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The Daily Briefing 15/12/05


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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    National, Opinion, Business round-up ready

1 Beattie joins TDB media campaign
Be still beating heart! Such excitement at TDB this morning as we read that Peter Beattie has jumped on the runaway bandwagon we set rolling with our endless calls for a public or readers editor to be appointed by media outlets here - along the lines of The Washington Post, the NYTimes and The Guardian. We had no idea Beattie was such an avid reader, although we fear that someone must be forwarding him a copy - cheapskate!

Your draft edition national round-up, with the full edition to follow later:

National, Opinion, Business round-up


The Sydney Morning Herald has been hit by industrial problems - there are fewer references to the Herald this morning. And those on a red meat, right-wing diet should head straight to The Australian's opinion pages, which espouses views (Steketee aside) that would embarrass all but the most rabid conservative outlets found in the US. Why doesn't the OZ simply declate that it is a conservative publication and give up this pretence of being a mainstream newspaper?

In fact The Australian has more than a whiff of hysteria and beat-up about it. Its lead reports that four churches in Sydney's southwest have been attacked in 24 hours as the city's riots spread from race to religion, and sees conspiracy “to ‘shame’ the city's Lebanese Christian community into supporting Lebanese Muslims in the race-hate war, which began as a battle against young white males over use of suburban beaches". (Hang on, wasn't it the "young white males" trying to kick "the bloody Lebs" off the beaches?). The paper reports that NSW Premier Morris Iemma has called on people not to renounce their Australian identity in the face of intimidation by Lebanese gangs - even if it means being bashed. It also reports that NSW will have to borrow to pay its police, nurses and teachers and could lose its coveted triple-A credit rating after Premier Morris Iemma revealed a billion-dollar budget crisis yesterday; that Australia plans to spend up to $2 billion on a fleet of giant aircraft to transport Abrams tanks and other heavy equipment around the world; that small-scale property developers have been left confused about their obligations to pay GST under a new series of tax office rulings criticised by the industry as "too broad"; and that Fairfax Sydney newspapers are likely to be severely disrupted after about 500 journalists went on strike indefinitely yesterday.

The Age reports that Qantas has vowed to slash air fares on flights to the United States — adding to political pressure on the Howard Government to keep Singapore Airlines locked out of the lucrative Pacific routes; that Malaysia has delivered a blow to Australia's aspirations of being included as part of the East Asia community, saying it should not expect to be regarded as an insider; that the Federal Government has cast doubts on David Hicks' ability to return to Australia if he is granted British citizenship and released from Guantanamo Bay; that racist text messages and emails inciting organised violence against ethnic groups have been seized by Victoria Police but dismissed as the work of bored teenagers with no links to community or ethnic groups; that tax dodgers, a bogus rabbi and a printing press churning out fake examination documents highlight the multimillion-dollar problem of identity fraud in our universities, a report reveals; and that police have charged Robert Farquharson with the murder of his three sons, who drowned when a car plunged into a dam near Geelong on Father's Day.

Sean Leahy sees some of John Howard's chickens coming home to roost in a cartoon whose sentiment are echoed by Mike Steketee's column below.

And Peter Beattie, having joined TDB's campaign for public editors or an ombudsman to be appointed by media outlets (Age Opinion below), says that he would be pleased to see Fairfax start a broadsheet in Queensland, as The Courier-Mail announces that it is to go tabloid next year, see State papers.


The Age: Peter Beattie calls for the appointment of ombudsmen by media outlets to lift standards and give greater accountability (a idea TDB has pushed many times); Kenneth Davidson looks at the problem of Australia's increasing foreign debt and says "the "savings" undertaken by the Howard Government since 1996 in the name of financial orthodoxy are the product of a mad accountancy that says we cannot afford to finance first-class research institutions, schools, hospitals and transport and communications systems by public borrowings"; Marilyn Lake says xenophobia has a long history in Australia and that multiculturalism must be promoted as a national value as a counter to militant nationalism which feeds off resurgent interests in militarism; and Barney Zwartz says the riots were a product of victimhood, and calls for national leadership.

The Australian: Mike Steketee ridicules John Howard for refusing to label the Cronulla riots as racism, sees elements of Hansonism revisited and says that terrorism has added to a volatile mix; Peter Ryan uses the riots to claim victory in the history wars for the right, and urge an apology for Geoffrey Blainey (Manning Clark gets a whack along the way - Ryan was a co-conspirator in Oz editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell's barking mad "Order of Lenin" campaign against Clark); David Flint defends talkback radio following the riots and says they were the result of the Carr Government's failure on law and order (among a range of silly claims he also says that The Age no longer publishes a conservative columnist - he has obviously never read Tony Parkinson); and Ted Lapkin (right-wing nutter extraordinaire) backs the US military justice system in Guantanamo Bay and in a column filled with errors and loopy arguments make this bizarre claim: "other than neo-Nazis, rabid Serb nationalists and John Pilger, there are few voices complaining that Herman Goering and Slobodan Milosevic were the victims of kangaroo justice".

