France will launch an international news network to compete with CNN and the BBC, Prime Minister Jean Pierre Raffarin announced today. “This channel will promote a French vision that is more necessary than ever in today's world," he said.
Your challenge: to provide a slogan and/or graphic for the new network.
David Marr may think ABC reporter Gina Wilkinson only deserves a harsh lesson for encouraging Iraqi children to play Hamas activist with potentially explosive missile launchers, but Media Watch viewers -- some of whom could use spellcheck -- want her to be fired:
”Good on you for busting Gina Wilkinson. Are these people crazy? Doing a story on the danger to children of unexploded ordnance, and then getting them to play on it. She should be sacked. I think it is disgraceful.”
”I congratulate Media Watch for your work in presenting this dispicable act, however I remain at a loss as to what kind of person puts children on a missile launcher for a good story. She deserves not only to be sacked as a journalist, but repremanded for her inhuman act. This is not just an error of judgment - she new the facts and she disregarded them for a good story. Gina - your acts are dispicable, discusting and unforgivable.”
”She is certainly a criminal and should be sued for crime. It is not enough to scak her but even that the ABC management has not done due to unseen interest in her and her crimes which you ought to dig deep into to bring to the surface. I am going to sue her and ABC on behalf of teh Iraqi children who she tried to murder by forcing them to stand over the misiles.”
”Thank you Media Watch for exposing Jenna Wilkinson's shocking ethics. Not only did she disgrace journalism and the ABC, she displayed shocking personal values and was a disgrace to her family ...The ABC should take immediate action. I don’t want to see another news story delivered from this person again. I was sickened.”
”I beleive that Gina Wilkinson should be sacked for here recently exposed efforts in Iraq. Obviously she new that she was asking for the kids to be put into harms way ...”
Unlike Stephen Crittenden, Wilkinson thus far hasn’t even been suspended.
Why is Russia refusing to ratify Kyoto? The ABC finds an unbiased expert to explain:
JEREMY LEGGETT: As we know, the White House has essentially an oil regime in power, and the OPEC governments were very opposed to Kyoto. Russia is a major oil and gas producer as well, so President Putin will be torn between narrow, short-term national interests and the billions of dollars of investment that are going into Russia from American and European oil companies.
I love the "as we know".
Last year I told you that we were at our best when we were boldest. I could have added that we are at our worst when whingeing. But whingeing is all most of you have done since then. It has been a year of complaint.
A lot of that has been about Iraq. OK, some of you are pacifists, like Mahatma Gandhi, and you don't like war on principle. Fair enough, I suppose, until they turn up to cart you off to the dusty field. But many of you others don't seem to care how many Iraqis old Saddam was killing, just so long as we didn't kill any.
It doesn't appear to bother you at all that - according to all polls - most Iraqis still think the invasion was a good thing. You know better than they do. You are so certain that it would have been preferable to have left Uday and Qusay in their palaces, and the political prisoners in their torture chambers, yet you call yourselves internationalists!
Read on for the killer conclusion. Oh, and if you think you can do better, the BBC invites you to try your hand as a Blair speechster.
Posting will be light for the next day or so, as I think I’m coming down with Australian Flu. All the classic indicators are present: fever, chills, golfball-sized sacs of baby spiders erupting beneath the skin, sore throat, headache. Rest is required.
Alan Wood on the ”discredited” Bjorn Lomborg:
The ABC's Earthbeat program had a panel discussion a week ago on Lomborg's Australian visit.
The program's presenter, Alexandra de Blas, introduced the discussion this way: "Lomborg's book has been discredited by some of the world's premier environmental scientists."
But what about the credentials of those who so savagely attack Lomborg's?
Good question. Read the whole piece.
Here’s Margo Kingston on August 26:
In my view, Tony Abbott has just said goodbye to ever being Prime Minister ...The Australian people will never trust Abbott again.
Today, her own newspaper disagrees with her:
Mr Abbott leaves workplace relations frustrated by Senate resistance, but with a commendable record of achievement. At a testing time he brings a reformist zeal to the health portfolio. Success will smooth the bovver-boy reputation and enhance his leadership credentials.
And Margo now disagrees with herself:
Abbott is a good man to fix up messes and make new policy work ... If he gets it right - and Howard will back him with big bucks - Abbott could clean-up his image and restore his appeal as a future leader.
But how, Margo? The Australian people will never trust Abbott again!
This is terrible:
A Muslim man who cut his 16-year-old daughter's throat because she had a Christian boyfriend has been sentenced to life in prison.
And this is extraordinary:
Police believe there are a dozen such "honour killings" in Britain last year, half of them in London.
They only believe there are this many “honour killings”? What’s the problem, coppers? Muslim girls keep turning up dead and you’ve got no idea who did it? Hint: if you think they’re “honour killings”, interview the family.
Gareth Parker is right -- I could never have predicted that the ABC would urge Iraqi children to frolic on and around unexploded ordnance for the benefit of its cameras. I clearly underestimated the ABC’s willingness to harm kids. Congratulations to Media Watch for airing the story, although it’s hard to imagine host David Marr being this mild had he caught someone from a commercial network doing the same:
The leaking of the camera tapes is a harsh lesson for Gina Wilkinson, but no journalist should need to be told the appropriate way to film reports of this kind. Using kids in this way to get pictures is just not on.
A harsh lesson. Just not on. The big meanie! Anyway, let’s see what Marr has to say next week about his close friend Alison Broinowski and her new career in fiction, reported below.
In all our wars, the aim is to assure the electorate that our ally will guarantee us protection in the future ... In fact, the US line on defending Australia remains the same, and our efforts in Iraq have not changed it. In Sydney on August 13, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage made that clear, saying "your system is yours to defend". If there were a future problem involving Indonesia, he added, Australian leadership would be "essential". In other words, unless American interests are threatened, we're still on our own.
On our own, are we? Let’s look at what Armitage actually said:
For China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, I believe that their behavior as states with global economic reach has perhaps now outpaced their behavior as states with global political reach. For all the Asian players, however, it is fair to say that this international system in which your fortunes are now so deeply vested is yours to protect and defend. Challenges such as terrorism, HIV/AIDS, trafficking in narcotics, trafficking in persons, and yes, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, these are challenges for us all. And this is the reality which Australia has long recognized.
He isn’t talking about cutting Australia adrift. He’s talking about a whole bunch of countries and a whole range of issues. Broinowski’s interpretation is wilfully idiotic (also, crucially, her version of the speech has it as “your system” rather than the transcript’s “this international system”). Now for the second Armitage quote:
This is a time when the world community needs to help restore Indonesia's faith in itself. Certainly by cooperating in counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts, but also by engaging across the board, in particular by helping this country along the road to economic and to political reform, and in so doing, to deny the terrorists the safe haven they often seek in misfortune and in turmoil. Without a doubt, it will be Australian leadership which will be essential in this regard.
He’s talking about Australia’s leadership in helping Indonesia generally, not some “future problem” that might require Australian military action and American aid. Broinowski omits the following section of Armitage’s speech:
In just two days' time we're going to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II. But that terrible, destructive battle was also the beginning of a special relationship between our two nations. At a time when much of the Australian military was in the Middle East and in Europe, defending allied interests, U.S. forces came here to defend Australia. We joined together then to protect our national security, but also to protect regional stability and to build a global system based on peace and prosperity.
We join together today for much the same purpose. I believe there will be a great continuity in our cause, forged out of the bones of our grandfathers and the blood of our children as we move forward into this millennium.
Why not send an email to The Age pointing out Alison Broinowski’s abuse of their op-ed pages?
Considering Steve Waugh’s charity work with Indian victims of leprosy, the Sydney Morning Herald might have come up with a more sensitive headline.
Presenting The Amazing Margo -- half human being, half Indymedia conspiracy squirrel:
Howard is getting away with it, in large part, because media supremo Rupert Murdoch has positioned his papers as government propagandists - by commission and omission.
Speaking of such things, Margo committed this on Sunday, and so far has omitted any explanation:
The frontrunner Democratic candidate for president, General Wesley Clark, revealed last week that he refused requests from the Bush administration to publicly link Iraq with S11 within days of the attack on the World Trade Centre because there was no evidence of a link.
No, no, no. In August Clark wrote to The New York Times:
"I would like to correct any possible misunderstanding of my remarks on 'Meet the Press' quoted in Paul Krugman's July 15 column, about 'people around the White House' seeking to link Sept. 11 to Saddam Hussein’.
"I received a call from a Middle East think tank outside the country, asking me to link 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11.”
That letter was published more than a month ago. Let's see how long it takes for Margo to wake up.
UPDATE. Corrected. Took three days.
Three new books -- all written by French authors, and published in France -- claim that France is on the way out:
The biggest splash is being made by La France Qui Tombe (Collapsing France) by Nicolas Baverez, an historian and economist.
Hostages to tyrannical state sector unions, farmers, subsidised film-makers and other interest groups, successive governments have squandered national wealth and heritage to maintain a protectionist, Soviet-style state, he says.
He also draws unfavourable comparisons with Britain, the favourite destination for French emigrants in the past decade. British per capita income has overtaken that of France, where taxes are now much higher. Britons pay 45 per cent of their income to the state in taxes, compared with ...
Wait for it:
... 75 per cent for the French.
Comedian Kathy Kinney entertains the troops in Baghdad:
"I know that you've been here for a long time. But the longer you're here, the closer the Olsen Twins get to being 18 years old."
Some nice lines in there from Drew Carey, too.
Tariq Ali on Edward Said:
With Said's death, the Palestinian nation has lost its most articulate voice.
And its best outfielder.
• The wit and wisdom and waffling and weirdness of Wesley “Help, Mary!” Clark.
• Harry’s Place points out the wolfish, predatory behaviour of US troops in Iraq. Shameful.
• Bernard Slattery forecasts fun times ahead now that Amanda Vanstone is running Australia’s famous immigrant childcare facilities.
• Gary Sauer-Thompson presents an artistic memorial to Rockchucker Ed. Little Green Footballs has some excellent Palestinian artwork, too. And here’s the Professor’s say on Said. (Incidentally, Said was born in 1935, the same year as Jerry Lee Lewis, whose birthday it is today. Doesn’t sound like a happy birthday, however.)
• Also at LGF: all the thrills of the massively-attended anti-everything demonstration in London, including adorable little children aboard tanks seemingly camouflaged for conflict against the Wiggles. Dorothy is on the run.
• Crowrocker Ken Layne has sexed up his site, as the saying goes. T-shirts in two weeks!
• Caz confronts a mobile Mountain O’ Snoopies.
• This is the sort of thing that made me murder all those people in the early ‘80s.
• And finally, Lileks:
Gnat has an imaginary friend now. Name of “Sally.”
“Are you sure it’s not a demon?” I asked my wife.
Mark Steyn is running a California Recall Competition. Excitement! Prizes! Chicks!
Things got so bad in Italy that the trains didn’t even run on time. But there’s a silver lining to this powerless cloud:
Some Italians have worried that new power plants could damage the environment — a position that has slowed new plant construction. Also, national demand has shot up in recent years, prompting energy officials to warn of possible blackouts.
"I would like my fellow citizens to know that we must build new plants and networks on our territory or the situation will remain the same," Enel chief Scaroni said.
President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi urged that "we must not slow down the construction of new power plants."
Richard Butler is looking kinda toasted.
Especially when you add this to the flames.
Just in response to Tim Blair's preposterous and partisan attack on rugby league: when will these AFL types stop bleating about and attacking league, a game enjoyed by millions of Australians?
As for his thesis that league is propped up and that AFL gets by on money from crowds – well that's just nonsense and untrue. The AFL wouldn't be operating today if it wasn't for the millions it earns from TV rights.
It must have really cut him up, by the way, to know that the league outrated the Swans on telly by hundreds of thousands of viewers. NSW and Queensland are league (and union) states and that's not going to change.
An AFL tragic like Blair attacking league has all the surprise and legitimacy of an attack on the unions by Tony Abbott. When will these AFL people be happy? Let other people enjoy their codes. The nationalisation of football codes smacks of homogeneity and as a Queenslander who loves the passion and tradition of rugby league I say vive la difference.
Like many Victorians, Tim Blair mistakenly associates higher crowd figures with an overall superiority of his code compared to rugby league. In reality, Australian rules football is a game with soaring kicks, a lot of manoeuvring of players well away from the ball, and rapid shifts in the position of play. All of these factors make it a game which is best appreciated by live attendance, and television cannot do it justice.
League on the other hand has most play centred on the ruck area, and the skills are difficult to appreciate from a distance, so this game is more suited to viewing on television, rather than from the grandstands.
This may explain the differences in attendance, but as for watching either game, I'd rather walk around a restaurant with a Campari and soda.
Tim Blair talks a lot of sense in his article about the NRL clubs and poker machines. NRL clubs are living beyond their means by paying players more than they are worth. If the crowds are turning up by all means pay them well but it's just crazy relying on poker machines for revenue.
Blair then claims that the AFL "is the largest, most successful football code in Australia". I cannot agree with him.
Despite the big crowds for the two recent AFL games at Stadium Australia (where the AFL conceded many turning up were first timers), AFL doesn't hold much interest for Sydney-siders. I think the Swans average about 20,000 people for SCG home games, not many considering it's the only AFL team in this city.
There's no doubting the AFL is successful – you'd be wrong in suggesting it is the most successful.
Dee Why, NSW
Yawn. Tim Blair trying to hype the AFL. Sydney isn't listening (apart from a few yuppies who trudge along to watch the Swans if they win a few games). This town's got a league grand final to look forward to and than a rugby World Cup to host. The AFL is irrelevant.
Speaking of the league grand final, my local team is in it again. Go Roosters! Don’t be boring!
UPDATE. The Grand Final was Australia’s most-watched sporting event of the year.
A journalist friend currently in Iraq writes:
We were sitting around last night and worked out that:
• War journos in the ‘60s and ‘70s had South East Asia, which was full of babes, great food, and great adventure.
• The ‘80s were all about Central America, a place full of babes, good food and some adventure.
• The ‘90s had the Balkans which has some babes, bad food and not much adventure.
• But we're left with the Middle East, which has women you can't look at, awful food (with a few exceptions) and not enough adventure. Oh well.
I blame George W. Bush. I don’t know why, but it seems to be the thing to do, usually.
G 'DAY. I quit smoking last week, after a 26-year heavy habit. It's a job best done alone, so there's no-one to cop the blame for the shakes, the headaches and the depression while your body works out how to live without the prop that's killing it.
Send your cartons of cigarettes to Margo care of The Sydney Morning Herald, 201 Sussex St, Sydney NSW 2000.
Maybe that explains my confusion when I read George Bush's speech to the United Nations on why, after he spurned the UN as irrelevant and invaded Iraq without its sanction and against the majority of world and expert opinion, the world had to give him troops and money to win his war.
Does anything explain Margo’s confusion?
For a shocked moment, I thought he was admitting he was wrong to wage a war of aggression against a country which posed no threat to it, because this turned Americans into the gangsters we want to defeat and pre-emptive wars make the world a more frightening, threatening place for us all.
Except for Iraqis who were previously frightened and threatened by Saddam Hussein. But who cares about them?
John Howard is the prop that's killing us.
The Prime Minister is a deadly tarlike carcinogen? But only a couple of weeks ago Margo was angrily refuting claims that she’d ever labelled the Prime Minister a “mass murderer”.
I'll never forget what the father of the US Senate, Robert Byrd, said on the eve of war. I cry every time I read it.
Reader of Margo’s Webdiary can relate. She seems easily able to forget Byrd’s Klan past, however.
Maybe tough old General Wesley Clark, who opposed the Iraq war and is standing as a Democratic candidate for the US presidency, will help Americans recapture the vision.
Yes, Margo. A vision like this:
”And I'm very glad we've got the great team in office, men like Colin Powell, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice ... people I know very well - our president George W. Bush. We need them there.”
Nicotine-deprived Margo just can’t keep up. Here’s her latest:
The frontrunner Democratic candidate for president, General Wesley Clark, revealed last week that he refused requests from the Bush administration to publicly link Iraq with S11 within days of the attack on the World Trade Centre because there was no evidence of a link.
This is an extraordinary statement from a paid journalist. Clark “revealed” this claim on June 15 last year. He’s since altered his alleged source, as George Will chronicles:
July 1: “A fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank ... I'm not going to go into those sources. ... People told me things in confidence that I don't have any right to betray.”
July 18: “No one from the White House asked me to link Saddam Hussein to Sept. 11.”
August 25: It came from “a Middle East think tank in Canada, the man who's the brother of a very close friend of mine in Belgium. He's very well connected to Israeli intelligence ... I haven't changed my position. There's no waffling on it. It's just as clear as could be.”
But not clear enough for Margo, who doesn’t even have the excuse that smoke got in her eyes.
Several PayPal donations have arrived at this site earmarked for the appeal, so I’ll be shopping this week for a cricket bat, a bunch of tennis balls to smack around, and an Australian Rules football to kick like it was Uday’s groin. Those speedy little Iraqi kids look like they’d make useful wingers.
The de-brutalising of Iraq continues, as Bernard B. Kerik writes:
Iraq is now a different country. The rebuilding of the infrastructure has begun and the streets are full of life, with bustling markets and shops. But reconstruction isn't just about bricks and mortar:Iraq's civic structures were in tatters, too, especially its Baathist police force, an organization that had, in any case, no credibility with the Iraqi people. My job was to assist in setting up this force again, with proper training, new values, a respect for human rights. The latter phrase -- "human rights" -- has been absent from Iraq's vocabulary for decades. Certainly, no one has heard it uttered, until now, within the four walls of a police station. The magnitude of our task can be measured from the fact that we had to teach cops that when you pull a man suspected of a crime into the station, you can't just hang him upside-down and beat him with an iron bar.
I’ll never understand why the “Free Mumia” crowd never embraced the chance to free a whole country.
According to Der Spiegel, the blackout in the USA proves the weakness of the American nation. But the blackout in Italy proves the weakness of two major power lines. David Kaspar has the story.
Someone oughta tell Oliver Stone: “Ollie, pal, the World Tard Record is yours. You’ve got a lock on it, baby! You don’t have to keep trying so hard!”
Stone asks Castro about elections, freedom and human rights in Cuba - questions that have become intensely relevant with renewed international condemnation last week. Castro has well-rehearsed answers and disappointingly, Stone doesn't push him.
"There's something El Greco-like about him," says Stone. "Don Quixote comes to mind. And he's tilting at windmills in the same way as Don Quixote, because after 40 years, he is isolated, he hasn't changed his position. But he has to stay firm to his revolution.
"He makes the point that if you sell out to the US one quarter inch, you lose, because that's where they get in. Once they put the first McDonald's, they keep coming."
A mention of McDonald’s is Godwin’s Law in burger form. Keep on truckin’, Ollie:
Since September 11 2001, Stone has found himself embattled at home. He was one of the few high-profile Americans who publicly questioned why the attacks happened. ("I made the point that I thought it was a rebellion against globalisation, against the American way, and Christopher Hitchens called me a moral and intellectual idiot.")
Not a difficult call to make. A Saudi based in Afghanistan who owns Russian weaponry sends a team including United Arab Emirates nationals, a Lebanese, and an Egyptian with links to Germany and Spain to crash jets into the World Trade Center, and this is a rebellion against globalisation?
So you’re a bright young conservative at university. What should you do? Keep your mouth shut:
The most common advice conservative students get is to keep their views in the closet. Will Inboden was working on a master's degree in U.S. history at Yale when a liberal professor pulled him aside after class and said: "You're one of the best students I've got, and you could have an outstanding career. But I have to caution you: hiring committees are loath to hire political conservatives. You've got to be really quiet."
Thus is dissent stifled.
UPDATE. Some people aren’t keeping quiet. They have since been silenced.
This is unbelievably sad, but illustrative of dangers not limited to war zones:
An Army reservist home on leave was struck and killed as she walked along Highway 69 early Friday morning.
Police have not released the victim's name. They did tell KMBC that she was home on leave from Iraq for her brother's wedding.
Imagine how the brother must feel.
Today’s US Grand Prix could deliver Michael Schumacher’s sixth world Formula One title. Contrary to this report in The Daily Telegraph, it is possible for the German to claim the title with a second-place finish, so long as Kimi Raikkonen finishes no higher than fourth and Juan Pablo Montoya no higher than eighth. If Schumacher wins at Indy, he'll take the title if Raikkonen is third or lower, and Montoya is no better than sixth.
