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Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Left-wingers would probably be offended if anyone from the right claimed that progressives and down-with-America Muslims shared the same anti-Western aims. So we’ll leave it to George Galloway instead:

Mohammad Basirul Haq Sinha: “You often call for uniting Muslim and progressive forces globally. How far is it possible under current situation?”

George Galloway: “Not only do I think it’s possible but I think it is vitally necessary and I think it is happening already. It is possible because the progressive movement around the world and the Muslims have the same enemies. Their enemies are the Zionist occupation, American occupation, British occupation of poor countries mainly Muslim countries. They have the same interest in opposing savage capitalist globalization which is intent upon homogenizing the entire world turning us basically into factory chickens which can be forced fed the American diet of everything from food to Coca-Cola to movies and TV culture. And whose only role in life is to consume the things produced endlessly by the multinational corporations. And the progressive organizations & movements agree on that with the Muslims.

“Otherwise we believe that we should all have to speak as Texan and eat McDonalds and be ruled by Bush and Blair. So on the very grave big issues of the day—issues of war, occupation, justice, opposition to globalization—the Muslims and the progressives are on the same side.

We’ll take your word for it, George.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/31/2005 at 10:42 PM
(113) CommentsPermalink


Headline over Alan Ramsey’s latest column: “A journey into Downer’s dark past”. Here’s the foreign minister’s alleged past of darkness:

The patriarch of the Downer family was Henry Downer, an immigrant tailor who arrived in Adelaide from England in 1838. Henry had several sons, among them John William, born in 1843, Henry Edward, and George. John William went on to get free secondary schooling by scholarship at Adelaide’s Collegiate School of St Peter, “where he proved brilliant”, according to the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

John William was later articled to brother Henry Edward, admitted to the South Australian Bar in 1867, and, with elder brother George, a prominent pastoralist, founded the “leading legal firm, J. and G. Downer”. John entered state politics in 1878, became attorney-general in 1881 and was twice premier of his state - 1885-87 and 1892-93. At Federation in 1901 - by then Sir John Downer - he became one of South Australia’s six original senators but resigned in December 1903 after missing appointment to the founding High Court.

John Downer died in 1915. He was twice married and survived by a son from each marriage. The son of his second marriage was Alexander Russell Downer, later a cabinet minister in the Menzies government in 1949 and, as Sir Alexander, Australian high commissioner to London in 1964. He, too, sired a son, Alexander John Gosse Downer, briefly Opposition leader in 1994 and John Howard’s Foreign Minister for all of the last nine years as his reward for stepping down for Howard.

And what is it we learn of this distinguished family history in Roberts’s book on this country’s ruthless savagery by 19th-century pastoralists towards indigenous people? On pages 133 and 134 Roberts recounts how the notorious Constable Willshire, at his Port Augusta acquittal on multiple murder charges in 1891, was defended by the Foreign Minister’s grandfather, “Sir John Downer, QC, former attorney-general and premier, with funds contributed by more than 60 supporters from Central Australia”.

Most of it probably from our early land barons and their hirelings.

Alexander Downer’s dark past: his grandfather was a lawyer.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/31/2005 at 09:03 PM
(48) CommentsPermalink


The Washington Post confirms that former senior FBI figure W. Mark Felt is Nixon nemesis Deep Throat (writes Alan R.M. Jones: “I was so hoping it was Henry”).

Republican Mark Coffey salutes an American hero.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/31/2005 at 08:36 PM
(43) CommentsPermalink


The Bulletin’s Paul Toohey and Eric Ellis report on Schapelle Corby’s ordeal, and its implications beyond her Bali prison cell. The entire Corby debacle is easily solved, by the way, were our government sufficiently creative. Also in The Bulletin:

* Photographer Mick Toal has exclusive images of Australia’s latest deployment of troops in southern Iraq;

* And John Mangos remembers Australian comedy great Graham Kennedy, shown below standing tall in Times Square four decades ago:


Posted by Tim B. on 05/31/2005 at 12:16 PM
(26) CommentsPermalink


These anti-poverty wristbands are so authentic you can almost imagine poor starving workers making them!