The SMH: Miranda Devine lists those getting the blame for the Cronulla riots, including John Howard, multiculturalism, political correctness and left-leaning police and says "there are probably elements of truth in all the arguments" (strewth Miranda, if we can't rely on you to make things simple and simplistic, who can we turn to?); Jamie Mackie ponders the future of ASEAN; and Tim Costello still hopes the WTO talks will be a step forward toward making poverty history.


Telstra is having another bad morning of it, with The Age reporting that the telco has escaped court action and fines but has been dealt a stinging rebuke from the corporate watchdog for leaking confidential material to the media and failing to brief the stock exchange on market-sensitive information. The story goes on to report that Telecommunications Minister Helen Coonan said the Government was unlikely to intervene in Telstra's public battle with the consumer watchdog over prices it could charge competitors for access to its copper telephone network. Stephen Bartholomeusz describes Coonan as obdurate, says most of Telstra's proposed high-speed fibre-to-the-node network may never be built and expects hostilities to continue. Malcolm Maiden says ASIC's "unacceptable" declaration about Telstra's disclosure to the markets is more than a wrist slap; and Bryan Frith says Telstra may have avoided enforcement action but Australia's largest company has nevertheless received a black eye as a result of ASIC's investigation into the telco's disclosure practices.

The Age also reports that Coopers Brewery shareholders have derailed Lion Nathan's hostile $420 million, $310-a-share bid by junking the rights that once put the maker of Tooheys, XXXX and Hahn third in line to buy Coopers shares; that Qantas has backed Boeing with the first tranche of its $20 billion fleet re-equipment spending, committing to buy 65 of the company's new 787 wide-bodied aircraft and ignoring Airbus' A350 class competitor; that avoiding a damaging slowdown triggered by the gaping US current account deficit will require globally co-ordinated action — including extra infrastructure investment by commodity producers such as Australia, the Government's top economic adviser has warned; and that barring a catastrophe within the next 16 days, superannuation funds are set to ride the record-breaking sharemarket to establish their own milestone — the first time they have recorded two consecutive years of double-digit returns since 1998.

The Australian's lead reports that Visy Industries chief executive Harry Debney expects his company to be hauled into court by the competition regulator any day now, a year after allegations of an illegal cardboard price-fixing cartel first emerged. It also reports that yesterday's announcement by Lehman Brothers that it earned a record $US3.3 billion ($4.37 billion) profit for 2005, capped by a 41 per cent surge in earnings in the fourth quarter, kicks off what is expected to be a triumphal march through to the year's end by Wall Street's top houses; and that Qantas is moving to tighten the reins on problem child Jetstar Asia by appointing chief financial officer Peter Gregg as chairman and Jetstar chief executive Alan Joyce to the board.


The Daily Telegraph: "NRL foes unite to stop riots" - was raised in The Shire and the other is a devout Lebanese Muslim who grew up in Sydney's southwest but spent the summer soaking up the sun at Cronulla; Extra police will defend Sydney's most sacred sites after an unprovoked attack on two churches in the city's west.

The Herald-Sun: A father was behind bars last night charged with the drowning murder of his three sons after their car plunged into a dam in a Father's Day tragedy; Rugby League stars stepped into the front line yesterday to try to halt the race-fuelled violence racking Sydney. But neither Bulldogs star Hazem El Masri, 29, or former Cronulla Sharks front-rower Jason Stevens, 32, have the solution to what sparked the anger and hatred which spewed forth at the Cronulla riots.

The Courier-Mail: More than 500 children in the care of the state were found to have been abused or still at risk of harm last year; The Courier-Mail is to become a tabloid next year.

The Advertiser: Unruly Housing Trust tenants would be kicked out of their properties under a "two strikes and you're out" policy pledged by the Liberal Party; Jenny Remigio, the South Australian woman who said she believed the shooting death of her husband in Manila last year was a case of mistaken identity, was yesterday charged with orchestrating his murder.

The West Australian: Taxpayers are facing the prospect of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars extra to finance next year's Rally Australia after revelations yesterday that major sponsor Telstra was yet to commit to backing the icon event in 2006; Foolhardy drunks whose dangerous antics cause car accidents which leave them severely injured are still eligible for compensation, the High Court has ruled.

