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The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

MONDAY 24TH 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    Chas Savage makes a seditious call for revolt/Age
2    Bernard Crick wants a humanist-religious alliance/The Guardian (2 links below)
3    Misleading editorial on US politics/Australian (5 links below)
4    Byron Calame on the failings of Miller and the Times/NYTimes (3 links below)
5    Maureen Dowd criticises her colleague Judith Miller/NYTimes
6    Rami Khouri on the UN report into the Hariri assassination/Daily Star (2 links below)
7    Rory Stewart on what is emerging from democracy in Iraq/Prospect
8    Robin Blackburn and Oliver Kamm debate Chomsky/Prospect (link below)
9    Christopher Caldwell worries about humanity in a virtual world/NYTimes
10    Report on the rise of the anti-consumerism 'Puritans'/Observer
11    Columnist only discusses the placement of 'only'/Boston Globe
12    IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

1 You want sedition? I'll give you sedition
In the great tradition of "J'Accuse" and the activist writers down through the centuries who have advanced personal liberty, freelance writer Chas Savage rebels against the section on sedition in the proposed anti-terrorism laws. "I openly urge disaffection with the Government of the Commonwealth. Its leaders behave with the morality of the gangster. They are shameless in their pursuit of their own self-interest and in the efforts they make to maintain their control on power. They plunder the public purse to benefit their own careers and to maintain their own grip on power. They reward incompetence and cruelty; they themselves behave incompetently and cruelly."
2 Religion, humanism and the law
There is a lot of rebellion and sedition in the popular press this morning. In the UK, the contentious Racial and Religious Hatred Bill, which threatens a seven year jail sentence for anyone found guilty of being "insulting or abusive" toward any religion, is before the Lords this week. The Sunday Times interviews Rowan Atkinson, an outspoken opponent of the law, who is considering defying it. "Atkinson says that unlike "root and branch" opponents he would settle for an amendment on Tuesday: this would still allow one to "abuse" and "insult" religions as long as one wasn't "threatening" the faithful. It seems a sensible compromise. For otherwise, as Atkinson says, pretty well anything in danger of being thought funny or rude could be deemed illegal, such as the old Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch that showed a mosque of praying Muslims as a newscaster intoned: "The hunt continues for the ayatollah's contact lenses.""

In the same paper, Christopher Hart is also deliberately disrespectful of the proposed laws. "Judaism tells us in its most sacred text, the Torah, that a donkey once turned round and started an argument with its master (Numbers, chapter 22); and that the supreme creator took time out to instruct his chosen people not to carry dead badgers, pelicans, hoopoes or bats (Leviticus, chapter 11). Christianity, while accepting these texts as sacred, further believes that God manifested himself on earth in the form of an excitable and frequently ill-tempered 1st-century Jewish rabbi called Joshua ("Jesus" in Greek) who disowned his family and believed that the world was soon going to end."

And in The Guardian, Bernard Crick says that in an age of fundamentalism, humanists and relgious moderates should be friends. "We humanists do not need to mute our intellectual criticism of religion, but for social and political purposes we should work with those who can be the most effective combatants against fanaticism. To work with those of other beliefs implies, of course, tact and courtesy to mute immediate criticism of what for the time and purpose at hand are irrelevancies. It is historically and psychologically foolish for secularists to believe that criticism of all religious belief is an effective way of combating violent fanaticism. We too can spend too much time preaching to the converted. And we do, up to a point, have a lot in common with most believers."

3 A tale of two newspapers, take one
Having spent a lot of time last week buried deep in US politics, the Australian's editorial on Saturday (link below), was a startling read. One obvious question is to wonder why any Australian newspaper might see the need to make George Bush the subject of its lead editorial, especially when it has not followed unfolding events, or the debate surrounding them, in any great depth. But then, The Australian has long championed the Bush cause (as it has every right to do) with a fervour rarely found outside the most faithful of conservative US journals, so perhaps it should not have come as a surprise that it should try to put the best spin on the situation the POTUS finds himself in. But the real shock was in the blatantly misleading version of events the paper gave.

