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The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

FRIDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 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    Boris Johnson on terror laws, the police and trumped-up charges/Telegraph (3 links below)
2    Interview with Martin Shaw/Democratiya (link below)
3    Reuel Marc Gerecht talks down the Plame affair/WSJ (8 links below)
4    David Gelln on Philip Rieff and the new barbarism/Chronicle
5    Graham Stewart on the myth of Murdoch the dictator/Times (2 links below)
6    Mark Dowie on conservation's indigenous refugees/Orion (link below)
7    Dana Millbank on big oil and influence/Washington Post
8    Christopher Buckley on teaching ethics at the White House/NYTimes (2 link below)
9    Juan Goytisolo  on his new autobiographical novel/Le Monde
10    TECH: How to Google your dinner/Washington Post (2 links below)
11    Remembering the dismissal/Larvatus Prodeo (links below)
12    IN THE PAPERS: National, Opinion, Business round-up

1 Blair, Boris and one night in Oxford
This one is a delightful, and very British read. Of course it is easy not to be concerned about laws, however draconian, when you are fairly sure that they don't apply to "us" - but only to "them". ("They came for the intellectuals, and I said nothing ...) Conservative MP and Spectator editor (amongst other claims to fame) Boris Johnson had an experience with the plod as a callow youth, one that seems to have left him with a life-long concern about the right to detain without charges and due process, as proposed under UK (and Australian) anti-terrorism laws.  "By this stage I am afraid that the Bullingdon Club was very far from the proud phalanx of tailcoated twits that had set out for dinner the night before. Some of us were beginning to whimper for our mothers. Others, half-asleep, groaned the names of their nannies. Some of us were brave enough to lie on the bemerded floor. Others stood up, streaked and dishevelled, and tried to sleep on their feet."

The aftermath of Tony Blair's first ever Parliamentary defeat on detention powers still reverberates. The Guardian reports that Blair remains defiant,  even "as the government's own panel of Muslim experts warned that it still risked alienating their community."

In the same paper, Britain's answer to Matt Price, Simon Hoggart, describes the scene as Parliament regained its relevance.

And The Times reports that the tension leading up to the vote almost resulted in physical violence toward one Labour rebel.

2 Interviews with Shaw and Saul
Two interviews, with two respected voices, both from "the left" (whatever that is these days), though in the case of Martin Shaw (link below) one critical of both the anti-Iraq war left (Pilger and Galloway) as well as its supporters (Hitchens, Aaronovitch and Cohen). Shaw is a sociologist of war and global politics and holds the Chair of International Relations and Politics at the University of Sussex. "We face a threat of terrorist attack which is sufficient to generate serious atrocities, to harm our society through militarising its politics and curtailing our civil liberties. But the threat is obviously not of a kind which will destroy our society. It's a different sort of threat than the old Soviet Union. In this sense I think it's a threat which is quite well suited to the ideological project of the global war on terror which Bush has proclaimed.  I think it's interesting to observe the way in which al-Qaeda calibrates its attacks with Western political developments.  We have seen the intervention just before a Spanish election, the video tape which Bin Laden sent just before the American election, which I think helped Bush, and the delaying of the attacks on Britain until after the British election.  I think there's a sense which al-Qaeda needs Bush and Bush needs al-Qaeda."

And Mother Jones interviews John Ralston Saul about his new book "The Collapse of Globalism". "And the interesting thing is, even that disparity between rich and poor doesn't total up to a big increase in wealth; it's just that a small group of people are getting richer and a much larger group of people are getting poorer. So getting more of the pie today, for the poor, still wouldn't represent a success for the system. This suggests that the system, as designed by the globalists, simply isn't delivering what it said it would deliver."

3 Plame and Niger update
Plame update time, even though all of this may well be one for obsessives only.  Judith Miller, the journalist at the centre of the affair , has "retired" from the NYTimes.

The New York Observer reports Miller's immediate reaction and it has other reports on the move (scroll down past the battle of the front pages). And naturally the woman herself has a blog with a full account of her version of events.

Meanwhile, the debate over whether or not former Dick Cheney chief-of-staff should have be indicted continues. Former CIA agent Reuel Marc Gerecht (link below), now with the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute thinks not, and runs what has become the right's main line of defence: this is much ado about nothing and Plame's husband Joe Wilson is a lightweight liar. "A serious CIA would never have allowed Mr. Wilson to go on such an odd, short "fact finding" mission. It never would have allowed Ms. Plame potentially to expose herself by recommending such an overt mission for her mate, not known for his subtlety and discretion. With a CIA where cover really mattered, Mr. Libby would not now be indicted. But that's not what we have in the real world. We have an American left that hates George W. Bush and his vice president so much that they have become willing dupes in a surreal operational stage-play."

But according to the Pew Centre, as reported by Dan Froomkin, the average punter thinks it is important. "But according to a new Pew Research Center poll, the recent indictment of senior White House aide Scooter Libby is a really big deal: Even more important to the country, for instance, than the 1998 charges that President Bill Clinton lied under oath about Monica Lewinsky. Those, of course, led to Clinton's impeachment."

On the very much related Niger yellowcake bogus document scandal, Salon is talking up the Italian connection.

