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The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

By Wayne Sanderson
Created 12/11/2005 - 00:00

FRIDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2005          
Your round-up [2] from today's newspapers plus the best writing, analysis, critical thinking and humour from around the world.

In today's email:
1    Boris Johnson on terror laws, the police and trumped-up charges/Telegraph (3 links below) [3]
2    Interview with Martin Shaw/Democratiya (link below) [4]
3    Reuel Marc Gerecht talks down the Plame affair/WSJ (8 links below) [5]
4    David Gelln on Philip Rieff and the new barbarism/Chronicle [6]
5    Graham Stewart on the myth of Murdoch the dictator/Times (2 links below) [7]
6    Mark Dowie on conservation's indigenous refugees/Orion (link below) [8]
7    Dana Millbank on big oil and influence/Washington Post [9]
8    Christopher Buckley on teaching ethics at the White House/NYTimes (2 link below) [10]
9    Juan Goytisolo  on his new autobiographical novel/Le Monde [11]
10    TECH: How to Google your dinner/Washington Post (2 links below) [12]
11    Remembering the dismissal/Larvatus Prodeo (links below) [13]
12    IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up [14]

1 Blair, Boris and one night in Oxford
This one is a delightful, and very British read. Of course it is easy not to be concerned about laws, however draconian, when you are fairly sure that they don't apply to "us" - but only to "them". ("They came for the intellectuals, and I said nothing ...) Conservative MP and Spectator editor (amongst other claims to fame) Boris Johnson had an experience with the plod as a callow youth, one that seems to have left him with a life-long concern about the right to detain without charges and due process, as proposed under UK (and Australian) anti-terrorism laws.  "By this stage I am afraid that the Bullingdon Club was very far from the proud phalanx of tailcoated twits that had set out for dinner the night before. Some of us were beginning to whimper for our mothers. Others, half-asleep, groaned the names of their nannies. Some of us were brave enough to lie on the bemerded floor. Others stood up, streaked and dishevelled, and tried to sleep on their feet."

The aftermath of Tony Blair's first ever Parliamentary defeat on detention powers still reverberates. The Guardian reports that Blair remains defiant [15],  even "as the government's own panel of Muslim experts warned that it still risked alienating their community."

In the same paper, Britain's answer to Matt Price, Simon Hoggart, describes the scene [16] as Parliament regained its relevance.

And The Times reports that the tension leading up to the vote almost resulted in physical violence [17]toward one Labour rebel.

2 Interviews with Shaw and Saul
Two interviews, with two respected voices, both from "the left" (whatever that is these days), though in the case of Martin Shaw (link below) one critical of both the anti-Iraq war left (Pilger and Galloway) as well as its supporters (Hitchens, Aaronovitch and Cohen). Shaw is a sociologist of war and global politics and holds the Chair of International Relations and Politics at the University of Sussex. "We face a threat of terrorist attack which is sufficient to generate serious atrocities, to harm our society through militarising its politics and curtailing our civil liberties. But the threat is obviously not of a kind which will destroy our society. It's a different sort of threat than the old Soviet Union. In this sense I think it's a threat which is quite well suited to the ideological project of the global war on terror which Bush has proclaimed.  I think it's interesting to observe the way in which al-Qaeda calibrates its attacks with Western political developments.  We have seen the intervention just before a Spanish election, the video tape which Bin Laden sent just before the American election, which I think helped Bush, and the delaying of the attacks on Britain until after the British election.  I think there's a sense which al-Qaeda needs Bush and Bush needs al-Qaeda."

And Mother Jones interviews John Ralston Saul [19] about his new book "The Collapse of Globalism". "And the interesting thing is, even that disparity between rich and poor doesn't total up to a big increase in wealth; it's just that a small group of people are getting richer and a much larger group of people are getting poorer. So getting more of the pie today, for the poor, still wouldn't represent a success for the system. This suggests that the system, as designed by the globalists, simply isn't delivering what it said it would deliver."

3 Plame and Niger update
Plame update time, even though all of this may well be one for obsessives only.  Judith Miller, the journalist at the centre of the affair , has "retired" from the NYTimes [21].

The New York Observer reports Miller's immediate reaction [22] and it has other reports on the move [23] (scroll down past the battle of the front pages). And naturally the woman herself has a blog [24] with a full account of her version of events.

