25 Nov. 2007

R.I.P

John Winston Howard: A timeline from MY ABC.

Phillip Adams pens a short history of Howard's racism.

And Steve Biddulph charts Howard's legacy:
The issue of the future, coming down on us now like a steam train, is of course the environment, the double hammer blows of climate change and peak oil. Energy, weather and human misery are the factors that will define our lives for decades to come. You can cancel your newspaper, those are the only four words you need to know.

Linked to this, but compounding it in frightening ways, is the imminent demise of the United States economy. In fact the whisper, the subplot in economist circles, was that this election was one to lose. That whoever inherited Australia in 2007 inherited a coming economic collapse in globalised trade that would suck Australia and much of the rest of the world down with it. For two years now the best predictions have been that the subprime meltdown would act as merely the detonator of a much larger explosive charge created long ago by US consumer debt, concealed by Chinese and Arab investment in keeping that great hungry maw that is America sucking in what it could not begin to pay for. The avalanche-like fall of US house prices will be closely followed by the same in linked economies worldwide, and presage a harsh and very different world than the one we have lived in. In short, the party is over. We are a civilisation in collapse...

By 2014, we will have a struggle between a new left and right - Labor and Green - and the issue will be simply how green, how to balance the need for a much simpler and more communal kind of life, with the need to give people comfort and amenity now. This issue will continue to define life for the rest of this century.

Climate change will bring horrific costs this century unless a global effort is rallied in a way that has never been done before to regulate our gluttonous use of the air and water. Perhaps a billion lives are at risk, let alone 2 to 3 billion refugees, as agriculture and water supplies collapse across southern Asia and elsewhere, and producer countries, like Australia, find they can barely feed themselves.

The big lie of Liberal supremacy was economic management. In fact, they knew how to generate income, but not how to spend it. We could have been building what Europe built in this past decade - superb hospitals, bullet trains, schools and training centres, low cost public transport of luxurious quality, magnificent public housing. We pissed it all away on tax giveaways and consumer goods. On bloated homes that we will not be able to cool or heat, or sell, and cars we won't be able to afford to drive. A party based on self interest may evaporate along with our rivers and lakes, and have no role to play in a world where we co-operate or die.

Coda

I just want to close off this blog with a fitting final word. As The Independent notes:
Howard's defeat in Australia is undoubtedly part of the slow unwinding of the failed worldview that was the mistaken response to the horror of 9/11.
Of course, Howard's loss was not directly due to the Iraq War: like Bush and Blair, he won re-election even after the failings of the illegal invasion were widely known.

But consider this: like Blair's Labor party, Howard's Liberal coalition has been almost thoroughly decimated by his decision to remain in power so long. The same goes for Bush's GOP: his second term has been an unending nightmare in the polls. Meanwhile the even greater nightmare of Iraq drags on with an abandoned and discredited USA not even pretending to posit an exit strategy any more.

All three men, Bush, Blair and Howard, leave their parties a shambles. All three have virtually destroyed their own political legacies.

One can only hope that a lesson has been learned, and that no leader of a democratic country will ever pursue such reckless madness again.

Meanwhile, Australia has finally joined the 21st Century. It will be strange to see Prime Minister Kevin Rudd representing Australia in Bali next month, and not have to cringe and feel ashamed of my country. As Juan Cole says:
Hey, I want a government in the US that looks like this-- pro labor, against foreign military adventures, afraid of global warming, the leader speaks an Asia language, and a rock star is on the team.
Kevin Rudd seems like a decent man, but he does seem to have a slightly authoritarian mindset, which makes the comparisons with Tony Blair a little scary. He won't be perfect, but hopefully he will move us steadily in the right direction.

As I say, we can only hope the lesson has been learned. And not just by Kevin Rudd, but by all of us.

Cheers, folks.

22 Nov. 2007

Gandhi's War

Well, that's it folks. No more blogging for me. I am now working on a book, tentatively titled "Gandhi's War". Here are a few short extracts from the first draft:
If we tolerate the crimes and lies of our elected representatives, then what have we become? If the truth does not matter, then reality does not matter, and our lives are meaningless. If we allow great lies to go unchallenged, even if only for the sake of preserving the status quo, then we corrupt not only the fabric of our societies, but also the purity of our souls.

Do we really believe that by re-writing the history books we can re-write the past? If the laws which govern this reality we inhabit are deemed to be of no consequence, then we have gone beyond absurdity into nihilistic despair.

History suggests that the people with the courage and willpower to loudly oppose great powers have often suffered much in their own lifetimes. A cynic might suggest that these people’s struggle is therefore a selfish one. But there is nothing selfish about sacrificing your time, your energy, your career, your finances, your family unity and even your sanity, all for the sake of an intangible vision of truth.

The truly selfish are those who embrace such corrupt systems, who exploit inequalities for their own benefit, who shrug and say, “We all know it is wrong, but there is nothing we can do to change it, so we might as well accept it.” Ultimately, in every country and throughout history, these are the people who have granted power to those who abuse it.

* * * *

My sister died of cancer three months before George W. Bush was first elected President of the United States of America. B. was just thirty-four years of age. She left behind two baby boys, aged two and three. Her stomach, so recently pregnant, now swelled up again. But this time it became as hard as plastic. There was nothing the doctors could do for her, except proscribe massive doses of morphine for the pain.

Four year's later, while George W. Bush was battling for re-election, my father was also diagnosed with cancer. A cocky young surgeon at the government-run Gold Coast Hospital sent Dad home prematurely, telling him the cancer was inoperable:

“If the pain gets too bad,” he said, “Take paracetamol.”

Three days later, Dad was rushed back to hospital in great pain. Doctors diagnosed Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a curable form of cancer. Dad started chemotherapy, but it was already too late. His stomach swelled up even larger than B’s. The cancer cells moved up through the fluid in his spinal column, then began attacking his brain.

While Dad was battling cancer, my wife and I were going through the rituals of pregnancy. Dad became terminally bed-ridden just a month before our baby was due. I used to lie awake at night wondering what I would do if I were simultaneously summoned to level 9 of the hospital for my father's death, and level 2 for my baby's arrival. Should I abandon my father on his deathbed, or abandon my wife and baby in the delivery room?

Fortunately, I never had to make that choice. Dad's long agony ended one warm summer night, while the stars twinkled silently over the sea outside his window.

On the far side of the planet, a quarter of a million Iraqis were already dead. George W. Bush was celebrating his second election victory.

Aisha arrived eleven days late, just a few weeks after Dad died. Her name means "to live". She was born with her eyes open, cautiously examining the operating theater while a nurse the wiped blood from her face.


* * * *


I had always kept my blogging identity secret. It started out as a bit of a laugh, picking odd pseudonyms for online chats. But then one day I started thinking that the best way to end the war in Iraq might be to convert supporters one by one. Soon I found myself locked into endless arguments with unbelievably stupid people, who seemed to lack the imagination, the intelligence, or maybe the willpower to understand what I was trying to say.

I adopted the online name “gandhi” as a quick way to broadcast my pacifist anti-war attitudes. The wingnuts all thought the Mahatma was nuts, of course, but at least they knew what he stood for.
You bathe in your own urine, you peacenick dickfuck. Why should I listen to you?
Back in those days, when Bush was still popular, the pro-war bloggers were extremely aggressive. They called me every name under the sun. They trawled my website searching for personal information to use against me. They even threatened violence against my family.

Some of them were just complete psychos. They routinely ignored facts and turned reality on its head. One guy wrote a poem about me:
Who can take a blog post
Sprinkle it with joos?
Cover it in bullshit
And a homonim or two
The Ghandi Man
The Ghandi Man can
The Ghandi Man can
Cause he mixes it with hate
And makes the kool aid taste good

Who can take tomorrow
Dip it in a scream?
Multiply the sorrows
And collect up all the cream
The Ghandi Man
The Ghandi Man can
The Ghandi Man can
The Ghandi Man can
Cause he mixes it with hate
And makes the kool aid taste good
And the kool aid tastes good
The worst ones were the soldiers serving in Iraq, or people who said they were their friends or family of soldiers serving in Iraq. These jerks argued that anything any non-Army person said was necessarily ill-informed and therefore bullshit. They loved citing the latest troop movements on the ground, or throwing around the code names of the various squadrons and their top-secret missions, as if that proved that their every utterance was truth. One soldier even sent me a photo of a couple of Iraqi kids holding up a sign:
“Get a life, Gandhi, or come to Iraq.”
The real Mahatma Gandhi once said: "First they laugh at you, then they hate you, then you win.”

