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All the "doctored" News Fit to Print

The American military knows no bounds. If not actively involved in beating prisoners, being associated with torture or "embedding" journalists amongst its ranks, now comes news that US military "information operations" are writing news-reports for Iraqi newspapers.

Needless to say the spin is pro-American and pro-Iraqi. According the LA Times report whilst the articles are not necessarily factually incorrect, the "news" does not provide a full or balanced picture of the newsworthy event.

Perhaps Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are reading the news reports out of Iraq - and therefore totally oblivious to what is actually going on there. Listening to Rumsfeld on the radio today "beating up" how well things are going in Iraq suggests to this listener that he is as delusional as Messrs Bush and Cheney.

What? - Parties on Friday to "celebrate Van Nguyen's hanging?

"Let's hope that more than sports fixtures are scheduled for the same day, the event of his death should be marked with parties."

So Piers Akerman concludes his column in the Sydney Daily Telegraph today.

I would not even deign to provide a link to the entire column. And, given Piers Akerman's "record" on so many things perhaps his view comes as no surprise.

There are, no doubt, some low-lifes out there, who would be cheering for the hanging of Van Nguyen. The majority of the Oz population is not! Whilst it might have been far too much to expect from Akerman, for an "individual" [he is not worthy of the appellations "person" or "human being" ascribed to him] to advocate parties to celebrate a hanging of 25 year man is breath-taking. It is crass, insensitive and obscene.

One must really wonder what the Editor and management of a major daily newspaper think about all of this. Then again, perhaps the answer to that question lies in…

Cheney - International War Criminal?

Larry Wilkerson was Chief of Staff to Colin Powell when Powell was US Secretary of State.

Read this most interesting article from The Nation dealing with a BBC interview with Wilkerson. His remarks are extraordinary - remembering who is making them.

Need anything more be said? Perhaps that noose is closing around the neck of Cheney and crew. It ought to!

10.30 pm update on 30 November: Given Cheney's recent attack on the integrity of those criticising the entry into the Iraq War - in effect calling them liars - just in from the Washington Post is this article putting Cheney's honesty on the line yet again.

Singapore's Double Standards

Dr. Damien Kingsbury is the Director of International and Community Development at Deakin University.

Here, in part, is his comment on the Van Nguyen discussion and debate in reation to the death penalty in Singapore -

"Because of its quasi-state sanctioned trade in drugs, as well as its
consistently appalling human rights record and military dictatorship, Burma is
shunned by most of the world. But Singapore does not shun Burma, and is after
China its second largest foreign investor, trading partner and military
hardware supplier.

The Burmese military – which is also the government - is deeply involved in the
country's heroin trade, through direct ownership of growing and refining and
through massive kick-backs from heroin warlords. Heroin funds around half of
Burma's economy.

In that the Burmese government has recently limited opium production, it has
largely been in areas it does not receive profits from. And much heroin
production has been replaced by production of amphetamines.

Mos…

Politicians - with NO Principles

Members of Parliament are known as MP's. From now on the title MP should be amended to MwP [Member without Principles].

Last night, the House of Representatives passed the anti-terror laws. Yes, a bi-partisan Senate Committee did on Monday report that the proposed laws should be amended in 52 ways - and the sedition part dropped altogether.

So, what did all these MP's do? With the exception of 1 independent and 1 Labour Member, the House passed the Bill without amendment. What spineless and unprincipled people - and most certainly not people in whom to entrust the preservation of our rights and even basic democracy.

Coincidentally, yesterday Senator Bob Brown put forward a motion in the Senate to the effect that the death penalty should be regarded with "abhorence". Did the Senate pass that? - especially in the light of all the alleged concerns about Van Nguyen articulated by Messrs Howard, Downer and Ruddock. No! - not in that form. The word "abhorent" wa…

A Macabre [and Barbaric] Milestone

With the news dominated by the plight of Van Nyugen [what a State that won't even allow someone on Death Row some sort of physical contact with a parent] tomorrow marks a macabre milestone in the US.

With the re-introduction of the death penalty in the early 1970's tomorrow will, bar unforseen circumstances, see the 1000th execution in 28 years in America. The SMH has an opinion piece today about the state of the States in relation to the death penalty. Yep, the land of the free and the brave also continues to "murder" its citizens - even when, after all these years there has been compelling evidence that people have been wrongly convicted and languished on Death Row for years before being released.

George Bush - you know that one - when Governor of Texas on no occassion ever commuted a death sentence in 152 cases. And here is silly me thinking that a born-again Christian who now, as President, preaches and espouses Christian "values" might have shown some me…

Jack Murtha and the Iraq War [continued]

As the debate about the Iraq War, the reasons for going into it in the first place and whether the US should withdraw [not "cut and run" as Bush, Blair and Howard keep on asserting] continues in America an op-ed piece by NYT columnist Bob Herbert ["Worse than Pointless"] in the IHT, undoubtedly reflects considerable opinion in the USA. The article is only available as a subscriber, but the piece concludes thus

"America needs to cut its losses in Iraq. The folly of the Bush crowd and its apologists is now plain for all to see. Murtha is right: The war is not sustainable. Even Republicans in Congress are starting to bail out on this impossible mission. They're worried - not about the welfare of the troops, but about their chances in the 2006 elections.

To continue sending people to their deaths under these circumstances is worse than pointless, worse than irresponsible. It's a crime of the most grievous kind"

What is "interesting" to refle…

Ruddock - And those Sedition Laws

Phillip Ruddock, as Attorney-General, ought be #1 law officer in the Nation.

Sadly, all the actions of Ruddock are totally opposite to the responsibilities with which he is vested. Just consider Ruddock's dismissal, yesterday, of the valid and compelling arguments of the Senate Committee against the proposed anti-terrorism laws, in particular, the sedition laws.

Well-known international author, Thomas Keneally, can't be easily dismissed as some rabid reactionary. Read here his opinion piece in this morning's SMH on the very real dangers lurking in the proposed sedition laws. Note too the incidents of the A-G's department to which Keneally refers. Very, very troubling - and something every Australian should be critically concerned about.

Another [Awful] USA Import?

The other day Melbourne University announced that it plans on introducing an undergraduate program [a la that found in the USA] as a pre-requisite to a graduate program such as in law or medicine. The proposal seems to have drawn some approval.

Yesterday's AFR revealed that the cost of a law degree for a full fee-paying student can now total between $120,000 and $140,000. Obviously John Howard scoff at anyone paying $100,000 to gain a degree has been long forgotten.

With economists already detailing the impact of HECS on graduates post Uni - a debt which potentially limits spending-power - the general introduction of what Melbourne University proposes is yet another import from the USA which Australia can do without.

A piece in Alternet, yesterday, "Burying College Grads in Debt" spells out what be be ahead for graduates in Australia. There is no reason to believe things will be any different in Oz.