Some examples: Bush was not "scapegoat-in-chief" following Hurricane Katrina -  the buck, after all, stops with the president. And Bush appointed "you're doing a heck of a job Brownie" Michael Brown to head FEMA, who failed (and was removed); Bush oversaw the creation of the Homeland Security Department, which failed; Bush personally failed to respond early enough by cutting short his holidays. "Mr Bush is suffering by association as some of his most senior allies" the paper says, as if he did not appoint them, champion them and/or work closely with them. The Australian gives a weight to petrol prices  as a cause for Bush's unpopularity even though they have barely registered on the US media radar as an issue for weeks; and even though Bush has for years ignored calls from across the political spectrum to cut energy consumption and to diversify into other energy sources.

And then, as the paper says, "there is Iraq" - which Bush pushed over the objections of the foreign policy establishment in Washington, attempted to do on the cheap with too few troops and without adequate post-invasion plan, and allowed the use of "harsher than usual treatment" that has created the torture and abuse scandals feeding resentment of the occupation, and for the US more generally. To suggest that opposition to the invasion came only from "people who would have preferred to leave the dictator in power" is nonsense on stilts - it was opposed by a long list of foreign policy "realists" (Owen Harries to name but one) in the US and elsewhere. Some of the most strident critics of Bush over Iraq in recent times have come from neo-conservatives and othes conservatives (for example, TDB recently linked to a critique by Danielle Pletka from neo-con central, the American Enterprise Institute).

There is more, much more nonsense, in this short editorial. And none of this is a partisan interpretation - these are the facts of the matter, all but universally accepted as such in the US. Perhaps the paper genuinely does not understand what is happening, in which case it is incompetent. Perhaps it is deliberately dishonest about events because it no longer wishes to be a newspaper, but has become a neo-con propaganda pamphlet or Bush fan-zine. It which case, it should have the courage to say so to its readers. Either way, on the evidence of this editorial, readers should approach everything written in The Australian with more than the usual caution. (A good sample of TDB's coverage of Bush and US politics last week can be found here.)


And then there is Kevin Donnelly, conservative education activist. Just what is Donnelly's position with the paper - is he now on its payroll? Each Saturday for the past two weeks, Donnelly has been given space in Inquirer to push his right-wing agenda in pieces that were listed under "Features" on the paper's website. Features, as in normally written by journalists, honestly attempting to give a full explanation of a particular situation. As well, Donnelly is almost part of the opinion page furniture and was recently quoted (lovingly) in a news story leak of an education report which Donnelly wrote for Brendan Nelson.

So, does Donnelly get paid for all of these features and/or columns he writes, as a freelancer, or does he do it for the love of pushing his (and The Australian's) barrow. Here's a test you can try at home. Pick a favourite hobby-horse, contact The Australian, announce that you'll write a report about it (which you leak to them) and that you would then like to write three or four opinion pieces and a couple of features about it. At going freelance rates, of course. And just see how far you get.

This is corrupt journalism, pure, simple and unadulterated. This is social engineering dressed up as journalism. But do not hold your breath waiting for journalists to protest the damage that is being done to their profession.

4 A tale of two newspapers, take two
No Australian newspaper has a public editor, more is the pity. Byron Calame holds that position for the NYTimes and like Daniel Okrent before him, takes his role as a readers' representative, or ombudsman, seriously. On Friday, TDB linked to the Public Editor's Web Journal, which Calame has used to give a running account of the Judith Miller-Plamegate  affair. (For those who have not been following it, there was a full account in Friday's first edition, which is available here. Alternatively, Andrew Sullivan's column gives a good summary of events as it points to the dire possibilities the affair holds for the Bush administration.)

In the short-term, Calame's column for yesterday's NYTimes (link below) will cause the paper some discomfort, but hopefully, in the longer term, it will help build and/or restore (depending on your point of view) its credibility. As a journalist and regular Times' reader it is a journey into genuine newsroom transparency. "But the article and Ms. Miller's account also uncovered new information that suggested the journalistic practices of Ms. Miller and Times editors were more flawed than I had feared. The Times must now face up to three major concerns raised by the leak investigation: First, the tendency by top editors to move cautiously to correct problems about prewar coverage. Second, the journalistic shortcuts taken by Ms. Miller. And third, the deferential treatment of Ms. Miller by editors who failed to dig into problems before they became a mess."

One line from Calame's column below that particularly stood out given The Australian's conduct outlined above, was this one: "It is the duty of the paper to be straight with its readers, and whatever the management reason was for not doing so, the readers didn't get a fair shake."

