a free-market economy and that it wants the oil to pay for all the devastation ... What if the Iraqis don't want the exile puppets imposed democratically?
Then chances are that they won't vote for them and they won't get them. Leaders are not "imposed" democratically.
What if they decide that to rebuild they would rather have a social-democratic model with a partly managed economy, especially when it comes to the management of oil? Are they free to do this? Of course not.
Depends on who they vote for, I suppose. If the Social-Democratic Partly Managed Economy Party gets the most votes, they'll win. Yasmin is getting a little ahead of events here; we as yet don't know what form an Iraqi government will take.
Finally, those people with newly found concern for the Iraqi people, where were they for the past 13 years ... What do pro-war people say about the effects of depleted uranium?
We say: what effects? And then we say: goodbye, crazy lady.
ROBERT FISK is one excited correspondent:
Did I sit on President Saddam's throne? Of course I did. There is something dark in all our souls that demands an understanding of evil rather than good, because, I suppose, we are more fascinated by the machinery of cruelty and power than we are by angels.
HERE'S a headline you never expected to see.
PAUL SHEEHAN is lately in no mood to take prisoners:
In Australia, the rearguard action of behalf of Saddam's regime was fought by Greenpeace. Within 12 hours of al-Sahaf's last stand on the roof of the Palestine Hotel, Greenpeace executed an ambitious public relations guerilla raid on the Australian Navy. Last Tuesday, as HMAS Sydney was leaving Sydney Harbour en route for duty off Iraq, where it will protect the shipping that will bring most of the humanitarian aid to Iraq, a flotilla of 20 small craft and motorised rubber dinghies broke through a cordon of water police craft and sailed in front of the warship.
One policeman was injured and 10 Greenpeace activists were arrested, including a Greens MP, Ian Cohen. What did Greenpeace want? Describing the war in Iraq as "illegal and immoral", Greenpeace issued this demand: "No more Australian troops should be sent to Iraq, and the ones that are there should be sent home immediately."
Al-Sahaf would have been proud.
I got the impression chatting to Paul last year that he'd had enough of idiots and was going to spend 2003 tearing them apart. Seems for once I may have been right.
THERE'S SOMETHING wrong about Walter Cronkite hosting a program on Armageddon. He's like, what, 1,200 years old? And he's warning us about Doomsday? Didn't Cronkite once predict this in a series of cave paintings?
IS IT just me, or does Robert Fisk sound like he misses ol' Saddam?
The fresh black paint is everywhere. "Sadr City", it says, where once the name was "Saddam City".
How tragic. Still, Baghdad Bob holds out hope that an uprising may soon take place:
The gunmen appear to be loyal to their individual mosques and they are in no mood, yet, to take on the Americans.
Fingers crossed, Baghdad.
BLOOD on Bloomberg's hands.
EVERYBODY IS appalled by the ABC's new website. It's uniformative, difficult to navigate, and fails to project the organisation's image. But do any of these naysayers come up with an alternative design? No!
Here's one I whipped up in just a few minutes. Slap some links on there and it's perfect.
THERE ARE no second acts in American life. Lots of second helpings, though.
TIME magazine art critic Robert Hughes has been fined $2,500 for causing a massive car accident in Australia while driving on the wrong side of the road.
Not mentioned much during his trial: the reason Hughes had returned to Australia from his New York home was to campaign for a republic. It didn't help his cause that he'd been away so long he couldn't remember what side of the road Australians drive on.
PAUL McGEOUGH has been in Baghdad too long. He's come down with Fisk Fever. Probably caught it from some of these folks he's been talking to:
"The Americans have disappointed us all. This country won't be operational for at least a year or two," said Abbas Reta, 51, an engineer and father of five, who was among hundreds of Iraqi professionals who volunteered yesterday to help restore services.
"I've seen nothing new since Saddam's fall. All that we have seen is looting. The Americans are responsible. One round from their guns and all the looting would have stopped."
But wouldn't that make it appear as though the Americans were an ... occupying force?
And in the crowd that gathered to protest near the Palestine Hotel there was an ominous warning for Mr Rumsfeld from the mouth of Raad Bahman Qasim, 30: "If this continues in Baghdad, we'll kill any American or British soldier."
What for? They haven't looted anything.
Another of the museum archaeologists, Raed Abdul Ridha Mohammed, 35, was one of the staff who raced to fetch the marines.
"If a country has no record of its history it is nothing. If our civilisation is looted, then we don't have a country. So I blame the US - George Bush promised us liberty, but this is not liberty.
"If we had stayed under Saddam Hussein we'd still have the collection."
And lots more besides. Like the local Gulag 4 Kidz.
As I crested the bridge, the bombed remains of the al-Rasheed international telephone exchange came into view - a high-rise tower filled with the wondrous technology of our civilisation that seems to teeter on warped and spindly concrete columns, which are all that survive of its mid-section after repeated bombing by the US - apparently because Saddam might make a phone call.
You think maybe he’d be dialling the local Chinese take-out? Possibly Saddam's calls might be less innocent. Just thinking out loud here.
After witnessing three weeks of attacks on Baghdad and almost a week of looting - especially of the Iraq National Museum - questions about where the criminality lies become blurred.
Get out of Baghdad, Paul! Get out now, before the fever is terminal!
An aspiring rap star who has been charged with murdering his roommate and eating part of her lung did so as part of his record label's plan to cultivate a "gangsta" image for him, the victim's mother charged in a a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles.
Ain't nothin' more special than lung brothers. Or sistas.
ROBERT FISK opposed US intervention to save Iraqi lives, but now he demands US intervention to save Iraqi artefacts:
I contacted the civil affairs unit of the US Marines in Saadun Street and gave them the exact location of the museum and the condition of its contents.
Fisk is providing the US military with information about the activities of Iraqi citizens. I love life.
I HOPE that this great art doesn't get defiled:
The doors of the townhouse opened to reveal a playboy's fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a moustached hero battling a crocodile.
"This must have been Saddam's love shack," US Army sergeant Spencer Willardson said.
SWEDEN has been silenced:
For wide swaths of anti-war Sweden - the ones who think Marx and Engels are a German boy band - the reality of grateful Iraqis and the rapidity of American and British military success, this war dealt a crushing blow. So the war debate is relegated to the political fringe and the "mainstream" useful idiots have buried their heads in the sand.
It's sad, really. It feels like they have all come home to find Saddam in bed with another woman. And they would just rather not talk about it.
Australia's Saddamaloids have reacted in much the same way. Margo Kingston took a day off work to recover.
FROM MARK STEYN'S Guide to the Ongoing Quagmire:
"Weapons of Mass Destruction. Remember them? Not a single one has yet been found" (Bill Neely, ITV, April 10). Actually, I almost wish this one were true. Anything that turns up now will be assumed to have been planted. If I were Washington, I'd consider burying anything I found. After all, an America that feels no need to bother faking justifications for invasion would be far more alarming to most Europeans. Instead, horrible things will turn up, but will never be "conclusive" enough for the French, who've got all the receipts anyway.
DENNIS MILLER on the United Nations:
Who are we gonna depend on to take care of us now? The United Nations? For Godsake, I went down and took the UN tour today. Even the guidebook is spineless!
Chas Rich has more.
THE MEMPHIS Commercial Appeal reports that 20 percent of war deaths are blacks:
Nearly a fifth of the fatalities among U.S. troops in the current war in Iraq are black, which will be the highest cost African Americans have paid in any of America's wars if the trend continues.
NAACP chairman Julian Bond, however, notes that the deaths have largely occurred among non-frontline troops. He doesn't see a race angle:
"I was not aware of this and am surprised by it," said Julian Bond, national chairman of the NAACP. "I knew that black soldiers were concentrated in the non-combat positions of the military, which makes this all the more surprising. But clearly, these support troops were subjected to battle conditions unexpectedly."
Bond's considered response will be something to remember when anti-war screechers seize on these statistics as evidence of "Bush's racist war for oil".