Food for Thought

Yes, many deplore what is happening in Singapore in relation to the young Vietnamese Van Nguyen.

There is talk of protests and boycotts. Don't fly Singapore Airlines, by pass Singapore, drop the Optus account, etc. etc.

Crikey today editorialises on the outburst of indigation and action people may want to take and offers this sober assessment and reflection

"If you seriously believe that capital punishment is abhorrent, and you genuinely want to register a strong protest against the execution of Van Tuong Nguyen, think very hard before you start boycotting Singaporean companies and products. Because if, like the Australian government, you're dedicated to the abolition of capital punishment and you want to express that view logically through your hip-pocket, you should be just as logical in how you apply your moral indignation. Which means boycotting companies and products from all countries and jurisdictions that still use the death penalty, not just one of them.

You coul…

Favour Hanging? You Won't After You Hear This!

Although public opionion seems to support the abolition of capital punishment - and be against Nguyen Van being hanged in Singapore - there are those who loudly proclaim that hanging is ok and that the young Vietnamese in Singapore should be executed.

Deterrent is often cited as the reason for capital punishment. Assuming there to be any validity to that viewpoint [which overwhelming evidence shows there is not] to be consistent the hanging, or whatever, should be public. Say, the City Square or such like. Oh yeah? No way would be the response. Too repugnant, unsightly and unpleasant.

Ronald Ryan was the last person to be hanged in Australia. That was in Victoria in 1967. Phil Opas QC represented Ryan. A then Radio 3AW news editor, Brian Morley, witnessed the hanging. It is so obvious that Morley is still, to this day, traumatised by what he saw that fateful day when Ryan was hanged. Listen to an interview with Phil Opas and Brian Morley [this morning on the ABC Radio National Breakfast…

Bush Administration - "Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt

Frank Rich, who writes for the NYT, is no friend of the Bush Administration. He has for some time been critical, in a constructive, sober and incisive way, about Bush and Cheney and how they got America into the Iraq War.

Yesterday's op-ed piece by Rich - Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt - pulls together the facts and figures and how things are evolving and unravelling in Washington.

Do read this excellent piece - and ponder when our press will start asking some critical and pertinent questions of John Hoawrd and Co. It can only be a matter of time [hopefully] that Howard will have to answer for his complicity in getting Australia into what can only be described as the mess in Iraq.

30 Years in the Making...

Anyone even remotely familiar with journalism and the Middle East will know that Robert Fisk is unquestionably the doyen of all journalists in the region. He can draw on being there "at the coal-face" for some 30 years. Who hasn't he met and at what conflict in the region hasn't he been an eye-witness.

Many don't like Fisk. One may not always agree with him but one cannot ignore his knowledge, expertise, insightful analysis and ability and capacity to take on what many would rather not. No comfort-zones for Fisk. It will be told as it is - with no prisoners taken!

With such an extensive experience to draw on, Fisk has now just had published [recently arrived in nearest your book store] The Great War for Civilisation. No lesser other doyen in journalism, Phillip Knightley, reviews the Fisk book here. At 1366 pages it would appear to be book well-timed to be read over the summer vacation-break.

Cheney's Revisionism [aka Lies]

It is reported that tensions have arisen between George Bush and his side-kick Carl Rove and even with Dick Cheney. Well they might. Whatever the true position, Cheney obviously just can't help himself in going out there and trying some more revision of history - or, in plain English, simply lying.

This piece from the in the LA Times analysing Cheney's attempt to revise the facts in relation to what was being said and done pre the Iraq War makes for interesting reading.

Probably the nub of the matter lies in the very first paragraph of the article

"IF the debate over the war in Iraq now raging across our front pages and airwaves proves nothing else, it already has demonstrated that this administration believes the people's attention span can be measured in nanoseconds and that memory has the shelf life of fresh bread".

A Timely Reminder on those Anti-Terrorism Laws

With debate in the media centreing on the proposed new IR laws and the fate of Nguyen Van in Singapore, probably, mercifully for the Government, the anti-terrorism law debate has slipped out of the limelight.

It musn't! - as this timely and compelling article and analysis in The Age Friday last by barrister and former Victorian law reform commissioner David Neal makes more than abundantly clear.

Whilst you reflect on Neal's article ponder on what can happen when our legal safeguards go unchecked. This rather frightening report in the NYT needs no explanation to show how things pan out when we lose those so-called sacred protections of our liberty and access to justice.

Howard's Nosedive in the Polls

This past week has seen electoral polls showing PM Howard and his Government fall mightily in popularity. Deservedly so! Sadly, the Opposition hasn't really gained traction with the electorate - except in relation to the proposed IR laws.

Mike Carleton - broadcaster and columnist for the SMH - has in his column yesterday, as always, succinctly and cogently, put the case for why the IR laws are a backward step. Read his column here.

Carleton also ventures the view [remember the column was published yesterday - polling day] that the Liberal candidate for the NSW seat of Pittwater will lose. He was more than spot on! A mighty swing of 26% against the Liberal candidate if the ABC news this morning is right. Is there also a message to John Howard about the IR laws and the anti-terrorism laws?

Finally Carleton in his column , sadly, reflects on Singapore and more particularly on the fate of Nguyen Van.

Who Needs Postcards?

Postcards? A thing of the past? Not quite, but it would seem that savvy travelers are embracing the internet and, to boot, using their own blog, to make it a running commentary / postcard of their daily "adventures".

Why have the tedium of writing multiple cards [which will probbaly get lost in the mail!] when, voila, instantly, family and friends back home can find out what you have been up to in the South America, swanning around Paris, visiting the Taj Mahal or just vegging out in Hawaii. This is what the New York Times has to say about this new way of "keping in touch" -

"READING an online travel blog will perhaps never have the romance of receiving a dog-eared postcard in the mail, but intrepid travelers armed with digital cameras are finding that keeping a blog on the road can be a compelling and viable way of maintaining contact with friends and family.

A travel blog is a real-time online journal that allows users to post text and photographs to the Inter…

Road Warriors

As many of us seem to be accumulating more and more plugs, fittings, laptops, ipods, pda's, super-duper mobile phones and other devices needing "juice" [ie power] some businsses are looking to see how to accommodate road warriors. Starbucks, for one, has seen an opening in providing the facility for customers to re-charge their mobile phone or laptop. Of course wi-fi is all the buzz as the world seems to go increasingly cord-less for those moving around with a laptop or notebook.

Obviously road warriors have found wi-fi much to their liking - as this article in the IHT notes.

On a related topic, a number of airlines are already geared for access to the www on board. That's ok! But with the facility to use mobile phones on board aircraft are we all destined to be driven mad as one of the last bastions to escape from the ever-present mobile disappears?

Wither Bush?

