Thank God there wasn’t a net around when some of us was spoutin’ off way back when ...
Ain’t that the truth. My own childhood leftism involved the standard “destroy the state” yowling, as well as loathsome, almost Gonzalez-like opinions about anyone in uniform -- indeed, about anyone not on the Left. It’s time to confess, people! Reveal in comments your hideous pre-Internet statements or ideas. Anonymity, obviously, is encouraged ...
Via half the Internet, it’s the latest crazy random words game:
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
Fred Offenhauser was made head of Miller’s engine shop with the power to hire and fire workmen, though, as Myron Stevens later wryly remarked, that authority did not extend to the body and chassis shop.
Plank-gobbed Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir is to be charged over the Bali bombings:
Renegade Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Bashir has been arrested and will be charged with masterminding the Bali bombings that killed 202 people including 88 Australians, according to reports.
Associated Press reported this morning that Bashir, who until now has claimed ignorance of operations by terror network Jemaah Islamiah, would be charged with the Bali atrocity and other bombings by the group.
In another regional idiot development, Sydney’s Iznar Ul-Haque doesn’t like animals:
When Izhar Ul-Haque enrolled in a terrorist training camp in Pakistan last year, he was fed up with Westerners and their "animal type of lifestyle", a court heard yesterday.
In a letter to his parents, Mr Ul-Haque says he wanted to undergo weapons and combat training and eventually expected to die a martyr for a Pakistani terrorist group.
When he returned to Sydney after the camp, Customs officials found 30 books in his luggage including handwritten notes about rocket launchers, landmines, tanks and multi-purpose machineguns.
Grrrr! These things anger us animalistic Westerners.
Margo Kingston’s brain is starved of vital oxygen:
I'm still trying to breathe after seeing on Lateline the photos of American soldiers smiling as they pose with tortured Iraqi prisoners, if torture is the word for the horror. The images are out of a Caligula movie. The world has gone to hell. George Bush's war on Iraq will haunt all our lives. I recant my objections to Latham's policy. Out now! There must be a better way, there must be. We must find leaders fast, real fast.
If those images are causing Margo some respiratory problems, these must have turned her lungs inside out. In the same Webdiary screed, highly-strung Webdiarist Jack Robertson seeks to expose the source of a report obtained by the Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt:
Bolt declined to comment about his source for the report. Asked if he was prepared to exclude the Prime Minister’s and the Foreign Minister’s offices as his source, he responded:
"Don’t insult my intelligence and yours. If you claim to be a journalist, these questions are just so preposterous...they’re an insult. You would not put them to anyone else that had revealed documents that supported a thesis with which you whole-heartedly agreed. The only reason you’re asking me is that you want to elevate Andrew Wilkie against the evidence."
There’s an ethical issue here. Margo writes that she is “bound by the code of ethics of the Media Alliance union, of which I am a member.” And here is part of that code, linked to by Webdiary:
Aim to attribute information to its source. Where a source seeks anonymity, do not agree without first considering the sources motives and any alternative attributable source. Where confidences are accepted, respect them in all circumstances.
Bolt is respecting the confidence of his source. Webdiary -- casting aside the MEAA code -- wants him to identify that source, and presumably would have published the source had Bolt named whoever it was. It’s like something out of a Caligula movie!
Terrorists demanded a demonstration, and they’ve got what they wanted:
The families of three Italians held hostage in Iraq led a march near St. Peter's Square on Thursday after the abductors threatened to kill the captives unless Italians carried out a "huge demonstration" against the war.
Not that anyone at the march admitted they were reacting to the terrorists’ demands; oh, no. This demonstration was entirely unrelated to any threat:
The relatives described the march as a peace rally and said they were not giving in to the captors.
"This protest is for peace and nothing else," said Patrizia Oliano, of Pompeii, who brought her family to the march. "We're not giving in to blackmail."
"Obviously, nobody likes to be told what to do," said [Jane Reynolds]. "But we don't consider this giving in to blackmail."
So don’t demonstrate at all. Even better, march against terrorism. Or does that idea only ever occur to Iraqis?
Take a look at University of Massachusetts undergraduate Rene Gonzalez. Seems a nice kid, doesn’t he? Quite possibly he was, back in 2001, during his undergrad days.
Rene is now a graduate student. He’s active in politics, he’s interested in all the big issues, he’s maybe thinking about a political career, and he’s just written something he’ll deeply regret:
I've been mystified at the absolute nonsense of being in "awe" of Tillman's "sacrifice" that has been the American response. Mystified, but not surprised. True, it's not everyday that you forgo a $3.6 million contract for joining the military. And, not just the regular army, but the elite Army Rangers. You know he was a real Rambo, who wanted to be in the "real" thick of things. I could tell he was that type of macho guy, from his scowling, beefy face on the CNN pictures. Well, he got his wish. Even Rambo got shot in the third movie, but in real life, you die as a result of being shot. They should call Pat Tillman's army life "Rambo 4: Rambo Attempts to Strike Back at His Former Rambo 3 Taliban Friends, and Gets Killed."
In my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, Tillman would have been called a "pendejo," an idiot. Tillman, in the absurd belief that he was defending or serving his all-powerful country from a seventh-rate, Third World nation devastated by the previous conflicts it had endured, decided to give up a comfortable life to place himself in a combat situation that cost him his life. This was not "Ramon or Tyrone," who joined the military out of financial necessity, or to have a chance at education. This was a "G.I. Joe" guy who got what was coming to him. That was not heroism, it was prophetic idiocy.
Rene will get what’s coming to him. Picture him a couple of decades from now, struggling to explain his youthful extremism to party officials or journalists or voters. It isn’t easy; just ask John Kerry.
(Via J.F. Beck)
UPDATE. Rene begins his lifetime of regret:
A University of Massachusetts at Amherst graduate student is apologizing to Pat Tillman's family.
Rene Gonzalez had written a column for the campus paper saying the football player-turned-soldier who died in combat in Afghanistan wasn't a hero -- but a "G.I. Joe guy who got what was coming to him."
Gonzalez said in an e-mail to a Boston TV station that he was trying to say Tillman's celebrity had factored into his being labeled a hero.
He admits he tried to prove his point in an "insensitive way" and that the article wasn't worth publishing.
UMass president Jack Wilson has meanwhile described Rene’s article as "a disgusting, arrogant and intellectually immature attack on a human being who died in service to his country", and the Chicago Sports Review’s Jack Barley writes:
I want Gonzalez to look Marie Tillman, Pat’s wife, in the eyes and read the portion of his editorial, "He was acting out his macho, patriotic crap and I guess someone with a bigger gun did him in."
Gonzalez is in big trouble with the politically correct crowd.
It’s worse than that. He’s in trouble with the non-politically correct crowd.
The US news program Nightline will broadcast this Friday the names and faces of every soldier killed by enemy fire since the war began, reports the New York Times:
Ted Koppel, the program's anchor, will deliver a brief introduction before reading the more than 530 names, as photographs and captions with the ages and hometowns of the dead appear on the screen. "Nightline" will not include those who died by accident and other causes because of time constraints; Mr. Koppel will barely have two seconds for each name.
Interesting that Nightline’s principled and non-political decision -- Koppel claims it is a “tribute” to the dead -- doesn’t extend to adding 30 minutes of airtime so all the names could be included. Jeff Jarvis nails the list manoeuvre as a journalistic cliche:
How many times have we seen such roll calls of death called out: war deaths; drug deaths; AIDS deaths; 9/11 deaths. It has been used so often that to pull it out now is a very conscious effort, a journalistic conceit with a clear purpose and a history that cannot be ignored. It means: Let's hit the people over the head with what we think they're ignoring; let's add it up for them; let's rub their noses in the enormity of it; let's remind them of a story nearly ignored.
But the Iraq war is hardly ignored. We don't need Koppel to bring our attention to the danger and death there.
It’s also lazy. Nightline is presenting nothing but a video version of the Washington Post’s excellent faces of the fallen series. And check this Koppel quote:
"I have always felt, and I said it when I was in Iraq last year, that the most important thing a journalist can do is remind people of the cost of war."
Hint to Koppel: people already know this. More important than reminding us about things we’re entirely clear on (“Next week on Nightline: humans just can’t get enough of that sweet, sweet oxygen!”) is telling us what we don’t know -- for example, we’d have been interested in all the details of Saddam’s Iraq that CNN withheld. When Scott Ritter said he wasn’t going to describe what he saw in Iraq’s kiddie prisons “because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace”, well, we would’ve appreciated some deeper inquiries. And this whole UNSCAM deal? Tell us more.
*The headline is based on Koppel's reported $6 million annual salary, and assumes he presents 200 programs per year. Another way to look at things: Koppel is pulling down $56 for every dead soldier he names.
Initially, "Nightline" was going to air the names of the 500 Americans who died in combat, but Thursday the program announced plan to expand the Friday broadcast so it could include the 200 Americans who died in non-combat situations.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey, another Vietnam-fixated correspondent whose quagmired views should disqualify him from covering more recent conflicts, wrote a couple of days ago about Reverend Brigadier (ret) Gerald Anthony Cudmore, who died last week. Cudmore held masses for troops in Vietnam, among his other religious duties.
Ramsey gives the impression -- supported by quotes Cudmore is obviously unable to confirm -- that Cudmore would have opposed the current war. Professor Bunyip presents evidence to the contrary, and asks:
If any reader attended the debate at St. John's and can provide a summary of Cudmore's speech and arguments, please drop the Billabong a line.
Read the Prof's post for details of this speech.
• Good news out of Iraq? That’s crazy talk! Yet somehow Andrew Bolt discovers information worth celebrating:
Last week, the president of Iraq's National Olympics Committee, Ahmed al-Sammarai, gave a radio interview that, being inspiring news from Iraq, got as little attention as you'd expect.
• Media Whores Online is out to pasture. Warblogger watch has only posted a handful of items this year. Margo has been minimalised by her own newspaper. Indymedia is attracting unwanted scrutiny. It’s like some kind of mass vote-off on Loser Survivor.
• New Australian blogger Arthur Chrenkoff points out that veteran leftoid Phillip Knightley (“the poor man's John Pilger’) still requires adult supervision, and new Canadian blogger Cicada has some advice for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad:
A septuagenarian Frenchman flush with Viagra is less likely to shorten your lifespan than the angry youths oiling their AK-47s throughout Damascus.
• Fun for the entire family! It’s a DIE-IN at Adelaide’s Parliament House:
We want people to wear clothing that looks as though it is blood splattered. Wear white T-shirts and put anything red on them. We are going to have a "DIE-IN" on the steps. We will ask you to lie down there. If you think it is OK, please ask your children to come to represent the many children who have been murdered in Fallujah this past week.
They could always re-use the blood-decorated shirts they wore to protest Saddam Hussein’s murderous reign. Oh, wait ...
Another point of difference between Iraq and Vietnam: defense officials no longer speak in evasive euphemisms. Here’s Donald Rumsfeld discussing Fallujah:
"What's going on are some terrorists and regime elements have been attacking our forces. And our forces have been going out and killing them."
Rumseld also mocked hypersensitive press coverage of attacks on mosques:
He showed reporters a color photo of weapons-toting insurgents gathered in a Najaf mosque and said sarcastically: "As you can see they have all kinds of religious instruments, called rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s. That's what they do in their mosques."
Are Muslims permitted to donate via Paypal? The Imam says yes!
The redesigned Sydney Morning Herald site is zippier, better organised, and cleaner-looking. Major loser in the remake is Margo Kingston, whose Webdiary -- formerly prominent on the old site's opinion page -- is now reduced to a small lower-case listing among the various index links.
Next, the SMH should redesign Margo’s copy. Today the paranoid media-rights defender describes broadcaster Alan Jones as a substantial shareholder in Sydney radio station 2UE -- which Jones left two years ago. He’s a shareholder in 2GB, the station he joined. Better media “compnaies” (Margo’s word) than Fairfax would scrap Webdiary completely.
We know that the “oil” part of the UN’s oil-for-food program is deeply suspect -- but what about the food part?
The Australian Wheat Board's long and lucrative relationship with Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq will be examined as part of a United Nations investigation into the discredited and defunct oil-for-food program.
The UN will consider whether any of the money Iraq paid Australia for wheat was "kicked back" illegally to Saddam's regime by third parties who helped facilitate the deals - in Australia's case, by a Jordanian trucking company.
An AWB spokesman in Melbourne, Peter McBride, said the Wheat Board was "completely unaware of any corruption. Our contracts were completely under the terms provided by the UN."
Completely under the terms provided by the UN? Uh-oh. Meanwhile, on the oil side of the ledger, Kofi Annan says the UN’s hands were tied somehow:
On the $5.7 billion that the GAO estimates Saddam pocketed through smuggling, Annan said "there was no way the U.N. could have stopped it" but he suggested the United States and Britain could have.
"We had no mandate to stop oil smuggling," he said.
No mandate, no responsibility. The Voice of America reports:
Many lawmakers fault the Bush administration and key countries such as Russia, France and China for not sounding sufficient alarms about abuses, such as overcharges on oil contracts.
Why wasn’t the media sounding these alarms? Why aren’t they sounding them more loudly now?
The US really doesn't need a "deputy sheriff", as Howard reportedly once put it.
No, he didn’t. Who will be the first opinionista to include our deputy sheriff status, Bush’s plastic turkey, and the Pentagon’s report on global warming in the one article?
(Via Alex Robson)
Tim Dunlop deals with a fantasically disingenuous article by Greg Barns and Jane Rankin-Reid that includes this wide-eyed thought:
Since September 11, whenever Islam is highlighted in Western media, it is somehow inextricably linked with acts of terror.
As Tim writes:
"Somehow inextricably linked"? Can't imagine why that would be.
"Whole language" is a stupid educational method that still holds considerable sway in Australia. Labor leader Mark Latham’s literacy policy is apparently driven by whole language fan Mem Fox, as Janet Albrechtsen reports:
In drafting his $80 million Read Aloud Australia program, Latham would not have needed to dig very deep to discover that Fox describes herself as "a passionate advocate of whole language" – a faddish method of teaching children how to read. It's there on her online diary. If he dug deeper, he would also have learned that science debunked that theory long ago. Had he dug deeper again, he would have learned that too many teachers, our learned learning professionals, have ignored that science. And so, appointing Fox as his new reading ambassador will be eagerly greeted as affirmation of a teaching method that is supported more by ideology than evidence.
A couple of schools in Sydney specialise in undoing the damage caused by whole language. Latham should cut Fox loose.
Thomas Sowell has some sound advice for those dicked around by agenda-shifting media types:
A few years ago, a conservative TV interviewer told me, while we were waiting to go on the air and a microphone was being attached to my jacket, that he had not read the book that I had come to discuss but that he would interview me about something in the news that day.
I immediately removed the microphone that had just been put on me, gave him a few well chosen words, and walked out.
Why don't more people do that?
Stand by for -- hopefully -- some lids to be lifted:
A former manager in the scandal-scarred oil for food program will tell Congress today how top U.N. officials running the program deliberately looked the other way, congressional officials said last night.
Frenchman Michael Soussan, a former program coordinator for the $100 billion fund, is expected to be the star witness of a House International Relations Committee hearing looking into Saddam's gigantic $10.1 billion rip-off.
Committee sources said Soussan, now a New York-area writer, is expected to give the first, under oath, public account from an insider about how top U.N. officials were aware of Saddam's oil smuggling and kickback schemes but chose to let him get away with it.
A Google news search for Soussan so far only provides four results. Let’s see if this increases following his testimony.
At last count, there were eight "family" cars and SUVs, including the 1995 Suburban (15 mpg highway, 12 mpg city), a 1993 Land Rover Defender (12 mpg highway, 10 mpg city), a 1989 Jeep Cherokee (20 mpg highway, 16 mpg city), a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee (20 mpg highway, 15 mpg city), a 2001 Audi Allroad (21 mpg highway, 15 mpg city), a 2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser (25 mpg highway, 20 mpg city), a 1985 Dodge 600 Convertible (26 mpg highway, 23 mpg city), and a 2002 Chrysler 300M (26 mpg highway, 18 mpg city). Kerry, however, only owns up to the latter two.
Then there's the 2002 Harley Davidson (his), two powerboats (one his, one hers), a power inflatable 2001 Novurania (his), and a Gulfstream II private jet (hers).
Kerry appeared on [Good Morning America] from the mine site, scrapping tensely with interviewer Charlie Gibson, who at one point intimated that the medals controversy might derail Kerry's presidential bid. When the segment was over, Kerry turned to two aides and complained, ''God, they're doing the bidding of the Republican National Committee."
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Tom Allard, Deborah Cameron, Andrew Stevenson, Robert Wainwright, Rachel Bennett, Simon Crean, Mark Latham, Bill Clinton, Dick Adams, David Letterman, John Kerry, Paris Hilton, Saddam Hussein, Benon Sevan, David Beckham, Michael Moore, George W. Bush, Peter Williamson, and Dick Johnson. Also in The Bulletin, Annita Keating reflects on the reaction to her separation disclosures of last week:
"People come up to me in the street. They smile, they say, 'Good on you'. Everywhere I walk, just this morning, they looked at me and smiled and said: 'Well done'," she said late last week. "The message has come across and I feel good, I feel good."
And Patrick Cook writes:
The nation is divided between those who believe there are WMDs in Iraq, and those who do not. Terrorists have now been discovered in Jordan with WMDs which they obtained from Iraq, via Syria. Technically, therefore, both sides of the argument are correct. This could be a win-win situation.
Twenty years from now, when Balloon Hockey is a major Olympic sport, Sheila O'Malley will be able to say: "I was there when it all began."
Someone had a birthday party at work, and there are balloons floating about on the floor. One wandered into our area. 4 of us work back here, 2 of us are women, and 2 are men. Everyone is very cool, I like them all.
The female co-worker and I started batting the balloon back and forth, as though we were at a volleyball game. It was all rather desultory, the two of us bored, talking to each other about other things, as we batted it back and forth.
Then the two guys got involved, and within literally THREE SECONDS, an entire game, with a complicated rule system emerged. A point-system blossomed forth, and disqualifications were discussed - all of this seemed to happen immediatley, like flowers opening up on speeded-up film. The game just MANIFESTED.
The finest office sport in which I participated was called Run Away From Gary, which involved a former heavyweight boxer, his unpredictable temper, and frantic attempts to avoid beatings.
The Ombudsgod discovers yet another ombudsman who deserves an ombudslap.
Also: According to the Gnu Hunter’s analysis, the events in Iraq reported by happy kidnapee Donna Mulhearn are bullshit.
James Morrow in The Australian:
ABC viewers were shocked to learn last week that the man who spent six years administering the UN's Iraqi oil-for-food program stood accused of receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Saddam Hussein's regime. The official, Benon Sevan, had conveniently slipped off to a Queensland resort as the scandal broke and gave reporters who showed up on his hotel doorstep a brusque "no comment" before retreating to the comforts within.
But the ABC that aired the story and tracked Sevan down in Noosa Heads was not Australia's taxpayer-financed broadcaster but the American television network. Meanwhile, Australia's ABC has remained virtually silent on the story, choosing to run little more than a couple of newswire stories on Sevan's trip on their website.
It’s almost as if they wish this story would, like Sevan himself, simply go away. Perhaps the ABC is still following UN guidelines.
Attacked by street bandits, a proud citizen fights back rather than surrender his valuable possessions:
A Hamas suicide bomber blew up two armed Palestinians who tried to rob him at gun point in the Gaza Strip.
Rather than give up his explosives, the bomber detonated them, killing himself and the two robbers near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
Hamas said the bomber was on his way to try to infiltrate into Israel, accompanied by another Hamas member and a guide, when they were stopped by the armed men.
The robbers forced the bomber to lie on the ground and tried to steal the bomb, but the militant detonated it, killing all three. The other Hamas man and the guide escaped.
Hamas says the dopey thieves worked for Israeli intelligence. Not likely.
(Via J.F. Beck)
"The feeling is entirely mutual."
In other Australian political news, NSW premier Bob Carr isn’t as smart as he thinks he is:
"A Pentagon report on global warming, recently leaked, describes how abrupt climate change could destabilise the geopolitical environment. Wars. Food shortages. Fights over fresh water. Disrupted energy supplies."
Carr is a sucker for enviro-doom stories. So, evidently, is the SMH’s Paul Sheehan, who doesn’t point out that the leaked Pentagon report isn’t a Pentagon report and wasn’t leaked.
The death in Iraq of US Marine Chance Phelps was mentioned earlier here. Marine Lieutenant Colonel Strobl now writes of returning Chance to his family in Wyoming. It’s a wonderful piece. Strobl begins:
Chance Phelps was wearing his Saint Christopher medal when he was killed on Good Friday. Eight days later, I handed the medallion to his mother.
I probably don’t have to say this, but read the whole thing.
Bill Clinton’s Presidential memoir, My Life, promises lots of hot lusty nuance:
The initial print run is 1.5 million, and Knopf president Sonny Mehta called it "the fullest and most nuanced account of a presidency ever written".
Nuance! People love nuance. The current “John Kerry” + “nuance” count at Google is running at 7,130, and just look at how well he’s doing in the polls.
Good to see Howard is following his master Bush’s stunt by secretly turning up in Iraq; as any loyal lapdog should of course. He forgot the fake turkey though.
As for Margo herself, she now seems to have reversed her opposition to Australian involvement:
More partisan political photo opportunities, more abuse of our troops for his personal advantage. Yuk. This bloke wants to single handedly destroy our one day of the year as a unifying moment for Australians. No shame, John. No shame.
He pulled out most of our forces after Saddam’s statue fell and organised fake ‘victory’ parades while our hapless soldiers’ colleagues from Britain and the US were dying in Iraq trying to create a peace.
Send more troops, Prime Minister! Margo has spoken!
The Australian Labor Party is concerned about our mere symbolic presence in Iraq. Here’s the beginning of an ABC report on these deep concerns:
The Federal Opposition says many of the Australian troops in Iraq should be brought home because they are not performing essential services and are getting bogged down.
We’re subject to 657 further words, mostly on the doomed state of Australia’s role, before we reach the final paragraph:
A planned visit by the Prime Minister to the Australian Frigate, HMAS Stuart was cancelled after the ship became involved in a rescue operation after a suicide attack.
Great timing, ALP! (and great underplayed reporting, ABC). Clearly this was just a symbolic rescue operation:
An Australian navy frigate has carried out an emergency mission in the Persian Gulf, rescuing Americans wounded in a suicide bombing which killed two members of the coalition forces.