At this stage, the wingnuts were moving from the first phase to the second. If they couldn’t smother you with ridicule, or contradict you with media-supported lies, or somehow dilute your words with their Bizzarro World logic, then they just called you a “troll” and banned you from their Web site altogether. I was proud to have been banned from half a dozen top-rated sites.
The book is based on my blogging experiences here and at BushOut. It explores the human cost of blogging news that is relentlessly depressing. I know I am not the only one who has suffered these "bloggers blues", and I think it's a story that should be told.

If anyone wants to contribute their own stories, or knows a good publisher, please email me: gazo a@t dodo dot com dot AU.

For Sale


Sounds good:
* Includes a $200 000 set of executive chairs (not from IKEA!)
* Plans for $500 000+ renovation of the dining room to re-enact the predicted last supper
* Uses 28 times more water than the average Sydney household – one of few properties that can be credited for creating its own mini-drought
* Current occupant considering a move even if a new lease is signed
* A million dollar garden ($1 118 000 million over 6 years) with no worms (well not the kind that gets turned of mid-debate during 60 minutes)
* Recently received a $386 500 security upgrade that unfortunately doesn’t stop fireball wielding psychos
* Price negotiable just like your Work Choices employment contract… NOT

21 Nov. 2007

What Can He Do? Hmmnnn....

What can you say?
Mr Howard was visibly frustrated after being asked about the leaflets a number of times.

"What more can I do?" he said.

"I've condemned it, I've dissociated myself from it, I think it is stupid, it's offensive, it's wrong, it's untrue, I mean for heaven's sake get a sense of proportion."

Mr Howard said the election campaign had not been dirty.

"There have been some silly things going on, we have talked about one a bit and there have been a few silly things said elsewhere on the other side, but overall it has not been a dirty campaign."

Mr Howard rejected suggestion the bogus campaign leaflet issue reflected racism in the Liberal Party.

"I do not think that what has happened in the past couple of days in Lindsay could be evidence at all of some underlying racism in my party," he said.
Dump. The. Candidate.

Ein Reich. Ein Fuhrer. Eine Leute.


Howard speaks to the lizard brains:
"We no longer have perpetual seminars about our national identity. We no longer agonise as to whether we're Asian or European or part-Asian or part-European or too British or not British enough or too close to the Americans or whatever. We actually rejoice in what has always been the reality and that is that we are gloriously and distinctively Australian."
Of all the Orwellian nightmare agonies the Howard government has brought us, this "we are Australian" meme is one of the most consistently irritating. It's also one of the most potentially dangerous, as the Cronulla riots showed.

Sorry, John - but this is not your country any more. It's mine.

Closing In On Kabul


Meanwhile, in that other very important war:
The conflict in Afghanistan has reached "crisis proportions", with the resurgent Taliban present in more than half the country and closing in on Kabul, a report says.
Now, NATO only really controls Kabul, and only ever really has. And the famous Coalition of the Willing is pretty thin on the ground these days. And this will be a guerrilla war through the streets. Do we Aussies really, really want to be there?

Tis is another extraordinary failure of diplomacy and foresight. All the money wasted in Iraq could have been spent on building new roads, schools and other facilities for the people of Afghanistan. That country would now be a beacon of hope to the Middle East, a shining example of Western values.

But of course, those "values" never existed anyway, except in a dream that died long ago.
Senlis said its research had established that the Taliban, driven out of Afghanistan by the US invasion in late 2001, had rebuilt a permanent presence in 54 per cent of the country and was finding it easy to recruit new followers.

It was also increasingly using Iraq-style tactics, such as roadside and suicide bombs, to powerful effect, and had built a stable network of financial support, funding its operations with the proceeds from Afghanistan's booming opium trade.

"It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when," the report said.

"Their oft-stated aim of reaching the city in 2008 appears more viable than ever."

NATO has a little over 40,000 troops operating in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The United States and Britain are the largest contributors, with 15,000 and 7,700 soldiers, respectively.

Those numbers pale in comparison to Iraq where at the peak of operations there were nearly 200,000 troops on the ground and where around 160,000 remain.

There are around 970 Australian troops serving in Afghanistan.
Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?
"I am very proud of the fact that we are now spending 47 per cent more in real terms on our defence forces."
That was John Howard today, reflecting on his 11 years in power. Yeah, that's called "the defence of Australia", what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tell that to the kids in those countries, John.

Hey, Schmuck!

Guess who is going to be footing the bill for the US sub-prime crisis? Now sit back and watch while the banks which created the problem with irresponsible lending start repossessing houses.

Coalition "Values" On Display

In all the hype about the latest Coalition smear campaign, not many people have notices that the last one died a very quiet death:
The Herald Sun last night confirmed the Liberal Party claims were based on scouring websites, and did not involve any checks or phone calls to the respective boards, authorities and agencies involved.
This is classic Karl Rove tactics: the big smear, followed by the quiet retraction. You can bet there are people who think the latest smear will also work out in the Coalition's favor, bringing racist issues to the fore at just the right time for their "Base" top hear the dog whistle.

If you are in on the sense of humor, that sort of thing is just hilarious. More decent people would think it's about as funny as Caroline Overington's warped attempts at media seduction.

Howard says he doesn't want to be associated with this. But obviously, as leader of the Coalition, and as the man whose own lack of ministerial accountability has set the benchmark for such "values", he is right at the very heart of it.

Bastards, one and all.

Wanker Of The Day

The GG's Greg Sheridan gives up the election for lost and goes back to fighting the culture wars:
I predict that the Robert Manne-Left, the political force in this country most inclined to misrepresent facts and do them violence by shoe-horning them into a predetermined ideological cast, will try to take possession of the Howard loss. The Left has long understood that controlling the past is a key to controlling the future. They will argue that the Howard defeat marks the repudiation of the Howard Government's lies on Iraq, racism on Aborigines, hostility to multiculturalism, construction of a national security state, un-Australian subservience to Washington, hostility to Muslims and so on. In fact, this is almost wholly untrue, as Rudd's embrace of the Government's position on almost all this stuff indicates...
Greg's probably wishing he applied for that job at Quadrant. What's he going to do now? Ghost-write the JHo autobiography: "I Did It Bush's Way"?

Sheridan devotes much of his article to pimping Tony Abbott's chances for the post-election leadership shitfight:
In opposition, Peter Costello will inherit the Liberal leadership. Abbott is the natural choice as his deputy...recent history does show us that a new government, led by a party long in opposition, can be vulnerable after one term... So the Liberals might have an outside chance in three years' time.
Yes Folks! ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN 2010!!! What a vision for the future! And what a fitting epitaph for the Howard Conga Line Cabinet.

Two More Sleeps, Two Final Sprays

Bob Hawke today launches a massive final spray at JHo, as does News Ltd's Tim Dunlop.

Hawke attempts to demolish three myths: the union bogeyman myth, the myth of Howard's economic capabilities, and (very briefly) the myth that the Iraq War and GWOT make us safer. He is at his best on the second point:
Who, as treasurer, had responsibility for economic management for more than five years before I was elected on March 5, 1983? John Winston Howard. I knew that he was handing me the worst legacy in terms of unemployment and inflation in Australia's history; both were at 11%. But I didn't know exactly how bad the projected budget deficit was, because he had refused to come clean on this during the campaign.

On Sunday, March 5, I called in the secretary of the Treasury, John Stone, who told me that the projected figure for 1983-4 was $9.6 billion, the largest in our history; equivalent today as a percentage of GDP to more than $40 billion. Stone pointed out that "the budget balance is projected to deteriorate from near zero to more than 6% of GDP in a two-year period. The speed and magnitude of that deterioration is almost without precedent among the major OECD countries in the postwar period". Stone was no Labor stooge — he went on to become a Nationals senator — and his written judgement was that Howard's performance was virtually the worst anywhere in the developed world since 1945.
Dunlop covers a whole host of issues, including WorkChoices, Iraq, interest rates, Aboriginal reconciliation, pork-barrelling, Health and the presumed handover to $mirky.

I have to say that Tim has put in a lot of good, hard work at Blogocracy and hopefully he has won over a few voters with his hard-hitting and well-supported analysis. It remains unfortunate that he has allowed his criticism of the Murdoch stable to be muzzled, and in that sense he reminds me a lot of Peter Garrett. Will it have been worth it, after all, when and if JHo get's his come-uppance? Let's just note that Rupert Murdoch has never lost an election, News Ltd continues raking in massive profits, and media reform is not on the Rudd agenda. I hope Tim will have something more to say about that after Saturday.

