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Christmas / New Year Break

We won't be publishing any new articles from 22 Dec through to the first week in January. Most editors are away / out of net contact, so comment publishing will also be intermittent. Have a good time doing other things (as we intend to) !

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Christmas with Trevor - Epilogue

Well Christmas with Trevor has departed to page 5 of this thread and is fast becoming for me just a pleasant memory. 

There was not much of Trevor left for the crows to pick over and there were only a few things to sort out after the clan had departed.

There was the little matter of some rather expensive repairs to the big ride on mower to be seen to. One should not let these city nephews onto such machines. At least the new gazebo survived the prang, but not so whatever it is that steers the beast, so the only way to get it back to the shed was for grandpa to kick the front wheel for twenty odd metres to aim in the right direction. He's been hobbling ever since.

It is debateable as to whether one should mention the matter of the kids' big new trampoline. It had taken a syndicate to get the thing up, directions helpfully supplied by the niece of Trevor fame, from the less than full guide that came with the thing. But it was all up by the end of the day, grandfather and son having sweated frustration from every pore, while the small fry pranced impatiently on the sidelines. There was the usual one bolt missing. A search had been mounted amidst sundry boxes to no avail, so the supplier got the blame till it turned up in grandpa's pocket late that night.

We'll blame the niece from Bleak City. Someone said she stopped reading once the thing was up, just at the point where it said anchor it securely to the ground. No one was prepared for the willy willy a day or so later. Look look! A scream from the small fry brought the lot of us to our feet and to the window. The thing was about ten feet in the air, spinning like a top. To our collective horror it headed gracefully across the yard only to land far less gracefully right on top of  the inflated pool.  

There's not been any water in the pool since and there's a pathetic heap of tangled steel nearby waiting for someone to come up with some ideas.

Ah yes, Trevor was not the only turkey around for that Christmas. Till next year......

And there is the little thing of running a country

Angela Ryan No I have not seen a lot of Australian films of late. I did though see Little Fish. I enjoyed it. I especially like the ending and the kids singing. Sam Peckinpah lives!

A new generation coming through. Australian film will come back. From the depths do ideas flourish.

Read a women today in the Age. Reckons Rudd should be Prime Minister because he quotes that oft quoted "German". If that is the benchmark we are all F@@@@@@. Bit partial to Shakespeare myself.

Yep, by the end of the year it might be time for ole Jay to move along.


Ring of truth

The NYT article was an eye-opener.  I'm prepared to take it on face value for the minute.   I'm still suspicious of it though.  The biggest ring of truth it had however was it's portrayal of a US military being painstaikingly careful of providing no opportunity to be portrayed in a bad light.

Jay, apologies, I did misquote you.  I misinterpreted "hand wringing" as a euphemism for expressing horror of the situation, then got things out of context.  I didn't intend to misinterpret.

One of these days we have to find a way to get all of us into the same room (after a thorough weapons search).


Yes, Richard Tonkin, but if we were all in the same room, who would be brave enough to pour in the Zyklon B?

We'll all go together....

With due respect, Malcolm, if we were all in the same room, who'd be on the outside to pour it in? Besides, the atmosphere would probably be sufficiently poisonous, obviating the necessity of resorting to unnatural aids.

Watch the movies for the unentertainment, see behind the screen

Now now Fi er Fiona milady, did you get out of Christmas on the wrong side?  When has there been someone on WD that didn't say something at some time that you could agree with (aside from C Parsons) (:).... well.....evolution, there he was mighty), now Malcolm always does drop one of those clangers, it's his humour, but the only way the air would be poisonous would be post Haggis, so if the wee lad promises no clangers with haggis gassin’s, then I reckon it could be fine.

Pity moi, off in a car (note, enclosed space) and teens and wee sprogs for the big capital to see Egypt from the Louvre before the Mubbys demand it all back. No haggis allowed. Nor Heinz.

Hey Jay, are you, like Will, a visitor to Oz from the wild East, and when you say go next year ,do you mean after a whole onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleventwelve months, lot's o warning? Bit OCD that. So is it back to Big apples juicing?

Ah Will, that last scene of silence in On the Beach, that genocide of all humanity.  We have so many choices now on just how to do it. I think it lacked reality though as we all know the cockies would still be scurrying.

I liked Mad Max purely because in those days Mel was yummy. Yep sad case as hinted before but that was in days before the partner of SHMBO came along. And I liked the others because the plot was clever. I just can’t resist a clever plot without cliché, and witty screenplay/dialogue even better if hilarious.

End Play was a classic Aussie.

Saw a hilarious one about Aussie indigenous with car problems. I am so glad we have stopped with the historical fiction movies although the Shiralee was sweet and maybe we can claim the Bounty. Errol Flynn was ours and so was unfortunately the real captain. I think NZ films are much more promising at present, like Whale Rider. Beautiful. My Life as a Dog is still a fave but just can’t find a way to claim it as Aussie.

Sadly have little time for movies of course.

Oh yes, a must see, V for Vendetta.

Anyway, no doubt much of what is happening today will be made by the new breed in movie world/internet movies just as Clear and Present Danger tells a tale touching past reality. And The Constant Gardner tells a present reality, as noted in the article about the drug company testing its drug on African babies when it had been banned in the EU and US for their babies due to foetal abnormalities in animal studies.

Movies often mirror reality, an expression of a story that cannot be told or is ignored until the viewing public can empathise with a movie character. It enables a collective cultural direction on certain critical areas. It is a terrific litmus test, a marker, of who is to be demonised/vilified/dehumanised for collective consumption in order to all of the most dreadful of foreign or domestic policy action that some think are essential for their nations power group. it is fascinating to study the prolific movie output of the Germans between wars and how they changed. See also Hollywood over the last 80 years, but the British were as usual the most subtle. 

