Thursday, June 30, 2005
Hjertström, an oil broker whose career took him to Iraq 25 years ago, makes no bones about the decision to exact revenge on his abductors. “I’ve lived [in Iraq] for a long time. This is how things are done there. It’s nothing new to me,” he says.
Hearty Hjertström “doesn’t want to go into detail” about the bounty hunters, but assures Expressen that they are “the best money can buy.”
“They’re not twiddling their thumbs,” declares Hjertström, revealing that he has “received confirmation that two of [the kidnappers] have already been taken care of.”
SPELLING ERROR ADDRESSES RALLY
UPDATE. A correction, not available online, in today’s Melbourne Age:
The first paragraph of an article on the front page of yesterday’s Business section incorrectly stated the sharemarket was tipped to fall by 50% in the coming year. As the following paragraphs made clear, this should have read “sharemarket returns” would fall, not the market itself. The mistake was made in editing.
Via Tony Thomas, who writes: “One has to wonder about all the Age subs who must have seen the incorrect story predicting the worst depression since 1930, but failed to notice anything wrong. Innumeracy is a serious problem there, as well as the politics.”
UPDATE II. From the Herald Sun:
When Mr Beazley took to the back of the truck near Federation Square, a laconic labourer from Broadmeadows quipped: “Hope the truck’s got good suspension.”
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The SMH’s Peter Hartcher:
Everything Mark Latham has done since losing last year’s federal election has vindicated the electorate’s decision to reject him.
Now he has again given aid and comfort to John Howard by petulantly and vindictively disparaging the party that trusted him with its highest office.
In fact, his latest comments are so puerile and show such total lack of self-reflection that anyone reading them can only feel Australia dodged a bullet in deciding not to elect him prime minister.
Which is exactly the sentiment expressed earlier in comments by genwolf.
New Zealand aggressively supported the Kyoto Protocol. Now the bill is due:
Taxpayers will be at least $1 billion worse off under revised Government estimates of the costs of the Kyoto treaty to combat global warming.
National’s environment spokesman, Nick Smith, says the party, if elected, will consider pulling out of the Kyoto Protocol, despite the cost to New Zealand’s international reputation, given the “hammering” the economy will take under the latest numbers.
New Zealand had earlier anticipated a $500 million windfall by coming in below its pollution target. Instead, emissions have increased. Same thing is happening across much of Europe:
Here are some IEA estimates of the increases: France, 6.9 percent; Italy, 8.3 percent; Greece, 28.2 percent; Ireland, 40.3 percent; the Netherlands, 13.2 percent; Portugal, 59 percent; Spain, 46.9 percent. It’s true that Germany (down 13.3 percent) and Britain (a 5.5 percent decline) have made big reductions. But their cuts had nothing to do with Kyoto. After reunification in 1990, Germany closed many inefficient coal-fired plants in eastern Germany; that was a huge one-time saving. In Britain, the government had earlier decided to shift electric utilities from coal (high CO2 emissions) to plentiful natural gas (lower CO2 emissions).
On their present courses, many European countries will miss their Kyoto targets for 2008-2012. To reduce emissions significantly, Europeans would have to suppress driving and electricity use; that would depress economic growth and fan popular discontent. It won’t happen.
(Via Toby and Jack Strocchi)
FERGUSON SHUNNING MOOTED
Bob Ellis identifies John Howard’s latest crime:
He won’t stand up for the whales the Japanese are threatening to kill.
Ellis has a personal interest in the preservation of oversized mammals that dwell in a liquid environment. He’s not so friendly towards Labor’s Laurie Ferguson, however:
I used to meet him at Film Festivals. I will hereafter, I think, avoid his company.
(Via Raff, this site’s Ellis monitor)
Fine John Hawkins interview with Mark Steyn. Extract:
Hawkins: Since we invaded Iraq, Qaddafi has given up his WMD’s, Syria has left Lebanon which is having elections, the Egyptians are going to have their first multi-party elections although Mubarak is expected to win, women are being allowed to vote in Kuwait, and now Syria is even talking about implementing some democratic reforms. Are we seeing a reverse domino effect in the Middle-East caused by the invasion in Iraq?
