Yesterday I came to your country. Today, I met the President.
Jeff Jarvis, a tireless and incredibly generous promoter of Middle Eastern bloggers, has more on the Bush/blogger summit:
Mohammed said the President understood what blogs are and their importance and they found the staff in the White House views reading blogs as part of their jobs now. The brothers said they were in the White House not just as Iraqi citizens but as representatives of the blogosphere.
There's yet more here; please read. Meanwhile, Omar and Mohammed's Washington visit hasn't received much mainstream coverage (aside from a radio appearance arranged by the resourceful Jarvis), despite screamingly obvious human interest angles. Perhaps the weeklies will run something. Of course, Australian readers got to know our Iraqi friends months ago ...
Compare the paranoid howlings from these people to the calm reason of Michael Moore. If only all anti-Bush activists were as rational.
(Via Rob at SemiSkimmed)
Remember how Australia's international reputation was completely destroyed in 2001 by our no-messing-around response to illegal immigration? Here's a collection of typical views:
Our reputation abroad has changed dramatically for the worst.
Australia's track record in relation to asylum-seekers has now become an international scandal and a disgrace to our reputation as a country strongly respectful of human rights and dignity.
Our reputation as a people who believe in a "fair go" for all has been severely, perhaps, irreparably, damaged. Many of us, for the first time in our lives, are now ashamed of being Australian.
It is Australia's reputation that's going in the trash bin here, not just the rights of the asylum seekers. The rest of the world will see this as Australia acting outside international law and dropping Australia's great reputation for humanitarianism.
Our system of mandatory detention is cruel and a blot on our reputation for humanity.
Prime Minister John Howard didn't quite see things that way, telling an interviewer in 2002: "I reject this claim that our reputation's been damaged. I think people understand that we have taken action in a difficult situation that is wholly consistent with the right of this country to protect its borders."
And it seems he was right. Just ask Ellen and Peter Bles, who are among many Dutch leaving their country for Australia and other reputable nations:
An exodus of native-born Dutch in search of a new life abroad has reversed immigration flows for the first time since the post-war era.
Last year more people left the Netherlands than arrived as migrants or asylum seekers, even though unemployment remains low at 4.7 percent and per capita income is higher than any major country in Europe.
Lawyers, accountants, computer specialist, nurses, and businessmen are lining up for visas to the English-speaking world, looking to Australia, New Zealand and Canada as orderly societies where people have the space to breathe.
The new wave of "middle-class flight" has quickened this year following rising ethnic violence and crime committed by and against immigrants, and in response to fears that social order is breaking down. In the first six months there was a net outflow of 13,313 people.
Requests for visa information have exploded since the murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch film-maker and acerbic critic of Muslim views on women.
It's likely that Australia's reputation was enhanced by coverage of the illegals/refugees/asylum seekers issue. If this story gets wider coverage locally, expect the left to respond with something along the lines of: We're attracting white racists! Shame, Howard, shame!
The Guantanamo Bay nightmare gets worse and worse. Here's The Guardian's latest shocking report:
Fresh allegations about a regime of torture and humiliation inflicted on detainees by their American captors atGuantánamoBayhave been made by a Briton still held there, according to Foreign Office documents seen by the Guardian.
The claims by Martin Mubanga, fromLondon, are the latest to surface from the prison where theUSholds 550 Muslim men it claims are terrorists in conditions that have sparked worldwide condemnation.
Mr Mubanga, 31, alleges that only months ago he was kept shackled for so long that he wet himself, and then was forced to clean up his own urine. He claims to have been threatened, that an interrogator stood on his hair, and that he was subjected to extremes of temperature rising to 36C (97F). He was kept chained to the floor by his feet for an hour during a welfare visit from a British government official.
Imagine, if you can, a prison so brutal that inmates don’t have their own personal urine-mopping maids. The Daily Mirror's Stephen Moyes could've used one himself in 2002.
(Via contributor J.F. Beck)
Herbert M. Hazelkorn, of Glencoe, Illinois, left us on December 7, 2004, of a broken heart at the recent passing of his wife of 35 years, Bobby, exacerbated by a broken spirit arising from the results of the Presidential election.
Want to send a Christmas card to Michael Moore? Of course you do!
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been cleared of corruption. I guess this qualifies him as an official James Wolcott Hero for our Time following Wolcott's celebration of George Galloway's legal win. About which lawyer Damian Penny writes: "Wolcott, by the way, says the Telegraph's incriminating documents 'were either forged or doctored' - even though the court made no such ruling, and Galloway did not even challenge their authenticity."
Margo Kingston calls for nominations in the prestigiuo ... pretstigi ... important 2004 Webdiary Awards:
1. The most courageous Australian in 2004
2. The most cowardly Australian of 2004
3. The biggest Australian risk taker in 2004
4. The Australian who was most effective in promoting good governance in 2004
"Most cowardly Australian"? That's an uncharacteristic idea from Margo, who's previously complained that "we're all running about tearing other to bits. It's not healthy, it's not sensible, it's not sustainable, and it's not even terribly fair.” Perhaps shaming an Australian as our greatest coward is Margo's way of searching for some consensus.
Actually, make that two Australians. Under Webdiary rules you're requested to offer two nominations for each category, "one on the basis that only politicians are eligible, and the other on the basis that the field is open to all Australians." Let's see how nominations are progressing ...
Most courageous: Mike Scrafton, Bob Brown ("standing up to the awesome power of conservative evil"), Antony Loewenstein ("a lot of courage"), Terry Hicks ("for standing up for his son David"), Pauline Hanson ("for going on Dancing with the Stars"), and John Howard ("for doing what he thinks is right on the war on terror and refugees").
Most cowardly: John Howard ("for the continued incarceration of refugee children, his continued defence of the illegal invasion and massacres in Iraq and his gutless attacks on anyone who dares to dissent"), John Howard ("head of the most incidious government this country has had at any level in our history"), John Howard ("rattus howardii"), John Howard, John Howard, Peter Costello ("his strong convictions on social justice are no where evident in Government policies"), John Laws, David Marr ("because of two spineless omissions, both involving the Sydney Morning Herald: 1. When Margo claimed that the media were controlled by Zionists, he declined to mention it. 2. When the Herald ran that crazy story about Allawi shooting prisoners in a Baghdad jail, Marr turned the other blind eye"), Carmen Lawrence ("for always taking the easy way out"), and "all those males who have beaten or raped women in the past 12 months."
Biggest risk-taker: Mark Latham, Peter Garrett ("you could have been a leader of a powerful new political force of integrity and honour - the Greens"), Bob Brown, house-dads, South Australian Opera CEO Stephen Phillips ("for producing first Australian production of Wagner's Ring, in a country where the arts don't appear anywhere on the political radar"), and "those brave souls acting as human shields in defiance of the murderous governments of our country, Britain & the USA".