After qualifying, however, those results seem unlikely. Raikkonen is on pole and Montoya is fourth, with Schumacher way down in seventh. If they finish in those positions (they won’t) Raikkonen will carry a one-point lead into the final round at Suzuka, ahead of Montoya and Schumacher tied on 84 points.
The qualifying data from Indianapolis is intriguing. Montoya and BMW-Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher were the only two drivers to top 350 kmh (217 mph) on the long Indy straight yet were beaten for overall lap speed by Raikkonen (10 kmh slower on the straight), Rubens Barrichello (5 kmh slower) and Olivier Panis (16 kmh slower). This points to Williams using shallow wing angles, which might influence tyre wear during the race.
Also revealed is that the engine now revs as high as 19,200 rpm -- that's 320 crankshaft rotations and 160 spark plug firings per second -- but is held to 19,000 during races. The engine idles, if that's the term for it, at 4,000 rpm.
Power is a function of how much fuel and air can be usefully passed through an engine in a given period of time, and the BMW P83 inhales nearly two cubic feet of air per second (0.554 cubic meter).
Maximum piston acceleration is 10,000 g's, and the peak piston speed is 131 feet per second. Consider that the collective mass of the piston, pin, connecting rod and crankshaft journal are not only accelerated at that rate and to that speed, but have to come to a complete, if momentary stop 640 times a second, when the piston reaches the top and bottom of its travel through the cylinder.
All this from an engine weighing less than 200 pounds/90 kilos, and displacing three liters, or 183 cubic inches. For those who remember the '60s, that's the equivalent of five cylinders in the venerable 283-inch Chevy small-block V8, which in its original form had a maximum engine speed little higher than the BMW's idle.
And produced about 700 fewer horsepower. Still, those small-blocks always sounded so cool.
What the hell? After blackouts in New York, London, Sydney, and Memphis, now Italy has a complete power failure.
Those evil Segways are losing power, too.
It makes sense to Reuters:
Palestinians regard Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as major obstacles to peace and have regularly attacked them.
Brilliant. David Kaspar has more on the evasions of the newsagencies.
(Via reader Yoseph Malkin.)
Julie Flint in the English-language Lebanese Daily Star states that which cannot be stated often enough:
It is worth stating the obvious, so momentous is it: For the first time in almost half a century, Iraq has no executions, no political prisoners, no torture and no limits on freedom of expression. Having a satellite dish no longer means going to jail or being executed. There are over 167 newspapers and magazines that need no police permit and suffer no censorship, over 70 political parties and dozens of NGOs. Old professional associations have held elections and new associations have sprung up. People can demonstrate freely -- and do.
They’re doing better in Iraq than some in the west:
Organizers of the great anti-war demonstrations in Britain confiscated banners saying “Freedom for Iraq”.
Paul Sheehan on Australia and the US:
Beyond the US, there are 188 sovereign nations (give or take a microstate or two) and only one of them has fought beside it in every one of the major international wars the Americans have waged over the past 100 years.
In the US's seven wars of the past century (not counting numerous and sometimes bloody military actions in Panama, Grenada, Somalia, Bosnia, Guatemala and elsewhere) - World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan war, and the Iraq war - only Australia fought in all seven wars, and every one of them was fought far from Australia's shores.
Why would a nation so far from harm be so willing to fight? Two basic reasons. Australia is an altruistic nation. It stands for something. With allies, it is willing to fight expansive tyrannies. As for the other reason, when Howard committed Australia to the American cause in Iraq, he did so for the same reason five of his predecessors went to war: the need to be aligned with a superpower that can stop an invasion from Asia, and did stop an invasion from Asia.
There's lots more. Read the whole thing. And here's another Australian admired in the US -- for all the wrong reasons.
Congratulations to Brisbane, the finest team of the modern era.
Latest Grand Final updates:
Mick Malthouse has never seen snow.
David Williamson is a traitor who wishes he wasn’t.
Nigel Lappin might be suffering worse injuries than previously thought:
I spoke to somebody who works in the AFL staff and they said they were down at ground level and Lappin was coughing blood when he came off the ground.
Mick Malthouse possesses a certain feline quality:
"He and Leigh are both as hard as cats’ heads but they’ve changed their methods, too, over the years. It appears Mick’s more statesmanlike these days. He won’t like me saying this, but he seems as much a father-figure to those boys as a coach."
And a bus from Queensland was invaded by a Collingwood boy:
Hardcore Collingwood fan Scott Ingram ran the gauntlet by joining 23 Lions followers on a 24-hour bus ride to the Grand Final at the MCG.
The 26-year-old began the journey by brazenly singing Good Old Collingwood Forever to a chorus of jeers.
"He should be put off the bus and made to walk," one Lions fan said.
This year's trip suffered a major setback when it was found that no one had brought videotapes of past Lions victories to watch on the bus TV.
The Magpie intruder offered to play what he claimed was a director's cut of last year's Grand Final with a "new ending". No one was amused.
That’s all from me until the Grand Final ends. Pray for my black and white soul.
Tim Blair has shown his ignorance of Australian sport by asking: "how does one become Latham's sort of fella without betting on the races?" - a reference to John Singleton (Opinion, 26/9).
Blair needs to get his backside trackside. Singleton is best known as a racehorse owner, including the Group One winners Ha Ha, Sunday Joy and Belle de Jour.
I don't know about Singleton's gambling habits. What I do know is that every time he wins the Golden Slipper his acts of generosity at Rosehill are legendary. That's my sort of fella.
Unlike Tim Blair, who is always looking down his nose at working class pastimes like rugby league, the track and club-life. The Australian should not allow people to write about sport unless they know something about it.
Always looking down my nose at working class pastimes, am I? That’ll be news to anybody I know, or who reads this site. Latham’s defence of a millionaire mule owner reveals the disconnect between his tribal ALP fantasy and the reality of his cosying-up to wealthy, protected working class poseurs. Happy to debate this anytime, Mark.
Someone wrote to one of the papers recently suggesting this ... and now it’s happening. Free sheep for Iraq!
Australian livestock exporters will buy back the 53,000 sheep adrift in the Persian Gulf and give them to Iraq for slaughter at Ramadan, under a secret deal the Australian Government is brokering.
By the way, what is Ron Tandberg on about? Another slaughter?
Why do they hate us?
Football loyalties rarely invoke shades of grey and now it's there in black and white: Collingwood is the most hated team in Australia.
Very hated. 0ne-in-three Australians despise the Magpies more than any other football team in the nation, according to a NEWS.com.au poll.
Of the 5000-odd respondents, more than 30 per cent nominated this year's Melbourne grand finalists as the side they disliked most in football.
UPDATE. Even artificial intelligence conversation robots hate us:
User: Will Collingwood win tomorrow?
Jabberwacky: I will smash you like the bug you are.
My take on the current NSW clubs-taxation-NRL debacle. In The Australian.
Incidentally, the average NRL game this year attracted about 14,500 people. Collingwood had a greater attendance at its final training session, which was broadcast live on Fox TV and Melbourne’s ABC radio.
For the love of God, does anybody know of a bar in Oxford, England, where a man might view the AFL Grand Final? A former Brit, now an Australian citizen but currently slumming it in his country of origin, writes:
Would you believe it, just as your strangely beautiful game begins to capture my imagination, I can't find anywhere to watch the fucking Grand Final in Oxford. Doesn't Australia produce Rhodes scholars any more?
Unless a suitable venue is located he will suspend himself above the Thames in a perspex box like other distressed AFL fans. Please assist. While we’re on the subject of suspensions, here’s Patrick Smith on the Rocca penalty:
Rocca will miss perhaps his last chance to be a premiership player, not because he was malicious but because for a blip he was reckless. That is the fault of Rocca and not of the system.
He’s right. As soon as the incident was replayed I knew Rocca would get two weeks.
We’ll still win.
Sometimes -- well, all the time -- I’m inclined to agree with people who claim Australia has at least one too many tiers of government:
A plan by the inhabitants of Spike Milligan's Australian home town to walk backwards in his honour has been quashed by the local council on safety grounds, the organisers said.
In a turn of events that would no doubt have appealed to Milligan's sense of the absurd, festival officials have been told to change their plans by the local authorities, who fear that any injuries could land them with a hefty claim for compensation.
The organisers have come up with a compromise - festival-goers will walk normally but wear their clothes back to front, with face masks on the back of their heads.
But what if the masks cause breathing problems? Or the back-to-front clothing leads to permanent disorientation? The compensation claims for psychotropic medication will be gigantic.
(Via Simon A.)
David Steven has produced an analysis of the BBC reporters’ log during the war in Iraq. Among his findings:
* 76% of all posts that were sceptical of claims made about progress by either side raised doubts about Coalition progress.
* 58% of reports on Coalition progress focused on setbacks, which were also reported in greater details than the 42% of posts that dealt with Coalition successes.
* 60% of posts that analysed Iraqi strategy were positive and 40% negative, 69% of all posts that focused on Coalition strategy were critical and 31% positive.
* BBC reporters seemed much more sceptical about Coalition claims than they were about what the Iraqis were telling them.
A similar work is underway in Australia. Stay tuned.
Remember Amina Lawal, the Nigerian woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery? She’s been set free:
"It is the view of this court that the judgment of theUpper Sharia Court, Funtua, was very wrong and the appeal of Amina Lawal is hereby discharged and acquitted," judge Ibrahim Maiangwa said.
Now all that remains is for her to get the hell out before avenging Islamist gangs take matters to a “higher court”.
Roger: Did well, but we will see if he extended his base. Was the most lucky not to have to answer questions on social issues.
Mike: Chief Running Third did well but not smoking. He'd sell like hotcakes in Nebraska or the antebellum South, but he's on the "drastically marked down" table here in California.
Roger: As dull as ever. Sometimes you forget he's even there.
Mike: Barely held on, very rumpled looking and not too courteous to other debaters.
Roger: An earnest socialist in an era when everyone knows socialism has been tried and failed hundreds of times. Touching, really.
Mike: Sounded more like a libertarian than a greenie, but was also way off message.
Roger: One of the most bizarre human beings ever in American politics, the witch from the Wizard of Oz (and I don't mean Glenda!). Possibly a sociopath.
Mike: A national embarrassment. Disgraceful. She's insane and everyone knows it.
Roger: Did okay, but spent too much time responding to the near sociopath above (did I say near?... How do you really feel about her, Roger?... Don't ask!)
Mike: Held his own, looked gubernatorial but did not kick butt.
UPDATE. And here’s another debate, over at The Independent. Your topic: The Soviet Union Was Good.
A spokeswoman for the campaign, Kym Spell, said, "General Clark has served his country for 34 years and for General Shelton to make these comments came as a surprise and a huge disappointment."
I bet. It’s a surprise also that the NYT is among the first to run Shelton’s criticism. That paper could end up being quite influential one day.
UPDATE. The Boston Globe runs it, too. The weird thing about this is that the comments were made two whole weeks ago, and went unreported; in the 24 hours they’ve been in the public domain, they’ve caused a mini-firestorm. And here’s Deborah Orin in the NY Post:
Democratic Internet-land was frantic yesterday with e-mails zooming out a killer quote from Clark's ex-boss, respected former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Hugh Shelton, who sure isn't as crazy about him as Bill Clinton.
From (who else?) Reuters:
Israel Troops Kill Gaza Youth After Bush UN Speech
See, first Bush spoke, and then the kid was offed. Coincidence? Don't make me laugh! And Bush's speech? If you take every third word, replace the second vowel and fourth consonant in those words with the opening letters in Old Testament scripture that correspond to the flight numbers of the jets in 9/11 (starting with the largest number first, and working backwards), it spells out: "I AM ZOG. ALL DEATH TO ARIBS".
I guess he spelled "Arabs" wrong because he's not very bright.
(Spotted by hyperalert Zsa Zsa.)
• Virginia Postrel asks a damn good question.
• He moved from New York to Sydney, from blogspot to blogspot pro, from blogspot pro to some other thing, and now James Morrow has moved again.
• Either Wesley Clark is lying or Michael Moore is. Brian Carnell reports, you decide.
• Scroll down a little for some old school Hamas stylin’.
• “I’m returnin’ that Noam Chomsky video you made me rent from you. I only watched like six minutes of it so I guess I should get like at least a partial refund.”
• Old Man Parker celebrates his 93rd birthday. “The umpiring life has been kind to me,” he reflects.
He’s the troll you can’t control! The dude who wants your food! The big buttmunch with his panties in a bunch ‘coz he’s kinda got a hunch that it’s all about lunch!
He’s Big Hawk (aka White Bread, aka Whatever, aka Labor Pimp, etc) and his strange lunch obsession has made him this site’s favourite comments entity. Hey -- only a few hours to go before lunch time! Let’s get in the mood with Big Hawk’s greatest food-related hits!
You truly excel yourself Tim. Where's lunch today.
When someone attacks Australia I'll fight, but I doubt Tim will. He'll be too busy pretending how important he is eating lunch.
... the reality is that Tim and his luncheon crowd are the real white trash of Australia ...
Be careful eating lunch now today, don't want you choking on a chicken bone do we ...
You send other people's sons and daughters to fight your wars and call anyone who doesn't agree with you a coward, a traitor or any other term of abuse you can come up with between your endless long lunches.
... he's got another long lunch to attend to today, where he and his fellow travelers can whine over another bottle of expensive wine ...
We need leadership out at the front in this great war against of civilization, not at the rear enjoying endless long lunches.
... your own club of admirers read this crap over lunch.
Just remember Tim, as you down another bottle of expensive wine - while someone's else son is on the frontline - that you are a chickenhawk and a hypocrite.
He’s also got a thing about expensive wine. Man, I’m hungry already! And thirsty!
Excellent Collingwood piece by Richard Hinds:
Collingwood's insular fanaticism is based on both their ancient and recent history. For the boot factory workers from the impoverished slums of Collingwood, football was an expression of pride and revenge. In latter days the club's spectacular finals failures have entrenched the feeling of victimisation.
Perhaps the sentiment that best describes Magpie supporters comes from 12-year-old fan Stephanie, who was asked on the website which opposition clubs she dislikes: "I hate them all because I am a true supporter and don't like other clubs," she replied.
Well said, Stephanie. Important news for readers in Denver, Seattle, Philadelphia, London, Toronto, Vancouver, Sachsenhausen, Guam, Paris, Hong Kong, Vientiane, Singapore, and Madrid: the Melbourne Age has compiled a useful list of places where you may gather to watch the AFL Grand Final. Be warned: some of these venues could serve alcohol. Exercise extreme caution.
The editor of street magazine the Big Issue has been sacked and editorial staff locked out of their Melbourne offices.
Big Issue assistant editor Ben Butler said he and two colleagues - the remainder of the magazine's editorial staff - had been locked out of their offices.
"We've had no notice of an industrial dispute," Mr Butler said. "I'm still a bit flabbergasted."
At least he has his musical career to fall back on.
Jay Ambrose spots a minor flaw in Wesley Clark’s presidential plans:
Wesley Clark doesn't seem to have much of an idea of what he thinks about health care, jobs, education or any other domestic issue, and there's therefore a major question about his presidential candidacy. Why is he running?
Beats me. All I know is, at a time of international crisis, with manifold threats circling the globe like so many bloody-clawed jackals, what the US really needs is a President who knows when to yell: ”Mary, help!”
UPDATE. Reader KevinV in comments alerts us to a remarkable quote from Retired General H. Hugh Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on 9/11:
"What do you think of General Wesley Clark and would you support him as a presidential candidate," was the question put to him by moderator Dick Henning, assuming that all military men stood in support of each other. General Shelton took a drink of water and Henning said, "I noticed you took a drink on that one!"
"That question makes me wish it were vodka," said Shelton. "I've known Wes for a long time. I will tell you the reason he came out of Europe early had to do with integrity and character issues, things that are very near and dear to my heart. I'm not going to say whether I'm a Republican or a Democrat. I'll just say Wes won't get my vote."
After five months of foreign military occupation and the ouster of Saddam Hussein, nearly two-thirds of Baghdad residents believe the removal of the Iraqi dictator has been worth the hardships they have endured, a new Gallup poll shows.
Despite the systemic collapse of government and civic institutions, a wave of looting and violence, and water and electricity shortages, 67 percent of 1,178 Iraqis told a Gallup survey team that within five years, their lives will be better than before the American and British invasion.
Only 8 percent of those queried said they believed that their lives would be worse as a result of the military campaign to remove Saddam and his Baath Party leadership from power.
Robert Fisk is a joyful blur as he races about tracking down those eight-per-centers. The Independent's go-to guy for jihad jizz is having the time of his life:
"I saw the Americans flying through the air, blasted upwards," an Iraqi mechanic with an oil lamp in his garage said - not, I thought, without some satisfaction. "The wounded Americans were on the road, shouting and screaming."
Even as I left the scene of the killings after dark, US army flares were dripping over the semi-desert plain 100 miles west of Baghdad while red tracer fire raced along the horizon behind the palm trees. It might have been a scene from a Vietnam movie, even an archive newsreel clip; for this is now tough, lethal guerrilla country for the Americans, a death-trap for them almost every day.
Fisk writes this not, I think, without some satisfaction. He’s an admirer of Iraqi street art, too:
I couldn't help noticing the graffiti on a wall in Fallujah. It was written in Arabic, in a careful, precise hand, by someone who had taken his time to produce a real threat.
"He who gives the slightest help to the Americans," the graffiti read, "is a traitor and a collaborator."
Bob’s in no danger, then.
(Thanks to Zsa Zsa for the Fisky link.)
UPDATE. U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), a Vietnam combat veteran, weighs in on the debate:
On Sept. 14, I flew from Baghdad to Kuwait with Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg from Dearborn, Mich. He was in a body bag. He'd been ambushed and killed that afternoon. Sitting in the cargo bay of a C 130E, I found myself wondering whether the news media were somehow complicit in his death.
• Scientists using scientific machines have captured an image of the seismic internet phenomenon known as the InstaLanche.
• George W. Bush is a man of considerable taste: "After work, if I'm reviewing a speech or just want a little downtime, I'll have a ballgame in the background. Some people like to listen to opera - I like to have the ballgame.”
• The 5,000-year-old Warka Mask has been found by US investigators after having been looted in April. The mask, Iraq’s most cherished antiquity, celebrates the eight wickets taken by Australian medium pace bowler Max Warka in the final Test of the 1974/5 Ashes series. Still missing is the priceless Warka Book.
• Perverted and stoatlike French people annoy John Howard: "The French have been utterly opportunistic from the very beginning on this issue."
• Deadly trouser snakes were apprehended Monday by Australian customs officials.
Where was the US military when this orgy of looting was taking place?
The NSW corruption watchdog today recommended charges be laid against a former employee of the Australian Museum over the theft of more than 2000 rare artefacts.
In its report, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said Hank van Leeuwen, a former employee of the museum in Sydney, had stolen rare and scientific zoological specimens between 1997 and 2002.
The report describes as audacious some of van Leeuwen's activities - at times he used museum vehicles to remove specimens and displayed in his home a large stuffed lion that was a museum heritage item first exhibited in 1911.
The items stolen included skulls, skeletons, skins and complete animal specimens in alcohol.
That copy is a touch dry. Let’s Fisk it up a little:
Not since the Taliban embarked on their orgy of destruction against the Buddhas of Bamiyan and the statues in the museum of Kabul - perhaps not since the Second World War or earlier - have so many rare and scientific zoological specimens been wantonly and systematically stolen.
"This is what our own people did to their history," the man in the grey gown said as we flicked our torches yesterday across the piles of skulls, skeletons, skins and complete animal specimens in alcohol. "We need the American soldiers to guard what we have left. We need the Americans here. We need policemen." But all that the museum guard, Al, experienced yesterday was being a museum guard. "Look at this," he said, picking up a large stuffed lion that was a museum heritage item first exhibited in 1911. "This was Assyrian." The Assyrians ruled almost 2,000 years before John Howard.
Yes! Much better.
(Via reader Rob S.)
Michelle Grattan of the Melbourne Age puts in a late bid for craziest line of the year:
The MV Cormo Express has become the Tampa of the live sheep export trade.
According to the latest poll, Labor might win the next election if it replaces Simon Crean with any other carbon-based lifeform:
The Labor Party would be in an election-winning position if it dumped Simon Crean as leader, regardless of who took his job, new survey figures show.
