Webdiary - Independent, Ethical, Accountable and Transparent
header_02 home about login header_06
sidebar-top content-top

The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

TUESDAY 18TH OCTOBER 2005          
Your round-up from today's newspapers plus the best writing, analysis, critical thinking and humour from around the world.

In today's email:
1    Melvin Laird on Vietnam and the lessons for Iraq/Foreign Affairs (3 links below)
2    Martin Kettle on getting a sensible response to terrorism/Guardian (3 links below)
3    Nick Cohen on secularist Maryam Namazie/Observer (2 links below)
4    James Harkin on Adam Phillips and Freud/FT (2 links below)
5    Ray Kurzweil & Bill Joy on the flu genome/NYTimes (5 links below)
6    Noam Chomsky the number one intellectual/Sunday Times (5 links below)
7    Kathy Brewis on painter Samuel Palmer/Sunday Times (2 links below)
8    Peter Preston on fiction vs literary fiction/Guardian
9    Song mentioning devil banned from school band/WaPo (link below)
10    IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

1 NIxon and Bush - getting out of wars
Reaction to the referendum on the Iraq constitution has been notably muted, especially by comparison with the (premature) gloating among advocates of the US-led invasion after the January 30 election for the interim Parliament. The NYTimes this morning is reporting that the vote may be called into question after some results showed unusually high turn-outs of up to 99 percent. (Shades of the old days when Saddam was running elections.) And The Washington Post, in an analysis piece by Glenn Kessler, says "publicly, administration officials hailed the result but privately some officials acknowledged that the road ahead is still very difficult, especially because Sunni Arab voters appeared to have rejected the constitution by wide margins".

Meanwhile, an essay in the respected journal Foreign Affairs (published by the Council on Foreign Relations) by Melvin Laird has attracted interest in the US. Laird was secretary of state to Richard Nixon and anyone with an interest in politics, foreign policy, Iraq or Vietnam should read this piece. It is truly one of the more significant essays in this field in a very long time. If you don't have time for the full thing, David Broder in The Washington Post has a good synopsis of it. Laird starts with a great opening line: "Richard Nixon was elected in 1968 on the assumption that he had a plan to end the Vietnam War. He didn't have any such plan, and my job as his first secretary of defense was to remedy that -- quickly." (The lies politicians tell, the world over.)

He then goes on to give a detailed account of the Vietnam War, conceding along the way that it was unnecessary (Ho Chi Minh was above all a nationalist, not a communist) and that the Gulf of Tonkin incident used as the basis for American involvement was a concoction, not unlike "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Laird holds to the questionable belief that Vietnam was winnable, and offers lessons from it for Iraq. "As was the case in Vietnam, the task in Iraq involves building a new society from the ground up. Two Vietnam experts, Jeffrey Record and W. Andrew Terrill, recently produced an exhaustive comparison of the Vietnam and Iraq wars for the Army War College. They note that in both wars, the United States sought to establish a legitimate indigenous government. In Iraq, the goal is a democratic government, whereas in Vietnam the United States would have settled for any regime that advanced our Cold War agenda. Those who call the new Iraqi government Washington's "puppet" don't know what a real puppet government is. The Iraqis are as eager to be on their own as we are to have them succeed. In Vietnam, an American, Ambassador Philip Habib, wrote the constitution in 1967. Elections were choreographed by the United States to empower corrupt, selfish men who were no more than dictators in the garb of statesmen."

2 The law, civil liberties and terrorism
The UK debate over its anti-terrorism laws often mirrors the debate here, which is to be expected given that our laws were modelled on those of Tony Blair. Martin Kettle (link below) attempts to find a middle path between civil liberty concerns and a government  he says is prone to legislate its way out of every political problem (and aren't they all. Politicians haven't seen a problem yet that another couple of hundred pages of legislation wouldn't fix.) "The result is too much legislation, poorly thought out, badly drafted and capriciously replaced when the next crisis comes along. There is another important lesson too. We are constantly told that the government is legislating because the police ask it to. But I am hearing a different, and in this context more credible account - in which No 10, not the police, takes the political initiative, with Downing Street inviting the security and police chiefs to name any legislative requirements they may have. The new terrorism bill reflects these political dynamics."