But neo-conservative spruiker Michael Ledeen is pointing the finger at the French. Ledeen, remember, was directly involved in a meeting with Italian intelligence prior to the documents coming into official US hands, and he chooses an odd way of responding to suggestions that he may even have had a hand in forging them - by imagining a ouija board session with a late CIA chief. (Now if you wanted to give yourself wriggle room on any of your denials, this would be one way of doing it.)

And on the wider question on the Iraq invasion and WMDs, uber-conservative Norman Prodhoretz in Commentary is doing all he can to protect the Bush administration from the charge that it lied about the intelligence used to justify the war - without discussing some of the latest material (see Archives).

4 The new barbarism
After three decades of silence, conservative sociologist Philip Rieff is about to have four books released. David Glenn looks at Rieff's life and work, and devotes some space to his marriage in the '50s to Susan Sontag. "But in a more important sense, the two scholars went on to move in very different directions. Ms. Sontag had a much more hopeful view - although always ambivalent - toward feminism and other liberal and radical cultural currents. Her 1966 collection, Against Interpretation, praised Norman O. Brown, whom Mr. Rieff regarded as a utopian "left-Freudian." In 1985 she wrote an appreciative introduction to a volume of Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs. Mr. Rieff is far more skeptical: His new book includes a meditation on one of Mr. Mapplethorpe's photographs, which culminates with the declaration that "homosexuality as a social movement is not a movement of love but a movement of hatred and indifference."
5 If you really knew Rupert
Having spent some time in the Murdoch empire, and 25 years in and around journalism, it is hard to take this one seriously. Perhaps this is the first of a "myth of the great dictator" series by Graham Stewart, who is described by HarperCollins as a highly rated historian. Will we see, Saddam, Adolf and Benito, myth of the great dictators? As Stewart tells the story, we've all had it wrong about Rupert (including all those former editors and executives who told a similar tale?) By this telling Murdoch is the model of the independent proprietor, encouraging outspoken diversity where ever he goes. (There are no indications that this is intentional satire.) "There was a natural self-interest in The Times's commercial rivals portraying it as the mouthpiece of its owner. By questioning the objectivity of the paper's judgment, these attacks hit at the heart of its appeal. Every editorial decision, from backing the Conservatives to backing new Labour was, sooner or later, attributed to Murdoch's hidden hand. Differences of opinion not only between his British newspapers but also with his own supposed opinions were disregarded or overlooked."

The Globe and Mail has the latest grim statistics on US newspaper circulation. "Average weekday circulation at U.S. newspapers fell 2.6 per cent during the six month-period ending in September in the latest sign of trouble in the newspaper business." (Of course those same newspapers have presumably picked up many thousands of readers online, which is not accounted for in these statistics.)

And in the rapidly changing media world, Microsoft said yesterday that it would develop a news video distribution network for The Associated Press and share in advertising revenue generated by the newspapers and broadcasters that use it.

6 Indigenous refugees and ecotourism
The notion of "wilderness" has a bad name in some indigenous circles, carrying as it does the concept of being untouched by humans. The result of this policy around the world, according to Mark Dowie, is the destruction of indigenous cultures, and probably the loss of biodiversity as well. "It's no secret that millions of native peoples around the world have been pushed off their land to make room for big oil, big metal, big timber, and big agriculture. But few people realize that the same thing has happened for a much nobler cause: land and wildlife conservation. Today the list of culture-wrecking institutions put forth by tribal leaders on almost every continent includes not only Shell, Texaco, Freeport, and Bechtel, but also more surprising names like Conservation International (CI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Even the more culturally sensitive World Conservation Union (IUCN) might get a mention."

And in Common Ground, Suzanne York is not impressed by ecotourism as it is practiced. "Among the most degrading effects of ecotourism is the marketing of indigenous heritage, cultural identity, and sacred rituals. Ancient cultures are quickly reduced by this activity to another exotic product to be advertised and sold. Rituals, dances, and religious ceremonies are stripped of their deeper traditional spiritual value and made meaningless. Indigenous artifacts are valued only for their souvenir potential, and the indigenous people themselves tend to be valued only as a photo opportunity. Local crafts are often crowded out of the market altogether, as corporations copy them and mass-produce arts and crafts and clothing, marginalizing the local craftsperson and substituting cheap labor outside of the country. In Malaysia and Indonesia, for example, the fine art of batik, a dye-and-wax process that creates beautiful prints on natural fiber, is now mass-produced on synthetic materials in hundreds of factories in Southeast Asia. Traditional designs have been replaced by pop art."

7 What money can buy
Money won't buy happiness, so they say, but it sure buys influence. At least one local outlet - let's spare the guilty party just this once - got quite excited yesterday about the fact that "big oil" had been called before the US Congress to explain high oil prices and record company profits, declaring it was "big news". Umm. They should have waited to see exactly what transpired. As Dana Millbank describes it, they were beaten lightly with a feather. "But instead of calling oil executives on the carpet yesterday, senators gave them the red-carpet treatment. The companies summoned to testify have given about $400,000 in PAC money this year alone -- and much of that has found its way to those who served as the executives' interrogators."
8 Teaching White House ethics
This one definitely is satire. A few days back TDB brought news that George Bush had ordered White House staff to attend ethics classes in response to the charges bought against Lewis Libby. Christopher Buckley sits in on a class. ""Let's move on. Now suppose - yes, Mr. Cheney?" "I have to go. I have a meeting." "Please sit down. This is important." "So's my meeting." "Perhaps you'd like to share with us what it's about?" "Torture."

