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The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

WEDNESDAY 26TH 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    Important correction to earlier message and feedback
2    Report says terror laws to be used against activists/Times (link below)
3    Report on the death of Rosa Parks/NYTimes (3 links below)
4    Protecting POTUS from the Onion (4 links below)
5    IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

1 Major correction and message
And to make matters worse, as subscriber PCB pointed out, that inspired 60s classic about lost love, "No Milk Today", was the work of Herman's Hermits (see link below), not the Hollies. Apologies all round.


This morning's problems brought some thoughtful feedback (thanks Kerrod and Tanya) which was a reminder that some important comments have been shamefully neglected for too long. That is now being compiled and, so long as you do not rush there before it is uploaded, can be found here. Look out in particular for some suggestions about TDB from Iain G, and a delightful message from David R about how it has forced him to change his morning coffee habits.

Thanks to all, and do remember that TDB is meant to be a service first and foremost. That is, useful to you and not just a collection of the personal whims of the editor.

2 The thin edge of the terror laws
To what other ends might the proposed anti-terror laws be put? Governments love nothing more than the power to control. Two interesting reports to that end in the UK yesterday, especially given that Australia's laws are modelled on theirs. The Times reports (link below) that "animal rights activists who glorify militant acts against economic targets and laboratories are to face prosecution under terror laws aimed at al-Qaeda supporters".

And The Independent says that the shoot-to-kill policy has been "widened to include other offences such as kidnapping, stalking and domestic violence".

3 The death of Rosa Parks
Despite the rush to get this one done (there is tomorrow to think about) TDB could not go out without a tribute to Rosa Parks, who has died, aged 92. Ms Parks triggered the Montgomery bus boycott, which in turn became one of the key events that sparked the civil rights movement, by refusing to give her seat on a bus to a white man. The following links are to The Guardian's report of her death; to a Time Magazine tribute from 1999; and to an Academy of Achievement interview with her.
4 Protecting POTUS from the Onion
This one has already done the rounds of the internet, but for those who've not heard the news, the office of the President of the United States (POTUS) is not so overwhelmed by scandals and disasters that it cannot act to preserve its dignity. (And suggestions that the best way to preserve it might be to get the current incumbent to vacate it are beneath the dignity of TDB and therefore will not get a mention.) TDB links regularly to The Onion, which has been taken to task for using the presidential seal on the logo for its spoofs of George Bush's radio broadcasts. Both the offending seal and the links to listen to the radio send-ups (they are sensational) can be found by following the link below. The Onion was told that the seal "is not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way that suggests presidential support or endorsement." It fired back: "It is inconceivable that anyone would think that, by using the seal, The Onion intends to 'convey... sponsorship or approval' by the president," wrote Rochelle H. Klaskin, the paper's lawyer, who went on to note that a headline in the current issue made the point: "Bush to Appoint Someone to Be in Charge of Country." TDB linked to that last story on Wednesday and you will find it here

And if you have the time for nonsense, you may like to check out two Chinese boys' lip-synching efforts; and the latest Guinness ad, which is not likely to sway the "intelligent design" crew to one of Ireland's finer beverages (be wasted on that lot anyway).

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

Because TDB is running so late today, this section of the round-up will be less comprehensive than usual since many will either have surfed for themselves or gone out and bought a newspaper. But do check out The Australian's opinion page - every column is worth a look, Paul Kelly and Noel Pearson in particular.

The Age reports on the legal setbacks for the anti-terrorism laws; that the AFP tipped off Indonesian Police about the Bali 9; that Australia is set to reject calls from Pacific island countries for their workers to be allowed to come to Australia for seasonal jobs such as fruit picking and cane cutting; and that leadership tensions in the Victorian Liberal Party have boiled over again, with deputy leader Phil Honeywood launching an extraordinary public attack on business titan Ron Walker and former premier Jeff Kennett.

The Australian's lead reports that the national rail regulator has warned against the $8 billion merger of Australia's two biggest freight companies, saying they have already abused a near-monopoly to lift the cost of carrying goods across the country. The paper also reports that Nguyen Tuong Van has written an intimate, funny and at times philosophical letter to his closest friends, assuring them they will forever be in his prayers and memories, regardless of his fate at the hands of a foreign executioner; and that an Indonesian fisherman broke down in tears yesterday as he told a Perth court he had no choice but to fish illegally to pay off his debts and support his impoverished family.