A Seahawk helicopter and inflatable boat, known as a RHIB, were dispatched from HMAS Stuart to rescue members of a boarding party injured in the bomb attack near an Iraqi oil terminal.
A Defence Department spokesman could not confirm the number of people rescued by the Royal Australian Navy or the nature of their wounds but said all United States personnel were returned to HMAS Stuart for medical treatment.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
Glenn Milne reports the strangest tactic yet from an increasingly dippy Latham-led Labor Party:
In a move that will only serve to emphasise the growing divide between Mark Latham and his one-time idol Tony Blair over the issue of troops in Iraq, the British Prime Minister has refused an invitation to come to Australia to effectively launch the Opposition Leader's election campaign.
In what you'd have to describe as a bizarre initiative, interests close to Latham have sent an email to large corporations in Australia advertising a visit by not only Blair but Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt (an Australian by birth) and influential Labour backbencher Peter Mandelson.
An email obtained by Milne, sent to various corporations by an ALP-linked consultancy firm, reads:
"Attendees have not been finalised but are likely to include federal Opposition Leader Mark Latham, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Minister Patricia Hewitt, Peter Mandelson, MP and academic, and architect of third-way politics Tony Giddens. Discussions between these high-level political and policy leaders are likely to produce both immediate and long-term outcomes of great importance. It is intended that the three-day seminar provide the launch point for the policies Mark Latham will take to the electorate in the election."
Trouble is, Blair’s office says Blair won't be involved at all:
Despite it being Saturday in London, a spokesman for Blair got back within the hour, saying although 10 Downing Street never commented directly on the Prime Minister's travel plans for security reasons, he was authorised to give the following response to the summit proposal: "The Prime Minister doesn't engage in domestic political campaigns in other countries. It is a matter for the people of those countries to elect who they want to lead them."
If you think the Blair Government is in any way prepared to excuse Latham for his position on Iraq, you should have been in Berlin 3 1/2 weeks ago when Foreign Minister Alexander Downer met his British counterpart, Jack Straw. Downer was attending an international conference on rebuilding Afghanistan – which, in the aftermath of the Madrid bombings, coincided with concerted efforts to keep the coalition of the willing together in Iraq. Downer has told colleagues that Latham's position was well known, from the NATO Secretary-General to Straw.
Asked for his response to any potential Blair visit yesterday, Downer went right to the heart of the lunacy of the Hawker Britton proposal: "Mr Blair is always very welcome to come to Australia. And it would be an opportunity for him to explain to Mr Latham why it is not right to cut and run in Iraq."
Mr. Latham's promises are longer -- or "more ambitious" as he insisted on radio late last week as he denied the charges of plagiarism -- though they are also somewhat less grammatical by consistently conjugating "every" in the plural. Less convincing was the argument by parliamentarians in Mr. Latham's Labor Party that when Mr. Howard and his ministers use the phrase "cut and run" about governments pulling troops out of Iraq, they are plagiarizing U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage.
Believe us -- cut and run predates Mr. Armitage. And everyone will know that's exactly what Mr. Latham intends when he promises to pull Australia's 2,000 troops out of Iraq.
Iraqi communist Salam Ali -- no fan of coalition occupation, to say the least -- nonetheless rejects the Pilger/Fisk/Moore notion of a "national resistance":
He addresses the nature of violent forces in Iraq other than Sadr's militia: "Yes, there is a patriotic element, we fully understand that. But, on the other hand, there are forces carrying out sabotage simply to destabilise the situation and to maintain the privileged position that they had before.
"There are remnants of the old regime. The dictatorship at the time had a sophisticated system of repression. They didn't just vanish," says Ali.
"They carry out operations in return for money paid by leading figures of the old regime, as well as tribal elements. Certain stratas thrived under the sanctions through the smuggling of oil."
Ali has strong words for those on the left here who have hailed the current upsurge in violence as a sign of a "national resistance."
"What is the agenda of these political groups?" he asks. "What alternative are they putting forward for Iraq and the region as a whole apart from violence and destabilisation and turning Iraq into a battlefield to fight their own wars against America?
"Anybody can go to Baghdad and they can detect straight away that the people simply are not part of it. They've had enough wars and killing.
"These people who are advocating support for ‘national resistance’ have to convince us - how will this in any way advance the causes of peace, democracy and social progress?"
It won't. But that's not their aim.
(Via Jim Nolan)
AIEEEEEE! Tipsy Australian Democrat Andrew Bartlett wants to start blogging:
Senator Bartlett said he was looking at new ways of using the site, such as making it more interactive through a "blog", or online journal to which website visitors could contribute.
"It's important because politics is about communicating ideas," Senator Bartlett said.
Bartlett is a big fan of interactively communicating ideas.
The Australian’s Dennis Shanahan is out by a decade -- and in his very first paragraph, too:
John Howard is expected to attend a de facto world summit on Iraq in Paris on June 5, where European heads of state and leaders of coalition forces will be meeting ahead of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
June 6 is the tenth anniversary of the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
His yearnings for collectivism led Phillip Adams into the egregious error of denouncing the published comments of "the Devines". No such entity exists in Australian journalism. Including me, three members of our family practise the profession but none of us wields influence over nor takes responsibility for the work of the others. We are, in fact, actively unco-operative and secretive, there being limited room at the top.
One way to make more room: remove Adams.
He passed the sketching and inking duties to a Boston-based artist, Jennifer Seng, around the time of the Condoleezza Rice flap, last fall. “If something had to give, it was going to be the art,” he told me. “I think I’m a better writer than artist.”
Too close to call, Aaron.
(Via New Criterion)
Fascinating article by Fairfax feature writer Andrew Rule on Korean War sniper Ian Robertson, now 77:
In all of modern warfare, few were more fatally efficient than this kindly grandfather. No one knows just how many dozen enemy soldiers he killed in eight bone-chilling months in Korea, except the man himself. And he's not saying much.
Far from it; Rule gently encourages Robertson -- who "could group 15 rounds in a space smaller than his fist at 300 metres, hit a target the size of a man's head at 600 metres, and was confident of hitting a man from 800 to 1000 metres if conditions were right" -- to say a great deal. Rule is one of Australia’s best.
Via Clear and Present:
Democrats are furious about a statement by Republicans saying that comparing one of their candidates to presidential candidate John Kerry would be worse than comparing someone to the Ku Klux Klan.
The dispute started when The New York Times inadvertently published a photo of Republican Senate candidate Pete Coors above a story about a KKK member who murdered a black sharecropper. The Times published a correction Saturday.
Cinnamon Watson, spokeswoman for Coors, said the error was "so outrageous it's kind of funny. It could have been worse. Pete could have been identified as John Kerry."
Do Americans want to hand over responsibility for Iraq to someone who won't even take responsibility for the car in his driveway?
Kerry lately seems to have forgotten the First Rule of politics: be nice to children:
Bored with the political speechmaking in Harlem's Alhambra Ballroom, 6-year-old Iris Kerry Kaler reached out with both arms for her uncle, Sen. John Kerry, to pick her up.
The Massachusetts senator, however, ignored his niece's entreaty, offering Iris only an awkward pat on the stomach despite the array of television cameras poised to record the potentially precious moment.
Mrs. Kerry asked Rep. Bob Brady, master of ceremonies at the event, whether she could introduce Gov. Edward Rendell (who in turn would introduce the prospective Democratic presidential nominee). The candidate's wife then launched into a 10-minute speech about her early life in Mozambique and on the iniquities of George W. Bush, but forgot to introduce Rendell.
After the event concluded, Brady told a Kerry aide: "Next time you come to Philadelphia, leave her in Pittsburgh."
Paris blogger Karibu points out that I’m wrong to characterise strong French tactics against terrorism as anything new:
France ... was one of the first Western countries to fight against Islamic terrorism. In December 1994, the Groupe Islamiste Armé (GIA or AIG in English) hijacked an Air France plane in Algiers; following long negociations, the plane was allowed to fly to Marseilles. Meanwhile, a paid informant told to the French embassy in Algiers that the objective of the terrorists was the crash the plane in the middle of Paris. Back in Marseilles, the terrorist asked for 27 tons of fuel to fly to Paris, which confirmed to the French authorities that the GIA wanted to hit Paris. A few hours later, the GIGN (French SWAT forces) stormed the plane, killing all the bad boys.
A few months later, bombs started to explode in Paris subway killing twelve people (the worst attack was at the St Michel station in July 1995, killing ten and wounding a hundred people). Once again, the GIA was behind this and Khaled Kelkal (a 24 years old Algerian), the supposed mastermind, was killed by the police later in September 1995. The GIA is supposed to have links with al-Qaeda.
Karibu's point is well made. These terrorist-killing experts would be useful in Iraq.
"Armed with guns, tanks and military helicopters, Action Man represented plucky British soldiering to a generation of boys," reports The Guardian. Not any more he doesn’t:
Industry experts accuse manufacturer Hasbro of ignoring children's wishes in a politically correct quest to move Action Man away from gung-ho fighting in the wake of the 11 September attacks.
Marcello Rossi, manager of Toymaster in Bournemouth, said: 'Our customers want the old Action Man. Kids want to play out battles. We get them in the shop saying: "I want a helicopter, I want a tank."'
Ronnie Dungan, editor of Toy News magazine, added: 'When I was a kid he was in Second World War regalia and a fighting man. Now he's in cycling shorts.'
Yikes! Sounds like Action Man has morphed into Kerry Person.
Those Japanese hostages have received the homecoming they deserve:
The young Japanese civilians taken hostage in Iraq returned home this week, not to the warmth of a yellow-ribbon embrace but to a disapproving nation’s cold stare.
The first three hostages, including a woman who helped street children on the streets of Baghdad, first appeared on television two weeks ago as their knife-brandishing kidnappers threatened to slit their throats. A few days after their release, they landed here on Sunday, in the eye of a peculiarly Japanese storm.
“You got what you deserve!” read one hand-written sign at the airport where they landed. “You are Japan’s shame,” another wrote on the Web site of one of the former hostages. They had “caused trouble” for everybody. The government, not to be outdone, announced it would bill the former hostages $6,000 for air fare.
In other cheery news, George Galloway has been the target of a wonderful newspaper stunt:
Saddam-supporting MP George Galloway blew his top yesterday after The Sun sent him a barrel of OIL.
Mr Galloway claims he has never seen one — so we arranged for him to have his own 200-litre drum.
It sat in his drive for three hours before he dragged it away and hid it from view in an 8ft privet hedge.
Can we trust Robert Fisk's reporting of complex events in the Middle East? Even his most devoted supporters might question Fisk's reliability after reading this:
Last Sunday, I was invited to talk on Irish television's TV3 lunchtime programme on Iraq and President Bush's support for Sharon's new wall on the West Bank. Towards the end of the programme, Tom Cooney, a law lecturer at University College, Dublin, suddenly claimed that I had called an Israeli army unit a "rabble" (absolutely correct - they are) and that I reported they had committed a massacre in Jenin in 2002.
I did not say they committed a massacre. But I should have. A subsequent investigation showed that Israeli troops had knowingly shot down innocent civilians, killed a female nurse and driven a vehicle over a paraplegic in a wheelchair. "Blood libel!" Cooney screamed.
Check the tape and you'll discover that Fisk can't even report his own television appearances accurately. Cooney never screams -- and it is Fisk, rather than Cooney, who uses the term "rabble". Fisk claims not to have accused the Israeli army of committing a massacre; he actually went further, writing that the Israeli army "has not yet finished filling the mass graves of Jenin".
(Via Damian Penny)
"Why is international public opinion not outraged at the treatment of women in Islamic fundamentalist societies?" asks Pamela Bone. "Why is it easier for millions of people around the world to see America as the great evil, rather than the countries in which governments ignore such horrific abuses of women?"
Hilariously, these questions are asked in, of all places, The Age.
Last week's Spec was the absolute worst in all the time I've been writing for it.
Steyn's view isn't a solitary one.
The environment -- capricious bitch-freak that it is -- tries to take out some Boston environmentalists:
A gust of wind knocked over scaffolding at an Earth Day concert Saturday, injuring nine people, police said.
Just the band Third Eye Blind was scheduled to take the stage at the band shell on the Charles River, witnesses said wind caught a banner that was attached to the sound tower, knocking it into the VIP section of the audience.
The VIP section of an Earth Day concert; what a fun crowd that would be. A while ago I wrote a column about the declining influence of the extreme greens (no longer online -- here’s an extract). Looks like the decline is continuing:
Gallup's annual Earth Day poll has found that the environment is near the bottom of the nation's concerns, outranking only worries about race relations.
Thirty-five percent of Americans fret over the quality of the environment, according to the poll of 1,005 randomly selected adults conducted March 8-11 and released yesterday. It is "not a pressing concern," said Gallup Organization analyst Lydia Saad.
Australia’s foreign minister says Madeleine Albright was gunning for war five years before Bush invaded:
In 1998, then US secretary of state Madeleine Albright wanted to take military action to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Mr Downer said.
"That was her view in 1998," he told Channel 10.
But Mr Downer said the focus shifted once George W. Bush took over as US president.
"In 2001, I don't recall there being too much focus in our conversations with the Americans about Iraq," he said.
• Canada’s Damian Penny is currently en route to Edinburgh, thereby avoiding his country’s deadly health care system. He will, however, be glassed as soon as he gets off the train, in accordance with local custom.
• Chase Me Ladies reveals the tomato method of seduction.
• The women behind last week’s release of photographs depicting the dead returning from Iraq have an interesting Halliburton history, as Jim Miller points out.
• You think I’m hot for the Michael Moore fat jokes? Check out this fantastic Mikey fat fest from Ace of Spades. It’s supersized!
• Excellent Saudi blogger Alhamedi Alanezi presents his ten-point plan to improve public executions, and also writes: “When the Saudi people finally rise up in revolt and throw out the House of Saud, it won't be for democratic reform, and it won't be for an islamic republic. It'll be about mobile phones.”
• No reason for posting this, other than it’s pretty.
Folks (and Tim), I apologize for breaking in here, but I have to say something. Please, please, please, when you comment, don't do this. I mean it. I offer this webspace to Tim Blair to post entries as long as he wants, not everyone in the entire universe. If you have something so important to say that it takes up several screens, get your own website and put it there, and give us the url.
UPDATE. The Chicago Boyz have more on the tragedy of limbless drawings, and those who are moved by them.
Incoming! John Howard hits Iraq:
Prime Minister John Howard today made a surprise visit to Baghdad for Anzac Day services as around Australia tens of thousands of people honoured the Anzac spirit.
Under extraordinary security arrangements, Mr Howard flew to Iraq for his first visit since Australia sent troops as part of the US-led invasion force in March last year.
He was to attend a dawn service and spend some time talking to troops and other Australian representatives on the ground in the capital.
Australia has 90 air traffic controllers in Baghdad, plus a detachment of about 90 Army personnel and 53 soldiers who are in Iraq to assist in the training of the Iraqi armed forces.
The media will hate this. Especially once Howard tries to serve troops a plastic wallaby.
Just when the George W. Bush fake turkey fantasy seemed to have been completely played out, along comes Mark Lawson -- the pale pundit who began the whole fakeness debacle in the first place -- to revive it:
George Bush has so far struggled to locate his chosen photo: the turkey he was pictured serving in Iraq proved embarrassingly to be fake ...
President Bush's handlers might have consoled themselves that there was at least no risk of a bimbo picture coming out but, this week, there was much worse. America started to see the photographs Bush was dedicated to suppressing.
In a development which must have made Bush wish he lived under the British system of state secrecy, 350 of these censored images of the dead have been released to an internet lobbyist under freedom of information legislation.
Lawson himself is free of information. Those photographs included many images associated with the Columbia disaster.
The White House has claimed that they were protecting the dignity of the dead and the privacy of their families, but many families were desperate for their lost to have their moment on the evening news.
Although John Kerry remains dangerously silent and vague for a man who plans to be in the White House in less than nine months, this may be seen as the week when George Bush lost control of his photograph album. The publication of the cadaver montage - in which Bush's face is made up of squares containing smiles and stares of military men and women who are now all dust - threatens to become one of the most powerful propaganda images in history.
It won’t. Besides which, it isn’t a cadaver montage; that would be a montage composed of pictures of cadavers. Lawson is incredibly stupid.
And now the coffin shots are out. Forced to explain how it can simultaneously be heroic to die for your country, but necessary to be shipped back in a silence and secrecy generally associated with shame, Bush may be on the way to becoming a president whose administration was snapped by photographs.
Lawson thinks Americans didn’t know people were dying in Iraq until they saw these photographs, and that this sudden realisation will shock them into voting Bush out. Memo to sad bastard Mark: they already knew, and Bush’s numbers keep climbing:
With large areas of Iraq in chaos, more than 700 US troops dead, and intense criticism of his failure to do more against al-Qa'ida in the first months of his presidency, George W. Bush might have expected to see his re-election campaign take at least a temporary hit.
Instead, Bush appears to have weathered one of the worst periods of his presidency with aplomb, and even increased his margin over Democrat challenger Senator John Kerry, according to two polls this week.
Imagine the reaction if Bush had exploited the return of flag-draped coffins for patriotic Presidential photo-ops; the anti-war Left would have condemned him. As it is, the clueless anti-warriors have thrust these images before a public largely committed to their troops, and who will most likely react by pushing Bush’s polling even higher.
Phillip Adams lashes out at those who would question or criticise him:
There is a new sort of Australian in public life who, accusing fellow Australians of being unAustralian, expresses his or her patriotism by singing Hail To The Chief rather than Waltzing Matilda. These whackers, hereinafter known as Bushwhackers, congregate in right-wing politics, shock-jockery and both tabloid and broadsheet punditry. They worship George Bush Jr.
Why would Bushwhackers -- whackers of Bush -- worship him? In fact, they don’t.
To them, Dubya is no mere president but the Messiah. As such, he’s the second coming, sharing the name and intensifying the ideological proclivities of George Bush Snr. So devout are the Bushwhackers, they see even his lies as sacred texts. The Bushwhackers’ president, their burning Bush, is transcendent, and God help anyone who blasphemes with questioning or criticism.
Such is the passion of Australia’s Bushwhackers that their patriotism is not directed at the Australian flag they profess to love, but at the Stars and Stripes. To them, the United States is truly the land of the brave, the home of the free, and, yes, has a manifest destiny to dominate and democratise the entire planet, according to the dogmas of their omniscient and omnipresent prophet – and his hyperactive disciples, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.
Sounds like Phil is accusing us right-wingers of being ... traitors.
Having wrapped themselves in both flags, any previous and primary allegiance to our country is sublimated in a rapturous acquiescence to theirs.
The likes of Tim Blair and Imre Salusinszky, of Gerard Henderson and Andrew Bolt, ignore Bush’s long history of mediocrity and mendacity. They and their ilk turn deaf ears to documented accounts of his sleazy business affairs and seem indifferent to the fact that, as governor of Texas ("all Stetson, no cattle"), he set an all-time record by approving the executions of 150 people.
Indifferent? Hey, I applaud it.
Bush’s business connections with big oil, indeed with the bin Laden family, with many of the worst sleazes in American corporate life (up to and including the grand larcenists of Exxon), mean nothing to his grovelling acolytes in Australia who fill their speeches, their broadcasts or their newspaper columns with uncritical drivel and bunkum. Week after week they try to out-twaddle and out-bunkum each other, their styles recalling the obeisances of palace eunuchs or the propagandists of Kim Il Sung. And they don’t hesitate to produce snarling slanders on anyone who sees Bush for what he is.
You want snarling slander? Here’s a fine example.
This is the most intriguing and ominous aspect of their behaviour – their tendency to brand dissidents as traitors. To criticise Bush’s brand of hegemony is anti-American. (Of course, if that’s true, at least 50 per cent of Americans are guilty of this heresy.) Moreover, Australian critics of Bush are deemed, by extension, to be anti-Australian.
According to Phil, the “most intriguing and ominous aspect” of our behaviour is our “tendency” to brand the anti-Bush crowd as traitors. Got stacks of evidence to back this up, Phil? I mean, if it’s a tendency, you must have reams of quotes from me and Imre and Henderson and Bolt repeatedly slamming people who disagree with Bush as “traitors”, right?
Consider former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill’s simultaneously hilarious and horrifying revelations about Bush. His verdict on meetings between Bush and his senior people? Like "a blind man in a roomful of the deaf". Now former White House counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke has revealed that the Bush Administration downplayed terrorism as an issue – and that national security advisor Condoleezza Rice, when briefed on the emergency and immensity of the threat, seemed not to have heard of al-Qa’ida.
Adams hasn’t heard of research.
Joe McCarthy’s body lies mouldering in the grave but his nasty little soul goes marching on. But do not despair. This too shall pass. The Bushfires will be extinguished and, after a while, we’ll see a regrowth in American democracy. And in ours?
Those who disagree with Adams are McCarthyites. This just might count as another “snarling slander”.
UPDATE. Reader MB points out that Phil doesn’t know his Exxons from his Enrons.
To celebrate Earth Day, this week I picked up a Volkswagen Touareg. Five litres. Ten diesel-fired cylinders. Two turbochargers. Seven hundred and fifty Newton metres of torque.
What does it mean, this “torque” word? It’s a technical term for pulling or towing power; as a point of comparison, the 3.8 litre V6 used in popular General Motors vehicles here and in the US generates less than half that amount. In practical terms, 750Nm means that if you’ve always believed Tasmania should be hauled closer to the mainland, now you can do something about it.
Yesterday, using steel towing cables, I re-routed some train lines and extended the front of the house all the way to the street. Torque is fun! Full review shortly. Also to come: storming Lakemba in a Chrysler Crossfire -- an exclusive, web-only report.
Mike Carlton incorporates Churchill, Lincoln, King, Kennedy, and Whitlam in this Latham speech parody:
In the course of human events, four score and seven years ago, a date which will live in infamy, I had a dream that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. But now the torch has been passed to a new generation of Aussies. Blessed are the peacemakers. We shall never surrender. This was their finest hour. If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. It's time.
Beating him to the joke, commenter CurrencyLad earlier posted his own Latham speech -- incorporating King, Churchill, Nixon, Lincoln, Kennedy, and Whitlam. Unlike Carlton's lazy, disjointed effort, this actually flows:
I have a dream that never before in the field of human history have the better angels of my nature let me down like this. People need to know whether their Opposition Leader is a copycat. Well, I'm not a copycat! Nevertheless, I choose to apologise in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard. It is my melancholy duty. Without any inhibitions of any kind I make it quite clear that I look to originality, free of any pangs as to my traditional links or kinship with plagiarism. It's time.