This one is not satire, but it should be. Yesterday TDB linked to a report that a pro-"intelligent design" school council in Pennsylvania had been voted out of office, every last one of them. Pat Robertson has news for those heathen voters - God is pissed, really pissed. "If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there."

And in case you hadn't heard, Libby in earlier, happier days, tried his hand at writing a book, as many Republicans have done before him. The New Yorker reviews this little known literary genre - the right-wing dirty novel. "So, how does Libby stack up against the competition? This question was put to Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain's Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad s*x writing in fiction. (In 1998, someone nominated the Starr Report.) Sladek agreed to review a few passages from Libby. "That's a bit depraved, isn't it, this kind of thing about bears and young girls? That's particularly nasty, and the other ones are just boring," she said. "God, they're an odd bunch, these Republicans." Unlike their American counterparts, she said, Tories haven't taken much to sex writing." (Is there an Australian equivalent? Has Ron Boswell say, or Santo Santoro, ever written a bed-bouncer?)

9 Juan Goytisolo  on his latest novel
From Le Monde, a writer TDB had not previously encountered. Juan Goytisolo has written a dozen novels, and is considered among the best fiction in Spanish in the 20th century, so we are told. In this article, he discusses his latest, autobiographical novel. "In 'Telon de Boca' the image of a crushed thistle in Chechnya, trampled by the boots of the Russian army and the tsar, later by Yeltsin's boots and now by Putin's, is a recurrent theme: the absurd and constant renewal of human barbarity. Given the choice between society's progress and its bestial heritage, the latter often prevails. Not much has changed in that respect. The brutality of the Spanish civil war is replayed in every civil war."
10 How to Google your dinner
This sounds like a great idea (link below) for those of us who walk into a kitchen stacked with ingredients and can't think of anything to cook. "The concept behind Google cooking is basic: Simply plug in your ingredients and the word "recipes," press Google search, then wait for the results to pop up. The engine will scour reams of Web sites -- from the expected (Food Network's http://foodtv.com/ ) to the obscure ( http://acupuncture.com/ ) -- for recipes that incorporate your desired foodstuffs. With its infinite repository, Google can find recipes for unconventional food pairings or exotic products that might stump most cookbooks." What it might come up with if you typed in "half a tomato, some limp celery, a mouldy thing that could have been a carrot and a dozen stubbies" is anyone's guess.

And for those who need such things, David Pogue in the NYTimes is excited about anytime, anywhere wireless downloading of songs onto your mobile. "This remarkable service is brought to you by Sprint. It's the first cellular carrier to unveil a phone-based online music store; the others have similar plans. Their logic goes like this: "Those crazy kids have bought 30 million iPods and a billion songs from online music stores. They also spend nearly $5 billion a year on downloadable ring tones. What if we could combine those two trends? If teenagers could download full-length songs right onto their cellphones - we'll be rich, I tell you! Rich!""

And in the same paper, Lizette Alvarez looks at the problems created by a  flood of emails, and reports that there are now consultants to deal with it. (TDB has one of those. It's called the delete key.) "The onslaught has given rise to a cottage industry of consultants who advise companies - including Microsoft, which helped create e-mail - on how to juggle their e-mail messages and focus on being more proactive than reactive, a difficulty in today's e-mail-intense corporate world."

11 Remembering 11/11
This one is a shameless plug for another (Brisbane-based) online outlet. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the end for Sir John Kerr, "for all of today the Larvatus Prodeo bloggers will share their thoughts and perspectives on The Dismissal. Some will examine the politics of then and now while others will reflect on the times. Some will use The Dismissal as a jumping off point for reflection on other matters." (Link below)

And to show that TDB is politically balanced when it comes to shameless plugs, Sydney-based RWDBs (Right Wing Death Beasts) might like to join Australia's shallowest and nastiest blogger to celebrate Gough's downfall. Apparently things could get interesting.

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

They are at it again, still, always. And the odd thing about it, is that it is gutless, lazy and useless behaviour - but comes dressed up as great pieces of journalism, serving the community. Take The Australian's lead, by Cameron Stewart: "Members of an alleged terror cell in Melbourne downloaded an al-Qai'da call-to-arms document that celebrates the Bali bombings and calls on Muslims to commit the "heroic act of jihad" against the West." Did they Cameron? Note the lack of attribution - "according to well-placed sources" comes down in the story. Stories like this (and a similar one on the front page of The Courier-Mail by  Ian McPhedran) require no journalistic skills at all. None. Anyone with the stomach to listen to some anonymous walloper boasting about his exploits, and the ability to transcribe the aforementioned boasting to make it sound like gospel fact, whilst showing callous disregard for the presumption of innocence, can do it. Anyone. Children do it all the time - "my friend's Dad's car can go on water all the way to America". Two weeks ago, stories like this might have been good investigative journalism that was worth something - it might have goaded authorities to act to address a threat in our midst. But that threat - so we are told - has been put behind bars awaiting trial. Stories like these are now "grub street hack" stuff - yellow journalism good for nothing except creating a prurient headline to sell a paper while trashing the rights every accused person is supposed to have under our system of justice. That'd be part of the "rule of law" and freedom that Iraq and the war against terror is supposed to be about. And which media group was in lock-step support for George Bush on those two fronts? News Ltd, publisher of The Australian and The Courier-Mail. Hypocrites.