Fashionable wristbands worn by pop stars, actors, top athletes and celebrities to publicise the Make Poverty History campaign are produced in appalling “slave labour” conditions, damning evidence has revealed.

Chinese factory workers producing the white rubber bracelets are forced to toil in conditions that violate Chinese law and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) set up to establish international standards for working conditions.

The revelations are laid bare in sensitive “ethical audits” of factories that make the must-have fashion accessories for the national Make Poverty History campaign begun by a partnership of over 400 charities ...

A leading executive in one British charity also condemned the revelations as “deeply shocking”. He went on to blame Oxfam, Christian Aid and Cafod of “rank hypocrisy” for dealing with sweat shops while calling for fair and ethical trade.

Rank hypocrisy is a caring celebrity staple. I’m no fair-trade idiot, but how bad must working conditions be if they violate Chinese law? Stephen Pollard has more on the Make Pathetic History campaign.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/31/2005 at 03:49 AM
(26) CommentsPermalink


Freddie Sayers on France’s young EU refuseniks:

Two years ago it would have been unthinkable that more people in France aged under 26 would vote against a European constitution than for it. But it happened on Sunday, and it is likely to happen tomorrow in Holland. So how can this be?

Because youngsters are smart, is how.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/31/2005 at 03:11 AM
(17) CommentsPermalink

Monday, May 30, 2005


Endy M. Bayuni, chief editor of The Jakarta Post, reports:

Corby was found guilty of attempting to smuggle 4.1 kilograms of marijuana through the Denpasar airport in October. Compare her verdict with what other foreigners have received in Bali, and one has to admit that she has had the harshest punishment of all when compared to other similar cases.

A Mexican woman who smuggled 15.22 kg of marijuana received only a seven-year prison term in December 2001. An Italian man was sentenced to 15 years in July last year for attempting to smuggle 5.3 kg of cocaine, a much more dangerous drug. Corby did not smuggle cocaine and the amount of marijuana she was accused of smuggling is far less than what the Mexican woman brought in. Yet, she got a harsher sentence.

Looking back, one cannot help get the feeling that Australia’s media hype in covering Corby’s trial almost became a self-fulfilling prophecy on Friday. Even in finding her guilty, there was no reason for the judges to hand down such a harsh penalty, and even less so for the prosecutors to demand a life sentence in the first place. One can only conclude from here that both the judges and the prosecutors have been influenced by what was happening outside the court.

One might also conclude that a legal system so easily influenced is a crap legal system. Australian lawyers also blame the press for spooking defensive Indonesian judges:

Schapelle Corby could have got a better result had there been less media hype, said a QC who may help with her appeal.

Perth-based barrister Tom Percy, QC, said he had no doubt the 27-year-old was innocent, and blamed the media circus for putting pressure on the case ...

Barrister Jon Davies, junior counsel to Mr Percy, also told ABC radio today that Corby was very probably innocent.

Mr Percy said: “I have no doubt at all that other people have got better results over there because the whole matter was kept a lot quieter."

And the judges’ verdict, said to be provoked by media attention, is one we’re meant to respect?

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 11:48 AM
(54) CommentsPermalink


Margo Kingston defends Indonesian justice:

All the anger around against the Indonesian legal system - at least Ms Corby was charged, had a lawyer and went to Court, which is better than our system managed with Cornelia [Rau].

Better? Let’s compare ...

Case one: Rau walked out of a Sydney psychiatric hospital last year and later turned up in Queensland claiming to be an illegal immigrant from Germany. She was subsequently admitted to a Brisbane hospital and examined by a psychiatrist who, as Andrew Bolt reported, cleared her of mental illness. Rau was then relocated to the Baxter detention centre where her condition worsened, after which she was placed in an Adelaide psych hospital. Rau repeatedly provided false names to officials seeking to identify her. Earlier this month Rau spoke at a press conference before being re-admitted to Adelaide’s Glenside Hospital for further treatment.