I wonder why Bob Dylan was so silent about the Iraq war, after he had been so antagonistic to wars earlier. The music industry used their muscle regarding the build-up to the Iraq war. I wonder why they allowed the antiwar songs for Vietnam? These are interesting historical points to me, the differences in the actions of the powerful during different events. Maybe there was indeed a fifth column in the US that favoured the Soviets and even packed a punch locally. History is recorded two-dimensionally but it is far more fascinating when one looks at all the background movements and money and aims.

That is why I have to watch unentertaining movies that are nevertheless, fascinating.


On The Beach

... that last scene of silence in On the Beach ...

It's the next scene of silence that bothers me. I can tell you one thing though. I'll be going out laughing. The bastards will never take that.

I don't believe that

I don't believe that hanging Saddam was wrong...(altho' I'm always peeved in films when the baddie gets a quick exit.  I want him to suffer).

But, I don't believe that allowing the Iraqi government to demonstrate that democracy had changed nothing, that those in power were as vengeful and sectarian as Saddam, was in my interests.

I am reminded of the comments early in the war by such as Donald Rumsfeld along the lines of.."This war will last for 30 -100 years"..."Don't expect peace in your lifetime"., and I know that this was no mistake at all.  They don't make mistakes.

Anyone else got Halliburton shares?  Wheee - way to go.

The Long Night is Coming

Saddam’s execution convinced me that 2007 would be a year of deepening barbarism – in Iraq as in Australia and the war-mongering Anglo-sphere.

The article cited by Will Howard is plausible. It reveals the moral bankruptcy of a US unable to advocate persuasively because it supports the death penalty and the execution of Saddam in particular. The execution itself ought to warn us (again) about the emerging “government” of Iraq, and its willingness to use humiliation and terror as instruments of statecraft. Isn’t this government, particularly its Interior Ministry, responsible for death squads that have been operating inside the Iraqi Police?

It beggars belief that Australia is going to send even more troops in support of the calamitous war in Iraq. It’s a failed policy.

The war against democracy subscribed to by John Howard can’t be allowed to continue.

I’m going to get involved in organizing some kind of commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the Great War Crime of 20 March 2003.

What would be the best motif?


Bryan Law, How about ALSCUTE.

Another Labor Stunt Coming Up To Electiontime.

Moqtadr al sadr as a US puppet - the latest slogan

Roslyn Ross: "There is no independent judicial system in Iraq. There is the system set up by the puppet government which dances to the tune of the occupying power.... the US."

So, on the one hand, the Iraqi government is supposedly under the control of those Shi'ites who owe their allegiance to Moqtadr al Sadr. Yet on the other hand, the Iraqi government dances to the tune of the "occupying power" How weird is that?

What really irritates so many self-declared supporters of the so-called "resistance", of course, is that Iraq is no longer under the control of Saddam Hussein. What is especially laughable is their belated conversion to advocacy of an independent Iraqi judiciary.

What? Like those appearing in "resistance" videos of hostage beheadings? Like those in Saddam's "people's tribunals"?

Any lingering doubt that the so-called "resistance" is anything other than fascist Ba'athist militia were dispelled by the lop-sided "outrage" by Party loyalists at the former dictator's demise.

And the cheers and dancing in the streets everywhere else.

Interesting articles

Rawstory features articles from the Independent about the new oil laws being considered in Iraq.

Four articles based on a draft of an Iraqi law – crafted with help from the US government – which was leaked to the paper, detail "How the West will make a killing on Iraqi oil riches."

"Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days," Danny Fortson, Andrew Murray-Watson and Tim Webb report in the cover story.

According to the paper, the law "would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972."

"Supporters say the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs," the article continues. "After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq. But that is twice the industry average for such deals."

One of the reasons for the unprovoked war?

Saddam faced justice

Richard Tonkin  I also don't think we're being selfish in examining every mistake in this cock-up.

And neither should you feel "selfish". It is absoloutely your democratic right to question everything. And I agree that when mistakes are made by governement they should be examined. There is no argument from me Richard.

I do not believe hanging Saddam was a mistake. I believe that the video of it was a mistake. I believe the hanging and the war with Iraq are different issues. I believe linking the two together is wrong and confusing. And I believe he was given a fair trial as understood by Iraqis.

That's it from me. Saddam deserved exactly what he got.


Richard Tonkin Every Western civilation is five times as scared as it was before of bombs detonating in its city streets, and it's laughable ?

No, Richard I never said it was. What I have said repeatidly is that Bush and Howard were not to blame for this situation. It is equal to blaming Churchill, Rosevelt or even Curtin for the war. None of those leaders could have made their "people" any less scared.

Like most Germans (as we all now know) neither are most Muslims cold blooded killers. And no person of any standing (ANYWHERE) is saying that they are! Saddam WAS! Do you not see this?

This war and it does not mean just IRAQ is one of ideals and ideas. And yes we are all in it together, 99% of us. Now you may disagree with my opinion. Fair enough. However do not believe I think it a "joke" nor "laughable". I take it very seriously.

We had a disagreement once about a soldier. I stand by what I said at the time. It to me has since been worked out and (explained). And a misinterpretation is the best way to leave it. Outside of politics I am sure we would get along very well.

Richard, there is no reason to misinterpret and (misquote) me! I say exactly what I believe and let others judge for themselves.

BTW If you feel I am doing (misinterprete, quote) this to you I am more then happy for you to bring it to my attention.

Saddam my tears will not fall on his grave

Roslyn Ross "Richard:   Saddam's death, and the manner of his death, are only 'laughable' to those who appear unable to appreciate the importance of principles in our civilized world".

Don't say "those", say Jay. I was the one that used the word. And what I said was the "hand wringing was laughable".

Roslyn Ross Those who can defend a patently unfair trial, capital punishment and an execution which was totally without dignity, apart from the person who was to die, could probably defend pretty much anything and are clearly prepared to support an 'end justifies the means' and a 'might is right' world.