Most effective in promoting good governance: Bob Brown ("there has not been anyone else at all ... the greatest Australian political leader"), Kevin Rudd ("one day the pendulum will swing back to a time where courage, vision and wisdom is rewarded"), Tanya Pliberseck ("stood tall"), Kerry O'Brien ("for honesty and integrity"), Peter Costello ("for the cool manner in which he has managed the country's economic resources"), and Margo Kingston ("a GREAT voice in a sea of propaganda and mindless banality - thank U Margo, you've kept the dream alive for many of us").
UPDATE. Nominations keep rolling in:
Most courageous: Dr. Catherine Hamlin, Margo Kingston ("for continuing to host Webdiary after exposing the Zionist media control in Australia"), Alicia Sorohan ("grandmother who wrestled a croc to save her grandson's life"), Andrew Bolt ("a true iconoclast"), Keith Windschuttle ("standing up for truth"), Dr Mal Washer ("had the guts to stand up to Abbott"), Noel Pearson ("put pride and people before political baggage"), Brian Harradine, Clover Moore, Imre Salusinszky ("exposed the postings overboard affair in which Margo Kingston tried to secretly wipe her own anti-Semitic comments from the Webdiary archive"), and Paul McGeough ("the only reporter who was really reporting on the war, not just propagandising. Whatever happened to his stories about those horrendous new and unidentified weapons the USA used on busloads of civilians, and the one about Allawi shooting prisoners?").
Most cowardly: John Howard (five times), Rupert Murdoch, Max Moore-Wilton, Peter Garrett ("for conveniently deciding that US Forces in Australia are a wonderful thing"), Anthony Loewenstein, General Peter Cosgrove, the Canberra press gallery ("displayed exceptional group think"), Barry Cohen ("for waiting till the day after the elections before revealing the depths of anti-semitism and Judenhass within the ALP"), the anonymous individuals who recently painted "six million more please, plus fries" outside a synagogue, David Marr ("for taking pot shots at personal foes whilst hiding behind a structure that is fundamentally anti-democratic"), Margo Kingston, those who live in democratic, affluent and tolerant Australia and yet are apologists for terror or terrorists, those pro-illegals whiners who haven't the guts to nominate just how many illegals they would allow into the country before shutting the gate, and Phillip Ruddock ("for his attacks on little children").
Biggest risk taker: Dr Tim Flannery, John Howard ("for supporting George Bush in the attempt to bring democracy to the middle east"), Phillip Adams, Tony Abbott, Peter King, Chris Masters, and Stephen Kenny.
Most effective in promoting good governance: Julia Gillard, the editors of crikey.com.au, Tim Blair (!!), John Howard, the Australian public ("for re-electing Howard, and allowing him to misrepresent us to the world. We now look like a country of morons. Second only to the US"), Bob Carr ("such an apalling example of what Not To Do"), The Hon. Jerrold Cripps QC, the Australian voter ("for sending a foolish and irresponsible ALP into the wilderness"), the High Court, Simon Longstaff, and Michael Long.
Jim Treacher, whose nation still believes in the outmoded and barbaric concept of "not allowing oneself to be killed by burglars", offers some useful advice to the besieged British:
• Hit the intruder's fists, knees, elbows, and feet with your face, ribcage, and genitals. This will subtly wear him down and require him to stop for a glass of water.
• On a related note, robbery is thirsty work, and a parched burglar is an angry burglar. If all you've got is tap water, you're just asking for trouble. Try to keep a wide selection of beverages on hand at all times, just in case. This will subtly lull your new friend into a false sense of comfort and good cheer, giving you the chance to crawl out of the room for a change of underwear before the smell requires him to punish you further.
• Refer to the home-invader as "massuh." This will impose a subtle feeling of guilt on the misguided victim of society, causing him to pause briefly for self-reflection in the course of upending your laundry room for hidden jewelry or drugs. In another 30-60 years, he will die of natural causes and cease all criminal activity.
• Many wealth-redistributors are atheist or agnostic, as is their right. Try to avoid offending your guest with thoughtless phrases such as "Please, God, help me," "Oh Christ, I can't feel my legs," or "Jesus, Jesus, there's so much blood."
• If at all possible, prevent the problem entirely by not living indoors. No home = No possibility of home invasion! Divest yourself of all personal possessions and take up a crimefree outdoor urban lifestyle.
Please vote for Jim in the soon-to-conclude Weblog Awards. Vote or die, as Sean Combs or a home invader with an overdeveloped sense of civic participation might say.
Phillip Adams thinks he's being clever:
There has to be a day of reckoning on this wretched war. And in that reckoning we need more information than a rollcall of dead Americans. After all the disinformation on Iraq, the surviving defence for the invasion has been on moral grounds. The Coalition of the Willing was saving Iraq from despotism. If that’s the case, how many dead and devastated Iraqis are too many?
If we are to cling to the belief - I think the illusion - that this was a just war, then give us a number.
Okay, Phil, I'll play. My number is 252, 943. Happy? Now, how about you give us the number of Iraqis who would have had to be tortured and murdered before you'd think an invasion was justified. Or the number of times the US should have been attacked by terrorists before it reacted.
For that matter, I'd be interested to learn how many claimed asylum seekers you believe should be permitted to enter Australia without documentation before you'd consider restrictions. Come on, Phil; give us some numbers.
(Of course, Phillip has borrowed his demand-for-numbers tactic from fellow ABC identity Kerry O'Brien. How many elderly commie ABC presenters are too many?)
Accused South Australian Taliban fighter David Hicks, currently in US custody, claims he was beaten, injected with drugs, and invited to have sex with prostitutes. Congratulations, Guantanamo Bay officials, for making our boy feel right at home.
The privately funded exhibition, on the exterior of an office building off a busy Melbourne laneway, depicts the faces of four Palestinians killed by Israelis.
Two of the faces belong to former Hamas leaders, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Abdul Aziz Rantisi, both of whom were killed by Israelis.
"I think that it is appropriately located at the end of an alley right next to the garbage cans," Australian and Jewish Affairs Council senior policy analyst Ted Lapkin said.
Exhibition curator and director Andrew Mac defended the exhibition with the usual numb lines about "diverse opinions" and "the artist's role":
"I think that it is important we receive a diverse range of opinions and cultural comment from a wide variety of people," he said.
"In today's kind of climate where media channels are controlled by fewer and fewer organisations, it is the role of artists to question information and provide critical and cultural comment."
A minister in the Hawke Labor government, Barry Cohen, contends that anti-Semitism is now "rampant" in this same ALP.
His statement is as offensive as it is inflammatory and inaccurate. This is not just my view. It is also Mark Latham's view and the view of Labor premiers around the country with whom I have discussed the matter.
I wonder if he discussed the matter with Tanya Plibersek.
Well, not quite. Antony Flew isn't suddenly a Christian; he has undergone something of a conversion, however:
A British philosophy professor who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than a half-century has changed his mind. He now believes in God more or less based on scientific evidence, and says so on a video released Thursday.