5 The trouble with Judy
It is difficult to see how Judith Miller can hold her job with the NYTimes, given what  Brian Calame has had to say, above. But even before the Public Editor got to Miller, her colleague Maureen Dowd had let rip in a column that begins, "I have always liked Judy Miller" and leaves you wondering what she may have written if she had disliked her. "Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands." (And again, can you imagine a column like this appearing in any Australian newspaper - they are all too inclined to protect reporters, even if that is to the detriment of readers and, at times, the paper's credibility.)
6 Arab governments and the Hariri report
The UN (which is undoubtedly in need of some reform) takes a dreadful beating from conservatives - notably in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. Yet, TDB has yet to notice one of those critics conceding that UN weapons inspectors under Hans Blix got it absolutely right on weapons of mass destruction. It will be interesting to see their response to Detlev Mehlis's investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri now that George Bush has embraced the report and used it to call for Security Council action against Syria. (Or is the UN only useless and moribund when it won't do what the US wants it to do?) The NYTimes carries a summary of the report, with a link to the complete document (pdf file).

In his take on the report, respected Middle East analyst Rami Khouri (link below), perhaps pointedly, makes no reference to the US. Instead he argues that it poses a challenge to Syria to respond "rationally", and that it provides an opportunity for local activists, with support from the international community, to end the "debilitating tradition of security-run Arab regimes". "More significant in the long run is the example for the rest of the Arab world of bringing under control the Syrian-Lebanese security services. The most important question to be answered in this respect is whether indigenous Arab political and legal forces will be able to harness the credibility, power and courage to continue challenging and taming the modern Arab security state, now that the combination of mass Lebanese citizen activism and legitimate international intervention have paved the way for this historic possibility."

7 The face of democracy in Iraq
Rory Stewart was the coalition deputy governor of Maysan and Dhi Qar, two provinces in the Marsh Arab region of southern Iraq, from August 2003 until June 2004. He recently returned and gives a detailed description of the society that is emerging under the watch of the Coalition of the Willing. "This is not the kind of state the coalition had hoped to create. During 14 months of direct rule, until the middle of last year, we tried to prevent it from emerging. We refused to allow Shari'a law to be "the source of legislation" in the constitution. We invested in religious minorities and women's centres; supported rural areas and tribal groups; funded NGOs and created "representative bodies" that were intended to reflect a vision of Iraq as a tolerant, modern society. We hoped that we had created the opportunity for civil society to flourish. This was a dream we shared with many Iraqis. We refused to deal with the Sadr militia and fought a long counter- insurgency campaign against them. Then we left, an election was held and the dream collapsed-the Islamist parties took almost all the seats provincially and nationally. The rural sheikhs, the "liberal" middle classes and the religious minorities mostly vanished from the government."
8 Chomsky, for and against
As noted the other day, Noam Chomsky has been voted the world's most important intellectual by readers of Prospect and Foreign Policy magazines. In the latest edition of Prospect (link below), it calls on Robin Blackburn (for) and Oliver Kamm (against) to argue the merits of Chomsky and his work.

And if you want to watch the man himself deliver the last in the Gifford Lecture series at Edinburgh University's McEwan Hall,  "Illegal but Legitimate: a dubious doctrine for the times", you'll find it here.

9 Whither the humans
Futurist Ray Kurzweil believes "we are approaching the age of "full-immersion virtual-reality", (in which), thanks to innovations in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics, you'll be able to design your own mental habitat". Christopher Caldwell looks around and sees the ordinary signs of it ("those weekend bicyclists in their expensive pretend-racer costumes") and draws on French novelist Michel Houellebecq to wonder what it all means for the experience of being human. "Human interactions of all kinds, especially those that involve caring for others, appear less and less worth the trouble. Houellebecq is fascinated by young couples who have pets instead of children, and by the French heat wave of 2003, which killed thousands of senior citizens who were forgotten by their vacationing children and abandoned by their vacationing doctors. Daniel1 mocks the newspaper headline "Scenes Unworthy of a Modern Country." In his view, those scenes were proof that France was a modern country. "Only an authentically modern country," he insists, "was capable of treating old people like outright garbage.""
10 The rise of the new Puritans
A while back, the SMH ran a story about an emerging group in society it called the "minimalists" - people who, by and large, could afford the trappings of modern life, but for a variety of ethical reasons chose not to enter into consumerism. The Herald may have been on to something, quite ahead of its time, with The Observer reporting that a group dubbed the "New Puritans" may be the beginning of a new social trend. "According to the Future Foundation, we are increasingly curbing our enthusiasm for profligate consumption, and health and environment-threatening behaviours. Gone is the guilt-free pleasure-seeker, to be replaced by the model well-meaning citizen, the New Puritan - a tag interchangeable with neo-Cromwellian, if you really want to seal its 17th century origins - who thinks through the consequences of activities previously thought of as pleasurable and invariably elects to live without them.
11 For pedants, only
TDB does have a proof reader (who is also a busy mother with a full life) and English is the first language of its editor. But then there is the desire to pack as much punch as possible into each edition and scramble it out at a useful hour each day. On occasions, reading it must be hell on screen for pedants. An effort is made to keep things as tidy as possible, however, the thought that the position of the word "only" in a sentence might be adding to the distress of language purists had not even been considered before reading this article. "For nearly 250 years, usage authorities and citizen soldiers have been trading shots over the proper placement of only in written English. There's no problem with the spoken language, all agree. Say it or sing it, ''I only have eyes for you" means just one thing. But write it down, and you risk ambiguity, according to the fussy faction: It might mean ''I alone have eyes for you" or ''I have eyes for you, but no time for you.""
12 IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