Steyn: Yes. The key moment in the Iraqi situation was a couple of hours into the Arab networks’ election day coverage: they ran out of snide cracks to make about the American occupation, the stooge politicians, etc, and suddenly fell silent as images of four generations of Iraqi families walking to the polls to vote filled the screens. Those images had a profound impact throughout the region. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer and I’m certainly not in favor of that trick many African dictators have learned to master, of holding an election just good enough to get the stamp of approval of Jimmy Carter and the other western patsies. There’ll be a lot of two-steps-forward-one-step-back but what’s happening is real and the momentum is all going Bush’s way.
Remember, one person’s “terrorist” is usually someone else’s “freedom fighter”.
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
HITTING THE MARK
The Daily Telegraph’s Malcolm Farr:
Former Labor leader Mark Latham has condemned his party as “beyond repair, beyond reform” and launched an extraordinary personal attack on Premier Bob Carr.
In explosive claims – printed in today’s edition of The Bulletin magazine – Mr Latham also says Labor deserves Kim Beazley because he is a “conservative, stand-for-nothing type of leader”.
The Age’s Michelle Grattan:
Yesterday Mr Beazley refused to be drawn into any broad response to Mr Latham’s remarks. “I’m absolutely not commenting on that book. I maintained my discipline yesterday and I maintain my discipline today,” he declared before extracts from the book published in the latest Bulletin magazine were released last night ...
Mr Latham, whose own diaries will be published later this year, told Lagan: “In the circumstances, things turned out quite well. People got to see a glimpse of how Carr, Beattie and Gallop are A-grade arseholes. All their provincial bluster and posturing made no difference to anything. Never does.”
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Mark Metherell:
After six months of silence, Mark Latham has released a stream of invective against the party he led, dismissing Labor as “beyond repair” and Kim Beazley as a “stand-for-nothing type of leader”.
The savage criticism infuses Loner: Inside a Labor Tragedy, which records Mr Latham’s bitter feelings towards Labor and its leaders and charts his last days as Opposition Leader, stricken with pancreatitis. He describes premiers Bob Carr, Peter Beattie and Geoff Gallop as “A-grade arseholes”, Labor as a conservative institution run by conservative machine men and Parliament as a place he was not sorry to leave ...
In warning those who see Labor as the best hope for social justice in Australia, he tells Lagan: “I’ve got to be honest about it. It’s a false hope.”
I was, I have to say, shocked by Mark Latham’s use of the a—-hole word, if I can put it like that, which I just thought was coarse and very ill-thought through and I think demeans the man and is one of the reasons why people are slightly sceptical of his motives and everything else.
The Australian’s Brad Norington:
This man, who was meant to be the alternative prime minister with the capability to lead Australia with vision and good sense, is remarkably self-centred, spiteful, angry, obsessive, coarse and remote. He acts as if the world revolves around him and that he is bigger than the party he led.
The Courier-Mail’s Matthew Franklin:
Last night, Mr Beattie stood by the comments he had made during confusion about the Labor leadership and said he felt sorry that Mr Latham was so bitter.
“I plead guilty to telling the truth,” Mr Beattie said. “He’s not the first person to call me that (an arsehole) and he won’t be the last. I just feel sorry for him and I hope this has been good therapy for him.”
The Age’s Shaun Carney:
Five months after resuming as Labor leader, Beazley - far from having to decide which diplomatic function he should attend in Washington - finds himself having to turn the other cheek as the media and the Howard Government have fun with Latham’s criticisms. Just how much weight should be given to what Latham has to say about other politicians, advisers and public affairs generally is an interesting question, in light of his spectacular, ill-tempered downfall.
Editorial in The Australian:
Mark Latham has confirmed the judgment of the Australian people – that he lacked the discipline to be prime minister. And he has also endorsed the majority opinion expressed at last year’s election of the party he led, and once professed to love, that the Australian Labor Party is a stalled political machine beyond starting. Mr Latham’s message is obviously considered, coming in quotes from his diary included in a book extract published yesterday. But it is also inflammatory and designed to do as much damage to Labor as possible.
The Internet’s Jim Geones:
I have to agree with the commenter in Chris Sheila’s blog on election day who said that Mark Latham was a saint. He sure is. Can you imagine sacrificing your career, and exposing your mental instability to endless public ridicule & humiliation, purely in order to ensure the Howard government was re-elected with absolute control of the senate?
The ALP’s Mark Latham:
I am retired, mate.
News.com.au’s Shane Wright:
Mr Latham ... reveals that he delayed his resignation in January so anti-Beazley forces could rally behind health spokeswoman Julia Gillard.
They failed, and Mr Beazley gained the leadership unchallenged.
The Herald Sun’s Michael Harvey:
In an ominous warning as Mr Beazley strives to reverse Labor’s fortunes, Mr Latham promises to say more about the ALP’s woes when his own diaries are published in October.
The Bradenton Herald’s Nick Mason reveals exclusive details of Latham’s new career:
Mosquito killers in Manatee County sprayed plenty of chemicals along the coast the past month, but they have found no sign of mosquito-borne disease here.
“We’ve been busy. It’s an early start to the season,” Mark Latham, director of the Manatee County Mosquito Control District, said Monday. “Last year, it didn’t start until mid-July. This year, it started the end of May.”
Larvatus Prodeo’s Mark Bahnisch:
I want a bumper sticker that says “Don’t Blame Me - I Never Wanted Latho for Leader”.
Western Sydney forum participant Ben:
The ALP gave Latham everything: financial help to go to university, well-paid jobs, a plum Labor seat - and this is how he repays it? I’d expect that kind of feeling of entitlement from someone who grew up on the North Shore.
The Age’s Michelle Grattan:
He bitches about the media, but the media were kind to him before the poll, and in some cases dazzled by him.
The Government’s Peter Costello:
I’m waiting for the diaries, I reckon they’ll be a smashing read.
Unions NSW’s John Robertson:
The Labor Party’s had rats in its ranks going all the way back to Billy Hughes and Mark’s just joined the conga line of rats that have left the Labor Party.
Ex-Bulletin staffer Bob Carr:
Here’s what Mark Latham should have said to his biographer: ‘It’s been a great honour to lead the political party that I joined as a youngster. I’m terribly sorry I wasn’t able to produce a victory for the grand old party of Australian politics. I congratulate Mr Howard and I unreservedly accept the verdict, tough though it is, of the Australian people, who are always right. I’ll do anything to help Kim Beazley and the Australian Labor Party, which is always the party I look to, to provide leadership for this great country.’
COLUMN IS INSENSITIVE
The latest Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Shay, Douglas Wood, God, Allah, Saddam Hussein, Mike W., Gregoire, Andrew Jaspan, The Currency Lad, David Marr, David Hicks, Osama bin Laden, Kim Beazley, Shane Warne, Dennis Lillee, and Jeff Thomson.
Monday, June 27, 2005
HATE! HATE! HATE!
Mark Latham hates conservatives: “I’m a hater. Part of the tribalness of politics is to really dislike the other side with intensity. And the more I see of them the more I hate them.”
Mark Latham hates George W. Bush: “The most incompetent and dangerous president in living memory.”
Mark Latham hates John Howard: “Howard is an arse-licker.”
Mark Latham hates Phillip Adams: “In his public life he opposes border protection, safe in the knowledge that asylum seekers are unlikely to settle near his Paddington terrace. In his private life, however, he is a strong supporter of laneway protection, even to the point of preventing a 90-year-old woman in a wheelchair from accessing his property so that she might have Christmas lunch with her son.”
Mark Latham hates Tony Staley: “Upsetting Tony Staley doesn’t cost me any sleep, I can assure you. In fact, I wear it as a badge of honour.”
Mark Latham hates Piers Akerman and Phillip Adams: “Both are political insiders, part of the media elite, living in the affluent inner-Sydney enclave of Paddington. They have little experience of suburban life and suburban values. Both practise a symbolic and abstract style of politics, based on the concentration of power and the preservation of the ruling elite.”
Mark Latham hates Peter Costello: “Peter Costello is a champagne Charlie. The only constant in his political career is the image makeover. He believes in nothing but himself. He is the great Narcissus of Australian politics.”
Mark Latham hates Janet Albrechtsen: “Albrechtsen is another filthy hypocrite. Who is she to lecture people on civility?”
Mark Latham hates Tony Abbott: “I think I now worry Tony more than he worries me, which is how I like it.”
Mark Latham hates me: “Tim Blair, who is always looking down his nose at working class pastimes ...”
Mark Latham hates Craig Reucassel: “Fucking idiot.”
Mark Latham hated Sir Robert Menzies: “Everyone’s got hate in their lives ... it’s just part of life. I hope my little boy hates a Liberal prime minister who sells out our national interests. I grew up in a family that used to hate Bob Menzies.”
LISTEN TO AN IDIOT
Hollywood wasn’t as influential as many expected during last year’s US election. Reduced expectations continue at the box office:
“Batman Begins” took in $26.8 million to remain the top movie for the second straight weekend, but it could not keep Hollywood from sinking to its longest modern box-office slump.
Overall business tumbled despite a rush of familiar new titles—“Bewitched,” a “Love Bug” update and the latest zombie tale from director George Romero.
Zombie tales just won’t do it for your jaded modern viewer. What they crave are reanimated zombie dogs:
Scientists have created eerie zombie dogs, reanimating the canines after several hours of clinical death in attempts to develop suspended animation for humans.
Those alive-yet-zombified hounds could be a metaphor for Hollywood itself. Besides Team America, what was the last good movie you’ve seen? Also, if you’re of a mind, suggest a plot for a modern-era war movie, perhaps following the style of favourite WWII epics.
THAT’S ONE OVER-WORKED COMMITTEE
Editor and Publisher reports:
In a lengthy memo published at the newspaper’s Web site, Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, announced several new policies in response to a recent report by the paper’s Credibility Committee. Among them is a fresh attempt to diversify the Times’ staff and viewpoints, and not in the usual racial or gender ways, but in political, religious and cultural areas as well.
The aim, he wrote, is “to stretch beyond our predominantly urban, culturally liberal orientation, to cover the full range of our national conversation.”
The New York Times has a “Credibility Committee”?
KERRY’S LATEST FLYING SEADOG
Good God, no! John Kerry has a new dog:
The newest addition to Sen. John Kerry’s inner circle is a Schnauzer puppy named Stache, who takes his handle from the pronounced hair on his face.
Should’ve named him Bush. Ha ha! Anyways ...
Last week, Stache was spotted by our dogged spies being taken for a ride on the family speedboat in Nantucket.
Let’s hope they had an auxiliary boat handy in case of unexpected enemy action:
When I was serving on a swiftboat in Vietnam, my crewmates and I had a dog we called VC. We all took care of him, and he stayed with us and loved riding on the swiftboat deck. I think he provided all of us with a link to home and a few moments of peace and tranquility during a dangerous time. One day as our swiftboat was heading up a river, a mine exploded hard under our boat. After picking ourselves up, we discovered VC was MIA. Several minutes of frantic search followed after which we thought we’d lost him. We were relieved when another boat called asking if we were missing a dog. It turns out VC was catapulted from the deck of our boat and landed confused, but unhurt, on the deck of another boat in our patrol.
“Confused but unhurt”. Didn’t Kerry win a medal for that? Happy landings, Stache!