At age 81, after decades of insisting belief is a mistake, Antony Flew has concluded that some sort of intelligence or first cause must have created the universe. A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature, Flew said in a telephone interview from England.
Flew said he's best labeled a deist like Thomas Jefferson, whose God was not actively involved in people's lives.
"I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent Oriental despots, cosmic Saddam Husseins," he said. "It could be a person in the sense of a being that has intelligence and a purpose, I suppose."
If so, how come the cricket is currently rained out? Answer me that, professor.
Andrew Sullivan reports:
The bad news is that Omar and Ali, the intrepid Iraqi bloggers, couldn't make our coffee date this afternoon. The good news is that they blew me off for the president of the United States. I think Wolfowitz got them into the Oval Office. Yay.
UPDATE. And correction; apparently Omar and Mohammed, not Ali, met the President: "They said that the meeting lasted about a half hour, and the President was very interested in hearing the thoughts and opinions of Iraqi citizens first hand. He wasn’t aware until then of the good things that Spirit of America has been doing over there to help the Iraqi people and assist in their obtaining democracy. Omar joked that he got to meet POTUS and they didn’t even search his pockets beforehand."
Edward Lee Pitts of the Chattanooga Times Free Press is embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team in Iraq. Here he provides a little background to that awkward question faced by Donald Rumsfeld:
I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. Before hand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have. While waiting for the VIP, I went and found the Sgt. in charge of the microphone for the question and answer session and made sure he knew to get my guys out of the crowd.
So during the Q&A session, one of my guys was the second person called on. When he asked Rumsfeld why after two years here soldiers are still having to dig through trash bins to find rusted scrap metal and cracked ballistic windows for their Humvees, the place erupted in cheers so loud that Rumsfeld had to ask the guy to repeat his question. Then Rumsfeld answered something about it being "not a lack of desire or money but a logistics/physics problem." He said he recently saw about 8 of the special up-armored Humvees guarding Washington, DC, and he promised that they would no longer be used for that and that he would send them over here. Then he asked a three star general standing behind him, the commander of all ground forces here, to also answer the question. The general said it was a problem he is working on.
The great part was that after the event was over the throng of national
media following Rumsfeld- The New York Times, AP, all the major networks -- swarmed to the two soldiers I brought from the unit I am embedded with. Out of the 1,000 or so troops at the event there were only a handful of guys from my unit b/c the rest were too busy prepping for our trip north. The national media asked if they were the guys with the armor problem and then stuck cameras in their faces. The NY Times reporter asked me to email him the stories I had already done on it, but I said he could search for them himself on the Internet and he better not steal any of my lines. I have been trying to get this story out for weeks- as soon as I foud out I would be on an unarmored truck- and my paper published two stories on it. But it felt good to hand it off to the national press. I believe lives are at stake with so many soldiers going across the border riding with scrap metal as protection. It may be to late for the unit I am with, but hopefully not for those who come after.
This doesn't invalidate the question; not at all. It's just interesting to learn that the question was "worked on" in advance.
UPDATE. Editor backs embed, to a degree:
"I think he was doing what he felt he was embedded to do: tell the stories of the soldiers of this unit," said Tom Griscom, editor and publisher of the paper. But he criticized his story about the incident, which did not mention the reporter's connection to the soldier who asked the question.
The embed, Lee Pitts, sought a response from Rumsfeld about why military units in Iraq are lacking proper armor for many vehicles. A lengthy email that he wrote to a fellow reporter ended up on several Web sites, including Romenesko, the Drudge Report and E & P Online, which Griscom lamented.
"He is there to write stories, not make news himself," Griscom said of Pitts. The editor added that the recipient of the e-mail, whom he would not identify, should not have passed it along.
Possibly the most grotesque faux pas of my life: an attempted joke about friends returning home only to find their teenage baby-sitter entertaining a gentleman caller (more robust language was used at the time, and in the company of said friends). Except I mistakenly used the name of their baby rather than the sitter, provoking a ghastly pedophile image involving the couple's adorable infant daughter. The entire table fell silent until someone quietly pointed out my shameful error.
And then there was the time I ... no, I shouldn't mention it. The police are yet to interview all those implicated. Please confess your most shameful faux pas in comments.
UPDATE. Simon reports a rare faux pas triple-play:
There was the time myself, two co-workers and our (lovable, but politically incorrect) boss were out to Christmas lunch.
It took a while for our boss to settle down and enjoy himself as he was worked up about a client, who he kept referring to as a "barren old wench", oblivious to the fact that one of his employees had spent the best part of seven years unsuccessfully trying to conceive on the IVF program.
Later, he entertained us with his impersonation of an American cab driver he'd once had who had confessed suffering from Parkinson's disease. Of course, he wasn't to know that the other female employee's mother had just been diagnosed with Parkinsons.
Later, he started railing against Carl Sculley's outrageous decision to ban bull-bars, complaining about how unfair it was, that he'd have to fork out hundreds of dollars for an inferior bullbar, that would not sufficiently protect his car from roos, "just so we can save a couple of pooftas from getting bowled over each year on Oxford Street."
At that point I decided to put on hold my plan to let my co-workers know I was gay.
"It's beginning to look a lot like Kwanzaa", as the old song goes. "Everywhere you go/Take a look in the five-and-ten/Glistening once again/With spinner rims and silver bling aglow." Except you can't buy Mark Steyn's new book until Kwanzaa is over. Maybe it'll make the perfect gift for Eaasta.
Oldtimey media helps conservative candidates, writes Peter Murphy:
Bush didn't try to influence journalists. They were for John Kerry. Instead, he went to rallies, looked into the camera, and spoke directly to voters.
By contrast, Kerry's speeches were echoes of the day's news stories. Kerry won the hearts of journalists, but Bush won the popular vote.
The same is true in Australia. Mark Latham was the media's candidate. John Howard won the election - and the Senate. The brutal fact is that media gatekeepers matter less and less in elections. In the internet age, people prefer information to opinion. They make their own judgements. They smell a rat when opinion is wrapped up as news.
In the US presidential election, the two social groups most strongly in favour of Kerry were journalists and academics. What is really telling is that public opinion is no longer influenced by these groups ...
Successful political candidates sidestep the media and speak directly to the electorate. This is not just Howard or Bush - Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan did the same. This is why left-leaning media hurt the Labor Party.
Case precedent on political speech as it pertains to blogs does not exist. But where journalists' careers may be broken on ethics violations, bloggers are writing in the Wild West of cyberspace. There remains no code of ethics, or even an employer, to enforce any standard.
What standards were enforced by CBS when it ran bogus memos?
Like all media, blogs hold the potential for abuse. Experts point out that blogs' unregulated status makes them particularly attractive outlets for political attack.
Experts also point out that the influence of mainstream media makes it an even more attractive outlet for political attack.
