WHEN GUNS ARE OUTLAWED, ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE GUNS. That bumper-sticker wisdom is apparently being borne out in Sydney, where armed hold-ups have increased massively following the introduction of gun bans a few years ago:

A special team of detectives will investigate armed hold-ups as new figures reveal that such robberies soared by more than a third in two years.

In Blacktown, armed robberies rose 138 per cent in the two years to last December. Also hard hit were St George-Sutherland, where the rise was 77 per cent; central western Sydney, taking in Auburn, Holroyd and Parramatta (64 per cent); and Canterbury-Bankstown (43 per cent).

The article doesn't mention the gun bans, brought in following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, preferring to blame the increase in armed attacks on desperate heroin addicts. Yeah. Right.


Reader Eric Ellis is upset about me calling shallow Brit twink Patrick Barkham a "pantywaist limey" (scroll down to yesterday's posts). He writes:

"Your column in The Australian railing at Patrick Barkham's valedictory column about Australia actually proved an underlying point he raised. He is actually a journalist of British nationality and not 'some pantywaist limey'. Or perhaps you regard racism directed at a Briton/white person somehow not racism? And I wonder if you considered the amount of articles that fill weekly Australian pages about the UK that Brits might find offensive? Moreover, as one of the despised Australian expatriates he writes of, I wonder also if you considered that it is one of the commanding heights of cultural cringe-making to burst outraged into print at the merest criticism (or is mention?) offered by someone toward Australia. Mr Barkham may have been glib, even a little sloppy, with his use of devices to illustrate his article but his deeper points were well made. Your column was parochial but then I could've simply read Patrick Barkham's column about Australians to determine if that was still a national characteristic."

Mr Ellis is very serious, perhaps too much so. I think he's got that cultural cringe deal wrong, too; time was when any criticism from abroad was met here by terrified vows to appease our international betters.

Them days is gone. Now, if someone takes a swing at us, we'll swing back. Especially at Barkham, who doesn't look like he could last five rounds with my nine-year-old niece.

SOMEONE slap a patent on the VodkaPundit. He could be loaded with valuable nanotube technology.

TASMANIA is riven by a debate over shopping hours. The government wants to make it legal for stores to open whenever they like; the main opposition party wants to keep things as they are, with certain stores banned from trading on Sundays, and so on.

Unbelievably, the party opposing deregulation is the usually pro-business Liberal Party. Their logic, such as it is, holds that smaller businesses would be crushed by major chains if shopping hours were to be decided by people who own shops.

Next on the Tasmanian Liberals' agenda: urgent assistance is needed for the local pianola industry, lest mainland folks with their fancy gramophones blast it into redundancy.


Fargo Forum newspaper columnist Janell Cole thinks I've insulted a beloved North Dakota politician. In an article headlined "N.D. man as trivia", she wrote:

Australian humorist Tim Blair recently tossed a North Dakotan's name into his Web site. He criticized another columnist, Maureen Dowd, for belatedly comparing Clinton Administration members to the Seinfeld TV show's characters. He pointed out that Seinfeld has been off the air four years and Clinton out of office for more than a year.

"Next … which Happy Days character most resembled the Ford Administration's Thomas Kleppe," sneered Blair.

Kleppe is a former Bismarck mayor and Gold Seal Co. executive who was a North Dakota congressman from 1967-71 and U.S. secretary of the Interior, 1975-77.

(Note to self: include North Dakota references in as many items as possible, especially during slow news days.)

ELDERLY QUEENSLANDER Nancy Crick recently became globally famous when she vowed to kill herself. Terminally ill with cancer, Crick was seized upon by euthanasia advocates as an example of the cruelty of keeping people alive when they wished to die.

One problem for the advocates: since being re-admitted to hospital and hooked up to wonderful, wonderful morphine, Crick no longer wishes to die. This highlights (for me, anyway) the main difficulty with any euthanasia legislation: a person's mood, symptoms, and prognosis will vary. Someone begging to die one day may be quite content the next. Death doesn't allow for any second thoughts.

IN AUSTRALIAN McDonald's restaurants you can buy a local burger variation called the McOz. Selected US McDonald's stores will shortly be McOzzified, according to The Age:

The all-American burger is set to get a true-blue makeover after McDonald's yesterday decided to test Australian and New Zealand beef in about 400 of its 13,000 US restaurants.