Oh, and the Herald reports that the trial of terrorism suspect Joseph Terrence Thomas has been adjourned for more than two months after politicians and senior police claimed this week's federal and state police raids had thwarted a potential catastrophe. While TDB is happy to see murderous terrorists rot in hell, there would be some great poetic justice in seeing convictions quashed because of the prejudicial climate stirred up by mob mentality of media outlets that are, at the same time, cloyingly self-righteous.

And while we are doing the odd bit of journo-bashing, do have a look at a couple of columns below. Michael Costello in The Australian reckons that Kim Beazley has been grossly misrepresented by the press gallery in its reporting of his stance on the anti-terror laws. In short, he says they have taken him out of context to fit the prevailing narrative on Beazley. Well, TDB is too far from the action to know if it is a fair cop this time, but one thing is for sure - they do it all the time. Hunt like a dopey pack, all barking the same silly story. Then there is Richard Ackland, who has taken the time to study the minor amendment to the counter terrorism laws and says that they had played no part in the charges laid after this week's raids. But don't expect facts like that to get in the way of prevailing narratives about "vindication". Bloody hell, but isn't this a hard profession to love. Even when you love it.

Now, where were we? The Herald's lead reports that Liberal backbenchers and the Labor Party have targeted the potential of sedition provisions in the new anti-terrorism legislation to artistic and journalistic freedom of expression. It also reports that reckless police officers who ignore their supervisors' orders to call off high-speed pursuits will be reined-in with the introduction of a new response system across the state today; that police fear 19-month-old Rahma el-Dennaoui was abducted from her bedroom; that a senior employee of one of the biggest coal-fired power generators in NSW has been advising the Government on whether it should build a coal-fired power station; and that the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has rebuked the federal Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull and appealed to the major parties to put the common good before individual freedom.

The Age reports that Bali terror mastermind Azahari Husin had constructed 30 bombs for a new wave of attacks before he was killed during a dramatic police raid on his central Java hide-out; that three of Australia's most senior Commonwealth Games officials are expected to withdraw from the Queens' Baton Relay, after tensions overflowed at board level of the Melbourne 2006 corporation; that Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward says legal leaders are failing to provide adequate support for family-friendly working conditions; that workers who join nationwide strikes against contentious new industrial relations laws next Tuesday, without permission from the boss, risk having their pay docked and potential legal claims for damages; and that Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohammed Omran has branded police raids on alleged terrorists in Melbourne and Sydney as a "show-off exercise" and a massive overreaction.

The Australian reports that an inquest into the $300 million Iraqi wheat sales scandal has been given the powers of a royal commission but will be muzzled from investigating the role of the Government and ministers in the payment of illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein; that every child in Australia will be tested for literacy when they start school and then regularly over the next three years under a national action plan to help struggling students; and that mental illness and homelessness was the price the nation was paying for a "lax attitude" toward cannabis, John Howard has warned.

Elsewhere, Matt Price has a great (light) take of yesterday's events in Parliament and Mike Seccombe says "if pride goeth before a fall, then the Howard Government deserves to come a gigantic cropper"; Dr Peter Jensen is worried that Jesus is "slipping out of memory and imagination"; and that the lead singer of UK band The Darkness has bought a copy of his own yet to be released album for $769 from an eBay seller in Sydney, and he's not very happy about it.


The Age: Tony Parkinson applauds the political class for showing strength in the face of terrorism this week and attempts to link the French riots with the arrest of suspects related to a possible terrorist attack (a theory that has not had a wide airing elsewhere in the world); Lex Lasry explains why he thinks that the likely execution of his client Nguyen Tuong Van is an injustice that John Howard personally must speak out against; Greg Woodward it's time those who know explain why president Jimmy Carter assured Whitlam in 1977 that the US "would never again interfere in the domestic political processes of Australia" (indeed) and that Labor should look to Whitlam's foreign policy example; and Paul Austin warns of a looming attempt by the Bracks Government to rekindle its love affair with "the bush".

The Australian: Michael Costello brings great passion to a defence of Kim Beazley, which, if true (and it has that ring), is a damning indictment of the press gallery (which does love a convenient narrative into which it can lazily fit its reports) for misrepresenting and caricaturing the Labor leader; Lindsay Tanner maintains his rage over the events of 1975, but thinks it is time for Labor to "get over it"; Stephen Loosley outlines the impact he thinks the dismissal has had on every government since 1975; and Dick Morris, who now gets a run only from the more barking mad right-wing outposts of the US media, gives his views on the French riots.

The SMH: Richard Ackland, who has taken the time to study the legislation, says the minor change made after John Howard's "megaphone" announcement played no part in the charges laid after this week's raid, and that sceptics should not retreat from their view that is was a stunt; Malcolm Knox wonders how can we be sure the "rogue juror" we're trying to eliminate in a crowd-pleasing change to the Jury Act isn't the single hold-out who's right; Peter Hartcher says that while Labor is busy writing books about itself (or having them written), the Coalition is churning out legislation, at a frantic pace, that will change the nation; and Zachary Abuza explains why he thinks that Azahari Husin death is a set-back and not a knock-out blow for Jemaah Islamiah.