The Australian's lead reports that taxpayers will underwrite the $150 million cost of delivering essential drugs to the bush, and new pharmacies will be free to operate in big shopping centres and 24-hour medical centres, under a landmark agreement with the nation's 5000 chemists. It also reports that Nobel Prize-winning author JM Coetzee yesterday launched a thinly veiled attack on Australia's proposed anti-terrorism laws, likening the Howard Government's controversial reforms to human rights abuses under apartheid in his native South Africa; that the Year 12 mathematics syllabus across Australia is "chaotic", with the first nationwide comparison of school maths courses criticising as sub-standard the programs in South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland; and that the Bill Shorten bandwagon is rolling, with Labor luminaries Bob Hawke and Kim Beazley jumping on board to back his march to Canberra.

The Herald reports that John Howard is considering a compromise in the counter-terrorism legislation to allow shoot-to-kill police powers only when a suspect resists arrest; that pressure is growing for rear-vision cameras to be made mandatory in all four-wheel-drive cars to reduce the number of accidents involving toddlers in driveways, after the young daughter of the former rugby union international Phil Kearns was accidentally hit by her father's car; and that unemployed people, including single parents, would have no choice but to accept any available job - regardless of the lack of penalty rates or public holidays - or lose welfare benefits, the Government confirmed yesterday (and the subject of today's Leahy cartoon.

The Age reports on the battle by the mother of a Melbourne man, Tuong Van Nguyen, who is about to hang in Singapore, to get the Australian Government to act to save his life; that Australia will be pressed at this week's Pacific Islands Forum meeting to relax its opposition to island residents doing seasonal work in Australia; and that thousands of residents and property owners in Melbourne's CBD and inner suburbs must register their car parking spots or face the prospect of a $6000 fine when the State Government's so-called congestion levy comes into force from January 1.

Missy Higgins has won five ARIA's; and researchers believe land clearings and urban sprawl cause more severe storms.


The Age: Gareth Evans points to the reduction in global conflict as an example of the vital role being played by the UN, despite its tarnished image; Patrick McGorry spells out what needs to be done to address the crisis in mental health services; Alan Taylor shares the good and bad news about British food (why does The Age waste space on this bloke); and Chas Savage, see above.

The Australian: Glenn Milne says the National Party's federal president David Russell has a message for Barnaby Joyce - industrial relations are non-negotiable; Ken Phillips (Institute of Public Affairs) says the opponents of industrial relations change are the real conservatives in Australian society, and that they are fearful of radical individualism; James Morrow sees a conspiracy between biased journalists and left-wing clerics over issues like industrial relations and uranium mining; John Faulkner on the Labor Party and the indifference to politics; and Louise McBride delivers The Australian's weekly lecture on the need to cut the highest marginal tax rates.

The SMH: David Marr says intelligence is about warnings, and that punishment should be decided by courts, but that under the proposed anti-terrorism laws, intelligence can be uses as punishment; Ross Gittins, no fan of the proposed industrial relations laws, explains why he thinks some of the criticism of them is over the top; Paul Sheehan extols the virtues of "moral food" and thinks everyone should know the truth about factory farming; John Mendoza makes the case for action to deal with the "national disgrace" of mental health services; and Gary Sturgess explains the benefits of public-private partnerships.