The Iraq War grinds on - and the casualties and injuries mount. Notwithstanding the blinding obvious - and even a leak that Pres Shrub wanted to bomb Al Jazeera [now that is bizarre!] - the Coalition of the Willing still live on in cloud-cuckoo land that things are going well in Iraq and that they cannot "cut and run".

Yes, it might be a quagmire in Iraq but something must be done to stop the senseless carnage both of Iraqis and mainly Americans.

Bush is on the horns of a dilemma! - as this analysis from the Washington Post clearly articulates.

False Wringing of Hands

With one week to go before the scheduled hanging [how barbaric!] of Nguyen Van in Singapore hope of saving this young man from the gallows seems to fade by the minute.

Meanwhile the Australian Government wrings its hands, falsely in my view, and says there is little it can do. Hey, what about the International Court of Justice? All informed legal opinion suggests that that is a course open to the Australian Government. So what if Singapore won't come along or agree to participate. Isn't that what happened when Israel was taken to the same Court a little while back?

Messrs Howard, Downer and Ruddock - heaven-forbid to have to rely on anything in their hands - make "noises" but do nothing. It all has an element of falsehood and duplicity about it. After all trade with Singapore can't be put in the way of principle! But then again, has this Government ever shown anything by way of leadership or principle? John Howard is far more intent on "strutting" the wor…

An Easy Solution?

What is the message from the Government? Either we do need employees to reflect an ageing population or we act, most-often in the most disgraceful manner, in deporting people.

All the evidence seems to indicate that even those described as queue-jumpers or one-time illegal immigrants, make good citizens and work hard - mostly in jobs Australians don't want. Then there are many young people visiting Australia from overseas, on one year work-visas, who would love to stay.

So, when one reads this report of statements made by Minister Kevin Andrews today [citing stats released by the Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University] is not the answer to "harness" those people who want to stay in Australia - and WORK and contribute taxes, etc.

Missing in Action?

We have all read or heard about reporters being embedded with the military forces - especially in Iraq. That unfortunate, to say the least, loss of journalist independence is to be deplored. We are being "delivered" santised "news".

With Democratic Murtha having now publicly spoken out about the Iraq War - and seemingly an awakening, certainly in the USA - about the whole debacle and why the Americans went into Iraq in the first place [were they lied to?] now comes a degree of debate about where the media was all along in all of this.

This article in The New York Observer [While We Were Sleeping] makes for interesting reading as it poses the question - Where was the media between invasion and Murtha?

What? - Change a Leopard's Spots?

Ariel Sharon is being hailed in some quarters as dispalying a seeming change of heart in seeking peace. An opinion-piece in the SMH today by someone from the Lowy Institute suggests that Sharon may have changed his position. Yesterday's Murdoch press spoke of Sharon as a "dove".

Well, the truth is out! Sharon hasn't changed his spots one iota. Just to the contrary if this report in today's The Independent is correct. If anything Sharon seems to be one-tracked in where he is headed. Peace seems as elusive as it ever was.

On another note one wonder what it is which propels a 77 year old to want to continue in politics - let alone people prepared to give a vote to yesterday's man.

Read - and Weep

I have previously written about the genocide in Darfur - and the world averting its eyes.

Nicholas Kristof of the NYT has been in Darfur and reported extensively from there. This Op-Ed piece is not on the web other than via subscription. So, here is Kristof's lastest piece in full -

"Sudan's Department of Gang Rape

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Kalma Camp, Sudan

When the Arab men in military uniforms caught Noura Moussa and raped her the other day, they took the trouble to explain themselves.

"We cannot let black people live in this land," she remembers them telling her, and they used racial epithets against blacks, called her a slave, and added: "We can kill any members of African tribes." (Watch Ms. Noura in the Op-Ed special report, "The Forgotten Genocide.")

Ms. Noura is one of thousands of women and girls to be gang-raped in Darfur, as part of what appears to be a deliberate Sudanese government policy to break the spirit of several African tribe…

Be Afraid!

The news is almost daily full of news about bird flu, the possible fall-out from the spread of it or even the diabolical consequences of a pandemic.

Driving along in my car today listening to Radio National's The World Today I was severely jolted by an interview with Dr. Alan Dupont [of the Lowy Institute] an international risk expert.

They might have spoken of "Be Afraid!" in the film Jaws, but if you want to hear the really scary impact a bird flu pandemic could have in and for Australia listen to the interview here. The fall-out could be horrendous on levels and in areas you would probably not even have thought about.

More Truths out of Iraq

The USA has steadfastly denied that the invasion of Iraq was to secure oil reserves for the West.

When Baghdad was being extensively looted immediately after the invasion all reports from Baghdad were that the only thing the US military was "protecting" was the Oil or Interior Ministry.

With the clear and obvious ties that both Bush and Cheney have to oil interests it has always been hard to believe that oil was not a, if not the, motivating factor for the invasion.

A report in today's The Independent on the spoils of war in Iraq - OIL!!!! - makes out a compelling case for what has been suspected all along.

Another element of the unravelling underway in Washington?

Reality Check

From afar it is somewhat difficult to gauge the mood of America in relation to the Iraq War, the Bush Administration and how George Bush is perceived. We are dependant on news reports and accessing various sources on the web.

That Bushs' popularity has nose-dived appears without doubt. That those supporting the ongoing Iraq War is diminishing, rapidly, also appears beyong question. It is also, seemingly, clear that the integrity of the Administration is seen as being wanting.

Not deterred, today brings news that VP Cheney is on the attack accusing those who question the rationale for the Iraq War as being unpatriotic and criticising those who would challenge the truthfulness of Bush and his Administration. People in glass houses....

This Editorial in The Nation, in my view, probably reflects the mood of very many, and public opinion, in America. One can't help but wonder whether the "whole thing" [the Iraq War, Bush personally, the Administration, etc.] isn't unrave…

Will that be Democracy with Corruption?

George Bush and his seemingly parrot-like fellow-travellers Condi and Rumsfeld keep on sprouting forth about bringing democracy to Iraq and other countries in the Middle East.

The evidence on the ground seems to indicate that anything but democracy is taking hold in the region. Certainly, Iraq "conditions" gets worse by the day. The actions of American soldiers just today in shooting into a bus killing its occupants will do little to demonstrate the strengths and benefits of democracy to the peoples of Iraq.

On democracy in the region -

"Progress is shaky, however, its permanence far from assured. While both Western and Arab media juxtapose bombings with democratization, the true threat to both political reform and stability in the Middle East is not terrorism, but corruption; and across the region, the problem is worsening."