The Mercury: A Salamanca pub owner has slammed the Hobart City Council over plans to fence off outdoor drinking areas, saying the draconian measure would kill off a long-standing festive tradition for Hobart; Part privatisation of Telstra is coming back to bite Tasmania as hi-tech jobs secured by former senator Brian Harradine are being cut.


Brad Hodge will not let his less than intimidating record in Perth distract him from creating the big innings on which he hopes to build a Test career, knowing the likely reward is a Boxing Day appearance at the MCG; Geelong players roundly endorsed midfielder David Johnson for entry into the leadership group for next season; The murky world of tennis gambling is back in the spotlight, with one of Victoria's largest sports betting agencies being granted protection against suspicious injury defaults in new rules to come into effect the week before the Australian Open; Andrew Bogut continues to earn rave reviews in his rookie year with Milwaukee Bucks, but the Australian faces his biggest test today when he meets the game's most dominant force, Shaquille O'Neal.
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The right don't like the word 'fascist' - wonder why!

I notice that the extreme right-wing supporters of Howard are getting flustered over my use of the word ‘fascist’ in reference to Howard. One can only wonder why! Most modern fascists will, of course, deny actually being fascists since the term is used today in a derogatory sense. Most fascists these days are in denial.

 I have explained earlier in this thread and elsewhere my reasons for labelling Howard and his supporters as such. It’s apparent that those in denial are not at all familiar with the historical evolution of mid-twentieth century fascism and how that has evolved into what I term the ‘new’ fascism, i.e., fascism without the outward trappings and overt displays of fascism but which, nonetheless, displays all the political characteristics of the early stages of classic fascism while functioning within a ‘pseudo-democracy’ and denying it is fascist.

 The more the right-wing squeal about my use of the word, the more I am convinced, based on Shakespeare’s ‘Methinks they protesteth too much’ theory, that my assertion is correct.

Damian, is there anyone else

Damian, is there anyone else on this planet who recognises this "new" Howard Fascism other than you?

If there isn't can you please drop it. My reading of Webdiary, at every turn, is your crap about "new" fascism. Something no one else has run with, despite your repeated attempts.

And now you're a historian. You are a jack of all trades.

Howard has NEVER DENIED BEING FASCIST. Do you know why he has never denied being a fascist?

Because no one, not on this whole wide world, has ever, not until you Damian pandered such an insane argument.

Can someone, please, please for the sake of all our sanity's moderate Damian and the word "fascism"?

ahhhhhhhhhhh im going mad.

Damian not alone re. fascism!

Justin Wilshaw asked: "Damian, is there anyone else on this planet who recognises this 'new' Howard Fascism other than you?"

Justin, discussion on whether we are in, or are moving towards a fascist state is now an old WD discussion topic, and has been particularly lively over the last 2-3 months. Damian is not the only protagonist of the idea - I am just one of those agree with him completely on this, but cannot be bothered repeating myself till blue in the face saying so.

One point that has been made a few times, my myself and others, is that there are objective criteria out there which allow one to assess how similar a government is in its style to regimes that are generally accepted as "fascist". Try doing a web search on "fascism" AND "14". You will find many sites that list Lawrence Britt's 14 characteristics of fascism. Here is just one.

That list has been posted on WD twice in the last two months already (once by myself, and I am pretty sure that the previous poster was not Damian), so I won't include it explicitly again unless requested to. I am very sceptical that you haven't seen it, and don't remember the discussions about it. By my count, Howard is currently scoring 13 out of 14, so the transition to fascism is a fait accompli. If you want to try and convince me that Howard does not satisfy at least 7 out of the 14 criteria, you are very welcome to do so.

My advice to fascism-deniers is simply to get real, cut the crap, and accept that the type of government that we now have is indeed called "fascist". Learn what words mean, and how to use them properly, because the rest of us have no use for your Orwellian Newspeak. The debate should now be moving on towards issues such as: given that we have a fascist government, is this a good thing, and if not, how do we achieve the transition back to non-fascism?

So, Justin, where you say: " …Do you know why he has never denied being a fascist? Because no one, not on this whole wide world, has ever, not until you Damian pandered such an insane argument"
you are telling a massive untruth, and when you demand: "Can someone, please, please for the sake of all our sanity's moderate Damian and the word 'fascism'? Ahhhhhhh I'm going mad," you are demanding suppression of speakers of the truth, and throwing a hysterical tanty for which I have not the slightest sympathy.