Spoilt, isolated and out of touch. That is what we have become as a society. Dictating now what the "worlds principles" are. Bah humbug.

Once they called it "white man's burden". Seems the term has dropped off the radar. Or at least out of understanding.

Today no doubt in a village in Sudan, Chad, Liberia, Congo etc....  There will be a massacre, likely carried out by boy and girl soldiers on other boys and girls amongst the adults. Indignation? You will not even hear about it.

Mao once ran a thing which would be known in Australia as the "cultural revolution". Millions starved to death. At the end it is said starving mothers gave their babies blood from their own bodies in forlorn hope. A few now rich, fat white spoilt brats paraded themselves around this nation holding his doctrine. Now complaining about Saddam's demise.


Nor My Tears

Mao once ran a thing which would be known in Australia as the "cultural revolution". Millions starved to death. At the end it is said starving mothers gave their babies blood from their own bodies in forlorn hope. A few now rich, fat white spoilt brats paraded themselves around this nation holding his doctrine. Now complaining about Saddam's demise.

Well put, Jay.

I wonder how many commenters on this site, crying like crocodiles over the death of a hanged tyrant, or smugly "warning" through tight sneers that Israel will not "survive" if those pesky Jews try to defend themselves this time from the fascists, ponced around waving little red books as Mao and his little gang murdered millions on the altar of eternal revolution. Or perhaps still have a cheap mass produced portrait of Uncle Joe, stored in the attic or somewhere, that swamped the world beginning at about the time of the forced famines.

Idiotic notions and conspiracy theories

Jay White: "We are now stuck with idiotic notions and conspiracy theories."

I was surprised that you said this, but I don't think that I have read a better summary of our present government. And yes, we do seem to be stuck with them.

And then we have this

Will:   You may believe that Tira's view is only that of a citizen....albeit belligerent, but in today's Sydney Morning Herald we have:

Israel has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran's uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper said today.

Citing what it said were several Israeli military sources, the paper said two Israeli air force squadrons had been training to blow up an enrichment plant in Natanz using low-yield nuclear "bunker busters".

Two other sites, a heavy water plant at Arak and a uranium conversion plant at Isfahan, would be targeted with conventional bombs, the paper said.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously last month to slap sanctions on Iran to try to stop uranium enrichment that Western powers fear could lead to making bombs. Tehran insists its plans are peaceful and says it will continue enrichment.

Israel has refused to rule out pre-emptive military action against Iran along the lines of its 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq, though many analysts believe Iran's nuclear facilities are too much for Israel to take on alone.

The newspaper said the Israeli plan envisaged conventional laser-guided bombs opening "tunnels" into the targets. Nuclear warheads would then be fired into the plant at Natanz, exploding deep underground to reduce radioactive fallout.

Israeli pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 3200-kilometre round-trip to the Iranian targets, the Sunday Times said, and three possible routes to Iran have been mapped out including one over Turkey.

All of which suggests, as I said, Israel's 'meddling' continues. Personally, my view is that if Israel 'drags' the US into a war against Iran it will be signing its own death warrant.

Given the rejection of the disaster which is the Iraq war another similar misadventure, all for the sake of Israel, is going to turn even more Americans against Bush and against Israel. Without the 'bottle feed' of US funds Israel cannot survive. Without support from the American public, who in the main are ignorant about the reality of the Israel-Palestine situation, there will be less of a 'billion dollar bottle feed' or even no billion dollar bottle feed .... hence no Israel.

I for one hope that Israel's true friends, not her frenemys, give her some wise counsel at this juncture along the lines of: Stop promoting war and start behaving yourself and do something about the Palestinian problem.

Israel is playing with fire and while the US will survive anything, well, it may not remain the power it has been but it will survive, Israel may well not survive at all.

Hanging will haunt Bush say the Indians

Excerpt: If India is a key barometer of the non-Western world, and it often is, Saddam's hanging will come to haunt George W. Bush.

Far from being "an important milestone in Iraq becoming a democracy," as he so brazenly put it, the hanging is widely seen as an occupying power's jungle justice against a tyrant whose worst crimes were committed when he was an American ally but who was condemned only after he went against his benefactors.

He was responsible for killing 1 million Iranians in the 1980-'88 war and murdering and gassing tens of thousands of his own Shiite and Kurdish populations – war crimes whose details, and with them the West's complicity, went to the grave with him.

The lesson, said an editorial in the Deccan Chronicle, the regional English daily, is that "the U.S. will not tolerate leaders who do not follow its diktat."

The hanging has been the topic of conversation in both the public and private spheres. You can't escape it in any gathering.

"The Bush administration has destroyed an ancient civilization and its ruler. If Saddam deserved the death penalty for ordering the killing of 148 Shiites, what ought to be the penalty for Mr. Bush for the deaths of 600,000 Iraqis?" asked Ram Das.

And Israeli meddling continues it seems with another match at the ready to throw into the fires of the Middle East:

Excerpt: In a stark statement published on Saturday Brigadier General Oded Tira observed, "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure."

Retired IDF officer

Though I personally disagree with Tira, he's a retired IDF officer. His opinion is his view as a private citizen and (thankfully so far) he is not expressing the official view of the Israeli Government.

Thus Tira's statements are not "meddling." (Though I think they are unnecessarily belligerent at this stage of the "game.") Hawkish as they may be, Tira's words are those any citizen in a democratic country with a free press is entitled to.

Of course it was only ever about oil

Richard:   Saddam's death, and the manner of his death, are only 'laughable' to those who appear unable to appreciate the importance of principles in our civilized world.

Those who can defend a patently unfair trial, capital punishment and an execution which was totally without dignity, apart from the person who was to die, could probably defend pretty much anything and are clearly prepared to support an 'end justifies the means' and a 'might is right' world.

We can only hope that such 'values' are in the minority although indications are that more people at this point in time are prepared to betray such principles for the sake of expediency, revenge or greed.