The Herald-ACNielsen poll last weekend found 21 per cent of respondents would change their vote if Mr Crean were replaced. While not all would go to Labor, the net result would cut the Government's lead on primary votes from 11 points to four.
This must be the brilliant Crean strategy Margo mentioned the other day.
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are the Big Merino, the Big Cow, the Big Cheese, Davina Jackson, Kath & Kim, Amanda Vanstone, the Big Lobster, Simon Crean, John Howard, Slim Dusty, the number 13, Bend it Like Beckham, Richard Butler, Saddam Hussein, and the Queen.
A late addition to my fixation with 13 and Collingwood: Leon Davis, who played on Saturday after not being selected since round 13, kicked the 13th goal of the match.
Could be that the war in Iraq just ain’t an election issue:
Almost 70 per cent of Australians believe John Howard misled them on his case for war in Iraq, a new poll shows.
However, about the same proportion still prefer him to Simon Crean as Prime Minister.
Significantly, the Herald/ACNielsen poll finds that two-thirds of those who felt deceived over the war believed Mr Howard had misled them unintentionally.
If the war isn’t an issue, well, better find something else to get freaky about, Labor puppies.
Michael Moore’s new book -- catching the zeitgeist of three whole years ago, it’s titled Dude, Where’s My Country? -- is due for release on October 7. What can readers expect?
When the powers-that-be succeeded in ignoring-and then silencing-the nation's widespread dissent over war, one man stood on an Oscar stage and, in front of a billion people ...
... was booed by them.
And now he's back — daring to ask the most urgent question of these perilous times:
”Can I have fries with that?”
Michael Moore is on a mission in his new book: Regime Change. The man who slithered into the White House on tracks greased by his daddy's oil buddies is one of many targets in Mike's blistering follow-up to his smash #1 hit Stupid White Men, the biggest-selling nonfiction book of the year.
He also topped the fiction charts.
Now no one is safe: corporate barons who have bilked millions out of their employees' lifetime savings, legislators who have stripped away our civil liberties in the name of "homeland security," and even that right-wing brother-in-law of yours (yes, we all have one) who manages, year after year, through his babbling idiocy, to ruin Thanksgiving dinner.
Michael has a vested interest in the ruination of dinners. Attack New York, send jets into the Pentagon, release anthrax ... all of that he can can cope with. But for the love of God don’t you bastards ruin his dinner!
Of course, his book will sell massively. Which is a good thing; after all, remember the awesome power of his anti-Republican Payback Tuesday rant. Thanks for the assist, porko.
Chief Wiggles is running a toy deal for Iraqi kids. I’m sending a cricket bat. If you’ve got anything small, fun, and toylike lying around the house -- a younger Minogue sister, perhaps -- package it up and mail it to:
APO AE 09335
John Pilger is going to destroy the entire military industrial complex with his fantastic scooping abilities:
Australian investigative journalist John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie that could cost George W. Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them.
Pilger uncovered video footage of [Colin] Powell in Cairo on February 24, 2001 saying, "He (Saddam Hussein) has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbours."
Some “uncovering”. This particular smoking gun is brought to you by the US State Department. Here’s the full quote:
We will always try to consult with our friends in the region so that they are not surprised and do everything we can to explain the purpose of our responses. We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions--the fact that the sanctions exist-- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue.
The removal of Saddam may be considered a policy reviewed, thus ending forever Iraq’s destructive potential and liberating Iraqis into the bargain. Here’s a George W. Bush quote addressing the issue of imminent threat that you won’t find in Pilger’s comical television epic:
Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
And now it’s not a problem.
UPDATE. Professor Bunyip has much more.
People say we Collingwood supporters are rancid of tongue and foul of temper. It’s just not right! To completely discredit this absurd myth, here’s a note from a Collingwood pal on the subject of Victorian premier Steve Bracks and his opposition to freelance economic initiatives:
the stupid little fuck has decided to show himself the socialist by trying to ban ticket scalping - at the behest of the fucking greatest scalpers of all - the AFL - so now if e-bay dares to let some punter sell their tickets for $400 they get prosecuted - but AXA and Telstra and CUB can flog you a fucking seat and some bain maree chicken in a tent for $1400.
Why cant the little cunt just admit he knows nothing about economics or markets and stay the fuck out of it? Blog him to death for me will ya? And let me know if there's any tickets about.
See? A fine, balanced missive, all loaded with nuance and stuff. By the way, I was prepared to go to $500 for a ticket, but that’s about $200 below current blackmarket levels -- if you can find anyone willing to sell, which I can’t.
Battle is joined as Greenpeace faces off against a boatload of genetically-modified maize! Who will win? Greenpeace has the numbers, but can a bunch of environmentalists outwit superintelligent cybermaize from the planet’s most evil secret laboratories? Following is a round-by-round account of the War of Veracruz from Greenpeace’s own weblog:
Early this morning we took action against a ship delivering an illegal shipment of genetically engineered maize to the Mexican port of Veracruz. Activists are currently on the anchor chain, preventing the offloading of the contaminated shipment. We put three inflatables in the water, and two activists climbed onto the anchor chain to prevent the ship from pulling up the anchor. The shipment has been stopped.
Round one is a big win for the Greenpeace kids! Take that, you evil maize! Now, on to round two:
The two activists chained to the anchor of the contaminated ship are in for the long haul. A boat from the Mexican navy is slowly circling, observing the action. The two activists, one from Argentina and one from Mexico, are set to stay where they are for quite a while.
This Greenpeace “dope-a-dope” strategy is causing all sorts of problems for hapless maize. Can the genetically-boosted supergrain recover? Round three will be crucial:
The ship Ikanu Altamira has turned around and headed back to the United States with its cargo of 40 000 tons of genetically engineered maize. We had sent a group to meet with the captain of the cargo ship, and videotaped him agreeing to leave Mexico with his cargo. He did not agree to sign an agreement. It was getting dark as the activists left their perch on the anchor chain. Greenpeace activists had spent twelve hours on the anchor chain, in two shifts. With the activists gone, the anchor was pulled up and the ship sailed out to sea. Three Greenpeace inflatables escorted the ship twelve miles offshore, out of Mexican waters and into international waters.
It’s a total victory for Greenpeace! Maize is vanquished! Let the celebrations begin!
After 24 hours of constant radio watch and 12 hours of action 40,000 tonnes of contaminated maize is on its way back to the USA. No violence, no arrests but a very calm and peaceful action. We even managed to get some smiles from the crew as they left the port of Veracruz with all the GE maize still on board. What a success not just for Greenpeace but for the people of Mexico. We did it for the campesinos. For the future of the children of Mexico. There is a wonderful feeling on board. Many people are tired after spending the day bobbing around in the boats or attached to the anchor chain. It is hard to unwind when your dream has just come true, but we have been playing some international football in the hold to get rid of any remaining energy.
But wait ... while the Greenpeacers are playing “international football”, maize has snuck up behind them with a sack of horseshoes! Watch out, brave heroes!
The ship that we had prevented from unloading 40 000 tons of genetically engineered maize at the Mexican port of Veracruz has returned, and is now unloading it's cargo. Unfortunately, we can't do all the work of the Mexican government, which is why we are taking them to court to make sure they do their job. I did not want to have to write this weblog entry. A few hours ago we heard a rumour that the ship Ikan Altamira had snuck back into the port of Veracruz to unload it's cargo. We had this story confirmed about an hour ago. Apparently, the less-than-honest captain had communicated with the port authorities and had received an escort into the port from the Mexican navy. They chose a route that we could not see from the Arctic Sunrise, and kept off the radio so we would not know that they were returning.
The winner: maize, by a brutal knockout. You can’t keep a good crop down.
(Via reader “bb”.)
UPDATE. Aieeee! It’s the Giant Sea Corn, come to kill us all!
Commie comedian Barry Crimmins has been giving this issue a great deal of thought:
Americans who drive SUV's for no legitimate reason should be made to put them to good use by converting them into hearses to transport the remains of the soldiers who have died in Iraq for our needless over-consumption of oil.
His list of “legitimate reasons” will soon be presented to the Central Committee for Approved Activities.
Congratulations to Jason Ross, who is singlehandedly responsible for The Daily Show’s best writing and best variety Emmys. Did you know that Jason, who is limbless following a childhood tractor accident, types all of his material with his nose? Well, he doesn’t. That’s just an internet rumour I’ve begun.
Gerard Henderson on Gilligan and the Professor:
Gilligan is an attack journalist par excellence. On this occasion, however, he has been caught in his own (friendly) fire. Yet he has damaged the Blair Government in the process. Many Brits (falsely) believe that they were deliberately lied to over Iraq's WMD. And few Brits know that the late David Kelly himself believed that Iraq possessed WMD and supported regime change in Baghdad. It's spin, BBC-style. But it does not do democracy or journalism any good.
Speaking of local columnists, I missed this on the weekend: Emma Tom is leaving The Australian.
Millionaire Phillip Adams recalls a discussion with millionaire Paul Keating in which the pair of millionaires tried to work out what had gone wrong with the Australian Labor Party:
Keating's response to the question was given in confidence, but it will hardly come as a surprise to his multitude of admirers - at least as numerous and enthusiastic as his detractors - that he's been appalled by the decline of his once great party.
Maybe it’s something to do with all the millionaires. Not a lot of Labor voters can relate, Phillip.
Mark Latham continues his slow march to the bullying left:
Poor people could be trained to save more if they gave up "wasteful spending" on cigarettes, alcohol and gambling, Labor's treasury spokesman, Mark Latham, said yesterday.
They could also save more if taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling were reduced. Help the poor people!
Hugh Mackay warned earlier this year of the dark and damaging neuroses lurking in Australian sport. What the hell would he know? Last night’s Brownlow Medal count delivered AFL's highest individual award to three of the least neurotic, most undamaged players in Australian Rules football: Sydney ruckman Adam Goodes, Adelaide hard man Mark Ricciuto, and Collingwood hero Nathan Buckley. Their speeches were brilliant:
Goodes: “I can’t believe I’m standing here with Nathan Buckley and Mark Ricciuto.” Believe it, Adam. Out of the three, he was possibly most deserving this year of a solo medal.
Ricciuto: “I don’t put myself in that category.” He was talking about players like Voss, McLeod, Buckley, and Wanganeen, all of whom he thought were more deserving. None are.
Buckley: “I’ve always been a big fan of [Ricciuto], and Adam Goodes epitomises everything in the modern game.” Damn straight. So does Buckley, whose victory champagne went unsipped (he plays in this weekend’s Grand Final) as he accepted his medal.
Check the ratings later this week for the Brownlow telecast. Expect big numbers, which might startle Sydney Morning Herald television writer Henry Everingham, who wrote: “This annual award is truly a most tortuously dull event ... This is bingo for the comatose.”
All who watched will disagree.
UPDATE. The ratings are in.
• James Lileks on cheese and warfare:
I’ve never understood why nations with great cheese don’t have better armies. Right now to my left I have a plate that contains six chunks of Stravecchoio Grana Padano, each wrapped in a gossamer-thin scarf of prosciutto. Any Italian worth his mettle would take one bite, contemplate the perfection this combination represents, and decide that his nation should - no, must muster the forces required to repulse anyone who would take such cheese from his countrymen. Cheese this fine would cause armies to cross the Alps to have it; surely they demand armies sufficient to protect it.
I mean, this is good cheese.
• The Wogblogger, a cheese fan, points to diet advice from Steve Irwin:
‘She wants chocolate. Mum's not lookin'. “Here. Have the whole bloody block.” And you know what? It works out. She's not a chubby little chocolate freak kid.’
• Margo's Curse -- she’s supported losers John Hewson, Kim Beazley, and Simon Crean in Australian politics -- appears to function internationally:
There's a bloke called Howard Dean who was considered a rank outsider in the US Democrats presidential race. He's the only Democrats contender who's been against the Iraqi war from the beginning, and through the internet he's garnered more money for his campaign than any other candidate. He's now a frontrunner!
• Alan Anderson has moved to a new address.
• Myself and the Professor stand accused of deception in the mysterious case of The Three-Cent Cheque. I can remember writing out the cheque, but perhaps my accountant stole the funds to finance a Brazilian holiday. Investigations continue.
• And Right Wing News has the latest poll results. Surprises aplenty!
American actor and activist Martin Sheen had kind words for Canada when he received an award for being a Christian role model, the Canadian Press reports. "Every time I cross this border I feel like I've left the land of lunatics," Sheen said Saturday, adding he was "proud" of Canada for not entering the Iraq war."You are not armed and dangerous. You do not shoot each other. I always feel a bit more human when I come here."
Many of the people in the cabs in Tehran had the similar thoughts. "Tell George Bush to come and get rid of the mullahs for us." I was shocked by the openness of that statement. With one fellow I tried to discuss it with him in more detail to see if he really meant it or was just talking. I told him that if George Bush came and got rid of the Mullahs, it would not be to help the people of Iran; he would be coming for the oil. The fellow replied, "He can have the oil, its not doing us any good anyway and at least then we would be free."
UPDATE. Beets has more.
Chicago academic Robert A. Pape argues that suicide terrorism is nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism:
I have spent a year compiling a database of every suicide bombing and attack around the globe from 1980 to 2001 — 188 in all. The data show that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any religion for that matter. In fact, the leading instigator of suicide attacks is the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a Marxist-Leninist group whose members are from Hindu families but who are adamantly opposed to religion (they have have committed 75 of the 188 incidents).
But what about the suicide attacks committed by Islamic fundamentalists? Is it possible that suicide attacks committed by Islamic fundamentalists are evidence somehow of a link between Islamic fundamentalism and suicide attacks?
Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist campaigns have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel liberal democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.
Which leads us, eventually -- click on the above link for the whole mess -- to Pape's solution:
In the end, the best approach for the states under fire is probably to focus on their own domestic security while doing what they can to see that the least militant forces on the terrorists' side build a viable state on their own.
Well, it might work, so long as you can trust the sort of people who blow themselves up over real estate disputes to remain within the areas they “consider to be their homeland”. And so long as you can find non-militant terrorists with whom to negotiate. And so long as you have the gigantic military preparedness to deal with every aggrieved group on earth who would take this as a signal to launch their own suicide attacks over their own particular issues, having seen such tactics triumph in Israel, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has called for Tony Blair to resign if the Hutton inquiry concludes he was involved in naming David Kelly as the "mole" who spoke to BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan.
Andrew Gilligan is likely to lose his Today programme position as part of a wide-ranging BBC shakeup intended to defuse criticism of the corporation in the forthcoming Hutton report.
Typical American intolerance:
Religious symbols such as Islamic veils and headscarves for girls have no place in American schools, President George W. Bush said in a wide-ranging television interview.
"(Schools) should not be the place where people display their religious affiliations," Bush said during a two-hour appearance last night on the Fox News channel.
This anti-Muslim attitude will surely cause worldwide outrage.
UPDATE. OK, here’s a real Bush interview:
President Bush said yesterday he'll make no apologies to the United Nations for attacking Iraq without U.N. approval because "the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein.
"I do think it would be helpful to get the United Nations in to help write a constitution. I mean, they're good at that. Or, perhaps when an election starts, they'll oversee the election."
A car has exploded in a car park near the United Nations headquarters in central Baghdad.
There have been no immediate reports on the cause of the explosion near the Canal Hotel.
Witnesses reporting for the Reuters news agency say at least one person has been killed in the blast, which came after attackers killed two American soldiers in a mortar attack and a third died from a roadside bomb blast.
UPDATE from the Wash Post:
"The bomber drove up and was engaged by an Iraqi security individual just before the checkpoint," a U.S. 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment spokesman, Capt. Sean Kirley, told reporters at the scene. That policeman was killed, although it was not clear whether he was shot or died in the explosion, he said.
Kirley said eight other Iraqi policemen were wounded. He said he didn't know whether any U.S. troops were near the scene at the time, but none was wounded.
By the way, yesterday was the UN’s International Day of Peace.
An emu farmer, 52, from Tanjil South, near Moe, was flown to the Alfred hospital with head injuries after a kangaroo led his wife to find him unconscious under a damaged tree yesterday.
"When the kangaroo has gone up to the house and knocked against their glass sliding door, not once but twice, they thought it was strange. But then the roo came back a third time . . . throwing its whole self against the back door," [ambulance officer] Mr Wright said.
This time, Mr Wright said, the man's wife followed the kangaroo to the top of a crest from where she saw it keeping watch over her husband.
Kangaroos are friendly. Not like wombats; a wombat will leave you for dead every time.
A paranoid schizophrenic who killed a homeless man in Adelaide's parklands has been given Supreme Court permission to move to Mildura to live with his family.
Lincoln Jason Williams, 33, spent six years receiving treatment before Justice John Perry last month decided he was well enough to leave South Australia to return to Victoria.
That’s an interesting new legal definition of sanity. A person is well enough to leave South Australia ...
Tim Predmore, serving with the 101st Airborne Division near Mosul in Northern Iraq, writes of his doubts about the war, and his essay runs everywhere from Peoria to Melbourne to London to Los Angeles ...
For the last six months I have participated in what I believe to be the great modern lie: Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, and throughout the battle in Afghanistan, the groundwork was being laid for the invasion of Iraq. "Shock and awe" was the term used to describe the display of power the world was to view upon the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was to be a dramatic show of strength and advanced technology from within the arsenals of the American and British militaries.
But as a soldier preparing to take part in the invasion of Iraq, the words "shock and awe" rang deep within my psyche. Even as we prepared to depart, it seemed that these two great superpowers were about to break the very rules they demanded that others obey. Without the consent of the United Nations, and ignoring the pleas of their own citizens, the U.S. and Britain invaded Iraq. "Shock and awe"? Yes, the words correctly described the emotional impact I felt as we embarked on an act not of justice but of hypocrisy.
William Sjostrom has some questions about Predmore’s account. Fellow members of the 101st Airborne are invited to send their own stories here. (Anonymity assured upon request.) Tim Predmore himself is also invited to write.
UPDATE. Damian Penny is betting this is a hoax, but I’m not so sure; a post at Free Republic identifies Predmore as a “SPC (E4) with an MOS of 67T (UH60 Helicopter Repairer) assigned to the Command Aviation Battalion”. Maybe it’s a half-hoax; ie, the author is real but the article is ghosted or faked-up. Or it’s the real deal.
Whatever the Government tells you, we did not want this tax. Labor's commitment is that we will roll this tax back, we will make it fairer and simpler.
Labor has dropped its promise to make changes to the GST, wiping all mention of the tax from its party platform in amendments drafted by finance spokesman Bob McMullan.
Sydney Morning Herald pagefiller Mike Carlton praises Wesley Clark:
A puerile tactic of the ratbag right in this country is to denounce any critic of President George Bush as anti-American. Oblivious to the echoes of McCarthyism, the ratbags see this as a besetting sin.
I wonder, then, what they will make of Wesley Clark, the retired four-star US Army general who came out this week to run for the Democratic nomination in next year's White House election.
Hard to pin him as anti-American. He topped his West Point class in 1966 and was decorated in Vietnam. He ended his military career [actually, his career was ended] as NATO's supreme commander in the campaign to save Kosovo's Albanians from the horrors of ethnic cleansing. For good measure, he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, with a master's degree in philosophy, politics and economics.
And he has been a trenchant critic of Bush's ill-planned invasion and occupation of Iraq, with its hubristic, neo-conservative assumptions that America can order the world to its whim.
Trenchant critic? Depends on which day you ask him, as Mark Steyn reminds us:
Here he is on Thursday: "General Wesley K Clark said today that he would have supported the Congressional resolution that authorised the United States to invade Iraq." Here he is on Friday: " 'Let's make one thing real clear, I would never have voted for this war,' Clark said before a speech at the University of Iowa." Got that? Everybody else on the planet knows what his or her position on Iraq is except General Clark.
And everybody on the planet knows about Clark’s vacillations except Mike Carlton, who is noted for his lack of attention to matters American. Here’s more on two-way Wesley, from the lefty Media Workers Against War:
A review of his statements before, during and after the war reveals that Clark has taken a range of positions-- from expressing doubts about diplomatic and military strategies early on, to celebrating the U.S. "victory" in a column declaring that George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair "should be proud of their resolve in the face of so much doubt".
Another one for Media Watch to follow up.
UPDATE. Not even Robert Fisk would vote for Wesley:
I have to say first of all about General Clark, that I was on the ground in Serbia in Kosovo when he ran the war there. He didn't seem to be very antiwar at the time ...