The Herald's lead says although News Corp's share price has fallen since the move to the United States, Rupert Murdoch says he is confident that, eventually, investors will see benefits in leaving Australia; and it reports on the theatrics between Murdoch and shareholder activists Stephen Mayne and Evelyn Davis. It also looks at why Macquarie Bank shares are down 20 percent; and reports that some of the biggest, most successful US companies have posted very good third-quarter earnings, yet their shares have been punished for lacklustre profit forecasts.

The Australian's lead says the man at the centre of "threats" that led to the resignation of Pacific National boss Stephen O'Donnell is being touted as the man to replace him. It also reports that anyone wanting to understand the phrase "pregnant pause" should get a video of the press conference after News Corp's AGM and watch Rupert Murdoch being asked if he may want to buy America Online; and that Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo has moved to boost the company's weak position in Sydney, where its market share in mobiles is only 30 per cent.

The lead in The Age says Victoria has been in talks with Toyota to have the hybrid car, the Prius, manufactured at Altona. It also reports that David Kirk is not seduced by free-to-air television, despite speculation John Fairfax Holdings would merge with either Channel Nine or Channel Ten under the Federal Government's planned media reforms. And its Creative & Media section has a number of articles looking at the future of newspapers and the rise of "citizen journalism".


The Daily Telegraph: Motorists are under siege on every main street as councils go berserk with parking fines, issuing 60 per cent more infringements over the past two years;

The Herald-Sun: Makybe Diva's owner wants the champion mare to run in the Melbourne Cup; Victorian health officials and police have sweeping powers to confine people in their homes and fine them $20,000 for breaching orders if a deadly flu pandemic strikes here.

The Courier-Mail: Queenslanders who use large amounts of electricity will have to pay higher prices for the privilege under a new tariff regime to be announced in tomorrow's mini-Budget; Brisbane's worsening traffic gridlock has convinced the State Government to begin work on plans for a second tunnel under the city's northern suburbs.

The Advertiser: Seventy-five of the state's top scientists have issued an alarming warning that unless attitudes change towards Adelaide's environment, it will become an "urban wasteland" devoid of much of the plant and animal life existing today; The State Government has done a backflip in reinstating the maximum fine for peddling hard drugs to children to $1 million.

The West Australian: The peak body representing Australia's vegetable growers has launched an extraordinary attack on homebrand products sold by big supermarkets, saying they are a cancer eating at the sustainability of WA farmers; Suspected criminals with links to the Fremantle waterfront are among the targets of a major investigation by national law enforcement agencies trying to uncover the extent of the organised crime threat in the maritime sector.

The Mercury: The struggling Spirit of Tasmania III ferry service to Sydney will never be profitable unless it is 90 per cent full on all voyages, with each passenger paying more than $385 one-way; Hobart is in line to have Tasmania's worst voter turnout despite the hottest mayoral contest in years.


The question on the lips of a nation - Will Makybe Diva bid for a historic third Melbourne Cup? - will be answered when trainer Lee Freedman is good and ready; Tiger Woods has failed to make the cut in a US PGA Tour event for only the fourth time as a professional, while Australian Geoff Ogilvy was among a host of players stalking clubhouse leader Rich Beem after a storm-halted third round of the Funai Classic here; Kangaroos legends Steve Mortimer and Brett Kenny believe Trent Barrett must be selected in the halves should a chronic knee injury rule champion half-back Andrew Johns out of the Tri Nations.

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re: The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

To further indulge, I do not understand the Foreign minister, Mr Downer, nor the Singapore government failing to grant clemency as allowed in the law, for those whose testimony will allow prosecution of the higher up organised crime figures in the Heroin trade. Indeed the young Vietnamese Australian has identified people high up here in Australia to the AFP yet how can they be properly prosecuted without his testimony? Or, is that the aim. Reality. Punish the poor guy by the truth finally hitting him in the eyes-no-on in power is serious about prosecuting these guys, they are too powerful and well connected, so quickly hang him before too many people ask questions, and silence that damn lawyer too especially after the ABC interview this morning wondering at the reasons.

This is truly an injustice, both morally to hang the small guy and fail to hang the creeps that parasite our world at the top, and secondly in that he HAS cooperated as per the Singapore law that allows clemency.

He hasn't said that once in the four times I have hear him speak his reluctant misgivings of the impending hanging.