And because principles of rule of law, justice and civilized values were betrayed, Saddam's deification has begun, adding yet another travesty of justice to the travesties perpetrated by the US and its allies:


Beirut, Lebanon - In the week since Saddam Hussein was hanged in an execution steeped in sectarian overtones, his public image in the Arab world, formerly that of a convicted dictator, has undergone a resurgence of admiration and awe.

    On the streets, in newspapers and over the Internet, Mr. Hussein has emerged as a Sunni Arab hero who stood calm and composed as his Shiite executioners tormented and abused him.

    "No one will ever forget the way in which Saddam was executed," President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt remarked in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot published Friday and distributed by the official Egyptian news agency. "They turned him into a martyr."


 Mr. Safadi, the Jordanian editor, said: "In the public's perception Saddam was terrible, but those people were worse. That final act has really jeopardized the future of Iraq immensely. And we all know this is a blow to the moderate camp in the Arab world."

But then this illegal, immoral and unnecessary war against Iraq was only ever about oil and never about justice.

The US has been hard at work putting together a law which the Iraqis will be forced to put through which will hand over Iraq's world to the West. And 'we' wonder why they hate us.


Iraq's massive oil reserves, the third-largest in the world, are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under a controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.

The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalised in 1972.

The huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to critics who say the Iraq war was fought for oil. They point to statements such as one from Vice-President Dick Cheney, who said in 1999, while he was still chief executive of the oil services company Halliburton, that the world would need an additional 50 million barrels of oil a day by 2010. "So where is the oil going to come from?... The Middle East, with two-thirds of the world's oil and the lowest cost, is still where the prize ultimately lies," he said.

Shame, shame, shame on the US and its allies for betraying the principles upon which the democratic world stands and for endangering the future of everyone on this planet.

The world now knows that the US is a greedy tyrant, just like Saddam,  prepared to kill anyone who stands in their way, just like Saddam, prepared to trample over law and justice, just like Saddam, and those who support the US are hypocrites without conscience or integrity.

The only laughter which might be heard on that account is hysterical laughter. But mostly I suspect the only sound will be weeping.

The reality of the world

Richard the amount of hand wringing and carry on about Saddam says a lot about where we are as a society. Spoilt, isolated and out of touch with the majority of the world.

With all the terrible things going on in "most" parts of the world, Saddam is such a minor issue that it is laughable.

He deserved to be hung. Justice was done. End of story.

Laughable ?

So, four years after the non-Islamic part of the world violated a nation's sovereign rights by invading, seizing its ruler and at the very least assisting in the creation of the outcome of his execution, attention to the matter is 'laughable" ?

Every Western civilation is five times as scared as it was before of bombs detonating in its city streets, and it's laughable ?

3,000 US soldiers are dead, and a couple of hundred thousand Iraqis, who-knows-how-many have been injured.  London has been bombed.  Al Qaeda has threatened Australia.   You can't walk two blocks in Adelaide without your face being filmed twenty five times.

I'm not laughing, Jay. Whether Saddam did or didn't deserve to die, we have made a debacle of fulfilling our objective of eliminating this one man.  As a result our society has changed.

It bloody well better have been worth it.  I don't think it was.  I also don't think we're being selfish in examining every mistake in this cock-up.

If this is "end of story" then a few chapters in the middle still need writing.  Years of front pages and editorials dedicated to the cause,.  Inaccurate intelligence, misleading propaganda and massive profits by exponents of associated industries, not to mention  "poll defying" (PM Howard's words at the recent Sydney Salute To  Rupert Murdoch) ignorance of public opinion all suggest it's far from selfish to examine every aspect of how this operation was conducted.

IMHO how Saddam's death was achieved stinks from start to finish.  If we believe we're being egocentric to talk about it and shut up then we place ourselves in a position of being forced to participate in similar future scenaria.   This would be the worst atrocity of all.

You wont get answers from that person Richard

Richard "Ernest, I don't know if my knowledge of the I.R.laws is strong enough for the task.  I'll do some reading and thinking.  Have you thought about doing one yourself?  I for one would be very interested to read it".

I for one would love to know the alternatives that Labor wishes to offer.

According to Rudd changes wont effect those (high earners) that wish to negotiate but their changes will help (working Australians). What in Gods name does that all mean? What rates one as rich these days? And a asured minimum wage is already in place.

Rudd effectively is not really saying anything is going to change. The truth is he can't because it is not up to him. The market will dictate what happens in the future. Rudd can ponce around giving orders all he likes however if business does not like the enviroment it simply shuts up shop and moves. Leaving Australians without a job and the government without a tax base. Rudd would understand this.

Like I said before a cheap mans version of John Howard is all Rudd is.

Rudd is the greatest compliment paid to Howard in his ten years leading Australia. Labor sold their sole during the Hawke, Keating years. The only thing remaining is the "myth".

We are now stuck with idiotic notions and conspiracy theories. The US runs Australia....blah, blah, blah. All pretty sad in reality.


Alan Curran "Just think about it for a moment: if the Iraqis had been in charge of his confinement he would have escaped within a fortnight."

Wouldn't the ability to hold a prisoner for trial be intrinsic to the operation of an independent legal system?

If the US wanted to ensure the Iraqis had this ability then surely they could whack together an Iraqi-controlled secure detention facility in seconds.  As their contractor of choice for this kind of job (my "mates") did such a terrific job on Guantanemo no doubt the wouuld be able to provide a controlled containment environment for Saddam that the Iraqis could operate themselves?  The fact that this talent wasn't utilised  suggests that there were other reasons.

If, as you say "the Iraqis are in control of nothing" then the Coalition must be in control of everything.   I'm assuming you then agree with the hypothesis that Saddam's trial, not to mention the local legal system, are not under Iraqi control?

Ernest, I don't know if my knowledge of the I.R.laws is strong enough for the task.  I'll do some reading and thinking.  Have you thought about doing one yourself?  I for one would be very interested to read it.