I remember General Clark telling us that more than 100 Yugoslav tanks had been destroyed in the weeks of that war. And when the war came to an end, we discovered number of Yugoslav tanks destroyed were 11. 100 indeed.
So this was not a man, frankly whom, if I were an American, would vote for, but not being an American, I don't have to.
Ken Layne on the era of high hair and low everything else:
Some people loved the '80s, or at least convinced themselves it wasn't the worst time for everything, just because they happened to be growing up in the era. Well, I sure remember it and remember it as being hell. AIDS, acid rain, "modern rock," hair metal, The Cosby Show, Ratt, "Thriller," Melrose Place, "Ice," those ugly-ass mini-pickups from Datsun, Jerry Falwell ... a real shitstorm.
Readers will also recoil at the memory of Hey, Dad!, Hawthorn premierships, and herpes. Not all of it was evil; I’ve been listening to a lot of late 80s music recently, in an attempt to re-create exactly the feeling of 1990, and some of it holds up OK. But some of the awful music I used to play ... I won’t even mention those bands, because if I did you’d pull out your eyes and mail them to me with a note saying: “Look what you made me do!”
Or you would, if you remembered to write the note before the eye removing.
Alan RM Jones spots the reason for Al-Jazeera’s celebrated “credibility” in a Media Workers Against War interview with Yvonne Ridley, the Sunday Express journalist briefly held captive by the Taliban:
MWAW: What do you think in general about the media's portrayal of the situation in Afghanistan?
Ridley: Well, for the first five weeks it was more or less a war without witnesses, so the Taliban and America could get away with murder, without anybody reporting it. We were relying on Al-Jazeera, an extremely professional outfit, staffed largely by ex-BBC people ...
Wonder if they’re hiring.
You gots to love the crazy paranoid lefty idiot moron people:
Will there ever be another terrorist attack here? The experts say yes, and they're most likely right. When will it be? My guess: sometime next year, timed to draw the fearful closer to Mr. Bush and assure his re-election.
"We have people from every planet on Earth in this state. We have the sons and daughters of every of people from every planet of every country on Earth."
“I’m not sure that I’d be in favor of that policy. I supported that policy. That was a policy that was given. I don’t think it works. It works better in some circumstances than it does in others. But essentially we’ve got a lot of gay people in the armed forces, always have had, always will have. And I think that, you know, we should welcome people that want to serve. But we also have to maintain consistent standards of discipline; we have to have effective units. So I think that’s an issue that the leaders in the armed forces are going to have to work with and resolve.”
(As noted by Zsa Zsa, currently kicking goals with Alan Didak’s criminal ease.)
Make of this what you will -- it appears in the Pilger-employing Daily Mirror, after all -- but Saddam could be placing himself exactly where we want him:
Saddam Hussein has been in secret negotiations with US forces in Iraq for the past nine days, we can reveal.
The Iraqi dictator is demanding safe passage to the former Soviet republic of Belarus. In exchange, he has vowed to provide information on weapons of mass destruction and disclose bank accounts where he siphoned off tens of millions of dollars in plundered cash.
The United States has vowed never to negotiate with Saddam and want to take him dead or alive, but the White House hopes the clandestine talks will allow them to pinpoint the tyrant's exact location.
If Margo Kingston is the online political editor at the SMH, how come her graphic shows a great big bunch of ye olden days typebars?
Christopher Dickey is in denial about denial:
Many of us who cover the region—along with the CIA and the State Department and the uniformed military—have been warning for at least a year that occupying Iraq would be a dirty, costly, long and dangerous job.
Tough job; not worth doing. Gotcha.
The problem is not really that the public was misinformed by the press before the war, or somehow denied the truth afterward. The problem is that Americans just can’t believe their eyes. They cannot fathom the combination of cynicism, naiveté, arrogance and ignorance that dragged us into this quagmire, and they’re in a deep state of denial about it.
Personally, I prefer Dennis Miller's geopolitical analysis:
It’s this simple: Do we want to be Neville Chamberlain, or do we want to be Wilt Chamberlain? I say we’re better off being the Dipper and it’s time to take the rock to the hole.
(Miller tip from trusted source Zsa Zsa.)
The UK’s Stop the War Coalition is unable to achieve peace, even among its own ranks:
The coalition's failure has led to some fierce in-fighting. Over recent weeks there have been some public fallings out among leading members of the movement - most recently a coup at CND with Carol Naughton, the longstanding chair defeated by one vote by Kate Hudson at the annual general meeting, amidst dark talk of tactical infiltration by the leftist group Socialist Action together who, with elements of the Socialist Workers Party, have effectively taken over.
Yes. Socialists tend to do that.
Which I could have used late on Saturday. I’m usually a calm person; I’ve landed light aircraft, done live TV, driven racing cars, all without undue spiking of the heart rate. Yet football finals involving Collingwood induce seizure-level anxiety (seriously -- we're talking hyperventilation here). So when Collingwood had the match easily won with 15 minutes still to play, well, I didn’t know what the hell to do. My emotional repetoire doesn’t extend that far.
I ended up trying to invent a new form of barbecue sauce. Cooking is excellent therapy.
Maureen Dowd previews today’s Collingwood-Port Adelaide preliminary final:
Port Adelaide ... aren't right. Byron Pickett ... will have a ... lot of injuries.
An expected sell-out crowd of about 80,000 is expected to witness the Magpies ... advance to a second successive Grand Final.
Go ... Collingwood.
The Australian’s Jonathan Este, due to return to work on Monday, has quit the national broadsheet during his holidays in the UK and taken a job at the Independent. Which needs all the help it can get:
A much more obvious casualty is the Independent, which in 1993 was selling almost as many copies as the Times. Now its official circulation is about 220,000, though its true sale at full price is nearer 160,000. It is said to be losing about £10 million a year.
Jonty’s a lefty, but a fact-seeking one. The Independent has done well to pick him up.
Australian country music legend Slim Dusty has died at 76.
The David Marr Effect is a local television phenomenon whereby criticism from the prissy Media Watch presenter causes stunning ratings success. Nobody knows how it works, since Media Watch has so few viewers itself, but work it does; Marr’s bashing of Nine’s The Block led to this:
The combination of home renovations and reality TV has produced the highest-rating Australian-made series in television history.
In the past 12 months it has grown its audience by 59 per cent, building it from 156,000 national viewers to 210,000.
The Sunrise gang celebrated this morning by talking like pirates. Arrrr!
The WTO opponents in Cancun; such nice people.
Introducing Margo Kingston, mescaline poet and potential Doors lyricist:
The stench is rising
the masks are sliding
the reality is emerging
in all its ugliness
our democracy is fictitious
And this is only the beginning of her hypnotic countercultural masterwork, which I’ll title “Greenwich Village 1964, With Margo In It, G’Day Wow”. The next stanza:
Public morality is dead
as is public duty.
Even personal tragedy
is fuel for big business advertising campaigns.
Hmmm. She kinda lost it on the last line there. Check out the awesome recovery, which could’ve been penned by Dylan himself:
But spare a thought
for the men and women bought
and sold before election day.
Someone has just got to put this to music. Meanwhile, having discovered her calling as a beatnik verse commando, Margo becomes ever more deeply confused about everything else. The huge Fairfax media company is now, according to Margo, just a struggling Indymedia-level collective:
Big money, big Liberal Party politics and big media are trying to get rid of us, of course, by letting Packer take over Fairfax - a media-only company. But we're hanging in there and doing the best job we can for our readers while we can.
Margo, Fairfax is big media. Ditch the analysis. Stick to poetry.
A computer expert has told the Hutton inquiry there were discrepancies between the transcript of Andrew Gilligan's notes of his meeting with David Kelly and the version held on his electronic organiser.
Edward Wilding said there was no mention of Alastair Campbell on the electronic organiser even though his name was mentioned in Gilligan's written account of the meeting with Dr Kelly on May 22.
Explaining his findings about Mr Gilligan's handheld computer, Mr Wilding said: "Somebody was looking at creating memos and seeing if dates and times could be changed."
In the Lileks piece linked earlier, he writes:
Every day I read a piece like the Strib edit. They all have an inescapable conclusion: Saddam should have been left in power. No, they don’t say that. Yes, the writers would surely insist that Saddam was a wretched tyrant, and the world is better off without him in power, BUT, Baghdad’s electricity service is now undependable. No, but. Yes, but. Perhaps, however.
Right on cue, here’s Scott Burchill in today’s Age:
Few will shed tears about Saddam's demise. However ...
Spam Bill enters Parliament
Good for him.
Bjorn Lomborg is yet to even arrive in Australia, and already the slamming has commenced. Must be that "crushing of dissent" we're always hearing so much about.
Ah, the '60s. So peaceful and idealistic:
Over bitter protests from law officers, 1960s radical Kathy Boudin was released from prison Wednesday after serving 22 years for murder in an armored car heist that left two policemen and a security guard dead.
Boudin, 60, a former Weather Underground member, was granted parole last month despite heavy opposition of relatives, friends and colleagues of the slain men.
Lucky for her the US has arranged “another Vietnam” and lots of hippie idiots. It’ll help her re-adjust.
Osama bin Laden is happy in his cave, according to a talking flukeworm named Abu Mohamed al-Ablaj:
"Bin Laden is leading it from a cave, the same cave from where the orders went out to destroy the citadel of the Pentagon and which the Pentagon has not been able to destroy," he said.
"Abu Abdullah [Bin Laden] enjoys full freedom of movement. He directs the fighting against the evil administration in Satan's Black House from his cave.
"He swears to die fighting for God. Like any mujahedeen, he cannot imagine dying in his bed.
"His sudden reappearances are a war in themselves, it's a blow struck at the head of the American media cobra."
Satan’s Black House? American media cobra? Cool! Let’s answer Abu’s abuse with parody George W. Bush from the latest Viz magazine (no link):
Speaking from the bunker eight miles below the earth’s outer crust from which he intends not to emerge until Judgment Day, he said: “I will avenge these prankdoers, mark my lips, I will smoke these filthy evilsters.
“Whoever you are, we will catch you,” added mad Mr Bush. “Remember: I never sleep.”
“Smoke these filthy evilsters”. Hmmm ... that could catch on.
Lileks ... he so good:
In short: the same people who chide America for its short-attention span think we should have stopped military operations after the Taliban was routed. (And they quite probably opposed that, for the usual reasons.) The people who think it’s all about oil like to snark that we should go after Saudi Arabia. The people who complain that the current administration is unable to act with nuance and diplomacy cannot admit that we have completely different approaches for Iraq, for Iran, for North Korea. The same people who insist we need the UN deride the Administration when it gives the UN a chance to do something other than throw rotten fruit.
The same people who accuse America of coddling dictators are sputtering with bilious fury because we actually deposed one.
Commiebusters Vaclav Havel, Arpad Göncz, and Lech Walesa urge Europe to move against Cuba:
Today, it is the responsibility of the democratic world to support representatives of the Cuban opposition, irrespective of how long the Cuban Stalinists manage to cling to power. The Cuban opposition must enjoy the same international support as political dissidents did in divided Europe.
Europe ought to make it unambiguously clear that Castro is a dictator, and that for democratic countries a dictatorship cannot become a partner until it commences a process of political liberalisation.
More on the trio’s letter here.
• Hoaxers hoaxed!
• Vanilla Coke. Cherry Coke. Pesticide Coke.
• Redline that thing, Professor! What are you doing below 3000 rpm?
• “It’s because no one there cares what is happening.”
• The real list of the 25 most censored stories of 2002-3.
• And Thomas Friedman in the NYT:
It's time we Americans came to terms with something: France is not just our annoying ally. It is not just our jealous rival. France is becoming our enemy.
Further to the Liam Fitzpatrick piece posted earlier, Steve Waterson writes:
I have just had my attention drawn to Liam Fitzpatrick's book review and the analysis of it on your site.
Fitzpatrick is the Hong Kong-based travel editor of TIME's Asia edition, and the story was written, edited and published there. No one on TIME Australia's staff was consulted in its preparation. It will not be running in our edition.
Editor, TIME Australia
Independent of this, I’m aware of one US-based Australian writer who has protested directly to Time editor-in-chief Jim Kelly. Apparently an “office investigation” is now underway.
The language rules on Richard’s show seem to be more relaxed of late. Mayhem may result.
Journalism advice from Mark Day:
If all else fails, try emotion. Tell the person who's holding out on you that your editor has threatened you with the sack. Sometimes you get lucky.
Just finished an interview with Radio 3AK in Melbourne:
Interviewer: So what does it take to be a Collingwood supporter? What kind of qualities do you need?
Tim: You just have to be a little bit better than everybody else.
Am now disconnecting phone, packing suitcase, and applying for asylum in Iraq.
Re this site’s redesign, Power Line writes:
Australian blogger Tim Blair is one of the pioneers of the genre, and still one of the best. He has a newly-designed site with a penguin theme; it seems to be related to an Australian soccer team. Or maybe rugby, beats me.
OK. Penguin theme. Goddamn soccer. Power Line is begging for me to get all Hamas on their ass. So much murdering I need to do!
The new design stays until Collingwood is removed from the AFL Premiership contest, at which point the site will instantly revert to its previous elegant look. But we won’t be removed, because God and Fate and Love are on our side.
So is Buckley.
This leaves only pole and table as the primary forms of modern dance available to LA-area movement connoisseurs. Art’s loss is noted by Mark Steyn, who in tribute today posts his 1996 review of Showgirls.
Margo Kingston got all feisty yesterday when Geoff Honnor wrote that she “regularly accuses Howard of being a mass-murderer”. Honnor subsequently withdrew his claim. After which Margo wrote this about the Prime Minister:
He ordered our soldiers to invade Iraq in the knowledge it would make the world a more dangerous place and empower and strengthen Osama's gang.
Sure, Margo. Howard knew. He just totally knew, and he went ahead and did it anyway, just to accelerate the destruction of civilisation. Because that’s what he wants!
Just like he and his conservative government pals wanted to mine uranium in Kakadu so they could kill all the blacks.
UPDATE. Take a look at the latest Webdiary outpouring, and marvel at a mainstream media organisation prepared to present itself to the world as Indymedia’s hick offshoot.
Via the Arab News:
Muslims must acquire skills and technology so they can create modern weapons and “strike fear into the hearts of our enemies”, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.
The process begins.
Governments can’t even duplicate the accomplishments of a typical halfwit teenager.
And in other news:
A New Zealand outdoor clothing brand has changed its name to cater to the sensitivities of the insecure Australian male.
Fairydown clothing has changed its name to Zone because of homosexual connotations associated with fairy.
Hugo Venter, managing director at Arthur Ellis, which owns the brand, said market research in Australia found the fairy was holding the brand back.
Great work, Hugo. Now let’s see you break into the Long Island market.
It’s not looking too good for the Skipper, either.
“There is a strange bipolarity in the Australian psyche,” writes Time’s Liam Fitzpatrick:
Compare the louche abandon of the Sydney Mardi Gras with the gruff, homophobic machismo of the outback.
By this standard, every place on earth is bipolar. Compare the louche abandon of Castro Street with the gruff, homophobic machismo of gangsta rap. Compare the louche abandon of the lobster with the gruff, homophobic machismo of the sea bass. Compare Liam Fitzpatrick with someone who has a clue.
Contrast the shining, multicultural cities with rural outposts where shadowy, armed survivalists zealously prophesize an Indonesian invasion.
Excuse me? Care to provide some names and locations, pal?
And consider the country's strangely conflicted attitude to immigrants: for every legal settler that gives thanks for the unfettered hospitality of the Lucky Country—as Australia has been famously known since the 1960s—you can line up a woebegone refugee from Afghanistan, Uganda or China who rues the day he or she ever made landfall there.
Last year 108,070 people migrated to Australia. Good luck finding that many unhappy refugees, Liam.
Australia forcibly imprisons all its refugees in isolated, desert camps until they gain permission to remain or a ticket to another country—processes that can take years. It's the only nation in the world to do so.
These policies, widely condemned by the international community, are the target of From Nothing to Zero—a grim compilation of letters written in captivity, plaintive testaments and fierce counterblasts of a wretched Untermensch that came to Australia in leaky boats or suffocating containers looking for a lucky break they were almost always denied.
I’m not sure if any refugees have ever arrived here in containers. It’s kind of a long trip. As for always being denied lucky breaks ...
Some of the letters' authors are as young as nine. Several have been locked up for three years or more, and their writings depict an arid dystopia of razor wire, beatings, attempted suicides and surveillance cameras—hopelessly remote from the great Australian dream of a swimming pool and backyard barbecue for all.
A letter from an Iraqi embodies the pathos: "I am half dead... I am ashamed to tell you I really need some warm clothes and shoes if you please. They never give me anything in this three year [sic]." A 14-year-old Syrian wrote, "I am maybe still young but I hate my life because inside this jail I'm stuck and maybe no one is going to help me get out of it."
Anybody inside the detention centres is free to return to their country of origin at any time. Hey, you even get paid.
Though refugees do eventually make it out of the camps, Australia's policies are nonetheless shameful—and have plenty of historical precedent. The country's refusal to accept refugees from Nazi Germany was notorious in the 1930s. ("We have no racial problems in Australia and no desire to import any," a government spokesman snapped at the time.)
It’s Godwin’s Law time! Liam is referring to T. W. White’s remark at the 1938 Evian Conference. Unless he attended, it’s difficult to understand how Liam can characterise White’s comment (misquoted by Fitzpatrick, incidentally) as snappish. Australia agreed at the conference to accept 15,000 Jewish refugees; about 7000 arrived before the war largely ended the intake. Two thousand refugees arrived aboard the Dunera in 1940, destined first for internment camps and later to a new life in Australia.
Likewise the White Australia immigration policy, which restricted immigration from countries such as India and China until 1973, was a gross insult to the generations of Asian pioneers (principally Chinese) who had helped develop Australia's farming, mining and mercantile sectors.
Listen to Liam and be ashamed, you bad ungrateful Australia!
Australia is often tardy in owning up to its darker past. One need only look at the Howard government's refusal to apologize to the "stolen generation" of Aborigines to understand that.
One need only look at that paragraph to realise how little understanding Liam has of this subject. Owning up to a dark past is entirely distinct from the political campaign to force an apology from Howard on the specific issue of the stolen generation.
The detention centers described in From Nothing to Zero are nothing more than convenient oubliettes allowing most Australians to consign refugees to dusty oblivion, aided by the fact that the media are not allowed to visit refugee detention centers.
Wrong. The immigration minister’s website records media tours of “Port Headland in June 1999 and February 2000; Woomera in November 1999 and January, March and December in 2001; Maribyrnong in March 2001 and Curtin in June 2001.”
You would have expected protests about that—but there have hardly been any.
In a vast, sunburned land where the beer is always cold and the surf forever up, darkness is more easily avoided than confronted.
Oh, that’s just brilliant. The man’s a freaking poet. I wonder if he’s ever actually been here? Maybe I’ll ask him.
Michael Moore’s hypocrisy is unbelievable. The Big Fat Flake from the Great Lake State is attacking George W. Bush for making light of September 11:
The following is an interview with the First Couple from the current issue of one of my favorite magazines, Ladies Home Journal (Oct. '03). They are asked about what September 11, 2001, was like for them personally, and, although over 3,000 people had just perished, George W. was able to find some humor by the end of that day:
Peggy Noonan (the interviewer): You were separated on September 11th. What was it like when you saw each other again?
Laura Bush: Well, we just hugged. I think there was a certain amount of security in being with each other than being apart.
George W. Bush: But the day ended on a relatively humorous note ...
And Bush tells a story about being hustled around the White House by security staff while he’s trying to get some sleep: “I'm in my running shorts and my T-shirt, and I'm barefooted. Got the dog in one hand, Laura had a cat, I'm holding Laura ...”
In reply to Noonan’s follow-up -- “So the day starts in tragedy and ends in Marx Brothers” -- Bush comments: “That’s right. We got a laugh out of it.”
“It” being the cat-dog-barefeet hijinks, not September 11. This induces an earthquake of moral outrage from Michigan Fats:
Although America had just suffered the worst attack ever on our own soil, somehow this man was able to end his day on a funny note. I wonder how many of the 3,000 families who lost someone earlier that day had a funny ending before they went to sleep? Please read the above exchange aloud to anyone who will listen. It speaks volumes.
