Tuesday, January 31, 2006
AND TAKE YOUR FONDUE SETS WITH YOU
The Norway Post reports:
The Palestinian group Holy War has asked Danes, Norwegians and Swedes to leave the Gaza Strip immediatley. The Nordic citizens have been asked to leave the area within 48 hours. On Monday, armed men burned the Norwegian flag outside the EU Headquarters in Gaza.
They’re still upset over those disrespectful cartoons. Maybe Michael Leunig should move in; there’s no chance that he’d ever be asked to leave.
“I have always taken the view,” writes WogBlog, “that the Palestinians could learn a lot from the Italians.” Possibly. On the other hand, it could also lead to an increase in the number of exploding suicide Ferraris.
Monday, January 30, 2006
The Coalition has bounced back to grab the lead from Labor, shows the latest Herald Poll, and voters are apparently convinced John Howard will stick around to fight the next election.
Despite the oil-for-food scandal, disunity between the Nationals and Liberals after Julian McGauran’s defection and the opposition to the Government’s industrial relations changes, the Prime Minister is well placed when the Federal Parliament meets next week.
According to the poll, which was conducted by ACNielsen at the weekend, support for the Coalition has jumped six points to 51 per cent and dropped six points to 49 per cent for Labor in two-party terms.
The Coalition’s lead might even increase in the wake of the wheat scandal, handled with hilarious incompetence by Howard’s enemies.
Far-right Holocaust denier Frederick Töben and far-left Hamas spinner Antony Loewenstein share similar views (both rail against Zionism and neocons, and hail the likes of Scott Ritter and Robert Fisk as noble dissidents) similar writing styles (Töben’s is less awkward) and similar victimisation fantasies. So it’s no surprise that their websites sometimes look the same.
Loewenstein has expressed puzzlement in the past when Töbenites have linked to his words. They’ll probably be linking again after reading his review of Munich:
Many prominent Jewish groups and Zionists have condemned the work, clearly a sign that Spielberg has created something worthwhile.
Jews don’t like it? It must be good! A debate between Loewenstein and Töben would be interesting; I can’t imagine they’d disagree much on current events. Following is a brief selection of quotes from both their sites – try guessing who wrote what:
* “We need to support the Palestinians in their just cause to oust the Zionist entity from the Middle East.”
* “It was the formation of the Jewish state in 1948 that directly caused the dispossession of untold Palestinians. This injustice is yet to be resolved.”
* “Israel’s current path is leading to inevitable disaster, a walled-in, ghetto-style Zionism defined by occupation and oppression.”
* “Australia’s media is largely under Zionist influence.”
* “Such revelations are a direct threat to Zionist supremacy in media, government and public circles.”
UPDATE. And here are your Tokenstein/Löben answers:
FAIR & BALANCED
Should’ve linked to this earlier: Michael Fumento’s spirited response to Cathy Seipp’s column on pundit payola. He makes some sound points—should payments for a book need to be disclosed in a column written seven years later?—but I still side with Seipp, on the basis that it’s a bad look for columnists even if special interest payments are disclosed. Take a look at both pieces and decide for yourself.
BUSH NOT ENTIRELY SATANIC
I was hearing the other day about a woman who went to the White House Christmas drinks party.
You are allowed to bring a friend and the two of you get to pose for a 10-second photo-op (they call it a “grip and grin”) with the leader of the free world.
But this woman had no friends available that evening and queued up to see him alone. When her turn came she explained to the president, “I couldn’t get a date.”
With a charm and wit worthy of Ronald Reagan he pulled her close and asked - mock earnestly - “Nothing I’ve done I hope?”
That Reagan comparison isn’t sarcastic. Read the whole thing.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
SIMPLE DAYS RECALLED
Christopher Bantick gets all nostalgic in The Age:
Children these days are growing up in a very different, less open, society than when I grew up in the 1950s. Curiously, even with high postwar levels of Mediterranean migration, there was less need to ostentatiously show what being an Australian meant. Those simple days were measured out with Vegemite on crusts at the school tuckshop and singing the national anthem on Monday mornings.
Not even John Howard wants to return to that sort of monoculture. Bantick’s nostalgia is perverse.
Back then, there were no wire fences in the desert keeping new arrivals from the rest of Australian society.
“New arrivals”? He’s talking about illegal arrivals, who tend to turn up without passports or any other supporting documents. By the way, Australia’s enlightened post-war Labor government tried to ship refugees home. Here’s what went on in 1949: “The Chifley Government passes the War-time Refugees Removal Act in July, with a view to forcibly repatriating approximately 900 non-Europeans who had been admitted temporarily during the war. They had declined to be repatriated, wishing to settle in Australia.”
Never did I think I would have to explain to my young son why people were locked up in camps.
Did Bantick’s own parents ever explain to him anything about 1950s refugee camps?
Never did I think I’d feel ashamed as an Australian when there was so little that apparently could be done to save Nguyen Tuong Van.
Drug mule Nguyen Tuong Van was caught and executed in Singapore. What did you want Australia to do about it, Christopher? Launch a military attack?
Or so utterly shamed that Australia remains for many indigenous people a Third World country where children are born into unspeakable disadvantage.
I guess we could always return to the 1950s, when Aborigines weren’t counted in the census, or allowed to vote. Bantick is a specialist “good old days” writer; here he mourns the lack of interest modern kids have for stuffed reptiles:
These days, virtually no children stand awe-struck before Python reticulatus. Its place in the museum is one primarily of historical association. But where once this massive snake slithered into the imaginations of children, there is now less wonder in childhood. It has been replaced with automated fun.
Back in Bantick’s day, the oldsters groused: Look at them kids with their fancy preserved python. We used to get our fun from real snakes! None of this high-tech taxidermy for us, no sir. And we were the better for it!
UPDATE. More from Bantick: “Every faceless junkie has a name.” Yes. And also your DVD player.
NEXT: BEER ROBOTS THAT HOVER
There are scientific advances, and then there are scientific advances:
Japanese beer maker Asahi plans to give away 5000 personal bartending bots, each of which can store up to six cans of beer in a refrigerated compartment within its belly. At the push of a button the simple robots will open a can and pour the chilled contents into a glass for a thirsty owner.
To win one of the beer-bots, in a promotion for the company’s new low malt beer, contestants must collect 36 tokens found on the specially marked beers.
Readers (reader?) in Japan: you must acquire this technology.
Mackerras did not bother to immediately open the official-looking letter from Government House ...
After all, the distinguished political commentator was used to receiving letters from the Governor-General’s residence and decided it could wait. “I thought to myself that’s just another case of me being asked my opinion about someone else who is being proposed for an honour,” he said. “Three hours later I opened it up and was astonished to discover that this was actually a letter to say, ‘You are being considered for appointment’.”
The Howard bandname now is poisonously tainted, and in its final, twitching throes. And a belated, failed Costello coup in March, round his tenth anniversary, will grievously wound him, and the compromise cleanskin candidate Malcolm [Turnbull] triumphant by Father’s Day, which will give him a year to regain ground, if he can, against Beazley.
And will Beazley win? Oh, yes.
You see if I am right.
(Via Ellis investigator Raff)
Saturday, January 28, 2006
The incoming Hamas government will move quickly to make Islamic sharia “a source” of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will overhaul the Palestinian education system to separate boys and girls and introduce a more Islamic curriculum, a senior official in the movement said yesterday.
Presumably that particular official wasn’t speaking from jail:
Fourteen among 132 deputies, who won the Palestine elections Wednesday, are announced to be still serving time in Israeli prisons.
Similarly, a newly elected Palestinian member of the parliament is being jailed at a Palestinian prison.
Well, it’s one way of ensuring small government.
UPDATE. Meta-level irony from Antony Loewenstein:
Last week’s election result certainly offers the Israelis and Americans a lesson: force will never work.
Ant, I just wonder how comfortable you feel about being chosen because they were lacking a Jew? Since when does writing about the middle east qualify you for an position in academia? I mean you haven’t actually written any peer reviewed articles have you?
Secondly, don’t you think its odd that out of all the Jews who may write about Israel and have academic qualifications that they chose someone who was vehemently opposed to Israel? Does this not strike you as an Uncle Tom type proposition?
If you are a representative of Jews generally, how do you intend to represent the much larger Jewish contingency that find your views repugnant?
No answers yet from Token.
PAPER DISLIKES PUBLIC
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Australia Day editorial:
As the fireworks explode this evening to celebrate Australia’s national day, the crowds, the anthem-singing and the flag-waving camouflage an emptiness at this country’s heart.
(Via Scott Wickstein)
UNPOPULAR FLAG SELLS IN RECORD AMOUNTS
Brendan Jones in the SMH:
Australia has the world’s most unpopular national flag ... Support for the Australian flag peaked in the early 1960s at about 70 per cent. Since then, support has declined steadily at an average of one half of one percentage point each year.
I guess that explains why current flag sales are so poor:
Sales have increased three-fold in the past five years, with the most notable rise among private rather than corporate buyers ...
Bruce Merrett of Abel Flagpoles and Flags said sales had been steadily rising for three years. “Since September 11, patriotism has increased probably four-fold,” he said.
Jim Hilbert, managing director of Carroll and Richardson Flagworld, said his company’s sales this month were at a 40-year high and 50 per cent higher than at this time last year.
Maybe people are buying all these flags just so they can set them on fire.
Friday, January 27, 2006
THIS MAKES PERFECT SENSE
Society in ruins? Economy sunk? Let’s learn Chinese:
Students at all Zimbabwean universities will later this year be required to learn to speak and write Chinese, Zimbabwe’s education minister has announced.