One thing I forgot to mention.  Alan seems suprised that I didn't know that Saddam was being held by US forces.  I can't recall hearing or reading about this aspect at all, or I would certainly have mentioned it. I am amazed that this was transpiring during all the portrayal of an independent trial.  Why hasn't anybody brought it up before?

Now I'm wondering how many other aspects of independant Iraq are being held under such tight reigns (sic).

Alan, I understand your sentiment that the Iraqis might cock something up while looking after Saddam.  The US, after all, did such a brilliant job in Abu Ghraib that they are demonstrably much better suited to the task.

And the kiddies fly kites in the playground, all happy like

Will Howard: But did anyone ever complain about the waiting lists?

Doctor: the patient is deceased.

Relative: But he only came here with an ingrown toenail. Oh, I see.....

Yeah, a real paradise on earth, Saddam world.

What are your picks Angela?

Angela, My top five Australian picks? That is a very tough question.

I do favour what I call nation defining films, and these were plentiful in Australia through the 70's and early 80's. The truth is my picks would favour the more "male" type subjects for want of a better word. For example, Picnic at Hanging Rock was a fine film though I would never enjoy it as much as Odd Angry Shot. So a lot of it comes down to personal taste in films, rather then excellence and the like.

I would really have to think about my favourites. Usually the best test is to go back and watch them after at least ten years. If they are still enjoyed and have not dated, one is in the midst of a great film.

As we sit On the Beach

Present likes are a mix of mainly recent stuff: Cosi, On the Beach, the original (ok, ok, but in Melbourne and plenty of local actors), Strictly Ballroom, Little Fish and Lantana, The Dish (Sam is sooo cute), The Bank, the Mad (Mel)max films (pathetic I know, sad case, but even worse I love the Terminator films), Danny Deckchair, and that "thriller" with the brother killing the hitchhiker, but which brother – name escapes me at present – with the dreadful 70s sideburns.

Those are my quick think faves. Yep I unashameably watch movies for entertainment not art. Picnic I couldn't stand.

My favourite comedies just now are I am Not an Animal and Ratrace and Angry Kid. Sad really.

I saw recently a great movie from Russia about the Stalinist removal of? Tokov. Foreign films are so different to watch and you can't be sure of that happy Disney ending so beware, and the violence is different, more fleshy...

It's funny how life events stop you enjoying certain genres that you may have loved earlier. I notice the 911 event canned all the "action" and violent movies at the time; just gentle humour was the go. I can’t watch reality war movies, nor those meant to turn your emotions inside out over a story.

So that is that. Heck I forgot Gerard Depardieu. Who could ever forget that very non-Hollywood scene when he removes his brain alternative with an electric knife – see what I mean about the unpredictable fleshy violence? That sweet trilogy Jean de Florette was fine too that he did but too emotional pour moi. It is sooooo embarrassing to be sniffing away and then all the gang pointing at you and giggling. Sigh.

I like your best test. I suspect I would no longer enjoy Mad Max so I won’t watch it again. Some movies you don’t even get the first time and have to watch a few times. Suggest On the Beach. As potent then as now and as relevant.

Other Aussie film faves

I really loved Siam Sunset. Perhaps not really an Aussie movie, but set here, and infused with a very Aussie brand of black humor.

On the Beach (original) - also great. The fact that so many non-Aussies were cast as Australians takes something away from its "Aussie-ness" for me. Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire, and Anthony Perkins as Aussies? I suppose it worked in the late '50s when few moviegoers would have known what an Australian accent sounded like. What did Australians make of On the Beach when it came out in 1959?

I agree that On the Beach, Fail-safe, and Dr. Strangelove, are as relevant today (maybe more!) as they were when they came out. It's interesting that Dr. Strangelove came out the same year as Fail-Safe; the former coming across to me as a dark parody of the latter. I wonder if they were independent of each other. Or did Kubrick know about Fail-Safe?

If you like Mad Max and The Terminator, Robo-Cop is also an excellent movie in this kind of apocalyptic genre.

Plus ça change

On our way for a week in the Land of Dreams, last week, SWMBO and I were listening to Tom Lehrer in the car.  It is amazing how relevant so many of those songs, now going back decades still are: Polllution, We'll All Go Togehter When we Go, the intro commenting on Johnson's "escalatio" on the Vietnamese, MLF Lullaby, Send the Marines, and Who's Next, all of which come off the That Was The Year That Was album released in 1965.  42 years later, the wall may be down but the old enemy is raising its head once more.

For all of you futile idealists, I'm afraid the world just doesn't change.  Buckle your seatbelts for the ride.  At least our home-grown terrorists appear to be so stupid they think mobile weapons can be used to attack well-protected targets.  Perhaps our best defence is their stupidity.

Given the current state of the anti-terrorist legislation, it would probably be better if I didn't point out for them the obvious vulnerable points in the system.  Ah, give me the boy when he is seven ...

Re: Plus ça change

Malcolm, my parents had that album*, and I recently got hold of the re-mastered CD. You're right - the material is as relevant now as it was in the mid-'60s. Who's Next, National Brotherhood Week, The Vatican Rag, New Math, Lobachevsky, So Long Mom - all brilliant.

A few months ago the ABC ran the doco "Space Race" about the competition between the US and the USSR to get into space. Of course it featured Werner von Braun. As soon as he appeared all I could think of was Lehrer's song about von Braun. Then they played it!

* The fact that they had albums like Lehrer's and "MAD" magazine around the house while I was growing up made what I am today. Not to mention Dr. A.C. Diesey's shock therapy.

The inimitable Tom Lehrer

I began acquiring the CD remasters some years ago, Will, and have taken immense pleasure in introducing my daughter to the maestro. Mind you, this has meant that there's been a continuing battle over custody of the CDs (which I think I'm winning). Apart from the ones already mentioned, I adore Alma and Smut, while my daughter and I can be guaranteed to break into a chorus of Poisoning Pigeons in the Park whenever we see one of those rats of the sky.