The left-leaning Independent reports that judges, lawyers and politicians oppose the bill , warning that it undermines "freedoms citizens have taken for granted for centuries and that Britain risks drifting towards a police state".

In The Observer,  A Sivanandan (Director of the Institute of Race Relations) says calls for Muslims to integrate are misplaced, and that the cause of July 7 bombings was anger over the invasion of Iraq.  "When our rulers ask us old colonials, new refugees, desperate asylum seekers - the sub-homines - to live up to British values, they are not referring to the values that they themselves exhibit, but those of the Enlightenment which they have betrayed. We, the sub-homines, in our struggle for basic human rights, not only uphold basic human values, but challenge Britain to return to them. But the greatest threat to Western values arises from globalisation and market fundamentalism, changes that affect personal morality. For the market reduces even personal relationships to a cash nexus. And the transition from welfare to market state has made corporations rather than people the priority of government, which, in turn, replaces moral values with commercial values, caring with indifference, altruism with selfishness, generosity with greed."

And this editorial in The New Republic is well worth a look for anyone interested in the "global war on terror" (hopefully it is not one of the magazine's pay-to-view articles). TNR, which supported the invasion of Iraq, but has been critical of its conduct, says George Bush's recent speech on Islamic terrorism shows that he is finally beginning to understand it better, but not that he hit on the right response. "In a war of ideas, strategic and tactical wisdom is more, not less, important than in a conventional conflict, because errors that give us a reputation for malevolence are more difficult to reverse than battlefield losses. Alas, while the president may have spoken about the enemy we face with greater sophistication than he has evinced in the past, it's not clear that his views on the appropriate uses of U.S. power have evolved at all. For that, apparently, we will have to wait for another speech."

3 Opus Dei and the secularist
The role of Opus Dei in NSW politics was given a brief airing recently following the demise of Liberal leader John Brogden, and allegations that members of the group were involved with the right-wing forces said to have brought him down. Anyone interested in that debate might be interested in Mary Kenny's New Statesman review of "Opus Dei: secrets and power inside the Catholic Church" by John Allen. Kenny says the book is favourably disposed toward Opus Dei, but provides a wealth of information about it.

On the other side of the faith divide, Iranian-born Maryam Namazie has won the National Secular Society's (NSS) first Irwin Prize for “Secularist of the Year”. Butterfly and Wheels has published her acceptance speech and a speech introducing her work.

Nick Cohen (link below) says Namazie, should be a "liberal poster girl", and perhaps would be if she didn't confront the "post-modern twaddle" that sees liberals give precedence to cultural and religious norms over human rights. "Namazie is on the right side of the great intellectual struggle of our time between incompatible versions of liberalism. One follows the fine and necessary principle of tolerance, but ends up having to tolerate the oppression of women, say, or gays in foreign cultures while opposing misogyny and homophobia in its own. (Or 'liberalism for the liberals and cannibalism for the cannibals!' as philosopher Martin Hollis elegantly described the hypocrisy of the manoeuvre.) The alternative is to support universal human rights and believe that if the oppression of women is wrong, it is wrong everywhere."

4 Talking about Freud
The revisionists have been having a field day with Sigmund Freud in the past couple of decades, helped along in no small way by the work of Jeffrey Masson, author of "The Assault on Truth". The article linked to below is a  short profile of Adam Phillips (described as a London-based psychoanalyst, a prolific author and a recognised authority on Freud) and his thoughts on the 'father of psychoanalysis' following an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. "After Phillips has finished reading, Holloway begins by asking him about his enthusiasm for Freud. Where people go wrong with Freud, says Phillips, is that they imagine his writing is an instruction book on how to live, rather than an inspiration that should evoke ideas of one’s own. He goes on to talk about the difference between hunger and s*xual desire. “By virtue of our having once been children,” he says, “our need for parents’ love is always greater than their need for us.” Later in life, this leads inevitably to a gulf between the fantasy and the reality of love. The difference between hunger and s*xual appetite is that hunger is a biological need that can be satisfied, whereas love is a desire which cannot - and should not - be fully sated."

