Glass of shame, anyone?   24/2/2007

Can we expect some qualification from all those demanding that David Hicks be brought home post-haste?
In a 148-page document written for US government terrorism investigators, British former inmate Feroz Abbasi wrote that Hicks wanted to “go back to Australia and rob and kill Jews”.
Abbasi’s account also made the claim that Hicks wanted to crash a plane into a building and details the Australian terror suspect’s behaviour in al-Qai’da training camps in Afghanistan. The claims made by Abbasi, who was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2005 and has never been charged, are detailed in next week’s Time magazine.

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Body politic   

Holy moley, big improvement to the view poolside at Kirribilli House.
gal

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Opportunity knocks   22/2/2007

Finally, a chance for all moderate Muslims to stand and be counted.
A PAKISTANI minister and women’s activist has been shot dead by an Islamic extremist for refusing to wear the full veil.
Zilla Huma Usman, the Minister for Social Welfare in Punjab province and an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, was shot in the head as she was about to deliver a political speech.
Ms Usman’s killer was described as a fanatic, who believed she was dressed inappropriately and women should not be involved in politics, the Times reported yesterday.
Zilla Huma Usman, Punjab’s Minister for Social Welfare and a strong campaigner for women’s rights, died on her way to hospital. The 36-year-old had previously invoked fundamentalist wrath for organising a marathon in which women were allowed to compete.

Ms Usman, a married mother of two sons, joined the pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League after being elected in 2002.
She was a strong supporter of the President’s policy of enlightened moderation, designed to tackle extremism.

I expect front-page articles, radio talkback programs and TV current events programs to be saturated with moderate Muslims condemning this barbaric, extremist murderer and his followers.
The ABC and Fairfax, as conveyors of serious news issues, would be expected to give much coverage to such denunciations.
And if they don’t get such a reaction? Why, that would be even more newsworthy. Of course, such an outcome is surely not possible. Is it? It isn’t, is it?

UPDATE:
This is a step in the right direction. Now for a few words of condemnation.
Muslims want to project a realistic image of their lives and distance themselves from controversial figures like Sydney sheik Taj el-Din al-Hilaly.
To do so, the Islamic Council of Victoria has joined forces with a federal agency to promote positive images of ordinary Muslims.

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Speaking Frankly   21/2/2007

Some questions from Frank the Yank over at Tim Blair’s blog:

We haven’t really been following this in the U.S. What’s the
problem with this Hicks guy? As far as I know, we caught him with the enemy, carrying guns, etc. So, we gave him a break and treated him just like any captured enemy soldier. (Maybe not the best idea, in hindsight.) We’ve probably treated him better than the thousands of German, Italian, and Japanese soldiers we captured in WWII. We certainly didn’t get them lawyers or worry about “charging” them. (As far as I know, Australia acted the same way in WWII.) If there’s a “legal” question here, it’s whether we would have been justified in shooting him immediately. If we did turn him over to you guys, wouldn’t it be a lot rougher on him? What’s the penalty for treason in Australia?

Frank’s not to know, but he’s wrong on one individual count as far as Australia’s treatment of Italian POWs go.
A fine resident of Winchelsea in Victoria, Martin Bruno, was sent to Winch as a POW to work on farms there. At war’s end, he went back home, got the paperwork settled and emigrated back to Australia — to Winchelsea.
For decades Martin won blue ribbons at Geelong Show for his vegetables and fruit.
He was also a master at grafting fruit trees and delighted in presenting visitors to his comfortable but unassuming home with oranges and mandarins, plums and nectarines, peaches and apricots, every pair from the same tree.
I’ve tried a google but can’t come up with verification, but I think Winch Hospital has a unit named after him.
I had the pleasure of visiting Martin and interviewing him almost 20 years ago, and his joy of life still warms me.