US may not control much but ....

Richard: That's because the US may not control much in Iraq but it does control the Iraqi government.

There is no independent judicial system in Iraq. There is the system set up by the puppet government which dances to the tune of the occupying power.... the US. There are thousands of Americans in the Green Zone..... 'helping' so they say and given the rate of non-reconstruction we can only imagine they are 'helping' in all sorts of ways to ensure that the US view is conveyed clearly to Iraqi officials.

That's the tricky thing about occupation ..... those occupied are not free and those who occupy have all the power. However feeble that power may be in terms of controlling the country, they still control the government, as much as such governments can be controlled. Or at least they work hard to control the government or what amounts to 'government' in the bloody chaos which is Iraq.

Logic dictates that the US controls the Iraqi government because it is the occupying power. It controlled Saddam's trial and Saddam's handover and you can bet it controlled his execution. There may not have been military officials present but the CIA would have been there. As I have said before, given that the US is losing its war at home and in Iraq and around the world you can bet that whatever mileage they figured they could make out of their 'star card' they would have done so ...... the 'fingers' of the occupying power would have been holding tight to the final 'rope.'

I also agree that Breaker Morant was an excellent film but my favourite is Gallipoli although Love Serenade with Miranda Otto is also up there as one of the most brilliant Oz films ever made .... maybe it is the black humour I like.

Why US imprisonment for Saddam ?

The one thing I don't understand in all this if this trial and execution were totally under Iraqi control, why was Saddam being held by the US until the very eve of his death?

Surely an independent justice system would be able to maintain and operate its own confinement facilities?

I wasn't aware of the incarceration arrangements before, and the transfer evoked for me images of Pontius Pilate washing his hands.  I believe it was intended to.

I agree Richard.

The farcical "independent Iraqi" trial of Saddam Hussein, even if he was a hundred times worse than he was portrayed, was a typical U.S. show-piece of absolute crap.

Like the Howard/Ruddock Sedition legislation and the U.S. Patriot Law.

I was not aware of the U.S. "confessed" involvement either, although I guessed that they were the puppeteers from the very beginning.

It was reported about the so-called "democratic election" that, the U.S. troops who manned the polling stations (ostensibly to protect the voters) were handing out food parcels.  If that report is true, then the half of the population who apparently voted means rather little when you realise that the voters were mainly women (as shown in films) trying to feed their families. Fair dinkum.

To suggest that the vote was voluntary and democratic is ludicrous.

The U.S. has continually tried to suppress various nations throughout the world since 1945.  They failed to stop the "Menzies' communist threat" in Vietnam and gee - we are now trading with them!

But of course - that is only business.

Richard - could you or Stephen Smith write another article on the "Work or don't work" Choices.  As expected, it has gone off the radar as we approach another orchestrated Howard election and the increasing number of sackings and outsourcing of Australian jobs is so rapid that it almost matches the "fire sale" of our nation's natural wealth.

There is no truth...

Off the Radar

Ernest William, of course the "Work or don't work" Choices". has gone off the radar, it was never on the radar except in the minds of Burrows and Combet whose cushy jobs were in danger, and of course Beazley, Rudd and Gillard who were threatened by the unions if they did not tear it up. It was never a real issue with the real workers, they have never had employment figures that we have now. 

Why, what?

Richard Tonkin, are you seriously asking us to believe that you were not aware of the incarceration arrangements of Saddam? This from a person who knows so much about all things American, Halliburton, Dick Cheney etc. Just think about it for a moment: if the Iraqis had been in charge of his confinement he would have escaped within a fortnight. The Iraqis are in control of nothing: have a look at the nightly newsreels and have a look at what they are doing to their own people and their country. What other country has as many car bombs going off in a single week?


Somebody should introduce them to cricket. However I shudder to think what they would use for a ball.


Habib bin Acco: “However I shudder to think what they would use for a ball.”

O geez, Acco – you’re a bloody troubled lad.

But lashing out at the Iraqis may have been short-sighted – have either of the two Australians held prisoner in Baghdad escaped?

On the word of a DFAT “spokesotter”, both are available for consular purposes – and one is reminded that Caligula of Kirribilli has made his horse’s arse a consul, and set the poor beast strutting the known universe in fishnets, apparently to your taste, Acco m’love.

But you really should try out Sir Brendan Maelstrom MD, QC’s latest trick.

Sydney University’s sausage roll Empress has set one of his Abrams tanks to work at the annual $ummernats Learning Disabiliesfest™.

The big, dopey expensive rort machine can bee seen as part of the Maelstromesque Gap Year Army Recruitment Drive™, getting lumpen kids to sign up for Mesopotamia, just like their great grandfathers did.

And $ummernats promoters will measure them up for a tailormade bodybag, free of charge, with a $ummernats logo.

The Abrams dazzling  $ummernats technique is very much like the Maelstrom approach to Question Time – when confronted  by a puzzle of any kind, simply drop the clutch and whirl into immense smoky burnouts, showing cultural affinity with the Dervishes.

No escape there, Acco old shipmate.

Eternally yrs

XXXXX Frère Jihad Jacques OAM née Woodforde

Fair dinkum Alan.

You can almost predict my opinions, as I with you but, truly without sarcasm, your reply to Richard Tonkin was a typical "New Order" answer.

Please don't get me wrong - I found your comment inoffensive but an example of the Howard "No Answer" parliament.

Alan, the fact that your statements are so completely wrong makes the Aussie attitude of "p... off mate" a standard reply.

Whatever we both argue or believe - believe me - I like humour but not when I think that our nation is being betrayed.

A happy new year to you and yours.

Ern G. and Wife.

Breaker a fine film (must see really)

Richard Tonkin: "Jay, in the opening credits you'll see that iwas based on the stage play by Kenneth Ross, with additional material from Kit Denton's book.  Basically the courtroom scenes were the play.  Terrence Donovan starred as The Breaker."