Meanwhile, the debate over whether or not former Dick Cheney chief-of-staff should have be indicted continues. Former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht (link below), now with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute thinks not, and runs what has become the right's main line of defence: this is much ado about nothing and Plame's husband Joe Wilson is a lightweight liar. "A serious CIA would never have allowed Mr. Wilson to go on such an odd, short "fact finding" mission. It never would have allowed Ms. Plame potentially to expose herself by recommending such an overt mission for her mate, not known for his subtlety and discretion. With a CIA where cover really mattered, Mr. Libby would not now be indicted. But that's not what we have in the real world. We have an American left that hates George W. Bush and his vice president so much that they have become willing dupes in a surreal operational stage-play."

But according to the Pew Centre, as reported by Dan Froomkin [25], the average punter thinks it is important. "But according to a new Pew Research Center poll, the recent indictment of senior White House aide Scooter Libby is a really big deal: Even more important to the country, for instance, than the 1998 charges that President Bill Clinton lied under oath about Monica Lewinsky. Those, of course, led to Clinton's impeachment."

On the very much related Niger yellowcake bogus document scandal, Salon is talking up the Italian connection [26].

But neo-conservative spruiker Michael Ledeen is pointing the finger at the French [27]. Ledeen, remember, was directly involved in a meeting with Italian intelligence prior to the documents coming into official US hands, and he chooses an odd way of responding to suggestions that he may even have had a hand in forging them - by imagining a ouija board session with a late CIA chief. (Now if you wanted to give yourself wriggle room on any of your denials, this would be one way of doing it.)

And on the wider question on the Iraq invasion and WMDs, uber-conservative Norman Prodhoretz in Commentary [28] is doing all he can to protect the Bush administration from the charge that it lied about the intelligence used to justify the war - without discussing some of the latest material (see Archives).

4 The new barbarism
After three decades of silence, conservative sociologist Philip Rieff is about to have four books released. David Glenn looks at Rieff's life and work, and devotes some space to his marriage in the '50s to Susan Sontag. "But in a more important sense, the two scholars went on to move in very different directions. Ms. Sontag had a much more hopeful view - although always ambivalent - toward feminism and other liberal and radical cultural currents. Her 1966 collection, Against Interpretation, praised Norman O. Brown, whom Mr. Rieff regarded as a utopian "left-Freudian." In 1985 she wrote an appreciative introduction to a volume of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs. Mr. Rieff is far more skeptical: His new book includes a meditation on one of Mr. Mapplethorpe's photographs, which culminates with the declaration that "homosexuality as a social movement is not a movement of love but a movement of hatred and indifference."
5 If you really knew Rupert
Having spent some time in the Murdoch empire, and 25 years in and around journalism, it is hard to take this one seriously. Perhaps this is the first of a "myth of the great dictator" series by Graham Stewart, who is described by HarperCollins as a highly rated historian [31]. Will we see, Saddam, Adolf and Benito, myth of the great dictators? As Stewart tells the story, we've all had it wrong about Rupert (including all those former editors and executives who told a similar tale?) By this telling Murdoch is the model of the independent proprietor, encouraging outspoken diversity where ever he goes. (There are no indications that this is intentional satire.) "There was a natural self-interest in The Times's commercial rivals portraying it as the mouthpiece of its owner. By questioning the objectivity of the paper's judgment, these attacks hit at the heart of its appeal. Every editorial decision, from backing the Conservatives to backing new Labour was, sooner or later, attributed to Murdoch's hidden hand. Differences of opinion not only between his British newspapers but also with his own supposed opinions were disregarded or overlooked."

The Globe and Mail has the latest grim statistics on US newspaper circulation [32]. "Average weekday circulation at U.S. newspapers fell 2.6 per cent during the six month-period ending in September in the latest sign of trouble in the newspaper business." (Of course those same newspapers have presumably picked up many thousands of readers online, which is not accounted for in these statistics.)

And in the rapidly changing media world, Microsoft said yesterday that it would develop a news video distribution network for The Associated Press [33] and share in advertising revenue generated by the newspapers and broadcasters that use it.