Our domination of American culture will soon be complete! Ha ha ha!

WANT your kids to become winners? Then get tough on them, says Professor Allan Snyder, author of a new book that urges parents to "teach their children to embrace pain and fear instead of comfort and leisure." The SMH's Matt Thompson reports:

His sentiments on how to create "an army of supremely talented people" are shared by world champion boxer Kostya Tszyu, 32, who grew up in a remote Soviet industrial city in the Ural Mountains, sleeping on the floor of a room he shared with his parents and sister.

The father of two sons, aged four and seven, Mr Tszyu is determined to defy Australia's she'll-be-right culture, and instil a champion's spirit in his children.

"I want my kids to struggle. They do gymnastics and soccer and boxing, and I put them against bigger guys. One of them come to me and say 'I don't want to go back tomorrow - it hurts too much', and I say 'I'm happy to hear this, it is good and you will be there tomorrow,"' Mr Tszyu said.

OBITUARIES are fascinating. Here's one from Baltimore, where the world of duckpin bowling mourns a titan of the sport:

Jean Stewart, a former parochial school teacher who achieved local duckpin bowling fame by winning the 1965 Evening Sun championship, died March 28 of cancer at her Lake Wales, Fla., home. She was 68 and had lived in Fallston.

Often photographed attired in an unwrinkled white bowling blouse embroidered with the name Jean and a large capital S, she was ranked as one of the city's leading duckpin bowlers. In the 1950s and 1960s, she was a frequent contender in the annual midwinter competition sponsored by the old Evening Sun. She was inducted into the Baltimore Duckpin Bowlers Association Hall of Fame in 1994.

"She was competitive yet down-to-earth, a good sport," said Patsy Stroessner, a retired top-ranked duckpin bowler who lives in Eldersburg. "She was always interested in the betterment of the game."


LATEST thing by me in The Australian. It's a response to some pantywaist limey's complaints about Australia.

TOP LEVEL peace talks have taken place. Nothing to do with the Middle East, however; these talks are the most recent development in the Wayne & Sally & Anthony & Kelli saga.

IMAGINE how strange and paranoid this comment would have seemed just 12 months ago:

"The only thing standing between us and an ugly death at the hands of medieval fanatics is the western political, military, economic and religious system."

Today, Bruce Hill's remark stands as an elemental truth.

THE LATEST US POLLS ON THE MIDDLE EAST. I haven't seen anything similar conducted in Australia; maybe next week.

51% of Americans say that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is a terrorist. Only 17% disagree, while 32% are not sure.

This finding is from a national telephone survey of 1,000 adults conducted by Scott Rasmussen Public Opinion Research on April 1, 2002. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

59% of men say Arafat is a terrorist and 44% of women share that view.

64% of Republicans view the Palestinian as a terrorist. 48% of Democrats agree as do 41% of unaffiliateds.



Starting this weekend, readers of France's Le Monde will get a new supplement when they open their weekend newspapers: 12 pages of articles from The New York Times.

The English-language supplement, which debuts Saturday, will feature a selection of the U.S. daily's top articles.

"By entering into this collaboration with the prestigious American newspaper, Le Monde is responding to the growing expectations of readers who are curious and attentive about everything that happens across the Atlantic," wrote Jean-Marie Colombani, the publisher.

A FORENSIC study of Michael Moore's latest diary piece is provided by Gary Farber, whose publishing background proves especially useful in decoding Moore's poverty pleading. Recommended for the discerning reader.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU BLOW UP? The Christian Science Monitor interviews a teenage Palestinian girl whose ambition is to become a suicide bomber:

The living room of the Oudeh family, with its flowered settees and polished stone coffee table, its carved wooden antelopes and framed needlepoints, seems an unlikely place to meet a terrorist, even a hypothetical one.

But Shireen Oudeh, 14 years old, a delicate gold chain hanging over the collar of her beige turtleneck, doesn't bridle at the label. "If Sharon is calling us terrorists," she says, referring to Israel's prime minister, "we should show him the terror."

Would she herself become a suicide bomber? "If God wills it," she says in a low, serious voice. "If I had the means, I would have done it yesterday."