THE ORANGE County Register has dropped Bill O'Reilly's column and the Herald-Sun in North Carolina has ditched Boondocks, both for similar ego-related reasons. Herald-Sun executive editor Bill Hawkins explains his decision:
What the syndicate sent us for publication a week ago Saturday was the Boondocks strip with a statement plastered over it that read:
"Special Boondocks protest strip! In order to express the outrage and the disappointment at the situation in the Middle East, as well as an upcoming movie starring Cuba Gooding Jr., in which the actor will undoubtedly shame himself and his race, today's installment of The Boondocks will not be appearing.
"Seriously, folks. Let's stop the madness. The Bush administration's hunger for war, and Hollywood's continued production of movies starring Cuba Gooding Jr., must be stopped. - Aaron McGruder"
Sounds to me like someone couldn't think of a funny strip that day. Hawkins continues:
As long as the strip was in context and characters were doing the talking, we were content to allow McGruder to work out on the edge.
This time, however, he pushed us over it.
"YOU SOLD my Christmas presents". A grim tale of obsession, betrayal, and greed. And a hammock.
THE ABC's John Highfield declined this week to revel in the liberation of Baghdad (scroll down for an earlier post), preferring instead to focus on wild dogs eating dead bodies.
Highfield might be interested to learn that the banished regime of Saddam Hussein had its own interest in wild dogs. Joanne Jacobs forwards this Stephen F. Hayes interview with Riadh Abdallah, a former general in Saddam's Republican Guard, published in the Weekly Standard:
ABDALLAH: I was in jail for eleven months. There was no judge. They just put you in. If one was to be executed or put in jail, no judge. They put us in the same room as those five generals who were executed. And they were killed with big knives. Those people were killed with big knives hitting them on the neck. And the room had blood everywhere.
SH: Did you think you might be next?
ABDALLAH: Yes. I thought that they would do the same thing to me. Every day they told me that I will be executed.
SH: How long?
ABDALLAH: Eleven months. Intimidation every day. At that time they found out about a conspiracy by another person who was a big general, a doctor actually, from the same town as Saddam. His name was Raji al-Tikriti. It's a very famous story in Iraq. And they made him a food for dogs.
SH: You were in prison when this happened? You heard about this?
ABDALLAH: They showed me these prisoners that were eaten by wild dogs. They made us--that was one kind of intimidation--they brought all of the generals and officers in the prison to watch it, to intimidate us. . . . They took us from jail and they put some blindfolds on our eyes and they took them off and we saw him. Before the dogs ate him we saw them read the judgment and they said why they were going to kill him. He was the head doctor for all the military, and he was the personal doctor for Saddam Hussein and for former Iraqi president Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr.
A HUMAN SHIELD is confused:
Donna Mulhearn can't reconcile the images of cheering Iraqis greeting the toppling of President Saddam Hussein with the blood on the streets of Baghdad.
Can she reconcile it with the blood of the many more people who died in Iraq's jails and torture cells?
"I had to walk through the blood of working class Iraqis," she told journalists.
How could she tell it was "working class" blood? Was it a different colour? Is that what blood types are all about? "Nurse, get me some upper-class blood for Mr Puddington-Whist! Stat!"
She described how hundreds of Iraqis gathered around to haul down statues of their erstwhile president, but in a city of five million, she said such images meant little ...
The rest of the city was grieving, she said, by the bedsides of the injured, or shuttered away in fear, hoping to ride out the latest episode in Iraq's tumultuous history as they did Saddam's rule.
"There was a lot of grief, a lot of anger. There is a lot of cynicism," Ms Mulhearn said.
How the hell would she know? Mulhearn left Iraq for Jordan back on March 30, when she decided her shielding work was over. She hasn't been in Baghdad for weeks. As the old saying goes, you can't spell "shield" without "l" and "i" and "e" ...
MICHAEL DUFFY previews Sunday's anti-war rally:
One of recent history's most bizarre events will occur tomorrow, when good and decent people will march through Sydney to express sorrow Iraq has just been delivered from an odious tyranny.
If Australia's peace marchers had had their way and this war never occurred, what would the residents of Iraq have been doing?
In the State Security headquarters in Basra it would have been business as usual, the regime's jailers torturing away, hanging people from hooks, whipping them with electric cables, prodding their flesh with lit cigarettes. Once they had finished, many of their victims would have been shot or killed more slowly.
Yes, but at least it isn't war with awful Americans. Duffy has some interesting statistics from an Australian academic who might be the opposite of Marc Herold:
Bob Cotgrove from the University of Tasmania has pointed out that the poverty Saddam enforced on his nation created a massive death toll, in which the peace protesters appear completely uninterested.
Mr Cotgrove estimates that, in the late 1990s, 66,900 more people died a year in Iraq than would have been the case had the death rate been the same as in neighbouring nations. Of this number, 41,300 were children.
Where were the marches when this was happening? Why are 600 deaths caused by liberating forces so much worse than 66,900 deaths a year caused by Saddam Hussein?
Maybe the peace folks think Saddam Hussein's murders are some quaint local homegrown cultural deal, and therefore OK. Down with corporate American McDeaths imposed by global capital! Preserve diversity of killing!
The best an ordinary driver can hope for in a FWD car is that it "corners as if on rails" -- no slippage at all. No plowing -- but also no semi-orgasmic "lock in." More typically, if you hit the accelerator in a fast corner, things get mushy up front. The lesson the FWD car seems to be teaching is: Try to go faster, and you're punished. Front-drive cars are Puritans! In a rear-drive car, you hit the accelerator and things get better! Rear-drive cars are hedonists.
He's perfectly correct. I once drove a FWD rally car during a performance driving course; you'd arrive at a slippery dirt-road corner, steer into it, then wait a few seconds until you'd passed the apex and the front tyres gripped. Then you'd exit, almost in a straight line. Dull.
Rear-wheel-drive: arrive at corner, pitch car in opposite direction to turn, hit accelerator, powerslide out at around 70 degrees to the direction of travel, tell rally instructor in passenger seat to stop screaming. Fun.
Four-wheel-drive rally cars combine these characteristics: you get turn-in understeer and exit oversteer, although the adhesion these things generate is so great that making an instructor scream is almost impossible. I only managed it once, due to a sudden, er, tree issue I hadn't anticipated.
COLLECT THEM, swap them, share them with your friends:
American commanders displayed a pack of cards yesterday showing the photographs of the 55 "most wanted" Iraqis. They said the cards had been issued to troops in the continuing hunt for top members of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks said the cards contained details and images of "55 individuals who may be killed, pursued and brought to justice".
The image on the top card - the "ace of clubs" - appeared to be that of President Saddam's son Qusay. President Saddam was said to be the "ace of spades".
I must have a set of these cards.
UPDATE. Jim Treacher - currently the Funniest Man on the Web™, by the way - reports:
On Keith Olbermann's new nightly MSNBC show tonight, he went out to commercial by playing Go Fish with a stagehand with those cards, while Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler" played. It's good to have him back.
THE IRAQI information minister. What's not to love? Among my favourite lines: "I am here now to tell you, we do not have any scud missiles and I don't know why they were fired into Kuwait."
THE SYDNEY Morning Herald's op-ed Fedayeen isn't coping very well with the removal of Saddam Hussein and the fact that they got everything about the war completely wrong. Here's Adele Horin:
This is no time for gloating. Saddam has fallen. Many Iraqis are relieved. But the world is no safer. Indeed, it is a scarier place ...
It is far too soon to gloat. As Saddam's statue toppled, people cheered around the world. A tyrant was gone. But if television had at that moment brought us images of Baghdad hospitals ...
It is obscene to gloat. No one in their right mind doubted a US victory in the shortest possible order ...
Many Iraqis are relieved? Go to hell, Adele. Hugh Mackay also believes that everything is now Much, Much Worse:
No amount of spin-doctoring can conceal the fact that thousands of lives have been lost, countless seeds of lifelong tragedy sown, and the geopolitics of the region and the world brutally altered.
One unpalatable consequence of victory in Iraq is that we are about to be offered a toxic brew of moral smugness and self-righteousness.