Pentagon trumpets Australian missile shield test

This will be the test involving the JORN Adelaide radar centre that Mr Hill was talking about a week ago.

[From today's Tiser]

The latest test in the Pacific was designed chiefly to evaluate the performance of the interceptor missile's rocket motor system and Raytheon Co-built "exoatmospheric kill vehicle", the bit designed to smash into the target warhead and pulverise it in space, MDA said.

It also successfully tested, among other things, silo support equipment, the agency said.

Last February, a ground support arm in the silo malfunctioned because of hinge corrosion caused by what MDA later said had been "salt air fog" that entered the underground silo.

Boeing said in a statement that the interceptor will be flown against a live target in subsequent tests.

The flight test yesterday validated the system's ability to track, acquire and provide the interceptor with the data for a "hit-to-kill" intercept, Chicago-based Boeing said.

All told, the United States is spending roughly $US9 billion ($11.95 billion) a year to develop a layered missile shield, including components based at sea and in space. The shield is designed to knock out the type of ocean-leaping missile that could be tipped with a nuclear, chemical or germ warhead.

Maybe it's all going over our heads. What's not going over my head is the fact that that the Australian Space Agency doesn't require any launch over a hundred vertical kilometres to file a flight plan. Every other country than Australia has defined it's extraterristrial border... Australia has too much foreign technology up there to dare define a border.

 Am I the only one who finds this US defence take over sickening?

How "Smart" is John Howard

Syd Drate, would you mind enlightening us as to which Fascist Government you  lived under? It's just that you have made this particular comment previously (without telling us how they are so different) and I would like to make the comparison between that regime and John Howard's for myself, in order to evaluate your remarks on the issue.

As to John Howard:

  • Smart?  Probably not that much above average
  • Cunning? Yes - as a sh*thouse rat 
  • Ruthless? Absolutely!
  • Psychopathic?  Maybe...

Howard's 'new' fascism

Syd Drate, since when does one need to live under a fascist regime in order to recognise one in the making? As an historian I am quite familiar with both the evolution and history of fascism. The Howard government is displaying all of the characteristics of an evolving fascist state which have striking parallels with the evolution of previous fascist regimes.

Howard’s ‘new’ fascism, however, is not as easily recognisable as the ‘old’ fascism. Howard’s ‘new’ fascism doesn’t have the trappings of the ‘old’ fascism. Gone are the black uniforms, huge flags flying in overt displays of hyper-nationalism from every government building, secret police at our rail and bus stations and at our airports demanding ‘papers please’, and massive displays of military strength. (Though I suspect some of this will begin, indeed, already has begun, to seep into Australia’s daily life as his fascism consolidates.)

Howard’s ‘new’ fascism is based on denial; denial of it being fascist, denial of it being racist, denial of it eroding our democracy via the theft of debate in our parliament, denial of our rights under law and natural justice, denial of our right to protest and dissent as his sedition laws start to bite, denial of workers’ rights to stand with their fellow workers for better pay and conditions. Howard’s ‘new’ fascism is based on fear; fear of Islam, fear of Middle Eastern and Central Asian refugees, and a fear of non-existent international ‘terrorist’ organisations. Howard’s ‘new’ fascism is based on building up an unnecessary military force armed with weapons created by awarding multi-billion dollar contracts to Australian and US big business defence interests. Howard’s ‘new’ fascism is based on lies that start wars against Islamic nations that kill their peoples by the tens of thousands and plunder their resources.

The upshot of all this, Syd Drate, is that, contrary to your assertion that I “…have no idea what it is like”, I have a very clear ‘idea’ and a complete understanding of what it is like. And I shall continue calling Howard and his ministers the fascists that they are.

Daily Briefing

Damian Lataan, will you please stop calling members of the Howard government fascist's? I have lived under a fascist government, and you have no idea what it is like.

We were lumbered with the Collins Class submarines that Beazley ordered, I assume you know how to send them back and recover our money.

I am afraid you are going to have to live with the fact that Howard will win the next election, as he is far too smart for the likes of you and the Labor frontbench.

Twelve hundred paratroopers

Twelve hundred paratroopers are being moved to Adelaide.  The paratroopers, currently based at Holsworthy in NSW (where they're building new barracks)  are being moved to Adelaide to form the Second Mechanised Battalion. The First Mechanised Battalion is at the other end of the Halliburton-controlled railway line in Darwin.

I'll put up some clippings later.

Jesus Wept.  How many pieces of the jigsaw do we need?  I refer you back to Halliburton's Adelaide.