So says Michael Rubin in this interesting article from The Daily Star on so-called democracy in the Middle East - but the more troubling sco…

David Irving Arrested

David Irving is almost a blast from the past. He certainly gets little media coverage in Australia.
It will be recalled that Irving, a vocal and vehement Holocaust-denier, was denied access to visit to speak in Australia some years ago and 5 years ago was Plaintiff in a proceeding in the High Court of England when he sued Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books. Lipstadt had in a book of hers [published by Penguin] accused Irving of being a Holocaust-denier.

Today comes news that Irving was arrested in Austria last week [and now sits in a cell in prison] arising from an arrest warrant going back to 1989. Listen to a most interesting interview with Lipstadt from the Breakfast Program on Radio National this morning.

WorkChoice - Sensibly Explained

Anyone who reads either The Age or the Sydney Morning Herald should know columnist Ross Gittins. Gittins is an economist who, thankfully, writes in a style and in a straightforward and sensible way to unravel or explain the sometimes arcane or obscure side of economics.

So, today's article in the SMH on the WorkChoices legislation is not only worthwhile reading - but also highlights the effect of part of the new IR laws, which as Gittins rightly says, has had little air-play. Needless to say it makes a mockery of the oft-stated position of Howard and Andrews that workers won't be worse off - although both have steadfastly refused to guarantee that. Howard says trusts me. With his his track-record [remember no GST and core and non-core election promises?] that is rather hard to swallow!

Meanwhile, the SMH today also carries an article reporting on what the various welfare agencies say the outcome of the new legislation will have - in creating an underclass. One cannot help but…

Is the Truth Now Starting to Come Out?

Today saw a report from Iraq of 5 Americans being killed and scores of Iraqis. So much for Donald Rumsfeld, in Adelaide, the other day speaking positively of how things are going in Iraq. Of course, little Lord Downer of Baghdad, fell into line and echoed much the same view. Great to see independent thought! - but, then again, that assumes an ability to do so.

George Bushs' popularity continues to decline [see the figures here] and more and more the whole scenario of how the US got into the mess - and the lies peddled to do so - now known as the Iraq War, is being questioned. To date John Howard has been pretty immune from any questioning. It can only be a matter of time before, he too, will have to answer for this whole debacle and the now discredited lies used to support the Coalition of the Willing.

Read this Washington Post article / analysis of the vote in Congress to end the war and bring the troops back home. The vote might have been lost 403-3 but the fallout is seemingly ju…

60 Years On.....

Today marks the 60th anniversary of start of the Nuremberg Trials.

The principles laid down by the Trials should not be forgotten - see this background from israelinsider.

It's an important day - perhaps made even more relevant today with conflicts around the world and some people taking a stand against what is happening in the name of, or by, their Government. Just reflect on those Israeli soldiers who have refused to serve in relation to the Palestinian conflict and some US soldiers who resisted being "involved" in what they regard as an unjust and improper invasion of Iraq.

Yahoo News also has an interesting piece on the significance of the day and how the world, including the USA, should "deal with" what is happening in the 21st century.

A more detailed analysis of the Trials and everything relating to them can be found here.

Staggering Statistics - for World Toilet Day

19 November is World Toilet Day! What you ask. No, it is not a joke for behind "the day" comes the release by WaterAid of shocking statistics.

Every minute 4 children die of diarrhoea. 2.6 billion people [43% of the world's population] have no access to basic sanitation. In India alone 772 million people exist without toilets.

Read the full report from WaterAid here.

It is shameful that the world allows such a situation of death and suffering to continue.

Cheney Slammed - by ex CIA Director

When the ex Director of the CIA slams Dick Cheney about his policy-position of supporting - if not downright encouraging - torture, then one has to sit up and listen. Well, that is exactly what Admiral Stansfield Turner has done in a TV interview.

Today comes news that European governments are now investigating the use by the US of facilities in foreign countries to torture people and the use of airports in European countries to transit or fly people to be tortured somewhere else.

Meanwhile, Australia stays silent in all of this - and remains complicit as, at the very least, endorsing what has been going on in torturin and wrongfully detaining people. Being such a staunch and unquestioning ally of the USA will, and already has, come back to bite us. Just listen to the tapes revealed by the Indonesians yesterday. Lord Downer of Baghdad can be as dismissive as he likes - but we all risk ignoring what is being said at our peril.

Weekend Reflections

This week has seen lots happening in all sorts of areas - political, social and economic. The CEO of Telstra has announced that a mere 12,000 employees are to lose their jobs. The Government's response? The barest ripple! On another front Lord Downer of Baghdad [who seems to live increasingly under a bushel and now resorts to making the statement "to be honest" or "honestly" when being interviewed - thereby implying that everything else he says isn't honest?] just can't keep himself from basking in the shadow of Donald Rumsfeld visiting Adelaide.

To hear Rumsfeld speak - well, what for him passes as speaking English in some sort of coherent fashion - is to listen to someone living in cloud-cuckoo land.

In his usual brilliant style Mike Carlton in his weekend column in the SMH deals with both the Telstra boss and Rumsfeld. Do take out time to read it!

The First Breach in the Dike?

Rumsfeld is in Australia pontificating on how well things are going in Iraq. Lord Downer of Baghdad [speaking this morning on ABC referring to his having "spoken to Condi" the other day - a little big-noting?] rabbits on to the same tune. Meanwhile, those in the know - that is on the ground - keep on saying that things are far, far from going well in Iraq.

With George Bush having being Commander in Chief and the American propensity to give their President a degree of veneration which defies belief, the US Administration has thus far been able to basically keep the nation behind the Iraq war effort. No more! The majority no longer trust Bush.

Now comes news that the dike may have been broken - for the first time! A leading Democrat, who initially supported the war and who has an impecable track-record in many areas, has called for an end to the war and recalling the troops. He is the first politician to openly do so. Read the NYT report here.

It is interesting to speculate wh…

The Subversion of Democracy?

Anyone who reflected on it must have, or certainly should have been, disturbed by the photographs and TV coverage of the alleged terrorists arrested last week, and the "removal" of the men who was shot, to prison. The images were truly appalling - and one must wonder what the purpose of it all was? To intimidate the general populace or perhaps to dramatise the alleged threat from terrorists for political purposes?

Whatever the underlying motive [s] on Margo Kingston's Webdiary there is today an interesting piece by Tony Kevin on what he describes as the Subversion of Democracy. Certainly food for thought! - and concern.

Perhaps the point can't be made more graphically than that made in CRIKEY yesterday:

"The ingredients that seem to have gone missing over the past few weeks of terrorism and IR rhetoric (and counter-rhetoric) in Australia are balance and perspective. Today, for example, these are the top five headlines on the Daily Telegraph's website ...

&quo…

There You Go - The Opposition to the IR Laws were Right!