6 Indigenous refugees and ecotourism
The notion of "wilderness" has a bad name in some indigenous circles, carrying as it does the concept of being untouched by humans. The result of this policy around the world, according to Mark Dowie, is the destruction of indigenous cultures, and probably the loss of biodiversity as well. "It's no secret that millions of native peoples around the world have been pushed off their land to make room for big oil, big metal, big timber, and big agriculture. But few people realize that the same thing has happened for a much nobler cause: land and wildlife conservation. Today the list of culture-wrecking institutions put forth by tribal leaders on almost every continent includes not only Shell, Texaco, Freeport, and Bechtel, but also more surprising names like Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Even the more culturally sensitive World Conservation Union (IUCN) might get a mention."

And in Common Ground, Suzanne York is not impressed by ecotourism [35] as it is practiced. "Among the most degrading effects of ecotourism is the marketing of indigenous heritage, cultural identity, and sacred rituals. Ancient cultures are quickly reduced by this activity to another exotic product to be advertised and sold. Rituals, dances, and religious ceremonies are stripped of their deeper traditional spiritual value and made meaningless. Indigenous artifacts are valued only for their souvenir potential, and the indigenous people themselves tend to be valued only as a photo opportunity. Local crafts are often crowded out of the market altogether, as corporations copy them and mass-produce arts and crafts and clothing, marginalizing the local craftsperson and substituting cheap labor outside of the country. In Malaysia and Indonesia, for example, the fine art of batik, a dye-and-wax process that creates beautiful prints on natural fiber, is now mass-produced on synthetic materials in hundreds of factories in Southeast Asia. Traditional designs have been replaced by pop art."

7 What money can buy
Money won't buy happiness, so they say, but it sure buys influence. At least one local outlet - let's spare the guilty party just this once - got quite excited yesterday about the fact that "big oil" had been called before the US Congress to explain high oil prices and record company profits, declaring it was "big news". Umm. They should have waited to see exactly what transpired. As Dana Millbank describes it, they were beaten lightly with a feather. "But instead of calling oil executives on the carpet yesterday, senators gave them the red-carpet treatment. The companies summoned to testify have given about $400,000 in PAC money this year alone -- and much of that has found its way to those who served as the executives' interrogators."
8 Teaching White House ethics
This one definitely is satire. A few days back TDB brought news that George Bush had ordered White House staff to attend ethics classes in response to the charges bought against Lewis Libby. Christopher Buckley sits in on a class. ""Let's move on. Now suppose - yes, Mr. Cheney?" "I have to go. I have a meeting." "Please sit down. This is important." "So's my meeting." "Perhaps you'd like to share with us what it's about?" "Torture."

This one is not satire, but it should be. Yesterday TDB linked to a report that a pro-"intelligent design" school council in Pennsylvania had been voted out of office, every last one of them. Pat Robertson has news for those heathen voters [38] - God is pissed, really pissed. "If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."

And in case you hadn't heard, Libby in earlier, happier days, tried his hand at writing a book, as many Republicans have done before him. The New Yorker reviews this little known literary genre - the right-wing dirty novel [39]. "So, how does Libby stack up against the competition? This question was put to Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain's Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad s*x writing in fiction. (In 1998, someone nominated the Starr Report.) Sladek agreed to review a few passages from Libby. "That's a bit depraved, isn't it, this kind of thing about bears and young girls? That's particularly nasty, and the other ones are just boring," she said. "God, they're an odd bunch, these Republicans." Unlike their American counterparts, she said, Tories haven't taken much to sex writing." (Is there an Australian equivalent? Has Ron Boswell say, or Santo Santoro, ever written a bed-bouncer?)

9 Juan Goytisolo  on his latest novel
From Le Monde, a writer TDB had not previously encountered. Juan Goytisolo has written a dozen novels, and is considered among the best fiction in Spanish in the 20th century, so we are told. In this article, he discusses his latest, autobiographical novel. "In 'Telon de Boca' the image of a crushed thistle in Chechnya, trampled by the boots of the Russian army and the tsar, later by Yeltsin's boots and now by Putin's, is a recurrent theme: the absurd and constant renewal of human barbarity. Given the choice between society's progress and its bestial heritage, the latter often prevails. Not much has changed in that respect. The brutality of the Spanish civil war is replayed in every civil war."
10 How to Google your dinner
This sounds like a great idea (link below) for those of us who walk into a kitchen stacked with ingredients and can't think of anything to cook. "The concept behind Google cooking is basic: Simply plug in your ingredients and the word "recipes," press Google search, then wait for the results to pop up. The engine will scour reams of Web sites -- from the expected (Food Network's http://foodtv.com/ ) to the obscure ( http://acupuncture.com/ ) -- for recipes that incorporate your desired foodstuffs. With its infinite repository, Google can find recipes for unconventional food pairings or exotic products that might stump most cookbooks." What it might come up with if you typed in "half a tomato, some limp celery, a mouldy thing that could have been a carrot and a dozen stubbies" is anyone's guess.