DAMIAN PENNY, the Newfie of the Apocalypse, has too much good material available to bother with any individual links. Go visit his site, and see – among many other things – why he's found cause to rename Indymedia. Penny's suggested title? "Nazimedia".

WEBSIDE STORY. Catch up on all the inside-the-Internet action with the Boston Globe's expert web watcher Alex Beam:

Item! The Unabomber isn't letting hard jail time get him down. The famous cabin-dweller now has his own website! If only Ted Kasinkski had used his powers for good, instead of for writing Al Gore's book … feeling sorry for all the Jewish people getting blown up in Palestine? Well, I was too, until I learned that they drink human blood … Bono for world president! The pro-Bono movement gained new momentum this week when the U2 frontman revealed his clever economic plan … Item! The Queen Mother is dead. My condolences to her family … was Nostradamus uncannily accurate or what? … speaking about ladies, I've got some bad news, girls. Rumor has it that hunky Andrew Sullivan isn't available, if you get my drift! Not that there's anything wrong with that … I bet George W. Bush wishes he'd never given the Taliban all that money … call me old fashioned, but I think it's bad and cruel to name a little girl after a bug … imagine what went through the mind of this poor tourist when the building he was standing on got knocked over … Item! A certain so-called Indian man isn't fooling anyone. He can't even spell "Calcutta"! … the war of terror is really all about oil … librarians used to be helpful old women who knew all about the Dewey Decimal System. Now they're angry and gun-owning and English … Osama bin Laden might live in a cave, but is that any excuse for not exercising? … and that's all for this week! See you soon for more Webside stories!

IS THERE a level above "must read"? If not, we'll have to invent a new way to describe today's column by James Lileks.

Note: after Lileks, hit InstantMan for the full story on the Boston Globe's hysterical blunder. Globe hack Alex Beam will never live this down.

"WE WERE ONLY SHOWING SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIANS." Poor little peaceniks! How were they to know that the West Bank is a dangerous place? Why weren't they told?

An Australian idiot was among those lightly peppered with indirect gunfire after her spazz battalion advanced on an unamused Israeli tank commander yesterday. Memo to morons: this isn't 1989, you aren't in Tianamen Square, and some tanks are unfriendly.

Australia's opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd – normally a rational fellow – discarded reason in his reaction to the insignificant confrontation. He demanded that minister Alexander Downer protest to the Israeli Embassy, and said that the use of live ammunition (is ammunition "live" if it first strikes the ground?) against an international peace group was unacceptable, regardless of who they supported.

What peace group? These kids are supporters of the Palestinians

SISTER UPDATE: Thanks to all the readers (including some dedicated foes) who sent word of concern and hope when I mentioned here last month that my sister Dianne required minor surgery to test for cervical cancer.

Dianne has now received all her test results, and it's mostly wonderful news. Some abnormal cells were detected, but they were in the lowest range possible. To describe her situation in terms of local politics, this is like having some Australian Democrats in the Senate - but not enough to hold the balance of power or influence government.

In fact, Dianne's abnormal cell count is so low that in circumstances like hers they often vanish spontaneously. Again, like the Australian Democrats.

A SUB-LITERATE person keeps sending e-mails accusing me of supporting the "Sharon oppressive regime" in my "anti-Arab, Zionist-friendly weblog".

I invited the sender to establish their own weblog – a pro-Arab, Zionist-unfriendly one – but the invitation was declined. That means the world is denied insights like these:

Dear "News-Value" Watcher,

News values: phew, since when you're interested in "new values"? Practice as you preach.

When the "civilised" Israeli army slaughters Palestinian civilians and bystanders (including non-Palestinian journalists & watchers), as well as engaging in a systematic injustices, it's NOT a news value. But when a Palestinian blows himself/herself up, then it becomes front page (tabloid) news and a lead item in your anti-Arab, Zionist-friendly weblog.

When you defend & praise Bush's unconditional support for the Sharon oppressive regime, your prejudiced news value is failing you to inform you readers that it's the international community opinion/condemnation that should also be taking into account.

Yet, sadly this is not what you believe to be an important inclusion in your "news value" principles. If you're fair-dinkum about the issues, check out these links for some world view, instead of quoting us the Israeli Government's PR grabs.