"The question is: What are the appropriate regulations on the Internet?" asked Kathleen Jamieson, an expert on political communication and dean of the Annenberg School for Communications. "It's evolved into an area that we need to do more thinking about."
And while you're thinking about that, think about this: CBS attempted to derail a wartime Presidential campaign by claiming that a Microsoft Word document had been typed in 1973. What are the appropriate regulations, Kenneth? And while we're on the subject of folks lost in the past ...
When Vietnamese troops overran his village in 1979, Romam Chhung Loeung, a Khmer Rouge guerrilla, had no option but to flee with friends and family into the dense jungle of northeast Cambodia.
Twenty-five years later, the group emerged from the forest in clothes made of bark and leaves, unaware that the war was over, the Vietnamese had gone and Pol Pot was dead.
Their first question: "Is Dan Rather still on CBS?"
With the perspective granted by his location in Iraq, Omar considers blogdom's left/right divide:
Speacking of the sides of the blogosphere, I wanted to say that I only knew about the left side of the blogosphere months after we started. I thought that the right side was the whole thing, as in the beginning I thought we were just posting our thoughts 'into the darkness' and get lots of visitors without having any idea were they come from except Iraqi blogs. Later we found about the major blogs such as Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan, Buzz Machine, LGF, Roger Simon, Right Wing news…Etc and for long months I thought these were the only major bloggers! I didn't know because these were the sites linking to us and from were we get lots of visitors and when I used to go to their sites I would find a somewhat similar list. It turned out to be that the other side top bloggers rarely if ever mentioned us or other Iraqi blogs except for the very anti-American ones. I realized lately that the blogosphere was divided into two major parts with very few bridges.
When I started looking at the 'enemy' I found out that most of them were not that horrible! They disagree with us and our friends and supporters on the right side but they feel no shame in reporting good things that can actually show their points of view as being not valid. Then I looked back at our blog index after getting many remarks like "just look at to whom these guys link! Instapundit and Chief Wiggles!" and, "Can you believe an Arab Muslim would link to LGF?? With their extreme anti-Arab, anti-Muslim tone!" and I was thinking, "Why not!? What's wrong with that? They support Iraq in her struggle! And how can they be anti- Arab if they support us?!"
It was really confusing to me in the beginning that liberals would not support the change in Iraq (remember we were isolated so we didn't know much about that) even though they were against Bush, as it's over now and any humanist should (in my mind) support democracy and peace in Iraq. Besides, I've always considered myself a liberal! On the other side, I had a bad impression that many of the people on the right were fanatics and racist! How much did we learn in this year!
Anyway, I still consider myself a liberal (a conservative one) and I intend to add some of the moderate liberal blogs to our sidebar, but of course I would never change my mind about our friends and supporters, and I don't care what people label them as. I judge people by their stand.
"Some years ago," writes Cathy Seipp, "actress Dawn Wells visited one of the remotest islands in the already remote Solomon Islands; she was, in fact, the first non-native woman to set foot there. The chief's wife stared at Wells in surprise when she came out of her hut. 'Mary Ann?' she asked in amazement."
Read Seipp's entire article for a chilling insight into The Real Gilligan's Island.
Their work is done:
The chicken has joined the growing group of animals whose genome has been sequenced. The findings, published today in the journal Nature, reveal that, like us, the bird has between 20,000 and 23,000 genes. But it has only 1 billion DNA base pairs to our 2.9 billion pairs. "The chicken has also been used extensively as a model by developmental biologists for over a century and the availability of a gene catalogue for the species will boost research in this area," says David Burt of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh and a member of the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium.
Thanks to Burt, the eternal battle of chicken versus man is suddenly tilted in our favour.
Dimebag Darrell, formerly of death metal band Pantera, is dead:
At least five people died and two others were wounded after a shooting at a Columbus, Ohio, nightclub on Wednesday night, television station WCMH reported.
The shooting took place shortly after 10 p.m. at Alrosa Villa, located at 5055 Sinclair Road.
Two members of the heavy metal band Damageplan were reportedly shot and killed, including Dimebag Darrell, formerly with the band Pantera, WCMH reported. The other band member's name was not released. The alleged gunman also died at the scene, Wayne reported.
Here's some background on the guitarist, born 38 years ago in Texas.
UPDATE. More on Dimebag from the BBC.
UPDATE II. Pantera were a thrash metal band. Apologies.
A documentary about Arab TV network Al Jazeera ("We report, you decapitate") has outraged viewers:
Writer/director Jehane Noujaim's "Control Room," about Al Jazeera television, incensed Arabs at a special screening at the Dubai International Film Festival on Monday, Dec. 6, reports Reuters.
It was a rare event since the popular channel, which covers the war in Iraq and other news, is currently banned in five Arab countries including Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Arab governments object to the controversial, no-holds-barred reporting in countries where the media is mainly controlled by the state. Washington isn't too pleased with the programming either, claiming that it paints the U.S. in a bad light, which is dangerous for the U.S.-backed government currently in Iraq.
Even the audience, which included "Million Dollar Baby" star Morgan Freeman, found the film hard to take.
I wonder what upset them so. Perhaps it was the appearance in Control Room of this fellow:
Here you have an Iraqi. He is clearly anti-Saddam, he is a news producer or major producer at Al-Jazeera, and in your film he confesses in one moment to thinking of leaving the Middle East and coming to work for Fox News.
Yes, that'd do it.
You'll recall how, during Memogate, CBS used someone who'd come to notice on the Net in a bid to discredit its shallow, lazy, pyjama-wearing critics -- also on the Net. Now the network is getting positively pro-active, Net-wise:
The owner of Nonviolence.org, Martin Kelley, said he got an interesting phone call yesterday from a CBS News publicist for—you guessed it—Dan Rather's 60 Minutes Wednesday, the same program that carried the infamous bogus memos.
"Yesterday I got a call from a publicist for CBS News’s 60 Minutes. They’re running a story tonight on 'Deserters,' U.S. military personnel who have fled to Canada rather than serve in Iraq. She was requesting that I talk up the program on Nonviolence. In nine years of publishing the peace site, I can’t remember ever getting a call from a publicist before. I’ve talked to reporters from major news networks and papers, and I’ve talked a booking agent or two to arranging appearances on radio shows, but never a publicist."
Other liberal/anti-war bloggers who have talked about the upcoming story in preparation for tonight's broadcast include No Capital, Daily War News, Bankrupt Artist v.3
The president has made a surprise visit to troops in Iraq. No word yet on whether he carried any plastic kimchi.
UPDATE. Stephen W. writes: "Am I missing a joke somewhere? Ever since my first Korean 'banquet' I've assumed kimchi was always made of plastic."
UPDATE II. Speaking of alien cultures, I've done won me a prize!