And for those who need such things, David Pogue in the NYTimes is excited about anytime, anywhere wireless downloading of songs onto your mobile [42]. "This remarkable service is brought to you by Sprint. It's the first cellular carrier to unveil a phone-based online music store; the others have similar plans. Their logic goes like this: "Those crazy kids have bought 30 million iPods and a billion songs from online music stores. They also spend nearly $5 billion a year on downloadable ring tones. What if we could combine those two trends? If teenagers could download full-length songs right onto their cellphones - we'll be rich, I tell you! Rich!""

And in the same paper, Lizette Alvarez looks at the problems created by a  flood of emails [43], and reports that there are now consultants to deal with it. (TDB has one of those. It's called the delete key.) "The onslaught has given rise to a cottage industry of consultants who advise companies - including Microsoft, which helped create e-mail - on how to juggle their e-mail messages and focus on being more proactive than reactive, a difficulty in today's e-mail-intense corporate world."

11 Remembering 11/11
This one is a shameless plug for another (Brisbane-based) online outlet. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the end for Sir John Kerr, "for all of today the Larvatus Prodeo bloggers will share their thoughts and perspectives on The Dismissal. Some will examine the politics of then and now while others will reflect on the times. Some will use The Dismissal as a jumping off point for reflection on other matters." (Link below)

And to show that TDB is politically balanced when it comes to shameless plugs, Sydney-based RWDBs (Right Wing Death Beasts) might like to join Australia's shallowest and nastiest blogger [45] to celebrate Gough's downfall. Apparently things could get interesting [46].

downloaded an al-Qai'da call-to-arms document [48] that celebrates the Bali bombings and calls on Muslims to commit the "heroic act of jihad" against the West." Did they Cameron? Note the lack of attribution - "according to well-placed sources" comes down in the story. Stories like this (and a similar one on the front page of The Courier-Mail by  Ian McPhedran) require no journalistic skills at all. None. Anyone with the stomach to listen to some anonymous walloper boasting about his exploits, and the ability to transcribe the aforementioned boasting to make it sound like gospel fact, whilst showing callous disregard for the presumption of innocence, can do it. Anyone. Children do it all the time - "my friend's Dad's car can go on water all the way to America". Two weeks ago, stories like this might have been good investigative journalism that was worth something - it might have goaded authorities to act to address a threat in our midst. But that threat - so we are told - has been put behind bars awaiting trial. Stories like these are now "grub street hack" stuff - yellow journalism good for nothing except creating a prurient headline to sell a paper while trashing the rights every accused person is supposed to have under our system of justice. That'd be part of the "rule of law" and freedom that Iraq and the war against terror is supposed to be about. And which media group was in lock-step support for George Bush on those two fronts? News Ltd, publisher of The Australian and The Courier-Mail. Hypocrites.

Oh, and the Herald reports that the trial of terrorism suspect Joseph Terrence Thomas has been adjourned for more than two months [49] after politicians and senior police claimed this week's federal and state police raids had thwarted a potential catastrophe. While TDB is happy to see murderous terrorists rot in hell, there would be some great poetic justice in seeing convictions quashed because of the prejudicial climate stirred up by mob mentality of media outlets that are, at the same time, cloyingly self-righteous.

And while we are doing the odd bit of journo-bashing, do have a look at a couple of columns below. Michael Costello in The Australian reckons that Kim Beazley has been grossly misrepresented by the press gallery in its reporting of his stance on the anti-terror laws. In short, he says they have taken him out of context to fit the prevailing narrative on Beazley. Well, TDB is too far from the action to know if it is a fair cop this time, but one thing is for sure - they do it all the time. Hunt like a dopey pack, all barking the same silly story. Then there is Richard Ackland, who has taken the time to study the minor amendment to the counter terrorism laws and says that they had played no part in the charges laid after this week's raids. But don't expect facts like that to get in the way of prevailing narratives about "vindication". Bloody hell, but isn't this a hard profession to love. Even when you love it.