But if you are after a more detailed discussion on Freud, then Butterfly and Wheels is the place to go. This article is a collection of letters written by Allen Esterson, Richard Warnotck and Paul Power to the magazine as they discussed Freud, Webster, Masson, the unconscious, and seduction theory.

5 The flu, its genome and preparedness
Perhaps TDB did Charles Krauthammer a disservice yesterday by sniggering at his concerns that the 'Spanish' flu genome had been published. The NYTimes has run a similar piece by Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy (link below). "The genome is essentially the design of a weapon of mass destruction. No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb, and in two ways revealing the sequence for the flu virus is even more dangerous."

Kurzweil is the inventor, "techno-visionary" and proponent of "The Singularity" who believes we can all live forever if we can stick around for the scientific know-how to be figured out; and that technology will one day outstrip human intelligence.

And while Wendy Orent (TDB yesterday) was saying there was no evidence of a flu pandemic, Britain's chief medical officer thinks one is inevitable, but unlikely to strike this northern winter (The Guardian).

And The Independent reports that the fruit star anise is central to the search for a flu cure.

6 Chomsky, the world's leading thinker
And the winner is ... Noam Chomsky. Oh my Gawd, if the right was furious at the awarding of the Nobel Peace prize to Mohamed ElBaradei as it was, and that the Nobel Prize for literature went to Harold Pinter, as it was,  just wait until word of this spreads. Two serious magazines from the centre-right of politics, Prospect (UK) and Foreign Policy, combined to run a poll to find the world's leading intellectual and Chomsky, linguist, author and activist won handsomely with almost twice as many votes as Umberto Eco in second place. Prospect has the full list of contenders and how they fared, Foreign Policy has some analysis of the voting , and The Sunday Times (link below) offers the newspaper version of events.  Jürgen Habermas, Paul Krugman, Naomi Klein and Christopher Hitchens all appear in the top 10, as does Indian economist and author Amartya Sen who is the subject of a profile in the latest Newsweek.
7 Self-portraits, Beethoven and Palmer
Painter Samuel Palmer was child prodigy, a devoted fan of William Blake, whom he knew, and he is about to be the subject of an exhibition at the British Museum. Kathy Brewis (link below) says more would be known of him if his son hadn't burned some of his work. "Palmer made a self-portrait in the same year that he met Blake. His dark eyes fix the viewer with a melancholy gaze. He was young, impressionable and — the quality that endeared him to Blake — emotional. Palmer's son Albert Herbert said: "His mouth was difficult to draw, sensitive and full of expression and feeling." Herbert had a problem with expression and feeling. So much so that, after his father's death, he read through his father's precious sketchbooks, decided they were a bit namby-pamby and burnt them."

Another London exhibition, this time at the National Portrait Gallery, causes AS Byatt to reflect upon self-portraits. "It is hard to imagine how we construed our own faces before there were mirrors. Narcissus gazing into the liquid meniscus cannot really have met the eye of his phantom. Balzac describes a fairground hoax where punters are promised a vision of what God himself cannot see - and find their own resemblance in a huge looking glass. Sylvia Plath's Mirror sees the glass as "silver and exact", but also as a terrible version of Narcissus's pool."

And in what is undoubtedly the best essay of the three, Edmund Morris is exultant at the discovery of a Beethoven manuscript and expects that artists of the internet age will not leave such wonders for future  generations. "The newly discovered manuscript - an 80-page piano version of his famous "Grosse Fuge" for string quartet, Op. 133 - dates from 1826, the last full year of Beethoven's life. It is reported to be typically three-dimensional, with erasures worn into holes, and a large patch of rewritten music spackled onto one page with sealing wax. Since the "Grosse Fuge" is the single most pugnacious movement in Beethoven - 15 minutes of furious contrapuntal combat, adored by Stravinsky - what we will be seeing at Sotheby's promises to be as much an artifact as an autograph."