Remember the Great Australian Recession of 2001? Of course you don't; it never happened. But it sure did loom, mostly at the ABC, and mostly in the mind of 7.30 Report host Kerry O'Brien:
KERRY O'BRIEN, March 5 2001: "On Wednesday, the national accounts for the last quarter of the year 2000 will be released. That is, the calendar year. They may show negative growth -- that is the first significant step down the road to recession. At best, they'll show a dramatic slowdown. For a government that hoped to go to the election later this year, contrasting its successful economic management with Labor's failures, none of that is good news."
KERRY O'BRIEN, March 7 2001: "The economy is now going backwards. It's not yet a technical recession - that would require another quarter of negative growth, and the jury is out on that."
KERRY O’BRIEN, March 8 2001: "Headache or not, the Woodside issue is minor compared to the Government's problems with the broader economy as Australia adjusts to yesterday's shock news that we're on the brink of recession."
KERRY O'BRIEN, March 13 2001: "The Treasurer Peter Costello did not pick a great day to try to convince fractious voters in Saturday's crucial Ryan by-election that talk of a recession in Australia is alarmist."
KERRY O'BRIEN, March 15 2001: "Opinion polls [in Ryan] are predicting a massive swing to Labor, reflecting anger over the Government's handling of the GST and petrol excise, an anger presumably compounded by news in the past week that Australia is on the edge of recession ..."
Australia somehow retreated from this brink near the edge of a shock recession, only for the danger to re-emerge this March (during, coincidentally, another election year). The ABC again led the charge:
TONY JONES, March 17 2004: "News of investors fleeing the market may have been welcomed by the Treasurer and the Reserve Bank, but is it the start of a bursting asset bubble that could drag down the rest of the economy?"
KERRY O'BRIEN, June 8 2004: "One respected economic modeller says, despite the nation's sound economic performance against other countries in recent years, he fears a housing slump could bring on Australia's deepest recession in 60 years."
KERRY O'BRIEN, October 18 2004: "A recurring question has taken on new urgency in recent weeks - how far can oil prices climb before the world's economies, Australia included, begin to buckle under the stress?"
TONY JONES, November 29 2004: "Some economists are warning of a risk of recession after the current account deficit blew out to a record $13.7 billion in the September quarter."
If we genuinely are at risk of a recession, it might be prudent to cut, say, at least $750 million from the ABC's budget. We must safeguard the economy.
(Via reader Gav)
UPDATE: Unemployment hits 28-year low.
Don't you hate it when innocent employees get caught up in an attack on wicked American diplomats?
American diplomats were the target, but innocent employees became the victims, writes Neil MacFarquhar in Jeddah.
The above is a Sydney Morning Herald addition to this NYT piece. Got a grievance against the SMH? Go right ahead and storm the building, but please leave the "innocent employees" alone. They'd be the cleaners, I guess.
UPDATE. This is exactly the sort of bigotry never dealt with by Media Watch, currently enjoying a post-Marr congratulations festival.
Want a good review from influential Australian movie elder David Stratton? Andrew Bolt tells you how:
Only last July, he hailed Michael Moore's rancid Fahrenheit 9/11 as a "remarkable political documentary" that "marshalls the facts . . . so lucidly".
In fact, Fahrenheit 9/11 marshalls little but lies and slurs against US President George W. Bush, vilifying him as a lazy, lying, corrupt, callous, brainless, murderous and racist bigot, yet Stratton gave it four stars, despite admitting it was "a bit unfair" and with no "pretence at all that this is an objective piece of work".
So it seems unfairness and bile only upsets Stratton when it's aimed at the Left. And often in his work we see this same conceit.
Stratton complained that The Recruit, with Al Pacino, showed "CIA people risk their lives for low pay and no public recognition because they know they're right", which "sounds like the George W. Bush line that 'you're with us or you're against us' and (is) all very off-putting".
He praised The Manchurian Candidate remake for showing America's "enemy is much closer to home" -- not an agent of a communist power this time, but a US multinational just like the one US Vice-President Dick Cheney once ran, the villain.
He cheered the remake of The Quiet American, saying while "it isn't exactly about US government terrorists, it is about American interference in the affairs of sovereign countries, interference that will lead to a terrible war", and this is one of "the important issues that confront the world".
He endorsed Rabbit-Proof Fence as an "amazing, true story" (which it isn't) of the "stolen generation" (which wasn't), nicely portraying a real-life "pasty-faced, stitched-up bureaucrat" who is a "smug racist" (which that man's son angrily calls a lie).
"Pasty-faced, stitched-up bureaucrat." Hmmm. Taxpayer-funded, chalk-featured David may be projecting a little.
Bell: "I think my cartoons are very funny - they certainly make me laugh. You, however, clearly find them to be a pain in the arse. this is your problem rather than mine."
Carlton: "The scorn I can live with. It was along the lines of 'not funny ... pathetic ... time you retired', etc. Nothing much I can do about that. If you don't think it works then you don't think it works."
Carlton and Bell might be less indifferent to similar criticism from their editors. Strange how old media has become so unconcerned about readers; it's not as though they've got many to spare.
My family first visited Sydney in the early '80s. While my mother and sister headed for the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, I sought out the unremarkable suburb of Kogarah.
An aunt had earlier given me a copy of Clive James' Unreliable Memoirs, largely about his Kogarah childhood, and I'd read it about four times. It's a wonderful, funny, entrancing book; life-changing for a dull suburban teen who’d never read anything much besides comics and magazines. Anyway, James is now online:
Last year I rather grandly announced in this space that a multimedia personal website was on the way. The contraption took so much work to prepare - most of it done by young helpers talking a language I don't pretend to understand - that I never had time to ask myself whether it would be of any actual use. Now it's here, and I could well find out the hard way that nobody needs it.
Soon to be added to the blogroll. Please pay a visit.
The ALP is wising up:
Federal Labor has opened the door to accepting the Howard Government's non-union individual contracts for workers, in a significant break from the past that has enraged unions.
Labor frontbencher Stephen Smith confirmed yesterday that the Opposition would consider supporting the Government's non-union Australian Workplace Agreements as part of a review of policy being conducted after Labor's crushing election defeat.
Meanwhile, Alexander Downer -- possibly the most vilified Howard government minister -- is profiled in the Wall Street Journal:
Those who wonder why Australia is such a reliable ally of America need only spend some time with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in his South Australia constituency.
Australians like to say they are different. Just how different becomes clear when Mr. Downer concludes an interview at his local office by suggesting that I accompany him to collect his daughter from a nearby school. There's no chauffeur. The foreign secretary takes the wheel and offers some blunt opinions as he races down an Adelaide Hills freeway.
Political opponents are dismissed as "feral lefties," while Condoleezza Rice wins praise as, "a good woman. That's what I say about Condi." A call from Prime Minister John Howard prompts him to joke about throwing me out of the car window so they can talk in private. Mr. Downer decides to call back later instead.
Rough around the edges, Australians share much in common with Americans. They too are a nation of immigrants with predominantly conservative values (Don't get Mr. Downer started on the subject of gay marriage). And, feral lefties apart, they know where their national interest lies. Again and again, I heard ordinary Australians talk about the U.S. alliance in far more positive terms than are commonly heard from America's other stalwart allies -- the British.