Now, where were we? The Herald's lead reports that Liberal backbenchers and the Labor Party have targeted the potential of sedition provisions in the new anti-terrorism legislation to artistic and journalistic freedom [50] of expression. It also reports that reckless police officers who ignore their supervisors' orders to call off high-speed pursuits will be reined-in with the introduction of a new response system [51] across the state today; that police fear 19-month-old Rahma el-Dennaoui was abducted from her bedroom [52]; that a senior employee of one of the biggest coal-fired power generators in NSW has been advising the Government on whether it should build a coal-fired power station [53]; and that the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has rebuked the federal Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull [54] and appealed to the major parties to put the common good before individual freedom.

The Age reports that Bali terror mastermind Azahari Husin had constructed 30 bombs for a new wave of attacks [55] before he was killed during a dramatic police raid on his central Java hide-out; that three of Australia's most senior Commonwealth Games officials are expected to withdraw from the Queens' Baton Relay [56], after tensions overflowed at board level of the Melbourne 2006 corporation; that Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward says legal leaders are failing to provide adequate support for family-friendly working conditions [57]; that workers who join nationwide strikes against contentious new industrial relations laws next Tuesday, without permission from the boss, risk having their pay docked [58] and potential legal claims for damages; and that Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohammed Omran has branded police raids on alleged terrorists in Melbourne and Sydney as a "show-off exercise" [59] and a massive overreaction.

The Australian reports that an inquest into the $300 million Iraqi wheat sales scandal has been given the powers of a royal commission but will be muzzled from investigating the role of the Government [60] and ministers in the payment of illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein; that every child in Australia will be tested for literacy [61] when they start school and then regularly over the next three years under a national action plan to help struggling students; and that mental illness and homelessness was the price the nation was paying for a "lax attitude" toward cannabis [62], John Howard has warned.

Elsewhere, Matt Price [63] has a great (light) take of yesterday's events in Parliament and Mike Seccombe [64] says "if pride goeth before a fall, then the Howard Government deserves to come a gigantic cropper"; Dr Peter Jensen is worried that Jesus is "slipping out of memory and imagination" [65]; and that the lead singer of UK band The Darkness has bought a copy of his own yet to be released album for $769 [66] from an eBay seller in Sydney, and he's not very happy about it.


The Age: Tony Parkinson [67] applauds the political class for showing strength in the face of terrorism this week and attempts to link the French riots with the arrest of suspects related to a possible terrorist attack (a theory that has not had a wide airing elsewhere in the world); Lex Lasry [68] explains why he thinks that the likely execution of his client Nguyen Tuong Van is an injustice that John Howard personally must speak out against; Greg Woodward [69] it's time those who know explain why president Jimmy Carter assured Whitlam in 1977 that the US "would never again interfere in the domestic political processes of Australia" (indeed) and that Labor should look to Whitlam's foreign policy example; and Paul Austin [70] warns of a looming attempt by the Bracks Government to rekindle its love affair with "the bush".

The Australian: Michael Costello [71] brings great passion to a defence of Kim Beazley, which, if true (and it has that ring), is a damning indictment of the press gallery (which does love a convenient narrative into which it can lazily fit its reports) for misrepresenting and caricaturing the Labor leader; Lindsay Tanner [72] maintains his rage over the events of 1975, but thinks it is time for Labor to "get over it"; Stephen Loosley [73] outlines the impact he thinks the dismissal has had on every government since 1975; and Dick Morris [74], who now gets a run only from the more barking mad right-wing outposts of the US media, gives his views on the French riots.

The SMH: Richard Ackland [75], who has taken the time to study the legislation, says the minor change made after John Howard's "megaphone" announcement played no part in the charges laid after this week's raid, and that sceptics should not retreat from their view that is was a stunt; Malcolm Knox [76] wonders how can we be sure the "rogue juror" we're trying to eliminate in a crowd-pleasing change to the Jury Act isn't the single hold-out who's right; Peter Hartcher [77] says that while Labor is busy writing books about itself (or having them written), the Coalition is churning out legislation, at a frantic pace, that will change the nation; and Zachary Abuza [78] explains why he thinks that Azahari Husin death is a set-back and not a knock-out blow for Jemaah Islamiah.