8 Don't judge a book by its genre
Peter Preston has obviously listened in as Ian Rankin and PD James spoke at the Cheltenham Festival, chewing over a favourite talking point in bookish circles - what separates popular fiction from literature and why doesn't crime fiction, for example, carry off awards like the Booker. Preston thinks it is time some of the walls in the world of literature came down. "Some major art forms, after all, have no hang-ups about genres. Any tolerable list of great movies would have John Ford's The Searchers in there somewhere, not to mention Howard Hawks's The Big Sleep and Ford Coppola's three Godfathers. That is a western, a private eye thriller and a gangster saga - genres immemorial. Choosing them wouldn't preclude other, wholly different choices, to be sure: a Truffaut, Fassbinder or Wajda. But the list itself would be catholic and generous, not narrowly restrictive."
9 The devil, the marching band and the tangled web
A couple of reports that might convince you that the world is going mad at a faster than usual rate. A school marching band was banned from playing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band after a complaint that it breached the separation of church and state. (link below)

And oh what an expensive tangled web. The Times reports on a London couple who are now up for a total of £11,000 in fines and costs, with an investigation by their professional body to come, after they concocted an elaborate scheme to avoid two £60 speeding fines. They tried to convince police the fines were incurred by a ficticious Bulgarian friend "Konstantin Koscov".

10 IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

The Falconio trial dominates the papers (put an attractive woman in the outback and a run of the mill murder trial sends the nation batty - after Mary's boy child yesterday, this is becoming a depressing week.) The Fairfax papers give the impression of having given up on news altogether, leading on the angle that Bradley John Murdoch's murder trial in Darwin has heard that Joanne Lees made plans to split temporarily with her boyfriend only days before he disappeared on a Northern Territory highway four years ago. (She had an affair doncha know? Newspapers - 365 chances every year, give or take, to have your intelligence insulted.) At least The Australian's lead takes a news angle, reporting that DNA belonging to the man accused of killing British backpacker Peter Falconio has been linked to cable used to bind his girlfriend Joanne Lees, a blood stain on her shirt and the gearstick on their Kombi van.

The Australian also reports that Labor is pushing for a review of tax breaks offered to doctors, lawyers and other professionals after Treasury figures showed scrapping work-related expenses would see a huge boost to revenue that could be used to fund income tax cuts; and that top marks in cooking and dance could help West Australian students into university law degrees, ahead of those who studied physics and chemistry (this story has hobby-horse written all over it, another in The Australian's conservative education agenda perhaps).

The Age leads with a warning from Barry Jones that Labor is doomed to fail at the next federal election unless it undertakes major structural reform. The paper also reports that any proposed investment in an Australian uranium mine by a sovereign state such as China would face tougher than normal scrutiny; that bosses could refuse requests to let staff work part-time while raising children and may prevent both parents from sharing the first two weeks with a newborn under the new workplace regime; and that Premier Steve Bracks is facing internal dissent for accepting the Howard Government's proposed anti-terror laws before seeing a draft of the bill.

The Herald reports that Sydney Catholic authorities will set performance targets for 63,000 students in a move to raise academic standards across their school network; that scientists have developed two new ways of obtaining stem cells that do not involve the destruction of a healthy embryo; and that Sydney Anglicans plan to offer refuge to dissidents of rival churches in a move critics warn would poison its relationships with the wider church, trigger legal injunctions and threaten the position of the archbishop.

Dana Vale seems intent on confirming beyond doubt her reputation as the country's biggest political dill with a plan to replicate the entire Gallipoli battlefield, just 90 minutes' drive from Melbourne. Apparently the physical similarity between the end of Mornington Peninsula, in Victoria, and Anzac Cove, in Turkey, is "uncanny", but there is no indication as to whether Disney Gallipoli stalls will sell souvenir shrapnel. And don't miss the Wilcox cartoon.