The Herald reports that someone may have been wrongfully held in immigration detention for seven years - almost 10 times as long as Cornelia Rau - an investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman has revealed; that the Federal Government's $40 million promotion of its industrial relations overhaul has proved a dud, with more than twice as many people opposing the changes as supporting them; that high-profile lawyer Adam Houda has received a $145,000 payout for wrongful arrest; and that the Local Government Association wants to put an end to the days of the abandoned shopping trolley.


The Age: Michelle Grattan can see no reason for rushing to enact the anti-terrorism and industrial relations laws, and courtesy of Saul Eastlake, offers some creative advice about the unfair dismissal provisions; Mark Castles thinks he knows why baby boomers and gen Xers are forging a new conservatism in child-rearing; Michael Richardson is worried about migratory birds bringing avian bird flu; and Trevor Budge wants to see more investment in public transport to make suburbs more liveable.

The Australian: Paul Kelly makes a fantastic contribution to the debate about the industrial relations changes that one sentence will not do justice to. Agree with him or not, it is Kelly at his best, so, as they say in the blogosphere, "read the whole thing"; Noel Pearson says that indigenous people are yet to experience the positive benefits of welfare and that any change to land ownership must reconcile the apparently irreconcilable - communal ownership and transferable property rights; Lawrence Kaplan (The New Republic) says the US is no longer fighting for any ideals in Iraq, but is fighting for a negative - against the insurgency and civil war; and Emma Tom offers some advice for those experiencing "rat-in-a-wheel feeling of trying to chase a high" through conspicuous consumption.

The SMH: Peter Martin comes over all psychological to explain why fear beats greed, at least when it comes to playing round with our own money; Michael Coleman argues for changes to the law to allow for the treatment of mentally ill people who are refusing care; Buddhima Lokuge and Peter Drahos believe that Australia can, and should if necessary, override any patents registered on influenza antivirals to ensure everyone has access to them; and Mona Saleh warns that genetic screening has limited benefits and will lead to other complications.


The Herald leads on Telstra's annual meeting - Trujillo faces up to shareholders - reporting that he faced the key question from one long-suffering small shareholder before the meeting started: "Can you turn this company around?" His answer was an assault on the regulatory regime that he says is stifling Telstra and destroying shareholder value.

The Herald also reports that toll-road operator Transurban is playing down the impact of high petrol prices on its operations, saying increased fuel bills are not deterring motorists from using its motorways; and that it could be some time yet before Australia's fourth domestic carrier OzJet lives up to its motto, "You're in business".

The Australian's lead reports that  ANZ's investment in branches and staff is beginning to pay off with a surge in personal banking in the past six months helping the bank to a record $3.06 billion annual net profit in the face of the biggest crunch in margins for 15 years. And it reports that weakness in global paper demand and strength in the Australian dollar had continued to drag on performance at paper manufacturing and merchandising group Paperlinx; and that Pacific Brands shareholders came close to rejecting performance-rights plans for its two most senior executives yesterday, as managing director Paul Moore remained cagey on earnings-growth outlook.

The Age leads on the story all the papers give prominence to, reporting that investors pushed share prices higher the world over on hopes that the man poised to replaced Alan Greenspan as head of the US central bank, Ben Bernanke, will maintain policies that have helped shackle inflation while driving economic growth. It also reports that Fairfax Holdings, Australia's second-largest newspaper publisher, plans to cut 55 journalists from its Melbourne and Sydney papers, about 7.5 per cent of staff at the publications; and that the US is pressing more aggressively than ever to put its beef back on Japan's dinner tables, ending the $2.2 billion dominance of the lucrative market that Australia had in 2004.

Alan Kohler has a great take on the new US Federal Reserve chair; Stephen Bartholomeusz says the extent of the hostility between the former trustees of Tattersall's and beneficiaries of George Adams' estate is becoming clearer and provides the context for the proxy fight now under way in the lead-up to next month's annual meeting; and Bryan Frith thinks Magellan Petroleum Corp's (MPC) bid to take out the minority shareholders in its 55 per cent owned local offshoot Magellan Petroleum Australia is unusual in that no talks were held in advance to try to reach a recommended offer.