That's from Mr Moral Smugness himself. Remove Mackay's self-righteousness and what remained could fit inside a Tabasco bottle. Completing the SMH's howling loser triple play is crazy old Alan Ramsey, who has this to say about Australia's Prime Minister:
Howard, in his own way, is every bit the despot Saddam was ...
You might feel proud, Prime Minister, but I do not, and I venture to suggest very many of our fellow Australians feel exactly the same as me. And I don't give a toss what the opinion polls say.
Imagine the delight of these freaks if Saddam Hussein had prevailed.
THE COALITION is winning the war, and Jacques Chirac is losing the peace:
Jacques Chirac faced a backlash from his peace campaigning yesterday after warnings from his own party that France had gone too far in opposing Britain and the US, and now faced international isolation.
The French president, described by the newspaper Libération as the "king of peace without a crown", was criticised by leaders of his UMP party for three weeks of silence since the invasion.
Only yesterday, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, did Mr Chirac issue a comment. "France, like all democracies, rejoices," he said in a statement.
I love this paragraph:
Mr Chirac called Tony Blair on Wednesday night to ask if France could be included in the immediate supply of humanitarian aid which he said was "the absolute priority". Mr Blair, who has been one of the targets of Mr Chirac's attacks, did not release his reply.
Well, of course he didn't. You can't publish those words in newspapers.
YOU PEOPLE ARE ALL IDIOTS! John Lloyd tells the Left that it has lost the plot, and quits the leftoid New Statesman.
MEDIA WATCH was upset that Miranda Devine referred to Islamoid anti-westerners as
Presumably next Monday's episode will condemn this, from The Age's Paul McGeough:
The looters went through the buildings like locusts.
Looters carted off bottles of wine and whiskey, guns and paintings of half-naked women from the luxury home of Uday, the playboy son of Saddam Hussein. They also picked clean his yacht and made off with some of the white Arabian horses he kept.
Speed-crazy Iraqi street racers will use those thoroughbreds to supercharge dull family sedans. It'll be like California in the '50s.
ARSON, ANARCHY, fear, hatred, hysteria, looting, revenge, savagery, suspicion and a suicide bombing. Welcome to Robert Fisk's cavalcade of chaos!
It was the day of the looter. They trashed the German embassy and hurled the ambassador's desk into the yard. I rescued the European Union flag - flung into a puddle of water outside the visa section - as a mob of middle-aged men, women in chadors and screaming children rifled through the consul's office and hurled Mozart records and German history books from an upper window. The Slovakian embassy was broken into a few hours later.
At least the flag - the precious flag of the European Union! - has been saved.
At the headquarters of Unicef, which has been trying to save and improve the lives of millions of Iraqi children since the 1980s, an army of thieves stormed the building, throwing brand new photocopiers on top of each other and sending cascades of UN files on child diseases, pregnancy death rates and nutrition across the floors.
This "looting" sounds terrifically precise and well-considered. Farewell, stupid UN documents! I'm surprised that the photocopiers were attacked; usually they are guarded by fierce copier cops.
The Americans may think they have "liberated" Baghdad but the tens of thousands of thieves - they came in families and cruised the city in trucks and cars searching for booty - seem to have a different idea what liberation means.
Hail Saddam, who kept the peace.
JIM TREACHER is being evil and brilliant again.
IN THE comments following this Gareth Parker post, leftist economist and Iraq doompredictor John Quiggin writes:
I am happy to be wrong about the fall of Baghdad.
Quiggin is a respected Australian academic with no shortage of mainstream outlets for his views, yet he blogs for the love of it. He's acknowledging, to his great credit, the flawed war predictions he volunteered at his site.
I doubt we'll see similar retractions from professional pundits. Talk about ethics; most of them never admitted their mistakes on Afghanistan.
SOME PEOPLE, when it comes to Iraq, see a glass half full. Some see a glass half empty. And some - at the ABC - see wild dogs feasting on corpses in the street.
Here's World Today host John Highfield, leading into an interview with ABC correspondent in Baghdad Geoff Thompson:
Well, dawn has broken over Baghdad, welcoming day one of the new freedom, but if this is liberty, then it's far from perfect.
Lazy Iraqis. A whole 12 hours of freedom and they still haven't achieved a perfect society. What's their problem? Highfield's outstanding introduction continues:
Following the bold strokes and brute force by the US and the Coalition troops, even the Red Cross is unable to get power and water to the hospitals where exhausted doctors and other staff are valiantly trying to hold the line against an avalanche of injured and dying.
Civil authority has simply disappeared, and as we've just heard in our montage, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is worried, calling for urgent cooperative steps to redress the situation.
Kofi is worried! There's a scoop. Things pick up slightly when Thompson is introduced, but Highfield quickly hauls his wayward correspondent back to the main story: Baghdad in meltdown! Unprecedented chaos! Wild dogs!
GEOFF THOMPSON: You know, every vehicle you pass by is cheering, is sort of waving white flags ... and they are all, I haven't been into the deep centre of Baghdad. I can't speak for that. I can't speak for the whole city. But I certainly haven't seen any open sort of examples, very open examples of anti-Americanism.
JOHN HIGHFIELD: What is the condition of the streets? We are hearing stories that injured have lain there and dogs have attacked even the injured on the streets, because it's impossible, for instance, for Red Cross and that to move around. Is that the impression you're getting?
GEOFF THOMPSON: Ah, it's certainly a war zone. I mean, every time, I came into Baghdad for the first time yesterday and there were bodies around the streets. In fact, you know, when I first crossed into Iraq a few days ago we saw precisely that, a body which had quite clearly been mauled by wild dogs.
Maybe my news judgment is all wrong, but it strikes me that one or two upbeat angles may have been found in the removal of a dictator who'd tortured and killed millions of his countrymen. Instead the ABC takes our taxes and gives us dogs.
LIBERATION makes Sydney Morning Herald readers angry.
A LAWYER has been fined for chasing an ambulance.
INSTAPUNDIT notes an abundance of liberation celebrations in Iraqi-American communities, and wonders:
So where was all the coverage of how unpopular Saddam was with these folks before the war?
Good question. Prior to liberation we also heard very little from anti-Saddam Iraqi-Australians, who are now partying like free people:
There have been jubilant scenes in the Australian city of Sydney as Iraqi expatriates celebrated news of the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.
At Auburn in west Sydney, home to one of Australia's largest Iraqi populations, men chanted 'down Saddam' and cheered on the footpaths.
Our reporter Marie Scoutas says passing drivers stopped their cars in the middle of the street and joined the celebrations.
Fear may be one reason for the lack of pre-lib coverage. Today a pro-war Iraqi-Australian appearing on Richard Glover's ABC radio program finally used his real name on air. He'd been too terrified to do so during earlier appearances, lest his family in Iraq be harmed.
But I suspect the main reason would be a reluctance by many Journalist-Australians to give aid and comfort to the enemy - in their case, John Howard and George W. Bush.
(Link via Peter Kerr.)
THE MILITARY deserve more tributes.
SNEER QUOTES, insane exaggeration, bigoted accusations of cowardice ... this Robert Fisk intro has got the lot:
The Americans "liberated" Baghdad yesterday, destroyed the centre of Saddam Hussein's quarter-century of brutal dictatorial power but brought behind them an army of looters who unleashed upon the ancient city a reign of pillage and anarchy. It was a day that began with shellfire and air strikes and blood-bloated hospitals and ended with the ritual destruction of the dictator's statues. The mobs shrieked their delight. Men who, for 25 years, had grovellingly obeyed Saddam's most humble secret policeman turned into giants, bellowing their hatred of the Iraqi leader as his vast and monstrous statues thundered to the ground.
I wonder what happened to those Iraqis who didn't grovel. Fisk should interview one. Via a spirit medium.
Memories of Umm Qasr, when the American thought, wrongly, they had taken the port town very early in this war, and a marine planted the American flag aloft before being told to take it down.
Margo seems unusually sad today. Something bad must have happened.