UPDATE: Well, whaddaya know? Labor says media reform is on the agenda, well... sorta:
Labor is expected to reveal details of its media policy today, including its stance on the definition of Channels A and B, the niche datacasting and mobile spectrum to be auctioned off next year, and the possible introduction of a children's ABC channel.

Senator Conroy flagged Labor will have a firm switch-off date in the move from analogue to digital television. Following the switch-off, he said the analogue spectrum could be used for the fourth licence to enhance competition - a move long coveted by Rupert Murdoch, who has indicated he'd like to expand into free-to-air television in Australia.

"This is not about keeping Murdoch happy," Senator Conroy said. "This is about diversity."
Don't hold your breath waiting for the magic laws of market attrition to smite down the GG staffers...

Hell On Earth

Welcome to Fallujah:
The city that was routed in November 2004 is still suffering the worst humanitarian conditions under a siege that continues. Although military actions are down to the minimum inside the city, local and US authorities do not seem to be thinking of ending the agonies of the over 400,000 residents of Fallujah.

"You, people of the media, say things in Fallujah are good," Mohammad Sammy, an aid worker for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Fallujah, told Inter Press Service (IPS). "Then why don't you come and live in this paradise with us? It is so easy to say things for you, isn't it?"

His anger is due to the fact that the embattled city is still completely closed and surrounded by military checkpoints... Since the November 2004 US-led attack on the city, named Operation Phantom Fury, which left approximately 70% of the city destroyed, the US military has required residents to undergo retina scans and finger-printing to gain a bar-code for identification...

All of the residents interviewed by IPS were extremely angry with the media for recent reports that the situation in the city is good. Many refused to be quoted for different reasons.

"Fallujah is probably the city that has had the most media coverage in the history of the occupation," Hatam Jawad, a school headmaster in Fallujah, told IPS. "People are tired of shouting and appearing on TV to complain, without feeling any change in their sorrowful living situation. Some of them are afraid of police revenge for telling the truth."

Many residents told IPS that US-backed Iraqi police and army personnel have detained people who have spoken to the media.

"I am not going to tell you whether it is good or bad to be a Fallujah resident," 55-year-old lawyer, Shakir Naji, told IPS. "Why don't you just ask what the prices of essential materials are and judge for yourself?"
As I've said before, Iraq is a war of SPIN, and Falluja is stranded on the Front Line.

But what is the plan here? The longer this injustice persists, the more the occupiers are hated, the worse conditions get, the more spin is needed.... Where does it end?

20 Nov. 2007

Teh Five Point Plan

I, John Winston Howard, do hereby promise that if re-elected I will:
1. Work out how to blame Labor for the coming global recession.

2. Keep inflaming Muslim radicals around the globe. Hang tight with Pervez and El Busho Loco. Pretend it makes sense.

3. Don't forget, um... What was it? Oh yeah - election promises!

4. Pour $10 billion into the Murray-Darling. See what happens.

5. Be nice to, err... what is it they call them these days, Janet? Oh, yes: the indigenes.

Implosion Week Day Three: Vaile Blames Big Business

BWAAAHHHH!!!:
"Probably more so than in the past, the business community has gone out and supported the important reforms that they also believe are important for the economy. We would have liked to have seen them spend a lot more, but that is not up to us, it's up to them."
Yes, folks: apparently the $280 million taxpayer-funded advertising blitz just wasn't quite enough! Cue the Bizarro World music...
"We, as the coalition, have no hope of matching the money the Labor Party and the union movement have poured into this campaign, and not just in the last six weeks, going back over the last 12 or 18 months."

My Wiener Is This Big


Time for another caption contest! This pic comes from the ABC story on Tampa 2.0, which is playing out quite differently to Tampa 1.0.

A few caption suggestions to warm you up:

1. "It's only a teeny, weeny little boat. So we'll only need to lock them up in Nauru for a little while..."

2. "Look, we are this close to victory on Saturday, so don't expect me to comment."

3. "They were this close to throwing their childen in the water, I swear... "

The Post-Howard Recession Looms

Even Deutsche Bank is tipping a 50% chance of global recession, with a 33% chance of a major one. Here's the question you have to ask yourself: WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS?

Whatever happened to all the supposedly wise economic management of people like the IMF, the World Bank, the Federal Reserve? Why didn't our government and our financial experts see this coming a very long time ago, as people like Mike Whitney clearly did.

Why did Big Business around the globe leap to support President Bush's morally bankrupt policies, which ultimately will bankrupt others (while he and his friends cash in)?

Why were all these people complicit in silence? And why is it that they will all be whistling towards the recession with very fat bank balances indeed?

Looks like we Aussies will now get a Rudd government, who will inevitably be blamed for increasing interest rates and/or inflation and/or unemployment and/or oil prices and/or anything else that is convenient. But the dynamics for such change are already in place: Rudd is just going to have to surf the wave.

I'm not looking forward to the election after this one. Right-wingers get rather feral when the money gets tight.

Does USA Control Pakistan's Nukes?

Pakistan's Daily Times recently reported on US neocon plans to attack Pakistan. The idea was to secure or destroy Pakistan's nuclear weaponry. Get a load of this Boy's Own nonsense:
Possible plan: One possible plan would be a Special Forces operation with the limited goal of preventing Pakistan’s nuclear materials and warheads from getting into the wrong hands. Given the degree to which Pakistani nationalists cherish these assets, it is unlikely the United States would get permission to destroy them. Somehow, American forces would have to team with Pakistanis to secure critical sites and possibly to move the material to a safer place. For the United States, the safest bet would be shipping the material to someplace like New Mexico, but even pro-American Pakistanis would be unlikely to cooperate. It would be better for the US to settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up and watched over by crack international troops. It is realistic to think that such a mission might be undertaken within days of a decision to act. The price for rapid action and secrecy, however, would probably be a very small international coalition.
Looks like the USA might not need to bother invading. Today, as the Times of India gleefully reports, it seems the USA already controls Pakistan's nukes!
Pakistan's nuclear weapons are already under American control even as analysts are working themselves into a lather on the subject, a well-regarded intelligence journal has said.

In a stunning disclosure certain to stir up things in Washington's (and in Islamabad and New Delhi's) strategic community, the journal Stratfor reported on Monday that the "United States delivered a very clear ultimatum to Musharraf in the wake of 9/11: Unless Pakistan allowed US forces to take control of Pakistani nuclear facilities, the United States would be left with no choice but to destroy those facilities, possibly with India's help."

"This was a fait accompli that Musharraf, for credibility reasons, had every reason to cover up and pretend never happened, and Washington was fully willing to keep things quiet," the journal, which is widely read among the intelligence community, said.

The Stratfor commentary came in response to an earlier New York Times story that reported that the Bush administration had spent around $100 million to help Pakistan safeguard its nuclear weapons, but left it unclear if Washington has a handle on the arsenal.
I wonder what the poor US grunts guarding the nukes are thinking? There they are in a country of 161,488,000 people, many of whom will understandably be enraged by this news. Over to you, President Musharraf...

Does he admit the US controls his nukes? He is already desperately unpopular, and surely that would trigger riots? OTOH many educated Pakistanis would probably be glad to know he doesn't have his finger on the nuclear trigger...

Interesting times.

Shut Up, Tony

Hopefully this is the last of Tony Abbot's Fairfax Op-Eds:
A credible would-be prime minister should be game for an interview on the Insiders as well as Rove.
But Howard wouldn't even go on Rove, Tony.

Abbott says Rudd will be as bad as the Iemma government, ignoring the fact that (in the opinion of NSW voters, anyway) the Liberal alternative is much worse. The same goes for every other State opposition. Rudd should be hammering this point - the only reason there are Labor governments across the States is because the Liberal alternative is so pathetic.
Something unprecedented will happen on Saturday. A highly effective government will lose despite generally good economic circumstances or 12 months of opinion polls will turn out to be wrong. Australians are not reckless gamblers...
Err, you haven't seen the profit sheets for Aristocrat gaming machines, have you Tony?
... at least not with the future of their country...
Gotcha!
... so I think it's much more likely voters will prove the polls wrong than change the government.
In other words, lets all just close our eyes, click our heels, and wish really, really hard for another three years of Howard.
Wall-to-wall Labor governments are much more likely to cover up for each other. It's not good for democracy to have one party in power everywhere.
As opposed to John Howard's "L'Etat, C'est Moi" attitude to secretive and unaccountable Federal government? Puh-lease!