A pair of Tasmanian devils are to be deported to Denmark to be the playthings of a certain baby; for the generation of family men who were breadwinners and disciplinarians, old age can bring a new and unexpected role - as cook, cleaner, shopper and carer; and teenage girls are more angst-ridden than boys.

And if that lot is not depressing enough, a study has found that the average person gets 16 hours of orgasmic pleasure in a lifetime, but sits in traffic jams for six months and spends nine months washing and ironing. (And then you die.) On that cheery note, let's see what the country's best thinkers and writers, supposedly, would have us believe.


The Age: Tim Colebatch explains why he thinks the proposed IR changes are so one-sided and unfair to workers that it is the sort of legislation that costs governments elections; Tony Parkinson says China has a patchy record on non-proliferation and that in a sellers market for energy, Australia should set take it or leave conditions on energy sales; Greg Barns is concerned that so much attention is paid to Princess Mary "whose only claim to public fame is that they have married into the European aristocracy"; and Melinda Tankard Reist says the Victorian Government is right to provide counselling and a cooling-off period for women considering late-term abortion.

The Australian: Steve Lewis applauds Jon Stanhope for publishing the draft of the proposed anti-terror laws as a way to ensure public scrutiny when "executive government (is) behaving arrogantly and with unfettered control over the legislative process"; Neil James thinks that "unfounded allegations that the new (anti-terrorism) measures are unjustified should stop" because we are under attack from Islamist extremists (like Gerard Henderson below it seems we should all shut up because the government knows best - why do these people hate our democratic way of life?); Phillip Adams gives his take on recent US political events and says "the Bush experiment has failed"; and Tim Hames (The Times) says the Iraq referendum was a triumph and that the coalition of the willing should stay the course.

The SMH: Gerard Henderson repeats his by now familiar rant about how intellectuals (starting with David Williamson) are alienated from what presumably is a perfectly wonderful society that nobody should complain about (how does this bloke get away with being considered one of Australia's leading public thinkers?); Lousie Dodson explains how the introduction of anti-terrorism laws became much harder after they were made publicly available by the ACT government; Alan Dershowitz thinks everything is now in place for peace in the Middle East and that history is on the side of the pragmatists (an edited version of the introduction to his book "The Case for Peace"); and Rachel Hills looks at raunch culture, reality television and Princess Mary to describe a culture in which young women perform rather than live.


The Herald's lead reports that Qantas's plans to hive off a large chunk of its international operations to its low-cost Jetstar franchise are well advanced, with the airline looking to launch Jetstar flights from Australia to South-East Asia, China and possibly Japan in the second half of next year. The paper also reports that a new syndrome has hit financial markets in recent weeks: it is known as Macquarie fatigue; and that Vodafone Australia confirmed yesterday that its next-generation (3G) mobile service will be available in time for the busy Christmas period.

The lead in The Australian says that Toll Holdings executive director Mark Rowsthorn has refused to step down from the board of Pacific National, Toll's rail joint venture with Patrick Corp, over claims he threatened and intimidated PN chief executive Stephen O'Donnell. The paper also reports that Telstra will buy its mobile phones exclusively through a Miami-based company whose owner has business connections to Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo, in an effort to save at least $50 million each year; and that Lion Nathan is in for the long haul in its bid to take over Coopers brewing.

The Age reports that Victorian tourism operators have become the victims of rising petrol prices as the inflationary fallout spreads throughout the economy; that the Business Council claims businesses face the developed world's third-highest company tax, threatening international competitiveness and prospects for economic growth and that fund managers that invest in Australian shares continue to struggle to outperform the benchmark indices, raising fresh concerns about their high fees.