WORD FROM THE ARAB STREET:
"Why did he fall that way? Why so fast? He's a coward. Now I feel sorry for his people."
"We discovered that all what the information minister was saying was all lies. Now no one believes al-Jazeera anymore."
"Those who applauded the collapse of Lenin's statue for some Pepsi and hamburgers felt the hunger later on and regretted what they did."
"We Arabs are clever only at talking. Where are the Iraqi weapons? Where are the Iraqi soldiers?"
"There must have been treason."
"It seems there was some deal. Saddam has put himself ahead of his people."
"I can't say that I'm happy about what's going on because these are non-Muslim forces that have gone in and I hope they will not stay."
"They (Iraqis) haven't yet buried their dead and they are honouring the American flag. They haven't seen yet what the Americans will do to them after this; the war has just began."
"I spit on them (Iraqis). I was so disappointed."
"Do those crowds who are saluting the Americans believe that the United States will let them live better? They (Americans) will loot their oil and control their resources, leaving them nothing."
"Whatever I'm seeing is very painful because although Saddam Hussein was a dictator, he represented some kind of Arab national resistance to the foreign invaders - the Americans and the British."
"I don't like the idea of having the Americans here but we asked for it. Why don't we see the Americans going to Finland, for example? They come here because our area is filled with dictatorships like Saddam's."
"This is a message for the Arab regimes, and could be the beginning of transformation in the Arab region. Without the honest help of the Western nations, the reforms will not take place in these countries."
"For a while, there will be a sense of resignation, letdown, that this is one more (Arab) defeat. But what was defeated primarily in Baghdad is Arab oppression, the one party system which was unable to defend its country for more than three weeks, and its capital for more than 48 hours. What was defeated in this battle was not the Arabs but the regime of oppression."
MICHAEL TOTTEN has the
JANET DALEY in The Age wonders if the Left will apologise:
I have this delightful fantasy of left-wingers throughout the Western world putting their hands up and saying: "Well, actually we got that a little bit wrong." And maybe even deciding that, since their analysis of the war was mistaken, their diagnosis of the peace might be open to question too.
But I'm not holding my breath.
WAS THE US to blame for the media hotel attack after all? A BBC correspondent doesn't think so:
The BBC's defence correspondent Andrew Gilligan has cast doubt on whether the missile that killed two journalists in Baghdad today was fired by a US tank, speculating that Iraqi soldiers may have launched the lethal attack.
He added that after examining the scene he concluded it was virtually impossible for the US tank to have fired on the 15th floor room.
"The angle that the tank would have to have reached to hit that roof, it would more or less have had to have shot just round the corner and I don't think even the Americans have got those kinds of weapons."
FROM POLLY BOLTON in California:
There were so many scenes to remember from today for the rest of my life, but my two favorite scenes were:
1. The two men carrying the sign "Go Home Human Shields, You U.S. Wankers."
2. The man carrying an American flag that had a picture of a Harley Davidson in the middle of it. Where the heck did he get that?
Jay Zilber has a shot of the wankers banner. Among my favourite scenes: a jolly Iraqi looter carrying a car tyre (Fox morning host: "Where do you think he's going with that?" Co-host: "I don't know. Maybe he’s got three more") and everything from Sky News correspondent David Chater's extraordinary one-hour walking tour of Baghdad. He deserves all the awards he'll surely receive.
MIRANDA DEVINE on the neo-pacs:
When they could no longer deny that the coalition had the upper hand, the neo-pacs changed tack. Suddenly they didn't want to talk about the war any more. Or if they did it was only to lament how "one-sided" it had been, or to demand to see the weapons of mass destruction, the "smoking gun" that proves al-Sahaf and his regime pals really are liars.
As always, the neo-pacs have a fallback position on WMDs. Any found in Iraq will have been planted there by the Americans. The neo-pacs rolled out a dazzling array of diversionary tactics to avoid talking about the coalition advances. My favourite was the "Western hypocrisy" inherent in the toppling of Saddam statues all over Iraq. "What right does the coalition have to destroy a symbol of Iraq's history," Stephen Hanlon of Brighton, Victoria, wrote to The Australian, comparing the toppling of Saddam statues to the Taliban's destruction of the ancient Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan.
IN A defining gesture marking the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal 24-year iron rule, US Marines early today helped the people of Baghdad topple a giant statue of the dictator in the jubilant aftermath of American tanks rolling into the heart of the Iraqi capital.
- The Australian
JUBILATION AND wholesale looting in Baghdad yesterday signalled the end of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
- The Sydney Morning Herald
AMERICAN MARINES toppled a massive statue of Saddam Hussein in the heart of Baghdad early today as the 24-year rule of the Iraqi dictator collapsed in chaos.
- The Age
THE IRAQI president, Saddam Hussein, has joined Hitler in the pantheon of failed dictators, the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said tonight.
- The Guardian
IT WAS a moment as historic as the downing of the Berlin Wall or the massacre in Tiananmen Square – the people of Iraq last night rose up against more than two decades of repression.
- The Daily Telegraph
JUBILANT IRAQIS celebrated liberation this afternoon as triumphant US tanks and soldiers poured into the heart of Baghdad, after Saddam Hussein's regime melted away overnight.
- The Independent
SIX DAYS after the "liberation" of Najaf, Iraqis of all ages continue to pack the corridors of Saddam Hussein General Hospital.
- The Arab News
UPDATE. The Arab News has woken up:
US FORCES toppled a giant statue of President Saddam Hussein in the heart of the capital yesterday as Iraqis celebrated the humiliating collapse of his 24-year rule. Cheering ecstatically, a crowd of Iraqis danced and trampled on the fallen six-meter high metal statue in contempt for the man who had held them in fear for so long amid the final throes of the three-week war.
I SHOULDN'T be so happy. After all, I'm a right-wing deathbeast, and the end (or near end) of a war should upset me, because we conservatives lust for war all the time. Except when we have to fight it ourselves, of course. Being chickenhawks and all.
And the toppling of a fascist dictator should have me all weepy and nostalgic for Hitler. Because I'm a fascist, according to much of the mail I receive.
Those Iraqis dancing in the streets? That should really piss me off, because I want to oppress them and steal their oil. Why are they even able to dance? I was promised 500,000 murders, yet thus far only 1,000 or so innocents have died.
So why am I so damn happy? I really can't explain.
I'd go and ask some oppression-hating anti-fascist peace activists about it, but for some reason they're all incredibly depressed.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Hundreds of jubilant Iraqis cheered, danced, waved and threw flowers as U.S. Marines advanced through eastern Baghdad and into the center of President Saddam Hussein's capital on Wednesday.
Reuters correspondent Sean Maguire said crowds mobbed a Marine convoy as it drove through the suburbs to the Martyr's Monument, just two miles east of the central Jumhuriya Bridge over the Tigris river.
"These are quite extraordinary scenes," Maguire said after a morning's drive through first the rundown sprawl of Saddam City and then more prosperous, leafy suburbs.
MEANWHILE, in Carmen Lawrence's version of Australia:
So many people have all but stopped watching and listening to the incessant, if sanitised, coverage of the war. They've turned off the "militainment". They're not ringing or writing to their MPs. They've cut back their consumption to the necessities of life and zipped their purses. They're bunkered down like the poor wretches in Baghdad, many with their fingers in their ears and their eyes covered. It's as if they have decided to change the subject, to avert their eyes, pull the curtains and mind their own business.
Soory forr all th sppelkling miustakes. I can;t see teh keyborad annd I",m typping tfhis with myi ellkbows.
BRIGADIER-GENERAL John Kelly, last of the straight talkers:
Hundreds of Muslim fighters, many of them non-Iraqis, were putting up a stronger fight for Baghdad than Iraq's Republican Guard or the regular army, a top United States military officer said yesterday.
"They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them," Brigadier-General John Kelly said.
"But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."
General Kelly, assistant commander of the about 20,000-strong 1st Marine Division, said US intelligence indicated that there might be anywhere between 500 and 5000 of the fighters, whom he described as terrorists.