[lists a bunch of articles from Reuters, the BBC, the Sydney Morning Herald, etc]

No doubt it is the learned comments by the leader of the United States of Ignorance, which are setting your "news-value" benchmark.

No doubt! Hey – all that curdled language reminds me; wasn't Margo Kingston's Webdiary meant to return today? I must rush over to www.smh.com.au to check.


"Are you an ex-leftie, pushed over the edge into savage right-wing thinking by the current unpleasantness? Yeah, me too ..."

THAT'S new Aussie blogger Bruce Hill's motto at his excellent War Now! site. He's funny and sharp, especially on local war coverage. An example:

"The PLO representative in Australia, Ali Kazak, was sent here because he was so completely useless in Tunis that they felt Australia would be far away enough for him not to be able to do the Palestinian cause any real harm. Not correct I'm afraid - every time he opens his mouth he loses them support. Tonight on SBS he did his usual trick, taking some basic facts and then going so far into his own personal fantasy world that you can only wonder what colour the sky is on his home planet.

"At least SBS had on someone whose sympathies were clearly labeled. They have a nasty habit of wheeling in Dr Amin Saikal as simply 'a middle east expert', despite the fact that he leans so hard in one direction he can barely walk."

Bookmark this site.

"THE DUCKS WERE THE TELL-TALE SIGN": All this April Fooling – and yes, my Webdiary job was among the foolishness – had a dire effect on the Canadian dollar. It’s always fun until somebody gets hurt …

MARK STEYN farewells the Queen Mum:

"She was instinctively conservative. She thought decolonization had come too soon, that the European Union was absurd, that Prince Philip's uncle, Lord Mountbatten, had made a complete pig's ear of India, and that Tony Blair was a modish twerp. On all of these matters, I agree with Her Majesty."

MICHAEL MOORE isn't just poor; he's broke. Or at least he claims to be, in his latest diary entry:

"I am being evicted today, Good Friday, from my office. I had just one week left to edit my film, but the landlord – heartless bastard! – is having me tossed out for non-payment of rent.

"Now, I don't want to bore you with my financial situation, and I certainly don't want you feeling sorry for me. I have done better than I have ever dreamed of with my high school education, and I'm sure most of you could fill both my ears with what it takes for YOU just to make it through the week.

"Okay, the phones are back up. And, lucky for me, just in time, because the guy who does our taxes is calling to tell me that our tax returns are all filled out ... 'But there's just one little problem -- you have no money in the bank to pay your taxes!' he says.

"The credit card company has now called because they have cut off our card. But, wait, we paid THAT bill!"

Is this an April Fool's Day gag column? It could almost pass as one, except for the end, when Moore writes about the recent deaths of four family members; if it isa joke, it's crude and jarring.

So what happened to all of Moore's cash? Only last month, he crowed:

"I'm a millionaire, I'm a multi-millionaire. I'm filthy rich. You know why I'm a multi-millionaire? 'Cause multi-millions like what I do. That's pretty good, isn't it? There's millions that believe in what I do. Pretty cool, huh?"

Pretty cool, Michael. Are you broke or what? And when are you going to pay your tax bill?

TODAY'S SHERLOCK HOLMES AWARD goes to the "terrorism expert" quoted in the Contra Costa Times:

"Obviously, it's very hard to interview suicide bombers."

100 MORE SUICIDE BOMBERS ON THE WAY. From today's Sydney Morning Herald:

Israeli forces are locked in a race against time to score a decisive military victory over armed Palestinian groups, with warnings that 100 more suicide bombers are poised to strike.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, ordered that the offensive be stepped up, amid growing international pressure for Israeli troops to withdraw from Palestinian areas.

The Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, remained under siege in his Ramallah
compound, saying he would never surrender.

"Victory will be here sooner than expected, God willing," he said, hugging visiting foreign activists for the cameras.

If I were a Yasser

I'd Yasser in the morning

I'd Yasser in the evening

All over this land ….

IF IT isn't the right thing to blow Arafat to bits for his serial denial of decency and justice, how about we do it just to shut him up?

IT'S BAD ENOUGH that Russell Crowe beats up on defenceless Moby and abuses people who protect us from his poetry readings. Now the cinematic Minimus is interfering in Australian sport.