The ACCC's ruling on Toll Holding's bid for Patricks dominates the business pages this morning, with The Australian's lead reporting that Toll might be forced to sell its 50 per cent of the Pacific National rail joint venture before it could proceed with a $4.3 billion bid for Patrick Corporation, the competition regulator declared yesterday. The paper also reports that National Australia Bank has demanded more than $539 million in compensation from two brokers for allegedly helping to hide trading losses that led to the bank's foreign currency options scandal in 2004; and that Coles Myer chief John Fletcher yesterday described trading conditions as the toughest he had seen in years and warned of challenging times ahead as the nation's second-largest retailer produced its lowest quarterly sales growth for more than a decade.

The Herald reports that building materials company James Hardie had a massive hike in first half profits although the bumper result was marred by further high spending on advisers hired to extricate the company from the scandal about asbestos compensation; that Rio chief executive Leigh Clifford has warned that the supply of iron ore is "extremely tight" and remains vulnerable to supply shocks delivered by cyclones, among other things; and that Optus reported its second consecutive quarter of falling earnings yesterday, down 8.1 per cent to $150 million for the three months to September 30, as intense competition across the telecom sector pulled its revenue growth to a complete halt.

The Age reports that Coopers Brewery has accused Lion Nathan of trying to pressure accountants KPMG into giving a valuation of the Adelaide brewer that would support Lion Nathan's hostile $352 million $260-a-share bid; that Peter Costello has warned that unemployment may have hit its low point for this cycle, after new figures showed employment has fallen for the second month in a row; and that economic policy consultant Nicholas Gruen will today suggest a radical new regime of economic reform measures, including making transparent what job satisfaction big companies offer their workers.

Stephen Bartholomeusz says the ACCC hasn't derailed Toll Holdings' $4.6 billion bid for Patrick Corp, but it has taken some steam out of its boilers, and that Toll has to offer something better; Elizabeth Knight only serves to feed the public's justifiable outrage that more than a year after the company agreed to set up a fund to compensate sufferers of asbestos-related diseases, no agreement has yet been signed; and Matthew Stevens thinks Paul Little has a lot of clever talking to do between now and Christmas if he is to convince Graeme Samuel to clear Toll Holding's bid for Patrick Corporation.


The Daily Telegraph: A suspected Sydney terrorist believed to be the owner of a burnt-out car containing a drum of chemicals has fled the country, The Daily Telegraph has learned; How did a 19-month-old girl disappear from her bed in the middle of the night?

The Herald-Sun: Scores of factory workers say they don't want to work alongside the thugs who bashed cameramen outside a court where nine men were facing terrorism charges; Almost 2000 drivers have been booked in one month on the West Gate Bridge - Victoria's newest speed trap.

The Courier-Mail: Australia's first home-grown terrorists used fake identities to buy bomb-making chemicals and hire cars; "SEX offences" against two Dalby girls would not have happened if Premier Peter Beattie had agreed to move "convicted paedophile Dennis Ferguson", Federal Parliament has been told.

The Advertiser: Australia urgently needs more than a 1000 extra GPs a year from 2007 or it will face a massive crisis, a government report shows; The State Government spent more than $800,000 installing "School Pride" signs at all public schools and pre-schools.

The West Australian: Yet another report has provided a damning insight into the dire state of the Swan and Canning rivers, this time with the government body responsible for the waterways saying they are suffering "severe ecological stress"; A liquor shop selling only cleanskin bottles of wine can open on Sundays in a landmark court ruling that could pave the way for other bottle shops to trade all weekend

The Mercury: Racing Minister Jim Cox has been accused of offering $1 million to Tasmanian jockeys concerned about betting exchange Betfair; Whole Tasmanian logs originally destined for veneer peeling in Korea have ended up as Asian woodchips.


Socceroos skipper Mark Viduka has pledged a tougher, more savvy Australia will not be undone this weekend by the tactical naivety that led to their World Cup downfall in Montevideo four years ago; After 12 seasons of first-class cricket, three tours as a national squad member and six frustrating Tests as 12th man, Brad Hodge believes he is closer than ever to realising his dream of playing for Australia; Trent Barrett hopes a visit to a Paris podiatrist will help him regain his favourite five-eighth position in the Australian team for the remainder of the Tri-Nations tournament.

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re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Robyn, what they should do is make it so that you need a doctor's certificate if the day you are having off is Monday or Friday. That will work in curbing that habit.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Australia needs 1000 extra GPs. Yep, where I live, if employers take up the power to demand a medical certificate after one day's absence in the new IR legislation, their workers will have no recourse but to accept docked pay because it takes three or four weeks to get in to see a doctor. And that's if you have a regular doctor. Mostly books are closed to new patients.

I suppose they could spend their sick day travelling in closer to the city centre to wait around at one of those 24-hr clinics. That would probably mean they needed the next day off too, though.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has rebuked the federal Liberal MP Malcolm Turnbull and appealed to the major parties to put the common good before individual freedom.

Funny, that was an argument used for the execution of Jesus: "Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people." (John 18:14 - sorry it's the King Jim version, the only one I could find online in a hurry.)