Bye Bye John

Did anyone see Howard's face in the closing moments of last night's 7.30 Report?
KERRY O'BRIEN: It's funny that the life of this program, and your time as Prime Minister, has almost exactly coincided. We're both about the same age. I must have interviewed you...

JOHN HOWARD: You're not thinking of retiring, are you, Kerry?

KERRY O'BRIEN: I'm saying the program and your time in office. I must have interviewed you about 70 or 80 times as Prime Minister. It's an odd feeling, I must say, to contemplate the possibility that this could be our last, but if this turns out to be the case, thank you sincerely for making yourself available as often as you have even in some of the tougher moments.

JOHN HOWARD: Well I believe in the accountability of public figures in the serious media and even though...

KERRY O'BRIEN: Doesn't mean you've always answered the questions.

JOHN HOWARD: Well I have a focus. My focus is winning the election. You'll understand that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Mr Howard, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

JOHN HOWARD: Thank you.
Gob-smacked.

Iraqi Government Seizes US Hostages

The puppet stooges who make up the (ahem!) "sovereign" Iraqi government have long been gnawing at the strings that hold them aloft. Now they have seized 31 hostages, including two US citizens. The hostages will only be released when the US government cedes additional power to the stooges.

Ever little bit helps... This is how the game is played, and the Iraqis are very good at it. Most people in Washington still haven't figured out what's going on, and the rest can't do anything about it anyway.

Hey, Yanqui! You want an Oil Law? First give me a few million dollars for all my cousins. What? We had a deal? I think you misunderstood me.

No wait, that's not what the story said, is it? No, no, I must be completely wrong.

Apologies.

19 Nov. 2007

OY!

This is what real, progressive Democracy looks like.

(link fixed)

Turnbull Gave Up Early, Cashed In

This is a MUST READ from the cursed leftists at ABC News:
"I think the conclusion was, and I might even quote that it said: 'There is no evidence to show that the technology does not work'," Professor Fletcher told The 7.30 Report.

"Now that's a little bit negative. So I don't know. I thought that that was - inconclusive is about where I'd put it."

Rainmaker Ian Searle, the father of cloud seeding in Australia for the Tasmanian Hydro scheme, has also expressed doubts, as has Israel's internationally respected cloud physicist Professor Daniel Rosenfeld.

"There is no single scientific paper, only the patent, and one can patent anything claiming it's to do anything that he likes, as long as no one else has made the same claims before," Professor Rosenfeld said.
Please go read the whole thing. It's damning.

Howard: "I Like Pervez As A Bloke"


Here's Howard in June 2005:
"I've told the president how much I personally and the Australian government admires his courageous participation and that of his country in the fight against terrorism."

And here's Howard today:
"I like General Musharraf, I think he's been very courageous... I do admire his courage in holding a very difficult balance in a country that has never been easy with democracy.
QUESTION: When is a military dictator not a military dictator?
ANSWER: When he's a military dictator with an atomic bomb.

Which brings us to Iran. Is Howard urging the USA not to bomb Tehran? No. Why not?
"I haven't had any cause to do so because nothing in discussions I've had with President Bush suggests the Americans are doing anything but trying diplomacy, and naturally when you are trying diplomacy you don't take anything off the table," he said.
Well, actually, you DO take things off the table when you want results. Even Doc Holliday kept his gun in his pants when he went into the saloon.

Teh Horror!

Evil! Evil! Evil!


O.J. Simpson is still relentlessly searching for the man who killed his wife. Tony Blair is still desperately searching for peace in the Middle East. And John Howard is desperately committed to saving Australians from the evil menace of Kevin Rudd:
"My every waking hour and every available minute will be to drive home the risk of Labor."
The funny thing is, all the horrible dangers that Old Uncle Johnny warns about sound just fine to me.

Green balance of power? Tick. WorkChoices rolled back and never to return? Tick. Education reform? Tick. A fresh approach to failing drug policies? Tick.

What's going on? Obviously, I must myself be a part of the great evil which threatens to consume our nation.

I must myself be evil. I must be dangerous. I must be a very bad man.

So there is your choice, Australia - vote Labor and you are bad. Vote Howard and you are good. It's that simple.

PS: You'll never geuss where I found that image. BWAAAHAHA HA!! See, I am very evil.

What about civil liberties of kidnappers?

Gerard Henderson is pissed at the judge who found that two ASIO officers kidnapped Izhar ul-Haque and falsely imprisoned him. Hendo says we should leave it all in the hands of ASIO and our beloved Attorney-General.

Hendo omits to mention that LET, a group dedicated to ousting Indian forces from the disputed territory of Kashmir, was not outlawed as a terrorist group in Australia at the time.

Hendo says "there is no evidence that he [ul-Haque] has denied the training" with LET. Indeed! The fact is, ul-Haque returned from his 3-week course, handed over his documents to Australian authorities, and "told them everything"!

Ul-Haque was only ever under investigation because an associate of his, Faheem Lodhi, was suspected of planning a terrorist attack in Sydney. And what ASIO was really trying to do was TERRORIZE ul-Haque into becoming an informant. And like it or not, there are laws against that sort of thing!

What Hendo is really arguing is that the Law should be tossed aside in any such terrorism cases. He ridicules suggestions that Australia might be "going the way of Pakistan". But if the police, ASIO, the government and the judges all abandon the rule of Law, as Hendo advocates, where does he think we are heading? Berlin 1939?

Jesus wept.

Rudd To The Left Of Me, Malcolm To My Right

Here I am, stuck in the middle with you:
In a sign of solidarity Mr Howard appeared with Mr Costello in a television interview for the first time in 11 years and insisted to channel Seven's Today Tonight the Treasurer will be elected unopposed to eventually replace him.
So Costello has finally been properly endorsed by Howard (no more of this "Party will decide" crap). But that's only because they are now so desperate to end the in-fighting and speculation that Turnbull's camp is generating.

And that's supposed to encourage voters?

Meanwhile, just so you all know how dangerously rightwing Malcolm Turnbull is, here's a new scandal to rock your socks.

One of Rupert Murdoch's nephews is closely involved in a company called Australian Rain Corporation (ARC), which is a big donor to Turnbull's fundraising group. And Turnbull has just given them a $10 million grant, ostensibly for further research into their unproven technology.
The technology involves sending electrical charges into the atmosphere to make clouds, and ultimately rain...

A report on the technology prepared for the government, and delivered in August, found the ARC had provided "no convincing data" to support the technology.

The report, prepared by the former head of the CSIRO Office of Space Science, Ken McCracken, and University of New England Emeritus Professor of Physics Neville Fletcher, recommended a trial only go ahead after more scientific work on the proposal and if it could be done "at no great expense".
At no great expense to whom, that's the question! The shareholders in Switzerland will be happy!

The big question today is why on earth environmental scientist Dr Tim Flannery has endorsed Turnbull - is he getting some funding approved too?

PS:Here's how Howard explained Costello's appeal to voters:
"He's not me."
And after refusing the opportunity to face Rove McManus's "who would you turn gay for?" question, Howard told Today Tonight it would not be Cossie:
The pair agreed that their relationship was like a marriage, apart from the "certain other attractions" of a real marriage.

"It's a pretty good marriage, it's lasted a long time," Mr Howard said, adding the pair were "very much" mates.

"I like Peter as a bloke," he said.
Just so you know.

Seriously, today was the day when Howard had to DO SOMETHING. And this is it, this is all he's got. He's finished, surely. And Turnbull is busy preparing his post-election coup while Cossie sits grinning at the bright lights.

The latest Newspoll is just out and guess what? Nothing has changed: Australians locked in their answers six months ago.

But here's a scary thought to keep you awake:
PETER Costello might find himself prime minister much earlier than anticipated.

It would be an Australian political first - if the current strong swing in NSW saw John Howard lose the seat of Bennelong, but because of uneven swings between the states, Labor didn't make it across the line.
OTOH Turnbull might somehow win his own seat and then be poised to grab the Lodge! Who are YOU voting for? Do you even know?

18 Nov. 2007

Howard's Australia: The Stingiest Country On Earth

Somebody should have told Brisbane's Lord Mayor Campbell Newman (the most senior Liberal in the country, if the Coalition loses on Saturday) that Sir Bob Geldoff really, really doesn't like Mondays.

Newman today appointed Geldof an honorary ambassador for Brisbane. But Geldof used the occasion to slam Howard's stingy foreign aid budget:
Sir Bob said Australia's contribution did not match that of other developed countries.