And in other Middle Eastern telecommunications news:







TALK ABOUT YOUR WEBDORK COINCIDENCES. This site received its 200,000th hit today. On my birthday. Now I have no need for expensive gifts.

Well, maybe one. Beautiful Nadia located a priceless video tape of Ari Vatanen ascending Pikes Peak at furious speed in a turbo Peugeot 405. It is magnificent, chilling viewing. At one point a wheel slides over the road's edge, beyond which lies a terrible abyss.

Which is as good a metaphor for turning 37 that I can come up with. One wheel over the edge, struggling to stay on the road …

JACK ROBERTSON, a sometimes correspondent, has an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald. His target – the hypocrisy of government and business figures who demand we restrain our urge to sue – is never struck, mainly because Jack sprays his attack all over the place.

For example, Jack believes a deregulated market is the cause of this evil, and all other evils as well:

"Shame has no place in our Free Market world. Ditto for decency, commonsense, restraint and society. In fact, as I understand market theory, whatever is economically viable is acceptable."

As Jack understands market theory, he's utterly wrong. Jack's notion of personal responsibility is curious, too; he says he won't act ethically until those wealthier than he do the same. He also attacks Rupert Murdoch, who has a policy of never suing for libel. And then there's this:

"Someone dig me up a failed executive of the past 20 years who didn't suddenly 'lose his memory', run to Spain, jump ship with a timely bonus or file for bankruptcy (sticking his mansion in the wife's name while offering creditors 2 in the dollar), and I might have a rethink of my obligations to society, too."

Here, Jack equates "failed" with "criminal". What he means to say is that white-collar lawbreakers always get away with their crimes. From memory, I've dug up a few who didn't:

Brian Yuill. Harry M. Miller. Laurie Connell. Peter Bunning. Abe Goldberg. Kevin Peek. Brian Quinn. Reuben Lew. George Herscu. Alan Hawkins.

No links, because this list is Jack's homework.

HE TALKS THE TALK, and … umm … wheels the walk. Actually, come to think of it, he doesn't really talk, either. Anyway, Stephen Hawking is interviewed in the latest Reason (via Jason Soon). A sample:

"I was again struck that a man who had suffered such an agonizing physical decline had on his walls several large posters of a person very nearly his opposite: Marilyn Monroe. I mentioned her, and Stephen responded instantly, tapping one-handed on his keyboard, so that soon his transduced voice replied, 'Yes, she's wonderful. Cosmological. I wanted to put a picture of her in my latest book, as a celestial object.'"

GOT ANY OLDTIMERS cluttering up the house? Tough to clear them out, isn't it? Believe me, I know; I lived with my grandparents for 13 years.

Help is at hand. A friend – no recommendation in itself, since even Ken Layne is a friend – has written a travel book specifically aimed at guiding oldsters out of the house and into the world. Kate Armstong's Inspirational Travel has several sections devoted to tourism and travel for old folks. You can read about it here and buy it here.

There's lots else in it besides, but, hey, let's get our priorities straight. Oldtimers out of the house!


THE GUARDIAN'S Peter Preston writes:

"The Palestinians wrap teenage girls in Semtex and send them, smiling sweetly, to devastate supermarkets and cafes.

"Are they - the inexhaustible legions of Hamas and Hizbullah - to be condemned for that?"

In a word, Peter, yes.

I SHOULD mention that from next week I'll be editing the Sydney Morning Herald's relaunched Webdiary. Well, co-editing … I'll share the role with current SMH Webdiarist Margo Kingston, soon to return to Australia from South Africa.

It's meant to be a he said/she said - right/left kind of deal. Given some of the things I've said about Margo (and she about me, for that matter) it might be a lively assignment.

We'll see how long it lasts.

BILL CLINTON reveals his inner Fisk:

Former US president Bill Clinton said suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had conspired to kill him and had trained hitmen for that purpose.

"And we know at the same time he was training people to kill me. Which was fair enough - I was trying to get him," Clinton told Newsweek magazine in an interview on newsstands today.