Better jokes, faster: it’s the Internet way! (Given Carlton’s deadline for today’s column, it would have been impossible for him to read CurrencyLad’s gag before filing; still, I’m told Mike sometimes drops by. Hi, Mike! Donations at left! Thank you!)
Robert Fisk often publishes ... well, let’s call it “inaccurate information”, as in this piece, in which Fisk refers to “the mass graves of Jenin.” So it’s fun to see how Fisk reacts when he believes he’s been described inaccurately.
Peaceniks are alarmed by sinister mil-bears:
A project to provide children in Iraq with teddy bears has been criticised by peace campaigners, as the toys are made from military uniforms.
Volunteers at the US RAF Lakenheath base in Suffolk have been producing the soft toys from old and torn uniforms which were found in an attic.
These camo-clad Halliteddies will traumatise Iraqi toddlers, claim the peaceful:
Annie Wimbush, of Suffolk 4 Peace, said the material being used was inappropriate.
"The camouflage material, the uniform material that's being used could in fact trigger trauma symptoms in a child as well as relieve them," she said.
Reports that RAF volunteers were planning to ship depleted-uranium Lego blocks are yet to be confirmed.
UNSCAM is finally receiving notice in the Australian media, albeit via UK-sourced reports. As for Benon Sevan -- who is either the guy at the centre of the scam, or a planet located deep within the Abell 1835 galaxy cluster -- the chase continues; Sevan has now left Australia and is ducking reporters in New York.
UPDATE. Having earlier ignored UNSCAM, The Guardian hires an expert insider to explain the deal to its readers.
Tillman is now reported to have been killed during fighting in Afghanistan:
Pat Tillman, the former Arizona Cardinals safety who left football to become an Army Ranger, was killed in southeastern Afghanistan, according to published reports.
Tillman, who attended Arizona State University, returned from his honeymoon in 2002 having decided to give up his seven-figure NFL salary to join the Army with his brother.
He was with the Army Special Forces in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces have been trying to chase down Osama bin Laden and members of his al-Qaeda terrorist group. During major combat in war with Iraq, Tillman was reportedly stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in northern Iraq.
The Army has refused to confirm Tillman's death. He was 27.
After their sentences were handed down, one said in court: "We did not commit this crime, the crime was committed against us. The police set us up because we are Muslims, your honour."
A man in the public gallery yelled out: "F---in' dickhead."
Hey, agitators! You’ll be the toast of the next anti-Israel, anti-Bush, anti-everything rally in this exclusive range of Arabic-language apparel. So chic, so now, so Palestinian solidarity! Just don’t tell anyone what the cool script actually says ...
Does John Kerry, who supports higher automobile fuel economy standards, own a gas-guzzling SUV? He does, but says it belongs to the family, not to him.
Kerry thought for a second when asked whether his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, had a Suburban at their Ketchum, Idaho, home. Kerry said he owns and drives a Dodge 600 and recently bought a Chrysler 300M. He said his wife owns the Chevrolet SUV.
"The family has it. I don't have it," he said.
Maybe Mrs. Heinz Kerry should be the Democratic candidate. Compare John Kerry’s blathering answers to an Iranian activist’s questions in this report to Teresa’s direct, waffle-free response:
I think the only engagement will be to end the regime, to collapse the regime.
Well said, soup lady!
Liberation hasn’t worked. We idealists who imagined a safe, peaceful nation emerging from decades of tyranny were wrong, and we should admit that our bid to impose Western-style democracy has led to shocking lawlessness. Everything is worse now than it was under a government that treated the majority of its citizens as worthless non-people.
Maybe South Africa was better off during apartheid:
In reading articles marking 10 years since the end of South Africa apartheid, I was struck by the similarities between that country’s struggle since liberation and the current struggle since the liberation of Iraq. Likewise, I was struck by the relative silence of the left on the real problems South Africa has faced in the past 10 years.
In the early 1990’s, the movement against apartheid was one of the most passionate cause of the American left. The struggle for freedom is South Africa ended on April 27th 1994 when over 90% of the people of that country went to the polls to elect the first democratic government the country had ever seen. Since that time, South Africa has been one of the most, if not the most, dangerous place to live on the planet.
Read the rest, from a reader at Andrew Sullivan's site. South Africa is a freakin' quagmire.
Who is going to police this? Crack squads?
John Pilger writes:
Four years ago, I travelled the length of Iraq, from the hills where St Matthew is buried in the Kurdish north to the heartland of Mesopotamia, and Baghdad, and the Shia south. I have seldom felt as safe in any country.
Well, of course. Who’s going to mess with the Great Leader’s beloved spokesboy?
Once, in the Edwardian colonnade of Baghdad's book market, a young man shouted something at me about the hardship his family had been forced to endure under the embargo imposed by America and Britain.
Memo to JP: Saddam is no longer in power. You don’t have to keep repeating the sanctions lie.
Were I to undertake the same journey in Iraq today, I might not return alive.
Only one way to find out. You need some help with the airfare, John?
With the most lethal weapons that billions of dollars can buy, and the threats of their cowboy generals and the panic-stricken brutality of their foot soldiers, more than 120,000 of these invaders have ripped up the fabric of a nation that survived the years of Saddam Hussein, just as they oversaw the destruction of its artefacts.
On the contrary: the invaders have overseen the restoration of artefacts.
They have brought to Iraq a daily, murderous violence which surpasses that of a tyrant who never promised a fake democracy.
Actually, he did.
Even now, as the uprising spreads, there is only cryptic gesturing at the obvious: that this is a war of national liberation and that the enemy is "us". The pro-invasion Sydney Morning Herald is typical.
Attention, conservative politicians! Are there any lefties on your staff? Perhaps you employ them to write speeches. Well, beware! They cannot be trusted, as former speechwriter Christopher Sheil indicates:
I remember once amusing myself back in the late '80s by burying little phrases from Gorbachev's speeches in screeds I used to serve up to a National Party minister. There was nothing included that the minister didn't support, of course, but I enjoyed my secret insider's chuckle as I read hansard, knowing he would have been appalled about the source. And then there was the time I actually did rifle a stack of Clinton's stuff on family policy for a Liberal minister's speech, which he was very happy with, because he was trying to convince the community sector of his bona fides in the area.
If the press had discovered these little stunts, the politicians Sheil worked for would have been humiliated. Fire all lefties now, lest their pranks undermine you!
Ryne McClaren spells things out to Sioux Falls Argus Leader editor Randell Beck. Brilliant work.
Conspiracy merchant Tony Kevin runs a semi-literate eye over Bob Woodward’s new book, and announces:
It appears that our SAS was the first coalition force to take up arms inside Iraq.
Tony? We knew this a whole year ago.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Caroline Overington reports:
Last Sunday a newspaper in Seattle, Washington, published a rare photograph of soldiers' coffins, each of them containing the body of an American who had died in Iraq.
The coffins, each draped with the Stars and Stripes, had been loaded into the back of a cargo aircraft for a final journey to the US, where they would be buried. There were at least 18 of them in the picture, which was taken by a 50-year-old civilian contractor, Tami Silicio.
Why did Silicio take the photograph? A friend says she "wanted to share the image with the American people." Silicio says "the families would be proud to see their sons and daughters saluted like that."
On Wednesday Ms Silicio engaged an agent, who offered her photograph to newspaper outlets for $1400 for one-time, non-exclusive use.
UPDATE. Incredibly, the Melbourne Age’s version of Overington’s story omits the crucial detail of Silicio's sales deal, and presents her as a free-speech martyr. HELLO, AGE? HELLO? WE HAVE THE INTERNET! WE KNOW WHEN YOU'RE TWISTING THINGS!
It's Earth Day! (Or it was, yesterday, in futuristic Australia!) So plant a tree!
Have a tree planted in your behalf in an Israeli Air Force base and help strengthen Israel + Israel satellite map which is composed of three satellite images that were acquired by Landsat 7 at an altitude of 705 kilometers and were processed by computer.
Why stop at one? Plant ten trees!
Have 10 Trees planted in your behalf in an Israeli Air Force base + receive an Israel satellite map which is composed of three satellite images + receive a flag of Israel + 3 Israel-USA Lapel Pins + Israel Flag Cap.
The green movement always claims to be apolitical. Let’s see them support this bold environmental initiative!
The ABC’s North American correspondent Lisa Millar mentioned in a news report yesterday (no link available) that George W. Bush was “struggling to maintain support” among the US electorate. Really, Lisa?
It is hard to imagine a worse month of news for President Bush's re- election efforts than the past four weeks: 100 Americans killed in Iraq, chaos in Fallujah and wrenching public questions about the administration's pre-Sept. 11, 2001, intelligence failures.
Yet during that same time frame, Bush's approval rating has remained steady with voters, and his standing against John Kerry has actually improved, leaving Democrats to wonder: If that was a bad month for Bush, what would a good month look like?
A good month? For Bush? The ABC won’t hear of it. Peggy Noonan and Richard Cohen further examine the inexplicable Bush popularity syndrome, while Hugh Hewitt studies Bush’s opponent, whose supporters believe has enjoyed a very good month indeed:
Over at JohnKerry.com's campaign blog, they're referring to Kerry's appearance on Meet the Press as a "home run." If that was a home run, I'd hate to see Kerry strike out. On question after question, Kerry managed to turn under-armed softballs into high and tight strikes, and the damage from his reflexive parsing and dodging are just beginning to be recognized.
The Weekly World News reports: EUROPE TO BECOME GIANT THEME PARK!
Member nations of the European Union have announced plans to discontinue their status as individual countries in order to merge into one giant theme park!
The new park will be called EuroWorld and will cover the entire continent of what is now known as Europe. The decision was made by the EU countries in response to their collective realization that no one in Europe has had an innovative idea in well over a century.
With nothing new to offer visitors, the European countries decided to stop pretending they were still relevant, and to start celebrating their colorful pasts.
"Our stagnant continent has been a virtual museum for decades," explains an unnamed EU representative. "Many could argue that we already were nothing more than an amusement park. The decision to legally become a large theme park is really only a formality."
There’s more. Read the whole thing, especially for news of planned prostitute races in Amsterdam.
(Via Combustible Boy)
Yasser’s getting jumpy:
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat expelled a group of 21 members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from his West Bank headquarters overnight, a leader of the militant faction said.
"Yasser Arafat forced me and 20 of my comrades from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to leave the Muqataa," Ali Barghuti, one of the leaders of the organisation in theWest Bank, told AFP.
"Arafat has abandoned us. It's a crime, because we are above all members of Fatah and he should protect us.
"He has also caved into Israel which has threatened to attack the Muqataa."
The IDF's attacks seem to be working on a whole bunch of levels.
Zem writes: "There's a curious turn of phrase in this BBC piece on Spielberg's plan to make a film about the '72 Olympic assassinations. It seems the Israeli athletes were kidnapped by activists, not terrorists; and their deaths, while chronologically subsequent to the abduction, were of unspecified causes":
The Israelis died after being taken hostage by Palestinian activists at the 1972 summer games in Munich.
The item also mentions “murder” and “killings”, but not in the same paragraph as the only mention of the actual murderers. Perhaps the BBC needs to get some new instructors at its impartiality seminars:
BBC reporters are receiving training in impartial journalism following criticisms made by the Hutton Report into the death of Dr David Kelly.
The 'impartiality seminars' aim to encourage reporters and producers at BBC News to think outside of the 'left-leaning liberal' mentality traditionally associated with the corporation.
Yet more cultural intolerance in Australia:
Four brothers convicted of gang raping two Sydney teenagers have been jailed for a total of 70 years between them.
The rapes occurred at their family home in Ashfield, in Sydney's inner west, on July 28, 2002. The men threatened two girls with knives and bullets during the attack, and one of the victims was told the other had been killed because she resisted the rapists.
Three of the gang, who were born in Pakistan, had claimed "cultural differences" were to blame for their actions.
The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland dissects last week’s Bush/Blair press conference:
Naturally, Bush went first with a rapid-fire series of statements that stand at almost surreal odds with the truth. "Iraq will be free, Iraq will be independent," he promised, just as soon as the "transfer of sovereignty" is complete on June 30. But look at the reality.
Yes. Let’s look at the reality. Here are Bush’s exact words:
Our nations face a stark choice:Britain and America and our allies can either break our word to the people of Iraq, abandon them in their hour of need and consign them to oppression; or we can help them defeat the enemies of a free Iraq and build the institutions of liberty.
The prime minister and I have made our choice. Iraq will be free, Iraq will be independent, Iraq will be a peaceful nation and we will not waver in the face of fear and intimidation.
Bush, whose comments clearly refer to the ultimate goal in Iraq rather than anything associated with the transfer of sovereignty, doesn’t get around to mentioning June 30 for another 176 words. Speaking of the wilfully wrong, here’s Mark Morford:
There comes a time. There comes a time in every raw dumb imperfect beleaguered human's life when s/he has to face the music and pay the piper and fess up to his or her crimes and misdemeanors and blatant careening flubs and heartless gaffes and whoa where the hell was my brain that time sorry sorry sorry.
But then there's Dubya. He is, apparently, immune. He is perfect and flawless and without the slightest taint of guilt or error, and, despite looking like a bowl of Jell-O salad in a universe of divine tiramisu, he is, apparently, an angel of purity and light. It's true.
For here is Dubya, mumbling his way through another shockingly insulting news conference just recently, screwing up both his face and his intelligence data (again) and still a-huntin' for nonexistent WMDs in Iraqi turkey farms (?) as reporter after reporter asks him, point blank, why he won't simply come clean.
Morford is hopeless. Click on the link that he provides, and his blatant careening flub is revealed:
"They could still be there. They could be hidden, like the 50 tons of mustard gas in a turkey farm," said Bush, referring to Libya's voluntary disclosure of weapons in March.
That’s Libya, stupid. Not Iraq. Libya.
(Both items via contributor J.F. Beck, currently on one big blunder-hunting bender.)
Hey, I know London can be cold and depressing and the crime situation isn’t great and you can’t drive in the city and of course there’s that whole Beckham debacle, but this is a complete over-reaction:
Four young British Muslims in their twenties - a social worker, an IT specialist, a security guard and a financial adviser - occupy a table at a fast-food chicken restaurant in Luton. Perched on their plastic chairs, wolfing down their dinner, they seem just ordinary young men. Yet out of their mouths pour heated words of revolution.
"As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."
Chicken-munching, Luton-dwelling, Ladenite freaks. Meanwhile would-be Palestinian explodista Rami Abdullah has an ingenious plan:
Unlike conventional bombs other terrorists have used to blow up buses or cafes, Abdullah's bomb -- had he finished making it -- would have been laced with HIV-tainted blood.
The plan was to have the bomber blow himself up at a crowded place in Israel. The bomb would have been on a belt: on one side, easily made explosives; on the other, the tainted blood.
The contraption would be mixed with nails to ensure maximum physical damage. But medical experts said the nails would have done more damage than the blood because the AIDS virus would not have survived the intense heat of the blast.
A pressing issue of dinner-party etiquette is vexing Washington, according to a story now making the D.C. rounds: How should you react when your guest, in this case national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice, makes a poignant faux pas? At a recent dinner party hosted by New York Times D.C. bureau chief Philip Taubman and his wife, Times reporter Felicity Barringer, and attended by Arthur Sulzberger Jr., Maureen Dowd, Steven Weisman, and Elisabeth Bumiller, Rice was reportedly overheard saying, “As I was telling my husb—” and then stopping herself abruptly, before saying, “As I was telling President Bush.” Jaws dropped, but a guest says the slip by the unmarried politician, who spends weekends with the president and his wife, seemed more psychologically telling than incriminating. Nobody thinks Bush and Rice are actually an item. A National Security Council spokesman laughed and said, “No comment.”
Dowd was there. She’ll clear this up.
Opposition leader Mark Latham today denied he had plagiarised a speech by former United States president Bill Clinton, after Liberal frontbencher Tony Abbott yesterday accused him of doing so.
A speech Mr Latham delivered to a Global Foundation lunch in Sydney on Tuesday, setting proposed national targets for learning, showed similarities to Mr Clinton's State of the Union address in 1997, the government has said.
But Mr Latham today denied his speech was the same.
"My targets are more ambitious and broader than the ones Bill Clinton outlined in 1997," Mr Latham told Adelaide radio station 5AA.
Hit the links and judge for yourself. This isn’t the first time Latham has been accused of presidential plagiarism; Andrew Bolt discovered an earlier example last December:
"Delegates, you hear some funny things in politics," he confided. "When I became leader, some in the media were asking: where did he get that expression, 'the ladder of opportunity'?
"Well, I didn't have to look too far. It comes from a place called Green Valley. It comes from who I am and where I've been."
In fact, Latham didn't even have to go back to Green Valley, his childhood home in western Sydney, to find his ladder.
He just needed to flip open a book of Ronald Reagan's famous speeches. And there it was -- "ladder of opportunity", used by this conservative president in his speech to accept the Republican nomination in 1980, in his State of the Union addresses in 1986 and 1988, and in a radio address to the nation in 1986.
Ordinary soldiers said the overwhelming majority of their comrades opposed Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's sudden decision to bring home the 1,432-strong contingent based here and in the nearby Shiite Muslim holy city of Najaf.
Fisk lauded the rag-bag of extremists and terrorists making trouble in Iraq as an "anti-American resistance". Unchallenged, he pointedly referred to the four US contractors brutally murdered in Fallujah as "mercenaries". He nonsensically compared the occupation of Iraq with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - because they are both about "two occupying forces coming up against unstoppable opposition" - and in a stunning piece of moral relativism equated both with the French occupation of Algeria. It seems the US, which has precious little history of empire-building, cannot even remain in a country long enough to set up a democracy without facing the same old accusations of imperialism.
Fisk's local soul-mates have taken The Australian to task for editorialising triumphantly on the fall of Saddam, and for debunking those who claimed Iraq would turn into a quagmire and an intifada. For the record, it was claims the invasion would take months or years, and cost hundreds of thousands of lives, that we debunked. And equally for the record, our opinion page has carried a wider range of anti-war material than rival papers. Our editorial the day after Saddam's statue toppled began "Now for the hard part", and three days later we warned that a "period of disorder" in Iraq was inevitable. It is true we did not get everything right. Neither has the US administration in Iraq, which has chopped and changed far too often, and left it too late to tell the world what sort of government will assume authority on June 30. But the noise of bombs and curfew sirens has only muffled, not stilled, the other sounds we were already hearing in Iraq: of people saying and writing whatever they pleased in 250 new newspapers and magazines, of the satellite televisions that a third of Iraqi households now own, and of oil flowing again at pre-war levels, generating nearly $20 billion this year alone for the Iraqi people. Meanwhile the predicted eruption of the "Arab street" has not eventuated, and countries such as Iran, Libya and even Saudi Arabia have become more biddable than before, both towards the West and towards internal democratic elements. The wheel's still in spin, and nobody should be celebrating anything just yet, but we remain proud of what this country and its allies have done in Iraq.
One highlight from Fisk’s ABC interview:
I cannot see the end, or the depth, to which the current bloodshed is going. I can't see a way out at the moment.
This from a man who couldn’t see how coalition troops would be able to take Baghdad.
At least three senior United Nations officials are suspected of taking multimillion-dollar bribes from the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. and European intelligence sources tell ABCNEWS.
Most prominent among those accused in the scandal is Benon Sevan, the Cyprus-born U.N. undersecretary general who ran the program for six years.
In an interview with ABCNEWS last year, Sevan denied any wrongdoing.
But documents have surfaced in Baghdad, in the files of the former Iraqi Oil Ministry, allegedly linking Sevan to a pay-off scheme in which some 270 prominent foreign officials received the right to trade in Iraqi oil at cut-rate prices.
And guess where our man Sevan is currently hiding out?
When news of the scandal first broke earlier this year, he took a long vacation to Australia.
He declined to answer questions when ABCNEWS found him last week staying at a luxury casino resort.
Can’t blame ABC for not naming the exact resort -- Sevan is their story, and they want to keep his precise location unknown in case they can nail an exclusive interview. I’ve got some calls out trying to discover where he might be, because I’m inclined to go Sevan hunting myself (I’m guessing he’s somewhere in Queensland). Any readers with any information, please email me. Meanwhile, let’s see if the Australian media gets on to this massive international story and chases Sevan. You know he’s here; let the pursuit begin!
UPDATE II. Instapundit has more.
If racism was an Olympic event, we'd win it hands down! We are so good at racism we have even turned racist slang into common vernacular. We can feel confident in calling our neighbours 'wogs' (Western Oriental Gentleman or people with a mediterranean ethnicity) and 'refos' (short for Refugees) without guilt or retaliation from anyone within earshot — wogs and refos included.
So if these terms are used without meaning to cause offence, and no offence is taken, that must mean they’re only ... harmless, affectionate nouns. I’ll defer to the Wogblogger for further examination of this issue, if she can be bothered to get off her lazy refo arse and post something.
The Associated Press applies its traditional standards to a story about the Prime Minister's boning:
An Aboriginal woman clad in animal skins has put a traditional curse on Prime Minister John Howard, apparently in retaliation for government plans to abolish Australia's top indigenous elected body.
Howard encountered the woman on a visit to Colac, an outback town with 500 people in the southern state of Victoria.
What is it with American reporters and this outback obsession? Apparently every town with fewer people than Sydney is "outback". Colac is less than an hour from Geelong, Victoria’s second-largest city; its population is close to 10,000.
Supporters turned up to greet the prime minister along with angry Aboriginal protesters and the woman, known only as Moopor.
Not to be confused with Mopar, your traditional source for turbo upgrade kits.
Painted in traditional tribal makeup and wearing possum skins, Moopor stood silently and cast the curse by pointing a small bone at Howard as he climbed into a waiting car. Howard smiled and waved at Moopor before leaving.
Moopor refused to speak with reporters, citing unspecified Aboriginal cultural reasons.
(Via David Kahn in Los Angeles, who writes: "Henceforth, I intend to cite 'unspecified Aboriginal cultural reasons' whenever I don't want to answer a question.")
Nothing on the wires yet. MacGill's loathing of Mugabe is the likely reason for his decision.
UPDATE. John Howard supports MacGill.
