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Monday, February 28, 2005

BIGGEST NEWS EVER

Prepare to have your world turned upside down:

Harold Pinter announced today that he has decided to abandon his career as a playwright in order to concentrate exclusively on politics.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 10:12 PM
(47) CommentsPermalink

CEDAR REVOLUTION

The Arab Street erupts following the resignation of the entire creepy Lebanese government!

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 10:02 PM
(15) CommentsPermalink

RIOTS EXPLAINED

A stolen car. A police chase. A fatal crash. A subsequent riot (and riots following the initial riot). Who’s to blame?

Jamie Rayward, the father of Dyllan, blamed police for unnecessarily chasing his son, but said he did not blame the driver of the car who survived and ran off. “I can’t blame him because they knew what they were doing,” he said. “They all were in the stolen car. If they wanted to, they could have said no ‘I’m not going to’.”

Well, yes. But they didn’t. Leading to this non-blamey piece:

Ms Robertson, who said she was not related to Matthew but had been his best friend for four years, appealed for young people to stay calm and call a halt to the violence.

“If they [the young people] want to keep rioting they know they’ll get taken, they’ll get caught,” she said. “They’re going to be locked up and they won’t be at his funeral.”

“He was my best friend,” she said, adding that she met him through her cousin, who had been going out with him. “I saw him in every jail he went to.”

(Via Alan R.M. Jones)

UPDATE. Julie wanted to comment on Sydney’s riots at the Sydney Morning Herald’s online opinion page. Julie didn’t want to leave her full name, however. So this is what the SMH published:

Julie Dodd (please only display Julie)

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 10:47 AM
(107) CommentsPermalink

OLD RICH MAN IS ANGRY

Phillip Adams lashes out:

Let me be the last to congratulate my colleague Janet Albrechtsen on her elevation to the ABC board. Given that the Prime Minister might well have chosen other newspaper columnists Miranda Devine, Piers Akerman, Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt, Imre Salusinszky, Christopher Pearson or Gerard Henderson, Albrechtsen was clearly the stand-out candidate.

I haven’t been a newspaper columnist for some time. As usual, Phillip needs to pay closer attention.

Much has been made of the fact that Albrechtsen is a Murdoch columnist. So are, or have been, all of the above. Should this bar her - or them - from appointment to high office? Of course not. After all, I’ve been at the ABC for many years - but have spent many more writing for Rupert. I would have thought that my time as a Murdoch pundit exceeds the combined totals of Albrechtsen, Bolt, Akerman, Devine, Pearson, Blair and Bolt.

Former commie Phillip’s wealth sure exceeds the combined totals of Albrechtsen, Bolt, Akerman, Devine, Pearson, Blair and Bolt.

Just where Albrechtsen stands, or rather sits, will be revealed in due course. Frankly, I fear for her.

Janet is a friend of mine, and I fear for her too; I’d hate for that ABC board membership to neuter her sharp views. First task for Janet: kick off Radio National anybody worth $20 million who is hauling in $120,000 of taxpayers’ money per year for four hours each week of lame, unlistenable radio.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 10:43 AM
(80) CommentsPermalink

MEDIA NOTES

* Blog newcomer J.F. Beck is on a roll. Bookmark.

* Dagbladet – the Norwegian newspaper named after what you say when you hit your thumb with a hammer – has complete details of an Australian gambling scheme that has lured 5% of Norge citizens.

* Bus blogging! It’s the latest new thing.

* Vladimir Putin doesn’t understand how the Western media works.

* Hey, Australians! Bought your copy of Investigate magazine yet? It’s the new monthly edited by former blogger James Morrow, and features contributions from Miranda Devine, Ann Coulter, Adrian the Cabby, Alan Anderson, and more.

* The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle quotes always-alert Chuck Simmins.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 09:34 AM
(6) CommentsPermalink

AMORAL SUPERMEN

Both James Taranto and Paul Mirengoff quote Richard Hofstadter on paranoia in US politics:

As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish ... The enemy is clearly delineated: he is a perfect model of malice, a kind of amoral superman—sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury-loving. Unlike the rest of us, the enemy is not caught in the toils of the vast mechanism of history, himself a victim of his past, his desires, his limitations. He wills, indeed he manufactures, the mechanism of history, or tries to deflect the normal course of history in an evil way. He makes crises, starts runs on banks, causes depressions, manufactures disasters, and then enjoys and profits from the misery he has produced.