"They appear willing to die. We are trying our best to help them out in that endeavour," he said.
He'll be pilloried for this, mostly by the same people who usually complain about evasive or euphemistic military-speak ("collateral damage" and so on). At least with Kelly you know where you stand. Or, rather, where you don't.
AN E-MAIL exchange with aggressive new lefty blogger Robert Weaver reveals him to be a fine writer. One to bookmark.
WHAT WAR has Phillip Adams been watching?
Imagine the damage being done to the children of Iraq. For those who escape physically will, inevitably, be mentally maimed, haunted for the rest of their lives.
Given current casualty figures, "those who escape physically" amounts to greater than 99% of Iraqi children. The rest of their lives will be not be haunted by Saddam Hussein. Many of them - including these kids, who just "escaped physically" from an Iraqi prison - seem happy about this.
KEL DUMMETT - great name - argues in this letter to The Age that Australia should let Israeli civilians be bombed because that will keep terrorists happy and then they'll leave us alone:
How could you guarantee that Australia would become a pre-eminent terrorist target after this war? Answer: use our military to protect Israel.
That, it emerges, is exactly what our SAS force's main task has been - obviously allocated by the sheriff. And while Australian defence officials have been shy about telling us and the world about this - they obviously know the consequences - not so the sheriff. Our good ol' American buddies announced it to the world at one of their recent press briefings in Qatar.
Yep, those Aussie SAS boys are darn good fighters, we were told patronisingly - they've been protecting the Israelis from Iraqi missile attack.
Kel Dummett, Thornbury
Let's take it a step further - to fully ensure Australia's friendly relations with terrorists, why don't we launch an attack on Israel ourselves? To hell with this "protecting innocent people" crap.
IMRE SALUSINSZKY in today's Australian:
As intellectuals have found themselves marginalised, critique has morphed into disgust at the habits and values of ordinary people - a disgust reflected in the title of a "progressive" tract such as Michael Moore's Stupid White Men - and has been accompanied by a wholesale rejection of the habits and values of the open society.
And rejection of any of their number who aren't reflexively anti-Western. The Age's Pamela Bone has received death threats for supporting Saddam's removal. Imre identifies a way to avoid intellectual leftoid wrath:
A friend who teaches at an Australian university recently told me it was easy to be pro-war in his department. When he sits in the tearoom, harrumphing over his copy of The Australian and making remarks like, "No defeat or punishment is too severe for this monster," his colleagues simply assume he's talking about Dubya and nod approvingly.
JOURNALISTIC OBJECTIVITY in Jordan.
ONE OF Margo's loyal margoons takes me to task for guessing wrong on the alleged Basra death warehouse. He should read my post again. Slowly. Perhaps with an adult present.
The issue isn't whether or not the place was a torture zone (I noted that subsequent CNN and NYT reports cast doubt on earlier claims) but whether the Daily Telegraph's coverage - derisively described as a scoop by Margo, although similar reports had appeared in the NYT, BBC, the Independent, MSNBC, Sunday Times, all the wires, etc - represented a Murdoch conspiracy, as Margo had alleged.
One (of only two) pieces cited by Margo as evidence of this wily Murdoch plan turned out to be written by Guardian reporters who filed from Basra. Is the Guardian also running a "relentless pro-war propaganda war"? Comments from British soldiers supported the death house theory. Margo supposed that the Telegraph was wrong in isolation, when in fact all early accounts were apparently (and, I'd argue, with reason) mistaken. As mistaken as Margo "the Americans nuked Vietnam" Kingston usually is.
Still, her Elite Margolian Guardsman deserves credit for boldness. He's sent Margo - who once warned that "there could be a cell in Sydney planning a terriers act in Italy" - a photograph of a pro-war demonstrator who can't spell "moron"; this, he claims, displays the ignorance of the pro-war crowd.
Immediately below this assertion is an e-mail from a Margo fan who thinks we're about to start World War "111" and doesn't capitalise the word "Muslim".
"IF I write another piece related to Iraq I'll go potty," writes the SMH's Alan Ramsey, several columns too late. He continues: "It is an appalling military adventure mounted by appalling people with the certainty of appalling consequences for years to come, not only for the Iraqi people." Poor Iraqis. They don't have Saddam to look after them any more.
BBC World just referred to Iraq's Information Minister as "the public face of Iraqi resistance." Which is almost as accurate as anything the minister himself has said.
Meanwhile Big Gold Dog in Midland, Texas, reports a happy, bias-free experience with the broadcaster. Hey, anything can happen.
COURTESY OF Aadil, the tape-carrying Afghanistan border runner, we again hear Osama speak!
THE LATEST column in The Bulletin mentions pale, lumpy women lying on a hillside near Byron Bay, Andrew Motion, Harold Pinter, my seven-year-old niece, Susan Sarandon, Michael Moore, Toni Collette, Heath Ledger, the Dixie Chicks, Martin Sheen, Judy Davis, George Michael, Ani diFranco, Saddam Hussein, Bob Ellis, Lt. Col. Chris Hughes, David Zucchino, Simon Crean, Carmen Lawrence, Guy Rundle, Terry Lane, and the beloved Margo Kingston.
AFTER ALL Hollywood has done to help him, Saddam repays the actor activists by watching pirated films:
The palace had been stripped of most personal items, but the building boasted a sophisticated audio-video system. Troops looking in one cabinet found a collection of pirated movies, "Les Miserables" among them.
You know, I bet time will turn up a few other bad sides to this noble Iraqi leader. Just a hunch.
LEFTY Tim Dunlop, always sticking up for the underdog, complains that coalition troops are looting Saddam's palaces. What a terrible, terrible injustice.
MICHAEL MOORE wants to share (his thoughts, not his tacos):
Can I share with you what it's been like for me since I used my time on the Oscar stage two weeks ago to speak out against Bush and this war? I hope that, in reading what I'm about to tell you, you'll feel a bit more emboldened to make your voice heard in whatever way or forum that is open to you.
That rules out Moore's website forum, which he closed months ago after too many dissenting anti-Mikes tried to "make their voices heard".
I said the following from the Oscar stage:
"On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan (from Canada), I would like to thank the Academy for this award. I have invited the other Documentary nominees on stage with me. They are here in solidarity because we like non-fiction. We like non-fiction because we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where fictitious election results give us a fictitious president. We are now fighting a war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or the fictitious 'Orange Alerts,' we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And, whenever you've got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, you're time is up."
Nice attempt, Tubbs. But you can't erase your verbal clumsiness the same way you disappear a dozen Happy Meals. Here's what you really said on Oscar night:
"We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush.
If Bush had made a similar speech error, the Michigan Waddler would've been screaming about it like ... well, like an enormous hungry guy from Flint who didn't get the supersized fries he ordered. But when Bloato the Clown stumbles, he simply re-writes the script.
Like he does with his "documentaries".
LET'S GET some war profiteering happening here! The PayPay is on the left.
THE GUARDIAN thinks the coalition has invaded Badhdad.
(Via Bunyip, who noticed this mistake days ago. The Guardian still hasn't.)
JUST AS coalition forces near victory, the ABC has decided to cease the overnight BBC broadcasts it has aired since the war began.
THE ARAB STREET REACTS. Quotes from an AP piece:
"How can we know this is for real and not just coalition propaganda?"
"It is a psychological war. If it is true then it is only a military strategy, to lure the American forces into a trap."
"The Americans can never stay in Baghdad. Baghdad is noble Arab land."
"If the allied forces occupy Iraq, it would signal the beginning of a liberation war against the colonialists."
"Where is your army Saddam?"
"These Americans are relying on false propaganda!"
"Sahhaf said they were not yet in Baghdad, didn't you hear him? The Americans have been lying a lot since the beginning of this campaign so I don't believe them."
"I thought some of the fiercest fighting was supposed to take place in Baghdad. Where are the Republican Guards?"
Wake up and smell the depleted uranium, Hassan. This deal is done.