"The mass meetings and marches around the country earlier this week against the Howard government's industrial relations "reforms" demonstrated the breadth of opposition to his plans to end the job security and drive down the wages and working conditions of Australians. But the most damning critique of the proposed laws comes from deep within John Howard's inner circle"

Pru Goward, Sex Discrimation Commissioner, and close to John Howard, can hardly be described as a radical. Yet, it was she who today at the Senate Inquiry into the propsed IR laws clearly said that the laws were not family-friendly and discriminated against women and the low-paid. Wasn't that what most thinking people have been saying all along?

Read the thrust of Goward's position on the IR laws in this piece in the somewhat curiously named column, The Contrarian, written by Andrew West, in today's SMH.

David Hicks - Continued

It is to the undying shame of the Australian Government [or perhaps more particularly Messrs Howard, Ruddock and Downer] that it does absolutely nothing to intervene in the continuing detention of David Hicks. Let's even leave aside the highly prejudical statements each of the 3 have made. To see Hicks in custody for what looks like his 5th year coming up is a disgrace.

All independent observers have, rightly, asserted that what is happening to Hicks is a travesty of justice. Now Hicks, and other detainees, face even some of the limited rights they have, being stripped as a result of legislation before the US Congress.

Australia MUST stand up for Hicks - whether it likes it or not! Even teflon Tony did for British detainees.

This morning's SMH has an opinion-piece written by an international law expert, Devika Hovell. Read this most worthwhile analysis.

US Lies - Again!

It's the usual pattern and story! Outright indignation that anyone could even remotely suggest that America has, or has not, done something. Then, a few days later the admission or the story leaking [or oozing!] out.

A few days ago the USA denied the use of chemical weapons in Falluja. We? - the USA? No way! Well, now the truth is out. Read George Monbiot in Alternet on how the US lie came unstuck.

Divisions Magnified

This week has seen heightened complaint and criticism of the proposed IR laws. One critical issue has been that wages, and working conditions generally,will be reduced or curtailed.

If there was one way to stick it up "the workers" the AFR Survey on CEO salaries published today shows that the top-end is doing very, very nicely. It doesn't even matter if the company isn't travelling too well, the CEO and his fellow executives are still being paid more than handsomely - sometimes even an increase on the monies paid the previous year. In the case of Centro the directors and executives are being paid a quarter of the annual profit!

Here are the raw figures as reported by AAP:

SYDNEY, Nov 16 AAP - The chief executive officers (CEOs) of Australia's biggest sharemarket listed companies have received an average 16 per cent payrise in the past year.

The average salary for the head of one of Australia's top 300 biggest sharemarket listed companies has risen from $1.6 …

The World Might Have Been a Different Place

November 15 marks Palestinian Independence Day. So what? you may well ask.

Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, in an interesting opinion piece, highlights what Israel simply missed - and how things might have turned out very differently in the Middle East - when the Palestinians declared independence back in 1988. Perhaps it a just another reflection of how Israel has been blind to the whole Palestinian issue. Remember the furore only a few months ago when a noted TV commentator / anchorman made a film [shown on Israeli TV] showing the situation of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank - and then asserting that Israelis didn't know what is happening some 10 kms down the road from them.

On the wider "picture" had Israel appreciated, and taken on board, what was happening back then in 1988, just reflect on where the world might be today. Probably less conflicts, especially those borne out of the continuing issue of Palestinian rights and its own nation.

Democracy at Work?

Today saw marches against the new IR laws around Australia. All that John Howard and Kevin Andrews could say was that in a year's time people would wonder what all the fuss had been about.

I suspect that this issue will not go away. Messrs Howard and Andrew have set course on creating a devisive, and angry, Australia on a mammoth scale. Howard is dismissive of those who protest. What is seemingly forgotten in all of this is that some 70 % of those polled are against the new IR laws. That's a majority by an reckoning. Remember that some 70% were against Oz committing to the Iraq War. That didn't stop Howard going ahead anyway.

So, where is the democracy in all of this? It's not! The whole approach of the Government is perhaps demonstrated by this small item. The proposed Act is some 700 pages and the Explanatory Statement some 650 pages. On introduction of the Bill to the House, 4 [yes 4!] copies of the Bill and Explanatory Statement were provided to the Opposition. Now t…

Torture by Another Name

Robert Fisk is, without doubt, the pre-eminent commentator and writer on matters relating to the Middle East. A reporter in the "old" mould [and that isn't a criticism of him] he knows his stuff not only because he is actually there, on the spot, but he does his home-work in establishing the facts. It certainly was a treat to hear Fisk speak recently when in Australia.

Yes, many don't like what he says. He is not right all the time - but probably what he says is too close to the bone.

In one of his latest pieces Fisk "covers" how the word "torture" is now becoming "abuse". Also worth reflecting on is how Fisk takes up the way in which the Americans are looking to "prevail" in Iraq. Not winning! That the US - and by default the UK and Australia - say they did back in 2003. Perhaps they had better explain that to the families of the escalating number of deceased US soldiers and those injured. And let's not forget the poor …

Australia Abstains from Culture

Ever wonderful gad-fly and commentator Phillip Adams, in his weekly column last Saturday in the Weekend Magazine in The Australian, wrote:

"A few weeks ago the United Nations approved the first international treaty to protect films, music and other cultural expressions from foreign dominance. The vote was overwhelming: 148 nations to two. One of the two was, of course, the United States. The other, sadly, was Israel, which you'd think would be wholly sympathetic to the idea of preserving a cultural identity. Isn't that why the Jewish state exists? And guess who abstained from the vote. We did."

How extraordinary that Australia took the position it did. One wonders why? It's very doubtful that we will ever find out. On the face of it it certainly reflects on how Oz sees as its priorities and values in the early 21st century.

Read the entire opinion-piece here.

By the way, the ever irrepressible Adams in his Late Night Live program [Radio National 10.05 pm Monday - Thu…

Terror Laws - A Fund Manager's Perspective

Kerr Neilson was for many years a successful Fund Manager at BT Funds Management. He then left, with others joining him, to start up Platinum Asset Management. Without any shadow of a doubt, Neilson, a South African, is one of Australia's foremost and most astute investment gurus - as those in his various Funds have seen with their investments prospering. Neilson, by the way, is a contrarian in his investment style.

This morning's AFR carries an article that Platinum has made a submission to the Senate on the repercussions of the proposed anti-terrorism laws. Neilson is highly critical of them and warns of the fall out and ramifications if the legislation is brought in.

Yet again, Margo Kingston's Webdiary is at the forefront in having available on its web site a copy of the actual submission. Read it here - for it makes for interesting reading and analysis.

And this is What John Howard Supports?

The Guardian Unlimited newspaper carries this most disturbing report on what the US proposes in relation to its facility at Guantanamo. Rights for inmates? Forget it! Now the Americans want to abrogate whatever limited rights presently exist.