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Why has the Western media forgotten the victims of the Pakistan earthquake?

The world reacted with overwhelming support for the Tsunami but has not responded well for the children trapped in the mountains of Pakistan.
We are focused on terrorism and IR and perhaps the best we can do to prevent future acts of terrorism is to show that we do care!

See here:

"Nearly one million children (955,000) of school age have been affected by the disaster.

Over 450,000 children between 5 and 9 years of age require primary education.

An estimated 4,000 temporary primary schools are needed.
More than 17,000 pupils were killed when their schools collapsed around them.

Reflecting on the Muslim festival, UNICEF Education Officer in Pakistan Maurice Robson reiterated the importance of rebuilding the affected region’s educational system: “One thing we can give children this Eid is hope for the future. We are working to restore schools, train teachers and give children exercise books, pencils and text books.”

Some children are already learning again in temporary tent schools. Not only is it important to keep breaks in education to a minimum, it is crucial that affected children are given a place where they can feel safe, receive immunisations and get access to clean water, and where some of the damage caused to vulnerable minds can be addressed.

Yet the need for increased aid from the international community remains acute. Without more funds, it will be impossible to overcome the logistical challenges of delivering aid to remote quake-affected areas. A second wave of deaths may be the tragic result. The total UN appeal is for $550 million, of which only a little more than $130 million has been received to date."

A dollar spent on aid is worth ten spent on security.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

I too am worried about connections between cannabis and mental illness, but the Australian has to win awards for sloppiness with this report. Note the discrepancy between these two paragraphs:

Experts have told The Australian that there is overwhelming evidence cannabis causes psychotic illnesses, such as schizophrenia, as well as depression and anxiety disorders, particularly among young people.

"It's really heavy use that's associated with mental illness," he [Monash University forensic psychiatrist Paul Mullen] said. "My guess is that some people are ending up with mental illnesses who wouldn't otherwise have done so." (emphasis added).

Oh, and the last para of the article: "Mr Howard said his department would examine a Mental Health Council study and report to cabinet on possible responses." refers not to cannabis at all, but the the landmark Not for service report on failures in the mental health care system.

Patricia Karvelas: back to journalism school.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

An extract from Laura Tingle's A tale of terrorism in two electorates in Financial Review (view with $2.50, or a subscription):

There is an alarming impatience even in Australia with anyone who dares raise anything as heretical as civil liberties problems with our proposed counter-terrorism legislation. But there is, even for the impatient, a more substantial issue here - that there is no point passing laws that don't actually achieve anything.

Already there is a glitch - little remarked upon, but rather extraordinary in the circumstances - in the law rushed through with such drama in Australia last week: it is not retrospective. The clause that makes it retrospective has still to be passed by the parliament.

This might not matter at all. But since the charge sheets of at least some of those arrested this week related to events going back to May this year, it well might - a situation that would have more than simple political fallout.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

So it was merely coincidence that all of Murdoch's 100-plus newspapers were flag-waving supporters of invading Iraq? Yeah, right.

On the subject of drug psychosis, the biggest mental health crisis we are facing is caused by methamphetamine use. Meanwhile politicians keep focusing on cannabis, which is the lesser of those two evils. The meth problem wasn't around when our leaders were young, which could explain why they tend to be blind to it.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

See Israelis evacuated from Amman hotel hours before bombings:

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israelis staying at the Radisson on Wednesday had been evacuated before the attacks and escorted back home "apparently due to a specific security threat."

Amos N Guiora, a former senior Israeli counter-terrorism official, said in a phone interview with The Times that sources in Israel had also told him about the pre-attack evacuations.

"It means there was excellent intelligence that this thing was going to happen," said Guiora, a former leader of the Israel Defense Forces who now heads the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. "The question that needs to be answered is why weren't the Jordanians working at the hotel similarly removed?"

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Michael Coleman, the Haaretz piece you yourself linked to says:

"No truth to report of Israeli evacuations before Amman bombs

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent

There is no truth to reports that Israelis staying at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman on Wednesday were evacuated by Jordanian security forces before the bombing that took place there.

The Israelis were escorted back to Israel by Jordanian security personnel only after the attacks had taken place, contrary to earlier reports."

Please, this is already a hot-button issue, and spreading untruths and misinformation do not serve understanding. Think and check before you post stories like that. This false story is on the same level as the "Jews were warned to stay home on 9/11" canard, and serves no-one except those dedicated to perpetuating conflict and bigotry.

If Webdiary is truly to be an "alternative," a "citizens' journalism" answer to the mainstream media, then we must hold ourselves to at least the journalistic standards to which the mainstream are supposed to adhere (and so often do not).

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Wayne, thanks for the How to Google Your Dinner link - what a neat idea.

Now I wonder what inspirational ideas I can get with "john orifice pineapple howard"

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, how do you know which are ‘untruths’ and ‘misinformation’ and which are not? Legitimate questions have arisen. How do these perpetuate ‘conflict and bigotry’? Is it because they don’t support your ideas of Israelis being always the victim in this conflict or is it because you are unable to accept that Israeli forces are often, and have proven to be, the perpetrators while trying to pass the blame on to others and trying to make themselves look the victims in order to pursue some other deceitful agenda?