A recent edition of The Reader includes a list of Ten Top Blogs -- not available online; The Reader is determinedly print-only -- featuring LoobyLu (“this charming site was showered with accolades in the 2004 Australian Blog Awards”), John Howard (“this satirical blog imagines our PM talking like a ten-year-old schoolboy”), The Spin Starts Here (“based in Melbourne, this merry band of PR monkeys, News Ltd hacks, computer geeks and finance employees mouth off in a deliciously un-PC manner”) and Mark Latham (“This is no media-friendly ‘Latham Lite,’ but a rambunctious serve of ... colourful language and unashamed parochialism”). This site is also mentioned:
Dubbed the “shock jock” of blogging by The Sydney Morning Herald, journalist and Bulletin columnist Tim Blair has a history of stoushing with ABC TV’s Media Watch. More recently, he exposed a plagiarised story about the Redfern riots from the Chicago Tribune, resulting in the journalist’s sacking. Whether or not you agree with Blair’s often irrational diatribes, he’s arguably the most widely-read Australian blogger.
The piece isn’t bylined, so I’ll draw this to the attention of The Reader editor Eric Beecher: it was the Australian Financial Review, not the SMH, that used “shock jock”; and Uli Schmetzer was fired not for plagiarism but for inventing a source. The Reader says about itself:
If someone you trust offered to scour the media on your behalf to find the really interesting stuff, would you read it?
Well, yes. If someone I trust offered that, I would.
Here’s Robert Bosler earlier this month in the Sydney Morning Herald, fighting off hallucinations while attempting to make some kind of point about Mark Latham and John Howard:
His style is world's apart from his opponent. We need to get used to him and learn more about him, as he is on his way towards running the country. It's more than a matter of style. The difference between the two men is a creative difference. One could be no more different from the other.
And here’s a report in today’s SMH:
The federal Opposition Leader, Mark Latham, has unveiled a new conservative vision for an Australian identity that redefines multiculturalism.
The speech is a dramatic departure from the thinking of the previous Hawke and Keating Labor governments, and has more in common with the views of John Howard on multiculturalism when he first became prime minister.
"We hawks were wrong about many things" on Iraq, writes David Brooks. "But in opening up the possibility for a slow trudge towards democracy, we were still right about the big thing." Absolutely. Mark Steyn rounds up several war doubters in his latest column, and has this as well, from the 9/11 hearings:
Commissioner John Lehman remarked that "it was the policy [before 9/11] and I believe remains the policy today to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that's discriminatory."
In other words, when Mohammed Atta's five-man terrorist crew went to check in that morning at Boston, the airline would have been punished by the Federal Government if it had questioned more than two of them. And that still applies today. And, if you were to suggest changing that regulation, you'd be drowned in whimpers from the New York Times, the Democratic Party and the ethnic grievance industry.
Again on Iraq, Johann Hari provides numerical support for the war’s rightness:
The Human Rights Centre (HRC) in Kadhimiya has been set up by Iraqis themselves from the ashes of Baathism. They have been going methodically through the massive - and previously unexplored - archives left by the regime, which document every killing in cold bureaucracy-speak. The HRC have found that if the invasion had not happened, Saddam would have killed 70,000 people in the past year. Not sanctions: Saddam's tyranny alone.
"Even once you factor in the war and everybody who has died since, it's not as many people as that," Sama explains. "So this war has indisputably saved lives over the past year. Saddam's victims might not have been appearing on your TV screens, but they would be just as dead."
What kind of guy chooses a dinner with friends to tell his wife of 23 years that their marriage is over? The kind of guy named Paul Keating, according to wife Annita, interviewed in The Bulletin this week by Jennifer Byrne. Political chatterati will be talking about this sensational interview for
Well, folks, Tuesday is the day! The day that George W. gets taught a long overdue lesson ... I think we can give Bush the Mother of all Shellackings on Tuesday ... We will deny Bush control of the Congress next week.
I believe that Wesley Clark will end this war. He will make the rich pay their fair share of taxes. He will stand up for the rights of women, African Americans, and the working people of this country. And he will cream George W. Bush.
The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.
A main character in the "Doonesbury" comic strip will lose a leg while fighting in Iraq.
In Monday's "Doonesbury," B.D., a football coach-turned-soldier, was injured after being reactivated in the Army at the end of 2002, following a losing football season.
Later this week, he will wake up to find his left leg amputated, according to Universal Press Syndicate, the strip's distributor.
"Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau said he wanted to illustrate the sacrifices American soldiers are making.
Hook Trudeau up to a polygraph and watch those needles fly! In other cartoon news, take a look at John Spooner’s latest. It might almost make sense if, instead of depicting the vehicle formerly occupied by Rantisi, it showed any of the many civilian victims of Hamas suicide attacks. There’s your “Hamas piece process”, John.
As Spain pulls its troops out of Iraq, the body of a Spanish policeman killed when Islamic terrorists blew themselves up has been pulled from its grave and set on fire:
The coffin and body of special agent Francisco Javier Torronteras were pulled from the tomb in Madrid Sur cemetery in Carabanchel and pushed 1,000 yards in a wheelbarrow before being doused with petrol and set alight.
The body was found with a pick driven into its head and a spade dug into its chest.
The interior ministry said the act of desecration could have been part of "an Islamic rite of revenge".
It shouldn’t be difficult to find the culprits. Just scope out the burns wards. These idiots don’t have particularly advanced fire skills.
The conservative government of Prime Minister John Howard has pushed the needs of the Aborigines to the sidelines, with few complaints from his white constituency, analysts say.
Jane’s “analysts” define Howard’s rejection of symbolic gestures towards Aborigines in favour of practical assistance as “pushing their needs to the sidelines”. The Howard government’s record here is actually quite good; for example:
Since 1996, the ATSIC/Army Community Assistance Program – an initiative of the Australian Army, ATSIC and the Department of Health and Aged Care – has delivered new housing, waste-management systems, transport and infrastructure upgrades, and upgraded water supply and reticulation systems to seven indigenous communities.
That program never received much coverage. Some of the soldiers involved apparently moved to those areas permanently. So who’s supplying this nonsense to the NYT?
"Aborigines are effectively off the white agenda," said Hugh Mackay, a social researcher.
This week, the government announced it would abolish an elected council of Aborigines, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, which was established in the 1980's as a means of self-determination for indigenous people.
Even though the council was widely described as corrupt, the national newspaper, The Australian, said the decision would "take Aboriginal governance back 30 years."
What really condemns ATSIC is the fact that, as a Productivity Commission report last November put it, the conditions of Aboriginal life have "deteriorated or regressed" during the 15 years ATSIC has been operating.
Here’s more from Insightful Hugh:
Mr. Mackay said many Australians carried a "huge but unadmitted collective guilt" about Aborigines that was reflected in the "most appalling racist humor reserved for Aborigines."
Australians embrace successful Aborigines, he said, and some who really shine — like the Olympic gold medalist runner Cathy Freeman — are treated as national heroes. But "if Aborigines are not glamorous and successful, we don't want to know about it," he said.
Aboriginal jokes, like Polish jokes in the US, mostly vanished by the late '70s. If Hugh is still hearing them, he should reconsider with whom he socialises. As for “not wanting to know” about Aboriginal issues, has Hugh already forgotten events like the march for reconciliation?
In the 1970's and 80's, successive governments made efforts to make amends to the Aborigines, but Mr. Howard rebuffed those policies.
Because, as the Productivity Report cited above mentions, those policies were making things worse. Perlez presents the typical liberal response to failed welfare programs: add more welfare. Her whole story reeks.
You know, I thought a lot, for a long time, about that period of time, the things we said, and I think the word is a bad word. I think it's an inappropriate word. I mean, if you wanted to ask me have you ever made mistakes in your life, sure. I think some of the language that I used was a language that reflected an anger. It was honest, but it was in anger, it was a little bit excessive.
Given the “bad words” I said when I was a young leftoid -- they were inappropriate, they were a little bit excessive, and they reflected complete, blinding stupidity -- I can almost relate.
The new leader of Hamas is Dr Mahmoud Zahar:
Within hours of the killing of Abdel Aziz Rantissi by the Israelis, the Palestinian militant group Hamas chose a grey-bearded and softly spoken physician to become its third leader in just under four bloody weeks in the Gaza Strip.
The appointment of Dr Mahmoud Zahar, 53, was kept secret as he joined tens of thousands of Palestinians at the funeral of Dr Rantissi.
Palestinian, Israeli and Western sources quickly confirmed that the Egyptian-educated doctor had assumed the leadership — and with it an automatic place at the top of Israel’s hit list.
“There were no real other candidates for the leadership in Gaza,” a Western diplomat said. “Most of them have been killed.”
Economic advisor to the Russian government Andrei Illarionov wants to keep his nation out of the Kyoto gulag:
Kyoto is a "death treaty" that will "stifle economic growth" and bring "many negative implications" because it will limit Russian carbon emission growth, Mr Illarionov said in comments reported by news agency Interfax on Wednesday.
The global agreement was worse than the Gosplan committee responsible for the famous communist five-year plans, he said. Even Stalinist era prison camps had better conditions, he added: "In a gulag, people were at least given the same rations ... from one day to the next, but the Kyoto protocol proposes decreasing rations day by day."
The Howard government's proposed free trade agreement with the United States was not in Australia's best interests, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said today.
She said the agreement would prevent future governments from regulating the economy in Australia's best interests and give US corporations greater control of Australia's medicines, quarantine laws, manufacturing, agriculture and cultural industries.
The deal also would cap the levels of local content on free-to-air television, radio and pay television at existing levels, she said.
"But what that also means is that in the areas of new media there isn't the capacity to regulate (levels of Australian content)," she said.
She'd have loved the gulags. Lots of regulations there.
The Daily Telegraph’s Chris Hastings has some interesting background on a prominent Brit commie:
Will Hutton, Britain's foremost critic of capitalism and an outspoken advocate for affordable social housing, is married to a property developer who has made a fortune out of selling and renting inner-city properties, often at rates which local council housing officers describe as exorbitant.
The disclosure that Mr Hutton's own family is among those capitalising on Britain's property boom will be an acute embarrassment for him.
I doubt it. The likes of Hutton are incapable of embarrassment. Also in the UK: Christopher Hitchens dukes it out with anti-war yammerer Scott Lucas, and Barbara Amiel reflects on the efficient removal of a couple of peace barriers:
Moral indignation over the deaths of Yassin and Rantissi remains impossible to fathom. One would be relieved if the Independent or Robin Cook were shedding crocodile tears but their weeping seems perfectly sincere. The existence of monsters such as Yassin and Rantissi only forces more civilised people into measures that spill blood on decent hands. That is a tragedy indeed, but that is about all one can mourn. Trying to serve a judicial warrant on Hamas leaders, deliberately living among the civilian population, would cause scores more innocent deaths than targeting them from a helicopter. None of us likes "extra-judicial" measures, but it is hypocrisy laid on with a trowel to suggest that psychotic beings such as Yassin and Rantissi are anything other than murderers in cold blood.
The bomb-blasting production number Springtime for Hitler, with its high-kicking, goose-stepping chorines and glossy officers whirling in a swastika pattern on the stage was guaranteed to offend every sensibility across the US, and then the world. Getting away with it now, on stage where it carries a sharper sting, is a miracle in an America where a little boy can be charged with assault for kissing a girl in pre-school, or an anti-Bush or pro-Muslim opinion will mark you a traitor.
It’d be a miracle if Christofis actually believes this. In other dissonent news:
• Between September 11, 2001 and April 15, 2004, Islamic terrorists killed at least 7,085 people and wounded 10,132 in 393 attacks around the world, according to Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. It’s obviously time, therefore, to stop the West’s murderous crusade.
• And in the Sydney Morning Herald, Eddie Raggett writes:
Is Israel out of control? Regardless of the provocation, the brutal and horrific slaying of the new Hamas leader, Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi, clearly demonstrates that it has little regard for the sanctity of human life and ever-less regard for world opinion.
So much stupidity, and it’s only Monday. Going to be a long week.
In a surprise announcement, just one day after being sworn in and one day before the first new cabinet meeting, Spain's new Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, has officially announced the immediate withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq:
Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Sunday he had ordered Spanish troops pulled out of the U.S.-led occupation force in Iraq as soon as possible, fulfilling a campaign pledge and acting to salve his uneasy nation.
Wrong: his campaign promise was that he would pull off unless the UN took over on June 30. And just last Thursday, during his confirmation debate in Parliament, he added "...or another international organization", prompting many to think he might be thinking of the World Chess Federation, or sumthin', just to save face. So he's actually breaking his campaign promise and even more recent pledge in Parliament, let alone betraying Spain's allies even further than expected; something for which, I'm afraid, we Spaniards will end paying badly.
Zapatero, who swept to victory in elections three days after 191 people were killed in terrorist commuter-train bombings in Madrid last month, said he acted after deciding the United Nations was unprepared to take over the occupation of Iraq -- his condition for keeping Spanish troops in the country.
So he singlehandedly decides that the UN is unprepared, having barely opened his new office door and without even holding any official meetings with Kofi or other parties involved? Boy, and they call Bush an arrogant unilateralist who never listens to the international community or the UN!
Hey, maybe it's a po-mo way of preparing next week's meeting:
Two Spanish newspapers have reported that Zapatero's foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, will meet in Washington this week with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Rice.
The newspaper ABC reported that Moratinos hopes to show U.S. officials that Spain wants to maintain its current good relations with the United States, despite Zapatero's plans to pull Spanish troops from Iraq by June 30 unless the United Nations takes over political and military control of the occupation.
Somehow I don't think that starting by wildly topping off the gazpacho-eating surrender llama status, breaking the solidarity with allies way beyond the expectation of anyone (except Osama and his guys, of course), will help much. But then again, maybe it's just me.
[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has condemned the decision by Spain to pull its troops out of Iraq.
Hamas has got some kind of super-genius production line, endlessly delivering brilliant leaders. The Age claims:
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi was a cool and calculating intellectual force in Hamas.
And in the SMH:
Khaled Mashaal, who has emerged as the paramount figure in Hamas following the assassination of Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi by Israel, is a hardline militant who favours a military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Mashaal is known particularly for his brilliant speeches and his iron logic in defending the Palestinian cause.
With only the feeble intellects of Bush, Blair, and Howard to defend us, surely the West is doomed.
"Hello, could I please speak to Mr Rantisi? Mr A. Rantisi? No? He can’t come to the phone right now? Well, could you please tell him that the new car he ordered has just arrived, and we can deliv ... [click] ... hello? Hello?"
Donna is pictured here wearing the second version of the Human Shields T-shirt used to identify the organisation in Iraq. The original version featured a poor Arabic translation of the organsiation's name which read "human target".
Speaking of targets, a new poll is up. See left.
Crazed Muslim kidnappers and the Mississippi grandmother of hostage Thomas Hamill are all the same to The Sydney Morning Herald's Paul McGeough:
Echoing the religious fervour of his captors, no doubt, 43-year-old Hamill's grandmother remains hopeful: "I got God, and I just trust in God."
Grandma Hamill later burned down a mosque and imprisoned two imams in her basement, the crazy old fundamentalist. Canada’s Michael Coren doesn’t share McGeough’s appetite for equivalence:
This is something deeper, darker, than an imagined fight against a foreign foe. There is a virus at work. For the sake of the good, law-abiding Muslims of the world -- the majority -- we cannot pretend any longer it's about anything other than what it is: a religion gone mad and gone bad.
And gone from Canada to Iraq:
Fifty volunteers who left Canada to join a ''cult-like'' militant group called Mujahedin-e-Khalq are being detained by the U.S. military in Iraq -- more than twice the number previously thought, the National Post has learned.
France has expelled an Algerian fundamentalist imam who invited his congregation to "rejoice in the Madrid bombings".
Yahia Cherif, who preached in Brest, on the coast of Brittany, was deported to Algiers after being found guilty of "proselytism in favour of radical Islam" and "active relations with a national or international Islamic movement linked to organisations promoting terrorist acts".
Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly should face similar charges.
John Leo has some questions for the President’s questioners:
When two reporters ask the president three times if he feels responsible for 9/11, do they realize they are enraging people from coast to coast? Ron Brownstein reports in the Los Angeles Times that an unnamed Democratic lobby gathered a focus group and showed them a campaign ad accusing Bush of negligence for failing to stop the 9/11 attacks. Brownstein wrote that the focus group exploded with "volcanic" rage against the ad. He quoted a Democratic operative as saying, "They were so angry I thought they were going to turn the tables over." Why do you think a notion that enrages normal Americans is considered worthy of throwing in the president's face at a press conference? At least the reporters didn't ask him if he and Osama hatched the 9/11 attack together. Wouldn't you say they could be a bit out of touch?
The Republicans should buy that ad and broadcast it.
Bigoted and stupid cultural protectionists are continuing their campaign against consumer freedom:
Australian actors will pin green and gold ribbons to their designer outfits at tonight's TV Week Logie Awards to protest against the "pawning" of Australian culture in free trade negotiations with the US.
"Our culture is not a commodity," said Alan Fletcher, who plays Dr Karl Kennedy on Neighbours and is the Victorian president of the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).
The Australian film and television industry has claimed that local actors and audiences have been sold out for "wheat and wine".
Tonight, it remains to be seen if soap stars etc will bring their soapboxes to the microphone. But the message will still be clear: this is a protest not for political or individual advantage, but for the very future of a long, distinguished creative industry.
Since the Logies honour a good part of this industry, it is in everyone's interest that the voices of protest be heard and heeded.
On the contrary; these voices should be scorned and mocked. Live scorning and mockery here will accompany tonight’s awards broadcast.
Abdel Aziz Rantisi may have just received an incoming message:
According to initial reports, Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi was killed in an Israeli helicopter missile strike on his car Saturday evening.
USA Today has more.
UPDATE. They’re learning:
Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal today called on his group's members in Gaza to promptly select a new leader, but without disclosing his name.
Unfortunately, Mr Meshaal neglected to conceal his own name. Oopsy.
Ethics wizard Peter Singer believes George W. Bush is a moral failure:
President George Bush wants to be seen as a good Christian leader but, according to a new book by Australian professor Peter Singer, he actually has the moral development of a 13-year-old boy.
Professor Singer said Mr Bush was wrong to go to war in Afghanistan (he suggested that a truly Christian leader would have "turned the other cheek" when America was attacked on September 11, 2001) because it led to the loss of innocent life.
Peter Singer is insane.
The nation's gun lobby is creating an "NRA news" company that will produce a daily talk show for the Internet, buy a radio station and seek a television deal to spread its gun-rights message nationwide.
Looking for the same legal recognition as mainstream news organizations, the National Rifle Association says it has already hired its first reporter, a conservative talk radio host from Oklahoma. NRANews.com plans to start online broadcasts Friday.
Andrew Sullivan doesn’t drive. That’s why he’s prone to impure thoughts:
Gas prices are too low. There. I said it. Even when they peak this summer, as most analysts predict, they will be too low. And they're too low in large part because gas is woefully undertaxed in this countrya state of affairs that is bad for the economy, bad for drivers and bad for our foreign policy. In fact, one of the simplest and best things any Administration could do right now would be to add a buck per gallon to the federal gas tax, which is currently just 18.4¢ ... with soaring deficits and a war to pay for, taxes are not an option — they're a necessity.
My solution: fund the war with a banner tax.
Politicians and citizens closed ranks Thursday behind Premier Silvio Berlusconi's vow to stay the course in Iraq after the slaying of an Italian hostage there, and the government worked frantically to save three other Italian captives.
The horrifying news seemed to unite a country that is traditionally bitterly divided in its politics and was largely opposed to war in Iraq. The reaction was somewhat similar to when 19 Italians were killed Nov. 12 in southern Iraq - Italy's worst single military loss since World War II.
"All of us must express a very firm condemnation and feel morally and civilly committed to do our part against terrorism," opposition leader Piero Fassino said Thursday, adding that withdrawing the troops would make Iraq "more out of control."
The New York Post editorialises on Fabrizio Quattrocchi and Al Jazeera:
The Al Jazeera network - owned by the Emir of Qatar, but allied to the thugs and terrorists working to prevent a democratic and stable Iraq - was given a video of Quattrocchi's murder but refused to broadcast it.
The network said the tape was too gruesome - which has never been a problem in the past. More likely, Al Jazeera felt that broadcasting it would have backfired as propaganda.
Rumsfeld, speaking to reports at a Pentagon press conference Thursday, was reacting to a question posed as to the accuracy of Al-Jazeera reports saying hundreds of Iraqis have been killed in the fighting in Falluja.
"Its disgraceful what that station is doing," Rumsfeld said, adding, "They are simply lying."
To say the least, the kidnapping of Donna Mulhearn is a curious affair. Let’s work through it ...
Early reports gave this account (based on an email sent by Mulhearn) of Mulhearn’s capture, along with three other foreign aid workers:
As they were leaving [Fallujah], the workers' car became caught in crossfire between the militia and US forces.
Ms Mulhearn said she tried to show her Australian passport at a US checkpoint, in a bid for safe passage.
But the four were captured by the militia, who were armed with a dozen guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
Events here are obviously compressed; we don’t know how much time elapsed between the group’s appearance at the US checkpoint and their subsequent capture. Presumably the gap was considerable, because in this radio interview Mulhearn doesn’t mention any crossfire or checkpoints (incidentally, that shootout occured during a supposed ceasefire -- which does’t mean it didn’t happen, Fallujah being Fallujah). In any case, the militia apparently shooting it out with US forces was no longer in combat mode by the time they approached Mulhearn’s vehicle:
We saw them walking towards us and we were just hoping that they were inquiring after who we were in a friendly manner and if they could help us. But when they got out a rocket propelled grenade and aimed it towards our car and when they all surrounded the car with large weapons and guns, then we knew that it wasn't a friendly haul, and that they in fact didn't know who we were, they didn't know our driver, and the communication was not good.
Communication obviously improved. According to this piece, during the group’s interrogation “we had an Iraqi translator with us”:
They interrogated us for quite a while at the beginning to try and figure out why we were in Fallujah, they were suspicious that we could have been spies. So it was only after they searched our belongings and they talked to us for quite a while that we were able to convince them about our mission and why we were in Fallujah.
So I think under other circumstances, they may have taken the opportunity to use us as hostages to place pressure on the Australian Government, but when they realised that we were in fact there to help the people of Fallujah, and I guess, had common ground with them, that they understood the situation we were in, and they treated us with respect after that.
They tied the guys' hands behind their backs and confiscated our gear. In separate interrogations, they demanded to know who we were; they wanted to know if we were spies.