Case two: Schapelle Corby was jailed for twenty years.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 11:43 AM
(17) CommentsPermalink


New Australian magazine The Monthly is said to pay contributors $1 per word (a high rate for local publications). In the latest edition, Charles Firth cashes in big-time:

Roy Kirkland, ADFA’s pastry chef, is showing off the desserts he has been making to feed the 100 academic staff and 1,000 students on campus. He begins with a batch of fresh-baked blueberry muffins, followed by an apple tart with calvados (brandy made from apples). Then it’s on to chocolate and orange slice, bavarois au chocolate (a kind of mousse), cheesecake, mixed berry tartlets, custard tarts, raspberry mousse with cream tartlet, apple strudel, mud cake, mixed berry turnover, slab cake, choc and peppermint mousse slice, chocolate eclairs, matchsticks (a jam-and-cream sponge delight!), blackforest cake, orange and poppyseed slice, jelly and mousse, and finally, créme caramel.

Firth has just earned $105 for reprinting a menu. The piece continues for another two grand or so.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 11:41 AM
(23) CommentsPermalink


Sydney Morning Herald editor Robert Whitehead:

Three decades of small thinking have brought us to a point where urgent action is needed. On Saturday we’ll start on the solutions, many straightforward, many far-sighted. We need a big plan ...

First step: hire a new editor.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 11:16 AM
(21) CommentsPermalink


The BBC’s Michael Peschardt, desperate to fund his creepy employer, pursues The Bulletin’s Tasmanian Tiger prize:

The bush is thick. It is hard to catch your step. The towering canopy of the eucalyptus trees blots out all but the faintest glow of moonlight.

I have come on this expedition to join Col Bailey and a group of friends on a tiger hunt ...

Australia’s leading news magazine, The Bulletin, is offering a $1m reward to anyone who can photograph a tiger and prove that the species still survives.

Not sure if the lawyers left it in, but my early draft of the prize rules specifically excluded “stumble-footed night-blind Englishmen” from those eligible for the reward. An earlier draft, which I’m aware was rejected, even promised “a beating sound and true” for any claimants so described. Stop hunting our land-beasts, BBC man!

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 09:46 AM
(7) CommentsPermalink


Jules Crittenden, an American deeply proud of his Australian heritage, writes:

Monday is our Memorial Day, and my brother SFC Peter Crittenden, US Army Special Forces, will be at the small War Graves Commission cemetery in Charleroi, Belgium.

Its occupants are mainly WWI diggers, but it includes a small number of WWII airmen, including my uncle RAAF Sgt Philip George Crittenden, of St. Kilda and Woodend, and RAF Sgt. Peter John Maxwell Hamilton of Sandringham. They were co-pilot and pilot respectively of a Wellington in RAAF Squadron 458 out of Holme-on-Spalding-Moor in Yorkshire, shot down just after midnight Oct 21, 1941, by an ME 109, according to the account passed on by the grandson of now deceased RAF Sgt. P.G.E.A. Brown, the tail gunner and sole survivor.

The crew was mainly RAF due to the practice of filling out Commonwealth crews, and Hamilton had joined the RAF though he was Australian. So Phil, as the sole RAAF crewman, is listed as the first Australian killed under RAF Bomber Command, on his first mission out.

In the last few months, we’ve learned the details and made contact thanks to the Internet with Hamilton’s and Brown’s families. Killed with Phil and Sgt. Hamilton, and lying with them at Charleroi are RAF Pilot Officer David K. Fawkes, the mission’s observer, RAF Sgt. Andrew Y. Condie and RAF Sgt. Thomas Jackson.

Brother Pete, a Melbourne native now serving under the American flag, is doing the honors at Charleroi today for our dead. Lest we forget. Thanks again to both Australia and England for stepping forward in this current time of difficulties.

More Memorial Day posts from Donnah, Austin Bay, and Arthur Chrenkoff, and many more via links at left. Please link to others in comments.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 08:56 AM
(4) CommentsPermalink


Something about this map of France looks familiar for some reason ...

(Via Hall Greenland)

Posted by Tim B. on 05/30/2005 at 08:14 AM
(23) CommentsPermalink

Sunday, May 29, 2005


The Pakistan Christian Post reports:

More than 300 Muslim protestors set fire to a wooden cross outside the American Embassy in London last Friday 20th May.