The ACCC's ruling on Toll Holding's bid for Patricks dominates the business pages this morning, with The Australian's lead reporting that Toll might be forced to sell its 50 per cent of the Pacific National rail joint venture before it could proceed with a $4.3 billion bid [79] for Patrick Corporation, the competition regulator declared yesterday. The paper also reports that National Australia Bank has demanded more than $539 million in compensation [80] from two brokers for allegedly helping to hide trading losses that led to the bank's foreign currency options scandal in 2004; and that Coles Myer chief John Fletcher yesterday described trading conditions as the toughest [81] he had seen in years and warned of challenging times ahead as the nation's second-largest retailer produced its lowest quarterly sales growth for more than a decade.

The Herald reports that building materials company James Hardie had a massive hike in first half profits although the bumper result was marred by further high spending on advisers hired to extricate the company from the scandal [82] about asbestos compensation; that Rio chief executive Leigh Clifford has warned that the supply of iron ore is "extremely tight" [83] and remains vulnerable to supply shocks delivered by cyclones, among other things; and that Optus reported its second consecutive quarter of falling earnings [84] yesterday, down 8.1 per cent to $150 million for the three months to September 30, as intense competition across the telecom sector pulled its revenue growth to a complete halt.

The Age reports that Coopers Brewery has accused Lion Nathan of trying to pressure accountants KPMG into giving a valuation [85] of the Adelaide brewer that would support Lion Nathan's hostile $352 million $260-a-share bid; that Peter Costello has warned that unemployment may have hit its low point [86] for this cycle, after new figures showed employment has fallen for the second month in a row; and that economic policy consultant Nicholas Gruen will today suggest a radical new regime of economic reform measures, including making transparent what job satisfaction big companies offer their workers [87].

Stephen Bartholomeusz [88] says the ACCC hasn't derailed Toll Holdings' $4.6 billion bid for Patrick Corp, but it has taken some steam out of its boilers, and that Toll has to offer something better; Elizabeth Knight [89] only serves to feed the public's justifiable outrage that more than a year after the company agreed to set up a fund to compensate sufferers of asbestos-related diseases, no agreement has yet been signed; and Matthew Stevens [90] thinks Paul Little has a lot of clever talking to do between now and Christmas if he is to convince Graeme Samuel to clear Toll Holding's bid for Patrick Corporation.


The Daily Telegraph [91]: A suspected Sydney terrorist believed to be the owner of a burnt-out car containing a drum of chemicals has fled the country, The Daily Telegraph has learned; How did a 19-month-old girl disappear from her bed in the middle of the night?

The Herald-Sun [92]: Scores of factory workers say they don't want to work alongside the thugs who bashed cameramen outside a court where nine men were facing terrorism charges; Almost 2000 drivers have been booked in one month on the West Gate Bridge - Victoria's newest speed trap.

The Courier-Mail [93]: Australia's first home-grown terrorists used fake identities to buy bomb-making chemicals and hire cars; "SEX offences" against two Dalby girls would not have happened if Premier Peter Beattie had agreed to move "convicted paedophile Dennis Ferguson", Federal Parliament has been told.

The Advertiser [94]: Australia urgently needs more than a 1000 extra GPs a year from 2007 or it will face a massive crisis, a government report shows; The State Government spent more than $800,000 installing "School Pride" signs at all public schools and pre-schools.

The West Australian [95]: Yet another report has provided a damning insight into the dire state of the Swan and Canning rivers, this time with the government body responsible for the waterways saying they are suffering "severe ecological stress"; A liquor shop selling only cleanskin bottles of wine can open on Sundays in a landmark court ruling that could pave the way for other bottle shops to trade all weekend

The Mercury [96]: Racing Minister Jim Cox has been accused of offering $1 million to Tasmanian jockeys concerned about betting exchange Betfair; Whole Tasmanian logs originally destined for veneer peeling in Korea have ended up as Asian woodchips.


Socceroos skipper Mark Viduka has pledged a tougher, more savvy Australia [97] will not be undone this weekend by the tactical naivety that led to their World Cup downfall in Montevideo four years ago; After 12 seasons of first-class cricket, three tours as a national squad member and six frustrating Tests as 12th man, Brad Hodge believes he is closer than ever to realising his dream of playing for Australia [98]; Trent Barrett hopes a visit to a Paris podiatrist will help him regain his favourite five-eighth position [99] in the Australian team for the remainder of the Tri-Nations tournament.

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