Karl Rove. Halliburton. The wicked, media-controlling Jews. Hofstadter identified this tendency towards paranoia more than forty years ago.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 08:55 AM
(15) CommentsPermalink

HISTORY MADE, IGNORED

Haven’t seen this reported very widely. Maybe it never happened:

Iraqi and Coalition Forces made history Feb. 21 when the 40th Iraqi National Guard brigade officially assumed control of their area of operation.

This is the first ING brigade to stand alone and have direct control over an area of operation. The new brigade’s area covers numerous spots in Baghdad, including Haifa Street, Ahdamiyah, Sheikh Malouf and Al Shaab. Coalition Forces will continue to advise the brigade, but the areas will be under complete Iraqi control.

Brig. Gen. Jaleel Khalaf Shwail, 40th Brigade commander, said he is proud to represent his country and his more than 2,800 soldiers.

“This is a historical event in the history of Iraq,” he said. “It is our time to take the liberty and democracy (Coalition Forces) gave to us on a golden plate.”

Seems believable enough. Oh well. We now return you to our regularly-scheduled programming: Aieeee! Iyad Allawi is Shooting Everybody!

UPDATE. Arthur Chrenkoff has more good news from Iraq, and writes:

The fact that so many people, and not just the Sunni sheikhs, now want the piece of the Iraqi action perhaps tells us more about the true situation and future prospects in Iraq than most current news reports. As the old saying goes: victory has many fathers, defeat is an orphan. That the waiting room of the Middle Eastern maternity ward is getting increasingly crowded with paternity claimants is a good - if an indirect - sign that the things in Iraq might be going better than one would think based on the mainstream media coverage.

UPDATE II. Sadly, it’s not all good news:

The death toll from a suicide bombing near a crowded marketplace south of Baghdad yesterday has reached 115, making it the single bloodiest attack in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

The car bomb also wounded 148 people.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/28/2005 at 12:13 AM
(11) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, February 27, 2005

UN PREPARED

Abu Ghraib might have been a whole lot worse if the United Nations had run the place:

U.N. officials fear the sex-abuse scandal among peacekeepers in Africa is far more widespread and appears to be a problem in each of the global body’s 16 missions around the world.

Rocked by widespread abuse of women and girls, including gang rape, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the United Nations also has found sexual exploitation cases in at least four other missions—in Burundi, Liberia, Ivory Coast—as well as more recently in Haiti, they added.

“We think this will look worse before it begins to look better,” Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary general for peacekeeping operations, told reporters. “We expect that more information will come from every mission on allegations. We are prepared for that.”

What a wonderful organisation.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/27/2005 at 07:41 AM
(14) CommentsPermalink

NEWS BRIEFLETS

* Time magazine, nine years ago: “Blowing the wheels off Bubba ... NASCAR has joined the yuppie marketplace.” The Washington Times, today: “NASCAR isn’t all about Bubba, beer and barbecue anymore.”

* Way to go, Adele Horin. You’ve turned Andrea Harris into an anti-abortionist.

* Those warmongering Greens! Were it left to them, they’d send every single member of Australia’s defence forces to Iraq. (Via Bastards Inc.

* Two fun columns from Miranda Devine.

* Howard Dean – the Linda McCartney of US politics!

* The left isn’t happy with Janet Albrectsen’s appointment to the ABC board. Caustic soda in a weasel pit wouldn’t generate a wilder reaction. Neil Brown has some advice for the newcomer.

UPDATE to the Greens poll item – Bastards Inc. reports:

As expected, when the adults started work this morning, the Australian Greens party pulled their poll on whether troops should or should not go into Iraq. Why? Because at the end of play, the polls had 79% of respondents in favour of sending the entire Australian Defence Force. I’m tipping there was more than one “WTF?” when they looked at THAT result.

The gap between their preferred answer and the ‘Dear God no, anything but that!’ was growing wider by the minute. And how do you counter such views? Remove them from sight, of course. Just a pity for them that I took screenshots.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/27/2005 at 07:38 AM
(24) CommentsPermalink

PLANET OF THE GRIPES

Bartle Bull, who reported from Iraq for the New York Times, says his big-media colleagues are on another planet:

In the evenings leading up to the election, I sat on carpets on the floors of a variety of shabby houses in the Baghdad slums. But the daily BBC message I watched with my various Iraqi hosts never budged. The refrain was Iraq’s “atmosphere of intimidation and violence,” and the message was that the elections could never work. What about the “atmosphere of resolve and anticipation” that I felt around me? Or the “atmosphere of patience and restraint” among those whom the terrorists were trying to provoke?