"It's embarrassingly pathetic. In fact, it's one of the meanest in the planet," Sir Bob said.

"For a country that keeps boasting about its huge growth, which is absolutely correct, you should boast and be proud of it, (but) is 99.5 per cent not enough for you?

"And not only that, it's way behind the rest of the developed world."

Sir Bob said Australia had agreed to reach a commitment of 0.7 per cent GDP by 2015 under the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals - globally accepted targets that aim to substantially reduce poverty.

"If people think that's a lot of money - what, 99.3 (per cent) is not enough for you all, does that not do it? It's tragic," Sir Bob said.
But, but, but.... What about the title of International Ambassador For Brisbane, Bob?
"It's an honorific, it's an honorary thing, I'm not literally going to go: 'and while I'm here, did you know I'm ambassador of Brisbane?' You know, shut up."
Meanwhile, John Howard is quietly insisting that GOD fully supports Coalition policies. A million dead Iraqis say otherwise.

Burn in Hell, you bastard.

Implosion Week Day One: Malcolm In The Middle

Today's Daily Telegraph front page story:
Civil warfare threatens Liberals

JOHN Howard is battling to contain a Coalition civil war as tense MPs lash out at campaign tactics - and their own colleagues.

As Treasurer Peter Costello today refused to be drawn on his plans to make a bid for the Liberal Party leadership - win or lose this election - several ministers criticised "silly mistakes" made by senior figures, including Health Minister Tony Abbott.

High-profile Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also been singled out, amid concerns he privately has written off the Government's prospects.

Nationals maverick Barnaby Joyce has slammed the Government's campaign as dull, labelling it "dry and complicated", a description backed by some of his colleagues yesterday...

Coalition MPs are frustrated at the performance of senior figures, who they believe are undermining their campaign efforts.

That has spilled over into criticism of senior ministers, including Mr Turnbull, who is battling to retain his marginal seat of Wentworth in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

Reports have surfaced of Mr Turnbull being referred to senior Liberal figures following suggestions that he has criticised the Government's campaign.

"Complete and utter rubbish," Mr Turnbull's spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.

But the spate of attacks on Mr Turnbull suggest some in the Coalition are already engaged in post-election manoeuvring for future leadership posts.

"Malcolm's for Malcolm," one of his Cabinet colleagues said.

Another minister summed up a widespread view of Mr Turnbull: "His ambition exceeds the amount of support he's got, by a long way."
Turnbull denies the rumours:
"Those criticisms, so called, are attributed to anonymous sources. You know when journalists attribute things to anonymous sources they are really just relaying gossip," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Monday.
Hmmn, but wasn't it Turnbull who recently leaked a story about how he urged Howard to sign Kyoto? And suddenly today, guess what? NSW opposition energy spokesman Peter Debnam says Australia should have signed Kyoto long ago. Who's got yer back, Mal? Pencil Pete in for a Shadow Cabinet post, mate.

Implosion Week Day One: Glenn Milne Knifes Abbott

Glenn Milne hits the turps again:
Dear Tony,

I love you mate, you are my bestest friend in the whole world (hic!). But when we lose on Shaturday it will be all your bloody fault.

It's not your fault, of course (gulp!). You are a man of honeshty and convikshun. Thash why I love you.

But you are just so bad at (hic) lying, mate. You are just too frikkin' honest. Too raw. Too effing soft, really. Like a bloody Jeshuit priest - HA HA HA!

I know, I know! It's all Howard's fault, really. He's been flailing around desperately, changing his (hic!) Health policies under your nose, making you look like a fool. And he should have given you Defensh, not Health. I mean, just look at that prishy little fart, Brendan Nelson. What a wanker.

But did you really have to lose it on camera, mate - on mike, on air? There's always a bottle of Pimms in my desk if you need to blow off some shteam! Ma-a-a-ate...!

I will mish your (hic!) deep religioush and shpiritual convicshuns, mate. I will mish the way your fashe looks sho shteely and determined, even when you are shlagging off dying ashbeshtosh victims. I wish I could pull off that sort of fake shinsherity. I wish I was out there on the hustings like you, day after day, a one-man Praetorian Guard, copping all the shit, just to shave the PM's sorry arse...(sob!)

Shorry, mate. Shometimesh it all gets too much. I mean, you know. Whash it all about eh? Here we are, you and me, after all these yearsh, shtill searching for these higher truths. Endleshly compromishing (gulp!). Par for the course (hic!). Funny game, innit? (burp!)

Wazzat? Oh... Margie wants you back home now, Tony. She's calling you. Go to her. Go to her, mate. I'll be alright.

You go to her... You're a fucking legend, mate. A martyr. A trashendent fucking Jeshuit martyr! Shailing into the shunshet...

[passes out, head on the SUBMIT button]

16 Nov. 2007

Teh Bestest Journaminimalism Evuh!

What a joke. The GG has been voted Newspaper of The Year - by Rupert Murdoch!
More than 300 guests from across News Limited attended the black-tie dinner in the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra, presided over by News Corporation chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch...

The News Awards are the region's richest with a prize pool of more than $100,000.
Well, they would be, wouldn't they? But why on earth do they get to use the Great Hall in Parliament House for this self-adulation? Can't Rupert afford his own digs? Can I use the Great Hall for MY next party?

Interestingly, none of the political heavies in the editorial room seem to have won any awards. How sad.

The Blood Of A Million Iraqis Will Never, Ever Wash Away, John

There is no justice for the living without justice for the dead.


How tragic for Australia that we have a War Criminal Prime Minister at a time when, after more than 30 years, we finally begin to recognise the slaughter of the Balibo 5 as a War Crime.

How do we criticize the murderous Indonesian military now? What do we say when they point to Iraq and talk about Western double-standards?

John Howard has brought shame upon our once-proud nation. We need inquests and inquiries, commissions and convictions.

15 Nov. 2007

Pork. Barrel.

Curious, innit? The Howard government still has not properly responded to the ANAO report on regional grant rorting, and yet the Murdoch media have already launched an attack - on the messenger, of course.

Never mind that Mark Vaile's office was deliberately (and unsuccessfully) trying to delay the report till AFTER the election.
AAP today learned that Mr Vaile knew at least a month ago and most likely in September that the report's release was imminent.

The audit began in April last year.

Asked why the report had been published nine days before polling day, an Audit Office spokesman pointed to several explanations hidden in the 1205-page document.

An advance version of the proposed report was sent to Mr Vaile's Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) in September this year to enable it to comment on the findings.

The formal draft report was then issued in October to the department and to Mr Vaile, along with other ministers and former ministers who shared responsibility for the regional partnerships program.

Despite having 28 days to comment on the report, Mr Vaile did not respond to the draft findings.

This is the way the Howard government ends...

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

I suspect that the electorate at large has already tuned out of this election race, given Labor's longheld lead and the consequent lack of attention-grabbing "story".

Sure, a US attack on Iran could provide a convenient wedge...
The installation of 3,000 fully-functioning centrifuges at Iran's enrichment plant at Natanz is a "red line" drawn by the US across which Washington had said it would not let Iran pass. When spinning at full speed they are capable of producing sufficient weapons-grade uranium (enriched to over 90% purity) for a nuclear weapon within a year.

The IAEA says the uranium being produced is only fuel grade (enriched to 4%) but the confirmation that Iran has reached the 3,000 centrifuge benchmark brings closer a moment of truth for the Bush administration, when it will have to choose between taking military action or abandoning its red line, and accepting Iran's technical mastery of uranium enrichment.

US generals are reported to have warned the White House that military action would trigger a devastating Iranian backlash in the Middle East and beyond.
Many sceptics suggested that Howard might be delaying an election till just such an attack. But the chance of a US strike within the next week - and a favourable Australian electorate response to that - are pretty low right now.

And sure, a week is a long time in politics, and much could happen yet. But I suspect the week won't be too long for anyone who is NOT a political tragic.

IF by some chance you still have no idea what's going on, and you want to inform yourself, I suggest Google's 2007 Australian Federal Election site is a good place to start (after you have read every word in this blog).

A New Definition of "Farce"

The Labor versus Liberal defence debate - if you want real change (and Aussie troops out of Iraq) VOTE GREEN IN THE SENATE!!!

The Bizarro Election

Hockey says the Reynolds and Archer resignations are just 'a stunt'.

Apparently, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott are both planning to resign on Monday, a very clever stunt which will ensure Teh Coalition Victory!

Do We Really Want To Follow The US Capitalist Model?