IS HE INCOMPETENT OR PLAYING GAMES AGAIN. This is a boys life, a mother's son, a twin's brother who he did it for to pay his debts. Mr Downer again and again let's down Australian's in trouble overseas.

Don't we want to prosecute the big bastards here, allegedly in Sydney?

I am sick of the little dumb vulnerable fry’s getting it in the neck while the big guys lounge on their yachts in luxury and paid safety in our land.

ps I am sorry for the rant, but he will be dead in a few weeks if nothing competent is done by someone with the brains and integrity that one usually sees in the Foreign office and Att'ny General's office. Who can stay silent at such tragedy?

re: The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

interesting how little coverage is given to the claim that most of the evidence for the investigation into the Hariri assassination was from a convicted con artist who had ties with the president's uncle, someone itching to grab at power apparently the story goes. Rather plausible really. Reminds one of Chalabi and his usefulness.

Considering the Wurmser et al document to the Israeli Netanyahu government about a Clean Break and Protecting the Realm(what the heck does that term mean anyway?)and how Syria and Lebanon were to be manipulated, this reads a bit like a movie script with the usual puppets. The French gave a step up to General, and back in he goes, previously sent out of Lebanon for his atrocities(alleged) and we have very selective reporting about the moods and motives of the Lebanese people-what answer you want will be given by which interest group you select.

The whole neocon-French line that Syria officially sanctioned the assassination makes no sense, as Hariri's death only benefits the US-as he was opposed to their airbase there, and Israel, if it can be manipulated to blame their enemy Syria and remove the hezbollah support and Syrian soldiers, and France who again can have access to the pickings. There is no benefit for Syria clearly visible that would justify such an assassination and the ensuing risks when already openly targeted for regime change by the Neocons.

There are some details worthy of examination in the report.
The video used to identify the Iraqi allegedly responsible(why an Iraqi would travel to Lebanon to car bomb Allawi when the latter is such an easy target in Iraq all the time)says the latter was targeting Allawi, that's what this alleged pre-suicide video is alleged to show him-the alleged bomber- state. Digest that. Digest the quiet about it.

Indeed at about that time Allawi 's convoy is indeed targeted, but in Iraq, and we hear little of Allawi since that, some thinking him maybe dead, but that convoy was targeted in Iraq, Iraq! Is it possible that the evidence has been fixed here? That the video of an Iraqi targeting Allawi in Iraq is used to blame such a person for this bombing of Hariri? Or, if he was used, was he aware he was hitting the wrong target? Was this deliberate on the part of his minders? The latter complicated explanation is the official version.

We know the neocons have the manipulation and creation of evidence as a modus operandi when planning invasions and regime change so one must be very suspicious and analytical of all possible hypothesis.

I find it even more suggestive that suddenly severe concrete action is proposed, regime change no less from Israel, on a report that is based upon innuendo and testimony from an unreliable witness.

This is more likely part of the usual deceit used to placate the world as very evil deeds are done.

Lebanon has suffered so much from outside interference, from Israel, France, USA, Syria and others. Must again the diverse ethnicity be used to stir up trouble for the power gains of the ruthless?
The Neocons disgust me.


re: The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

On Love,Kerri, take a gander at Leak's cartoon.
(It's a pity gems like that can't be archived for good. I'd be happy to make a small contribution to publishing rights.)

re: The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

The byline of Chas Savage, "a Canberra writer and outlaw" reminds me of a Tom Robbin's quote, applicable if one loves Australia's democratic heritage and despairs of losing it...

Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet. That would mean that security is out of the question. The words "make" and "stay" become inappropriate. My love for you has no strings attached. I love you for free.

Love democracy, love it for free. And if required, become an outlaw for its cause.

re: The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

Chas Savage's piece on sedition was brilliant! It's about time people got angry after all the BS going on (Workplace Relations Act, Anti-Terror laws etc).

It will be interesting to see if he gets kidnapped by ASIO for speaking his mind.

re: The Daily Briefing 24/10/05

Excellent review as usual Wayne. You missed the following however.

"SINGLE parents and other welfare recipients who knock back jobs with no provisions for public holidays or penalty rates would be stripped of welfare benefits under the Government's new industrial relations regime.

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has made it clear that people on welfare will be expected to accept any job regardless of conditions stipulated in an individual agreement."

More here.

I guess we really have choice and negotiating power.

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