THERE'S a reason why they're called irregular forces. CNN reports:
Irregular Iraqi forces, some wearing women's clothing, ambushed a U.S. Marine platoon of light-armored vehicles Monday in the central Iraqi city of Ab Diwaniyah, but the U.S. unit escaped without casualties, Marines in the firefight said.
(Thanks to Planet Mongo.)
QUIZ TIME! Guess the author of this lament, issued today:
"So much is being lost and destroyed in this war. Lives. Ideals. Dreams."
Meanwhile, among those whose ideals and lives and dreams have been saved ...
More than 100 children held in a prison celebrated their freedom as US marines rolled into northeast Baghdad amid chaotic scenes which saw civilians loot weapons from an army compound, a US officer said.
Around 150 children spilled out of the jail after the gates were opened as a US military Humvee vehicle approached, Lieutenant Colonel Fred Padilla told an AFP correspondent travelling with the Marines 5th Regiment.
"Hundreds of kids were swarming us and kissing us," Padilla said.
"There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back."
(Link thanks to Damian Penny, who fights the good fight.)
WELL, THIS turned out to be accurate, although that wasn't Cathy Wilcox's intention. Why is the Sydney Morning Herald shaming its own cartoonist by running a collection of her out-of-date work?
THE UK Telegraph on Iraqi delusion minister Saeed al-Sahaf:
As American forces advanced through the capital, Mr al-Sahaf told journalists: "There are no American troops in Baghdad. We surrounded them, we killed them, we made them drink poison and taught them a lesson that history will never forget."
When coalition troops took Najaf, he insisted that they had been routed. When they occupied the airport, he announced that they had been butchered.
The culmination will come when he is seized during one of his own broadcasts, and hauled off shrieking that the Americans have been driven deep into Kuwait.
I hope Saeed survives the war. He's prime talkshow talent. Imagine the Letterman appearance!
CELISSA is prepared to apply the one honk rule.
MEDIA WATCH is appalled by Miranda Devine's callous language:
That war can brutalise those left behind is an old lesson of history and we're getting worried about The Sydney Morning Herald's Miranda Devine, who's starting to write about humans as vermin:
'Better to bring [war] on now, at a time of our choosing, with all the cockroaches gathered for a showdown out in the open in Iraq, rather than cower at home … '
- Sydney Morning Herald, 3 April 2003
Where would lovely Miranda ever have learned such a dreadful slur? I know; from Media Watch! Here's what the program had to say about radio announcers involved in the cash for comment scandal of '99:
Legally, Lawsie and the rest of the big brand names in broadcasting are probably on safe, if squishy, ground.
But now at least the light has been turned on - to catch the cockroaches scrabbling for cover.
Obviously in Media Watch's universe it's a greater crime to receive undeclared commercial payments than it is to pay families of suicide bombers, wage war against your own people, seek to acquire weapons capable of terrorising distant countries and otherwise plot the destruction of the west.
POOR Robert Fisk. Now he's even being fisked by his fellow reporters in Iraq. Here's how Baghdad Bob previewed the March of the Infidels upon Saddam's fortified city:
The road to the front in central Iraq is a place of fast-moving vehicles, blazing Iraqi anti-aircraft guns, tanks and trucks hidden in palm groves, a train of armored vehicles ... Anyone who doubts that the Iraqi Army is prepared to defend its capital should take the highway south of Baghdad.
How, I kept asking myself, could the Americans batter their way through these defenses? For mile after mile they go on, slit trenches, ditches, earthen underground bunkers, palm groves of heavy artillery and truck loads of combat troops in battle fatigues and steel helmets. Not since the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War have I seen the Iraqi Army deployed like this.
The SMH's Paul McGeough happened to accompany Fisk when the massed might of Hussein's supermen was displayed before them. Asked about Fisk's claims, McGeough told the ABC's Mark Colvin:
Robert gets a bit windy from time to time, Mark. I was on the same bus as him and we saw some tanks, you wouldn't say that we saw an army of tanks.
We saw two or three tanks on that bus run. We saw multiple rocket launchers. We saw a convoy of two or three trucks of soldiers pausing to wash and eat by a creek. But we didn't see an army forming up for war.
Only Robert Fisk was able to see the gigantic phantom army. That's because it existed solely inside his head.
THIS whole "Kill Saddam" idea is really catching on:
Many of Saddam Hussein's elite Republic Guard last night were on the run out of Baghdad as the American forces pushed into the city's heart.
And the populace took to the streets in support of the liberators, hundreds lining the streets imploring them to "kill Saddam".
(Via Jeff Jarvis.)
WHAT IF George W. Bush really was as bad as Saddam Hussein? Michael Totten reports - for the New York Times!
Rupert Murdoch's vast newspaper empire has waged a relentless pro-war propaganda war before and since the war began.
Someone has stolen Chemical's thesaurus. She's particularly upset by these stories in the Daily Telegraph about an apparent death chamber near Basra run by friendly Saddam's men of hench. Here's a clip:
As US forces pressed further into Baghdad, their British allies uncovered an enormous charnel house containing the remains of hundreds of Saddam's torture victims.
Resembling an immense makeshift morgue, the warehouse near Basra contained row upon row of coffins - each with a skeleton - plus piles of reports and photographs documenting how each agonised soul had been executed.
Margo disputes the Telegraph's account:
I saw the vision of the find on TV last night, and noted the British officers remark that it was unclear what the building and its rows of simple coffins was all about. However, the remains were old, he said, and he showed documents and photographs also found on site, which did not scream out torture chamber but rather respect for the dead.
Saddam's soldiers are famous for their respect. Let's hear some more from those British officers; this is from a Sunday Times piece run in Monday's Australian:
Captain Jack Kemp, 40, of the 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, the first soldier to enter the warehouse, estimated it contained more than 200 coffins and many plastic bags filled with remains. "I wouldn't like to speculate, but the bones inside are obviously years old," he said.
Moments later, a younger soldier dashed over to him carrying a book containing the grimmest imaginable photographs of the dead. "Bloody hell," he whispered, "these are all executions. You can see the bullets, shots to the head."
Nothing says "respect" like punching a few rounds into some poor bastard's skull. "So," asks Margo, "where did The Daily Telegraph get its scoop information, and why was it so confident of the truth of its story? Who knows." Well, the scoop is that the story wasn't a scoop. The New York Times ran this on Saturday:
Soldiers of the Royal Horse Artillery also found Arabic documents and photographs of men bearing head wounds and showing signs of torture or disfigurement in the warehouse.
The Independent had much the same, plus this:
Outside stood what one soldier described as "a purpose-built shooting gallery".
A tiled foot-high plinth stood in a courtyard, with the brickwork behind it riddled with bullets. Behind that lay a drainage ditch.
Margo cites CNN and NYT pieces filed after the Telegraph's Sunday night deadline, and that cast some doubt on the nature of the supposed death house, as evidence of the Telegraph's Murdoch-driven warmongering madness - a madness also shared by the BBC (which quotes a Human Rights Watch spokeswoman suggesting that the dead may have been military or political enemies of Saddam Hussein) and MSNBC.
The Guardian is part of the Murdoch conspriracy, too. In fact, the second Telegraph article that Margo links to and damns as an example of "Murdoch's war on truth in war reporting" appeared in Sunday's edition of The Observer, the Guardian's sister newspaper. Where did The Daily Telegraph get its scoop information, Margo? From Guardian reporters who were at the scene.
Declares Margo: "I can hardly wait for the correction tomorrow." Me neither.
THIS POST is brought to you by Esser & Co., tyrant bunker builders for three generations:
"Listen," Karl Bernd Esser says. "I am not a Saddamista, I did not build him tanks or guns - a bunker is not an offensive weapon."
Herr Esser, the 45-year-old civil defence consultant to Saddam Hussein, whose grandmother helped to build one of Adolf Hitler's bunkers, does, however, have some explaining to do.
I'll say. Call this a bunker? Esser, you blundering fool!