Interesting piece. Hit the link for more.
Who exactly are the out-of-towners assisting local insurgents in their quest to deny Iraq democracy? NBC investigates:
During the past two months, NBC News scoured the Internet, cross-referencing names, tracking down biographical information and, in some cases, making direct contact with family members.
All told, NBC News found information on 31 individuals, including:
• One man from a wealthy family in Saudi Arabia
• The reigning Kung Fu champion of Jordan
• A former police officer from Kuwait
• An al-Qaida operative from Turkey
NBC News terror analyst Evan Kohlmann says their backgrounds are diverse — some successful, others young and unemployed — and in at least three cases, they came from France.
Colour me shocked.
For years, Mark Steyn has been using "federal bicycling-helmet regulations" as a mocking nanny-state gag. Little did he know that helmet regulators were so insanely serious:
I should have known better. The other day, a private member's bill was introduced in the Ontario legislature requiring every grown-up, before mounting a bicycle anywhere in the province, from Niagara Falls to Hudson's Bay, to strap him or herself into a helmet. Needless to say, the bill was approved on its second reading unanimously ...
To call this a "nanny state" is an insult to nannies. When Baron von Trapp hired Maria to look after all the little von Trapps, he didn't object to her and the kids riding their bicycles down the lane while singing "Do-Re-Mi" unhelmeted. Forty years on, the gal who was 16 going on 17 and the telegraph boy who was 17 going on 18 are 56 going on 57 and 57 going on 58, but in Ontario they're still not old enough to ride a bicycle without government supervision ...
Chris Gilham, who runs the website cycle-helmets.com, has analyzed the impact of similar laws in Australia. One consequence is that fewer people bicycle and thus what was meant to be a public health benefit is, in fact, a public health disaster--"mass discouragement of society's most popular exercise at a time of soaring obesity."
I used to keep a bike lying around in the yard for quick trips to the shops, or late-night bar jaunts. I gave it to a homeless charity after helmet laws were introduced in the early '90s. To hell with helmets.
UPDATE. You'll also want to read Steyn on British home invasions.
Michael Moore's al Jazeera cap was in the wash, so he had to wear something promoting the BBC. Via whom we learn, incidentally, that celebrities can sometimes offer intelligent opinions, if they concentrate on their particular areas of expertise; here comedian Rowan Atkinson defends the right to ridicule:
Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson has launched a comedians' campaign against a government bill to outlaw inciting religious hatred.
The Mr Bean actor says parts of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill are "wholly inappropriate" and could stifle freedom of speech.
Mr Atkinson told a meeting at the House of Commons on Monday night there are "quite a few sketches" he has performed which would come into conflict with the proposed law.
He added: "To criticise a person for their race is manifestly irrational and ridiculous but to criticise their religion, that is a right. That is a freedom.
"The freedom to criticise ideas, any ideas - even if they are sincerely held beliefs - is one of the fundamental freedoms of society.
"A law which attempts to say you can criticise and ridicule ideas as long as they are not religious ideas is a very peculiar law indeed."
Atkinson, a car fanatic, has always been a sensible fellow.
It's the bird that keeps on giving! Add Washington Dispatch to the list of plastic turkey morons:
While troops celebrated Thanksgiving this year, in a country that is much more dangerous than it was in 2003, President Bush bypassed an official visit on the occasion and instead opted for a safe, long-distance phone call. In 2003 the president visited the troops in Iraq and served a plastic turkey prop in a surprise dinner for pro-Bush soldiers.
We're now in Year Two of global fake turkey stupidity. They ain't never letting this baby go.
The Labor Party owed its supporters an apology for failing to get its act together even two months after losing the election, Opposition Leader Mark Latham said today.
"The election is almost two months ago and in the period since we have had trouble regrouping. That is obvious. It is very plain. I am very sorry for that. I feel sorry for the people who supported us on election day and thought that even if we were in opposition we would be a lot better and (more) cohesive then this.
"So we owe the Australian people who voted for us on October 9 an apology and an assurance that we will do better in 2005."
Well, he could hardly do worse:
Mark Latham's leadership rating is at its lowest point, and Labor's support has now fallen to well below the level when Simon Crean was dumped.
John Howard now has his biggest lead over Mr Latham as preferred prime minister -- 60 per cent to 25 per cent -- and for the first time more voters are dissatisfied with the Opposition Leader than satisfied -- 46 per cent to 38 per cent.
According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted for The Australian last weekend, Labor's primary vote has slumped from 38 per cent two weeks ago to just 33 per cent -- the lowest since the middle of last year under Simon Crean. On a two-party-preferred basis, the Coalition's lead lifted to 55 per cent, against Labor's 45 per cent.
The soldiers for democracy at No Thappy John have responded to these developments by continuing their aggressive campaign of paralysis. Burnout really is a serious issue for activists. Tony Abbott seems to have plenty of energy, however:
Since the election, Labor-leaning journalists have been resigning from the Latham fan club like Communist Party members after the invasion of Hungary ... It's not odd that journalists should favour Labor when the ALP is politically ascendant. What's odd is that political journalists should support Labor even when the federal parliamentary Labor Party looks like a bunch of professional losers. If it is self-evident that an Anglo-Saxon police force can't deal with ethnic crime, or that English-speaking-only administrators can't mastermind the reconstruction of Iraq, or that a celibate priesthood can't fully grasp the stresses of family life, why isn't it equally self-evident that a left-leaning media will never really understand the workings of a conservative government or the instincts of a conservative electorate?
It's a long way from Geneva to Guantanamo Bay, writes Ted Lapkin:
The Guantanamo Bay detainees are illegal combatants whose actions placed them beyond the pale of international law. To afford them the privileges and protections of the Geneva Conventions, despite their crimes, would provide reward where retribution is warranted.
If the task of preventing the next September 11 requires that al-Qaeda captives at Guantanamo Bay be denied their full eight hours of slumber, I certainly won't lose any sleep over it.
I’m fine with it, too.
Naughton is quite a good journo/presenter; seems slightly Liberal but comes across as genuinely independent in presenting State issues.
I don't know the political leanings of his replacement but it is to be a lifestyle type show rather than current events.
The current SA ABC line up is now:
Breakfast - music
Mornings - Matthew Abraham (likely ALP candidate for Unley at State election) & David Bevan (reasonable but slightly left wing journo)
Afternoon - Carol Whitelock (nanny state leftist)
Drive - ? (used to be a nice balance to the morning show - now the dissent is silenced!)
Evening - Peter Goers (unreconstructed unapologetic communist)
Puzzling decision. Naughton had doubled the ratings for his time slot since taking over in 1999.
Jews in Australia were the victims of 50 per cent more attacks in the 12 months to September than the average figure for the past 14 years, a new report has found.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry's (ECAJ) annual report on anti-Semitism in Australia, released today, said the figure included physical assault, property damage and direct face to face harassment.