The big goof is obviously joking. More serious is Clinton's admission that a chance to off bin Laden in 2000 wasn't taken due to concern over civilian casualties:

"There were a very large number of women and children in that compound and it's almost like he was daring me to kill them," Clinton said. "I felt it would hurt America's interests if we killed a lot of Afghani women and children and didn't even get him."

Yeah, I know, easy for us to judge with 20/20 post-9/11 hindsight. But it's not as though the Clinton-led attacks on Afghanistan in 1998 didn't endanger civilians. So why the reluctance to attack two years later, when bin Laden was arguably more exposed?

I'M A SICKO BLOGGER, according to scary Justin Raimondo. In his latest column, Raimondo writes:

Glenn Reynolds, the "blogger"-in-chief of the War Party, responds with a "chortle" to the news of the Easter Sunday porn offensive, echoing Australian war-blogger-cum-journalist Tim Blair's snicker. And one can only imagine what the sight of those butch young IDFers with their leather boots on Palestinian necks will do to inspire Andrew Sullivan's much-advertised libido. Flex those "power glutes," Andy!

Justin gets just about everything back-asswards in this column, including his description of me. I'd been a journalist for 12 years before I joined the ranks of the sicko bloggers.

And I'm yet to write anything as sick as Raimondo's suggestion that September 11 was a Jewish conspiracy: "At first, it seems like an anomaly that a bunch of Israelis would be cheering – literally jumping for joy – at the sight of the World Trade Center, the pride of New York, brought down and humbled. But, then again, on second thought, it makes perfect sense, now doesn't it?"

Yes, it all makes perfect sense, Justin. Especially when your primary source for the Great Jewboy Conspiracy is an unnamed New Jersey truck driver cited in a six-month-old report from the Bergen County News.

RE THE DISCOVERY of ancient Nixon hieroglyphs (mentioned several posts below), Anthony Argyriou reports an even older piece of political posterage:

"I live in Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco. Until about two years ago, there was a campaign poster painted on the side of a building – Alan Cranston for State Controller, vote June 8, 1954. This building was visible from (and close to) a freeway that took people towards the west and north parts of the City. Until the mid 90's, it was *clearly* readable, but through the later 1990s, paint had deteriorated to the point where it would be difficult to impossible to read, until sometime around 1999 or 2000 when it was painted over with a new ad."

IT'S THE FIRST OF APRIL, so Bjørn Stærk has deployed the fabled funny hat of Norwegian legend. Go check out his page – it's brilliant.

"Bush pushes the blame on Arafat"

That's the headline on a NY Times piece picked up by the Melbourne Age. Note the astonished, almost disbelieving tone:

Breaking a two-day silence on events in the Middle East, President George Bush said he held Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, personally responsible for the waves of suicide bombings in Israel, and strongly sided with the Israeli Government even while warning that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon should temper military action to preserve a "path for peace".

Speaking from the gates of his ranch on Saturday, during a driving rainstorm, he pointedly made no effort to sound evenhanded about who was to blame for the rising violence.

He made no effort!How awful of him. Why, it's almost as though 62 suicide attacks on Israeli citizens in the past 18 months have somehow influenced Bush's opinion.

WE'VE just seen more than a dozen lives claimed by Palestinian suicide attackers, yet this is the headline on a Washington Post article as run in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"Israelis accused of killing police in cold blood."

The suicide attacks are mentioned in the third paragraph ("Israel was alsoracked by more violence") which is followed by this bizarre sentence:

"If there had been any hope that the latest bloodletting would give either side pause, that vanished when Israelis and Palestinians pointed to the day's events as a reason to strengthen their resolve and press forward with the fight."

To hell with news values. Don't the people who write this crap have any values, period?

FROM Ross Dunn in Jerusalem:

Israeli military commanders warned that Mr Arafat's life could be at risk, in spite of orders not to hurt him. They could not rule out Mr Arafat's being harmed unintentionally by a stray bullet."

Hmmm … a stray bullet, you say … I guess that couldhappen … what terribly bad luck it would be …

Dunn also reports:

Mr Arafat's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah, told CNN that Israeli forces were trying to punch their way into a new area of the battered compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"They tried several times to storm the western gate," he said from inside the compound. "The confrontations are still going on. A lot of people are injured. They are denying ambulances to go out. The situation is very dangerous."