THEY'RE kissing tanks in Basra:
Confounding the Arab media and the pundits who had talked darkly of a new spirit of Iraqi patriotism resisting the invaders, the people of Basra braved gunfire to dance in the streets and cheer for the British troops who finally broke the grip Saddam's dreadful regime had exerted on Iraq for so long. This reporter saw one Basra citizen even kiss a British tank.
"I DO BELIEVE THIS CITY IS FREAKIN' OURS"
- Capt. Chris Carter of Watkinsville Ga.
PAUL SHEEHAN does the math:
While an entire standing army has been demolished up and down the country, the civilian casualty rate has been of an order of magnitude of around .005 per cent of the population. Prior to the invasion, the percentage of truncated, fearful lives of Iraqis was of a magnitude of 99 per cent of the population. Not even the army's generals were immune from execution.
And Sheehan's summary of events is terrific:
After just two weeks, all that remains of Saddamistan is a shrinking, ranting, desperate, isolated rump collapsing down to its essence - guns, terror and hatred. There's nothing else left.
Oil wealth: gone. Economy: gone. Territory: almost gone. Ports: gone. Airports: gone. Border control: gone. Credibility: gone. Ideals: never existed.
UPDATE. Aaron Oakley writes:
"A shrinking, ranting, desperate, isolated rump ..." The same summary is also true of Margo Kingston's Web Diary, wouldn't you agree?
MIKE GERHARDT, an American in Japan, encounters pro-war opinion at a Suwa cafe:
I was in the small town of Suwa on Sunday, and had lunch with friends at a cafe owned by an Iranian man. The coffee was good and the chicken curry with flat bread was excellent. We lingered over our coffees, visiting and occasionally chatting with the owner who of course asked where we were from because that's just what you do here when you see other non-Japanese. Three of us are from America, one is Canadian. When it came time to leave, we each paid individually and I was the last to pay. As he said goodbye, the owner added - quietly and with a pleasant smile on his face, "Please kill Saddam Hussein."
Also at Mike's site: this explanation of the war for Japanese children. Shoot the sun!
PRE-EMPTIVE ATTACK: Eternal student politician Natasha Stott Despoja just told ABC radio that she suspected US troops would plant evidence of chemical weapons in Saddam Hussein's palaces. Don't forget all the fake corpses in the pretend torture chambers, Natasha!
UPDATE. The great deception! It begins!
GOTTA LOVE those universally recognised gestures:
Hundreds of Iraqi men greeted US marines in their push toward the Iraqi capital yelling "kill Saddam", as they sliced their thumbs across their throats in a universally recognized gesture.
LIVE FROM the front steps of Saddam Hussein's presidential palace, a US tank commander told Fox News a little while ago that he was going to take a shower in ol' Saddam's en suite. "It's got running water," he said. And gold taps!
Can't wait for to hear Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf's spin on this. "They do not control the shower! We have them trapped in the shower! The taps, the nozzle, dish where soap is placed, all controlled by Iraq!"
MEMO TO Sydney Morning Herald letter-writers, columnists, editors, etc. You might want to refer to this graph before you next blame the US for arming Saddam.
GET BUSY, you lazy Republican Guardsmen! Those infidels won't repel themselves, you know:
What has happened to the Iraqi army? And, indeed, to much of the six Republican Guard divisions – originally totalling 60,000 or 70,000 men? Many experts believe they have discarded their uniforms and gone home. Reports from Baghdad indicate they may be sitting in cafés.
UPDATE. David Gillies writes from Costa Rica:
The 'elite' Republican Guard sitting around in cafes while a conquering army rampages about their capital city? How very ... French of them.
BE SURE to visit the Blog of Mid-East Politics, where all the good links live.
WHAT IS it with people who want to make a powerful statement (in the medium of cake, by the way) but don't want to tell anybody their real name?
(Yes, I know this story is old. But, hey. Cake.)
A WOMAN tortured in Iraq recently tried to present her case for war to George Galloway, the pro-Saddam British MP. Galloway, king of all wimps, avoided her:
So, like all good activists, she went to his Westminster office to question him informally. Mr Galloway ducked down into an underground passage when he saw her waiting and drove off in his Mercedes.
Finally, he answered his home telephone. "I am very suspicious of you," he told Mrs Raper, when she explained her situation. She said that yes, she could provide proof that she was Iraqi, and he finally agreed to a meeting. "OK, come to my office on Monday," he said, before adding: "On second thoughts, don't."
Mr Galloway supports direct action such as marches on Number 10 or the US embassy, although his view is very different when it is his stance that is under scrutiny. "What do you want to talk to me about?" he barked.
"I just want to ask you about Saddam Hussein's human rights record," said Mrs Raper. "As a Western politician, have you ever tried to discuss this in Iraq?"
"I don't have to answer that question," said Mr Galloway defiantly, before adding: "Don't you dare contact me again. If you go to my house again I will have you thrown out and call the police."
Galloway once described the war in Afghanistan as morally grotesque. He'd know.
UPDATE. The Gweilo has more Galloway grotesquerie.
READER DAVE has a domestic quagmire perspective:
At this rate the coalition will get Baghdad quicker than I can get a plumber.
Try getting a Telstra broadband connection, Dave. More quags per mire than any war in modern history.
BACK WHEN John Hawkins interviewed me a year or so ago, I told him that both of Australia's major political parties would support the US in the war on terror. Well, stupid me; I got Labor completely wrong. Under Simon Crean, the ALP has become aggressively opposed to the war on terror.
And Australians have become just as aggressively opposed to Simon Crean.
AFTER PREDICTING in February that "even a short war will almost certainly lead to the hideous deaths of even more innocent civilians than died, for example, on September 11," Robert Manne is now moralising about the deaths of Iraqi soldiers:
It is certain that the number of Iraqi combatant deaths is very high. Coalition sources say in the brief battle for the Baghdad airport more than 300 Iraqi soldiers were killed. This is more than half the number of Australian soldiers who died in the Vietnam War.
Another coalition estimate says in the first incursion into central Baghdad, more than 1000 Iraqi soldiers died. In neither of these encounters was a single coalition soldier killed ... the deaths of so many young Iraqi men, in such technologically uneven battles, is tragic and pitiful in the extreme.
How does "technological uneveness" make their deaths any more tragic? Would Manne prefer bloodier, more equal fighting, with an increased number of coalition dead? Actually, he might:
A too-swift and easy coalition victory may substantially increase the risk of future wars.
Of course, had the war been slow and difficult, Manne would've been railing about quagmires and Vietnams and whatever. Manne dodges and weaves like a 4am Screech drinker.
UPDATE. From Toronto's David Janes:
Jeez Tim, if we're drinking Screech, we're just getting rolling at 4AM!
IT WOULD have been tough to make a living as an artist in Iraq if you couldn't do moustaches.
SURE, American troops might have put a hole in your wall, but who's to blame for that clock?
LAST MONTH Juan Pablo Montoya held a competition for schoolchildren in his native Colombia to draw a helmet design for today's Brazilian Grand Prix. Here's the winning entry, by a young schoolgirl. And here's Montoya in his Williams F1 at Brazil, wearing her design.
Cool. The helmet will be auctioned after the race, to raise money for Colombian charities. Australia's Mark Webber, incidentally, has qualified third - the highest qualifying spot for an Australian since Alan Jones put his Williams on the front row at Las Vegas 22 years ago.
Happy omen alert: Jones won that race, his final victory in F1. Bizarre Vegas recollection: after the '81 race Jones was interviewed by Mark Thatcher, son of Margaret, then goofing around as an F1 writer. Thatcher to Jones: "Were tyres a crucial factor today?" Jones to Thatcher: "Yeah. They kept the car from scraping on the track."
JULIE BURCHILL in the Guardian, on young anti-war protesters:
The day we turn to teenage boys for our moral guidance is the day we will truly be a decadent, finished society.
Want proof? Go read Indymedia.
THIS, from a Guardian reporter in Iraq, sums up the war's progress:
Until yesterday, their enthusiasm for the invaders could have been interpreted as caution in the face of an unknown occupier. Yesterday there was no doubt: they knew Saddam was finished, and they were glad.