Here’s something else that speaks volumes. On September 12, 2001, Michigan Fats published this at his website:
Many families have been devastated tonight. This just is not right. They did not deserve to die. If someone did this to get back at Bush, then they did so by killing thousands of people who DID NOT VOTE for him! Boston, New York, DC, and the planes' destination of California - these were places that voted AGAINST Bush!
It was satire.
This week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin mentions the Thompson Twins, Alannah Currie, Grace Knight, lesbians, the Melbourne Cricket Club, Anna Lindh, Olof Palme, Bob Hawke, Alexander Downer, Döbeln, and Warren Snowdon.
One important difference between 2002 and 2003 -- it's now thirteen years since Collingwood last won the flag.
As usual, the Imam’s advice is logical and sound:
The use of sexual toys to enhance foreplay is permissible on condition that these toys do not cause any harm or contain any forbidden ingredients. Similarly, these toys should not be inserted into the female private part, except in the case of dire necessity.
We should all bear that in mind. Too often have such insertions taken place well short of the crucial “dire necessity” point. Meanwhile I await the Imam’s ruling on this.
Bill Moyers may have his politics, but his deferential demeanor and almost avuncular television style made him the Mr. Rogers of American politics. So when he leaves his neighborhood to go to a "Take Back America" rally and denounces George W. Bush's "government of, by and for the ruling corporate class," leading a "right-wing wrecking crew" engaged in "a deliberate, intentional destruction of the United States way of governing," you know that something is going on.
That something is the unhinging of the Democratic Party.
Still got some doubts about Iraq and WMD? Go talk to the Kurds:
No stocks have been found but Esmail Abdulrahim Saleh and others here needed no convincing: they remember the 5,000 Halabja residents gassed to death in 1988 by Saddam's troops suppressing a Kurdish revolt.
Colin Powell’s visit to the area seems to be going fine:
Children issued smart military salutes while the crowd held aloft portraits of US President George W. Bush and banners emblazoned with: "Our liberators are welcome," "We love America" or "Thank you President Bush".
So what’s it like racing in the Italian Grand Prix at over 200 mph? Ask Mark Webber:
"It was straightforward today, mate. Boring as batshit.”
Since Margo Kingston’s revelation that Andrew Wilkie (Wilke? Willkee? Wilkey?) was writing reports for something called the ANO instead of the ONA, the reason for his opposition to war suddenly becomes clear.
UPDATE. Geoff Honnor, a terrific writer, thrills to the entertainment of Circus Margo.
This SBS interview with a young Australian Muslim is the best thing you’ll read all day, guaranteed. It’s especially worthwhile for the interviewer’s concerned responses:
REPORTER: Afroz's son Andez, who lives mostly elsewhere with his mother, has a passion for television and video games. This is giving him a very different view of the world.
ANDEZ ALI: There's actually one game I really like. It's called 'Not Against Allah 2'. It's an anti-terrorism game.
REPORTER: Anti-terrorism? What does that mean?
ANDEZ ALI: It's like, um, like taking out all the terrorists and kind of like that. I've been watching the news every single night.
REPORTER: When did you start doing that?
ANDEZ ALI: Right when September 11 happened. The planes crashing into the twin towers, that's why I started, just in case anything else happened.
REPORTER: And you wanted to be able to watch out for it?
ANDEZ ALI: Yeah.
REPORTER: Do you know what you want to be when you grow up?
ANDEZ ALI: I want to be in the army. Yes.
REPORTER: In the Australian Army?
ANDEZ ALI: Yes.
REPORTER: Why do you want to be in the army?
ANDEZ ALI: I want to serve Australia and make sure everyone is safe.
Oh no! An Australian citizen wants to join the army! As the interviewer remarks, “All of this comes as a surprise to his father Afroz.”
AFROZ ALI: This is interesting and in fact quite shocking that he has that, which means that he is watching the very thing that I would like him not to watch, and that's television. It is certainly giving an exceptionally warped and wrong information to, here we go, my child. And that, to me, is really beyond belief.
Too late, Afroz! Your boy is OURS! Incredibly, the interviewer describes the kid’s pro-Australian, anti-terrorist mindset as a “problem”. And it gets worse:
REPORTER: The problem is even more complex than it appears. Since Andez has been spending only weekends with his father, he has started to call himself a Christian.
AFROZ ALI: I personally think that the episode of September 11 has had a negative impact upon him, a negative image of Islam on him. I believe that he has not fully made his mind up about it, and that's where the confusion arises.
On the contrary. Sounds like this youngster isn’t confused at all.
(Via reader John S.)
• Professor Bunyip uncovers yet more New York-sourced re-writing from Phillip Adams. “The Olive Rancher is always going on about Australia's adolescent inclination to ape and imitate iniquitous America,” muses the Prof. “Except when it applies to him, of course.”
• Lee at Right Thinking discovers the world’s most redundant headline.
• James Morrow detects a shifting mood at the SMH letters page.
• Inspired by Christiane Amanpour, who says CNN is frightened by the “climate of fear and self-censorship” created by Fox News, Randal Robinson reports The Top 10 Ways Fox News Intimidated CNN. Among them:
9. Fox and Friends urged viewers to egg Paula Zahn's house.
2. Painted Fox News helicopters black and had them hover over CNN headquarters.
• The Belgravia Dispatch notes that the Guardian Online is very cautious that “news must be news”. Maybe they could put warnings on the stories that aren’t. The word “Guardian” at the top of the screen should suffice.
• Slatts needs change for a $200 note.
September 6. Phillip Adams attacks Paul Keating’s financial reforms:
In the olden days, the Australian people owned lots and lots of institutions and services. There was a Commonwealth Bank and many things denoted "public". There were public hospitals, public broadcasting and even public toilets. Then along came the wonderful idea of ”privatisation” and governments started selling the things that all of the people had owned to . . . some of the people. Government monopolies like power stations and Telstra were, of course, unhealthy for the economy. So they became private monopolies. Which is what capitalism is all about! Yes, there are still some public things around, like public hospitals and public schools. But don’t worry, they won’t be around much longer. That’s why all of you attend private schools and why Mummy and Daddy have private health insurance.
September 16. Phillip Adams applauds Paul Keating’s financial reforms:
To think they used to laugh at John Howard. Remember the way the likes of Andrew Peacock scorned him, dismissing him as little more than a suburban lawyer? The sort of bloke you went to see for some conveyancing. And look at him now. The Man of Steel! The President's second best friend! The bloke who's managed, little by little, to undo everything that appalling Paul Keating was on about.
In fact, that's been Howard's principal policy. To dismantle the Keating legacy. Except, of course, for the financial reforms that fireproofed the economy from the Asian meltdown and the US wobbles.
Leigh Hanlon, co-producer of HankFest 2003 -- in which contestants worldwide were invited to submit original songs written in the style and spirit of Hank Williams Sr. -- writes:
I thought your readers might be interested in knowing that "We're Not Sharing The Moon" by Trish Anderson of Melbourne is among three finalists in HankFest 2003's Ghost Writers In The Sky songwriting competition. Trish sings and plays guitar as part of the popular band Git.
Voting ends at midnight tonight, Chicago time, so vote for Trish now. The winning tune will be performed Tuesday at Schubas Tavern. Any Australians who turn up will be given free beer in exchange for money.
Fearful of a Magpie premiership, Melbourne Age reader Jeremy Hartley might
flee the country:
I'll NEVER support Collingwood. I'm a Geelong man but in this, I would like to see Brisbane, Swans then Port if necessary, win the flag. Unfortunately, I believe Collingwood will do it. I won't be coming back to Australia for some time after that.
Book that flight, Jeremy. The magpie omens are looming.
I stopped at a Shell petrol station outside Albury yesterday. A cashier stomped outside as I was refuelling. She was carrying a plate of meat, and wore an agitated expression.
Behind her, walking out of the store, came the source of her annoyance: a jaunty magpie. It bounced up on a window ledge and then to the top of an ice machine where the cashier placed its food. “He’s been in here three times today already,” another cashier told me when I went inside. Turns out the bird has been hectoring staff for nearly a decade. Does he have a name?
She smiled. ”We call him Daicos.”
Simon Crean is out of his mind:
Mr Speaker, the findings of the British Joint Intelligence Committee demonstrate beyond doubt that the Prime Minister sent this country to war based on a lie.
The Prime Minister did not tell the Australian people the truth when he committed us to war. And by his actions, the Prime Minister increased the threat of terrorism to the Australian people. He made us less safe and worst of all, he failed to protect us.
It’s bad enough that Crean says this without believing any of it. It’s worse that he thinks there’s electoral advantage in carrying on like a third-rate Indymedia stooge.
UPDATE. Simon’s wily tactics aren’t working:
Simon Crean's rating as preferred prime minister has fallen back to the worst on record as his leadership of the Labor Party comes under renewed pressure.
According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian last weekend, the Coalition has maintained an election-winning lead over Labor, and Mr Crean has dropped to the lowest level of an Opposition leader compared with the Prime Minister.
No, he hasn’t! No! According to Margo, it’s all win win win for painstaking Simon:
John Howard is on the ropes. His tactic to keep himself upright - telling his troops to prepare for an early election - is defensive, not aggressive. He needs his MPs to cheer him on during what could be the worst week of his political career ... Simon Crean has painstakingly built a platform for a potentially devastating assault on Howard's fitness for office.
What about Margo’s fitness for office? Shouldn’t a senior political journalist at least know how to spell Andrew Wilkie’s name?
The leak of intelligence whistleblower Andrew Wilke's top secret ANO report ...
... unlike leaks of classified security documents like Wilke's ...
... why isn't it OK to release intelligence to refute Wilke's accusations ...
Why won't Howard disprove Wilke's assertions by proving his own case?
Bill Clinton visited Australia in 1996. Anne Summers recalls his awesome awesomeness:
A notable highlight of the trip was on November 21 when Clinton stood in Sydney's Domain and addressed a lunchtime crowd. Thousands of people had streamed from the city to get a first-hand look at the famous president (and this was pre-Monica) and to have the incredible experience of hearing him speak in person.
As Clinton spoke that day, many in the crowd were in tears ... We liked what he said about our city and, by implication, our country. We felt proud and we were moved.
A signed copy of Whitman's Leaves of Grass is on the way, Ms Summers. Naturally, Summers isn’t expecting any joy from the next Presidential visit:
Bush's mere presence in the country is likely to be a lightning rod for protests. Exacerbating this will be the fact that he is being accompanied by Dr Strangelove himself, his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.
It remains to be seen how many Australians will want to tell Bush what they think of him, but it would not be surprising if anti-war protesters, Iraqis and even farmers - depending on what happens at this week's trade talks in Cancun - feel compelled to do so. It threatens to be 1966 all over again. What a pity it can't be 1996.
What a pity it can’t be 2026, when Australia’s Sharia rulers decree that Summers not be allowed to speak in public.
Merde in France covers Yoko Ono’s plan to nude it up in Paris -- a plan Yoko elaborated upon last week in Libération:
Some of us have gone to Palestine to be human shields. This gester has touched me deeply. If we could all do as much without machine gunning each other... I immediately thought of joining them. I almost did.
The world then learned of the death of Rachel Corrie. She took a stand, in all of our names.
Technically, I don’t think we can describe what Corrie took as a “stand”.
(Via fully-clothed reader Zsa Zsa.)
Margo Kingston used to begin her twitchy political fantasies with a friendly "Hi." But lately she’s ditched the "Hi", possibly because it was too American. Now she begins each doomed Webdiary entry with a 100% pure, genuine Australian "G'day."
Except she doesn’t. Margo’s version is "G'Day", except when Sydney Morning Herald subeditors repair her work for the print edition. Margo doesn’t know that the correct form of the abbreviated "good day" doesn’t take a capital D. She’s that GodDamned stupiD.
Or maybe she simply exists on a plane we lesser writers are too witless to appreciate. I’ve given up trying to decode this Margolian intelligence:
Labor, freaked out by hostile media reaction to its attempt to press the issue, its own guilty secrets on disclosure and threats by Howard to fight fire with fire if necessary, saw Labor leave it alone last week.
"Leave it alone" is sound advice, certainly for Webdiary contributor Harry Heidelberg:
I sense the forces of renewal in Australia and America.
A new era is about to dawn, but I'm not sure what it will be. We've been duped on a number of fronts. Being conned is not nice and citizens of the Anglo world need to weigh their choices carefully.
George Bush and John Howard are the living dead. I'm utterly convinced of this.
They are zombies! No wonder Bush nearly choked on a pretzel. It was alien to his zombie diet! To end, let’s take a look at the current global situation as it appears in Margo’s Panic-O-Rama mental multiplex:
Now the Americans are begging the UN to clean up its mess, Iraq looks like Vietnam and Saddam Hussein looks like he's got into bed with his sworn enemy Osama Bin Laden. Last week, Bin Laden agreed with Bush that Iraq is the central front. In what, World War III? The Iraqi people's suffering continues.
Only G'Margo the G'Zombie slayer can save us. G'Bye.
Gore Vidal wasn’t too worried about Saddam Hussein, preferring to leave Iraqis to sort him out themselves (“Don't you think that's their problem? That's not your problem and that's not my problem”). What really gets him steamed is Fox News:
"Oh, it's disgusting, deeply disgusting, I've never heard people like that on television in my life and I've been on television for 50 years, since the very beginning of television in the United States. And I have never seen it as low, as false, one lie after the other in these squeaky voices that you get from these fast-talking men and women, it was pretty sick."
I’d argue with him, but he’s not my problem.
(Via reader Tom R.)
This NetNewsWire deal looks like fun ...
Hey, where'd all the posts go? Into the fuming maw of the archives, that's where. Guess I'd better write some new things.
Returning to Margo Kingston’s Webdiary (donations to end the Margo Embargo raised more than the cost of my first car) is just like going home. Well, more like a home, to visit an institutionalised cousin:
Webdiarist Clem Coleman felt compelled to write about where Iraq's at two years after S11. It had nothing to do with S11, of course - the Saudis were the closet to blame there - but now it's the "central front" in the War on Terror. The long-suffering Iraqi people have been abused by stupid white men for hundreds of years and there's no sign anything will change.
Saddam Hussein: stupid white man. Where’s Iraq at? Where it always was. And the Saudis are a “closet”, which must be blamed for some reason. More next week; somehow I don’t think I’ll lack for material.
David Letterman is soon to become a father:
After the cheers and applause from the studio audience subsided, Letterman joked about the upside of becoming a father for the first time at his age: "By the time the child has trouble in life, you know, I'll be dead. I'll be long gone. By the time the kid's out stealing cars, you know, Dad will be dead a few years."
Reader CJ Newell sends a steamy letter to Mike Carlton:
I read in your article in the Sydney Morning Herald last Saturday that "The economy has juddered to dead slow, steam hissing from the radiator."
I was somewhat distressed to hear this, expecting that any minute I will be thrown out of a job, and the price of my house plummet, interest rates going through the roof etc.
But then, on the ultra-reliable ABC last night, they reported this:
MARK COLVIN: ... First it was a rise in business confidence, then consumer sentiment took off. Now, Australia is boasting its lowest jobless rate in 13 years.
It's been a week when every indicator, every survey, has pointed to an economy building up an impressive head of steam after a long period relatively in the doldrums. The creation of more than 80,000 new jobs last month has pushed the official jobless rate below six-per cent for the first time since January 1990. It now stands at 5.8 per cent.
So now I am confused. Is that steam really coming from the radiator, or is the boiler just about bursting?
Awaiting, but not expecting, an explanation,
Your humble reader,
CJ Newell (Esq.)
Molly Ivins, Michael Moore, Al Franken and Bill Clinton will appear at an event in Seattle sponsored by Foolproof Performing Arts. Writes Jim Miller: “I guess the name didn't work.”
Talk about your beat ups:
Intelligence given to Australia before the Iraq War warned that the terrorist threat would increase if military action was launched against Saddam Hussein, contradicting repeated assertions by the Prime Minister.
The SMH would have us believe this singular report -- the Prime Minister obviously also received intelligence that action against Iraq would decrease the risk of global terrorism -- exposes Howard as a liar:
However, in an address to the nation on the eve of the war, Mr Howard said the exact opposite: "Far from our action in Iraq increasing the terrorist threat, it will, by stopping the spread of chemical and biological weapons, make it less likely that a devastating terrorist attack will be carried out against Australia." It was a stand he and his ministers often repeated in the weeks leading up to the war.
Key words: “against Australia”. Here’s the SMH’s evidence of terrorism’s increase:
Since the war, terrorists have flocked to Iraq to launch a wave of attacks on US forces and the United Nations. There have been attacks in other parts of the world while al-Qaeda and Taliban forces are having a resurgence on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
I’m driving from the Victoria-NSW border to Melbourne today. I’ll let you know if I spot any increase in terrorism directly related to the removal of Saddam.
Whoa! The Sydney Morning Herald is getting crazy with the non-PC language:
A move to expel Yasser Arafat has brought supporters streaming to his door, and he's as happy as a sandboy about it.
Wonder how many letters to the editor this will generate.
Driving all day. Attempts to blog and drive unsuccessful. More posts later.
Iraq’s poor children no longer have those wonderful state-run institutions to look after them. The ABC’s The World Today reports:
In Iraq itself, child welfare groups are warning that the number of children living on Baghdad's streets has more than tripled since the end of the war. State-run institutions for orphans and other children suffered extensive looting during the war and most no longer offer shelter to vulnerable young people.
This is the ultimate variation on Mussolini’s punctual trains; say what you like about Saddam, but at least he offered shelter to vulnerable young people.
Psychiatrist Dr Mohammad al-Qurashi says most of the children visiting the centre are malnourished, 90 per cent are anaemic and half suffer skin diseases.
These symptoms have only appeared since Saddam was removed, apparently.
It’s been two years. Can we please move on? Can we please move on from lame jokes like this?
For example: say you want them to help you invade a little oil-producing nation.
Let's call it, say, "Iraq". First, you should talk about freedom, democracy, the mutual threat that terrorism has on all countries - even the ones that aren't superpowers. On no account mention the oil.
That’s from ABC satirist Charles Firth. Funny as John Pilger.
Attention, Americans! John Shovelan has decided that you are losing faith:
Despite the military campaigns, overt and covert, Americans are losing faith that terrorism can be eliminated, with 24 per cent now fearful that they will be injured or killed in a terrorist attack, up from 15 per cent shortly after the September 11 attacks.
So why isn’t Shovelboy rushing home to Australia? Doesn’t he share their concern, or is he a believer in the war on terror?
When people stop me in the street and scream, “Hey, idiot! Which is the most beautiful production-based racing car of the late '70s?”, I always silence them by answering: “Why, the DeKon Chevrolet Monza, sir.”
This happens more often than you’d think.
Posted Wednesday by Mark Steyn:
Earlier this year in France, I had a drink with Anna Lindh, the Swedish Foreign Minister. I thought she was a cool Nordic blonde, she thought I was an insane pro-Bush warmonger, but we had a very pleasant conversation nonetheless. On Wednesday, Mrs Lindh, her government's star pro-Euro campaigner, was stabbed while shopping in Stockholm. The latest report is that her injuries are serious but not life-threatening. I hope that's true. These are strange times in Europe. I wish Mrs Lindh a swift and full recovery.
Her injuries proved far worse than first believed. Anna Lindh died one day after being attacked. Her killer has not been caught.
Adelaide University criminologist Allan Perry reflects upon his home city:
"Adelaide is much more of a stifled, inbred community," Dr Perry said.
Where on earth does Dr. Perry get the evidence for these outrageous claims?
Monster molluscs, possibly from Mars, have appeared in a Brazilian dam. What do they taste like? No prizes for guessing:
Joana da Silva, who lives near the dam, said: "They taste like chicken."
And while we’re on the subject of the predictable:
Protestors briefly disrupted a speech by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the National Press Club, chanting, "How many children did you kill today?"
The Associated Press reports from Jerusalem:
On the eve of his daughter's wedding, Dr. David Applebaum sat with the young woman late into the evening at a coffee house, offering fatherly advice on marriage before her big day.
Father and daughter were killed late Tuesday when a suicide bomber struck the cafe - one of two attacks that left 15 people dead.
Applebaum had just flown back to Israel after giving a talk at a New York terrorism symposium marking the second anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Sheila O’Malley says it all. If you only read one thing today about September 11, make it this.