Stephen Bartholomeusz says the commitment the Federal Government and the states and territories made to the National Competition Policy a decade ago has played a major role in the remarkable period of economic growth; and Bryan Frith thinks the Takeovers Panel is again in difficulties in relation to the Austral Coal takeover saga, this time over the length of time it is taking on a hearing.


The Daily Telegraph: Joanne Lees cowered under a bush like "a rabbit" for five hours after her boyfriend Peter Falconio was shot beside a highway, a court has heard; A drunked pedestrian who swore at police on a busy city street has had a charge of offensive behaviour dismissed because Sydney magistrate Pat O'Shane believes there are no longer "community standards" in relation to such behaviour.

The Herald-Sun:  The mechanic accused of killing backpacker Peter Falconio left a blood smudge on the T-shirt of his alleged victim's girlfriend, a court heard in Darwin yesterday; Joe Korp has been secretly laid to rest at his notorious Mickleham property.

The Courier-Mail: Evidence from beyond the grave has come back to haunt Gold Coast deputy mayor David Power at the Crime and Misconduct Commission inquiry into allegations of electoral corruption; The Brisbane City Council has been heavily criticised by the state Auditor-General for failing to follow its own purchasing guidelines or obtain competitive quotes.

The Advertiser: Taxpayers are subsidising food and drink for MPs at Parliament House at a cost of more than $890,000 a year; Women are working triple shifts in an effort to keep up with an ageing population - caring for elderly parents, while raising their own children and bringing in a wage.

The West Australian: Unemployed people who refuse job offers which exclude overtime rates, meal breaks or other existing award conditions will lose their dole payments under John Howard's new industrial regime; The spotlight in the Bob Kucera shares affair fell on Deputy Premier Eric Ripper yesterday over his claim that he did nothing to pursue questions surrounding a possible conflict of interest between the former minister's share holdings and sensitive Cabinet meetings.

The Mercury: A young woman with severe epilepsy died after being left alone in a bath at a Hobart respite centre, an inquest heard yesterday; Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik cancelled a planned speech at a conference last night as his wife Princess Mary and newborn son prepared to go home to their castle.


Australia could be about to spin back the hands of time, to the recent past and to the sepia-toned era of Bill O'Reilly and Clarrie Grimmett - by giving Stuart MacGill an extended run alongside Shane Warne in its Test team; In all likelihood, this is the end of the World XI as we know it; Parramatta chief executive Denis Fitzgerald will write to the Australian Rugby League demanding representative teams follow cricket's lead by appointing a panel of medical specialists to determine the fitness of players following the controversial recall of Nathan Hindmarsh to the Tri-Nations squad.

[ category: ]

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

How about the Dana from-the-kitchen-view-bad-taste award for the Gallipoli theme park proposal. Really.

The Age's coverage of the call for lower business taxes, echoing Morgan's previous demand immediately after the election to john Howard and using twisting of statistics in a rather demeaning manner:
"The report says that although Australia's 30 per cent company tax rate is roughly comparable to the OECD average, the true burden should be measured by the amount of revenue collected relative to GDP."- Why? That only reflects the total business profits not any one companies tax burdern, twist twist-"

Council president Hugh Morgan said Australia's corporate burden was high because the Government levied a broader base of taxes on companies and allowed fewer concessions than other countries....""...It warns that Australia's labour productivity — measured by GDP per hour worked — is in the bottom half of 30 OECD nations and well behind super-efficient producers such as Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands and the US."

Because Australian workers are now being criticised by Morgan for being one of the longest working group of workers, much of which was reported as being unpaid. Thus the equation dollars profit divided by hours worked is reduced. One would be interested in the equation gross profits of company divided by cost of workforce and then compare that to a Scandinavian country as he wishes to choose such for other comparisons. the personal total tax rate in such countries is higher too. Really Mr Morgan, I hope he has a better understanding of statistics for the running of his business or time to sell my shares there.
I would be interested in seeing someone like Dee Bayliss comment upon this as she has demonstrated a good understanding of such on other topics.