With the David Hicks matter again in the news and John Howard, Lord Downer of Baghdad and the A-G supporting what the US is doing in relation to Hicks, Australians must protest what is happening here. Any semblence of justice, let alone fairness, is being thrown away.

An updated footnote @ 3.30pm 14/11/05: Stephen Hadley, Security Advisor to Pres. Bush, has now said that the US won't rule out the use of torture - see this in this morning's SMH. Strange! Just a few days ago Bush said in South America that the USA does not engage in torture. Also read this piece on the USA's double standards by David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University, in Slate magazine.

For how long, and what will it take, for the Federal Government to…

Do We Need Sedition Laws?

Ian Barker is a well known Sydney silk. He has had extensive experience in the Courts over the years.

In today's SMH he has an opinion piece which concludes that we do not need sedition laws in Australia. Read it here. Barker joins well-informed opinion that the proposed laws should be vigorously opposed.

Meanwhile, AG Phillip Ruddock still keeps on asserting that we do need sedition laws. However, nothing of substance or valid argument is put forward. How anyone could even remotely trust Ruddock with anything he says or does defies belief. His track record as an AG and previously as a Minister for Immigration makes him one of the most disgraceful ministers of recent memory. By all accounts Ruddock's own daughter doesn't have much, if anything, to do with him. Can't say one can blame her!

Go on.... Treat Yourself

I have just spent a weekend at Daylesford [Victoria] which is part of what is known as Spa Country. It is a beautiful area with lots of restaurants, delightful walks [around the Lake is particularly enjoyable] a vibrant town and of course the Hepburn Spa nearby. The area has attracted a large number of B & B's.

What makes Daylesford an especially appealing destination is the absolutely wonderful Lake House [ a member of Small Luxury Hotels]. It deserves all the awards it has garnered. The accommodation is wonderful, the cuisine sensational and the service impeccable. The Lake House now even boasts it's own Salus Spa facility in a beautiful setting.

With an easy drive from Melbourne of some 80 minutes a stay at Lake House or even just a lunch is a treat. Check it out here. You won't regret it!

Democracy at Work?

The last week has seen a variety of tumultous events both in relation to legislation passed in the Federal Parliament and in Sydney and Melbourne with the arrest of alleged terrorists.

Listening to Federal Parliament on News Radio for a short time [who can take more than a short burst?] can only make one shake one's head in amazement. Democracy at work? Hardly.....especially with the gag being applied by the Government.

Read this interesting piece by Mike Seccombe in this morning's SMH - and despair!

Meanwhile, Richard Ackland, always excellent in his analysis and comment in his column in the SMH, is again well worthwhile reading this week.

Glamour Magazine's Woman of the Year

The award of "Woman of the Year" would, ordinarily, more likely than not, be to someone with a high world-wide profile, glamorous and rich.

It is therefore surprising, and delightful, to see Glamour Magazine award the "Woman of the Year" to Mukhtaran Bibi of Pakistan. If the name isn't instantly recognisable Muhktaran is the [now 31] young woman who was gang-raped in a village in Pakistan 3 years ago, but who, contrary to what would normally be the case, has taken on "the system" in Pakistan. Mukhtaran was gang-raped on the orders of the council of elders. The case is now before the Courts.

A piece in the NYT has described Mukhtaran as the 21st Century Rosa Parks. However she is to be described, she is a remarkable woman who has, and is still doing, extraordinary things for her village and surrounding area in Pakistan. Read this piece in The Guardian on a woman who is no less than a pioneer in Pakistan.

Backbenchers - with Backbone!

It is hard to conceive any Australian Government Coalition member voting against anything John Howard and crew want passed [save for Barnaby Joyce - perhaps] but it is refreshing to read [see The Times report here] that 49 Labour Party members in the UK yesterday voted against Tony Blair's proposal to allow for 90 days detention.

It is worth reflecting on whether Coalition members are sheep, driven by the wish not put PM Howard off side or perhaps simply seeking to curry favour in order to get a Cabinet post, but surely some members must have some sort of conscience. Then again, perhaps not. Just consider what the Howard Government plans in relation to pensions payable to single parents and the disabled. This morning's SMH carries an opinion piece on what lies ahead for this already disadvantaged group in the community.

On the Ground in Kurdistan

It would seem that most reporters [?] in Iraq are either enbedded [making their reports near enough useless] or making some sort of assessment of what is happening from their hotel rooms - rather than venture out into "the field" and take the risk to life and limb.

It is therefore more than interesting to read an article by someone who has been out there seeing what is actually happening and how this whole Iraq mess is playing out for and with the people of Iraq. See the article here by Christian Parenti in The Nation.

A Medicos View of Iraq...

George Bush says things are looking up in Iraq. Tony Blair is a little more subdued. John Howard is hardly questioned on the topic - and stays mum! As for Cheney, whatever credibility he might have had to start out with [probably near zero] forget about his bullish appraisals of things in Iraq.

A book review in the LA Times today of a book written by a surgeon who arrived in Baghdad 19 days after the Coalition of the Willing launched their attack on Iraq appears objective and dispassionate and certainly presents a sober assessment of what is really happening "on the ground". If only one could be assured that George Bush can read, let alone add this book to a pile to read!

Past Federal Liberal Party's Letter to John Howard

John Valder is a one-time Federal President of the Liberal Party and an ally of John Howard. No more! Valder was much involved in the Not Happy John campaign last year. He has now, once again, in a letter to John Howard expressed his concerns about the actions of John Howard in whipping up hysteria in relation to the anti-terrorism laws.

The hype surrounding the raids and arrests in Sydney and Melbourne in the last 24 hours and the statements made by senior politicians, and then partially retracted, must be cause for real concern about the climate being created in Australia. John Howard can protest as much as he wants that Muslims are respected in the community but his actions speak volumes of what used known as "scapegoating". Nudge, nudge, wink, wink! Remember it was Howard at the height of the Tampa "disgrace" who referred to not wanting those sort of people [Muslims] in this country. If that wasn't racist what is?

Read John Valder'…

3 More Years of Bush

Trying to assess the mood in America from this distance isn't easy. Certainly reports coming out of the USA refer to dissatisfaction with Bush about the Iraq war, the appalling response to the Hurricanes, especially Katrina, "issues" about the integrity of officials in the White House, etc. etc. The latest reports of Bushs' trip to South America make it appear that it was far from even remotely successful.

It is therefore interesting to read this opinion-piece in the IHT dealing with Bush and the balance of his 3 year term - and what is said he must do!

USA used Chemical Weapons in Fallujah

Here it is 8.30 pm and despite overseas reports since this morning that the USA used chemical weapons on the people of Fallujah [Iraq] the Oz media hasn't made even the remotest mention of it.

If the facts are as reported then there is yet another scandal brewing. The list gets longer and longer. Torture, extreme physical interrogations, harassment, excessive force, deprivations, etc. etc. It goes on and on. Bush can protest as much as he likes that the USA doesn't employ torture but all seems yet another lie. Does anyone believe Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice anymore anyway?