The crowd, led by Omar Bakri Muhammad and Yassar al-Siri, were protesting against the alleged desecration of a Qur’an by American military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. This followed claims by Newsweek magazine that a copy of the Qur’an had been put down a toilet. American and British flags were also burnt, and the protestors chanted calls for violence against the US and UK. Amongst the protestors were about 50 women, some of whom had brought their children.

At the time this protest took place, Newsweek had retracted their story about the alleged incident in Guantanamo Bay. Yet the cross-burning still took place, and has caused little interest in the British media.

Maybe they wanted to avoid inflaming the volatile Christian Street. CNN also covered the protest, but missed the alleged cross-burning:

Shouting, “Down, down USA; down, down USA,” the protesters called for the killing of Americans, the death of the U.S. president, the death of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the bombing of Britain, and the annihilation of the U.S. capital: “Nuke, nuke Washington; Nuke, nuke Washington! Bomb, bomb the Pentagon."

Holding their Qurans high, they called for death and mayhem, praising the destruction of New York’s twin towers on September 11, 2001, and saying the White House is next.

Before they broke up, the protesters joined in meditation, and then they all prayed.

Just like the KKK, right down to the post-incineration prayer group. And the covered heads, as Al Jazeera noted:

The hundred or so protestors, including men who hid their faces in headscarves and at least a dozen women, chanted the name of the Al-Qaeda leader and warned Bush “you will pay, with your blood, with your head”.

A small group of protesters also set fire to an American flag and a wooden cross, before organizers appealed for calm.

There’s a tough job: calm-appealer at an al-Klan rally. LGF has pictures.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/29/2005 at 08:15 AM
(20) CommentsPermalink


Tony Parkinson, last sane man at The Age, has views on the perspective-impaired:

How many people, for example, still swear blind that 100,000 civilians have been killed in the war in Iraq? For some, it has become an article of faith that this is the cost of an illegal war of aggression waged by a ruthless imperial power.

For this we can mainly thank the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet, which published a controversial survey on the impact of war in Iraq ahead of last year’s US presidential election. Based on a sample of 788 households in Iraq, it estimated the “excess deaths” resulting from war to be in a range between 8000 to 194,000. It claimed a 95 per cent confidence that the actual death toll was at least 98,000.

Now, the United Nations Development Program in association with Iraq’s Ministry of Planning has published its own survey, based on a much larger sample of almost 22,000 households. The Iraq Living Conditions Survey estimated war-related deaths to be nearer 24,000, including both civilian and military casualties. Still hideous, but not the apocalyptic vision of industrial-strength slaughter embraced so readily, so ghoulishly, by some critics of the war.

That embrace isn’t over yet, as recent newspapers confirm. Here’s the Maine Morning Sentinel:

Everyone who voted for Bush or supported him in any way shares responsibility for these tragedies, as well as for the deaths of as many as 100,000 Iraqis and others.

That’s from James Marine of Waterville, who concludes: “This Memorial Day, let us all remember the victims of this corrupt and ruthless president’s war. Bush’s supporters should also take the time to seek forgiveness for being his collaborators.” Thank you, James Marine of Waterville. In the Jersey City Reporter, Ricardo Kaulessar writes:

An estimate done by Iraq Body Count of Iraqi civilians killed from March 2003, when the U.S. coalition troops entered in Iraq, to May 11 puts the total between 21,795 and 24,735, although it is believed that over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed during this military excursion.

Have faith, Ricardo. Peter Erdman in the Toledo Blade imagines how much better things might be under President Kerry:

Over 100,000 of Iraq’s people would still be alive.

They might still be alive even now, if Kerry had told George W. Bush about that secret plan of his. Fred Schoorl in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:

Every day, when I pick up the newspaper and read about the bloodshed and carnage in Iraq, I wonder if President Bush’s Iraq invasion and the deadly consequences of his illegal war are finally hitting home. By now over 100,000 Iraqis have died ...

And Andrew Tonkovich in the LA Times:

Today, the Iraq war military deaths approach 1,700 with — almost never mentioned — an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed.

Almost never mentioned, eh? And these people accuse Bush of lying.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/29/2005 at 07:54 AM
(29) CommentsPermalink
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