It's getting harder and harder to put food on your family in Bush's USA:
It has been revealed that more than 35 million Americans went hungry last year.

That's 400,000 more than in 2005.

Howard's Lost His Mojo, Baby

And Dennis Shanahan never had any - but more about that brain-addled Murdoch monkey later.

First, some good analysis from a real journalist, Peter Hartcher:
Howard needed to use Monday's formal campaign launch to do something dramatic to change voting intentions. He needed to do something explosive. Instead, he blew himself up.
Hartcher says Howard was banking on voter's greed and stupidity (well, it's always worked a charm in the past) and expecting Rudd to out-bid him on $multi-$billion promises. Now it's back-fired, and the Coalition looks ridiculous on multiple fronts.

As Hartcher point out, Howard's $65 billion in election bribes is equal to the entire economy of Vietnam! Rudd's campaign, OTOH, (even with $56 billion in bribes, the economy of Libya) looks to have the touch of a tactical genius. And at this stage of the campaign, it's all about momentum.

Now over to Dennis, who claims that the multi-billion-dollar promises made in the campaign launches are just a sideshow. The real game, in Shanahan's fevered imagination, is Teh Stratergery. And Kevin Rudd has just taken an extraordinary gamble by playing right into John Howard's hands! BWAAAHHAAAHA!!!
Rudd has grabbed the tiller and steered the ALP boat confidently towards the treacherous straits between the Scylla and Charybdis of economic management and industrial relations.
Oh, yes! Industrial relations, according to Dennis, is "the one area Rudd has been able to avoid until now". Wha-a-a-at???

And apparently - well, according to Dennis - there is now "a question over whether Rudd was really being austere or had just run out of money by Wednesday because he’d spent it already". Anybody else heard that? Anyone???

Well, never mind, it's a good excuse to start talking about "Peter Costello and his credibility on economic management". And it makes a nice rhetorical bridge to some more gratuitous Howard quotes about how Australians have never had it so bloody good.
He has said it at every opportunity since the election was called but nobody has been listening and Rudd hasn’t had to respond or face questions on these tougher issues.
It's all the bloody liberal media's fault, I tell ya! But finally - finally! - the real election is about to begin!
Rudd has won the battle of the launches but the siege on the economy has just begun...

Like Ulysses and Jason, Rudd has taken a bold and risky course. He obviously feels he’ll fare better than the ancient heroes, but he’s venturing into the dangerous waters and strongholds of Howard and Costello.
My, my, my. If you hear a mighty groaning CRACCCKKK!!! on November 24th, I suspect it won't be Rudd's ship foundering on the rocks of economic credibility. It will be Dennis Shanahan's head exploding.

I don't normally post comments at News Ltd, because they usually get spiked anyway. But I was prompted to submit this one:
You forgot to take your medication this morning, Dennis. Or maybe you took the wrong pills? This crap is just hallucinatory!

And you get paid for this stuff, right???

Wanker Of The Day

[UPDATED BELOW: Abbott denies his own "excellent comments"!]

Looks like it's going to be another long day for Tony Abbott:
Mr Abbott said the best option for aggrieved workers was to find alternative employment.

"That is the best protection. Not going off to some judge, or industrial commission, that might order your employer, who you don't like, and he doesn't like you, to keep you in an unhappy partnership forever," he said on the video.

Mr Abbott also said the Industrial Relations Commission has had its powers stunted by the legislation.

"I accept that certain 'protections' are not what they were, I accept that that has largely gone. I accept that," he said.
I saw his TV interview with Gillard on Channel 9 this morning and he looked stone cold ready to murder someone. But as usual he has no-one to blame but himself. You get the feeling Abbott really hates defending some of the Coalition's more reprehensible policies, but he is nothing if not a team player for Howard & Co.

Gillard was smiling like a fox in a henhouse:
"Hi, Tony!"
Of course Abbott came out all guns firing at Labor. But he still didn't want to answer questions about regional rorting - looks like the Coalition plan is to just keep stalling for another week. Could be a long week for poor Tony. But the show must go on!
"This is still very winnable," Mr Abbott told ABC Radio today.

"Let's not forget that it would be totally unprecedented for the Australian electorate to throw out a good and competent government for an un-tried opposition," he said.

"It's more likely that the people will change the polls than change the government."
Sure, Tony. Whatever. Makes sense to me... But don't tell anyone I said that.

Man, this is not just a Seinfeld election - it's a Bizarro Seinfeld election! Black is white, up is down and two plus two equals five.

UPDATE: OMFG! Hilarious! Confronted with the video this morning, Tony Abbott insisted that his comments on WorkChoices were "excellent"!
Speaking on Nine Network's Today show this morning, Mr Abbott would not resile from his "excellent statement".
But now he says he has reviewed the tape and decided that it has been doctored!
"It's absolutely clear that I never ever conceded that there had been any removal of protections," he said.

"What we've got here from the Australian Labor Party is a vicious and misleading cut-and-paste version of the tape, which completely and utterly distorts what I said. Kevin Rudd ought to apologise for this.
So what about your comments on Channel Nine this morning, Tony? Were they doctored by Rudd as well??? HA HAH HAH!!!

Abbott insists the tape is doctored because, umm... he has his own transcript showing he never said what the video clearly shows he said. It sure didn't look like a doctored tape to me! That is just pure bloody desperation!

Gandhi's Thought For The Day: There have always been lots of comparisons between Abbott and Latham. Looks like Abbott is providing the self-imolation entertainment this time around!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Abbott's office has now released text from his own transcript. It really doesn't sound much better!
The transcript shows that Mr Abbott said: "I accept that certain protections (in inverted commas) are not what they were.

"That whole raft of regulation expressed in awards that sometimes ran into hundreds, even thousands of pages, I accept that that has largely gone. I accept that.

"I accept that the Industrial Relations Commission doesn't have the same power to reach into the nook and cranny of every business that it used to have. I accept that."

Mr Abbott said in the transcript that the best protection for a worker who felt he or she might be under pressure was the chance of another better job.

"That is the best protection. Not going off to some judge or industrial commission that might order your employer, who you don't like and he doesn't like you, to keep you in an unhappy partnership forever.

"So that is the best protection that we can give people, the protection of an abundance of jobs, the protection of an economy which is crying out for more workers. That is the best protection and I think that has been delivered in spades locally and nationally."
LATE UPDATE: Bizarro John Howard:
"Tony Abbott did not say that protection had been taken away for workers."
Two plus two is five. It's all they have left.

EVEN LATER UPDATE: And now Howard is defending Mark Vaile:
"I think all of the commitments that have been made have been proper."
This ship is not sinking. I repeat, this ... (blub, blub, blub...)

14 Nov. 2007

Shame, Australia, Shame


11 years of Howard and what do we have to show for it? Check out this frontpage story from the BBC:
Australians were found to be the world's worst polluters per capita, producing five times as much carbon from generating power as China...

Carma points out that while US power plants emit the most CO2, releasing 2.5bn tonnes into the atmosphere each year, Australian power stations are the least efficient on a per capita basis, with emissions of 10 tonnes, compared with the US's 8.2 tonnes.

China's power sector emits the second-highest total amount of carbon dioxide, pumping 2.4bn tonnes of the gas into the atmosphere annually.

However, its emissions are only one fifth of Australia's when measured on a per capita basis.
This will come as no news to climate change activists in Australia. But one hopes the wider electorate have begun to appreciate the message.

NB: The story below is also worth a read:
It is hard to meet a monk who is prepared to talk to foreign journalists. Many have gone into hiding or are under guard - either in their monasteries or in detention centres.

"More and more people struggle to give us rice. They want to, but they have to spare it for their own mouths." ...

"The soldiers didn't shoot us because it is still more a community here. We all know each other and in every family there is a monk, a soldier, a government worker and a dissident," the monk says...

"Of the 2,800 monks in one of the main monasteries, only 200 remain," he adds.

As one Rangoon-based intellectual puts it: "Never in our history have the monasteries been so empty." ...

The most influential Buddhist universities are in and around the city and in nearby Sagaing, across the Irrawaddy river.

The young monks from these training institutes took part in the marches.

"They are sophisticated, well informed young men - partly because of access to the internet, partly because of foreign teachers, many of whom are Japanese," according to a journalist who met some of them a year ago.

They had been working for some time on a strategy to get rid of the regime in co-operation with veterans of the abortive uprising of 1988.

The monks had been studying Mahatma Gandhi's civil disobedience philosophy and the Buddhist scriptures.