MORE:
Contrail at Blair’s has another twist on poor widdle Davy’s pwedicament:

I think Hicks should sue the travel company who sent him on this holiday. The poor bugger got on a plane with his Hawaiian shirt and boogie board thinking he was off to a tropic paradise and what happens when he gets there – they give him a bazooka and tell him to kill Serbs. Back on the plane again, hoping that this time the travel company got it right and lo and behold, there he is perched on a mountain top shooting at what he thought were clay pigeons when in fact they were Indians. Back to the travel company office to complain. “Where’s the sand in the brochure,” David says. And next day he is under a camel skin tent with a bunch of smelly bearded men jabbering in a foreign language. And what to they do? They give him another gun. Plenty of sand this time, but no surf. Poor Davy, what an awful, awful holiday. Everywhere he goes there are guns, guns and more guns. Finally he sees a life-saving sight – men with the Stars and Stripes on their uniform. Please, he begs, get me away from this terrible place. All I wanted was a holiday on a tropical island. So what the Americans do, they give him a holiday on a tropic island. And still he’s not happy and neither is the Australian left. Have they thought about complaining to Consumer Affairs and not the Prime MInister. Is it his job to fix holidays that have gone awry? Think not.

You want ratings, Eddie McGuire? Hire buggers like this for a prime time comedy show. No guts, no glory.

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Archie’s high five   19/2/2007

I don’t normally get too excited about soccer, but tonight was an exception.
Is Adelaide United a hopeless outfit that deserved a 6-0 drubbing?
I wouldn’t have thought so.
Is Archie Thompson a once-in-a-generation sporting freak that Australia seems to throw up with amazing regularity? I think so.
What a great name. It belongs on a plumber’s truck door with “and Son” after it.
That’s not to say Thompson’s effort was just tradesmanlike. We labelled him “Five-star Archie”.

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Booze warning   17/2/2007

Sure, and the monkeys will chew tobacco:
Irish drinkers are being urged to give up their Guinness and keep away from their whiskey by the country’s Roman Catholic bishops who are worried by the soaring rate of boozing.

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The Price is left   

Until now, Matt Price left only the perception he was a Labor-luvvy. Today, in the tradition of Mary Delahunty’s “that’s one we’ve lost”, he removes any doubt.
Nobody dreams Labor is anywhere near over the line but the early portents – including favouritism with the bookies – are encouraging.
One more commentator not worth wasting time on.

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Defiant   16/2/2007

A local councillor and Labor Party apparatchik says he will not resign from Geelong city council after being found guilty of failing to disclose a $12,000 gift for election expenses.
Hmmm, we’ll see about that.

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Child labour   

When you’re one of six kids aged under 14 and your dad’s a battling cocky and livestock dealer, there’s not a lot of pocket money to go round.
So, at age 10 I wangled a Herald round. This involved picking up a bundle of evening newspapers after school and delivering them to households on the eastern side of town.
On completion of deliveries I headed to a designated pub and flogged my remaining Heralds over the last half-hour of the infamous six o’clock swill.
On a good week I’d make 30 bob. This was a relative fortune, which helped mightily in the pursuit of life’s essentials such as the latest Battler Brittain comic, a Ross Faulkner footy or a pump for the Malvern Star.
I delivered papers for about three years until the old man decreed I was adult enough to take over the nightly milking of our small herd of cows. For this, I got a cut of the butter factory cheque. What size cut I will never know. Dads were like that then. Everything on a need to know basis.
But it was better money than paperboys’ earnings and it paid for my first Beatles records, Steinbeck paperbacks and memorable trip by train to a Boxing Day Test.
I can’t say I was harmed or placed at risk by my boyhood jobs, apart from the occasional tumble from the bike or a tail-flick in the moosh from a cranky Friesian.
Ten years later, I was a committed communist, so my juvenile careers hardly sparked a burning, life-long entrepreneurial drive. (Unlike many of my peers, I eventually grew up and concluded that socialism had as much plausibility as the Easter Bunny.)
Childhood jobs are, if nothing else, a colourful page in a life’s story book — a clear reference point for all the other exciting events touching an emerging identity. And it was a lot of fun. As you’d expect when a group of kids have a licence to roam the town at nightfall with money in their pockets.
And that is why nanny-staters get their knee-length knickers in a knot over kids working for pocket money: They might enjoy the discovery of individual responsibility and the rewards it brings. Can’t have that. We might end up with a nation of self-reliant, hard-working capitalists with no need or desire for regulatory bullies.
I have my own unresearched theory on where these busy-bodies hail from. Since the modern economy decimated trade unions, the officials who ran those organisations have needed an earner.
Hence the mushrooming of regulatory bodies appointed by state Labor governments to run all sorts of interference against individuals and small businesses. Their standover activities range from making scaffolding compulsory for home owners painting the spouts to banning kids from earning pocket money after school.
Memories of juvenile employment were prompted by this report:

MORE than 170,000 Australian kids aged between five and 14 did paid work last year – most of it during the school term.
About 15,000 children worked for more than 10 hours a week while at school, typical jobs being delivering leaflets or gardening for friends and relatives, a study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed yesterday.
One third worked in small family businesses or on farms, though for the five- to nine-year age group, the majority worked within the family structure.
Child welfare advocates were split over the findings, some arguing paid work enhanced children’s quality of life and developed responsibility while others raised concerns about Dickensian mistreatment of children, suggesting the figures showed state child labour laws could be being breached.

Reassuring to see the split over these findings. Not long ago the latter view would be the only one permitted to prevail.
Okay readers, what childhood jobs did you undertake? And what was your biggest stuff-up.
Mine involved a local doctor’s home-delivered edition of Playboy, a bright idea to rent it out at school — a zac an hour — and failing to convince anyone that I knew nothing about the condition it was in when finally delivered.

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Joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!   

The Australian generally lives up to its reputation as the nation’s finest newspaper. But occasionally it leaves this reader with eyes spinning and muttering “what the … “.
The Australian has learned that National Parks and Wildlife Service officers have found a dead night parrot in the state’s far west, confirming the survival of Australia’s rarest bird.

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Natural justice   15/2/2007

It’s the ladies lounge for you, Miss. We have a popular roughneck about to appear who might give someone as cultured and sensitive as yourself the vapours. He’s a dag. You just sag.

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Do the maths   13/2/2007

Mark Steyn demonstrates that basic arithmetic is beyond the grasp of doom merchant “scientists” and their pals in the press.

I see from my comparatively sleepier local paper in New Hampshire that Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado and one of the IPCC bigwigs, predicts that, unless we act on climate change, “one million people” will die by 2100 – from droughts, hurricanes, wildfires and the like. Which works out about 10,000 people a year. Or about 50 people in each country.
On the other hand, over two million people die of diarrhea each year, mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. If you clobber the global economy and slow down Third World development, they’ll continue to die — 2.2 to 5 million per year, or a minimum of 204 million by the year 2100. And yet The Sydney Morning Herald is entirely indifferent to the huge global diarrhea tsunami engulfing the planet. When will they have the guts to wake up their readers to that?

Picked up at Tim Blair’s.

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PM does his homework   9/2/2007

If John Howard’s advisers want to be sure of his party’s re-election, they should send a copy of yesterday’s speech on woeful trends in modern education to every parent of Australian school-agers. Extract:

By obfuscating the need for teachers to impart specific knowledge and for rigorous testing of student achievement, we are robbing children, especially disadvantaged children, of the one proven path to individual achievement and social mobility. And by denying parents clear statements of their child’s performance in the classroom, we are letting new-age fads get in the way of genuine accountability.
Few debates are as vital as those over education, whether it be in upholding basic standards on literacy and numeracy, promoting diversity and choice or challenging the incomprehensible sludge that can find its way into some curriculum material.

The section I’ve emphasised demonstrates that Howard clearly recognises the most depressing trend in “progressive” thinking in the past three decades.
Once, the left was driven by the worthy ideal of making a better life for the lower classes. The most effective way of achieving this was through a sound, free, secular education system.
Now the left shows it couldn’t give a toss for the aspirations of struggle town, unless they’re from some brainless bogan who deserted his family to join the Taliban.
It cushions its own middle class comfort by ensuring that ignorance infests the young of the underclass, turning their inherited disadvantage into a life sentence.

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Aunty turns pro   8/2/2007

That howl of anguish from the salons and chardonnay bars of Glebe and Fitzroy? Could the thin edge of the wedge be getting driven through luvvies’ hearts?
ABC managing director Mark Scott is extracting the digital to get the corporation on a commercial footing.

Mr Scott said a newly created division, ABC Commercial, would replace Enterprises and would pursue the possibility of charging the public for digital downloads of television and radio programs. Podcasting of radio programs has been very successful for the ABC, which at present does not charge for downloading programs.
Mr Scott said buying programs directly from the website would be no different to buying them from an ABC Shop. Plans include video-on-demand, access to digital archives and new partnerships that allow content to be more widely available.
“These will, of course, be compatible with the ABC Charter and will comply with the requirements of the ABC Act,” he told staff in an email.