I try to avoid the hotels and the green zone and the Fort Apache press compounds when I am here. Sometimes it seems as though I am on a different planet from my colleagues in big media, and at those moments I worry briefly that I am getting the story wrong. The people at NBC news are not even allowed to go to the restaurant in their hotel. They report from the roof. When I went to the BBC’s Baghdad bunker for some interviews after the election, the reporters I had been watching on television asked me, “So what’s it like out there in the real world?” They meant the Iraqi street ...

The failure of “hotel journalism” might be forgivable if it were truly about prudence or even laziness. But there has been something wilful about the bad reporting of this story. It is weirdly personal: Iraq must fail. It is in fact the press that failed, on a scale for which I cannot think of a precedent.

Hit the above link for more. Meanwhile, Saddam’s half-brother has been captured.

UPDATE. The Scotsman’s Katie Grant.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/27/2005 at 06:26 AM
(13) CommentsPermalink

Saturday, February 26, 2005

ALL OPPOSITION, ALL THE TIME

Both Alan Ramsey and Mike Carlton are unhappy that additional Australian troops will be sent to Iraq. Curiously, however, neither mentions exactly why they are being sent, or what they will be doing. Mike? Alan? Schools and roads and water for people in Iraq! Schools and roads and water for people in Iraq!

The Age’s Tony Parkinson has a message for his Sydney Morning Herald friends:

What event, what change of circumstances, what new facts, might persuade the anti-war movement in Australia to think again about the nature of the epic struggle under way across the Middle East?

As far back as August 2003, I thought the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad might shake some of the misconceptions about the sort of people, the sort of ideology, driving the violent insurgency in Iraq. Sadly, I was wrong.

What about using ambulances for suicide missions? Beheadings and hostage-taking? Terrorist attacks on school buses? Did these not suggest a need to confront a poisonous ideology emanating from the heartlands of the Middle East? No, no and no again.

What about the passage of UN resolution 1546, which from June last year gave the coalition operations in Iraq unquestioned international legitimacy and obliged member states to do all in their power to aid the country’s post-Saddam reconstruction? Stubborn silence.

What, then, of the sight only a month ago of 8.5 million Iraqis voting in free elections? Did the symbolism of those purple fingers count for nothing among opponents of the war?

There had to come a time, surely, when the scales would fall from their eyes. There had to come a moment when they stopped chanting the mantra long enough to start listening to the authentic voices of liberation emerging in the Arab world.

Or so I thought. But no.

Instead we have anti-liberation fanatics like Margo Kingston writing that “the resistance is not only comprised of terrorists; it includes fighters attacking the occupying power” and “the Iraq project is dead”. She actually seeks excuses for Saddam Hussein: “I remember watching the weapons inspectors destroying missiles handed over by Saddam because they breached the length of travel limit in an extremely minor way. That seemed like the desperate act of a man desperate to avoid an invasion.”

Poor Saddam, forced to give up his missiles because of some teensy rules infringement. It’s so unfair.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/26/2005 at 12:14 AM
(28) CommentsPermalink

PHIL FOR PRESIDENT

Phillip Adams writes:

I’ve been asked by a number of readers to explain how the United States - and the world - gets lumbered with a president like George W. Bush.

As it happens, I’ve been asked by a number of readers to explain how world gets lumbered with a columnist like Phillip Adams.

So I will provide a detailed, scientific explanation. Bush is a statistical inevitability. His arrival at the White House was a consequence of simple division by simple people. Or, if you prefer, a process of elimination. First of all, you can eliminate half the population as the US is a long, long way from being ready to have a woman president - though some Democrats are talking up Hillary Clinton while Republicans counter with Condoleezza Rice.

I, too, will provide a detailed, scientific explanation. Adams is a statistical inevitability. His arrival at The Australian was a consequence of simple division by simple people. Or, if you prefer, a process of elimination. First of all, you can eliminate half the population as The Australian is a long, long way from being ready to have a senior, twice-per-week female columnist - though some paperboys are talking up Emma Tom, while subeditors counter with Janet Albrechtsen.

Then you can eliminate all the African-Americans …

Then you can eliminate all the Aboriginal Australians …

Despite Al Gore’s selection of a Jew as his running mate, US anti-Semitism precludes getting nominated as top banana.

Adams has railed against Imre Salusinszky, The Australian’s only Jewish columnist.

And unless Arnie Schwarzenegger can organise a change of the Constitution, you can also eliminate anyone and everyone who wasn’t born in the US.