This reminds me of the manipulation of data used in the abortion debate. Both the questionnaire asked by the Christian college "research" about 6months ago ,the breast cancer statistics being twisted as antiabortion 'data'-a farce by another pseudo scientific group- and the Papal policy adherent Health Minister's twisting of data. Still our Health minister is quoting some ridiculous number of abortions as fact when the actual number is unknown as only recorded in South Australia. Still he talks of ridiculous means of reducing the number, paying money for weeks pregnant, as if money was involved as the crucial factor, that would make all abortions so decided illegal anyway. Also what of the women unfortunate enough to have a miscarriage? Added punch. that man fails to accept the prevention of unwanted pregnancy is a critical factor, but this would be against his religious dogma, to apply safe and easily accessed ,EFFECTIVE, contraception. Hypocrite.

thanks for the ventilation, hypocrites and liars are bad enough but when they creep into positions of power and inch their way to impose their ideology upon normal Australians we need to be vigilant.
Whether they be business ideologues or religious.

Just a point on the appointment of the new New Zealand Foreign Minister, who will not be a member of Cabinet, but whose votes are needed for Helen Clarke’s government. He actually demanded that position. Quite an interesting point considering his outspoken views regarding ethnic groups, a bit like Pauline getting the job here.


re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

In Financial Review Alan Stockdale, Victoria's treasurer under Jeff Kennett ('92-'99), said, in (Steering Victoria out of crisis):

"One of the most important things a government has to do is care for those who cannot care for themselves and educate the next
generation of children. What gave me the biggest buzz were the improvements in the education system. The state economy and finances are important
because they underpin those efforts."

Also in the Fin, from Beazley seeks TV debate:

"Quite frankly, it's that sort of challenge, it's those sort of issues, which as an opposition leader, I ought to be ... acting

No need to wonder, frankly, why Barry Jones is worried.

re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

Regarding the article on the high school band being forbidden to play the Charlie Daniels song, I'm totally for the banning of the song "Devil Went Down To Georgia" altogether. As a fiddle player requests for the thing are the bane of my existance.

Daddy, who is a banjo player, would like to add the tune from "Deliverance" to the "forbidden" list for similar reasons.

The world is still getting stranger...

re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

Any comment on our Dubbo business man and his past visa exploits, business bad luck and present international accusation against him, and his "freedom fighting" contacts and financial links? Looks a bit like a big fish in a little pond.

re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

Hear hear to Peter Preston (Guardian, per literary snobbery)! Booker and the like need to 'get with the program'!

re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05


Or, for all that, a peace with honourable withdrawal, over time, as the strategic indicators were appropriate, to the earthquake horrors of Kashmir, Afghanistan AND Pakistan.

Millions without warmth, shelter, fuel, food and water, medical help... the list goes on.

People, in freezing weather, some terribly injured, are eating leaves and grass, as in the Potato Famine or Africa.

They have no buildings in many places.

But the Islamic world sees us - “the West” - waging war on their fellow faithful with an earthquake of bombs and missiles.

And any TV screen in any Muslim home can offer families innumerable images of the G-8 countries’ marketing largesse.

Meanwhile some dickhead somewhere will be hassling girls for their headdresses or blokes because they pray during the day but don’t come back from the pub pissed as farts after lunch.

Is this how Australians combat Osama’s stuff?

ANZAC engineers and medical teams in a single day’s work there would PISS on Howard and Bush’s entire evil War on Terror crusade for oil.

Especially if the ANZACs had a uniformed Urdu- or Arabic-speaking Imam officer with the troops to secure the spiritual duties of people who’ve lost their priests in this devastation.

Peter Islamabad, Kabul and Srinagar calling Woodforde.

re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05



Melvin Laird’s colourful remarks might benefit from a table of Vietnam war “allies” departures from the field. There were quite a few. And about 50,000 US casualties with a lot of blokes injured, many very badly.

Australia, under Billy McMahon, had basically cut and run well before the US defeat in 1975, as it had done at Gallipoli with the British Empire defeat (Turkey, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany were later defeated in other fields of war outside the Dardanelles).