Few indeed are the broadsheet columnists able to include a line like this in their work:
In the past 24 months there have been wars. There has been the Bali bombings. But life goes on. A New York friend, who was in jail in Pennsylvania on September 11 and was released this month, says he has noticed no change in his city after a three-year absence. "The hip people are still hip and the unhip people are still not."
Just what kind of people does Miranda Devine hang out with, anyway? I might run a jail-time tally at her next party.
Hey, we’ve won:
The Prime Minister, John Howard, has effectively declared victory in the so-called culture wars over the past treatment of Aborigines, saying that "people no longer ask me for an apology".
In making the remarks, Mr Howard issued a provocative, yet probably sincere, message to his predecessor, Paul Keating: "It has been more than seven years. I hope you get over it soon."
Defiant to the end, Imam Samudra sat with his fingers in his ears as the five judges sentencing him to death chastised him and read messages of peace and love.
"Go to hell," screamed the mastermind of the Bali bombings. "Do you think I'm afraid?"
Nobody said you were, Sammy. Not that you would have heard them, what with your fingers in your ears and all.
Porsche’s globular SUV is a hit in Knoxville and in Sydney. The other day, during a five-minute drive to the SCG to retrieve a Collingwood scarf I’d donated for a newspaper photoshoot (for which I didn’t even get a scarf credit), I saw two of the majestic behemoths. (Wasn’t the Segway -- here’s a riced-up version -- meant to be everywhere by now? I’ve seen none to a total now of five big 4WD Porsches. The Cayenne is the vehicle of tomorrow!) Porsche’s US magazine ad campaign is excellent, and calculated to annoy anti-SUV types; I can’t recall it exactly, but one is along these lines: “If you think 450 horsepower is too much for carrying the kids to school, you should fix your thinking.”
Something similar, anyway. An ad like that would never run in Australia, where power bragging brings down upon you the cotton-wool-covered, no-sharp-edges wrath of our ever-vigilant Safety Pixies. A single front-page newspaper story in 1972, for example -- 160 MPH ‘SUPER CARS’ SOON: MINISTER ‘HORRIFIED’ -- was enough to force Ford, GM, and Chrysler to cease Australian development of planned V8 models. To this day power figures are rarely quoted in ads, or made a strong selling point. Which is why the Mazda RX-8 controversy in the US wasn’t replicated here; buyers didn’t know of Mazda’s overstated horsepower claims in the first place.
A beautiful essay from Australian journalist and longtime NYC resident Roger Franklin.
Funny because it’s true, certainly in large, doomed slabs of the media:
"Good heavens! So many problems and complications! I sure do miss having the old Iraq around, just the way it was."
In a rare tribute to the energy industry, scientists have praised one company's record in exploiting an African oilfield.
The scientists, from the US-based Smithsonian Institution, are completing a two-year study of Shell's operations in its Rabi oilfield, in the central west African state of Gabon.
The preliminary survey results show the Rabi field has a higher level of biodiversity than even the surrounding national parks.
By the way, how’s Alaska doing? Destroyed yet?
Where France and Germany fear to tread:
Next month a group of intrepid British holidaymakers will embark on the first postwar tour of Iraq. Ignoring Foreign Office advice, and unable to find insurance cover, the five travellers, including a 70-year-old woman, will leave for Baghdad for what will be a holiday from hell or a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to the cradle of civilisation.
Old women: going in. NGOs: running away.
The Producers, one of Broadway’s most successful musicals, is coming to Melbourne. As far as these things can be predicted, it should be a huge hit. So why the hell is this happening?
Tourism Minister John Pandazopoulos announced yesterday that the Government would spend $250,000 promoting the $8 million musical, which opens at the Princess Theatre next April.
Victorians will be delighted to learn where their speeding fines are going.
The cash is rolling in to end the Margo Embargo. She’s generating wealth! We’re not far from hitting the required amount.
Donations to maintain the embargo will also be accepted, of course. It's a win-win!
Holey moley, it’s a new poley! Er, poll. See left.
Neil Brown replies to Phillip Jones’ claim that conservatives are neurotic, aggressive, dogmatic, intolerant of ambiguity and sick:
It is on the left that these characteristics are most evident. Or have I got it wrong? In a spirit of compromise and reconciliation, let us see.
Yes, I must admit, there were all those referendums in Eastern Europe on joining the Soviet Union and the free and fair elections that followed.
There was also the subtlety of Stalin's policies and the way he encouraged dissent.
There was the robust free press of East Germany; the open clash of rival opinions under Mao Zedong, the refinements of the Gang of Four and the defence of China against the cruel aggression of Tibet.
There was the boyish good humour of Pol Pot on his nature walks through the Cambodian countryside.
And who can forget the 50 years of cut and thrust of open debate and dissent in Cuba?
Then in more recent times we have had: the vigorous clash of rival candidates and parties in North Korea under its balanced and well-adjusted Dear Leader; question time in the Vietnamese Parliament; the complete absence of any abnormality or neurosis in any left-wing dictator in Africa; and the broadmindedness and flexibility of every Marxist revolutionary movement in Latin America and Asia ...
But hey ... free health care.
• Tex gnaws on his Richard Neville chew-toy.
• Every day in Gitmo is a McHappy Day, writes the Gweilo.
• Eye on the Left looks at Howard Dean’s crazy Balkanised understanding of the US.
• And tubagooba believes Australian blogdom seethes with racial hatred:
Until I started blogging, I was never exposed to the extreme racist right ... if the blogosphere is representative, then that means that there are more people in Australia thinking uglier things than I ever would have imagined. I find that scary.
My perception is that the blogosphere, as a whole, leans further to the right than Australian society, as a whole.
Name names, 'gooba! Who are these extreme racist rightwing bloggers?
The ABC’s Jane Hutcheon and Linda Mottram discuss the most recent Palestinian outrages:
JANE HUTCHEON: On the Palestinian side, the Palestinian Authority has said that it regrets this latest attack but, of course, earlier in the day, the Israeli Army blew up the home of a militant, killing two militants and a 13-year-old boy.
LINDA MOTTRAM: So, so the cycle of violence appears to have returned.
JANE HUTCHEON: Very much so, Linda.
Israel kills killers; Hamas kills civilians. All part of the “cycle”.
Barbie has been declared officially evil by Saudi authorities. She should consider herself lucky; at least she isn’t a real live human woman in Jordan where, as Electric Venom reports, Parliament has rejected harsher punishments for men who murder female relatives in so-called honour killings. Hit the link. Brace yourself.
Pierre Jean O’Rourke confesses:
I've never told this to anyone before, but my wife has French blood. She's lived in the U.S. since she was eight, so she's recovering. But her sister, Françoise, who went to the Sorbonne and married her professor of Pre-Deconstructionist Literary Criticism, is not expected to survive. Especially not if my neighbors in Quaintford, New Hampshire, get their hands on her.
(Via Kathy Kinsley.)
Because she’d appreciate this method, I’ll allow the free market to decide. Donate via PayPal to end the Margo Embargo! I’ve got a figure in mind that will cover the enormous intellectual cost of my reading Margo's idiotic Webdiary every terrible day. Match or beat that amount (it’s realistic) within a week or so and the Embargo shall be lifted; if the amount isn’t reached, all donations will be returned. It’s people power!
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Paul Keating, Andrew Bolt, Paddy McGuinness, Frank Devine, Diamond Jim McClelland, Osama bin Laden, Ali Gufron, John Pilger, Anthony Mundine, Gerald Daffy, Antwun Echols, George W. Bush, John Howard, Lyndon Johnson, Harold Holt, Yoko Ono, and Ewan Campbell.
Salam Pax tells how Iraq’s stupid Internet censors helped him discover blogging:
We had no access to sites offering free web mail or web space. You had to use the mail account provided by the ISP and you can bet your wireless mouse this mail was being monitored. But the beauty of the internet is that it is not static, it changes all the time. There are always new sites offering all sorts of services and the people who run the firewall were not always that clued-up. They were just as new to this as we were and it was a race. We would use a certain web mail service until the site was blocked, then start a new search. You had to be creative with your search terms and have lots of patience. And for those who were a little bit geekier, the internet offered a wealth of tunnelling software to download, little programs which allowed you to make tiny holes in the firewall through which you could access blocked sites. They knew it was happening. It was a cat and mouse game.
It was on one of these searches that I found blogs. With blogs the web started talking to me in a much more personal way. Bits of news started having texture and most amazingly, these blogs talked with each other. That hyperlink to the next blog - I just couldn't stop clicking. And the best thing about it was that Mr Site Killer had absolutely no clue.
Two years after 9/11:
New York's firemen held the final funeral for a hero of the World Trade Centre yesterday, burying only a vial of his blood, all that was left of their colleague.
The vial with two teaspoonfuls of blood, donated to a bone marrow centre before his death, was all that remained of Michael Ragusa.
Because so many died on September 11, individual cases that otherwise would strike at the heart are obscured. The numbers are overwhelming, even if you consider only the firemen who were murdered:
Many firemen at yesterday's ceremony could not remember how many funerals of the victims of the attack they had attended.
"I stopped counting," said one. "Way too many," said another. "Seventy seven," another fireman remembered.
Most people won’t attend as many funerals in their entire lives.
The nightmare continues for Andrew Gumbel, a civilised, cultured writer for The Independent forced to live in an American hellhole:
Sooner or later, anyone who lives abroad reaches a defining moment when the desire to understand and fit into the foreign culture hits a brick wall of absolute resistance. In my case, living in California, it came a few weeks ago at my son's elementary school open house. The first-grade classroom was transformed into a showcase of art projects, spelling bees and mini-science workshops on the life cycle of insects. So far, so good. But then the children of Room 63 started to sing, and my internal refusal mechanism went haywire. In unison, they launched into "America I Love You".
This grotesque assault on Gumbel’s refined sensibilities provokes a million-word screed able to be reduced to these essential lines:
Ignorance, self-delusion, free-floating disregard for the facts and an unswerving belief in its own infallibility: such are the hallmarks of today's America.
Write a song about it, Gumby: “America I Hate You”.
Sydney reader Tony O. sends his Top Ten Warren Zevon songlist:
1. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner. Proof the man was a genius.
2. Desperados Under the Eaves. Got the album as a 16-year-old in 1978 (?). I remember laughing out loud at the “air conditioner humming” line.
3. Mohammed's Radio.
4. Lawyers, Guns and Money. Everybody sing: 'I'm stranded in Honduras, I'm a desperate man ...'
5. The Long Arm of the Law. Great track from the Transverse City album.
7. Mr Bad Example. With the neat Adelaide/Aboriginal/workers comp lines.
8. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. I guess he will.
UPDATE. Please take the time to read Brian Linse’s touching obit.
Speeding fines have increased in Victoria by 330% since the Bracks government was elected. So everything must be a lot safer, yes? No; the road toll, according to state opposition leader Rob Doyle, now stands at 241 -- just one less than in 1998.
As pre-conflict critics warned, the peace would prove far more difficult than the one-sided war, producing ongoing security problems and a continuing death toll of horrendous expense to the US.
It reads more like a letter to the editor. Phil’s out of fuel. (Incidentally, Adams wasn’t among those pre-conflict critics who predicted a one-sided war. He anticipated a Stalingrad-style battle in Baghdad.)
Didn’t have the e-mail on for a few hours. Working on a couple of things. When I hooked it up, I saw as the loading subject lines flashed by -- between all the "Re: Wicked Screensaver" and "MR MUSA AHMED" -- these words:
Singer/songwriter Warren Zevon ...
And you know immediately what that means. I still remember exactly where I was in 1978 when I first heard Werewolves of London, and the day twenty years ago when I found a second-hand copy of Zevon’s earlier, self-titled, genius album, then no longer available new in Australia. Saw him play in Melbourne in ‘93; shared an elevator with him at the Democrat convention in LA in ‘99; drinking to him now.
UPDATE. It doesn’t help that this Press Association piece claims that Zevon was “best known for his collaborations with REM”. Please ...
Who’s fleeing Iraq? Not the Iraqis, as Martin Peretz reports in a subscriber-only piece for the WSJ:
It is the departure of NGOs, with their relentless pretense to be the conscience of humanity amidst all its depravity, that truly rankles. And they run the gamut: Oxfam, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Save the Children, Swedish Rescue Services, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Medecins sans Frontieres, Merlin. On Aug. 20, Oxfam said it was staying; by Aug. 28, it was gone. According to the Financial Times, the ICRC's venture in Iraq had been one of the world's largest humanitarian operations. Now two-thirds of its foreign staff is gone, and more are on their way. Save the Children claimed on its Web site to have the "largest presence in Iraq." It has just about vanished. According to The Mercury of Australia, "there are dozens of non-governmental aid and support groups working in Iraq . . . and most of them were studying whether to reduce foreign staff, or already had." A spokesman for Caritas said simply, "most of them are reducing their staff as much as possible" and spiriting them out to safety.
Many of the NGOs that are on their way out of Iraq from fear -- if we believe them -- maintain elaborate operations in Liberia, where their employees were until recently probably more at risk than in Iraq. After all, Liberia has been plagued by wanton, random killing. And yet the relief workers soldiered on. Meanwhile, in Iraq -- where whatever mistakes have been made by the occupying authorities and however vexing the internal struggles, there can be no doubt that the U.S. wants to leave the country in a better way than it found it -- the NGOs are leaving in droves.
May (er, might) have been better for Iraq if they’d never arrived.
Reader Aaron Hall recently contacted The Sydney Morning Herald about a re-written NYT piece that appeared in the SMH, and which was mentioned on this site. Here’s the relevant section of his e-mail:
A look at the original New York Times article shows that it cites growing "worry" about terror attacks by Jews, but the Herald altered this to a growing "number" of terror attacks, something not borne out by the figures in the article itself.
And here’s the response:
Recently you contacted ReaderLink. Your interest in the newspaper is
The following information outlines the Herald's response:
The change was by a subeditor who had to bring back an 1100-word NYT
feature to 620 words. Given the sensitivities of the issue, sub-editors need to be very careful to maintain the copy's original content. The Editors have considered your email and have decided not to publish a clarification. However, the issue has been brought up in a meeting with the Foreign Desk.
Your ongoing feedback and opinions will help us publish a better
Please quote 00011773 if you wish to contact ReaderLink again regarding
Nerida, Penny & Josh
It’s a blatant error, utterly unrelated to the SMH’s abbreviation of the piece, yet no “clarification” (let alone a correction) is offered by the SMH -- or from editorial mavens “Nerida, Penny & Josh”, who seem to appreciate the care required in handling such issues but who aren’t overly bothered when that care isn’t taken. Great newspaper you’re running, kids.
Sitting in his car, Rudd said he still didn't know there was a confrontation starting until he saw Harvick's crew members "walking up and down my car like it's a dadgum runway or something, jumping up and down."
Kinda funny how the Washington Post replaced every dropped g in that sentence. Damn language-imperialist Yankees!
Fouad Ajami on the superficialities of Islamic anti-Americanism:
In the burning grounds of the Muslim world and on its periphery, U.S. embassies and their fate in recent years bear witness to a duality of the United States as Satan and redeemer. The embassies targeted by the masters of terror and by the diehards are besieged by visa-seekers dreaming of the golden, seductive country. If only the crowd in Tehran offering itstired rhythmic chant "marg bar amrika" ("death to America") really meant it! It is of visas and green cards and houses with lawns and of the glamorous world of Los Angeles, far away from the mullahs and their cultural tyranny, that the crowd really dreams. The frenzy with which radical Islamists battle against deportation orders from U.S. soil— dreading the prospect of returning to Amman and Beirut and Cairo— reveals the lie of anti-Americanism that blows through Muslim lands.
Seems the emphasis in “Great Satan” should be on the “great”. And quote of the week from Major General James Mattis, on how to manage affairs in Iraq:
The Marine strategy was based on three principles. First, do no harm. That meant not alienating Iraqis by violating their religious or social customs. Women, for instance, should not be subject to intrusive searches. When talking to Iraqis, Marines were instructed to point their firearms away and take off their sunglasses. Above all, it meant using as little firepower as possible. As Mattis put it: "If someone needs shooting, shoot him. If someone doesn't need shooting, protect him."
Can’t argue with that. Wouldn’t want to argue with that.
The President will make a dramatic U-turn on Iraq in a TV broadcast tonight to try to salvage his hopes of re-election amid Americans' growing hostility to the casualties and chaos.
George Bush will attempt tonight to convince the American people that he has a workable 'exit strategy' to free his forces from the rapidly souring conflict in Iraq, as Britain prepares to send in thousands more troops to reinforce the faltering coalition effort.
And so on, and on ...
Google celebrates its fifth birthday:
Google grew out of computer research by its founders Stanford University PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
The pair initially called their search system BackRub that was so named because it checked the links back to a page to see how popular it was.
Glad that was changed. "I BackRubbed Phillip Adams" sounds deeply wrong.
Canadian anti-globalist Naomi Klein is now appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age, thereby stealing money from poor Australian anti-globalist writers. End the Canadian takeover of our culture! Stop this mapleleaf tyranny!
Sydney’s win exposed Port Adelaide for the Mama Cass-quality chokers that they are. They’re also hopeless strategists whose record in finals since 1999 now stands at one win from eight games. An assistant coach -- I don’t remember who -- made an absurdly over-confident pre-match comment on Ten’s telecast; something about “having done enough” before the match to secure the win. You don’t say that sort of thing when people are watching.
So, to next week and beyond. Brisbane -- now severely slowed by injuries to key players -- faces Adelaide on Friday night, and Port comes up against Essendon. The winner of the first game (I’m leaning to Adelaide, for what it’s worth) then plays Sydney. Essendon, who should extend Port’s chokefest, will play Collingwood.
Just quietly, Collingwood has the least injury worries of any remaining team (and Holland will soon be able to return). Which means, if we make it to the Grand Final, that Melbourne will have the most injury worries of any Australian capital.
Tune into UberSportingPundit during the rest of the finals for updates.
Paul Sheehan proposes an Australian version of Godwin’s Law:
If Godwin's Law was applied to Australian public life, a magnitude of myths and fabrications would be swept from the national stage. The first to fall would be the accusation that genocide was committed in Australia this century, a claim shredded in the courts.
The greatest confabulation to suffer would be the "concentration camp" thesis: that Australia has become an uglier nation because of the wedge policies of John Howard, who defeated Pauline Hanson by adopting her policies, feeding xenophobia along the way and damaging Australia's standing in the world, especially in Asia.
That thesis, of course, appears often in the Sydney Morning Herald. Beats me how Sheehan can tolerate the place.
We’ve read a great deal about the hardships faced by Muslim families in Australia since September 11: discrimination, accusations, and so on. John Lyons, for Nine’s Sunday show, examines the concerns of Jewish families, which arguably are far graver:
With the help of the Jewish community, Sunday had looked at the lives of some in the community since those planes flew into the World Trade Center and ushered in a new era of terrorism. We can reveal that the Jewish community in Australia is now regarded as a "category one" target — the highest possible security level.
The President of the NSW Jewish Community Council, Stephen Rothman, SC, told John Lyons they had been told by ASIO that attacks had been planned against Jewish targets in Australia: "Well the information that we have is such that activities have occurred in Australia which, properly analysed, can have no basis other than the operations of terrorist cells."
Odd, considering the wealth, power, and influence of these Jew-people, that we haven’t heard more about this.
Mark Steyn on Clinton, Peter, the wolf, and the reluctance of US television to properly cover the anniversary of 9/11:
On the day itself, it was all too chaotic and unprecedented for the news guys to impose any one of their limited range of templates. For the first anniversary, they were back on top of things and opted to Princess Dianafy the occasion, to make it a day of ersatz grief-mongering, with plenty of tinkly piano on the soundtrack and soft-focus features about ''healing circles.'' That didn't go down too well, so this year they've figured it's easiest just to ignore it. The alternative would be to treat 9/11 as what it was -- an act of war -- and they don't have the stomach for that. War presupposes enemies, and enemies means people you have to kill, or at least stop, or at the very least be ever so teensy-weensily judgmental about. And, in an age when presidents rewrite ''Peter And The Wolf'' to end with Peter apologizing to the wolf, why should the network sob sisters be any tougher?
Rodney King, awarded $US3.8 million after his LAPD beating, is broke:
Let's say, for the sake of this example, King had to pay his lawyers a million dollars in legal fees. If he had put the remaining money in the bank in a long-term savings account, it would have netted him a six-figure income for the rest of his life -- without requiring a stitch of work to get it. But if you give money to a self-destructive lout like King, all you are going to get for your money is trouble.