I suggest that you and others, in denying the validity of the questions that are raised and simply labelling them as ‘untruths’ and ‘misinformation’, are the perpetuators of ‘conflict and bigotry’. Most of us are simply searching for the truth.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, the Haaretz story was quoted by The LA Times. Subsequently, the Haaretz story was changed without any explanation.

As Bob has noted, Amos Guiora directly confirmed the early evacuation of Israelis.

I saw the original story on Haaretz, but refrained from posting it until I found independent confirmation.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard: "Please, this is already a hot-button issue, and spreading untruths and misinformation do not serve understanding. Think and check before you post stories like that. This false story is on the same level as the "Jews were warned to stay home on 9/11" canard, and serves no-one except those dedicated to perpetuating conflict and bigotry."

It might well be a false story. However, it would help if you had responded to both of Michael's references. You failed to mention his second point about Dr Guiora. To help, the story is here.

That should help you fully respond to Michael.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Jay White, please don't jump to conclusions. It is entirely unreasonable to decide that I blame Israel or the USA for the deadly explosions in Jordan based on my posts to this thread.

If you are arguing that Israelis were not evacuated early, you are proposing your own "conspiracy nonsense". Do you really think it is likely that The LA Times and well known Israeli Amos Guiora have colluded to perpetuate a lie started by Haaretz?

There are some questions arising from the original report that Jordanian security forces escorted Israelis from the Radisson before the bombing. And it seems to me that it is the Jordanians who have to answer most of these questions.

And I'd also like to know why Haaretz buried the original report in the way that they did.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Michael Coleman I am surprised that you have taken this direction of argument. I thought you to be a more serious person than the one willing to take the conspiracy nonsense with anything more than a grain of salt.

The fact is, going from yesterday's street protests in Jordan, the people there do not have any doubts about who is to blame. Surprise, suprise it is neither Israel or the USA.

The most successful killing of Muslims is being carried out by other so called Muslims. I also think, going by the demonstrations, that the majority of people in these societies have just about had enough.

They certainly dont need these things cheered on by malcontents and lunatics living in Western nations far from the violence. I don't see you as one of these people and, as I have said, I am surprised by your last postings.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Here's the story they're running over at the New York Times. It's accompanied by a sound-effect called the "sound of one knee jerking."

Could be more Zionist propaganda though. But you guys aren't accusing anyone of anything - you're just "raising questions," that's all. Like "when did you stop beating your wife?"

Here's a legitimate question: is it possible you've swallowed a story hook line and sinker because it's exactly what you want to hear?

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

The LA Times story says "Amos N. Guiora, a former [my emphasis] senior Israeli counter-terrorism official, said in a phone interview with The Times that sources in Israel had also told him about the pre-attack evacuations.

'It means there was excellent intelligence that this thing was going to happen,' said Guiora, a former leader of the Israel Defence Forces who now heads the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland."

A former official quotes "sources" (unnamed)? This would flunk Journalism 101. Come on guys, you have to raise your game to some level of journalistic standards above this type of innuendo. I would accept the Israelis might have done something bad if there was proof. Remember the "Massacre" of Jenin?

Damian Are you so intent on blaming all the world's troubles on Israel that you've become as "gullible" as the "right-wing dupes" you take so much pleasure in contemptuously castigating on these pages?
(check out that alliteration!)

Bob, Michael, Damian: All I say can about the "Israelis evacuated their people" story say is: prove it! You're all great at demanding "proof" when the Howard government says there's a terrorist threat or says a terrorist suspect shot at police. Where your vaunted scepticism now? The LA Times, the NY Times, and Washington Post all got it wrong on Iraqi WMD, which you've all pointed out with great glee. But now you believe the LA Times over Haaretz? Hmmm - I say "gullible."

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, I just found this on harretz.com:

A number of Israelis staying yesterday at the Radisson SAS were evacuated before the bombing by Jordanian security forces, apparently due to a specific security alert. They were escorted back to Israel by security personnel.

Pretty sloppy to leave this on their site without any update or a link to the reversal don't you think?

I think we can all guess why the MSM lied about WMD and Iraq. I can't wait to hear your theory as to why Amos Guiora or The LA Times would lie about a subject like this.

If you really want to know "exactly what [I] want to hear", the headlines would be "Peace Breaks Out In Middle East", "Sovereignty, Dignity And Opportunity For All People Guaranteed".

Will, please lay off the personal stuff. I'd like to think we can discuss this without getting nasty. Even if we disagree vehemently.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, my point was about you dismissing someone's argument without addressing all the evidence provided. And then pontificating about journalistic standards.
That you now include me in your demand to "prove it" is a misrepresentation of the point of my post. I suggest you examine your own journalistic standards.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

See Palestinian intelligence chief killed in Amman hotel blast:

AMMAN (AFP) — The head of the Palestinian intelligence services, Bashir Nafeh, was among those killed in Wednesday's blasts, a top Palestinian diplomat told AFP early Thursday. “Bashir Nafeh was killed in the attack on the Grand Hyatt Hotel,” Charge D'affaires Atallah Khairy said.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard asks: “Are you so intent on blaming all the world's troubles on Israel…” You think I’m blaming all the worlds’ troubles on Israel!!? That’s a big leap from simply pondering the truth behind conflicting stories about what foreknowledge the Israelis had or did not have prior to certain incidents throughout history. But the really big leap Will Howard, is the one you seem to make to its defence every time Israel’s involvement in anything slightly dodgy gets a mention at Webdiary.