One triumphantly points to a passage giving monks the obligation to intervene when Buddhism is under threat or when rulers breach moral laws and the people suffer too much.

Teh Power

Today's Moir cartoon hits the nail on the head.

We Aussies are constantly staggered by the huge amounts of money spent on US Presidential campaigns, which we generally consider a corruption of the democratic process. But here in Australia, things are really not so different.

Money is still driving our election, things are just played out on a smaller scale. It's still nearly impossible for a small independent candidate to match it with the big money sources, which is why our two-party system remains dominated by Unions on the one hand and Corporations on the other.

In such an environment, it's a miracle that a self-funded party like the Greens can garner anything like 10% of the vote.

Only In BushWorld

Imran Khan is now a terrorist.

Viva Watada!

For any US military staff not wanting to serve in Iraq, the door is now open.

Want To Know What's Really Going On - And Why?

You should be reading INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE:
In Iraq, The Silence Of The Lambs

By Ali al-Fadhily

”I would like to agree with the idea that violence in Iraq has decreased and that everything is fine,” retired general Waleed al-Ubaidy told Inter Press Servce (IPS) in Baghdad. ”But the truth is far more bitter. All that has happened is a dramatic change in the demographic map of Iraq.” Continue

Iraq War Is A Betrayal Of American Democracy

By Matt Howard

In 2003 I illegally invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq with 1st Tank battalion 1st Marine Division. My commander in chief unleashed the world's fiercest fighting force upon the country and people of Iraq, and now those of us used and betrayed by him are demanding justice. Continue

The Grand Delusion

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Virtually everything that Bush correctly gets condemnation for could have been prevented or negated by Democrats, if they had had courage, conviction and commitment to maintaining the rule of law and obedience to the Constitution. Continue

The Book That Can’t Be Published In America


By Alan Hart, author of Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews

The question Americans asked in the immediate aftermath of the horror of 9/11 was “Why do they hate us?” And in many American minds the “they” of the question were not only the violent Islamic fundamentalists who, according to the official version of events, were solely responsible for bringing down the Twin Towers, but Arabs and Muslims everywhere - about a quarter of humankind. Continue

The Lobby

By Paul Craig Roberts

That the vast majority of Americans know nothing of this is testimony to the power of the Israel Lobby. Continue

Saying NO to the Hunters of Atzmon

An introduction by Gilad Atzmon:

The following is another shocking glimpse into the activity of the Zionist ADL within the Palestinian solidarity movement. Continue

Latin America’s Shock Resistance

By Naomi Klein

In less than two years, the lease on the largest and most important US military base in Latin America will run out. The base is in Manta, Ecuador, and Rafael Correa, the country’s leftist president, has pronounced that he will renew the lease “on one condition: that they let us put a base in Miami–an Ecuadorean base. If there is no problem having foreign soldiers on a country’s soil, surely they’ll let us have an Ecuadorean base in the United States.” Continue

Hillary's Musharraf

By Greg Palast

Mrs. Clinton's forgotten fling with the Killer of Karachi. Continue
With only one week left till the Australian election, this blog will soon come to a close. I urge readers to bookmark sites like Tom's independent one-man ICH and antiwar.com. I haven't made a cent out of my blogging to date, but I urge readers who care about peace and democracy to support these great sites.

Wanker Of The Day


Miranda Devine rides to the rescue of fellow media whore Caroline Overington:
Overington says it was a joke, and anyone who knows her or has even the most fleeting acquaintance with her knows she is always making such jokes. It's part of her style.
Devine complains that the left has lost it's sense of humour, Ecuyer is a "glamourpuss", and the MediaWatch crew are all bloody mysoginists who cannot appreciate fair and balanced Murdoch-style journalism:
While in Baghdad, with The Australian's political editor, Dennis Shanahan, I interviewed General David Petraeus, the US military commander in Iraq.

It was the first time Petraeus had spoken to journalists about the results of the surge of US troops in Iraq, using specific information and the same graphs he would use in his report to Congress a few days later.

We wrote news stories foreshadowing Petraeus's report to Congress, which proved to be accurate accounts of what Petraeus would say.

But Media Watch missed the news value of our stories and focused instead on ad hominem attacks. I was derided as "an instant expert" whose "elevation to visiting war correspondent has been met with scoffing derision within Fairfax". Really? Prove it, Tim and Monica.

While Media Watch targets women it perceives as not of the correct political persuasion, it won't be winning any Ernies awards for sexism, because the awards organisers are on Attard's and Palmer's side.
Remind me again why Fairfax keep publishing this bitch?

More at LP In Exile.

UPDATE: Jeebus, one week till I kill this blog for good and all, and suddenly I am respectable in the Ozblogosphere again with not one but two links at Club Troppo today. Ken says "Nitpickers might observe that Miranda is actually a Fairfax Angel" - fair enough, Ken, I know Fairfax pay her wages, but I she is definitely cheering on the GG in that link above! And she is Corporatocracy to the bone.

Chez Murdoch: Corruption All The Way To The Top

[SEE UPDATES BELOW]

This one has it all. From the New York Times via TPM:
Judith Regan, the book publisher who was fired by the News Corporation last year, asserts in a lawsuit filed today that a senior executive at the media conglomerate encouraged her to mislead federal investigators about her relationship with Bernard B. Kerik during his bid to become homeland security secretary in late 2004.

The lawsuit asserts that the News Corporation executive wanted to protect the presidential aspirations of former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Kerik’s mentor, who had appointed him New York City police commissioner and had recommended him for the federal post...

Ms. Regan had an affair with Mr. Kerik, who is married, beginning in the spring of 2001, when her imprint, ReganBooks, began work on his memoir, “The Lost Son.” In December 2004, after the relationship had ended and shortly after Mr. Kerik’s homeland security nomination fell apart, newspapers reported that the two had carried on the affair at an apartment near ground zero that had been donated as a haven for rescue and recovery workers.

Mr. Kerik, who said he had withdrawn his nomination because of problems with his hiring of a nanny, was indicted last week on federal tax fraud and other charges.
Kerik is now in very deep do-doo. And Regan is no saint. But there is no reason to believe she is lying about how News Corp operates.

Get this:
The News Corporation controls a variety of media outlets worldwide, including Twentieth Century Fox, The New York Post and the Fox News Channel, where Ms. Regan was once host of a talk show.

The Fox News Channel’s coverage of the presidential race has been a topic of some discussion within rival campaigns because the channel is directed by Mr. Giuliani’s friend of 20 years, Roger Ailes. But the network has strongly defended the balance of its coverage under Mr. Ailes, who served as media consultant to Mr. Giuliani’s first mayoral campaign in 1989. Mr. Giuliani, as mayor, later officiated at Mr. Ailes’s wedding.
Meanwhile, Rupert is telling Kevin Rudd to keep Aussie troops in Iraq:
"On the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we are at the point of saying, 'You have almost won it, you see this out,'" he said.
When it's time for the post-Howard investigations, Rudd should declare war on Murdoch.

UPDATE: Looks like Bush knew about Kerik's mafia ties:
Kerik's indictment last Thursday indicates that the White House was dealing with bigger problems: Kerik's ties to the mob.

The centerpiece of the indictment was Kerik's acceptance, from 1999 through 2000, of $255,000 worth of apartment renovations (including a marble rotunda) from executives with Interstate Industrial Corporation, a company with ties to the Gambino crime family...

In the thick of the vetting process, the White House was asking Kerik about his ties to Interstate.
Kerik hurriedly withdrew his nomination for Homeland Security Chief after receiving a string of embarrassing questions from The New York Daily News, which he never answered.

Now, if Kerik was closely tied to the mob, then Rudy Giuliani is also tied to the mob. And if News Corp executives are (still!) actively pushing the Kerik-Giuliani barrow, then at least SOMEBODY IN A SENIOR NEWS CORPORATION POSITION IS A MAFIA ASSET.

And these mafia ties go all the way to the White House.

UPDATE: There was more than one News Ltd exec involved. From The Independent:
"According to Ms Regan, executives at News Corp became nervous about what she might tell federal investigators about her former boyfriend if they asked. One executive, the suit says, told her to lie if necessary. Another told her "not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with the government's investigation of Kerik".

"Defendants were well aware that Regan had a personal relationship with Kerik," the lawsuit says. "In fact, a senior executive in the News Corporation organisation told Regan that he believed she had information about Kerik that, if disclosed, would harm Giuliani's presidential campaign. This executive advised Regan to lie to, and to withhold information from, investigators concerning Kerik."