Well, he wasn’t entirely self-destructive -- the LAPD doesn't use Nerf batons -- but David Horowitz has a point.
Richard Flanagan complains -- in the Melbourne Age’s op-ed pages, of all places -- that Australia doesn’t give enough voice to lefty ranters. Meanwhile reader Joe C. writes that when he called The Age last week to cancel his subscription over this lefty rant, he was told by a subeditor that the column was “meant to be humorous”. Stupid us! How could we have mistaken these zingers for anything other than jokes?
In Britain, Margaret Thatcher dissolved the statutory bodies of the Greater London Council and the Inner London Educational Association. Thus a democratic, grassroots control of the destiny of 12 million citizens was subsumed into an awesomely powerful, large, central Westminster government.
As Governor of Texas, George Bush presided over 160 prisoners on death row. The fact that (as revealed after a comprehensive statistical survey) a high proportion of these inmates were innocent, left him unmoved. His presidency was made possible by a conservative-stacked Supreme Court and by the nepotic machinations of his brother, the conservative Governor of Florida.
Oh, ha ha ha!
In Australia, John Howard has imposed arduous toil for millions of ordinary Australians by handing the poisoned chalice of tax collection to the nation's small retailers. He has strengthened the powers of ASIO to unnecessary, draconian limits, to fuel his lust for control over the prerogative of the individual. He jails the children of asylum seekers. As a prop to his political survival he fosters the anxieties of the so-called silent majority.
HO HO! Very funny, when you think about it.
Even France now rejects Hamas:
Foreign ministers of European Union countries say that the EU will declare all wings of the militant Palestinian group Hamas terrorist organisations and freeze their assets.
France dropped its earlier objections to the move, which it feared might harm any peace effort between Israelis and Palestinians and deprive Palestinians of important aid and social services.
"Important aid" being code, presumably, for "Semtex".
In perfect, calm conditions, the 60,000-plus crowd didn't get a lot for its money.
Man, what game was he watching? Most people at the ground would’ve paid double the ticket price just to see Alan Didak’s final-quarter goals. By comparison, the two matches that accounted for the West Coast Iggles and the Fremantle Shockers didn’t look like finals at all. Neither does today’s Swans-Port Adelaide mismatch, with the former Premiership favourites currently 40 points down at half time.
Arianna Huffington is fighting Arnie on his own turf -- she’s made a moofie. Apparently it’s aimed at the crucial spaz/tard demographic.
(Via reader John S.)
Even the Arab News is now piling on the BBC:
Has the BBC learned absolutely nothing from the Kelly inquiry?
It would appear not.
Even before the inquiry has finished deliberating, the news organization is up to its old tricks again, this time running a hugely contentious — and ultimately baseless — story on Saudi Arabia.
As the article points out, the BBC’s method (reliance on a single source) and forum (the Today show) for the Saudi story mirror the Kelly debacle. The BBC is running repeats.
The Washington Post’s Tom Shales is upset about an NFL-promoting concert:
The event was deemed so auspicious that George W. Bush took yet more time off from fighting the war on terrorism to appear, via videotape, at the end of the concert and just before the game, in the manner of a TV huckster. He tried to make some connection between football and "the spirit that guides the brave men and women" of the military, much as the concert had done.
He also said pro football "celebrates the values that make our country so strong." Like what, violence and greed?
Ban football! That this event occured at the Washington Mall also causes Shales terrible grief:
Perhaps the Mall will be available now to every American for weddings, birthday parties and bar mitzvahs. No, probably not. You'll have to be a giant corporation to take over this precious public space and, in effect, spill a ton of garbage all over it.
Shales didn’t complain back in January, the last time a ton of garbage was spilled over “this precious public space”.
Mark Steyn on Kelly and the peacemongers:
As we now know, Dr Kelly was in favour of the war. Not only that, but his most significant point of disagreement with the Government is that it was (officially) opposed to regime change, while he thought it absolutely necessary. In that respect at least, he was more hawkish than Blair, Jack Straw and Colin Powell. He had more faith in the existence of WMD than half the cabinet on either side of the Atlantic. Yet a man who believed there was no option other than war has been enthusiastically adopted by the anti-war crowd as an emblem of their cause.
Since everyone seems to use Dr Kelly, alive or dead, for whatever line they want to peddle, let me belatedly join in. He is an emblem of the anti-war movement - or, to be more precise, of its utter vacuity and incoherence. If anyone stands naked, it's these fellows. Dr Kelly is just a convenient cudgel with which to beat Blair: in that sense, he sums up the sour oppositionism of the anti-war movement.
It’ll be news to many that Kelly supported regime change. This information isn’t widespread, certainly in Australia.
Phillip Adams, millionaire, complains about Australia’s lack of wealth:
Gather round, kiddies. I’m going to tell you a Once Upon A Time story about Australia. Not the wonderful country we live in today where you’re taught self-reliance, but a place called the "Commonwealth of Australia". Isn’t that a nasty word, Commonwealth? Doesn’t it remind you of Communist? It should, because it described a place where, it was believed, wealth should be shared among everyone. Whereas, these days, wealth is increasingly uncommon, something to be enjoyed by our visionary business leaders and their fortunate families.
Wrong. Wealth is increasingly common. According to HSBC chief economist John Edwards, real wealth in Australia has grown about 40% over the past decade - a faster rate than at any other time during the past 100 years. Adams somehow missed this.
Reader Zsa Zsa, one of this site’s most trusted sources of material and arguments, now features in the Zsa Zsa Zone at Evil Pundit. This may be the first step towards an actual Zsa Zsa blog ...
In other blog news, Big John Little’s Blogs of War has now evolved into Eyeontheleft.com. Go read!
Uproarious Silvio Berlusconi interview in the latest Spectator:
I tell you the truth: if I lived in a country where there was no day appointed for elections, I would become a revolutionary, if not a terrorist. And that is because I love liberty too much; without liberty a man is not a man. He has no dignity. And so today we are now able, with Russia and America together, to look at all the states of the world, and assess the dignity of all the people in the world, and we can give them democracy and liberty. Yes! By force if necessary! Because that is the only way to show it is not a joke. We said to Saddam, ‘Do it, or we come’, and we came and we did it. I cannot say which country he was from, but someone telephoned me the other day and said, ‘I will do whatever the Americans want, because I saw what happened in Iraq, and I was afraid.’ [Mr Berlusconi’s spokesman indicated that the leader in question was Col. Gaddafi.]
There’s lots more. Lots.
David Penberthy on the defenders of unionist, ALP member, and brothel-keeper Neville Hilton:
How is it that anyone in the same party which brought you Emily's List, the affirmative action rule which, when adopted, was celebrated with a mass rendition of Helen Reddy's I Am Woman, could stick up for a bloke who makes a living from cooping up women for the sole purpose of having repeated sex with men for cash?
Emily’s List. That’d make a great name for a brothel.
10. No One’s Up
TechoLayne! Tom Waits meets Beck at Fatburger.
11/12. I Should Be That Guy
I got an e-mail from Ken the night after the raucous, bloody live version was recorded in ‘99, and you could practically taste the chaos humming off the screen. A mayhem anthem.
13. Lincoln Town Car
Like Zevon’s “Desperadoes Under The Eaves”, couldn’t have been written about any other place than LA. Beautiful, seamy, hallucinogenic LA.
14. Mama, Take Another Stand
Hits a rhythm in the last minutes or so that you wish would last at least a few minutes longer.
15. National Day of Mourning
No song this slow (and about Richard Nixon, among other things) should be such good driving music. Which it is, for reasons I can’t explain.
So go buy the CD. In related news, Ken’s $9 price deal has sparked an industry-wide trend.
Like so many before him, Johnny Depp claims that he’s been taken out of context:
Denying any anti-American sentiment on his part, actor Johnny Depp said on Thursday that quotes attributed to him as likening the United States to a "dumb puppy" were inaccurate and taken out of context.
Explaining his comments a day later, Depp said he had been using a metaphor that was taken "radically out of context," adding, "There was no anti-American sentiment."
"What I was saying was that, compared to Europe, America is a very young country and we are still growing as a nation," he said. "My deepest apologies to those who were offended, affected, or hurt by this insanely twisted deformation of my words and intent."
And he even denies wanting to live in France. It’s all his wife’s fault:
His spokeswoman added that the Kentucky-born Depp, 40, lives in the south of France with his family because his wife, actress-singer Vanessa Paradis, is French.
These people must be stopped:
Researchers at the Integrated Media Systems Center have devised a number of studies to classify and quantify characteristic facial combinations. Once the movement that makes up a person's emotional state is defined, filmmakers will be able to apply an entire set of actions with one keystroke rather than arching a character's eyebrow or flaring a nostril individually.
The center has created several projects to help identify those physical traits. In one, researchers use photos to measure the distance between points on a face. By overlaying the distances found on one face onto another, the computer can create a caricature of the second person that incorporates the features of the first. For example, Michael Jackson's face could be overlaid with the essence of the filmmaker Michael Moore's, creating a Mooreish-looking Jackson.
Of all the examples they could have possibly used, they chose that?
(Via reader John N. in New Orleans.)
Remember the alleged psychological study published way back in July that exposed conservatives as crazy? Melbourne writer Phillip Jones, speedy little unit that he is, expands on that study in today’s Age:
It reported the findings of a group of distinguished psychological researchers ... They found that "conservatism emerges as a set of neuroses nourished by aggression, dogmatism and an intolerance of ambiguity".
Blah, blah. By “expands on”, I mean “uses as a hook on which to hang his dull prejudices”. Here’s more from Jonesy:
It is interesting to follow the media apologists for conservative dogma. Never before have they had such voice. The left is emasculated, so they aver. They despise the left. They are obsessed with its naivety, its muddle-headedness, its backwardness and its political correctness. Yet they cannot leave it alone. They worry it like a dog does a bone. Are they protesting too much? Is the Freudian unconscious tormenting them? Do they need treatment?
Jones should know:
As an unrepentant conservative baiter ...
He cannot leave conservativism alone. He worries it like a dog does a bone. Is he protesting too much? Is the Freudian unconscious tormenting him? Does he need treatment? Actually, he probably does:
I, for one, am unsurprised by the conclusions of the American shrinks. I have always known that the conservatives are sick.
UPDATE. The Age is running a Your Say forum on this. One response:
As for baiting conservatives - there is nothing better than taking the piss out of holier-than-though lefty pinko wankers. It's simple - ask them what they think of Bali bombers, leave your lights on in the house, don't separate the garbage, etc. Best game in town!
It’s another UN-US standoff:
A diplomatic confrontation between American authorities and almost the rest of the world has intensified as senior officials at the United Nations insisted on their right to smoke in the organisation's headquarters.
Casting aside petty differences and forging new allegiances, UN ambassadors pledged to ignore New York's smoking ban, imposed on the city's workplaces, including bars and restaurants, five months ago and which extended to the UN this week.
The UN on Iraq: do nothing. The UN on smoking: hey, we’ve gotta mobilise!
This week, about 1,000 air conditioners will be airlifted to U.S. soldiers in Iraq, thanks to the efforts of Frankie Mayo and the generosity of Americans all across the country.
Mrs. Mayo set up Operation Air Conditioner earlier this summer, with the purpose of providing as many cooling units as possible for the U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq. American civilians have responded by opening their hearts — and their wallets — to her call. According to Mrs. Mayo, she has received at least $200,000 in donations. Individuals in every state have given — Texas and California, Delaware and the District of Columbia. She has even received contributions from individuals in Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
As a consequence, a shipment of 500 donated air conditioners arrived yesterday in Baghdad, sent via a private shipping company. The Air Force has agreed to send another plane load, and 500 donated air conditioners are expected to arrive today at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Wanna help Mrs Mayo out? Click here.
Who says Australia isn’t concerned about the welfare of our imprisoned al Qaeda suspects?
Australia has asked Egypt to explain the grounds for detention of a Melbourne man with suspected links to al-Qaeda, who has been held in a Cairo prison since May.
A spokesman for Mr Downer said Jihad - a former painter in his early 20s who lived with his mother in Melbourne - was in "reasonable health" and had been given access to a lawyer and family members.
"We are questioning the legal basis for his continued detention," the spokesman said. "But he certainly is believed to have connections to al-Qaeda."
It was previously assumed that the body released stress hormones in the final moments before death to deal with physical or psychological suffering.
But scientists have now discovered the hormones are secreted automatically to help cope with the deterioration of bodily functions -- meaning there is not necessarily any suffering at all.
We’ve all got a stake in this “pain-free death” deal, but I’d happily endure some temporary severe blinding agony just so the likes of Hill didn’t have it so easy.
In the new version, narrated by former U.S. president Clinton and called Wolf Tracks, Peter again captures the wolf, but this time repents of his act and releases the animal, who howls a grateful goodbye.
"Forgetting his triumph, Peter thought instead of fallen trees, parched meadows, choked streams, and of each and every wolf struggling for survival," Clinton narrates.
"The time has come to leave wolves in peace," he adds.
In pieces, Mr President. You were meant to say "in pieces".
Precious Shumba, of Zimbabwe’s Daily News, reports:
Disgruntled settlers ordered by the government to vacate a farm to pave way for President Robert Mugabe’s kin on Friday severely assaulted the relative, Marjorie Winnie Mugabe, and her two sons, Jongwe and Hugh, the Daily News learnt yesterday.
It could not be immediately established why the settlers at Little England Farm near Zvimba, Mugabe’s rural home, in Mashonaland West province attacked Winnie and her sons.
Just a guess, but I’d say the “ordered by the government to vacate a farm for President Mugabe’s kin” might have had something to do with it. These settlers, by the way, took over the farm from its original owners three years ago; now they are described by the government as "lawless". Precious (best byline ever) also writes:
Winnie is the widow of Mugabe’s late nephew, Innocent, who died two years ago.
Crittenden was stood down six weeks ago for failing to get approval to run an article in The Sydney Morning Herald.
It is believed that the guilty verdict stands and a formal warning is recorded on Crittenden's personnel file. Crittenden is believed to be pursuing legal options.
One Radio National worker, who did not want to be named, said the finding meant Crittenden had been muzzled in future.
"We are seeing a much stricter approach to ABC staff doing things outside," the journalist said. "That means there will be two classes. Those on contracts like Virginia Trioli and Phillip Adams can commentate with impunity, but full-time staff members are under tight control."
Two classes? At a stupidocracy like the ABC? Unheard of.
Killer article on blogging by Matt Welch. Or, since he’s now being published in the snooty Columbia Journalism Review, Matthew Kensington Welch III.
Some people will buy anything:
After signing off on the sale of his company this week to the French research giant Ipsos, leading social commentator Hugh Mackay has again chastised the research industry for continuing to "seriously mislead" clients and warned corporations they are ignoring a "golden era" for advertising in their attempts to control costs.
This is bad:
A convicted killer and pedophile remains on the run after slipping away from his guard in a prison day-leave debacle.
Police believe Trevor Andrew Bransgrove, 37, is in Melbourne after fleeing his prison escort in a Ballarat shopping mall.
And this is worse:
Almost an hour elapsed as the frantic guard searched the mall before reporting the escape to police.
Dozens of victims of France's heatwave who remained unclaimed despite appeals for relatives to come forward have been buried in paupers' graves in an official ceremony.
Hugh Schofield, reporting for the BBC from Paris, says the ceremony was an attempt by France to assuage some of the guilt felt over the thousands of mainly elderly people who died during the August heat.
The high death toll was bad enough, he says, but that more than 400 people lived in such isolation that they remained unclaimed in makeshift morgues was a source of even deeper shame.
• Professor Bunyip and reader Anthony Carr unearth some number trouble at the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
• Iain Murray farewells a wrestling great.
• Bernard Slattery comments favourably on the Mini’s unique twin airbag safety feature.
• Electric Venom discovers what Saddam was really looking for in Nigeria.
• Tony the Teacher makes a bold prediction.
• Joanne Jacobs visits the blakbored jungel.
• Jim Treacher re-introduces reader interactivity.
• Scott Wickstein notes that Paul Keating’s celebrated “vision” was characterised by Sydneycentric narrowness.
• Peter Kerr finds someone prepared to defend Abu Bakar Bashir.
• And Natalie Solent composes the single best sentence of the year thus far:
You've got to hand it to those cows, they know how to bag themselves up.
A Spanish court case has turned up some familiar names:
Al-Qaeda figures with links to the September 11 attackers have engaged in regular communication with two Australian Islamic leaders, according to documents and telephone intercepts tendered in an international terrorist case.
Last night, the Australian Federal Police confirmed that Bilal Khazal, a leader of the Lakemba-based Islamic Youth Movement (IYM), and Melbourne spiritual leader Sheik Mohammed Omran were "persons of interest" - and were among 65 active counter-terrorism cases under investigation in Australia.
Documents and telephone intercepts tendered in an international terrorist case show the two men have links to Spain's top extremist suspect, Abu Dahdah.
Only last month, it was claimed a 2002 CIA report identified Mr Khazal, a former Qantas baggage handler, as an al-Qaeda operative. He has repeatedly denied any terrorist links, but last night would not be drawn on any contact with Abu Dahdah.
The Spanish court papers suggest Mr Khazal and Sheik Omran have been called separately on several occasions by Abu Dahdah, whose real name is Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas.
The Australian adds:
Speaking on the ABC yesterday, Sheikh Omran, who arrived in Australia from Jordan 18 years ago, denied any knowledge of Abu Dahdah. This was despite the documents tendered in the Spanish court listing a phone number linked to him.
Also tendered was evidence of repeated phone calls to a landline and mobile phone number linked to Mr Khazal, a hardline Muslim figure based in Sydney's southwest.
Hollywood star Johnny Depp said today the United States was a stupid, aggressive puppy and he would not live there until the political climate changed.
"America is dumb, it's like a dumb puppy that has big teeth that can bite and hurt you, aggressive," he said.
A nice line from John Anderson in Mountain Creek, Queensland:
With reference to Phillip Adams liberally sprinkling his column with quotes from Macbeth. May I add one more: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
Phil’s prior column contained some typical Adams idiocies as well, including this:
Bush was, of course, aided and abetted by the judicial activism of Supreme Court judges appointed by Dad – and the candidate who’d lost the popular vote got the glittering prize.
In the majority were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.
Those dissenting were Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.
Bush Sr.’s appointees cancelled each other out.
Volokh contributor David Bernstein posts on a curious Australian legal ruling.
This guy just doesn’t make sense:
The brother of a cleric assassinated in a car bombing told 400,000 mourners yesterday he blamed the US occupation forces for the lax security that led to the attack at Iraq's most sacred Shiite mosque.
And how does he suggest the forces might improve security?
At the funeral for Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, his brother raged against the American troops and demanded they leave Iraq.
You know, it’s pretty difficult to police mosques in Najaf when you’re way over in the US. The Ayatollah’s bro seems to have some difficulty understanding the concept of “primary responsibility”, too:
"The occupation force is primarily responsible for the pure blood that was spilled in holy Najaf, the blood of al-Hakim and the faithful group that was present near the mosque," said Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, the ayatollah's brother and a member of the US-picked Governing Council.
At 32 elite colleges registered Democrats on the faculty outnumbered Republicans 10-1. At two of the schools – Bowdoin and Wellesley – the ratio was 23-1.
A controversial claim is inserted at the last minute into a report intended to sway public opinion. Sound familiar?
The BBC chairman, Gavyn Davies, conceded that a description of the weapons expert as a "senior intelligence source" in a crucial statement issued by the BBC governors after an emergency meeting at the height of the row was inserted at the last minute by a press officer.
The news is a mirror of the "sexing up" accusation levelled at Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair's director of communications, and raises further questions about the role played by the governors.
Actually, it answers a lot of questions.
Dubya’s lost the crucial Muslim vote:
Leaders of the U.S. Muslim community intend to deliver a bloc vote in next year's presidential elections, one that will go against the candidate they endorsed last time - President George W. Bush.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Muslim Council, the American Muslim Alliance, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council agreed this weekend to cooperate on a voter registration drive that they hope will send one million Muslims to say "No" to Bush's 2004 re-election bid.
The President’s only hope is to pick up the equally bountiful ho vote.