Back to Mulhearn’s radio interview:
My interrogator said to me, asked me questions like, 'why does your Prime Minister want to keep… to send soldiers to Iraq from Australia? Why are Australians involved in a war in Iraq? What do Australians think about Iraqis?' And they were quite interested in the position of Australia in the war. So I was very much on my toes in having to point out to him my views, as opposed to the views of the Australian Government.
I don’t buy this part of Mulhearn’s story at all. Her interrogator knew that John Howard was Australia’s Prime Minister? In her SMH communication, Mulhearn claimed she was asked “why Australia wants to hurt Iraqi people”; Mulhearn and her friends were apparently abducted by Indymedia.iraq.com. And what about those British and American comrades? They haven’t been mentioned, or even named, in any British or American media. You’d expect at least some attention for these freed hostages. Thus far, however ... nothing. And then there’s this Mulhearn claim:
I realised quickly that my prime minister, John Howard, had placed me in great danger by making inflammatory comments about the war just a few days ago.
What comments, specifically? Mulhearn doesn’t say. More from her radio interview, linked above:
The American fellow of course was very worried throughout the whole ordeal, and he actually told the captors that he was from Mexico, and he had ID, media ID, but he managed to keep his passport hidden from them, so that they couldn't see that he was American. He was very worried of what might have happened to him if they'd learnt that he was American.
The hostage-takers held these people for 20 hours or so -- yet they couldn’t locate this fellow’s passport, despite an obvious interest in their hostages’ origins? Where was he hiding it? Weirdest of all, one of Mulhearn’s old Labor associates in Newcastle predicted these events two days before they were reported:
Newcastle Trades Hall councillor Gary Kennedy said it appeared Ms Mulhearn was basically stuck in [Fallujah] for the duration of hostilities.
"The Iraqis were very protective of Donna while she was a human shield and I would hope she would be tagged as 'untouchable' to would-be kidnappers.
"She is not a contract worker earning lucrative pay - she is a relief worker assisting the young people of Iraq and she is not paid a lot money," Mr Kennedy said.
"The foreign nationals being targeted are mainly contract workers who earn a great deal of money.”
Mr Kennedy was speaking after the Department of foreign Affairs and Trade warned Australians were at significant risk of being kidnapped or being targets for terrorist bombings.
What did Kennedy know about Mulhearn’s kidnapping, and when did he know it?
UPDATE. Associated Press is cautious:
Mulhearn's claims could not immediately be verified.
And Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer is dubious:
She hasn't to the best of my knowledge contacted our embassy in Baghdad and she's gone straight out and contacted the media, not contacted the embassy, which is uncharacteristic of people's behaviour in these circumstances. But I have nothing more to go on than her word and I can't repudiate what she said. What she said I assume to be true, unless proven otherwise.
UPDATE II. Officials want to have a quiet chat:
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said yesterday that Ms Mulhearn had not tried to contact the consulate with details of her ordeal.
Department officials are yet to verify Ms Mulhearn's story and will try to obtain a full briefing from her today.
"You couldn't have had a better model for helping Aboriginal people than ATSIC," claims Geoff Clark, "and I challenge anyone to come up with a better thing."
Anything would be better. In fact, nothing might be better, as we’ll soon discover, once ATSIC is dumped. Here’s Bernie Slattery:
During ATSIC's existence, remote Aboriginal communities become barely functioning hell-holes ravaged by alcoholism, petrol sniffing, lawlessness, disease, violence and crime. The main reason for this was that those communities were entirely dependent on ATSIC and other government funding.
Sydney's Redfern, where riots exploded earlier this year, was an urban manifestation of the same problem: an imploding community dependent on government handouts.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s spin on this? "Howard silences Aboriginal advocates":
The Federal Government has ended the policy of self-determination which for three decades has taken the voices of elected Aboriginal representatives to Canberra, with the Prime Minister, John Howard, announcing he will abolish the nation's peak indigenous body.
No advocates have been silenced, and self-determination may be pursued independent of ATSIC. In fact, without the smothering curse of welfare, it’ll probably florish. ATSIC just needed more time, according to Margaret Hornigold:
I think that ATSIC was starting to get a grip on the way it should be starting to be going.
The way ATSIC is going is out. Peter Beattie is glad to see it.
Go check out Big Pharaoh, posting live from “the crazy area I live in, the Middle East”:
I’m afraid almost no one shares my views in Egypt. Brainwashed by a completely unbalanced media, the majority of Egyptians do not give a hoot about the future of Iraq as long as they see the US in trouble. Nobody stops to think about how Iraq can evolve into a decent nation, they are busy praying for more chaos to prove that the US was wrong.
Also new, also excellent: Italy’s Joy of Knitting:
About a year ago I happened to talk with an acquaintance of mine, a teacher of Belles Lettres, and she expressed her distaste for American culture. She said it lacked depth. I replied that I had read several works by Americans and that I didn't find them superficial. At which she insisted, and I asked her if she had ever actually read anything written by an American, to which she replied "Not really". "Not really what? Almost, but not quite, or never?" I went on, feeling terribly nasty indeed, and stated quoting some well known authors. Henry David Thoreau? Herman Melville? Edgar Allan Poe? Henry James? Edith Wharton? "Not really, no." Not even oft quoted poets? Walt Whitman? Emily Dickinson? "Ehm, no."
Then she said solemnly, "I don't need to know American culture to understand that it's worthless."
John Kerry is at the centre of an Australian political feud:
Mark Latham has dismissed as "hogwash" Prime Minister John Howard's suggestion that the Opposition is now at odds on Iraq policy with both sides of United States politics.
Mr Howard yesterday seized on comments by US Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry, claiming Mark Latham is becoming increasingly isolated with his plan to bring Australian troops home by Christmas.
Mr Howard says Senator Kerry's statements show a Democrat president would not alter the US policy on Iraq troops.
Mr Latham denies Senator Kerry said that.
"(Senator Kerry) described President Bush's policies in Iraq as a failure, and he said this: 'We need to internationalise the effort and put an end to the American occupation'," Mr Latham said.
"Let me just repeat that, 'put an end to the American occupation in Iraq' so let's not have this hogwash from Mr Howard that Senator Kerry's got the same policies as President Bush - he hasn't."
So, who is right -- Howard or Latham? Answer: thanks to John Kerry’s talent for nuance, both of them are! Kerry did indeed call for "an end to the American occupation", but, within 24 hours of those comments, he also announced this:
Americans of all political persuasions are united in our determination to succeed. The extremists attacking our forces should know they will not succeed in dividing America, or in sapping American resolve, or in forcing the premature withdrawal of U.S. troops. Our country is committed to help the Iraqis build a stable, peaceful and pluralistic society. No matter who is elected president in November, we will persevere in that mission.
Kerry truly is all things to all men. No wonder The Guardian’s Timothy Garton Ash thinks that "it's now in the best interests of Britain, Europe and America that senator John Kerry should be the next president of the United States."
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
Michael Moore halts work on his latest filmic masterpiece to deliver a crushing verdict on the Bush press conference:
I have never seen a head so far up a Presidential ass (pardon my Falluja) than the one I saw last night at the "news conference" given by George W. Bush. He's still talking about finding "weapons of mass destruction" -- this time on Saddam's "turkey farm." Turkey indeed. Clearly the White House believes there are enough idiots in the 17 swing states who will buy this. I think they are in for a rude awakening.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
UPDATE. Iowahawk locates a correspondent who would’ve nailed the Bush presser big time.
Bin Laden is alive. There can be no doubt about it.
And here’s McGeough talking about bin Laden today:
He is alive and well.
If bin Laden is proved to be alive at this point, I’ll take out a year-long subscription to the SMH. Hey -- I’ll also take Paul out to lunch at the restaurant of his choice. He can bring Margo with him!
UPDATE. Andrew Sullivan has a three-word response to "Osama's" truce offer.
Tessa Morris-Suzuki, professor at the research school of Pacific and Asian studies at the Australian National University, in today’s Melbourne Age:
When John Howard sent Australian troops to Iraq last year, without the approval of the UN and against the wishes of most Australians, he promised us that this would help make Australia and the world safe from terrorism.
No, he didn’t. Hasn’t The Age learned to check claims made by its stupid op-ed contributors? Does nobody at The Age remember last year’s Alison Broinowski quote scam, or the Janet McCalman debacle of 2002? Meanwhile, in The Age's semi-reliable non-opinion section:
The first person to be charged under Australia's tough new laws against training with terrorists appeared in a Sydney court yesterday.
"They tied the guys' hands behind their backs and confiscated our gear. In separate interrogations, they demanded to know who we were; they wanted to know if we were spies.
"We had an Iraqi translator with us and the interrogation turned out to be a moving, profound experience.
"I told them I was a member of the Labor Party and that we were working to get John Howard out of office at the coming election."
Mark Latham will be pleased to learn that his operatives are busily courting the crucial Iraqi kidnapper demographic. Mulhearn said she was lucky to be detained by a man who she described as "kind and gentle"; tell that to Fabrizio Quattrocchi, you vile idiot.
As the gunman's pistol was pointing at him the hostage "tried to take off his hood and shouted: 'now I'll show you how an Italian dies,'" [Frattini] said.
Puzzlingly, Al-Jazeera says that footage of Quattrocchi’s death is “too gruesome” to broadcast. Puzzling, because Al-Jazeera has never had problems before with screening gruesome footage. Maybe Al-Jazeera just can’t cope with Italian defiance.
Those poli-sci geniuses at Margo Kingston’s Webdiary Academy ("Freeing Our Minds to Use the Brains since April 2000") were the first to reveal the sinister anti-gravity plot behind the war in Iraq. Now Webdiary reader Phil Smith exposes the unseen forces manipulating George W. Bush:
I have just watched President Bush at his press conference, live on TV. He places long pauses throughout and before his replies to questions. I have a theory that he may be wearing a radio ear-phone and someone outside the room is dictating his answers to him. If you watch carefully these pauses almost match the length of his reply and his eyes often glance down as though he is listening to something during these pauses. Who is actually answering the questions? I have no proof of this.
No proof, eh? That’s exactly what us cynics said about the anti-gravity claims -- before all those hover bikes were found in Uday’s palace!
UPDATE. Margo writes:
Don’t you love Bush’s timing? What better time to tear up the road map for peace he promised Blair he’d deliver as part of the ‘war on terror’. What a suitable reward to Sharon for the assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Yassin. What a clear sign to the Iraqi people that the occupation is no crusade against Muslims. What a lovely welcome mat for Tony Blair’s latest summit with Bush. Ever get the feeling Bush, Sharon and their neo-con Dr Strangeloves can’t wait to bring on Armageddon?
Yes. With our anti-gravity hearing devices!
From US Lance Cpl. Ryan Christiansen, asked if he was concerned that a ceasefire would allow Saddamite forces to regroup:
"I really don't care; they're all gonna die."
Lance Cpl. Ryan Christiansen is from Chicago. Fine city.
What happens when pro-liberation demonstrators turn up at an anti-war rally? A peace activist explains:
My immediate reaction was to charge at these bastards and try to smash thier placards and hurt them as much as possible. I was accompanied by several other enraged demonstrators. Unfortunately the more militant socialist groups had already marched away so most of the immediate crowd complained that we where ruining a peaceful march. I stand by the actions we took. When Liberals have the confidence to attend a anti-war demo it clearly isn't a good sign.
If people are serious about activism they should realise that change doesn't come from wishing problems away it comes from militant direct action. By standing there debating with a bunch of right wingers at a rally, not only are people wasting time and demoralising everyone, they are giving them confidence to come back and disrupt more rallies. In the ideal situation Young Liberals should be left bruised, bashed and bleeding if they dare show thier face at a rally like that. That way they will be more hesitant about coming next time, and if they do the police will be more likely to quickly move them on.
I love that line about “not wishing problems away” and taking “militant direct action”; while the anti-war left was trying to wish Saddam Hussein away, militant direct action actually got rid of him.
(Via reader Jonathan B.)
UPDATE. Julian Barendse, President of the Melbourne University Liberal Club, writes:
My club in conjunction with other Liberal clubs around the state have made a conscious decision to attend these rallies; and to organise banners etc. We decided that it was important to let the public know that there were young people who supported the war in Iraq, support education reform, and generally advocate for freedom in society. Our frequent attendance has been worthwhile, as we've started to gain a media profile and raise a lot of interest.
The response from the socialists has been astounding -- and thanks for drawing reference to this on the blog. The hypocrisy of 'peace demonstrators' advocating actions like bashing and burning Liberals is almost beyond belief! Its also very interesting to look at the demographics of people involved in the causes; the socialist movement is much more dominated by kids from rich private schools going through their 'rebellious' phase than our movement. We have much greater diversity of ethnic minorities and gender; and range of socio-economic backgrounds.
Basically, we plan to keep on attending these rallies; to keep advocating our views -- and hopefully get across the message to some degree that these socialists do not have a monopoly on moral high ground.
The party’s over for Geoff Clark and his mates:
Prime Minister John Howard has announced the end of the scandal-riven Aboriginal advisory body ATSIC.
Branding the experiment in elected representation for indigenous people a "failure", Mr Howard said the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission would be abolished within months and not replaced.
This excellent decision should receive bipartisan support.
An Italian hostage in Iraq has been murdered. Italy’s troops will remain:
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed on Thursday to keep troops in Iraq despite the killing of an Italian hostage in scenes Al Jazeera said were too bloody to screen.
Still no news on the three Japanese hostages, whose expected release was reported earlier this week.
UPDATE. Via Reuters:
Three Japanese hostages held in Iraq have been freed, Arabic television station Al Jazeera reported Thursday.
The channel showed the two men and a crying woman meeting a representative of a group called the Muslim Clerics Association.
The Carter years were a boom time. The economy tanked under Reagan. John Kerry has proof!
Amid the rubble in the apartment where the Islamist terrorists believed to be the authors of the Madrid massacre on March 11 blew themselves up (seven of them, and counting), police found plans for future strikes: a shopping and leisure center, the high speed train between Madrid and Lleida (another one, not the foiled attempt), and several Jewish targets.
They also found a badly damaged videotape which, unlike the bastards themselves, could actually be reconstructed by police labs:
"After discovering that the situation has not changed, and that your new government announced it would start its mandate with yet more fighting against Muslims and the deployment of more crusader troops to Afghanistan, the Death Squadrons and Ansar al Qaeda have decided to continue on the path of holy war and resistance," the speaker on the video said.
The speaker added that unless all Spanish troops were withdrawn from Muslim lands within a week, the holy war would continue.
John Chappell at Iberian Notes has a full translation, including the really charming conclusion:
Blood for blood! Destruction for destruction!
Glenn's catchphrase ("Read the rest") belongs even here, I think.
[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]
Renowned international peace scholar Johan Galtung recently told us that Australian underage-sex fiends may have provoked the bombing attacks in Bali:
I don't know how you can talk about the Sari night club and the 12th of July ... and not mention a word about Australian pedophiles operating in Bali, and what that might have meant for the people in that blessed island ...
Iraq is just too icky for the United Nations, according to always-concerned Kofi Annan:
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said yesterday that the violence and anarchy sweeping Iraq will prevent the world body from re-establishing a major presence in the country anytime in the near future.
"For the foreseeable future, insecurity is going to be a major constraint for us. And so I cannot say right now that I am going to be sending in a large U.N. team," he said.
Way to help, Kofi. Hey, how’s that deal going in Rwanda? Issued any more statements lately?
The Melbourne Age’s Greg Hywood writes:
There remains in this country a deep misunderstanding of the underlying obligations that makes the alliance with the US work for both sides. For more than 50 years the US has effectively cross-subsidised Australia's defence spending and provided us with a security guarantee that is extraordinary in its sweep.
Few nations in the world live in such an unstable region yet spend less than 2 per cent of GDP on defence and enjoy the permanent protection of the world's only superpower. It is a privilege that has enabled Australia to develop a world-class economy, and education, health and welfare services of a high order ...
Hywood continues: “The arrangement has never sat well with parts of the foreign policy establishment or substantial sections of the ALP. Why? Because it effectively abrogates a portion of Australian foreign policy control to Washington.” A situation Mark Latham wishes to change:
He claims to support the alliance but intends to break free, embark on a new engagement of Asia and have Australia "shape events".
But more independence from the US does not come free. You do not shape events when you spend less than 2 per cent of GDP on defence.
Latham wants Australia to shape events the same way New Zealand shapes events: not at all.
Because of an editing error, an article on April 4 about the refugee population of the South Pacific island of Nauru, where Australia has been sending asylum seekers under a policy begun in 2001, misstated the reason the island's Afghan refugees fled their homeland. It was to escape Taliban persecution, not war. The article also referred incorrectly to the Tampa, a vessel that was prohibited from landing in Australia in August 2001 because it carried refugees. It was a Norwegian freighter that had rescued the refugees from a leaking boat; it was not itself leaking.
Yet to be corrected by the NYT: lawyer Julian Burnside is in Melbourne, not Sydney.
Also in The Bulletin: John Lyons’ damning piece on Australia’s intelligence services, centred on claims by Lt Col Lance Collins that intelligence failed everywhere from Bali and East Timor to Washington and Western Australia. Reaction has been predictably explosive.
• Blogger Scott Burgess takes on the BBC -- and the BBC replies;
• And Miss USA rocks.
Run for your life, Prime Minister! A fat hippie is attempting to arrest you:
A 61-year-old anti-war protester tried to make a citizen's arrest on Prime Minister John Howard today before being wrestled away by security staff.
Mr Howard was leaving a community meeting at the Tweed Heads Bowls Club today where a small group of anti-war protesters had gathered.
Primary school councillor Gareth Smith tried to approach the prime minister but was wrestled away by several of Mr Howard's security staff.
Mr Smith said he represented a Byron Bay group called Oz Peace.
He said he was trying to catch Mr Howard so he could make a citizen's arrest on him over war crimes in Iraq.
Maybe old Gareth should arrest himself for supporting an action that inspired the Bali bombing. He’s a root cause! He angered the Islamists! But people still admire Gareth’s taste in vintage stupidwear:
There was a huge cheer from the crowd when Gareth Smith, a veteran peace and social-justice activist, declared: “We have a fascist government and we have to bring it down!” Showing off his Che Guevara t-shirt, Smith argued that we have to fight to replace xenophobia with solidarity, quoting Che: “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.”
You’ll also need a beard. Almost every one of Gareth’s comrades have beards. It’s all part of the beardy peace-cult deal.
UPDATE. Reader Brendan has personal memories of Gareth’s teaching style.
Reader Polly Bolton once lived in the small coal-mining town of Craig, Colorado. US Marine Chance Phelps spent part of his short life in that town. Polly forwards this piece from the Craig Daily Press:
"We don't know the details surrounding his death," Mack said. "We don't even know exactly where he was at for sure."
Mack said she learned of her son's death when two Marines showed up at her door at 2 a.m. Saturday. Mack and her husband, Jeff Mack, formerly of Craig, live in Riverton, Wyo.
"I don't think anything can prepare you for two young men standing in the living room telling you your son has been killed," Mack said. "It's just surreal. They were crying."
Mack said she took comfort in the fact that her son died doing what he loved being a Marine. His decision to serve came after a political awakening in high school, she said.
"He was very politically aware," Mack said. "The night of the presidential election, he stayed up all night waiting for the results. He was pulling for Bush.
"After 9/11 it became a compelling force in his life," Mack said. "He felt like he had to do this for his country and his president."
Sydney Morning Herald pseudo-journalist Margo Kingston has formally severed any ties to accuracy. In her latest load of sub-tabloid propaganda, Kingston publishes a letter from US reader Les Edwards:
Didn't President Bush say in the beginning that this would be a long war that would not be resolved easily or quickly? It seems as though this has been forgotten, and a panicked media, intent on causing uproar and controversy, is reporting nothing but negative aspects of this war. Alas, we are used to that.
He said that about the 'war on terror'. On Iraq, it was supposed to be a cakewalk, hence the complete lack of planning for the peace.
Supposed to be a cakewalk, was it? Here’s Bush in February 2003:
The work ahead is demanding. It will be difficult to help freedom take hold in a country that has known three decades of dictatorship, secret police, internal divisions, and war.
And here’s Bush on the day the invasion began:
A campaign on the harsh terrain of a nation as large as California could be longer and more difficult than some predict. And helping Iraqis achieve a united, stable and free country will require our sustained commitment.
In May 2003, from the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln:
We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes.
And in November:
In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority and the Iraqi Governing Council are also working together to build a democracy -- and after three decades of tyranny, this work is not easy. The former dictator ruled by terror and treachery, and left deeply ingrained habits of fear and distrust. Remnants of his regime, joined by foreign terrorists, continue their battle against order and against civilization.
Where’s the cakewalk, Margo? For that matter, where is your memory, or your ethics? And where the hell are your editors?
Zeyad at Healing Iraq reports claims that, if true, are beyond obscene:
The body count in Fallujah till now is 518 Iraqis dead (160 of them women, and about 50 children) and 1250 badly injured. Doctors from Fallujah mentioned that a large number of the dead women and children were shot in the head and that they were saving the extracted bullets to prove that they were being targetted by Marines snipers in the city.
These claims -- that non-combatant women and children are being executed by US Marines -- warrant much greater attention prior to further comment. Meanwhile, in a frantic, terrible day:
• Around 40 hostages from 12 countries are reported kidnapped;.
• Russia’s largest contractor in Iraq is withdrawing its 370 staff;
• Four Italians have been taken hostage;
• And Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has warned the 200 or so Australians in Iraq that we won’t negotiate with any hostage takers:
"It's important to those Australians in Iraq that we send out this message loud and strong - that hostage takers will not be rewarded by the Australian Government or Australian people."
UPDATE. A ballistics-aware reader writes:
If Marine snipers are shooting Iraqis in the head it is highly unlikely that few, if any, bullets will be extracted because they will be passing clean through. If a sniper is using a Barrett 50 caliber there will be no head left to extract a bullet from.
This sniper stuff is bullshit unless the snipers are using .45s or 9mms.
Le Monde interviewed a group of regulars at Baghdad’s Café Shahbandar as coalition troops entered Iraq. One year on, Le Monde returns to check the mood:
A year after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the American victory, they still gather there every Friday to be in good company. It's there, at the end of Mutanabi Street, "the street of the book market," that Iraqi writers, artists and journalists discuss the events of the week, drinking tea and smoking from narghilehs.