Fair enough. Certainly I would be proud to have my name associated with that piece of work. I am sure your uncle is.

We obviously agree that it was a fine film. In fact it is my top five favourite Australian films ever. So there you go, we can agree on at least "one" thing.

Re: Breaker a Fine Film

"Breaker Morant" was one of the first Australian-made films I ever saw. It is one of my favorite films ever.

I had seen "Walkabout" when I was a kid (my mother took me to see it!) but the "Australianness" of that film did not register with me at the time.

If you like "Breaker," Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" was in many ways a similar story.

Paths Of Glory

Paths of Glory is arguably the strongest "anti-war" (for want of a better name for the genre) movie I have ever seen. Banned in France for years, it tore away a filthy bandage from a still bleeding and septic wound the sight of which delivered a cold shock to the nervous system. Those French army officers, especially that General, are within my concept of evil made worse by being so plausible.

It is one of those movies where I remember where I was and with whom when I first saw it. It was the sixties and I was still a kid and was with my grandfather. It hit me with the impact of a sledge hammer to the solar plexus.

The issues it raised are astounding considering the film was made in 1957. The nature of cowardice and heroism. The infinite despair of atheism. The persecution of the soldier selected for death because of "moral degeneracy". It was years before I understood this was a reference to homosexuality.

Top five

Hi Jay, top five? How tantalising. Was Cosi one?

We had to chose the best recently for one of the tribe heading off across the seas. ..

Love to know your choice; we may have missed a good one.


Saddam got what he deserved

By far and away the biggest suppliers of weapons to Iraq was the USSR. The US was not even in the top five.

If Saddam had of been put on trial in Europe, the suppliers of weapons would not have been a factor. It is a falsehood either deliberate or through ignorance to claim otherwise.

There are reams of information in the public sphere dealing with Iraq and weapons throughout the '70s and '80s. That any person can claim that the US in some way wished to "silence" Saddam defies logic and crediability.

Saddam was tried and executed for the murder of 148 people. An apt punishment.

Re: Saddam got what he deserved

Oh, c'mon Jay, ease up on the guy. After all: "Saddam was not all bad. ... he did good stuff too. Under Saddam, Iraq became the Arab world's most industrialized nation and a leader in women's rights, medical care, education and public projects."

And he did too. Women had just as much rights as men to be forced to watch their kids being tortured. Public projects? Heaps of 'em! Think how many palaces and monuments to himself Saddam had built. That's "good stuff": it creates jobs. Medical care? Fuggedaboudit! Saddam killed so many people he made medical care unnecessary. By killing so many children, he saved the Iraqi economy millions in education costs. Not to mention elder-care costs: those kids never grew up to be old people!

How brilliant! How efficient!

And he made Iraq the Arab world's most industrialised nation! I can't stop laughing at that one! The Arab World, which, aside from oil, has a combined GDP about equal to Spain's.

Given a few more years in power, he probably would have made the trains run on time.

Only an idealogue or a simpleton would believe

Will, the reality is, as I have said before, that none of us know anything but what we read. We must then take that information and assess it.

There is as much value assessing material found on sites like Information Clearing House, Common Dreams, Truthout, Counterpunch, Opendemocracy, New Matilda or any of the alternative news sources as there is in that found in the press. The New York Times may have more credibility than some but it is certainly not one of the most credible news sources. It is however better than anything belonging to the Murdoch stable.

The reality is that ICH, like other alternative sites, prints material published in the press, including the NYT. Do you immediately negate a story from the NYT because it appears in ICH? And if not, why not? If ICH is so disreputable then anything it publishes must be considered so, even if it has initially been published in the New York Times. Don't you think?

I have read Juan Cole from time to time and find him reasonably balanced. Clearly you do not. That is a difference of opinion.

When I quote someone, and I don't know about you, I don't categorize them as a guru so I don't know why you suggest that I do. Cole is a reasonable source of information but not the best. Paul Rogers who writes for Opendemocracy is much better I think.

Given that we are all limited by our ability to source information...... none of us are there ..... the only demonstrable evidence that we can cite is the material we find in the printed or online press and commentary. Everything else we accept on trust. We disseminate the information and form an opinion as to how much of it is likely to be true.

Is Iraq really a terrible mess? Yes, no doubt because there is so much material printed from human rights organisations and Iraqis themselves saying it is.

Is the US more likely to lie than tell the truth? Yes, because there is so much evidence that it has lied, and porkies too, super big ones that reason dictates that we err on the side of caution believing anything which comes out of official US mouths.

None of us know who is telling the truth, or how complete the truth they tell may be. That is why it is so important to read as widely as possible and to make a value judgement based on common sense and reason as to what is most likely.

I find many articles on the alternative press as biased and distorted as those I find in the general press.

None of the best of them are perfect and that includes the New Yorker, The Economist and The Spectator, to name just a few.

As to my mistrust of what the US government says. Well, again it depends upon the subject and the context. Some statements relate to issues where the US has no need to lie and there is no reason in my mind why what they say should not generally be accepted.

However, in the case of Iraq I believe, as I said, the US track record is so bad that only a committed idealogue or a simpleton could take much, if anything of what they say officially, at face value.

You said: "And you criticise people for citing Wikipedia! You referred to it as the "McDonalds" of information sources in one of your posts."

That is because Wikpedia is not subject to any established, credible, accountable editorial rigour and the others are.

One of the reasons why the alternative press is so important is because the conventional press operates on shoe strings these days and the same stories are regurgitated in all of them because they are cheaper. Every journalist knows that if you are short of staff you make the most of the press releases on hand..... and you don't check, you don't have your own people on the ground (not that it would matter in Iraq since they do not leave Little America in the Green Zone) and you do not put time and effort into investigating thoroughly those reports.