The Daily Telegraph: "Cup hopes crash" - this is the heartbreaking moment that English stayer Carte Diamond's Melbourne Cup campaign came to a spectacular and bloody end yesterday; Australia's legal chiefs will hold an urgent meeting after two state governments warned tough new anti-terror laws could breach the Constitution; More than 200 students have been suspended for using, possessing or threatening to use a gun, a knife or another weapon in the state's public schools.

The Herald-Sun: Millionaire businessman and accused drug dealer Tony Mokbel has been charged over a suspected ecstasy smuggling bid; A leaked call-centre report has revealed the depth of community concern about the Federal Government's IR changes.

The Courier-Mail: A raid on future budget surpluses and public service pay rises will fund the $6.36 billion Beattie Government plan to fix Queensland's ailing health system and revive its own political fortunes; southeast's water restrictions have proved too successful, as residents have saved twice as much water as the new rules were designed for.

The Advertiser: Embattled Health Minister Lea Stevens today faces renewed, intense speculation about her political future; The regular trickle of rain since late September has proved a godsend for the state's farmers, adding an estimated $250 million income to their pockets.

The West Australian: The State Government yesterday rejected claims by doctors and nurses that the hospital system was in a shambles, saying it was uneconomic to ensure that sharp rises in the number of emergency patients could be accommodated without forcing operations to be delayed; The State Government will kill off a major residential development south of Moore River at Guilderton by re-zoning a 557ha site to rural, 10 years after it was first zoned urban by the Court government.

The Mercury: Up to 60 long-fin pilot whales died in a tragic mass stranding on Tasmania's south-east coast yesterday; The State Government launched a stinging attack on The Mercury newspaper yesterday, accusing it of waging a campaign against the Spirit of Tasmania III.


Injured five-eighth Stephen Larkham believes Matt Giteau will be handed the No.10 jersey ahead of Mat Rogers for the opening international of the Wallabies' European tour, against France in Marseille on November 5; Australia's selectors will choose their squad for the first Test in Brisbane tonight, with leg spinner Stuart MacGill not holding high hopes of inclusion; It's business as usual for Makybe Diva's pilot Glen Boss who, while remaining focused on riding the mare in the Melbourne Cup, is also confident of claiming a second Victoria Derby at Flemington on Saturday.

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re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

Nice name Galloway, some of my good friends are called Galloway, and once or twice in the early years a galloway has won the Melbourne Cup, but this Galloway of the Respect - Unity Coalition is neither a friend, nor a sure bet.

From The Times:

US Senate 'finds Iraq oil cash in Galloway's wife's bank account'

George Galloway faces possible criminal charges after a US Senate investigation tracked $150,000 (£85,000) in Iraqi oil money to his wife’s bank account in Jordan...

Do you have more links, James?

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

No mention anywhere of some on this sites favorite: Galloway?

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

Kerri, there are some who will do anything to get George Galloway. They've tried and failed before so I caution anyone who wishes to jump into condemnation to wait for it to be decided by due process.

This report is one account. Typical Galloway response:

Today Mr Galloway repeated denials that he had ever received any oil cash, and told Mr Coleman to "put up or shut up" by either bringing a prosecution or dropping the allegations. The Respect MP accused Mr Coleman of orchestrating a "sneak revenge attack" motivated by a desire to avenge his "humiliation" at the hearing in May.

"I am demanding prosecution, I am begging for prosecution," Mr Galloway told Sky News. "I am saying if I have lied under oath in front of the senate, that's a criminal offence. Charge me and I will head for the airport right now and face them down in court as I faced them down in the senate room.

"Because I publicly humiliated this lickspittle senator Norman Coleman - one of [George] Bush's righthand men - in the US senate in May, this sneak revenge attack has been launched over the past 24 hours."

Given events surrounding the Bush team at the moment I would take anything they and their allies say with a pinch of salt.