Hicks coming Home

Its curious that the Australian government says Hicks may not be able to come home if granted British citizenship...  As far as we know to date, he retains Australian citizenship and has automatic rights of entry into the country...  For the government to suggest he may not enter is ludicrous - unless they're going to start using the ludicrous idea incited by Peter Costello that dual nationals should be asked to exercise their alternate citizenship.

The concept equates to the notion the Brits have been using of signing a Memorandum of Understanding with a third state prior to extraditing someone there.  The idea being the third state gives undertakings not to harm said deportee - and thereby, the Brits avoid the problems of British courts prohibiting the extradition on the grounds that said deportee is at imminent risk of harm if deported to said third state.

That business about dual citizens again...

Andrew Bailey mentioned "the ludicrous idea incited by Peter Costello that dual nationals should be asked to exercise their alternate citizenship." I did a search and dug out the relevant ABC news story from August. It includes some absolute gems from Costello which I quote below, with annotations.

"Federal Treasurer Peter Costello says anyone who does not accept core Australian values should leave and has hinted the Government could look at compelling some to leave."

"Core Australian values" is a very lazy piece of journalese. What are these? Getting pissed and beating the crap out of brown people? Concentrating on the footy/cricket rather than looking after your country? Obeying orders if you are a serf, and giving them if you are a panjandrum, while denying that class exists? We should be told. Spit it out.

"Mr Costello says anyone coming to Australia and those born here must accept Australian law."

Those who have come here and taken citizenship have in fact sworn to do so, unlike those born here. This puts us in a difficult situation when Parliament passes unjust, contemptible laws without due scrutiny.

Costello: "According to our Constitution, we have a secular state. Our laws are made by the Australian Parliament. If those are not your values, if you want a country which has Sharia law or a theocratic state, then Australia is not for you."

THANK YOU, Peter! So it is inappropriate for Tony Abbott or Steve Fielding to explicitly incorporate their religious beliefs into their political agenda? And laws that have been drafted in secret, and have been presented to Parliament with far too little time to read them, let alone debate them, are not legitimate? I take it that you will do something about these issues down the track?

Costello: "This is not the kind of country where you would feel comfortable if you were opposed to democracy, parliamentary law, independent courts and so I would say to people who don't feel comfortable with those values there might be other countries where they'd feel more comfortable with their own values or beliefs."

OK, Peter: it has been a few months now. Why have you still not told us which country Howard is moving to?

Costello: "Where a person has dual citizenship, it might be possible to ask them to exercise that other citizenship where they could just as easily exercise a citizenship of another country,"

I am a dual citizen who openly disagrees with the government on most of their actions and attitudes. Your threat has been noted and will not be forgotten, Peter.

The Daily Briefing - 15/12/05

I note that Australia’s fascist Defence Minister, Robert Hill, is continuing to spend outrageously large amounts of taxpayers’ money on equipment it doesn’t need – unless, of course, it is planning something for the future that they haven’t actually told Australians about yet. The purchase of heavy lift aircraft required to shift Australia’s Abrams tanks, as well as our existing ASLAVs, and troops to theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates that the Australian government has already committed itself to a long term involvement in both these countries and to long term US foreign policy – again, something it has not told the Australian people about yet. What is of real concern, however, is the government’s cock-sureness that it will still be in power by the time all this equipment comes on-line. The Howard government’s defence policies reflect the fascist nature of its governance style; offensive (as opposed to defensive) militarisation is a classic symptom of a government that has fascist aspirations. But what if the Howard government is thrown out of office at the next election and the incoming government has a completely different political agenda especially with regard to foreign policy? Will Australia then be lumbered with a whole load of military stuff that now does not reflect its new policies? Or am I assuming too much by suggesting that Howard will be thrown out at the next election? What is it then that makes Howard so sure that he is going to win the next election that he feels confident enough to spend billions of dollars of our hard-earned on a ‘defence’ force that will take years to build up? How can Howard be so sure he or his party will be around to form the next government?

Iran joins deniers

I guess we'll see more of Iran's move to raucous Holocaust denial, in The Age, tomorrow.

On the other hand, Japan continues to offend China and Korea by trying to ignore its wartime atrocities. So, in effect, Japan is a world-class denier, and promoter of its own mythology.

China is forging industrial and energy links with Iran. Iran will not lose sight of its thermonuclear destiny, despite the latest ruckus it has provoked in Europe.

It all sounds so hollow, on the back of the US denials of its renditions to torture. The Chinese, with their appalling record of state-sanctioned oppressions, must be having a quiet laugh today. The great pity is that the lies from political leaders are trampling on all of humanity. The blustering attempts to cover up (Blair and Straw), are pathetic.

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