These days the best feature material is found on the alternative websites. Some of it is crap but that brings us back to the need to sift through.

Why has the US not lobbed bombs as you suggest?

Because it is trying to pretend it is a liberator. It is trying to pretend that Iraq has a sovereign government .... not that that should stop them. It is trying to pretend that it is a good guy and that the bombs are only dropped when there is no other choice. Hence the likely machinations to 'create' an environment where it will be 'necessary' to send in more troops.

Reckon Ros would haved sided with Morant?

Richard Tonkin, don't think for a minute there would not be more then a couple on here calling for Boer resistence.  A couple of generations later the great grand kiddies would be out in the streets calling for sanctions against the same people.

That is how it is Richard. History and the perception of the events for ever changing. To make arguments that Bush will be known as a war criminal for ever onwards is an impossible leap of faith. Nobody can predict the future and how events of today will be viewed in it.

The Breaker was a good book and made into a one of my favourite Australian movies. The '70s and early '80s was certainly a golden period of Australian film.

Correction on the Breaker

Jay, in the opening credits you'll see that iwas based on the stage play by Kenneth Ross, with additional material from Kit Denton's book.  Basically the courtroom scenes were the play.  Terrence Donovan starred as The Breaker.

And yes it was good, arguably one of the films that opened the US market to Australian drama.

I wonder how the Cole Commission would go on the stage.. perhaps a musical?

I am the very model of a modern foreign minister,
very even handed, being dexterous and sinister
Some people find me charming, others as a bore
I polished up the handle on Saddam's front door.
I polished up that handle so carefully
that I left no fingerprints for the Cole Inquiry 

Nope, I think I'll leave the stagecraft to Uncle Ken (and Cheney) 


The Why's are the evidence

Will:  In the case of Saddam's execution the demonstrable 'evidence' are the questions it raises:

Why did the Americans allow (or encourage) his execution on a day gauranteed to inflame Muslim rage?

Why was he executed for one of his 'minor' crimes instead of the 'major' crimes for which he had yet to go to trial?

Why was there heckling at an event which could easily have been controlled and secured if the Americans wished it to be?

Why was there video footage later made public which could easily have been prevented if the Americans had wished it to be? Why was there a second film with sound released?

Why was the name Mugtada chanted when there must be many applicable curses, much more relevant to Saddam's behaviour, which could have been chanted?

Why was Saddam buried in Tikrit therefore making it so much easier for his grave to be turned into a shrine? Anyone with half a brain could work out that it would have been better to have buried him in Yemen as his daughter requested or in Jordan where most of his family are. At least, that is if one wanted to stabilise Iraq.

All of these things could have easily been prevented by the Americans if they had wished. As we both know, given security in the green zone where he was killed, it would have been a doddle to vet everyone who went in to the execution and to ensure no phones were there for one thing.

This article presents a possible scenario which provides some 'answers' to these questions:

Excerpt: The trial and execution of Saddam raise important questions: why was he tried and executed for only one incident: ordering the 1982 killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in Dujail, (“small” as compared to other horrific atrocities committed during his reign of terror); why was he executed at such a (religiously) sensitive time; why the films were released; and finally why did the authorities allowed his body to be buried in Tikrit, his home town?

The problem with trying Saddam Hussein for really big atrocities, such as use of Chemical weapons on civilians was that many enablers of Saddam’s regime including Western companies and both Western and Middle Eastern governments would have been implicated.

But while Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were providing the money, it was the West that was supplying the weaponry and the technical assistance that enabled Saddam Hussein to carry-out some of his most horrific crimes against humanity. “The Blue prints for the construction of the first chemical warfare plant were provided by Pfaulder Corporation of Rochester, New York.” [ ] The German, French, Italian and British companies were all heavily involved in arming Saddam Hussein.

This year’s Eid Al Adhais began on 30th December, the very day that Saddam Hussein was executed.

The timing indicates that the Iraqi government was under pressure to remove Saddam from the scene before the Christian New Year. But why? Does this have something to do with the Bush’s new Iraq strategy? On its own, executing Saddam on that day did not make any sense except angering the Sunni Muslims of Iraq even more than they are already.

Filming of the execution and releasing it to the public was also a propaganda victory for Saddam Hussein. He went to his death with dignity and courage. The Sunnis, especially the Baath members will remember him for his defiance to the very end. So, why release the film in the first place? And why release the second film? This film with sound track was shot by a mobile phone. It was clear that everyone in the gallows were aware that this person was filming them. We know that everyone was there by invitation and everyone was thoroughly searched. So it was not an accident, nor the work of a freelance journalist to film and release it to the public. Both the central government and the Americans would have had to OK the release. So why was it released?

If you watch the second film you hear one of the executioners (guards) shouts the name of Muqtada Al Sadr. This film connects the execution directly to Al Sadr. It is no secret that Muqtada Al Sadr is an Arab nationalist and the one that could pose the greatest threat to the Americans.

By sending Saddam’s body to Tikrit the government and the Americans are ensuring that the Sunnis will have a nationalist shrine right at the heart of the Sunni triangle. The Baathists and the Sunni nationalist will have a shrine dedicated to what they believe was a national Hero, killed at the hand of Shi’ites and the Americans.

The farcical trial and hasty execution only achieved one thing: silencing the man that could expose the hypocrisy and complicity of both the so called moderate Arab governments and the major Western powers. 

If US attacks Al-Sadr, it is hoped, it will show Sunnis that US is attacking a hated Shi’ia that was taunting Saddam at the gallows. So far US has had an uneasy truce with Al-sadr, something that US is no longer interested in. It is evident that United States will in the near future attack Al-Sadr forces in Baghdad and will try to crush and disband his militia the Mahdi Army.

Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar lives in Norway. He is a management consultant and a contributing writer for many online journals. He's a former associate professor of Nordland University, Norway.

And as I have said before, given the track record on lying by the US why would anyone believe what they say now particularly when it flies in the face of reason?

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