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

James, there is only one "gorgeous" George surely, not "some"? And he is no favourite of mine - too smarmy and too willing to cosy up to thugs and tyrants for my taste. Although it is hard not to have a soft spot for someone who gave it in spades to the pompous oafs in the US Senate. And his comments prior to the Iraq invasion have turned out to be more accurate than those of the neo-cons and chicken hawks like Christopher Hitchens (whom I otherwise much admire for his work on Kissinger, Orwell and literature).

But to answer your question so far as it relates to TDB, there would have been a piece on Galloway in today's edition but for those technical glitches - it will be there tomorrow.

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

Your comment got me thinking, Bob.

I remember reading in the Chritsian Science Monitor about: Newly found Iraqi files raise heat on British MP so I went looking and... mmm... I found the subsequent related articles and then the total retraction in the CSM piece: Galloway papers deemed forgeries before the final Note from the Editor, published in the same edition in June 2003.

Galloway's Frankness Invigorates, Shocks Americans , 09/19/05 and your link, Galloway rejects senate perjury claims By John Nichols and this Information Clearing House internal google search information link suggest that there is a lot of smoke... Who's lighting the matches?

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

My point in raising it was, for my mind, it was the most interesting news yesterday. As for saying Galloway "who gave it in spades," well that sounds more like Galloway bluster. He launched into a speech on a topic he wasn't asked about. Not particularly hard to do. But on this, I suspect he is in trouble. He is already making empty threats, such as asking Senator Coleman to charge him (pointless as he doesn't have the power to do this, that is handled by the Justice Dept). He is also already distancing himself from the evidence as much as possible (see here for more).

All I am saying is that he may be in a lot of trouble...

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

Kerri, we had a thread on Galloway some months ago (May?) - he sure engenders heated reactions.

He has won lawsuits against these types of allegations and then there is the CSM episode.

As you discovered, people have tried to nail him before - nothing more annoying than a smart arse who happened to be right. Hence my caution about people accepting the latest attempt at face value.

As to forgeries - Fitzgerald has become well acquainted with those.

I agree with Wayne, whatever we think of Galloway, that performance was superb theatre - and the targets deserved what they got.

Wayne - thanks for the coverage of the passing of Rosa Parks - I saw the breaking news story yesterday and posted it on another thread. I admit to being a bit misty at the time.

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

In which case James, you and I have very different news values. Given the debate over anti-terrorism laws in Australia, the Plame affair (which goes to the heart of US public administration and how the case for war was made) and the continuing suffering of earthquake victims in Pakistan - just for starters - then I am much inclined to the view that the activities of one colourful, if perhaps dubious, independent MP from the UK is a sideshow of little lasting importance.

Each to their own of course, but I do wonder what it is about Galloway that fascinates you so. Could it be that your real fascination is in the prospect of an anti-war advocate being bought undone? In which case, you should be absolutely enthralled by the spectacle of the whole edifice upon which the war was argued and waged - the case for it, the ideology and rationale behind it, the way the invasion was conducted and the post-invasion period managed - crumbling before our eyes. You'll find more on it in TDB above. Enjoy.

re: The Daily Briefing 26/10/05

Kerri, Wayne, I have said elsewhere that whether George Galloway is guilty or innocent of allegations made against him is a minor matter. More important to me, especially in the light of the Libby indictment, are the lengths governments and parliaments will go to discredit critics and those who expose govvernment deceptions.

Kerri, in finding the thread in the archives you will have seen how heated some get in their attacks against GG.

Now we have the latest allegations and this article is very relevant to those and the history of the "Get Galloway" campaign:

'10/30/05 "ABC" -- -- US congressional investigators said this week they had evidence that George Galloway had profited from the defunct UN program created to protect Iraqis from the harsh effects of sanctions against their Government.

The report said Mr Aziz, under questioning by the subcommittee, said he had discussed oil allocations with Mr Galloway and confirmed a letter in which the British Member of Parliament requested a bigger oil allocation.

"These are lies ... he [Mr Aziz] denied this," Mr Aziz's lawyer, Badia Aref, said.

"It is part of a media campaign aimed at smearing Galloway's reputation."'

There might be other evidence so we await due process. But this is not a good start for the accusers.

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