"Yes, something has changed," murmurs Najid Hamid, a photographer who has documented life in Baghdad's oldest café for over a decade.
"When I look at all these faces in my photographs after I've got home, I realize that something has changed ..." He looks around the room, all the men sitting on benches, discussing, complaining, laughing.
"The difference is joy," says Nahid.
Read the whole piece (translated by Douglas at Last of the Famous International Playboys). It isn’t entirely positive, but seems to reflect an overall sense of hope -- much as you’d expect.
And more good news abroad: Holly Valance’s Kiss Kiss is 32 on Kabul’s Top 40! (Previous Afghanistan governments listed Holly at 11 among the Top 5,000 Shameless Infidel Women To Be Killed). Got crazy radio production skillz? Holly-friendly ARMAN FM is soon going national, and requires a bunch of talented radio people. Send resumes here.
(Via reader Garth G. and contributor J.F. Beck)
Nobody can accuse these guys of arrogant unilateralism:
Informed sources in London have revealed that a decision to activate "Shi'i resistance" in Iraq was made at a conference held in the British capital, London, in mid-March 2004. Representatives of major Islamic movements attended the conference, in addition to some dignitaries close to Shi'i leader Muqtada al-Sadr.
See how easy it is to get things moving when France isn't involved?
A reliable Shi'i source said that the conference included the prominent Islamic movements in Europe; representatives of the Islamic movement in Iraq with both its Shi'i and Sunni parts, especially a representative of the young Imam Muqtada al-Sadr; a representative of the international organization of Hezbollah; and representatives of other Islamic organizations from the Middle East region.
Hey, they’ve even got an exit strategy:
As a tenuous cease-fire held in the Sunni city of Fallujah, a radical Shiite cleric was on the retreat Monday, pulling his militiamen out of parts of the holy city of Najaf in hopes of averting a U.S. assault. Still, a U.S. commander said the American mission remained to "kill or capture" the cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr.
"I saw a howlarious e-mail the other day drawing on the comparisons [between Iraq and Vietnam]," writes Washington Post foreign correspondent Karl Vick during an online chat with readers. "Dare I post it?"
"Go ahead, post the howlarious e-mail!" reply his Washington commanders. "We trust you to make the right decision, Karl." Emboldened, Karl posts away:
Fact is, the White House says, there are a number of substantive differences between the war in Iraq, and the war in Vietnam. To prove its point, it has released a list of them:
Iraq is over here, and Vietnam is way, way over here, to the right.
Francis Ford Coppola hasn't made a movie about Iraq. He hasn't even started casting.
And so on. 'Cept it isn’t just some anonymous bit of online howlarity "being forwarded around the Internet", as Karl believes; it’s last Friday’s Toronto Star column by Linwood Barclay (who is billed, howlariously, as "the thinking man’s Dave Barry"). Being howlarious, Barclay’s column includes this howler:
The presidents who presided over the Vietnam War never had their picture taken with the troops while holding a fake turkey.
Does a 21-year-old member of the Army of Mohammed count as a “foreign leader”? Maybe not, but it’s the closest John Kerry is likely to get:
"God willing Bush will fall down by the hands of Fallujah," he says, combining military and political rhetoric. "If John Kerry wins the election and withdraws the Americans troops from Iraq, and maybe just leaves a few in bases, then we will not fight. But Bush we will always fight."
The concession on leaving “just a few troops”? That’s diplomacy, that is. And Kerry knows more diplomacy is needed:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Wednesday called the situation in Iraq "one of the greatest failures of diplomacy and failures of judgment that I have seen in all the time that I've been in public life."
"Where are the people with the flowers, throwing them in the streets, welcoming the American liberators the way Dick Cheney said they would be?" Kerry said in an interview with American Urban Radio Networks.
"Since I fought in Vietnam, I have not seen an arrogance in our foreign policy like this."
Kerry fought in Vietnam? Meanwhile, among other developments:
• Moqtada al-Sadr's top aide has been ... ummm ... the opposite of released;
• Al-Sadr claims he’s ready to die. Which is a helpful coincidence;
• And Christopher Hitchens says comparisions between Iraq and Vietnam ("I fought there"™ -- John Kerry) are a crock:
If the United States were the nation that its enemies think it is, it could quite well afford to Balkanize Iraq, let the various factions take a chunk each, and make a divide-and-rule bargain with the rump. The effort continues, though, to try and create something that is simultaneously federal and democratic. Short of that, if one absolutely has to fall short, the effort must continue to deny Iraq to demagogues and murderers and charlatans. I can't see how this compares to the attempt to partition and subjugate Vietnam, bomb its cities, drench its forests in Agent Orange, and hand over its southern region to a succession of brutal military proxies.
According to The Age’s Terry Lane, George W. Bush said this during a meeting last year with Abu Mazen:
"God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East."
Lazy Lane should’ve checked that quote, as the Washington Post did ten months ago:
Two calls to the White House for clarification went unreturned, but colleague Glenn Kessler did some digging. The Haaretz reporter, Arnon Regular, read what the paper said were minutes of the Palestinians' meeting to Kessler and another colleague, who is an Arabic speaker.
The Arabic-speaking colleague's translation, was this: "God inspired me to hit al Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him. Now I am determined to solve the Middle East problem if you help. Otherwise the elections will come and I will be wrapped up with them."
Even then, there's uncertainty. After all, this is Abu Mazen's account in Arabic of what Bush said in English, written down by a note-taker in Arabic, then back into English.
And now repeated by a gullible columnist in Melbourne.
Fourteen years after losing power, evil Margaret Thatcher is still destroying Britain somehow:
The legacy of Thatcherism has led to a rise in aggression and bullying in schools, a teachers' leader said yesterday.
Pat Lerew, president of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, said that, nearly 20 years after Margaret Thatcher declared that there was no such thing as society, parents who grew up in the 1980s had produced a generation of youngsters brought up to be selfish and to think the only thing that mattered was money.
Broadcaster Aminul Hoque is alarmed by the attitudes of some British Muslims:
As I walked the streets talking to hundreds of 15- to 30-year-old Muslims for a BBC radio documentary, it became all too apparent that there is a tiny - and I must reiterate, tiny - minority who are taking the religion of Islam to a sinister new level. And this small fringe element, which includes the radical al-Muhajiroun organisation, is making its presence felt more strongly than ever. They openly advocate terror, regard Osama Bin Laden as a "scholar of Islam" and their radical and militant views strike a chord with the impressionable, angry and frustrated youth of East London and other urban centres.
Hoque, himself a Muslim, discovered that members of his own family are among the extreme:
Most worryingly, my research opened up my eyes to the fact that people whom I know very well - friends, family, colleagues - possess opinions that are enough to send shivers down the spines of most people. These are ordinary people who have well-paid jobs, are educated and seem very pleasant in conversation.
During a secret al-Muhajiroun conference in Euston that attracted more than 600 men and women, I was greeted with a friendly tap on my shoulder by a close cousin of mine. To see him at this conference, organised by a group who openly support terrorist acts outside of the United Kingdom, was shocking to say the least. He is family-orientated, has a very good job and travels around the world.
But ... but ... how can this be? Surely terrorism is only caused by poverty?
Mark Latham keeps getting it wrong, and serious adults are telling him so:
Opposition Leader Mark Latham was unmoved after the United States government took the unusual step of formally rejecting his claims about the state of the US-Australia alliance.
The US State Department said Mr Latham's promise to restore Australia to an equal partner in the alliance was neither well informed nor well based.
Mr Latham last week said that under a Labor government, Australia would be an equal partner in the alliance, not a deputy sheriff.
But a US State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, said that equality was the bedrock of the alliance.
"The alliance between Australia and the United States is a partnership of equals in principle and in reality," Mr Cooper told AAP by telephone from Washington.
"Characterisations to the contrary are neither well informed nor well based."
Cooper is correct. Latham’s we ain’t nobody’s deputy! stance is based on myth. Here’s a summary of Latham’s speech:
Australia should be an equal partner, not a deputy sheriff, to the United States and should concentrate on protecting itself, not following the US into conflict, he said.
"We have never seen our future as someone else's deputy," Mr Latham told the Lowy Institute in Sydney in a speech outlining Labor's foreign policy.
Who ever said it was? Well, apart from the likes of CNN:
Asked whether he saw Australia as Washington's "deputy sheriff" in Southeast Asia -- a description once used by Howard -- Bush replied: "No. We don't see it as a deputy sheriff. We see it as a sheriff."
Bush called the two countries "equal partners, friends and allies. There's nothing deputy about this relationship."
CNN is wrong. Howard never used that description. The “deputy sheriff” line being thrown around by Latham evolved from an interview with The Bulletin’s Fred Brenchley in 1999, as Gerard Henderson explained last year:
It is surprising that, nearly four years after the event, some diplomats and foreign commentators still believe that Howard announced, in September 1999, that Australia would be "deputy sheriff" to the United States in the Asian region. It is true Brenchley interpreted the Prime Minister's view as necessitating that Australia would be a deputy to the US. It's just that Howard never used this term. Nor did he utter the word "sheriff" - this was dropped into the story by a subeditor in search of a memorable subheading.
Latham’s foreign policy appears to be driven by something the Prime Minister didn’t say. Well done, Mark. And in other unchecked-fact news, Phillip Adams writes about a former Prime Minister:
Keating, as far as I know, has never attended a football match in his life.
Someone, please, teach Phil how to use the Internet. Or even to examine News Ltd photo archives, which contain numerous images of Keating at AFL games. Has Adams forgotten Keating’s farcical Collingwood membership?
Mark Morford -- one of this site’s favourite lunatics -- has been suspended after a San Francisco Chronicle exec finally noticed the crazed jabbering Morford was spilling all over the Chron’s website:
SFGate.com, the Web site of The San Francisco Chronicle, suspended three staffers for a column that the site's boss said was "grotesquely outside the standards that we have."
Robert Cauthorn, vice president of digital media for The Chronicle, suspended writer Mark Morford, news editor Vlae Kershner and features editor Amy Moon for a week for their role in the incident.
(Via Amos in comments.)
UPDATE. Gotta check those dates; this piece is years old. My mistake. Morford is, however, currently absent from the Chron’s website.
Remember: rape is no laughing matter. Unless you’re raping a clown.
And especially if you’re raping a clown for peace.
Those Japanese hostages have been, or are about to be, released:
Japan obtained information its three citizens abducted by armed militants in Iraq last week are safe and will be released today, said Shinzo Abe, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The three captives are Noriaki Imai, 18, Soichiro Koriyama, 32, and Nahoko Takato, 34, according to the government, which learned Thursday they had been kidnapped by an insurgent group calling itself the Mujahedeen Brigades.
The kidnappers threatened to kill the three unless Japan withdrew its troops from Iraq by 9 p.m. Tokyo time Sunday, Al- Jazeera satellite television reported. On Friday, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Japan wouldn't withdraw its troops in the face of terrorist threats.
UPDATE. The Japanese hostages are most likely still hostages:
Confusion surrounded efforts to free three Japanese hostages under threat of imminent execution in Iraq Monday as the ranks of captive foreigners grew with the abduction of seven Chinese.
As the reported deadline deadline of 5:00 pm (1300 GMT) for the first of the captives to be burned alive, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi admitted Tokyo had no clear information about the hostages.
An important piece of information is missing from this story about brave, uncompromising, I-cannot-tell-a-lie former defence advisor Jane Errey:
A senior Defence adviser has been sacked after refusing to write media briefings that supported claims that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Engineer and analyst Jane Errey was an adviser to former Chief Defence Scientist Dr Ian Chessell and wrote briefings for Defence Minister Robert Hill. Her job at Defence gave her access to secret intelligence on Iraq's weaponry from the Defence Intelligence Organisation and the Office of National Assessments.
Ms Errey claims that on the day before the Iraq war started, she was asked to write what she believed was "sexed-up" propaganda about Iraq's capabilities.
The next day - March 20 last year - she went on holiday rather than write what she claimed would have been a misleading briefing.
But she was sacked last Monday, after more than nine years at Defence, on "performance grounds".
In the piece, Errey is described as “a public servant”, “a highly regarded official within the Defence Science and Technology Organisation”, a “disillusioned official”, and “an electrical engineer”. Nowhere is it mentioned that Errey is a senior member of the Australian Democrats who stood for election as recently as three years ago.
Little surprise, then, that Errey took this position:
"Anything that I was doing with respect to the war was making me uncomfortable," Ms Errey said. "Then to have to brief the minister and fundamentally give him - even though I didn't write it - lines of propaganda that I didn't believe with respect to the war was beyond what I was prepared to do. I wouldn't lie or mislead the public."
(Via reader Alfred B. and the Gnu Hunter, whose doubts over Errey’s identity should be put to rest by this profile, which describes Democrat candidate Errey as an engineer and electrician. And here are pics of the candidate and the uncompromising former defence advisor.)
UPDATE. Geoff Honnor has more.
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Alan Ramsey on December 6:
Latham will not easily escape his too-obvious eagerness to make public obeisance to Washington ... I mean, what a grovel? What a truly snivelling statement three days into the "new dawn" of Labor's "new beginning"? And all because Mark Latham called George Bush a dangerous incompetent and now wants us to forget he ever said it.
And Alan Ramsey today:
Latham has retreated from nothing. Not withdrawal from Iraq. Not rejection of the madness of George Bush. Not a less fawning attitude to Washington. Not a more independent stance under ANZUS. Latham spoke like an Australian leader rather than an American president's duplicitous toady. His critics will not forgive his refusal to bend.
Unlike Ramsey, who’ll forgive and forget as he sees fit.
The dizzy female host on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program just announced: “The situation in Iraq is getting worse -- so is it time to send in the UN?”
Iraqi insurgents kidnapped three Japanese and two Arabs from Jerusalem, and in a video released Thursday captors armed with automatic rifles threatened to burn the Japanese alive if Tokyo does not withdraw its troops from Iraq within three days.
UN booster Keith Suter, interviewed on Sunrise, seemed to think it likely all these hostages will be released unharmed. Let's hope so. Meanwhile, somewhere on the internet a new link has been posted to last month’s Cawley children appeal, leading to a bunch of new contributions. As earlier, these will be forwarded to Chief Wiggles. Much thanks again to everybody who donated.
UPDATE. Jonah Goldberg:
Lots of folks are raising the possibility that the Japanese hostages are faking it. One of them is an anti-war activist, another is an NGO type and the third is a reporter. I really hope that this is a hoax because, duh, I don't want to see innocent folks get burned alive. It would also highlight what tools Al Jazeera are of terrorists and what tools some anti-war activists are in general. If this is a hoax these guys should obviously go to jail for a very long time. But I tend to doubt it is a fabrication. The joke will certainly be on these guys at the end of three days if it is, because there will be a lot of terrorist types who will realize they have a lot to lose if they don't go through with it, which is all the more reason to salute the resolve of the Japanese government.
I’m in southern NSW, where out-of-towners are reminded that they’ve left Sydney by television commercials like this:
It’s liver fluke treatment time again!
Actually, Albury isn’t all that rural, although the liver fluke commercial seemed genuine (it had cows). May I recommend the Albury Town House Motel to all interstate travellers? I stay here often. If you’re nice to the hosts, they’ll allow you free access to their excellent collection of British comedy tapes. Right now I’m watching Have I Got News For You -- never shown in Australia, and lamely replicated by Good News Week. Last time I was here: an entire series of The Office. This place is terrific. Plus, hosts Mike and Jackie are Welsh, so if you want to talk rugby union ...
A Ford Escape brought me here. The Escape is part of Ford’s penitentiary-themed SUV range, along with the Ford Cellmate, the Ford Bilal, the Ford Awkward Shower Incident, the ultra-compact Ford Solitary Confinement and the maxi-sized Ford Conjugal Visit. Alas, the Escape isn’t an altogether fascinating vehicle. Rowan Atkison, the comedian and car nut, wrote in a recent magazine column (not avaliable online) about an car show he’d attended at Earls Court:
This was a very unusual kind of motor show from which, basically, all boring cars had been excluded. The Daihatsu Charade, the Ford Mondeo and the Renault Megane were all conspicuous by their absence. As were the Daewoo Leganza, the Hyundai Sonata and the Perodua Kelisa. (Aren’t these names fantastic? It seems that the less strong your brand name, the more you have to invest your model name with poetry and significance. BMW seems to need nothing more poetic than ‘525i’).
Atkinson would’ve also missed the Escape, which suffers also for its age (I think the platform is getting on for five years or so; must check. May be more.) Look, it’s a perfectly competent, reliable, roomy device, but way bland. And with annoying Added Irritation Extras, like:
• Drum rear brakes. In 2004. On a car costing above $30,000.
• Hard seats, with leather surfaces that gradually, imperceptibly, send you sliding towards the pedals. Drive a couple of hours and you’re staring at the bottom of the dash.
• Column shift auto, largely missing from Australian-market cars for a couple of decades. Nothing against column shifts, but when combined with modern airbag-dominated steering wheels, your dashboard-displayed gear selection is often obscured. The Escape’s light shifter becomes a liability during three-point turns; you can’t easily judge, without seeing the display, how many clicks you’ve made between, say, ‘R’ and ‘D’.
• It isn’t a four-wheel-drive. It’s a front-driver with four-wheel-drive sometimes, when things get slippy, or when you lock the system. So enjoy all that torque steer. Or, in layman’s terms, steering that steers you.
I’m only a few hundred kilometres into a 2,000km test. Let’s see if things improve.
Breslin did not mention in Wednesday's column that he was quoting a conversation from 1992. Asked if that should have been made clear, Payne said, "I think our readers should be let in on the time frame, sure."
Tonight: ABC’s Mondo Thingo explains bloggers. Or interviews several of them, anyway, including me. As I said during taping: "Footage of people using computers -- it'll be a ratings bonanza!"
The world record seemed almost unbeatable, but no more:
Prime Minister-elect José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who is due to take office on April 16, has stuck by his campaign promise to pull Spain's 1,300 troops out of Iraq at the end of June unless the United Nations has taken control of the occupation by then. This pledge was made before 10 coordinated bombs ripped apart four commuter trains and killed 191 people on March 11.
But now, many in Spain say they do not think about a UN mandate when they talk about the need to withdraw troops. They say they think about avoiding more terrorist attacks, leaving the new government's motive for a possible pullout uncomfortably out of line with views on the street. It also makes it more vulnerable to criticism from abroad, notably from some Americans, that Spaniards are appeasing terrorists by demanding a troop withdrawal.
In an opinion poll conducted last week for the Spanish radio broadcaster Ser, 38 percent of respondents wanted Spanish troops to stay in Iraq if a UN resolution was passed. Forty-two percent said they wanted troops to come back even if the UN took control of the country.
"This is all the fault of the United States; they got us into this," said Santiago Ruíz, a 55-year-old electrician who lives in suburban Leganés, a block from where the four suspects killed themselves and a police officer on Saturday. "The way to combat terrorism isn't the way Bush has done. Spain is paying the consequences of its solidarity with the United States."
In the city center, Alejandro Rodríguez, 36, agreed: "We should withdraw from Iraq right now. Why wait until June? Do we want to wait for more attacks?" Pointing to the bloody clashes in Iraq between Spanish troops and local Shiites in recent days, Rodríguez said Spanish soldiers were creating enemies.
As Allah Himself says, "Spain's anger at Aznar for initially blaming the Madrid bombing on ETA sure does have a long shelf life, doesn't it? Why, it almost sounds like . . . naaah."
(this post title is shamelessly inspired by one of Allah's commenters)
UPDATE. And, via Robert Spencer's Jihad Watch, one clear and direct example why the Spanish appeasement -even assuming, just for the sake of the argument, that it may work- immediately transfers the danger to others. Good way to make friends, Zapatero!
[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]
He’s pitting a poorly led and poorly armed militia against a well led, superbly trained, and heavily armed military. The results are as forgone a conclusion as were what would happen when we invaded in March of last year. In addition to being forced to act too early, he is being forced to expose his militia to what will hopefully be devastating fire where the militia, attacking our compounds, will not be able to hide among the Iraqi civilians. Lastly, he is clearly acting against the overall wishes of a majority of the Iraqi people who are trying to get on with their lives, and who may not want the US Army around any more, but are even less likely to want Sadr’s militia around controlling their lives.
To John Pilger, sovereignty is all. Human rights? Evil dictators? Mass murder? All of these, writes Robert Horvath, are mere trifles for Pilger compared to the vital issue of sovereignty -- wonderful, wonderful, sovereignty!
Pilger is right that the leaders of the "coalition of the willing" are guilty of undermining a venerable pillar of the international order. By their disregard for the prerogatives of a genocidal regime, by their support for the proponents of democratic change, they are implying that democratic governance and respect for human rights should be the basic criteria for membership of the international community.
Perhaps the worst offender is British Prime Minister Tony Blair ... Unlike Pilger, Blair understands that state sovereignty, "the principle that has guided more than half a century of international law", has also shielded the perpetrators of more than half a century of state-sponsored mass murder.
John Pilger, great liberator of the oppressed, is on the side of oppressive states. Because of SOVEREIGNTY!, the magical cure-all status that absolves all sins.
He brought his editors and selected commentators from around the world to Cancun recently and ensured they knew the line. Bush's national security adviser Condi Rice obeyed his masters voice and addressed the Murdoch crew ...
Condi is a guy?
(Via Dr Scrooge in comments)
No evidence of imminent attacks! Pre-emptive responses anyway! It’s a whole new France:
The French had kept a group of Moroccan-born militants under surveillance for some time, but had no specific cause to arrest them when the police struck in dawn raids on Monday, seizing 13 men with suspected links to the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group.
A senior French official admitted as much on Tuesday, saying "There was no evidence they were preparing an imminent attack in France." The crucial factor was that they had traveled to Afghanistan, where they learned to use weapons and make explosives.
The new French counterterrorism motto, he said, is "Every time we discover a cell, we eliminate it as a pre-emptive measure."
Those unsophisticated unilateralist cowgauls! And in another France rocks development:
Today Jose Bove, the Farmers' Confederation firebrand, risks slipping away into history. "McDo" cash registers at 1,030 locations, meanwhile, ring up a million sales a day to French customers.
McDonald's France reported 2003 revenue approaching $3 billion and is the most profitable subsidiary in Europe. It is opening 40 more restaurants in 2004, 10 percent of the chain's new outlets worldwide.
The Wogblogger isn’t impressed by Mark Latham’s just-announced foreign policy.