"The worst of these incidents included the smashing of windows at synagogues, eggs thrown at Jewish people on their way to or from religious ceremonies and a firecracker thrown at the door of the home of an Orthodox Jew after a person called out – Let's get the Rabbi," the report said.
The report also found that, for the sixth time in seven years, more than half the reports of abuse came from New South Wales while incidents were down in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.
Joel Stein is the latest to fall for the fake turkey fable:
"Reality" was always a misnomer for shows that involve Donald Trump or people on desert islands. But these shows purporting to be unadulterated documentaries are unreal in a more obvious way: They are secretly crafted in advance by writers. And I've got the entertainment equivalent of the Pentagon Papers to prove it. Maybe more like the equivalent of the photo with President Bush holding the fake Thanksgiving turkey in Iraq, but still, they are definitely papers.
Kevin Rudd was always my first choice. And he would have won in a trot had Beazley done the right thing and stepped aside. Rudd would have inherited the Beazley votes and as many as a dozen of those reluctantly given to Latham by desperate comrades. Yet Beazley, to borrow from a memorable satire by John Clarke, insisted on another "go on the bike". And when he fell off, young Kevin was squashed beneath his bulk.
What the hell? A fat joke from Adams? People, we've entered a meta-level pot-kettle zone from which no escape is possible. Soon we will all be dead.
Charles Bremer writes:
Reluctantly, some intellectuals have lately concluded that the model for Europe should be the US. On Tuesday a writer for Libération, the French left-wing daily, noted that immigrants in the US threw themselves into “the American dream” and prospered. “There is no French, Dutch or other European dream,” she noted. “You emigrate here to escape poverty and nothing more."
Hey, unfair! There's a German dream, as David Kaspar reported last month:
ZDF, one of the two German public tv channels, secretly made a film in a Berlin mosque. And this is what the preacher said:
"These Germans, these atheists, these Europeans don't shave under their arms and their sweat collects under their hair with a revolting smell and they stink. Hell lives for the infidels! Down with all democracies and all democrats!"
Down with all democracies. Dream on!
• Dawn Eden writes: "I just read your Dow-guy entry and it doesn't seem anyone's noted that this guy is from the ultra-left-wing group that spawned the Yes Men and other hoaxes. It's called Rtmark and it operates Web sites like this."
• UPDATE. Jeff Harrell points out that bloggers aren't as gullible as the BBC: "Tim, you might remember that the 'Yes Men' is also the group of troublemakers responsible for trying to trick conservative bloggers into endorsing (or at least mentioning) a group called 'Yes Bush Can' in the wake of Rathergate back in September and October. It didn't work."
• Behold the single most puzzling bumper sticker in Texan history.
• The always-valuable Belmont Club examines the UN, Africa, Kofi Annan, Gareth Evans, and the International Crisis Group.
• Ben Stein reveals California's Republican underground: "Even in Los Angeles, even in Malibu, even in Hollywood. Tremble, Barbra, tremble. We are right outside your gates, with our truth. We are not afraid and we shall overcome."
In other US election news, the NY Times has compiled a bunch of campaign data. Highlights:
• Democrats watch more television than Republicans
• The channels with the highest proportion of Democrats were Court TV and the Game Show Network; for Republicans, Speedvision and the Golf Channel.
• During the week, Republicans switch off the tube earlier than Democrats do. (Republicans who stay up are more likely to tune in to Jay Leno, while Democrats flock to David Letterman.)
• One of the shows most popular with Republicans, especially Republican women ages 18 to 34, turned out to be "Will & Grace," the sitcom about gay life in New York.
• Porsche owners were more likely to be Republican; Volvo owners, Democratic.
That last one isn’t exactly a shock. As to why Republicans watch less television than Democrats, the Times writes: "Some analysts surmised that [this] had to do with Republicans not trusting the broadcast networks." Meanwhile, the Fox juggernaut has now rolled into Springfield ...
ELECTION UPDATE. I've been slammed down to second place for "Best Non-American Blog" in the annual Warblogger Awards by my pals Mohammed, Omar, and Ali. Drop on over and buy a friendship mug to celebrate.
Mark Steyn, whose site is still on hiatus, returns to the pages of the National Review:
Christmas, according to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1999, is when those in that particular faith tradition celebrate "the birth of a homeless child." Or, as Al Gore put it in 1997, "Two thousand years ago, a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child." For Pete's sake, they weren't homeless — they couldn't get a hotel room. They had to sleep in the stable only because Dad had to schlep halfway across the country to pay his taxes in the town of his birth, which sounds like the kind of cockamamie bureaucratic nightmare only a blue state could cook up. Except that in Massachusetts, it's no doubt illegal to rent out your stable without applying for a Livestock Shelter Change of Use Permit plus a Temporary Maternity Ward for Non-Insured Transients License, so Mary would have been giving birth under a bridge on I-95.
Controversy over Christmas has never been as great in Australia as it is in the US, although things are trending that way. Those who sponsor a World Vision kid, however, will have been pleased to receive this year's card, which boldly proclaims: "Have a Merry Christmas." Of course, World Vision is a Christian organisation, but these days that's no guarantee of a Christmas mention.
Historian Keith Windschuttle calmly reviews the White Australia Policy:
Because Australian political identity was based on civic patriotism rather than racial nationalism, the White Australia Policy could be readily discarded once the political decision was made. Immigration restrictions were gradually liberalised, starting with the Menzies government in the mid-1950s and completed by the Whitlam government, with Coalition support, in 1975. Ending the policy required no cultural crisis and was accomplished by liberal politicians from both sides of parliament whose values were similar to those of the 1901 bill's original critics. The proof that Australia wore the policy lightly was the ease with which it discarded it.
Overall, the White Australia Policy had aspects that were both reactionary and progressive, discriminatory and humane. But its history shows no deep-seated racism has ever lurked permanently at the core of Australian culture.
The Australian Labor Party continues its entertaining self-destruction:
Queensland Premier Peter Beattie says the federal Labor leadership crisis will eventually impact on state ALP governments.
He urged the federal party to make a decision on Mark Latham's leadership before Christmas or face a nationwide popularity slump.
"This is why the federal party doesn't have the luxury to continue to play these games," he told reporters.
"The longer this goes on, every day we get a comment, every day we suffer a bit more, every day we take a bit more pain, every day we lose a few more votes, every day we lose a bit more credibility."
The warning comes after senior federal Labor MP Bob McMullan predicted the end of Mr Latham's leadership by February if he failed to perform.
Movie guy David Stratton really has a problem with Team America. Here he discusses the film with At the Movies co-host Margaret Pomeranz:
David: This film starts off with a good scene, I think, the scene where the Team America attack Arab terrorists in Paris and succeed in destroying half of Paris and all the famous landmarks.
Margaret: It's a good start, isn't it?