Hearts and minds. Read it all.
PRO-WAR people, according to the Melbourne Age's deep-thinking Hugh Mackay, are largely gullible, enjoy the violence of warfare, are impatient and bored, can't be bothered following debate, or are suckers for propaganda. But as for the anti-war people ...
On the other side of the argument, among the majority who still oppose this war, something rather more complex is occurring: beyond the shame over Australia having been cast in the role of aggressor and the outrage over the illegality of the invasion, there's a quiet, persistent voice that may yet rise to a roar: "Of course we are against this war; come to think of it, we are against war."
These are not traditional pacifists. They are people - especially women - who are looking at the concept of war through 21st century eyes, seeing it as an affront to history, an admission of failure and a pathetically primitive, wearyingly predictable resort to violence.
These complex anti-war people just know a whole bunch more stuff than us lumpen primitives. Excuse me now while I go outside and rearrange the rock fence guarding the hut perimeter; our local augurer predicts increased Wilde Beaste activity this evening.
ANDREW BOLT nails it:
Being against the war was yesterday's argument: today the only question is whether you are for or against victory.
'ERE, YOUNG OODAY, go down to village well and fetch us a pail of anthrax. There's a good lad:
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's son Uday speaks English with a Yorkshire accent, and was a happy young student, his British former teacher told Newsweek magazine.
UPDATE. Paul Zrimsek provides the required Monty Python sketch:
"Plastic shredders? We used to *dream* of 'aving plastic shredders. When I were a lad, we 'ad to get oop at three o'clock in t'morning and work 27-hour day at secret police headquarters, rending dissidents with ordinary garden rake. But tell that to yer yoong war protestors today, and they won't believe you.”
IT MUST have been fun living here back in the early days:
The English feared the Irish right from the start in Australia. They also despised them for their ignorance.
Many Irish convicts believed China lay 150 miles to the west of Sydney and groups would abscond into the bush in search of this fabled place, despite all the efforts of the governors to give them geography lessons.
So ignorant were the Irish that one group even had a compass drawn on a piece of paper, believing it would guide their path.
This faith in paper led many of their descendants to become Sydney Morning Herald columnists.
THE AUSTRALIAN has an excellent little flash presentation covering the war's recent events. Watch for the image of coalition soldiers walking alongside a happy Umm Qasr youngster, accompanied by these words from the Iraqi "information" minister: "They are trapped in Umm Qasr! Trapped, I tell you!"
THE BLOG LIVES! Apologies to regular readers for the complete absence of posts since April 1. A meltdown at Blogger HQ rendered this site (and many others) inoperable.
Thankfully, Big John Little at Blogs of War was kind enough to offer me a virtual home for the duration. John runs one fine show, and it was a delight to contribute. Posts by me at BoW mention Bianca Jagger, Scott Ritter, Guy Rundle, John Kerry, the Daily Mirror, Tina Brown, the Guardian, a
Basra chocolate vendor, gun laws, John Pilger, Peter FitzSimons, Simon Crean, Miranda Devine, the Baghdad market
bomb disaster, George Jones, Margo Kingston, and stupid protesters.
Thank you again, John, for taking in a homeless blogger who was down on his luck. Now, let's continue with the mayhem!
IRAQ IS SADDAM'S COUNTRY, writes Margo Kingston, and his murderous brutes are right to defend it:
I realised Bush was mad when his army chiefs starting calling suicide bombers and guerilla fighters "terrorists". For God sake, it's their country, and they're facing overwhelming force! The US is INVADING Iraq, to take it over - their bodies are in some cases the only effective weapon they've got.
Maybe they could form a protective barrier around Baghdad with all the bodies of the Iraqis Saddam has had killed. Just an idea.
No country can hope to beat the Yanks off with conventional weapons - they've got air, sea and land completely covered. The only recourse is chemical, biological and nuclear weapons (the Yanks used them in Vietnam, and have not ruled out using them in this war).
Anyone remember nukes being used in Vietnam?
And as I've said before, if Australia is attacked, it's no longer terrorism. We have invaded Iraq. Iraq, or its new allies, have every right to attack back.
So if the UN had approved the war - in which case, by the way, Margo says she would have supported an invasion - Iraq would have every right to attack the UN. Send the monster an e-mail, with my love. Send a letter to the editor as well, in memory of all those Vietnamese who died in the atomic holocaust.
GLENN SACKS rips Helen Caldicott.
SOCIALIST ALLIANCE, the urine-borne pathogen driving Australia's anti-war movement, is demanding a massive attendance at the coming round of "peace" rallies:
This will confirm to the vast majority of Australians that the Howard government is totally isolated and illegitimate and must fall.
If this plan is implemented the people would almost certainly vote the Coalition out and install a Labor government.
Socialists love their plans. Too bad they never work. This latest plan is particularly brilliant, as the very result it seeks is being destroyed by the plan itself:
Simon Crean's approval rating has plummeted to a record low and Labor's support has slumped to a disastrous level that would see the ALP lose up to 18 seats if a federal election were held now.
And voter dissatisfaction has touched 60 per cent for the first time, marking Mr Crean as one of the most unpopular Opposition leaders in years.
John Howard's standing as preferred prime minister has returned to a record high, opening up a 45 per cent gap – 62 per cent to 17 per cent – over his embattled rival.
Keep on planning, babies.
POOR PETER ARNETT, fired for a mere suggestion:
Celebrated news correspondent Peter Arnett, famed for his coverage of the Vietnam War and the first Gulf war, has been sacked by NBC after he suggested on Iraqi television that the US war plan had failed.
GERARD HENDERSON on Michael Moore:
He deserved an Oscar for alienation - a phenomenon best explained as dislike for, or hatred of, an individual's society and its leaders. Alienated types tend to be relatively well-off and well-educated men and women who enjoy the freedoms and riches provided by Western societies and use their status to dump on politicians and, by implication, those who elected them.
Some members of the intelligentsia - and the super rich (like Moore) - enjoy wallowing in such self-hatred. Stupid White Men includes a chapter called "Kill Whitey". This is from an author who expresses understandable concern at the high homicide rates in the US. Sounds bizarre. But not so to the American heartland, as the Oscars demonstrated. Moore's alienated rage was applauded by a few members of the Hollywood tinsel town audience, although not by Oscar nominees and their guests who chose to remain silent. Not so those of lesser means, and status, who occupied what are termed the "cheap seats" who exhibited their disgust at such alienation - at a time when US forces are at war - by booing loudly. Bravo.
Henderson also dices Noam Chomsky. Go read.
ROBERT FISK, privy to the innermost thoughts of all Arabs, eulogises suicide bomber Ali Jaffar Moussa Hamadi al-Nomani:
President Saddam awarded him the Military Medal (1st Class) and the "Mother of All Battles" medal. The dead man left five children, a widow and a place in the 2,000-year history of Iraqi resistance to invasions. A US spokesman said that the attack "looks and feels like terrorism", although, since Nomani was attacking an occupation army and his target was a military one, no Arab would ever believe this.
Some might label Fisk's generalisation a form of racism.
THE ANTI-WAR movement in France isn't anti-war, reports the International Herald Tribune:
French Arab teenagers from the poor suburbs chanted slogans pledging war and martyrdom in the name of both Palestinians and Iraqis and against Israel. We are all Palestinians, we are all Iraqis, we are all kamikazes chanted one group, no older than 14 or 15, from the suburb of Garges-les-Gonesse. Others chanted We are all martyrs! Allahu Akbar! God is more powerful than the United States.
Both boys and girls wore the Palestinian scarf known as the kaffiyeh. One Moroccan-born man stepped on an image of the Israeli flag. Another French Arab pointed to a group of protesters from a Jewish student association and said: They are targets. They are not welcome here, because of what they did to our Palestinian brothers.
Banners at recent demonstrations have shown the Star of David intertwined with the Nazi swastika.
All of this leads the IHT to decide:
The anti-war movement in France has turned anti-Israeli.
Journalists are clever.