James Lileks delivers the last word on the Daily Kos derailment:
Americans strung up and burned. Big-time blogger says “screw them.” Blogger suffers blowback, just as a mainstream columnist would suffer if he wrote that it was time to nuke Mecca or pave Fallujah. And there are consequences? Welcome to the real world.
It’s true! The Howard-supporting immigration hardliner will be booted out of Australia this month. Exclusives don’t get much more exclusiver than this!
Mentioned in this week’s Continuing Crisis column for The Bulletin are Fat Louie, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Yasser Arafat, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, Luke Schenscher, David Marr, Peter Costello, Sheikh Taj el-Din al Hilaly, Kerry Nettle, and Mark Latham.
There’s a big ol' Melbourne blogbash planned for this weekend. Not sure of the venue yet, but most likely it’ll be one that supplies alcohol; updates on this soon. I’ll be there, but so will people who you’ll actually enjoy talking to, so turn up and buy them drinks. Much thanks to the Ford Motor Company for providing transport -- review to follow.
John Kerry, already celebrated for his heroic stand on military funding in Iraq and Afghanistan -- "I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it" -- now stakes out an unequivocal position on steel tariffs:
Democratic presidential front-runner John Kerry said Monday the White House should not have scrapped steep tariffs on foreign-made steel last year -- but would not put them back in place if he is elected.
Doesn’t this guy have any advisors? Aren’t people screaming at him, day and night, "Stop being such a silk-spined, no-balled, both-ways slab of prime Boston wimp"? Maybe the habits of a lifetime are impossible to break; read P.J. O’Rourke’s recollection of Iron John’s unwavering authority 18 years ago in the Phillippines.
Robert Bosler’s insane Mark Latham love howl was promoted yesterday off the opening page of the Sydney Morning Herald’s website. Certain SMH staffers now wish to distance themselves from this, as Margo Kingston reports:
I'd like to exempt our news editor Richard Woolveridge of responsibility for pointing to Robert off the front. This decision was made by a female producer in his absence. I guess our female creative impulses took over. I love Robert's work, not least because it eschews the standard way of talking politics.
Actually, it eschewed the standard way of talking, not least among those whose usual means of communication doesn’t involve constant hand-genital contact. Bosler’s Latham dreamscape -- how it must have made the Labor leader cringe! -- has possibly cost the ALP some support. More Bosler, please!
The GOP celebrates diversity:
His family made a fortune on men's work clothing. But it's Sam Walls' apparent fondness for women's apparel that is dividing the Johnson County Republican Party.
Walls, 64, is in the April 13 GOP primary runoff against Burleson real estate broker Rob Orr for the House District 58 seat. As a leading businessman, former Republican Party chairman and benefactor of Harris Methodist Walls Regional Hospital, Walls seemed the odds-on favorite to win.
But then pictures of Walls in women's clothing -- several of which were provided to the Star-Telegram -- began circulating late last week around Burleson and Cleburne, rival towns on opposite ends of the district.
Here’s Sam in men’s clothing. Could a picture of him in a dress be any more damaging?
Paul McGeough, the Sydney Morning Herald's superstar war correspondent, works very hard to portray the removal of Saddam Hussein as a horrible mistake. His efforts are truly impressive. More than a million Iraqis have returned to the country since the war; according to the Immigration Department, 34 Iraqis have voluntarily returned from Australia so far. McGeough, in Iraq, chose to visit the Kadems.
The Kadems are a very special family. The parents, Abdul and Bam, are of Iraqi ancestry but he was born in Kuwait and she moved there in infancy. After coming to Australia from Iran in 1999, the family spent four years in and out of detention. Thanks to fluent English and a flair for threats, violence and publicity, they made more headlines than any other asylum seekers save the Pakistani-pretending-to-be-Afghan Bakhtiaris.
During their eventful time in Australia:
• Abdul served seven months in jail for aiding Indonesian people-smugglers. He confessed to being a middleman: meeting would-be boat people at the airport in Jakarta, organizing their accommodation, collecting their "fares" and passing them to organizers.
• Mrs Kadem complained of psychological stress and she and her children were moved out of detention. She later asked to be returned to detention
• Fellow detainees said Kadem and his eldest sons were involved in a plan to burn down parts of the Curtin detention centre
• Abdul punched out a window and threatened to crash the plane if officials tried to fly him to Port Hedland detention centre
• He later threatened to kill himself and to sue Philip Ruddock for "human rights abuses"
• Mrs Kadem punched out a window and trashed a room
• Abdul and his elder sons staged rooftop protests at Port Hedland; during that time immigration officials said the family took part in routine activities at the centre, including a shopping excursion
• Sons Mohammed and Ali claimed to have sewn their lips together and gone on hunger strike. Immigration officials say they did neither
• Ali reportedly slashed his throat. His brother Abdullah cut his wrists
• Both had Australian girlfriends; Ali married his.
Refugee activists filmed the family over a three-year period for an upcoming documentary. Last year the Kadems volunteered to leave Australia. They received a $14,000 resettlement grant. They considered going to Iran and Syria but were refused visas. They then chose to go to Iraq.
In the first paragraph McGeough sets out his theme:
Abdul Kadem tells the story of his years in detention in Australia with such vehemence that, unwittingly, he does a better job as an ambassador for the harsh reality of John Howard's treatment of asylum seekers than might be done by any ANU-trained diplomat.
But McGeough has trouble making this story say what he wants it to. Abdul, an Iranian-trained Shi'ite preacher, reliably says detention in Australia was "hell." Life in Iraq is also "hell." The country is too dangerous to live in: "We could die in a bombing or a shootout at any time." Yet in this hellish, alien land, "a strange place with strange people," he claims to have great influence:
"You want to see a protest? I'll show you - closer to the coming Australian election we'll have a thousand people outside the embassy. I'll be lobbying [Shiite spiritual leader] Ali Al Sistani and [leading politician] Ibrahim al-Jaabari for the new Iraqi government to have no dealing with Australia. You'll see what happens ..."
Then along comes his son Ali and undercuts the whole effect. He "misses Australia." He wants to go back there with his Australian wife, who has moved to Iraq at risk of her life. He recalls "carefree days of sport and fruit-picking around Bunbury," WA. Now he "seems remarkably well adjusted." He works in a mobile phone shop, "at the cutting edge of the new Iraqi economy." Even more distressing, he "is enthusiastic about Baghdad."
Paul is getting awfully Fisky! Maybe next time he will introduce us to some of Abdul's million or so fellow returnees, and get them to explain themselves. Clearly, they must all be insane.
(By guest contributor Elizabeth F.)
Urgent threat? What urgent threat?
The final policy paper on national security that President Clinton submitted to Congress -- 45,000 words long -- makes no mention of al Qaeda and refers to Osama bin Laden by name just four times.
The scarce references to bin Laden and his terror network undercut claims by former White House terrorism analyst Richard A. Clarke that the Clinton administration considered al Qaeda an "urgent" threat, while President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, "ignored" it.
The Clinton document, titled "A National Security Strategy for a Global Age," is dated December 2000 and is the final official assessment of national security policy and strategy by the Clinton team. The document is publicly available, though no U.S. media outlets have examined it in the context of Mr. Clarke's testimony and new book.
A decade ago, I got a call from the Australian Conservation Foundation. The organisation’s leader wanted to meet me for an off-the-record chat. So we met, and chatted, and argued, and also agreed on more than a few subjects; Tricia Caswell was no airhead, especially on union politics and sociopathic anti-industry greens. Therefore I am less than stunned by this:
Former Australian Conservation Foundation boss Tricia Caswell will become the new face of Victoria's logging industry, a surprise move that has shocked green groups.
The appointment, to be announced today, shocked green groups mostly because Ms Caswell vehemently opposed woodchipping and the logging of old-growth forests during her time at ACF from 1992 to 1995. Both practices still happen in Victoria.
Since leaving ACF, Ms Caswell has made a name working with the companies she once fought bitterly. She has worked with BHP Billiton, WMC, and the Minerals Council of Australia, developers Lend Lease and the plastics and chemicals industry.
This sounds like it’s aimed at bloggers:
The U.S. military will launch its own news service in Iraq and Afghanistan to send military video, text and photos directly to the Internet or news outlets.
The $6.3 million project, expected to begin operating this month, is one of the largest military public affairs projects in recent memory, and is intended to allow small media outlets in the United States and elsewhere to bypass what the Pentagon views as an increasingly combative press corps.
Clever move; big media outlets are increasingly distrusted. Wonder if the Pentagon's news feed will have a blogroll?
Is his team in trouble? Not at all, according to McLaren’s official Engine Minister.
The New York Times is a joke:
In August 2001, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, determined to halt what had become a flood of boat people trying to reach his country's shores, turned away a leaking refugee boat called the Tampa.
Attention, Daniel Okrent! The Tampa is an enormous Norwegian freighter, not a “leaking refugee boat.” At the direction of Australian authorities, it rescued refugees in August 2001. And, as Dissect Left points out, the "prominent Sydney lawyer" quoted by the NYT is an aggressive opponent of the government and an advocate for illegal immigrants. Then there’s this:
Nauru, an area of 8 square miles and 12,000 people, saw its population explode with refugees as a consequence of Australia's policy.
Not so. This was a consequence of Nauru’s policy, under which the island accepts Australian payment to house refugees. Stupid Australia-hating New York Times.
The New York Times, which won a record seven Pulitzer Prizes in 2002, primarily for its coverage of the 2001 terror attacks, earned one prize this year, for public service, in an unusual cross-media collaboration with the PBS program "Frontline" and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. on lax enforcement of work safety rules at McWane Inc., a cast-iron pipe foundry.
UPDATE II. Hit the archives and scroll on down for any items you may have missed.
Did I write that the keywords were "Four weeks. Iraq and Afghanistan"?
Well, if it wasn't so tragic, it would almost start being fun to follow:
As the hunt for more suspects continued, Spanish police increased security at Madrid's train and bus stations after an Islamist group claiming responsibility for the March 11 rail attacks threatened to turn Spain into "an inferno".
The Spanish daily newspaper ABC said that, just hours before the terrorists killed themselves in Leganes on Saturday, it had received a fax signed by "Abu Dujana al-Afgani, Ansar Group, al-Qaida in Europe", warning of more strikes unless Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan within 24 hours.
"If these demands are not met, we will declare war on you and ... convert your country into an inferno, and your blood will flow like rivers," the letter - which, according to ABC's report, was hand-written in Arabic - said.
So now it's 24 hours, which actually have ended on Monday a zero hours. And what about the bomb found on the railway track last Saturday?
It also asserted that the partly assembled bomb found on Friday on a high-speed train line was a warning intended to demonstrate the group's strength.
"We placed bombs on the high-speed line near Toledo and we could have made the trains that passed there Thursday or Friday blow up," said the letter, translated and printed in ABC today, "but we didn't because our objective is only to warn you and show that we have the force and capability — with permission of Allah the Highest — to attack whenever we want and however we want."
How to respond to this? Well, incoming PM Zapatero -- never the first one to go public with quick and clear decisions -- still seems to be in a 'deer caught in the headlights' moment. He's still in internal committees and strategy meetings preparing his takeover in mid April. However, some of his constituents seem to be getting the message: as I'm writing this (no online report yet) I'm watching on TV a demonstration in Leganés, the suburb where the five terrorists blew themselves up and killed a SWAT officer when they saw themselves cornered. What do you think is the main slogan of an event backed by the local council of a town where Islamo-fascists had just stricken?
"No to terrorism. No to war-based policies. Yes to an immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq".
UPDATE. Haven't found much coverage of the demonstration in the English-speaking press; according to the Washington Post (you have to scroll down all the way to the bottom):
Meanwhile, thousands of people marched through a Leganes neighborhood Monday night in an antiwar demonstration. The marchers carried several large banners that read: "Damn the war, and the scoundrels that support it." Many chanted, "Get the troops out of Iraq now!" and "No blood for oil!"
Other lovely chants, Libertad Digital reports (link in Spanish), were "Aznar, you're guilty, you're responsible", "This happens because we have a fascist government" (yes, they do rhyme in Spanish), and my personal favorite for its unique moral obtuseness: "The working class is paying the price of the capitalist's war".
But don't be mistaken; that wasn't an alternative-lifestyle, anti-globalization rally organized by some fringe group; among the atendees (25,000, according to most news reports) were the bishop of the Getafe diocese (a nearby suburb); the chief strategist of Zapatero's party (kinda like Terry McAuliffe of Spain's Socialist Party); the mayor of Leganés, and Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, the incoming deputy prime minister in Zapatero's government; that is, the next cabinet's number two.
In related news, Madrid daily ABC reports today that Rummy may have had the chance to use some of his techniques with Jose Bono, future defense minister of Spain in an unofficial meeting at the Pentagon over the weekend.
I'd bet for Spider Hand.
[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]
The opening lines of Sydney Morning Herald music writer Bernard Zuel’s piece on Steve Earle:
Fear is a relative thing. For some people the Nashville highway patrol holds more terrors than the full weight of a war-driven government ready to label dissenters as traitors.
Care to list all those “traitors” and the US government representatives who've been so ready to label them, Bernard? From memory, I think there’s been only one such case. Zuel is obviously a favorite of the SMH’s ReaderLink collective.
Veteran Australian showbiz correspondent John-Michael Howson has some advice for the Hollywood Left:
After 16 years working in Los Angeles, I would suggest that the Democrats tell Hollywood stars, celebrities, writers and others in the fame game who profess to "care" to cool it during the presidential election campaign. From my experience these superficial, self-absorbed, self-interested, egomaniacal nitwits who threw their weight and money behind Bill Clinton and now are in a lather of enthusiasm for John Kerry, raise the level of hypocrisy to the stratosphere.
While supposedly supporting Democratic Party ideals, many treat underlings no better than serfs, they wangle obscenely huge payments for their work that so deplete budgets that supporting actors find their rates cut, and they have an unofficial "black list" that works against anyone in the industry who dares voice an alternative opinion. So much for them writing and complaining about "attacks on freedom of expression".
And while they may preach to the choir, millions of Americans are aware of libertine Hollywood's role in the lowering of standards, the dumbing down of entertainment and the shameless worship of the almighty dollar over values and responsibility.
The Jeff Seemann for Congress campaign recently learned of the controversy brewing regarding www.dailykos.com.
We were saddened to hear that three advertisers pulled their ads on the site because of the remarks posted on the blog. The comments may be controversial, but they are just as relevant. The ability to allow comments like those read on Daily Kos is a testament to the virtues this country was founded on, especially the right to free speech.
Our campaign has decided that because of the recent events we will step in and advertise on www.dailykos.com.
Seemann’s love of free speech doesn’t extend to actually saying anything about Kos’s comments, however:
We understand that the decision to launch this advertising campaign will attract attention, both positive and negative. We will make no statement regarding the actual content of Kos' controversial statement, but we will always stand up for his right to dissent. Furthermore, we are campaigning to return this country to a Democratic majority in Congress and we will not allow our message to be written or altered by our opposition.
Brave, brave Democrat. Let’s see Seemann prove his free-speech credentials by advertising here.
UPDATE. As usual, LGF has more.
”It's thrilling to see the lifeforce of the Australian system flushed again and pumping,” writes Webdiary insight machine Robert Bosler. In the manner of John Edward, Bosler is able to discover the truth about people he’s most likely never met:
Why is Latham alarming? We are not used to him. His style is world's apart from his opponent. We need to get used to him and learn more about him, as he is on his way towards running the country. It's more than a matter of style. The difference between the two men [Mark Latham and John Howard] is a creative difference. One could be no more different from the other.
Creativity is not the exclusive domain of artists and writers. That we are about to talk about creativity demonstrates so wonderfully how our nation is starting to breathe again. It's exhilarating to be talking about it again, because everything we do is a creative act. Everything. Write a shopping list, you are creative, right there.
Everything you do, every time you speak a word, or move your hand you are being creative.
I’ll take Bosler’s word on the “moving your hand” part. He sounds like an expert.
Creativity is our fundamental state of living. How highly you create, or what you create, are matters of your personal choice. These are also matters of self worth, of freedom and faith, and it is magnetisingly important that as a nation we begin to speak of it again.
The ban on speaking about creativity has been lifted? Why wasn’t I told? Bosler blows his next few hundred words on “male and female aspects of creativity” and how “the two forces are combined intrinsically and immaculately in all we do” before launching into his analysis of Mark Latham:
The man is highly creative. He is, beyond his full ability yet to control it, a man given to the creative spirit. That he cannot fully control it is not to be critical of him because the control of the creative act requires ultimately mastery, and the journey of total mastery, if anyone's finally to obtain it, is one demanding decades.
Mark Latham’s favourite singer is Meat Loaf.
The creative spirit drives him. Because the creative spirit is driving him, empowers him, guides him, loves him - yes - for his commitment to it, this creative spirit holds him. He is so given to it he appears born unto it, and once on the journey he cannot step away.
We have here a man who feels things first, as an intuitive knowingness. This is the same intuitive knowingness once spoken of as being a woman's knowingness or intuition, before we better understood the forces at play in each of us. It is a sensing; a sense. To the woman reading this, may this be at least another small step in our shared understanding. For the man reading this, just to be sure, know that when the footballer is about to cut through and score it is this sense he first feels.
That sense is an energy. It brings written into it the nuts and bolts of what is required to make it happen, but the nuts and bolts flow much later. First, comes the sense. Being highly creative, Latham knows only the sense, the feeling, the energy, the absolute empowerment of it, before anything else.
In humanity, this is the birthing ground of new ideas. In pure form, it is preciously rare in a political leader, and it serves us well to set aside our immediate responses, valid as they are, and look more into what this creative spirit is all about.
Apparently it’s something about Meat Loaf.
Given to it, Latham lives for it. To the highly creative person, the important thing above all else is to allow that sense to live, and live through them. In his capacity as a leader, Latham by his own choice, wishes to have others grow and benefit as a result of what comes to be. That is the very nature of creativity. That sense, that knowingness, that others (Australians) can grow and benefit because of what he senses is his defining characteristic.
His essential Meat Loafness?
This is the true leader. This is what eventually makes greatness. That Latham has even just begun upon this journey is electrifyingly interesting.
Then again ... Meat Loaf. Incredibly, it gets worse:
The punters will come, but there must be a reason for them coming, and they must feel it. It must be about the collective effect of the creative act. It must be about how everyone plays their part. These are high powers Latham represents, but it is the meekest in the community who must guide him and teach hims to ensure his powerful vision comes to be.
And what is that vision, exactly? Those of us who wish to “teach hims” need to know. The Howard years have destroyed us, and we are no longer able to think:
Without this nourishment, for eight years now, we are as a nation drying up. There is a quiet cry in our nation now which has been there for some time. This dryness or spiritual sparseness, this sense of communal vacancy, is reflected in the way human issues of national community growth are shelved or swept away, and there is a silent edict that no one dare introduce something new or progressive. Our Aboriginal community, as one instance, have long since gone quiet in total disillusionment and neglect.
On the contrary; the Aboriginal community has occasionally been very loud in its support of John Howard. Wider media neglected to report this, however. Meanwhile, Bosler’s support has sent Latham’s poll ratings sky high.
UPDATE. Phillip Adams foresees neo-Tory non-creativity under Lathamite rule:
Should the PM's last-ditch attempt at survival fail, he'll be replaced by a Latham Labor government that promises to be at least as conservative as that of Tony Blair.
Let’s hope so. UPDATE II:
The surge in Mark Latham's personal popularity has taken its first hit, reversing sharply after the Labor leader's decision to "cut and run" on Iraq.
Gareth Evans, foreign minister in the Hawke and Keating Labor governments, has challenged Mark Latham's call to withdraw Australian troops from Iraq by Christmas, claiming the international community has a responsibility to "see things through"
Reader Simon R. has been in touch with the Sydney Morning Herald over this Peter Fray article:
Osama bin Laden ordered the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks to organise a massive strike on Heathrow Airport to punish Tony Blair for his support of the US, it has been revealed.
You’ll remember that Fray was working off a piece in the Sunday Times, but added that line about “Blair’s support of the US” himself. Take a look at the explanation sent to Simon from the SMH’s ReaderLink desk:
Recently you contacted ReaderLink. Your interest in the newspaper is appreciated.
Your comments have been noted by the Foreign Editor, who has investigated the matter. The Sunday Times story says bin Laden wanted the Heathrow attack because Blair was considered al-Qaeda's principle enemy. There is only one reason Prime Minister Blair/the UK is so high on the hit list, and that is their support for the US.
Your ongoing feedback and opinions will help us publish a better newspaper.
Nerida, Penny, Josh & Miranda
I guess we can now take this to be the SMH’s official “root causes” position. Thank you, Nerida, Penny, Josh & Miranda.
Something has gone terribly wrong, writes the Globe and Mail’s Simon Houpt:
On Thursday evening, the basement of Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church rang with passionate denunciations of institutional racism. Community leaders called for a boycott, spoke of arrogance toward blacks, and threatened a class-action lawsuit. Their unlikely targets? Institutions that the causal observer might think would be bedfellows of the black community: The Democratic Party and Air America, the country's first full-scale attempt at a commercially viable liberal talk-radio network.
Something has gone terribly wrong. The launch of Air America was supposed to agitate Republicans and conservative talk-show stalwarts.
Instead, it’s agitated Ted Rall:
I believe that Air America is doomed.
Mark Steyn deals with rapmaster John Kerry and holey Al Gore:
The best riposte to Kerry came from an encounter a few years ago between his predecessor Al Gore and Courtney Love, lead singer of the popular beat combo Hole, when they chanced to run into each other at a Democratic party night in Hollywood.
''I'm a really big fan,'' gushed the vice president.
''Yeah, right. Name a song,'' scoffed Courtney. The panicked vice panderer floundered helplessly. Fortunately, his Secret Service guys moved in before he wound up completely riddled by Hole. As wise old campaign consultants always say, the politician's First Rule of Holes is: When you're in one, stop digging. Al introduced us to a Second Rule: When you're with one, stop pretending to dig her.
As Steyn points out, George W. Bush’s reply to a question asked of him about Madonna rocks: “I’m not into pop music.”
Spain's high-speed railway line between Madrid and Seville is up and running after the bomb found yesterday; Interior and anti-terrorism officials informed this morning that all tests confirm the initial suspition that the explosive in the package yesterday is exactly the same to the one used on March 11 atrocity.