A spokesman for News Corp said the claims against the company were "preposterous"."
And Jeff Bercovici has some good thoughts on who Regan's anonymous #1 News Corp "senior executive" might be:
1)"Senior executive" has heretofore unrevealed dirt on Regan that she doesn't want him to reveal.

2)"Senior executive" has already agreed to testify; Regan's leaving him anonymous so that he can take the stage in a dramatic, Perry Mason-esque climactic gesture.

3)"Senior executive" doesn't exist. That was the opinion of one former News Corp. official I discussed this with. "Otherwise, why are you protecting this person who put you in a such a bad position?" he wondered. "It just doesn't make sense."

Neither does committing perjury. But does anyone have a better explanation?
From the comments:
"Maybe it is because Regan wants to force a settlement in exchange for not revealing the name?"
Given that Regan was on a dinner-dating basis with Herr Murdoch himself, it is not unreasonable to suppose that he is the anonymous official in question. In which case she gives herself a lot of leverage by not naming him.

UPDATE: Even more from Salon, investigating Murdoch's (highly mutual) support of Giuliani. Just one example among many:
Fox News was launching, with Ailes at the helm, and Time Warner, which provided cable service to 12 million homes nationwide, had decided it would not carry Fox News. Time Warner was the dominant cable operator in New York City, meaning that not only would 1.1 million city homes not get Fox, but the fledgling network would go unseen by media powerbrokers in the nation's media capital.

Three days after Murdoch learned of Time Warner's decision, a call from Ailes to Giuliani set in motion a series of unprecedented moves in favor of a cable network by the Giuliani administration. As calls and meetings continued between Fox and city officials, including Giuliani, the Giuliani administration reportedly threatened Time Warner executives with the loss of their cable franchise if the cable provider didn't accept a deal in which the city would give up one of its own government channels so Fox News could take the slot. (Some 30 other cable networks had tried and failed to win channel space on Time Warner.) When Time Warner refused to take the deal, the city announced that it would go ahead with the plan anyway and force the cable provider to carry Fox News.

It's The Stupid Insincerity

No wonder the IT industry in Australia has been stagnating for 10 years:
Mr Howard says he has no problem with Mr Rudd's promise to have a computer for every senior secondary school student.

"I'm not opposed to computers. There are a lot of computers in a lot of schools now." he said.

"Nobody's against that. I didn't come here to attack computers.

"I think we all like computers and we all find computers are a marvellous aid and we love them and they make our life so joyous, we get so much information. They're terrific, nobody's arguing about that."

13 Nov. 2007

Media Slut: A New Definition


It was bad enough being disowned by Rupert Murdoch:
Asked about the story at a shareholders' meeting in Adelaide today, Mr Murdoch said he was unaware of the reported incident.

He says the company cannot restrict the private actions of individuals.

"If they're doing it in the name of the paper ... we would more than discourage it, we would take disciplinary action," Mr Murdoch said.

"It's a free world and a reporter is entitled to his opinions as much as anybody else. I'm sorry about that."
But Fairfax today shows the real Caroline Overington in all her glory:
Overington wrote at 11.08am: "Let's chat today, shall we? I could come out to Bondi, since I live there. And now you are single, I might even make a pass at you."

Newhouse, 11.11am: "You describe me (previously in an article) as short, dark and Jewish, so why would you do that? And I know you are married (and I know who to) so why would I reciprocate? George."

Overington, 11.14am: "Not married, me. Separated five months ago. I might like short, dark and Jewish, you never know. My grandfather is Jewish. But he married a Polish blonde. Perhaps we are related."

Overington, 11.35am: "Either you say yes to a photograph smiling and happy and out campaigning, or we stake you out at ... Bondi Junction, and get you looking like a cat caught in a trap, in your PJs. Your choice."

Newhouse, 11.40am: "Now that doesn't sound like burying the hatchet … What is the story? George."

Overington, 11.43am: "Because we ran a piece today saying you're a scaredy cat that needs ALP minders and can't run your own campaign. You're saying it ain't so. So why are you still hiding from us? Let's be pals."

Overington, 12.51 pm: "OK, we are sending a bloke out at 1pm. We do not have all day, George."

Overington, 2.48 pm: "We're out the front of your house, and your office, just so you know."
What bizarre form of journalism is this? From Crikey today:
But imagine if Overington was male, and Newhouse female. We would, I think, be readier to use words like harassment.

Chris Mitchell says: "I don't think men would do that these days. They are too aware of the implications."
So does that make it right for Overington?

"No, I wouldn't sent e-mails like that and I am sure Caroline regrets it, but you know her well enough to know that is what she is like."

He still describes the exchanges as "no more than colourful", and will not be disciplining Overington.
What does he mean about "what she is like?" Certainly Overington is a big personality, or as some of her colleagues say a "look at me" personality. According to Mitchell she would have "made similar suggestions to half the people in the office".

Overington has dismissed the previous exchange with Ecuyer as a joke. This morning Overington did not return calls asking for comment. But surely it is well beyond a joke.

Invest In Educations, Nor Corporations

Maybe by the time my kids get to university it will be affordable again, like it was in 1982-85 when I did my Arts degree at Sydney Uni for $400 a year. To make higher education free, VOTE GREENS!!!

Interesting...

Hmmn... Janet Albrechtsen's husband is a Chief Financial Officer at the Commonwealth Bank and a big supporter (like his wife) of Malcolm Turnbull. Today the Commonwealth Bank buys into Gunns - coincidence?

Financial Tsunami On The Horizon: $350 Billion Set To Explode!

Here comes Howard's "Tampa 2007". But it's not what he expected. The big question is whether the $350 billion wave on the global financial horizon will crash on our shores within the next 10 days.

Here's Mike Whitney:
On Monday, Asian stock markets took another drubbing on fears that the credit squeeze which began in the United States would continue to worsen in the months ahead. Every index from Tokyo to Sidney [sic] fell sharply continuing the “self-reinforcing” vicious cycle of losses started last week on Wall Street. The Nikkei 225 average fell 3.3%, India’s Sensex dropped 2.9%, Taiwan tumbled 3.5%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slumped a whopping 4.5%. The subprime tsunami is presently headed towards downtown Manhattan...
Of course, none of this registered in the Aussie news cycle, which is obsessed with the election.
Overnight, the greenback has become the leper at the birthday party; everyone is steering clear for fear of contagion. Foreign central banks are looking for any opportunity to dump their stockpiles of dollars in a manner that doesn’t disrupt their economies or the global financial system. Their intentions may be prudent—even honorable—but it won’t forestall the inevitable blow-off of USDs that is likely to commence as soon as the financial giants reveal the real size of their losses. New regulations have been put in place that will require the banks to provide “market prices” for their assets. This will expose the degree to which they are under-capitalized. When word gets out that the banking system is underwater; there’ll be a run on the dollar.

On Sunday, the AFP reported that the Group of Seven richest nations (G7) is considering direct “intervention” in the dollar’s decline to prevent a “disorderly correction”.
Interestingly, today's news suggests an easing in the US credit crisis. But consider this from the comments at ICH:
Amusingly, the stock market went UP by 320 Dow points today, just as Mike Whitney comes out with another dire prognostication.

It's not that Mike is wrong, or that the subject is unimportant. However, anyone who believes that the stock market functions according to rational economic principles has misunderstood the nature of the beast.

The market is a fantastically corrupt creation -- there's almost nothing in it that is NOT corrupt. It does what people on Wall St want it to do. Almost always, they want it to go up, and they view with extreme hostility the idea of letting it collapse. They have a million tricks at their disposal to prevent it from collapsing.

So, no matter how awful the objective economic circumstances might be -- and they are indeed terrible -- I wouldn't recommend holding your breath until the market collapses. I fully expect that the very evening before Doomsday comes, there will be a brisk market rally, supported by hedge funds & the Plunge Protection Team.

If Bush declared himself "Emperor for Life" tomorrow, the market would probably rally on the news. If he nukes Teheran, the market will simply look for Pentagon assurances that the nuking was "successful" -- then it will rally. If the Rapture comes, and we all get spirited up to Heaven, the market will rally on the rumor that Goldman Sachs plans to privatize Heaven, & is offering an IPO on the deal.
RichM | 11.13.07 - 3:18 pm | #
Well, exactly. OTOH, I've been reading Whitney for some time now: his forecasts don't usually happen as quickly as he expects, but they DO HAPPEN. Nobody else in the Financial News sector is prepared to tell it like it is, until they have already cashed out.