And unless The Australian changes its name, you can also eliminate anyone and everyone who isn’t Australian.

See how fast we’re whittling down the figures? Getting closer to George Bush …

See how fast we’re whittling down the figures? Getting closer to Big Phil.

Homosexuals need not apply.

Phillip likes girls.

For the foreseeable future you can eliminate Muslims, Zoastrians, Hindus, Sikhs, Druids, followers of the Norse gods, or Buddhists.

The chances of a Hindu replacing Adams? Not great.

Atheists? No hope. In a nation where almost as many people go to church as shop at Wal-Mart, anyone who doesn’t claim to be born again would be out of the race long before Super Tuesday, probably before New Hampshire. Even candidates admitting agnosticism would have to hit the road.

As would a born-again Christian applying for a columnist role at The Australian.

Indeed, it’s hard to see them backing any candidate with a greater disability than dyslexia.

Phil’s got that covered; he struggles profoundly with numbers and the alphabet.

Low intelligence? Hardly an impediment as, once again, the incumbent demonstrates. Indeed, intellectual credentials would almost certainly be politically fatal … Being very intelligent - indeed being very anything - rules you out.

Phillip isn’t very intelligent.

This brings us back to physical appearance in the land of Narcissus. You can pretty well eliminate anyone who isn’t regarded as physically attractive. Indeed, it helps to have had a prior career in Hollywood.

Phillip was once a movie producer.

And you can pretty well eliminate anyone who isn’t stinking rich. It’s not entirely inaccurate to suggest that, by and large, presidential elections have given voters a choice of millionaires.


Phillip’s art collection is worth $20 million.

So there you have it. Take the American population. Divide in half. Subtract large numbers of people in various categories and, lo and behold, you’ve got George Dubya. Think of it. Had he been female, gay, black, Jewish, an immigrant, an agnostic or overly endowed with intelligence, he’d still be what he was. A political mediocrity in Texas, being baled out of business failures by his father’s wealthy friends. Back in the Governor’s mansion, instead of being able to wage war all over the planet, George would be limited to setting records for the confirmation of death sentences - hundreds of them. If only he had been born in Australia, the world would be safe.

So there you have it. Take the Australian population. Divide in half. Subtract large numbers of people in various categories and, lo and behold, you’ve got Phil the Waddler. Think of it. Had he been female, gay, black, Jewish, an immigrant, an agnostic or overly endowed with intelligence, he’d still be what he was. A broadcasting mediocrity in Sydney, being subsidised by the nation’s extorted taxpayers. Back in the Radio National mansion, instead of being able to wage war on the printed word, Phillip would be limited to setting records for boring listeners to death - hundreds of them. If only he had been born infertile, the world would be safe.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/26/2005 at 12:10 AM
(34) CommentsPermalink

Friday, February 25, 2005

SIMPLE REQUEST GRANTED

Ted Rall challenges right-wingers to come up with the “worst, most vicious examples of liberal/leftie blogger vitriol” (which Rall claims can’t be located). John Hawkins answers that challenge. Charles Johnson observes: “Rall is increasingly irrelevant and he’s lashing out. That’s all. Perfectly understandable. I almost feel for the guy.”

UPDATE. “This challenge is no challenge at all.”

Posted by Tim B. on 02/25/2005 at 11:21 PM
(27) CommentsPermalink

“LET US HAVE THE MEAT”

I will make this jerk chicken. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But one day, the jerk chicken will be made. Meanwhile, I’ve got a hankering for some hippo meat:

Two people were injured as villagers scrambled for meat from a hippo that was killed by a vehicle along Thika Road yesterday.

The hippo lay near Clayworks Factory on the busy Thika highway near Kenyatta University for several hours after a speeding vehicle hit it.

Armed with all manner of tools, passersby and local residents rushed to the scene to get a slice of the rare meat.

“I have eaten hippo meat in the past and I know how sweet it is. Let us have the meat,” a man said as he ran to the scene.

Mmmm ... jerk hippo.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/25/2005 at 09:39 PM
(21) CommentsPermalink

BLOGS TO FADE AWAY

The Associated Press writes:

Critics, though, view all the fuss about blogs as the latest bout of internet hyperbole, one that will eventually fade away once readers realise they are rife with inaccuracies and mundane minutiae.

And Toby at Bilious Young Fogey responds:

“Rife with inaccuracies?” - try telling that to Rather, Jordan and Raines.

Posted by Tim B. on 02/25/2005 at 09:37 PM
(8) CommentsPermalink
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