Incoming Prime Minister Zapatero, who will take over in a couple of weeks' time, replies to whoever criticizes him for his intention to bring the Spanish troops in Iraq back home that he made his promise during his campaign, and before 3-11, so he says that rather than caving to the terrorists he's defyingthem: "if we change our policy because of the terrorist attacks in Madrid, then the terrorists have won", or words to that effect. Even John Kerry understands what utter nonsense this is.
So, in order to pretend he's still got a bone or two in his back, Zapatero has been saying that he will pull out the troops at the end of June unless the UN takes command (fat chance, buddy), and at the same time might double up the forces in Afghanistan.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo reported today that the Spanish Embassy in Egypt received a letter from an Islamic militant group threatening new attacks if Spain did not withdraw its troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the letter, The Brigade of Abu Hafs al-Masri, a group that also claimed responsibility for the March 11 attacks, threatened to strike against Spanish diplomatic missions in North Africa and the Mediterranean region unless Spanish troops are withdrawn in four weeks.
Keywords: Four weeks. Iraq and Afghanistan.
(Yes, I am aware the al-Masri Brigade is not 100% credible, but if Zapatero and his voters believed them when they said that 3-11 was their revenge for the Iraq war, shouldn't they believe them now, too?)
[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]
At least three suspects in the Madrid railway bombings blew themselves up Saturday as police prepared to storm their apartment. One special forces agent was killed in the explosion and 15 police officers were wounded.
MADRID, Spain - The alleged ringleader of last month's train bombings in Madrid was among four suspects who blew themselves up as police raided their apartment, Spain's interior ministers said Sunday.
The blast Saturday night killed a special operations police officer and wounded 15 other policemen. Interior Minister Angel Acebes said one of the dead bombers was found with an explosives belt around his body, and two or three suspects may have escaped before the explosion.
Police on Sunday were evacuating city blocks around the building in search for a vehicle that may contain explosives. Government agencies were also reporting Sunday that an apartment building near the area of Saturday's blast contained two backpacks, cables and cellular phones - similar to the devices used in the March 11 bombings.
They were also picking up debris caused from the explosion.
Police also found 200 detonators of the kind used in the March 11 attacks and in a bomb that was discovered Friday before it could explode along a high speed rail line, [Interior minister] Acebes said. Officials also discovered 22 pounds of dynamite in the apartment where the four terrorists blew themselves up as police closed in.
"They were going to keep on attacking because some of the explosives were prepared and connected to detonators," Acebes said.
Cellphone service in the surrounding area is interrupted, in order to prevent an activation of any explosives that may still be there.
Christopher Hitchens writes:
I debate with the opponents of the Iraq intervention almost every day. I always have the same questions for them, which never seem to get answered.
His questions are:
1. Do you believe that a confrontation with Saddam Hussein’s regime was inevitable or not?
2. Do you believe that a confrontation with an Uday/Qusay regime would have been better?
3. Do you know that Saddam’s envoys were trying to buy a weapons production line off the shelf from North Korea (vide the Kay report) as late as last March?
4. Why do you think Saddam offered "succor" (Mr. Clarke’s word) to the man most wanted in the 1993 bombings in New York?
5. Would you have been in favor of lifting the "no fly zones" over northern and southern Iraq; a 10-year prolongation of the original "Gulf War"?
6. Were you content to have Kurdish and Shiite resistance fighters do all the fighting for us?
7. Do you think that the timing of a confrontation should have been left, as it was in the past, for Baghdad to choose?
Bring on the answers, anti-warriors.
They all think I suck
But I’ll show them they’re all wrong
Since September 11, police have detained 537 British Muslims and 94 have been formally charged with offences under the all-encompassing Terrorism Act.
But only six have been convicted. Islamic leaders have, perhaps with some justification, complained about being targetted, noting that the Jewish community would be enraged if Jews were treated the same way.
Yes, Peter. We’ve all heard of the notorious Finsbury Park synagogue, where every week the faithful are called to violent Zionist revolution. I suppose this is an example of what Fray thinks is balanced journalism:
The Muslim community is rightfully cautious of the western media and I felt I had to prove myself when talking to Maha and her colleagues and show that I could produce a well balanced article.
Since the Islam series I have maintained contact with the community. I would be naive to think they agree with everything I write but we now have a relationship based on trust and acceptance which allows us to agree to disagree. I think they now realise that not all western journalists have a bias against Islam and the Muslim community.
Peter tries so hard to build trust and acceptance, and what happens? In its version of Fray’s story, The Sydney Morning Herald deletes his “justification” line:
Only six have been convicted. Islamic leaders have complained about being targeted, noting that British Jews would be furious if subjected to the same treatment.
Zuniga has taken down the original post, but in a new post he acknowledges it and offers a partial retraction, which essentially amounts to saying he didn't actually "feel nothing"; in fact, he was angry at the victims. Blogger Michael Friedman has a screen shot of the original post.
It's worth noting that the Daily Kos is popular among Democratic leaders. Zuniga is a principal in the Armstrong Zuniga political consulting firm, which touts the Daily Kos as "the most popular political weblog with over 3 million monthly visits." Friedman has a list of congressional candidates who advertise on the site, and in a February posting Zuniga reported that Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, "asked if I would post" a "Message to Blog Community."
About Zuniga's comments, we have nothing to say. They speak for themselves.
That they do. Tim Dunlop’s sound advice to Kos -- “pull your head in” -- seems to have been misinterpreted as “delete your post and act all weaselly”; no doubt Kos’s deletion is another example of the brutal crushing of free speech under Bush’s hated regime.
The views expressed by that website in no way reflect Martin’s positions and as stated earlier his advertising has been pulled. Congressman Frost supported the President’s efforts to remove Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime and stands 100% behind our troops who are fighting terrorism both abroad and right here at home.
There is no place for these disgusting remarks in this nation’s discussion on foreign policy.
Kos also received a happy mention in this CNN piece:
As a recent George Washington University study of the Internet notes, Democrats outnumber Republicans almost 2 to 1 (49% to 27%), among the nation's 15 million to 20 million who the study dubs "Online Political Citizens."
So if you haven't already started reading blogs, you should certainly begin doing so.
They’re liberal -- so read them!
UPDATE II. Kos hasn't actually deleted his remarks -- just redirected the URL. See comments for details.
James Lileks and Glenn Reynolds both appeared live via phone on yesterday’s Hugh Hewitt radio show. “Live” plus “phone” plus “radio” can result in unexpected outside contributions. Lileks reports:
What no one heard was the domestic management I did behind the scenes to ensure I could speak without interruption from Gnat. My wife is out tonight with a friend, so I had no one to amuse her. That’s where our dear friend Television came in: I had the foresight tonight to pick up a video to keep her occupied ... She was quiet, but then we went into the next hour just as the Spongebob tape ended. DAAAADDDDEEE!
And Reynolds had psychokitty issues:
Started off a bit distracted, as my tomcat was for some reason hurling himself against the closed door to my study, but it picked up after that. Hope the thuds didn't make it over the air.
Even if they did, it probably sounded better than anything from Air America. I was once live on radio from home, reporting Something Very Serious to a stern and attentive host, when a massive bird landed on a ledge outside an open window. The cruel beast stared directly at me for several seconds, apparently waiting for the ideal moment to strike; then, at the exact point listeners expected my Deeply Considered Reply to the host’s Big Main Important Question, they instead heard this:
RAAAAWK! RAAAAWK! ARK! ARK! RAAAAAAAAWK!
Which was more or less what I was planning to say anyway, but at a slightly less violent level. This bird was loud. And just out of reach. As an acknowledged master of the audio medium, I handled this distraction with my usual professional calm:
HOST: What the hell was that?
ME: That? Oh, that was ... that was just one of my birds. Yes. I live in a big aviary, you see, and ... and ... sometimes ...
HOST: (long pause) You live in a what?
Seriously. I really did claim to live in a large bird-keeping facility. That’s how good I am under pressure. Still, it wasn’t as bad as the time I was on radio from my old newspaper office in Melbourne, trying to revive interest in the dying thing I was editing, when an enraged reporter burst in and screamed: “This story idea of yours is shit! You think it’s so good, you do it yourself!”
I tried to blame that on my “aviary”, too. Didn’t work.
Melissa Campbell, a “writer and cultural studies researcher at the University of Melbourne”, discovers that people are wearing T-shirts with words on them:
It's a simple cotton garment, but it encapsulates sex, politics, high art and street style. It can even get you on the front page of a newspaper - for all the wrong reasons. What's behind the recent explosion of T-shirt labels? And what do they all say about who we are - or who we want to be?
T-shirt explosions of a non-metaphorical kind are generally limited to the booming Palestinian population. As for what these garments say about who we are, here’s a T-shirt I bought a few hours ago. The message refers to the number of extinct indigenous languages in the Southern hemisphere, and is a powerful reminder to all of us that we must always feel ashamed.
That’s what I’m telling people, anyway.
Q: If the Jews murdered Jesus, then who or what killed Jeebus?
A: Probably it was the Jubes.
It’s a Thai version of The Simple Life:
Thailand’s billionaire Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has sent his teenage daughter to work at McDonald's.
Paetongtarn, who has just completed her university entrance exams, will work there on a part-time basis.
Hey, it could be worse.
Michele at A Small Victory presents a fun DU quiz:
Guess which quote from Democratic Underground is not real ...
The selections, all to do with the murders of American civilians in Fallujah, ain’t pretty. Neither is this, from Daily Kos:
I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.
Here’s sweet little Kos with some of his friends.
UPDATE. And here are the people creepy Kos feels nothing for.
Three weeks after the 3-11 massacre and the surprise win of the Socialists in Spain's general election, Spain should be safe from Al-Qaeda, right? After all, Zapatero promised to withdraw the 1,300 troops from Iraq if he won, which is what the terrorists wanted, right? Right?
Spanish police found explosives Friday on a high-speed rail line between Madrid and Seville, near Toledo. A train employee called in bomb-disposal experts, who discovered a suspicious bag that had 22-24 pounds of dynamite, 430 feet of cable and a detonator inside, Interior Minister Angel Acebes said.
Information is still coming in, and it's not yet clear who the authors may be. We may be heading to another "ETA or Al-Qaeda" game. ETA has committed identical actions several times in the past, but unlike what the expert quoted in Fox News is saying, Spanish media are just confirming that according to the first analysis the explosives found matches exactly those used in the simultaneous attacks on March 11, so it may well be Islamist-related again. Which raises the worrying possibility that there may be more explosive devices yet to be found. All railway traffic in the area is stopped, and the police are searching thoroughly. At the same time, this comes just one day after three letter bombs addressed to media were intercepted by Spanish police.
Will update this entry as new relevant information arrives.
UPDATE. Interior Minister Angel Acebes, in a press conference, confirmed that the bomb contained 12 kilos of -with the caveat that scientific tests were still to be finished- Goma 2 Eco, the same used on March 11. There was no warning; it was discovered by a railway company security employee during a routine check of the line, who found the not-fully assembled bomb, which seems to indicate the authors had to flee in a hurry while planting the device (I hope these guys don't have anything to do with it...). The package was completely dry, even though it had been raining all night in the area, which suggests that it was placed there early in the morning.
[Posted by Franco Alemán from HispaLibertas]
The twin towers attacks provided Bush's Washington with both a trigger and a remarkable coincidence. Pakistan's former foreign minister Niaz Naik has revealed that he was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, was then travelling in central Asia, already gathering support for an anti-Afghanistan war "coalition".
What does this mean? For Now explains:
Pilger has evidence that the Bush Administration was MOVING BEFORE 9/11/01 TO ACT AGAINST THE TALIBAN. Pilger, without knowing it, counters Clarke’s charges that the Bush Administration didn’t take Al Qaeda seriously enough!
He should be forced to testify. Tell us what you know, Pilger! Bring on the battle of the totally credible anti-Bush book hawkers!
A few weeks ago in The Bulletin I mentioned an ABC memo to staff that contained this instruction:
Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad are NOT included in the UN's list of terrorist organisations and therefore must not be described as such.
Bad enough that the ABC should defer to the UN. Worse still that this supposed UN “list of terrorist organisations” doesn’t even exist. The only list of terrorist organisations the UN maintains is limited to groups it believes are associated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
More on this by me in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.
The Melbourne Museum’s fossil collection now includes examples of the Sainted Patrician Eldermonster and the equally frightening Globe-Domed Green Warbler. Both creatures are, thankfully, nearly extinct.
We are insufficiently controlled, according to some idiot:
Drivers are given too much leverage by police before being booked for speeding, the traffic safety guru responsible for the gradual lowering of the suburban speed limit to 50km/h (30mph) has warned.
Allowing drivers to marginally edge above the speed limit could double the risk of crashing, according the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, the first research group in the world to prove the benefit of lower speeds in built-up areas.
"Travelling at 65km/h (40mph) in a 60km/h (37mph) zone doubles your risk of crash involvement," Jack McLean, the director of the University of Adelaide centre, said yesterday.
Jack McLean contemplates a typical speeding motorist yesterday
How the hell does Professor Jack McLean reach this conclusion? His absurd theory allows for no variables; all drivers are equal, all vehicles the same, and the only factor determining their fate is speed -- three miles per hour, in fact, which is all that stands between wonderful safety and double the chance of brutal hideous death! Just three miles per hour -- the rate recommended for beginner-level, “very very overweight” Christian music walkers.
An alert, competent driver is safer at 80km/h than some McLeanite slowpoke who thinks that because he’s mooching along at the speed of a motorised wheelchair he’s safe from any accident. The dangerous implication in McLean’s message is that slowness is all; skill and awareness and focus aren’t involved. His statistics are bogus, too, because they only include crashed speeders. Who knows how many rapid-yet-safe drivers didn’t crash during the period examined?
I bet Jack drives a Volvo.
This is a joke, right?
UPDATE. Still hoping it’s a joke. Meanwhile Damian Penny has joined the ProBlogosphere by signing up with the Western Standard.
Of the horrors in Fallujah, Mark Steyn writes:
Spare a thought for both the five fallen soldiers and for the four dead in Fallujah, civilian workers helping to reconstruct Iraq - in other words, the “war profiteers” damned by John Edwards, John Kerry and other fatuous twerps pandering to their deranged base for the last year. Maybe they even worked for – boo, hiss – Halliburton. These private companies are doing an incredible job in Iraq and they deserve better than to be demonized by Democrats for a cheap laugh at campaign rallies.
At least Canadians, having opposed the war, are safe. Totally safe. Ultra-safe. Safe as hell:
Canada has been named again in a chilling new call to arms from al Qaeda. A posting found this week on an al Qaeda website places Canada fifth on a target list.
The website is believed to be published by senior al Qaeda figure, Saif al-Adel. It calls on followers to attack Canadians and other westerners at home and abroad.
Experts warn it could be only a matter of time before Canada is hit. Several other countries named on the list -- such as Spain and Australia -- have already been attacked. Terror experts warn that Canadians have a false sense of security.
"We're a target. We're very clearly in its crosshairs," says John Thompson of the Mackenzie Institute.
Terror experts warn there appears to be an escalating strategy to strike "softer" targets of the West.
There’s a surprise. Meanwhile ...
A senior Australian Defence Force officer is off to Iraq to take on a major role overseeing operations at the coalition force's headquarters, Prime Minister John Howard said today.
Mr Howard said Major-General Jim Molan had been appointed to the operations staff at the multi-national force coalition headquarters in Iraq.
"He will become the most senior Australian officer in Iraq," Mr Howard said.
"The position will be responsible for planning such missions as finding and destroying terrorist cells, patrolling areas where surface-to-air missiles may be fired and in general protection of the Iraqi people and the coalition community."
Wish him well.
Al Franken and Air America: Silencing Minorities Since 2004!
Interesting. This guy seems to support the “radical Islamic fundamentalists” option:
Britain's most prominent Muslim leader last night demanded a crackdown on "rogue" Islamic preachers, blaming them for brainwashing young men with sermons promoting holy war against the West.
Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, was backed by the families of some of the eight men arrested in Tuesday's anti-terrorism raids in south-east England.
The father of one of those arrested, Lal Hussain, makes a good point:
"This version of Islam is spoiling it for everyone else. They have not arrested them; they arrested these kids. They are the extremists, making inflammatory speeches on the pavement, yet nothing is done."
'I'm fascinated by Rap and Hip-Hop' says Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry during an MTV Choose or Loose forum. Offering up a heavy dose of street credibility, Kerry defended gangsta rap, freedom of speech and the realities of street life.
Calling rap a "reflection of life", Kerry empathized with the struggles reflected in the music.
When a year-old piece on Richard Clarke by the Village Voice’s George Smith recently hit the web anew, its lefty author found himself subject to anti-Bush rage ... and pro-Bush friendliness. It’s difficult to tell which he finds more distressing:
The first sentence of this particular column proved to be a time bomb: "The retirement of Richard Clarke is appropriate to the reality of the war on terror." That was what got me in trouble. Honeyed dung it was, or became, to clouds of flies on the right, buzzing mad to find a couple quarts of offal to throw on the man after the calumny of his 60 Minutes spotlight.
Then came the emails:
From both sides of the political spectrum, the missives of my fellow citizens showed no grasp of the fact that my column was written over 12 months ago ... As a consequence of their aphasia, it was clear I was obviously a Bush administration fixer—"vermin . . . coming out from under ... rocks to smear [Clarke]." Or, if you stood on the other ridge, I was an honest fellow, laboring to get the real story past the spinmonger Lesley Stahl and the perfidious 60 Minutes.
The anger was instantly gripping. A prime ingredient was the rage foaming, apparently, from Democrats, who avidly read Drudge so as to be able to intimidate and beat to death troublemakers. They were so over-the-top, it was funny enough to reduce one to tetany. It's certainly a misconception that Democrats are eloquent, sophisticated, sensitive, and therefore beyond the knavish dirt commonly attributed to the "right-wing attack dog." Last week, I found no difference between the two.
One difference: the right-wingers usually have better spelling.
Andrew Bolt responds to David Marr’s usual carping:
Again, David Marr uses the $1.2 million we pay for "his" ABC Media Watch program to attack his personal enemies.
On Monday, Marr was again cross with me, this time for being mean to far-Left propagandist John Pilger.
My crimes? In saying Pilger thought our troops in Iraq were "legitimate targets", I hadn't given him "a chance to put his case" for a view that is, er, inexcusable. And in saying he'd trivialised the slaughter of Iraqi civilians by the terrorist "resistance" -- "in all resistances, it happens" -- I didn't simply say "civilians". Instead, I'd made clear the dead he so dismissed included "women and children splattered over a mosque by yet more suicide bombers".
Yes, I whacked your soulmate, David, but apologists for terrorists must be exposed, despite "your" ABC.
That budget figure -- $1.2 million for 39 fifteen-minute programs (in 2003) -- is interesting. Sounds big, but it works out to just $30,769 per show, or slightly more than $2,000 per minute; not expensive for locally-produced television. At this point I should probably explain that the reason for the ABC crew at my place the other day was part of a Media Watch co-host plan for the second half of the year. It’s early days yet, so we’ll see what happens; initial feedback is encouraging, however. Long live the fair and balanced ABC!
UPDATE. As several readers suspected, rampant April 1 craziness was at play here. Why, the idea is preposterous! Although Greg Sheridan might welcome some Media Watch balance:
It has ceased to be a useful monitor of media inaccuracy and other misdemeanours and has become instead a wholly self-indulgent, routinely biased and left of centre, TV oped column which simply offers Marr a chance to broadcast his views without any balance or right of reply for his targets of attack. It is hard to see how repeated attack on those it sees as ideological opponents, and equal promotion for ideological fellow travellers, fulfills the ABC charter, or is a good use of taxpayers' money.
UPDATE II. And here’s an April Fools story that ain’t foolin’ nobody.
What was Richard Clarke’s point, exactly?
If President Bush had followed every last letter of Richard Clarke's recommendations starting Inauguration Day, it still would not have prevented 9/11. How do we know this? Richard Clarke says so.
Here's how the disgruntled National Security Council veteran put it last week in an exchange with Slade Gorton, a member of the 9/11 Commission and former Washington Senator:
Mr. Gorton: "Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25 of 2001 . . . including aid to the Northern Alliance which had been an agenda item at this point for two and a half years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that that had all been adopted, say, on January 26, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?"
Mr. Clarke: "No."
And that’s the end of that. The WSJ concludes: “As long as Mr. Clarke is in the apology business, can we have one for wasting a week of the Administration's precious antiterror time?” In other time-wasting news, Daily Kos reports that John Kerry’s DemUnityFest performance was total crap:
Dean left midway through Kerry's speech. And speaking of Kerry's speech, it wasn't so hot. Applause lines fell flat, and his voice trailed off randomly at times. It seemed as though he was in that "I need a vacation from my vacation" stage. And coming in the heels of Clinton's speech... well, you can imagine the disconnect. Damn, Clinton is a talent. Sigh...
Robert Fisk’s surname was a verb years before we bloggers realised it, as Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary reveals:
Fisk, v. i. [Cf. Sw. fjeska to bustle about.] To run about; to frisk; to whisk. [Obs.]
Obsolete? Hardly. The supplied contextual sentence shows that some things never change:
He fisks abroad, and stirreth up erroneous opinions.
(Via reader K. Hill)
Fellow Bondi Junction freelancers Paul Ham and Pat Sheil -- God only knows how much alcohol was consumed during this little exercise -- demand wage justice:
Freelance writers should organise, unionise, and generally make trouble, according to a groundbreaking report tabled this week by the Bondi Junction Institute of Advanced Studies (BJIOAS). The report scrutinises the state of the freelance writers' market and the freelance economic landscape.
Among the report’s recommendations:
Freelance writers are currently paid by the word. It is recommended the AFU borrow the billable hours formula used to such good effect by the legal profession, and move to billable syllables.
Works for me. Er, I mean, it seems to have functional applications personally.
Europe just keeps getting more and more sophisticated:
The number of anti-semitic attacks in Europe has soared in recent years, with a report by the EU's racism watchdog naming five countries - Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Britain - for particular concern.
Belgium, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Britain have seen a notable rise in anti-Jewish attacks over the last two or three years, said the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) report.
That conference was hastily organised after a shock opinion poll in November which found that Europeans saw Israel as the biggest threat to world peace, ahead of countries such as North Korea and Iraq. The United States came second.
This all might depend on your definition of "peace". Who the hell knows what that word means in France these days? According to the report:
In France there was a sixfold increase in anti-semitic incidents in 2002. "There were many incidents of Jewish people assaulted and insulted, attacks against synagogues, cemeteries and other Jewish property," it said.
But peacefully. Always peacefully.