Read today's report in The Independent on the use of chemical weapons in Falluja - and despair!

Protecting the Most Vulnerable - Children

The 2005 Sydney Peace Prize is this year being awarded to Mr Olara Otunnu, UN Under Secretary General for the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict. This worthy recipient has studied at Oxford and Harvard Universities. Mr Otunnu has championed the end of the use of child soldiers and other violations against children.

In his Report "Children and Armed Conflict" earlier this year Mr Otunnu noted that the way children are abused, in so many ways, is a "human made catastrophe of tsunami proportions" and that it was essential to stop the "process of self destruction"of our future generations.

Read the UN Report here.

9 November am update : Mr Otunnu was on Phillip Adams' Late Night Live last night. You can hear a repeat of the interview today at 4.05 pm on Radio National. Otherwise access ABC Radio on abc.net.au and obtain a transcript or access a download of the interview. The stats, as revealed by Mr Otunnu, are truly frightening and show t…

More on the Travails in France

The video clips on the TV news graphically show the ongoing violence in Paris and elsewhere in France. Sadly, there is little or no analysis of the cause of the problem - let alone what France must do to remedy the situation in which its Muslim population finds itself.

It is therefore refreshing to read an opinion piece from an IHT correspondent "on the ground" in Paris, Catherine Field, dealing not only with the causes for the riots , but more importantly, what the French Government needs to do to address the "difficulties" confronting Frances' sizeable Muslim community.

Condemned Out of Their Own Mouths

From time to time the media revisits what was said, and by whom, before the Iraq War was launched. Most of what was said, as we now know, was pure lies or fiction. Sadly the cost, human and otherwise, since 2003 has been enormous - and with no end in sight. Meanwhile, Iraq seems increasingly headed to becoming a basket-case.

Given what was said back then, the current Harper's magazine article putting all the statements together in one piece makes for sobering and "interesting" reading.

Paris [and Europe?] Burning

Last night again saw fires and continued violence in Paris and other cities in France. To date there seems lots of talk, but little action, to quell the outbreak of seeming lawlessness - let alone a recognition that the issues which sparked the violence need to be addressed.

It should not be forgotten that France has no less than 5 million Muslins inhabitants. Like in other countries in Europe, the Muslim community, and the issues confronting it, have been generally ignored in France.

Martin Walker, UPI Editor, will be well known to those who listen to Radio National or watch SBS Dateline. He is an insightful "reporter" who addresses matters under discussion clearly and soberly. It therefore makes for welcome reading here to reflect on Walker's analysis of what is unfolding, specifically in France, and generally in Europe.

Bush "seduced" Blair - and Howard?

Today's Guardian newspaper discloses that the former UK ambassador to the US has now revealed that Tony Blair was "seduced" by George Bush about going into what has become the Iraq fiasco. The ambassador discloses what might - if not indeed, would have been - had Blair taken a stand about not joining Bush into the Iraq war.

And John Howard? Going by his actions and words he was easily seduced.

Anti-Terrorism Laws [Revisited]

Today's Creative and Medea Section in The Age newspaper carries an interesting piece "Five Years in Jail for Reporting the Truth" - and thoughtful analysis - by Andrew Dodd on the proposed counter-terrorism laws.

Read it and really wonder.... Meanwhile, the AFR today also has an interesting article by Geoffrey Barker on the the proposed IR and anti-terrorism laws and the critical question of whether we should, or indeed can, trust the Government.

Good Timing - Not!

With most informed commentators of the view that the proposed IR laws will diminish working conditions for employees and result in reduced income for workers, industry bodies continue to support the Government. Why wouldn't they? Bottom-line they are the captain's of industries union.

Now come news as a page 1 feature article in today's Australian Financial Review [Shareholders urged to lift directors' fees - not available on line unless a subscriber] that directors are urging shareholders to lift director's fees. More responsibility and life just more onerous claim the small cabal of men, and some women, who make up the directorships of the majority of major corporations. Poor darlings!

Don Argus is quoted in the AFR article

"Mr Argus said he spent about 120 hours a month on his two chairmanships, and Boral chairman Ken Moss estimated there had been a 25 per cent increase in committee work over the past two years due to governance and accounting cha…

The World According to George W. Gump

Phillip Adams is superb at the best of times! Not to listen to Late Night Live on ABC Radio National at 10.05 pm Monday-Thursday [and repeated the next afternoon at 4.05 pm] is to miss being engaged in what is happening in the world, in all areas, not only political.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, Adams also writes a column for the Australian newspaper. Do take the time to read Adams' latest column in last Saturday's Australian Weekend Magazine. Adams has always described Bush as "President Shrub". His latest piece is absolutely brilliant and spot-on in "exposing" Bush for what and who he is and what he has caused. Once you have read the article just reflect on how the world has changed since Bush became President - and that is not only because of 9/11!

Giving the Lie to the ACCI

Mr Howard and his side-kick, Kevin Andrews [have you ever seen him smile?] seem intent on pressing on with their new IR laws notwithstanding criticisms from many quarters. Significent isn't it that the taxpayer-funded research on the effect of the proposed new laws undertaken by the Treasury isn't being released publicly - despite calls for it be done so. One must conclude that the research doesn't support the Government's arguments on the benefits for all Australians if the new laws are brought in.

The economic effect of the new IR laws seem suspect and the long-term effect on the well being of the nation and its workers highly questionable. Of course the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is in there batting for the legislation. But then its members are those who occupy positions in corporations where salary-levels for executives are obscene irrespective of whether the company is prospering or not or even if they are dismissed.

Adele Horin in the SM…

Make Your Mark

All too often the general public considers itself removed from the political process even though it has voted and expects its members of Parliament to take heed of public opinion. Not so - sadly!

Just witness the fact that some 70% of Australians opposed Australian becoming "involved" in Iraq. Did that matter to John Howard & Co? Not a bit.

Enter GetUp! a grass roots group which attempts to harness the internet to allow users to "register" their views to their member of Parliament via the internet. The group is loosely based on the US model of move on .org. Some Government members have asserted that being flooded with emails constitutes spam. What absolute nonsense!

Go on, have your say and some input in the democratic process. Check out GetUp here.

US Patriot Act Oz Style?

The US touts itself as a free and democratic country with, for instance, freedom of speech guaranteed under the Constitution. We are all aware of what many would see as liberties taken to the extreme. The right to bear arms with all the resultant mayhem is but one example where one can only shake one's head at the idiocy of taken liberty too far.

Post 9-11 the US has become almost paranoid about any further terrorist acts and trying to curb or prevent them. Enter the Patriot Act! With its introduction have come quite astounding challenges and incursions to everyday freedoms and rights.