But the comparable Iraq table is fascinating for the sort of display mode displayed by Bush allies. And the spread of Dubya’s mates, and the no-so matey.


Source: Non-US forces in Iraq

Fiji * 150 150
Hungary *** 0 Withdrew troops: Late-Dec. 2004 150 mid-2005
Nicaragua 0 Withdrew troops: Feb. 2004
Spain 0 Withdrew troops: Late-Apr. 2004
Dominican Republic 0 Withdrew troops: Early-May. 2004
Honduras 0 Withdrew troops: Late-May. 2004
Philippines 0 Withdrew troops: mid-Jul. 2004
Thailand 0 Withdrew troops: Late-Aug. 2004
N Zealand 0 Withdrew troops: Late-Sep. 2004
Tonga 0 Withdrew troops: mid-Dec. 2004
Portugal 0 Withdrew troops: mid-Feb. 2005
Moldova 0 Withdrew troops: Feb. 2005
Singapore** 0 0 0

* Fiji's troop contingent is deployed as part of UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI)
** Singapore's token contribution was a landing ship tank deployed to the Persian Gulf which arrived home on March 19, 2005
*** [Hungary] As part of NATO Training Force

But there are no ready records detailing rotation of the large numbers of NZ, Australian, other Pacific Islander with Northern Hemisphere servicemen “on leave,” working as mercenary, “security personnel”, some on anything between $200,000-$300,000/a.

Handily for the US HQ in Iraq, the mercenaries appear not subject to respective national military regulation etc, but only to the market.

Would it be possible to do “peace with honour?”

Hpw about a “strategic withdrawal” to Afghanistan, seat of the original “War on Terror.”

Slipstreaming, as at Gallipoli, the Kiwis or the Germans (they’re the good guys now) or anybody else with decent military capacity?

And who had kept their noses clean, especially IN the treatment of prisoners?

Ya do the Hokey-Pokey
and Ya turn around


re: The Daily Briefing 18/10/05

To Peter Woodforde on Kashmir.

One of the real separations between Islam and West, maybe more important than religious observances, is systems of finance. (See Sharing Shari’a and 'No interest' gains interest with British Muslims.) Shari'a law forbids usury (collection of interest on loans) and I suspect many Muslims would suffer, rather than accept aid that relies on a system that is perceived to be unfair and unjust. It could be that our notions of 'investing for the (our own) future' are setting the scene for a kind of judgment. It would be nteresting to know about the relative usefulness of aid to Kashmir, from different sources.

It's pretty obvious that a large slab of humanity (the
experts say one-sixth
) is below the bar, and will keep sinking. The middle two-thirds are flat out trying to make it to western standards (including lifestyle afflictions like coronary disease), so it's up to the people in the top one-sixth to speak out for the least. The
Darwinian Right is inclined to apply the rule of survival of the fittest, through competition, so bad luck if you get left behind. The duty of the Socialist Left, then, is to find justification to divert resources into salvage of those who are too weak to help themselves.

In principle, there isn't much between efforts to dig kids out from under collapsed buildings, and support for government schools.

Labor is working itself into in a trap of conflict. The temptation is to stop struggling, keep quiet, and the noose won't tighten so quickly. To me, the solution is so obvious - commit to linking and guarding the stepping-stones that enable kids from the poorest circumstances to achieve great things for humanity. The corporations and markets are big enough to look after themselves. Of course, Labor governments have to work well with business. But it's pathetic to see Labor MPs making careers out of pissing in pockets.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
© 2006 - 2008, Webdiary Pty Ltd
Disclaimer: This site is home to many debates, and the views expressed on this site are not necessarily those of Webdiary Pty Ltd.
Contributors submit comments on their own responsibility: if you believe that a comment is incorrect or offensive in any way,
please submit a comment to that effect and we will make corrections or deletions as necessary.

Margo Kingston

Margo Kingston Photo © Elaine Campaner