David: It's a good start. But then I think it really goes off the rails, because it, I know it's trying to hit all targets, as nothing is sacred, but it seems to become completely skewed, in the second half of the film, towards attacking liberals in the film industry. And to be honest, I think people like Sean Penn and Tim Robbins have been very principled in what they've said about the Iraqi War and I think that to deliberately destroy them the way this film does is really playing into the hands of George W. Bush. I think George W. Bush would love this film if it were not for some of the bad language.
Margaret: (Chuckles) Oh, David! Well, it makes a change from them attacking Mel Gibson, for example, which they do frequently.
David: I was really disgusted by this film.
Margaret: Oh, David!
Oh, David. Several commenters were alert to this exchange weeks ago. On Saturday, Dave repeated his snarly views in The Australian (no link available):
The film starts promisingly with a sequence shot in Paris where, alerted to the presence of a small handful of suspicious-looking Arabs, possibly in possession of WMD, a gung-ho, heavily armed squad from Team America descends on the French capital. They eventually get the terrorists all right, but not before they’ve destroyed the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and several innocent citizens. So far so good ...
Then Stratton divines the awful truth about Team America:
It turns out that the film's real targets are Hollywood actors who have been rash enough to speak out against the Bush administration and the invasion of Iraq. Sean Penn, Timothy Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Matt Damon, Samuel L. Jackson and Alec Baldwin are mercilessly pilloried and (literally) demolished. Whatever you think of their politics, these actors, Penn and Robbins especially, have impressed over the years with their talent and their willingness to take risks ... and they don’t deserve the bile that Parker and Stone pour over them.
What about the risks Parker and Stone are taking, Dave? You don't think they've taken any risks running against the Hollywood anti-Bush line? Encourage dissent!
It was my privilege on Saturday to join the ugly faces of the Australian Right (scroll down) in an ugly fest that out-uglied the ugliest that the Left can ever possibly produce. Highlight of the night: Kev Gillett spilled an entire schooner of beer all over the front of my pants, then, in the genial manner of an experienced combat veteran, calmly declined to accept any responsibility whatsoever. Professor Bunyip -- now returned to blogging -- must meet this man.
In other Brisbane news, I'm shown here keeping it real with The Kids™, many of whom failed to assault me after I'd insulted their world-view during this Brisbane arts festival I spoke at. Actually, everybody was sweet and feisty, and an alarming number were regular readers of this site; much thanks to the Straight Out of Brisbane people for inviting me, and to Paul Bickford for arranging drinks. Thanks too to the folks who kept this site alive while I was otherwise occupied. Best thread ever!
An excellent piece from Anthony Andrews in The Guardian on Theo van Gogh, his killer, and modern Holland.
(via contributor J. F. Beck)
Some guy rocks up to the BBC, says he’s from Dow Chemical, and is immediately broadcast around the planet:
BBC World said yesterday it was duped in an "elaborate deception" by a man who claimed to be a Dow Chemical Co spokesman and said the US company accepted responsibility for India's Bhopal disaster.
The British news channel, after twice running the interview with a man identified as Jude Finisterra, later said the report was wrong.
A spokeswoman for Dow Chemical in Switzerland also confirmed that the report was wrong.
The man's identity could not be confirmed and his motives were not immediately clear. BBC officials were not readily available for comment but the broadcaster said on air it was trying to determine what happened.
CBS MarketWatch has an interesting take on this, especially in light of CBS’s own recent duping debacle:
"If someone is determined to dupe a journalist, even the most responsible news organization in the world can get caught up," said Robert Thompson, a journalism professor at Syracuse University.
"But this example adds fuel to the fire when people express skepticism about the credibility of the big television networks," Thompson said. "What remains to be seen is whether the BBC was duped because of its own negligence."
The BBC, interviewing a person posing as a Dow spokesman, carried its report live on BBC World and subsequently on BBC News 24 and BBC Radio.
The interview, in which the imposter claimed Dow Chemical "admitted"
responsibility for the Dec. 3, 1984 disaster and was setting up a $12 billion
victims' compensation fund, was picked up and cited by other news organizations, including CBS MarketWatch.
"Jude Finisterra" is a weird name. It can be translated as "Jew Land Finished", if you’re creative with your translations.
If you want to know total humiliation, try being introduced as "Australia’s best-known blogger" before an audience of young leftists who've never heard of you. It's quite a feeling, especially when you're twice the age of most people in the room, and evidently the only one who has mastered ironing.
I kid! Last night's Brisbane literature/culture/art fest deal was a ton of fun, what with many angry youths delivering injustice-fuelled rants that I (with others) was called upon to judge. Only once was I threatened with actual violence, after deducting points from a Salvadoran contestant due to what I perceived as her nation's inefficient work practices. No fifty cents per hour for you, girly!
Apologies to Brisbane blogger Darlene Taylor, who I accidentally avoided meeting. I hate when things like that happen. Funnest moment of the evening -- aside from the remarkable politeness and affection from nose-pierced political foes -- was being introduced to Wayne Sanderson, a permanent antagonist who turned out to be utterly charming in person. Yet also determinedly antagonistic. Not an easy combination to achieve.
Okay. Paul Bickford, God bless his evil-soaked heart, has arranged a drinks thing today following an afternoon chat about something or other. Hit the link for details.
Sorry for the lack of posts; I've been busy. More later.
George W. Bush's visit has provoked widespread Canadian fury:
More protesty fun here.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, a taxpayer-funded arm of the global Greenpeace empire, exposes a Saddam-like weapon plan underway right here in Sydney:
While UN inspectors may have failed to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Greenpeace has today expressed concerns such weapons could be manufactured in Australia.
The environmental group has released a report which, it says, reveals the full extent of the Federal Government's support for a classified uranium enrichment project at the Lucas Heights nuclear facility in Sydney.
Greenpeace says a little known company called Silex is using the facility to develop a process to enrich uranium with the aid of lasers.
Lasers! This can only mean mass death to our enemies!
Former Australian Diplomat and author of Fact or Fission, the Truth about Australia's Nuclear Ambitions, Richard Broinowski, has welcomed Greenpeace's report. He's told reporter Nick Grimm there are good reasons to be worried.
(via contributor J. F. Beck)
Shattering testimony from relatives of those killed in last year's terrorist attack on a Jakarta hotel:
Sri Lestari described how her husband, a Marriott hotel security guard, suffered for more than a week in hospital before succumbing to the terrible burns covering most of his body.
"For eight days, I saw him with a hose going into his mouth and I could not talk with him," she said before breaking down in tears.
The second witness in the trial, which began in October and is expected to drag well into next year, lost his brother-in-law, a taxi driver trying to park at the hotel when the bomb exploded.
"My brother was parking. His head was cut off and could not be found anywhere even until now. His legs were also gone. Only his arms were still intact," Husni said.
According to this Canadian protester, Bush must be to blame ... since he's the only terrorist she knows: