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The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

THURSDAY 3RD NOVEMBER 2005          
Your round-up from today's newspapers plus the best writing, analysis, critical thinking and humour from around the world.

In today's email:
1    Simon Jenkins says don't politicise terrorist criminals/Guardian (4 links below)
2    David Broder on President 'Push Over'/Washington Post (9 links below)
3    Maureen Dowd on the paranoid White House/NYTimes (3 links below)
4    Stephen Walt says Iraq is Bush's fault/Foreign Affairs (link below)
5    Martin Indyk says Iran's bluster is serious/Brookings Institution
6    Wynton Marsalis on jazz citizenship and New Orleans/TNR
7    Mukhtaran Bibi 'woman of the year'/Guardian
8    Robert Andrews on the chat room for IT innovators/Wired
9    IN THE  PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

1 Terrorists are criminals, not a threat
Tony Blair appears to have been forced to compromise on one aspect of his proposed anti-terrorism laws in what The Guardian describes as one of his most damaging days as Prime Minister - he also accepted the resignation (for the second time) of his accident-prone former Home Secretary David Blunkett (there is plenty more on Blunkett's chaotic career in TDB archives). The compromise appears likely to see the plan to hold terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge cut to 28 days.

Staying with Blunkett for a moment, Jonathan Freedland says his transformation from "the man who beat blindness to arrogant libertine is a parable of New Labour itself".

Also in The Guardian, Tony Benn maintains his rage toward Blair, the direction of the Labour Party and the anti-terror laws. "What we are witnessing is nothing less than the erosion of parliamentary democracy and its substitution by a near dictatorship, as in the House of Lords forever being topped up by the prime minister's nominees - some of whom, we are told, have contributed to New Labour's campaign funds. Lloyd George must be laughing in his grave. A parliamentary chamber chosen by patronage may even be the model of democracy that George Bush and Blair would like to enforce in the Middle East."

On the more substantial issue of the anti-terrorism laws, Sir Simon Jenkins (link below) is concerned that the bill, and the government's decision to turn on a state ceremony to honour those killed in the July 7 London bombings grants terrorism a significant tactical victory. (Do politicians ever feel a moment of awkwardness dancing to the terrorist's tune by curtailing traditional freedoms?) "Awarding criminals political status, as happened in Northern Ireland, not only raises their self-esteem within their community, it also pollutes the attitude of government. Having elevated the potency of an enemy, a ruler feels the need to elevate his own. Since July 7, a battery of new laws has been sought by Downing Street, against free speech, freedom of assembly and habeas corpus. An astonishing £10bn is being found for identity cards. International human rights have been traduced. Torture evidence has been readmitted to British justice. Police powers under the Terrorism Act have been used against hecklers, demonstrators and assorted immigrants."

And The Independent reports that Amnesty International has condemned the proposed laws.

2 What did happen to those WMDs
The last words in TDB about the Valerie Plame affair and assorted other woes troubling George Bush came from conservatives Mark Steyn and William Kristol who were arguing that it was all much ado about nothing, and/or that it all could have been much worse. That was Monday, and things are already much worse, not so much because of anything Bush has done, but because events seem to have taken on a momentum all of their own. For one article that gives a good account of the reaction to the nomination of Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, while giving a good sense of the atmosphere building up around the presidency, go to David Broder's column for The Washington Post, below. "the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll contains a clear warning. Self-described conservatives made up only 31 percent of the electorate. Moderates numbered 44 percent. And the moderates were nearly exact opposites of the conservatives in their views toward Bush, disapproving of his job performance by a 38 to 61 percent margin, while conservatives approved 61 to 39."

Another good wrap up is this column by Ron Fournier, also in the Post, who says that even Bush allies think he has lost his way, and that issues of competence and credibility (once his strengths) are doing the damage.

Both competence and credibility are in play with the Iraq issue and the indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby (yes, we got that the wrong way around the other day) has again focused attention on the case for war in Iraq. As has been widely reported, the Democrats (finally finding some backbone?) have forced an investigation into why a Senate committee has not made more progress with its investigation into the case for the invasion. That involved an unusal closed session of the Senate, something all the papers report (NYTimes here) but The Guardian's account may be the best because it doesn't presume so much local knowledge.

This NYTimes editorial explains how the Libby indictment is linked to the claims about WMD's and raises some of the questions still to be answered. "Were officials fooled by bad intelligence, or knowingly hyping it? Certainly, the administration erased caveats, dissents and doubts from the intelligence reports before showing them to the public. And there was never credible intelligence about a working relationship between Iraq and Al Qaeda."

In The Washington Post, E.J. Dionee notes that the indictment could have been brought down last October if Libby had not dragged the process out - the critical difference in the timing being that whole drama would have been played out before Bush's re-election. "As long as Bush still faced the voters, the White House wanted Americans to think that officials such as Libby, Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney had nothing to do with the leak campaign to discredit its arch-critic on Iraq, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. And Libby, the good soldier, pursued a brilliant strategy to slow the inquiry down."

But the bad news for the Bush administration does not stop there. The current front page lead in The Washington Post is an investigation into the CIA's chain of secret prisons holding terrorist suspects."The CIA and the White House, citing national security concerns and the value of the program, have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions in open testimony about the conditions under which captives are held. Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long."

In the prison about which at least somethings are known, the NYTimes reports that "two dozen Guantanamo Bay detainees are currently being force-fed in response to a lengthy hunger strike, and the detainees' lawyers estimate there are dozens more who have not eaten since August. Military officials say there are 27 hunger strikers at Guantanamo Bay, all of whom are clinically stable, closely monitored by medical personnel and receiving proper nutrition."

On the invasion itself, the striking feature of almost anything written about it is the sudden consensus, despite the vote on the constitution, that things are going badly, and that it may not have been such a good idea after all (there is slightly more debate on that last point). For example, both Reason magaine and the Cato Institute supported the invasion. But in the latest magazine's latest edition, Gene Healy and Justin Logan from the insitute says that after the deaths of more than 2,000 US soldiers (those tens of thousands of Iraqis rarely rate a mention) muddling through in Iraq is no longer an option. "Based on the administration's public statements, they have no realistic plan for victory in Iraq. And without a victory strategy, there is only one alternative: an exit strategy. It is past time we develop one."

And in line with recent practice of ending these round-ups with a conservative voice, Christopher Hitchens in the Wall Street Journal also thinks the Plame affair is much about nothing, one that has made hypocrites of everyone involved and which may cause the Democrats grieve when they regain office.

3 Cheney, torture and the White House
A second item on US politics, mainly to highlight the role of Vice-president Dick Cheney, of whom The Washinton Post said recently this vice-president has become an open advocate for torture.

Blogger Marty Lederman has some good background on the torture issue, and notes that the 9/11 Commission recommended that the Geneva Convention should apply to "enemy combatants".

Maureen Dowd, available for free via truthout.com, looks at the replacements for Lewis Libby in Cheney's office, and says if anything, it is likely to be worse than business as usual. "Once Scooter left, many people, including a lot of alarmed conservatives and moderate Republicans, were hoping that W. and Vice would throw open some White House windows to let the air and sun in, and climb out of that incestuous, secretive, vindictive, hallucinatory dark hole they've been bunkered in for five years. But they like it in their paranoid paradise."

And for those who had not had the good fortune to be reading TDB last November when this article was linked to, it is a profile of the ultimate Washington insider Karl Rove, sometimes know as "Bush's brain", or "T*rd Blossom" to his friends.

4 Iraq: the buck stops with Bush
As mentioned above, virtually no-one any longer disputes that Iraq is a badly bungled mess, one that perhaps was ill-conceived in the first place. Regrettably little of that is being commented upon by our local hacks and the silence is loudest from that previously vocal bunch of Bush-boosters that includes Sheridan, Bolt, Ackerman, Henderson, Blair and Albrechtsen. Not one has put their hand-up to admit that they were on the wrong side of history, and certainly not to explain how they so completely misread the situation, that their readers could be assured such grevious errors will not happen again. Or better still, offered to resign as commentators because they are so obviously useless at it. Even worse, where are their loud complaints that what they trumpeted as a noble cause has been mishandled at the cost of so many lives, and with many more to come, perhaps for generations? Does it not trouble them that to the extent that their warmongering helped bring this about, they have blood on their hands? Gutless lap poodles with barely a speck of intellectual courage or integrity, the lot of them. But I digress.

The Dean of Harvard's School of Government Stephen Walt says there is enough blame for the fiasco to go around (link below), but that ultimately George Bush will have to wear it. "This excuse suffers from two glaring weaknesses. First, the war may not have been winnable no matter what we did, because Iraq was a deeply divided society from the onset, and occupying powers almost always face fierce resistance. That the occupation was badly executed is indisputable, but it is by no means clear that any occupation would have succeeded. Second, if hawks such as Kristol thought we needed a bigger military to perform a global imperial role, they should have withheld their support until adequate forces were available. Instead, they did everything they could to get us into the regime-changing business as quickly as possible."

Speaking of what could be the legacy of the war, Peter Bergen and Alex Reynolds at the New America Foundation remember that the bin Laden gang that carried out the Septemer 11 attacks were trained and battle-hardened (by the US) in the war against the old Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They warn that the "blowback" from Iraq could be far worse. "The current war in Iraq will generate a ferocious blowback of its own, which--as a recent classified CIA assessment predicts--could be longer and more powerful than that from Afghanistan. Foreign volunteers fighting U.S. troops in Iraq today will find new targets around the world after the war ends. Yet the Bush administration, consumed with managing countless crises in Iraq, has devoted little time to preparing for such long-term consequences. Lieutenant General James Conway, the director of operations on the Joint Staff, admitted as much when he said in June that blowback "is a concern, but there's not much we can do about it at this point in time." Judging from the experience of Afghanistan, such thinking is both mistaken and dangerously complacent."

5 Take Iran's bluster seriously
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration that "Israel must be wiped off the map" has of course been widely condemned, but it has also sparked a debate about whether it signals serious intent, or is simply stirring rhetoric for the masses at home. Martin Indyk, director of foreign affairs studies for the respected Brookings Institution (link below) thinks the bluster carries a serious message. "So, does Israel really need to fear the populist ranting of an Iranian hothead president, who seems only to be using Israel as a whipping boy to stir up support for his already faltering government? Shouldn't Israel be satisfied that he scored an own-goal, further isolating Iran and placing its actions under greater international scrutiny? The answer to my mind is clearly no. There is plenty of International Atomic Energy Agency evidence to indicate that Iran is bent on acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and that this goal is broadly supported by all of Iran's political factions."
6 Katrina and all that jazz
It's about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, but it's a civics lesson on the responsibilities of being a citizen. Jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. "You see, we are too busy to worry about poverty, public education, homelessness, drug addiction, the arts, even the political process. "I'm too busy to follow what goes on in Congress." "Don't they have organizations for these types of things?" "I gave to them last year." "Oh, I'm sure that they will take care of it." I believe the United States will help to rebuild New Orleans, because New Orleans helped to build the United States; but the way we rebuild it can show the world that American greatness is more than stock markets and military might. I know that we are capable of building more than malls and theme parks, of acting like a community. I know this from the art of jazz."
7 Woman of the Year
Mukhtaran Bibi, the Pakistani rape victim whose ordeal and subsequent challenge to traditional authority was championed by Nicholas Kristof in the NYTimes, has been named Glamour magazine's 'Woman of the Year' . Who could argue with that (Kristof discribed her as the most courageous woman on the planet), although previous winners have included Britney Spears and actor Ellen DeGeneres. For those who came in late, go to archives and type in Bibi or Kristof - TDB followed the story closely.
8 The chat room that changed the world
Hadn't heard of it before this, but according to Robert Andrews, "some of the most revolutionary software emerged not from Silicon Valley startups or high-powered universities, but from a humble online chat room", an Internet Relay Chat channel called #Winprog. "But they are not the only ones to benefit from #Winprog's critical and surprisingly wide-ranging influence. Members of the channel also counsel the likes of DVD encryption cracker John Lech Johansen, SmartFTP developer Mike Walter, Electronic Arts game developers, Windows Vista engineers and contractors for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. As many as two dozen Microsoft developers hang out in the channel every day, getting support -- as well as giving it."
9 IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

If it is a stunt, even a "all the best intelligence advice said there were WMD's" type of stunt, then it has been a spectacularly successful one in all the newspapers the morning after. The Australian takes the award for the most sycophantic reporting of the announcement (no surprise there), reporting that the threat of terrorism "forced the Howard Government to rush through an emergency law" to make it easier for police to arrest suspects. (Forced, no less, as in no choice, no option. That's a lie dressed up as news. An out and out lie from the newspaper that has the front to hector the ABC about bias. Parliament, it seems, has become the play thing of the spooks - who sometimes manage to get things right.) There is some scepticism around, like Andrew Stewart in opinion, but you'll have to dig to find it. Matt Price has a great taste of the action in Parliament (with a touch of scepticism); and Michelle Grattan wonders about the timing of the terror announcement and says we should soon know what it was all about.

Elsewhere, The Australian reports that John Howard's overhaul of Australian workplace laws will hand employers unprecedented powers to sack people for "operational reasons" and crack down on unions by severely limiting their operations; that the nation's monopoly wheat exporter paid more than $290 million in "transport fees" to one of Saddam Hussein's front companies without ever asking what the money was for, or where it was going; that Australia is demanding trade sanctions against countries registering the "flag of convenience" ships used by pirate fishing operators who poach billions of dollars worth of stocks a year; and that the Australian dollar is tumbling towards US70c - a level not breached in more than a year - as the Reserve Bank defies international trends by keeping interest rates on hold.

The SMH reports that the Government says it is unfazed by threats of a High Court challenge to its sweeping overhaul of industrial relations, claiming the Labor premiers have legal opinions endorsing the Commonwealth's constitutional power; that NSW Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, will today release new maps opening up for development more than 2500 hectares of land originally earmarked as green areas in planned new suburbs in north-west and south-west Sydney; and that the NSW Government has promised to look at majority verdicts for criminal cases after the murder trial of Bruce Burrell collapsed because of a hung jury.

The Age reports that companies could slash wages by retrenching their workforce and rehiring staff under "greenfield" deals - forcing workers onto individual contracts in the process - as part of John Howard's $500 million industrial relations revolution; that a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory is likely to be built despite objections from traditional owners and the NT Government that it poses health and environmental risks; that of all the emotions experienced by the last big group of asylum seekers to be freed from Nauru, joy was the most palpable in Melbourne yesterday, like the joy of a young man who sees his brother for the first time in 15 years; and that Iraqi troops should be ready to provide full security for al-Muthanna province by May, allowing Australia's 450-strong taskforce to head home on time, the Defence Force's chief says.

And from the Mercury, thieves are following motorcyclists home to find out where they live and hatching plots to steal their bikes, police say. (This must be stamped out! Rush a bill through Parliament introducing preventative floggings for bike thieves.)


The Age: Colin Hughes and Brian Costar are concerned about suggested changes to the electoral act, which they say will cost hundreds of thousands of people the right to vote; Elliot Perlman tells a dire tale or two from the workplace in the US which he thinks could be a taste of things to come under the new industrial relations laws; Kenneth Davidson says Melbourne is about to lose another four hectares of parkland from Royal Park; and Tanveer Ahmed explains the ritual and meaning of Ramadan, with its particular Australian flavours.

The Australian: Mike Steketee, who is normally mild and measured, opens his shoulders to attack the anti-terrorism laws as draconian, introduced by politicians who have lost a sense of proportion (and to give Janet Albrechtsen a good wack on the way through); Brad Norington thinks the goal of the industrial relations changes are worthy, but they provide for more regulation, not deregulation, and give bosses extraordinary powers to sack workers; Paul Williams says the increasing support for daylight saving shows Queensland's growing political maturity; and Paul Gray continues The Australian's commercial (Rupert hates public broadcasting) and ideological battle against the ABC arguing that it produces too much anti-Christian, black-arm band drama (The Australian has such an inbuilt bias toward the ABC that it has forfeited the right to be taken seriously on the subject).

The SMH: Nick Parsons (Currency Press) says the anti-terrorism laws, especially the sedition provisions, are a grave threat to freedom of speech; Andrew Lynch says good law-making went out the window in yesterday's rush to pass legislation on the basis of a threat which is not actually addressed in the bill; Andrew Stewart (professor of law) echoes Brad Norington's concerns above, describing the industrial relations laws as lengthy, indigestible, inefficient,  and that create as many legal problems as they will solve .. oh, and unfair; Miranda Devine worries that the world is awash as parents lose control and fail to provide moral guidance; and Julia Baird finds it odd that model Kate Moss is in trouble for doing drugs when politicians, particularly those in Britain, are not.


Westpac's profit result, and goof, is the major story, with The SMH lead reporting that Westpac was forced to halt trading on its shares and deliver its annual profit briefing a day early after it accidentally sent its results by email to research analysts. The Australian says Westpac is carrying improved momentum into its banking and fund management business through into 2006 after gains in its funds management business and a sharp improvement in costs powered the bank to a record $2.8 billion annual net profit. Elizabeth Knight looks at both the profit result and the slip-up; and Stephen Bartholomeusz says that the bank's CEO David Morgan owned up to a substantive misjudgement by conceding in May that the bank had deliberately sacrificed market share, in mortgages in particular, to protect margins and the quality of Westpac's earnings.

The Herald reports that investor confidence in Leighton Holdings took another blow yesterday when the corner of an apartment block collapsed into a huge hole above Sydney's Lane Cove Tunnel construction site; and that Multiplex investors face another round of potential profit downgrades, the fourth since February, after the board warned of a possible cost overrun of £25 million ($59 million) on the Wembley Stadium in London.

The Age reports that ACCC boss Graeme Samuel has savaged claims by Telstra chairman Donald McGauchie that the ACCC's new price regime would cost the company $800 million a year in lost revenue; that Australia's building sector is heading for a soft landing but rising wage pressures have rekindled fears that inflation is set to pick up; and it wonders how managers will cope with WorkChoice.

The Australian reports that Coles Myer is soliciting interest from developers for its flagship building in Melbourne's Bourke St, estimated to be worth about $300 million, raising the prospect that the site will be sold separately to the Myer department store business; and that BigPond is the retail key to Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo's plans for the telco's future.


The Daily Telegraph: A terrorist plot targeting an Australian city has been uncovered by the Australian Federal Police and intelligence agencies; John Howard's far-reaching overhaul of workplace laws got a cold welcome in Parliament yesterday as the Government pledged it would boost the economy.

The Herald-Sun: ASIO agents and police are poised to move against an unnamed terrorist group planning attacks in several states; A man who killed a burglar with a samurai sword is unlikely to be charged, police said yesterday.

The Courier-Mail: An emergency terror law was pushed quickly through the House of Representatives last night to stop a suspected Sydney-based group launching attacks across Australia; Eleven Labor Party MPs were expelled from Federal Parliament yesterday as the Government introduced its shake-up of industrial relations laws.

The Advertiser: ASIO and federal and state police are set to move against an unnamed terrorist group centred in Sydney that is planning attacks in several states; Labor's health problems have finally hit home, causing a dramatic drop in the party's latest poll showing.

The West Australian: The port of Fremantle's inner harbour could soon be placed on the national heritage list in a move that Fremantle Ports and the State Government say will threaten the port's viability; Crucial evidence due to be given to a committee investigating claims of a crisis at Princess Margaret Hospital would not be made public but the committee's findings would be revealed, health boss Neale Fong said yesterday.

The Mercury: Premier Paul Lennon will give the go-ahead today to license online betting agency Betfair; Teachers were being told by some principals to take sick days to complete school reports under the new Essential Learnings system, Opposition education spokesman Peter Gutwein said.


A debutant at the top, some inexperienced batsmen in the middle and a newish fast bowler at the end have created an unfamiliar feeling for Ricky Ponting as a new summer dawns at the Gabba this morning; Peter Roebuck says Australia is facing a mighty challenge this summer to avoid the fate of the great West Indies team of the 1980's; Harry Kewell's hopes of playing a significant role in the Socceroos' World Cup play-offs rose again on Tuesday with a 15-minute cameo for Liverpool in the Champions League; and with months of soul-searching after five straight Test losses, a spectacular performance by Australia A to swamp a quality French Barbarians line-up on Tuesday provided hope that Australian rugby has enough young guns to revive fortunes.

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re: The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

Ee: the Terrorist threat that's getting blanket coverage in the papers today...

Why weren't we advised of this a week ago? Or two weeks ago?

I'll take the cynical view and suggest that the government is doing its usual duck and cover routine and throwing out another herring to distract us (read: Barnaby Joyce and other Coalition backbenchers) from the detail inherent in the IR changes.

When will these people ever learn. Just because you repeat something long enough - doesn't make it true! SHEESH!

re: The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

Miranda Divine is right to a point. But it’s not just parents that are losing control and failing to provide moral guidance. It's adults, in their capacity as leaders, parents, politicians, teachers, law enforcers, community members etc. It’s not just the parents fault.

Today’s kids are more sensitive and emotionally intense and the world is a more hostile, polluted and aggressive place. As a result, so many more children are being put on drugs in order to either numb them or stop them feeling. So many children are being bullied and in turn are retaliating and also bullying. The adults that make the laws and rules are not protecting these children so they have to take matters into their own hands. So many more children are suffering obesity and lack of motivation. The list could go on.

There is so much neglect, depression, mental illness and stress in society. Children can feel this, they don’t always understand it or know what they can do about it and that often causes inner turmoil, some block it others despair, but they certainly sense it, see it and feel it and they suffer because they feel that nobody cares enough about them to do anything to stop it or to change the status quo.

We need to change the way that we all interact and treat children. For too many years we were taught that children should be seen and not heard and that detachment is what is creating the problems that we are experiencing today. Children of today have not developed respect, empathy and compassion because these are qualities that can only be taught by example and experience, they cannot be taught from a text book. Children learn by example and if they are being ignored, treated unfairly and even bullied then that is what they are going to learn and do.

Adults need to stop and listen to the children and stand up on their children’s behalf so that these kids understand that they are worthy and valued and that the adults will fight for their right to be treated fairly and with respect. Only then will the children start learning and seeing things from a different perspective and only then is it more likely that positive change will occur.

Of course I am not talking about all adults but in my experience it is a majority.

re: The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

You're fairly on the money, Wayne, when you say that "The Australian has such an inbuilt bias toward the ABC that it has forfeited the right to be taken seriously on the subject". All the same, Paul Gray's piece today makes for entertaining reading, and perhaps offers some insight into the general contours of the ABC-bashing campaign.

Mr Gray notes, "further evidence of bias at ABC current affairs show Lateline, which last week lined up a succession of like-minded critics of the Howard Government's anti-terrorism legislation over three nights without putting up a single acknowledgment - let alone a guest - supporting the fact most Australians demonstrably back these laws."

Well, maybe Mr Gray tends to nip out a lot for a cuppa or joint, because on Thursday 27 Oct there was "Ruddock defends proposed counter-terrorism laws", and on Monday 31 Oct "Beazley backs anti-terrorism laws".

One must ask, however, just what Mr Gray perceives as the function of a public broadcaster. In line with the ABC's charter obligations of informing the Australian public, Lateline did an "informal survey of 25 of Australia's leading security analysts". The responses were varied, some favourable, although most of the experts saw the AT proposals as "going too far". Is that Lateline's crime, that the program canvassed a wide array of experts, instead of cherry picking one's that were friendly to the Government and its AT proposals?

So to the next bit of hokum:

Egregious examples of the anti-Christian bias of the ABC derive not only from the broadcaster's news and current affairs department but with greater impact from lifestyle programs such as comedy show The Glass House. The Glass House has given repeated offence to Christians with humour directed at the Pope and Mother Teresa.

One wonders if Mr Gray is aware that there are many, many Christians out there who are not beholden to popery and idolatry. Not so with Government Senator Santo Santoro, apparently, whose comments in Senate estimates are given uncritical prominence by Mr Gray: "Broadcasters continually make derogatory comments about Jesus, the Pope and Christianity in general in a way [that] I believe breaches the ABC's own editorial policies and shows demonstrable bias."

If Senator Santoro, as a Roman Catholic, is going to make a holy crusade in Senate estimates hearings against the ABC on the basis of his allegiances with the Vatican, then it would seem to be another potential breach of the separation between church and state.

I confess to watching The Glass House fairly regularly, and haven't particularly noticed any more humour 'directed' at Christian 'targets' than at any other particular holy cow - the program's a general piss-take on everything. One wonders if Mr Gray and his employer, Mr Murdoch, are declaring war on irreverent scepticism in general.

Time's against commenting on Mr Gray's further railings against the ABC's supposed cultural bastardries. But, all in all, fairly standard Murdoch propaganda. Given Mr Gray is the staff apparatchik on News Ltd's ABC bashing taskforce, I tend to think the ABC shouldn't be unduly concerned with a critic of such unimpressive calibre and flagrant bias.

re: The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

This is the most hilarious "headline" I've seen in ages:

Israel Dismantles; World's Problems End.

re: The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

Tony Blair is putting the same
to parliament:

At prime minister's questions today, Tony Blair told MPs that a vote against the legislation would be a vote against the express advice of leading police officers. He said those charged with protecting the country had insisted the proposed new powers were vital.

So, John Howard was given a piece of soft information that he manipulated to his political advantage. No surprise there.

George Negus had two terrific pieces on Dateline, one with Joe Wilson (Valerie Plame's partner).

And Ms Pomeranz was reduced to tears, as she watched clips from the Turkish film Gallipoli.

re: The Daily Briefing 3/11/05

Was Elliot Perlman's bad example a fiction, as Professor Bunyip claims? And if so has The Age finally forfeited the right to be taken seriously on anything?

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