All I am doing is asking questions – just seeking the truth. If it seems that I ask certain questions in such a way as it may seem that I am implying that Israel is up to some sort of no good and/or that I am sceptical about some of the stories Israel puts out, it is because they have a recurrent history of deceit and of getting up to no good. You may spin it any way you wish; the reality is Israel has a very well documented history of lies and deception. Their word can no longer be accepted at face value. Everything needs, for the sake of history, to be questioned.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

The NY Times and other outlets are running a story that an Iraqi woman has confessed to being part of the Jordanian bombings. Zarqawi has apparently claimed responsibility for the attacks. Now this could all be Israeli propaganda, or possibly, just possibly the story is true. Isn't it possible that Zarqawi really exists? And that he's really behind some nasty terrorism?

I'm only asking questions. Seeking truth. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

OK - apologies for my tone in the previous posts. But my point stands in one sense - all I'm doing is "raising questions," not accusing anyone of anything, like gullibility. So you see how it comes across. You can say anything you want, no matter how pernicious, if you put it in the form of a question. "Just asking questions." How could any intrepid Webdiary-reading seeker-after-truth object to that? Surely no one is afraid of few questions in search of truth?

Anything is possible, like the Earth was created in six days, and all the geological evidence was placed in just such a way to fool us into thinking it was 4 billion years. Or maybe the story of Israeli foreknowledge of the Jordanian bombings was Arab disinformation. If the Israelis can do it, why not Zarqawi?

So OK, I ask: what if the story that the Israelis knew ahead of time was a clever plant to dupe gullible left-wing Westerners who are only too ready to believe anything painting the evil Zionists as nasty schemers? I'm only asking. To seek the truth, of course. Surely Webdiarists aren't afraid of a few questions. Are you?

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, the truth it seems was always known by the people of Jordan going by last week's street demonstrations. A pity a few Western leftists did not take the hint.

The biggest killer today of Muslims is by other so-called Muslims.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, I can't find anything in any of the reports that indicates that Israeli intelligence was responsible for the early evacuation of Israelis from the Radisson. As I understand it, the Jordanians had foreknowledge and Jordanians evacuated the Israelis.

I am thinking that the Jordanians had specific warning of a threat and decided that the diplomatic consequences of Israeli casualties were too severe and they decided not to take any chances in that regard. For me, the big question still remains; why weren't the other guests and staff protected too? I am also thinking that Haaretz may have pulled the original story to reduce the pressure on Jordanian authorities to explain themselves.

As for this story being "a clever plant to dupe gullible left-wing Westerners", I can only wonder why the Haaretz editors and reporters were party to this. Don't you think they would have required something more than speculation to run such a sensitive story in the first place? And you still haven't offered any motive for Amos Guiora and The LA Times to perpetuate a lie designed to trick the gullible. Sounds like you are proposing a conspiracy theory.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Will Howard, the only interesting thing here is that it has to be you to raise the NYT report.

As for the others? The first time they ever raise something on this subject which isn't a piece of anti-Israel slander or propaganda they have managed to trawl from somewhere on the net, I might begin to think about giving their claims of academic or professional objectivity some sort of credence.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Geoff Pahoff, you've picked the only report that's not particularly relevant here. You, Will Howard and Jay White have all scored in excess of 9.5 from all the judges in the Olympic (Knee) Jerk.

Here's a tip: Go back to my first post and read it as an attack on the Jordanian authorities - an attack that does not question the identity of the bombers.

I am particularly surprised by Will's response. For some time I have admired his posts for their intelligence and moderation. Even when I have disagreed, I have been able to respect his opinions for their clear and considered reasoning.

Seems that I, however, have been labelled a ratbag and an 'enemy of Israel'. Instead of reading my posts for what they actually contain, they are filtered and interpreted as anti-Israeli as a matter of course. Even though I have quoted Israeli sources!

I've been attacked for not thinking, not checking, gullibility, flunking journalism 101 and serving the interests of those dedicated to perpetuating conflict and bigotry. You don't want to discuss the reports, you want to smear and sneer and deny. It's a reflex.

I'm struggling to find a reason why I should take you guys seriously ever again.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

OK Geoff, apology accepted, thank you.

I would more readily agree that my first posts smacked of an attack on Jews if I had not found a second source quoting Amos Guiora. I have yet to find anything that would identify him as anti-Israeli and unreliable.

I really thought my first reply to Jay should have given everyone enough of a hint to understand my line of enquiry.

re: The Daily Briefing 11/11/05

Alright Michael, I apologise. But I think you do have to admit that your original post and follow up smacked of the "all Jews working in the WTC stayed home on 9/11" theory. Try to understand how offensive that and similar theories are.

Another couple of tips if I may. Haaretz is kind of the SMH or The Guardian of the Israeli press. Not as bad as The Canberra Times but it does publish an awful lot of crap. Also take any single report on Israel/Palestine with a grain of salt. One side is being constantly misquoted or quoted out of context and the other side has made an artform out of lying. And watch out for the media feeding frenzies. Paper pogroms and blood libels. Such as the Jenin "massacre".

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