Former ABC producer and media commentator David Salter points out the proposed commercial endeavour comes about because the Act of Parliament that supports the ABC Charter covers only radio and television services, not the internet.
Salter is concerned about Aunty lifting her skirts in the marketplace among “broadband touts” and “web hucksters” and suggests a bizarre exercise in deconstruction — even for inner-urban postmodernists.

The key to saving Aunty from becoming just another media trollop could lie in the law. The assumption of a right simply because it is not expressly forbidden is a wobbly basis on which to proceed with any sizeable commercial enterprise.
The black-letter interpretation of the act that wouldn’t prevent advertising on the ABC website may also not allow the ABC to have established its web presence in the first place. A class action by public broadcasting loyalists might well force the board to dismantle its site and quit the internet altogether until the act was amended.

Roll up, roll up — clearing sale at the back of the sheltered workshop! HTML tags and jpg files at rock-bottom prices.

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It’s Hair, not fair   

Tell Darrell he’s dreamin’:

AUSTRALIAN umpire Darrell Hair confirmed today he had filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Pakistan Cricket Board and ICC.
Hair was sacked from the ICC’s elite panel of umpires after Pakistan complained about his role in a ball-tampering row in the forfeited Oval test against England last August.

Doesn’t he know that only whities can be racist?

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Tight squeeze   

Some news for the true believers and natural haters out there:
Ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating finds himself only a cuddle’s distance from a blow job.

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More strife   3/2/2007

Someone’s in a lot more trouble. Wouldn’t that give you the roo skinner blues?
The US military says it has prepared new charges against Australian terror suspect David Hicks and two other Guantanamo detainees.

Splitsville for our dinkum little trouper.

Flicks for the flics.

Here’s a twist on the noble savage ideal:

When the family were driven from the doctor at Kintore 27km to the smaller community of Kwiwikurra, the nomads ritually beat members of their extended families with sticks for not bringing them in from the desert earlier.
“The older ones were angry that their long-lost relatives – who they had not seen for nearly 20 years – had left them out in the desert eating lizards while they lived in what they saw as the lap of luxury,” Mr Tull said.

A fascinating report.

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As far as Lies go   2/2/2007

If you dish it out, you have to take it. That’s this blog’s motto. However, I’m not prepared to take defamatory lies about me cloaked under gutless anonymity.
The blog Broken Left Leg has taken a spell from fanatical diatribes about the Geelong Advertiser, which sometimes publishes the blogger’s correspondence, to turn on me with damaging falsehoods.
He claims I was sacked from my position at the Geelong Advertiser, a job I held for 20 years, a performance that was roundly praised by my editor on my resignation from the paper.
This ugly libel will be dealt with elsewhere.
He has labelled me racist and homophobic, offensive labels that do not stand up to scrutiny.
He has also challenged the judgment and integrity of my current employers.
All in all, some pretty rough shots from someone who claims expertise in cricketing matters.

UPDATE:
I’ve just arrived home from a delightful evening with intelligent, affectionate and talented friends to be confronted with a wriggle-out effort by the sad, ignorant, hate-filled failed cricket correspondent responsible for the aforementioned defamation.
This is what he originally wrote about me:
Bernard Slattery is Andrew Bolt’s new moderator for his on-line blog. The only problem is, Bernie ain’t that bright. After a 20 year career as a Sub-editor at a very ordinary regional paper, Bernie got the flick, because the Geelong Addy were a bit upset he kept up his far far right wing blog.
Last year I did an expose on Slattery and soon after this, his blog was cleared of it’s blatant racism and numerous homophobic jokes.

This is what the author of Broken Left Leg has published since the damaging gravity of his comments became apparent to him:

Bernard Slattery is Andrew Bolt’s new moderator for his on-line blog. The only problem is, Bernie ain’t that bright. After a 20 year career as a Sub-editor at a very ordinary regional paper, Bernie moved on. The Geelong Addy were a bit upset he kept up his far far right wing blog.
Last year I did an expose on Slattery and soon after this, his blog was cleared of it’s blatant racism and numerous homophobic jokes.

Lies go, but for those they hurt they’re remembered forever. The second edition is no defence.
As we used to say, more to come

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