Last year Australia accepted 11,656 people via refugee and humanitarian programs, writes Janet Albrechtsen. Yet still we’re damned as loathsome racists:
When Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock revealed that the crackdown on illegal immigration meant "hundreds of additional places are now available for those requiring humanitarian resettlement from the Middle East and Africa who do not have the resources or opportunity to pay people smugglers", the post-Tampa compassion junkies were predictably quiet.
From south Sudan, 29-year-old Malueth Mac is one of the compassion junkies' forgotten refugees. He arrived in Melbourne in May, having waited 11 years in the squalid Kakuma camp in Kenya after his parents and brother were killed.
Says south Sudanese community leader James Chol: "The real issue is forgotten by the media. The Australian media . . . focus on the boatpeople. They forget the right thing that these [Sudanese] people are doing. They wait patiently. They respect the law and yet nobody mentions their situation."
I wonder why.
Let this be a warning to all you car-hating Amish out there:
A driver fired a shotgun into a cornfield and killed a man after being tormented by a group of young Amish pranksters who pelted his car with tomatoes, authorities said.
Seems the Amish always tend to go nuts this time of year. Holmes County in particular is a hotbed of Amish pranksterism:
Holmes County, a rural area that has what is believed to be the world's largest Amish population, sees its share of pranks by young Amish people every fall, Chief Deputy Nathan Fritz said.
"They'll steal their neighbor's buggy and put it on top of a building," Fritz said.
Zero tolerance. It’s the only way to deal with buggy crimes.
Fun P.J. O’Rourke interview in The Onion:
The Onion: Were you ever at The Harvard Lampoon?
P.J. O'Rourke: Oh, no. Christ, I went to Miami of Ohio. I couldn't have gotten into Harvard with a crowbar.
In the interview, P.J. mentions -- in some cases surprisingly -- Tina Brown, Hunter S. Thompson, and Michael Moore, among others.
Blessed are the chocolate makers:
In unusually blunt language that drew surprised gasps from reporters, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher scoffed at Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg for continuing to support the proposal that they first introduced at a mini-summit in April.
He described the April meeting as one between "four countries that got together and had a little bitty summit" and then referred to them collectively as "the chocolate makers."
Boucher wussily backed down after saying this. He shouldn’t have; it was an excellent line. Besides, he was only reflecting a widely-held view:
One senior State Department official said the four nations backing it could also be called "the greater Benelux," a reference to the small trade association made up of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg that has no military component or aspirations.
Those perfumed hussies are just asking for trouble:
One of the leaders of Malaysia’s Islamic opposition has upset women in the country by suggesting that they should stop wearing lipstick and perfume to lower the risk of being raped.
Nik Abdul Aziz, the spiritual leader of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, claimed that even women who wore Muslim head-scarves could arouse men if they also wore make-up and perfume. The end result could be rape or molestation, he said.
It’s this sort of thing that leads even sane people to doubt the US government:
Former White House counter terrorism expert Richard Clarke told Vanity Fair the Bush administration decided to allow a group of Saudis to fly out of U.S. airspace just after Sept. 11-- a time when access to the United States was still restricted and required special government approval.
According to the magazine's sources, at least four flights with about 140 Saudis, including roughly two-dozen members of the bin Laden family, flew to Saudi Arabia that week without even being interviewed or interrogated by the FBI.
Clarke, who headed the counter terrorism security group of the National Security Council, said he does not now recall who initiated the request for approval.
He does not recall?
AWU organiser, ALP identity, and all-round classy guy Neville Hilton has been
booted out of the Labor Party:
Brothel owner and Labor party branch secretary Neville Hilton has been formally suspended from the party, NSW ALP General Secretary Eric Roozendaal said today.
The suspension follows reports that two girls, aged 13 and 14, had worked at the brothel.
Mr Hilton, the president of the ALP's Albion Park branch, had come under massive pressure to quit or be removed from the party after it was revealed the two underage girls had worked at a brothel he co-owned.
The Illawarra Mercury reported last week that Hilton replied, “Jesus, is that right?” when a Mercury staffer told him that two of his workers were aged only 13 and 14. He went on to say, charmingly: “They're obviously fully filled out. I wouldn't have thought they would be fully developed at that age."
Others who met the girls disagree:
Former sex worker Pamela Bradley told ABC Radio this morning she was shocked when she met the pair at the Port Kembla brothel.
"A little girl opened the door and, my God, you could tell that she was only about 13," she said.
"Nobody can turn around and say they didn't know that little girl was only 13."
Neville Hilton was last week re-elected as vice-president of the Port Kembla Chamber of Commerce, “which has been working with the Port Kembla Main Street Committee to improve the suburb's image.”
The Independent’s reader forums are a valuable resource for those interested in the study of pathological delusion:
Now that the inevitable truth has emerged about WMD will Bush now concede that the French were right all along and send a formal written apology to President Chirac and the French people? Or are we to conclude that Bush the provincial bully doesn't care about the truth and is still seething at having his authority challenged by those uppity frogs, no matter how right their argument turned out to be.
Memories of motorcycle ace Barry Sheene:
The Seventies icon thrilled bike fans with his "knee-out" style when cornering, the "wheelies" on the straight. Better still, the silky-skilled machismo that brought him two back-to-back world 500cc titles came with a raffish persona that delivered cheeky ripostes (what goes through your mind when you crash at 190mph? "Your arse," was his legendary reply), conquered women in droves and made light of his multiple post-crash reconstructive surgeries.
Speaking about things going through your mind ...
Paul Wolfowitz on terrorism in Iraq:
Terrorists recognise that Iraq is on a course towards self-government that is irreversible and, once achieved, will be an example to all in the Muslim world who desire freedom, pointing a way out of the hopelessness that the extremists feed on. And so they test our will, the will of the Iraqi people and the will of the civilised world.
Among the hundreds of enemy that we have captured in the past months are more than 200 foreign terrorists who came to Iraq to kill Americans and Iraqis and to do everything they can to prevent a free and successful Iraq from emerging. They must be defeated - and they will be.
Naturally, this will depress some in the West, as James Taranto -- now returned to his WSJ desk -- reminds us:
Antiwar protesters down under are finally getting some recognition. Australia's Daily Telegraph quotes a man named simply Sawad, who helped mix the explosives used in last year's Bali nightclub bombing, as saying: "I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush. Say thank you to all of them."
In November 2001, the New York Times reported that Osama bin Laden himself thanked Western "antiwar" demonstrators, in an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir:
Mr. bin Laden had also been impressed by the coverage of protests in the West against the American bombing of Afghanistan, Mr. Mir said, and appeared to believe that antiwar sentiments could be used to his advantage.
"He said, 'I admit there are many good and innocent people living in the West,' " Mr. Mir said, and suggested they should oppose the American policy, as with the Vietnam War.
What the f ... it’s an Alan Ramsey column that sensible people can completely agree with!
Wayne Wood’s son David died nearly a decade ago, aged 17. Wayne writes of his pain, with extraordinary feeling and clarity.
This week’s Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Mark Latham, Anthony Daniels, Pauline Hanson, the Corrs, Molly O'Doogal, Simon Crean, Tony Abbott, Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Richard Alston, Tony Jones, Peter Thompson, Uncle Milk, Eddie McGuire, and Sergio Vieira de Mello.
UPDATE. Re The Spectator, Queensland premier Peter Beattie writes:
Anthony Daniels, in a column reprinted from The Spectator, makes the bizarre claim I found merit in the grounds for Hanson's appeal, because a federal minister interfered with witnesses and publicity denied her a fair trial.
I have no idea how Daniels researched his column, but his statements about me are a mishmash of falsehoods.
I have accused no one of interfering with witnesses, and have never suggested the jury in Hanson's case was influenced by publicity.
Scots are waging a campaign against plans to open a mosque next to an Edinburgh pub amid fears devout Muslims will disrupt traditional Scottish drinking.
No, wait. I’ve got that all back to front.
So I’m reading something Pejman Yousefzadeh linked to from the NYT about the US economy:
The American economy grew at a revised annual rate of 3.1 percent in the second quarter, the government reported today, and the unexpected strength is leading economists to raise their forecasts for the rest of the year.
And it’s full of sound economist stuff, to which Pej adds reasonable commentary. Meanwhile, what does Australia’s ABC tell me?
Consumers today in the United States, in Britain, in all parts of the world, are holding up very heroically and very dutifully, spending, borrowing and spending and propping up economies. Now when those economies fall down those very same heroic consumers will be left with very high levels of debt in what will be a deflationary environment where the possibility of there losing their jobs is very, very high. We've watched in the United States as unemployment has roared ahead in the last two years, and the rate of growth of unemployment in the US is higher than it's ever been since the Great Depression. Unemployment is rising in Europe, and under these conditions, when people start to lose their jobs, and haven't got the income with which to repay their debts, and in a deflationary environment those debts become extremely painful.
Misery and disaster lay in wait for all of us! That’s according to Ann Pettifor, interviewed on yesterday’s AM program. Pettifor represents the anti-free trade, down-with-the-First-World New Economic Foundation in London. She herself is a veteran of the Jubilee 2000 project, which sought to forgive Third World debt. Was any of that revealed to the ABC’s listeners? Was any context provided at all?
His name was Lt. Kenneth W. Ambrose.
For more than 60 years, he has been lost and forgotten in the vast, often snowbound wilds of Mount Baker.
Read the story.
“Every fact in the film is true,” claims Michael Moore about Bowling For Columbine. “Absolutely every fact in the film is true. And anybody who says otherwise is committing an act of libel.”
He’s wrong, as the movie’s release on DVD -- featuring a corrected scene -- demonstrates. Moore will be up to his 15th remake before Bowling is able to be called a documentary.
Scroll down this guide to Zimbabwe compiled by the US State Department for Fulbright scholars hopeful of visiting that country. Check out “Fields of study not recommended”.
(Via reader David H.)
This site attacts some mean angry trolls, despite me being the nicest boy in the whole world. Sensitive, too. So I’ve turned their spiteful troll-speak into delightful poetry:
I wish your immigrant ancestor died on their way over you coward. The day I see you as an enlisted man in our great Army is the day I vote for John Howard.
I know, it doesn’t scan, but consider the material I’m working with here. I spent 15 minutes trying to find a rhyme for “Tim Blair=Wahabi Cleric” (can you believe not a single bastard troll has ever mentioned Joseph Merrick or used the word "esoteric"?) before giving up and composing this:
You need more vision and less red meat It's you and your ilk who are the real elite
I'll leave you
and the Timster alone.
Don't want you choking
on a chicken bone
The next example is offered copyright-free to Rage Against The Machine:
You speak on any subject you choose with the conviction! Lies, distortions, half truths and downright fiction!
Dedicated to all the usual right wing causes;
I'm the product of a first world state
Rock on, trolls.
An unholy Coalition of the Willing:
Argentine ex-dictator General Reynaldo Bignone has admitted that 8,000 people were kidnapped and killed during the 1976-83 military regime, and said the church leadership had given its approval to torture practices.
The regime's brutal repression of opponents was modelled directly on the Battle of Algiers, he said. French instructors gave conferences and consultations on how to carry out the strategy.
Bignone seems to be indicating that French veterans of the war in Algeria were the “instructors”. It will be interesting to find out if the French government knew of this, or whether the instructors were freelancing. Their students ended up killing a bunch of Argentina-based French nuns.
“The leading theorist of the big lie was Adolf Hitler,” declares The Guardian’s Hugo Young:
"The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed," he wrote in Mein Kampf. This was his propaganda technique. A falsehood of sufficient audacity was "bound to have an effect on public opinion, even if not given total credence by a majority" (William Safire's New Political Dictionary). The most notorious exponent of the big lie in our modern world was ...
Pol Pot? Mao? Any number of commie dictators who collectively murdered millions while declaring themselves to be "for the people"?
(Thanks to reader Simon R.)
It’s easy to reduce your nation’s illiteracy rate. You just ask Fidel Castro, and he carefully explains that by erasing high numbers and replacing them with low numbers, the illiteracy rate will drop accordingly:
Chavez and Castro are strong political allies and close friends. Chavez thanked the Cuban leader for technological assistance that he said helped sharply reduce Venezuela's illiteracy rates.
UPDATE. Another small southern island needs to call Fidel.
What exactly is quasi-intentional murder?
Two Iranian officials have been detained and ordered to stand trial in the beating death of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, Tehran's prosecutor's office said yesterday.
The Islamic Republic News Agency reported the two "interrogators" have not been named in what Iran's criminal court inspector is calling a "quasi-intentional murder."
Greens believe in conserving everything except tradition:
The New South Wales Greens will seek to remove Christian prayers from being read at the beginning of each day in Parliament today.
Greens MP Lee Rhiannon says there are an increasing number of New South Wales residents who do not support the Christian faith and Parliament should reflect that.
She says a moment should still be held where members can pray in silence.
"Parliament should represent all the people of New South Wales and that cannot be achieved while we have a narrow-based Christian prayer," she said.
Narrow-based? I’d bet there are more Christians in New South Wales than there are Greens, who are at least as evangelical. Besides, this prayer deal isn’t an issue. NSW politicians aren’t compelled to recite the prayer (as I understand, only one is read -- the Lord's Prayer); they are free to not even attend the prayer reading. Rhiannon is suffering from post-war attention deficit syndrome.
The respected Reuters newsagency reports widespread alarm at the cunning japery of a quick-fingered circus artiste:
American illusionist David Blaine shocked a group of journalists in London today when he appeared to cut off part of his ear at a news conference to promote his latest stunt.
I say, one might expect such bold antics from a chap driven mad by the pox, but from an illusionist?
The daredevil US magician apparently drew blood after he was asked whether he could show the assembled reporters any new tricks. He borrowed a pocket knife and screamed as he applied it to his left ear.
Thus was created the “illusion” of physical pain, such as would accompany the application of a sharpened blade to one’s lobe! Ingenious!
He left the room holding a bloodied handkerchief to his ear before reappearing and walking past journalists with his ear and the top of his shirt covered with what appeared to be blood.
Why, this must certainly guarantee a large assembly at Mr. Blaine’s Magickal Puzzlement Revue. His sly trickstering will be worth many shillings to see.
The formerly moderate Palestinian fellowship collective known as Hamas has become radicalised, according to The Guardian:
The death of Abu Shenab has radicalised Hamas.
I guess that’s the end of civilised negotiation, then.
UPDATE. Another Hamas activist has been killed, reports AFP. The War on Activism continues.
Urban blackouts are all the rage. And now a blackout of a different kind; remember a mention here of the film Deckchair Danny, that was going to halt the American cultural incursion into Australia? Pulled from screens after just three weeks.
It’s AFL finals time. All you need to know:
First elimination final Fremantle v Essendon, Friday night, Subiaco Oval. Likely winner: Fremantle
Second elimination final Adelaide v Weagles, Saturday, Football Park. Likely winner: who cares? This game should be cancelled
Second qualifying final Collingwood v Brisbane, Saturday night, MC Jeebus. Winner: Collingwood
First qualifying final Port Adelaide v Sydney, Sunday, Football Park. Likely winner: Disgusting Port Adelaide
Suicide as a method of empire-building? Well, it’s never worked before, but Jemaah Islamiah is willing to try:
Terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah has drawn up plans for a suicide bombing campaign designed to transform Asia and the Pacific region into Islamic provinces.
The scheme is revealed in a 40-page manifesto - the Pupji book or General Guide to the Struggle of JI - which also shows that Jemaah Islamiyah is a well-formed organisation with a constitution, rules of operation, and leadership structure.
The book refers to "love of Jihad in the path of God and love of dying as a martyr" as one of the group's 10 guiding principles.
It shows that JI is not just a loose amalgamation of extremists which can be paralysed by the arrests of senior figures.
Events since the Bali bombing also demonstrate that the group has moved to embrace suicide bombings as a preferred method of achieving its aims.
This, of course, is in direct violation of Patton’s Law:
I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
Paul Sheehan pays out on progressives:
When the Herald's literary editor, Malcolm Knox, came back from last week's Melbourne Writers Festival, he said he was stunned by the event's conformity, its dominance by a self-reinforcing, self-congratulating insular consensus which allowed only token dissent.
I'll take his word for it, especially as Knox is by no means someone who could be tarred with the epithet "conservative" and the festival's keynote address was delivered by Tariq Ali, one of the great apologists for dictatorships, another example of the peculiar moral relativism of the progressive side of politics.
Also in Sheehan’s line of fire: Robert Manne and Michael Moore.
Jack Stiglitz, at Henry Thornton.com, asks:
What is with the AFR these days? Most of its Canberra correspondents are so obviously subject to the dictates of a partisan agenda that it is, by construction, impossible for them to objectively report on the political rhythms of the day ... The complexion of the op-ed pages is an absolute disgrace, and dominated by the likes of Barker, Hewson, Harris, Quiggin and Tingle! In fact, so overwhelming is the AFR's venomous verbiage that Jack sometimes feels like he's reading the goddamned Guardian.
I used to buy the AFR every day. I even wrote for it. But I don’t think I’ve read a copy in about 18 months. It’s just wrong; a financial newspaper loaded with lefties is like a four-cylinder Corvette, or a diesel Ducati.
Al Qaida? In Iraq? That’s crazy talk:
A man believed to be an al-Qaida operative, found with 11 surface-to-air missiles, has been arrested in Iraq by U.S. soldiers and has acknowledged that he had been training with Ansar al Islam fighters to use the weapons against American forces, a senior U.S. official said Friday.
Minks are on the loose:
"Over half our livestock was shredded. Murdered. Eaten alive," said Jeff Weaver, who discovered the dead birds on his farm Thursday. "These are not like regular farm animals. They're our pets."
Weaver, who breeds Indian Runner ducks and Banny chickens, said his field was full of the animals Thursday morning.
"One of the mink had part of a chicken in its mouth and was headed for the creek," he said. "They're starving. They'll kill anything in their path."
The mink also killed Weaver's geese, chicken and ducks, as well as wounded a dog and ate a 50-pound bag of bird feed.
Who the hell is behind this mass slaughter of the peaceful creatures?
The Animal Liberation Front, considered a domestic terrorist group by the FBI, has claimed responsibility.
Makes sense. They’ve liberated all those ducks and geese from the oppressive demands of breathing and eating. Check this stunning Animal Lib logic:
Animal activists argue that while the farm animals' deaths are unfortunate, it proves minks raised in captivity can survive in the wild.
Sure they can. Just so long as there are plenty of wild chickens around.
Cuba-lovin’ Brit MP Brian Wilson replies to an e-mail from reader Robert B.:
Of course I would like to see open elections in Cuba and everywhere else. but I think one of the counter-productive aspects of US policy has been to ensure such a state of abnormality in Cuba that it becomes unreasonable to demand what we would regard as normal politics. Lift the embargo and things would change very quickly. But would the US be capable of allowing what is good in Cuba to survive or would they want to wipe the whole thing out in order to restore Bacardi, the United Fruit Company and the Mafia? I fear so.
That’s the plan, Brian. The Mafia must be restored.
Despite graduating from high school sometime before plastic was invented, Maureen Dowd remains fixated:
The agencies of the Bush administration are behaving like high school cliques.
Possibly high school was the last place where Dowd actually witnessed normal people behaving normally. Or maybe something sinister (“They're like the spoiled, foreign princesses in high school”) or shattering (“like a high school kid waiting outside her boyfriend's biology class”) happened.
Good news from Iraq:
In the 20 weeks since the fall of Baghdad, two U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi women won each other's hearts.
The American men and Iraqi women courted, fell in love and decided to marry, but they had to battle disapproving senior American officers and fears of retribution by militant Iraqis.
When they finally held their double wedding ceremony Aug. 17, the nuptials were carried out with the secrecy and synchronization of a commando operation.
I hear Uday’s honeymoon suite is vacant.
Marital conflict may have a been an element in David Kelly’s suicide, the Telegraph reports:
The widow of Dr David Kelly, who is to appear tomorrow before the Hutton Inquiry into her husband's death, has confided in friends about the damage inflicted on the couple's marriage by the Ministry of Defence investigation into his case.
The strain resulted in a series of domestic rows in the days and hours before Dr Kelly's apparent suicide, say the friends, adding that the domestic tension may have added to Dr Kelly's sense of isolation.
And it’s been revealed that Kelly believed in military action against Saddam:
The British weapons expert David Kelly believed armed action against Iraq had become the only way to "conclusively disarm" Saddam Hussein and stop him developing weapons of mass destruction to "military maturity".