Just read the latest [from the Washington Post] on what is happening in the US to see where things are headed in America. It won't be long before we face a similar situation in Australia if the Federal Government has its way - all in the name of anti-terrorist measures!

Pulling the Collective Oz leg?

Mike Carlton, Sydney radio commentator and columnist for the SMH, in his column today, deals with the PM's announcement the other day of "real and present" danger of a terrorist attack in Australia.

Carlton takes the mickey out of the PM. The PM and Ruddock deserve every bit of it! But reflect on it. Here is a PM who is gradually not being taken seriously. There are all sorts of considerations which flow from that. One certainly is that Kim Beazley should refer to a dictionary and look up what the title Leader of the Opposition means. Me too-ism isn't in any dictionary I have consulted.

Meanwhile, in today's SMH Alan Ramsay has a most interesting column on the whole terrorist legislation and the background of the Government's actions and motives.

Double Standards in the Middle East

Syria seems to be implicated in the murder of Rafik Hariri in Beirut in February last. The US is outraged and is sabre-rattling. Syria does deserve the severest condemnation by all law-abiding countries. But are we on the path of Iraq Mark 2?

That said, the UN resolution condemning Syria does have an air of hypocracy about it, especially as the US has been a driving force in "attacking" Syria's actions. But wait, haven't the Americans themselves been involved or implicated in various countries in either assassinations of political leaders or changes of Government?

One can readily see double-standards emerging here. Interestingly, today's op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune [bear in mind this is, in effect, the NYT] makes the very same point that Arab nations could be justified in complaining about double standards given the way the US and the UN have not responded to various Israeli incidents against Palestinians.

AWB - In Bed With Bushs' Cronies?

As controversary swirls around the Australian Whaet Board and whether it did or did not pay substantial bribes to Iraqi authorities [ie Saddam Hussein] it is interesting to reflect on the fact that seemingly no major US corporations have been referred to in the Volcker Report on the Oil-For-Food scandal.

It's hard top believe that Cheney's old "friends" at Haliburton haven't been bogged in the mire there somewhere. They have been into everything else including cheating the American taxpayers out of millions of dollars.

Doubtlessly the reason the Bush family and their usual cronies, personal and corporate, have not been publicly implicated stems from the revelations and reasons, seemingly soundly based, spelt out in an interesting article by Joshua Holland piece in AlterNet.

You Gotta be Kidding! Trust John Howard?

This last week John Howard has, twice, sought have the Australian public trust him and / or to let them have regard to his record as the basis for, for instance, accepting the proposed new IR laws.

It's a bold thing to to ask from someone with "form" for being totally untrustworthy. Just to recall a few. Remember those core and non-core election promises or that he, John Howard, would never introduce GST into Australia or the kids overboard?

Last year, well know and veteran political journalist Margo Kingston wrote a superb book, Not Happy John [published by Penguin] - which became a best seller for many, many weeks - cataloguing Howard's lies and duplicity over the years. The book is worth re-reading. If you haven't read it, check it at your bookstore. It is still available. One thing is for sure. Once read you certainly would not want to rely on anything John Howard says - let alone trust him.

IR Laws - Servitude and the American Way?

John Howard almost slavishly follows whatever the USA does. Either he likes what he reads and sees or hasn't got the wit to be able to critically evaluate and determine what is bad and good.

The new proposed IR laws - 48 hours after their introduction into the Parliament and already described by a leading academic as a "dog's breakfast" - herald an era of "industrial relations" [some relationship!] not before seen in Australia. The mayhem we are about to see in the workplace if this legislation is passed is very, very troubling and ought to be of concern to all working-people in Australia. I venture to suggest that those employers who are presently embracing what is proposed will come to regret it.

Read, with interest, this article by Elliot Perlman [well known and best selling author and barrister] which appeared in The Age. A portrait of things to come?

The Big Con? - and Contempt!

Philip Ruddock, A-G of Australia, in a news conference today, poured scorn on now Professor Alastair Nicholson [former Chief Justice of the Family Court, and before that, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria] as, in effect, knowing nothing about International or UN Conventions or anti-terrorism laws. How contemptible! - coming from someone who to the best of my knowledge was never more than a suburban solicitor and not even a member of the Bar.

Bottom line, would you buy a used car from either PM Howard or A-G Ruddock?

Meanwhile, do read Richard Ackland's excellent piece in today's SMH. Yes, one cannot help but be both sceptical and cynical.

The Good Ship Oz?

In a week in which the PM "announced" [all very convenient....!] an imminent terror threat and the Government introduced into the Federal Parliament its new IR and anti-terrorism laws [both the subject of considerable "complaint" and criticism from informed quarters] the over-riding [no pun intended!] news of the week has been the Melbourne Cup and The Oaks. Is it really important or so newsworthy that a horse has won the Cup 3 times? Frivolity and the like have seemingly found favour with the media as newspapers have devoted pages of newsprint to photos of horses and the dress [?] of those at Flemington.

This all makes it ever so more timely to re-visit the playwright David Williamson's recent lecture on Cruise Ship Australia - as reported in The Bulletin. In his lecture Williamson questiobed what really matters to Australians - the material things of life and the banal or that which is truly important. Needless to say, he has been criticised for his views. Wil…

The Bigger Picture - and Question

If Australia is presently under clear and present danger of some sort of terrorist action [whatever that might mean!] then the question which has to be asked is why? Before Australia's commitment to the Coalition of the Willing Australia was to all intents and purposes a relatively safe place. No one has ever suggested otherwise. Since entering into what is now the debacle in Iraq we are at the frontline, together with our "partners" in the Coalition, of being under threat from some sort of terrorist action.

The experts and pundits, including the Chief Commissioner of the Federal Police, have acknowledged that our involvement in Iraq has been the catalyst for the terror threat since 2003.

Should not the PM and each of his Cabinet members be under searching questioning whether the involvement in Iraq - despite 70% of the population being against it - was worth it?

Be Sceptical - and Cynical

John Howard is rushing through an amendment to the anti-terrorism laws. An imminent threat we are told, vaguely, based on advice or information given to the PM by responsible authorities. ASIO? The organisation whose track-record is poor to say the least - and whose last "great" piece of advise related to the existence of WMD's in Iraq. And, oh, let us not forget the raid which went wrong a few years back and which resulted in an out of court settlement the other day after the Organisation was sued.

It is more than curious that whenever an issue has confronted George Bush that, voila, out comes a terrorist alert in the US. John Ashcroft, the former AG in the US, was a task-master of trottting out these warnings. It has been almost conclusively shown that there was absolutely nothing in the warnings.

Now, John Howard and his AG [who could ever trust anything Ruddock says with his appalling conduct over the years?] have followed the Tampa road, again, and just as the IR legi…