Has Bush considered sending in Janet Reno? She's got a great record with compounds.

THEY'RE ATTACKING IN SWARMS. Another suicide bomber just detonated in the West Bank. This AP report has four injured; minutes ago, Fox updated that to two dead.

And Yasser Arafat wants the world's leaders to help him weasel out of Ramallah alive. Fuck you, Yasser.


LATEST ON THE HAIFA BOMBING: Fox have just interviewed a doctor treating the injured. The death toll now stands at 15.

PEACEFUL RELIGION WATCH: In the past day or so we've had a suicide attack in Tel Aviv that seriously injured six people, a suicide attack in Kashmir that killed 10, and just now anothersuicide attack in Israel that has killed 14, according to Fox News. This is the fourth such attack on Israel in five days.

PALESTINIAN television is being Unablogged:

Porn movies and programs in Hebrew are being broadcast by Israeli troops who have taken over three Palestinian television stations of Ramallah, irate residents of the besieged West Bank town have told AFP.


The Queen Mother has died at the age of 101, Buckingham Palace has announced.

"Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother had become increasingly frail in recent weeks following her bad cough and chest infection over Christmas," said a Palace spokesman.

"Her condition deteriorated this morning and her doctors were called.

"Queen Elizabeth died peacefully in her sleep at 3.15 this afternoon at Royal Lodge (Windsor)," said the spokesman.

"The Queen was at her mother's bedside," he said.

IT'S TRUE what idiots say: Jimmy Carter wasahead of his time, at least in the area of insane terror rabbit assaults:

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) - Sonoma County musician Doug Bowes will remember this Easter season as the one where he happened upon the Easter Bunny, and it attacked him.

Bowes was walking near his home at about 11 a.m. Wednesday when the attack occurred. A small, gray jack rabbit bounded toward him from a nearby fence.

"I thought, 'Gosh, this is somebody's pet,' " Bowes said. He put his hand down in a friendly gesture and the bunny lunged and bit him.

DR WEEVIL asks an important theological question:

"Does a female martyr get 72 male virgins? (I don't suppose a hot Lesbian club scene is at all likely in Islamic Paradise.) And is their virginity also restored every night? If so, then our latest bomber can look forward to an eternity having sex with clumsy and incompetent men who don't know what they're doing, and whose eagerness is likely to be (shall we say) much too eager for her satisfaction -- in short a Groundhog Day of sexual ineptitude. I'm not a woman, but this sounds a lot more like Hell than Heaven to me."

HOW DID THE MILLIPEDES STOP THE TRAIN? Why, by gooing up the tracks, of course. Reader Mark M. was quick to fire in this response to the post several items below:

"Sorry to, uh, derailthe great green millipede conspiracy, but the train wheels can't get sufficient purchase on the track -- especially on an incline -- to advance if the rails are coated by vast quantities of slippery squashed millipede juice."

Reader Quana J. even provided source material from New Scientist to support this theory:

"According to a report in the Yomiuri newspaper, an express train north of Tokyo was brought to a halt last week when 'clusters of millipedes' tried to cross a 300-metre section of track. The train 'squashed out their bodily fluids, which apparently acted as a lubricant, making the wheels slip', the paper says. It took two and a half hours to resume services and hundreds of passengers had their journeys delayed."

So now we know.

LOOKING to fill a market niche, Gentleman Jim Treacher devises some self-help titles for the terrorist community:

The 7 Habits of Highly Explosive People

Men Are From Mars, Women Are Worthless Pieces of Shit

How to Bake Friends and Incinerate People

I'm OK, You're a Bloodsucking Jew

And …

What Color is Your Pair of Shoes (Not Counting the Scorch Marks, You Fucking Idiot)?

THOSE SOPHISTICATED EUROPEANS. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has written a book in which he makes claims that might seem familiar to Australians:

"We have 7 million foreigners today who are not integrated, many of whom do not want to be integrated and who are also not helped to integrate. We Germans are unable to assimilate all 7 million. The Germans also do not want to do this."

Compare this to the maiden Parliamentary speech of Pauline Hanson, who was vilified in Australia – rightly so, in many ways – for uttering similar sentiments:

"I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians … They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country. A truly multicultural country can never be strong or united."

As usual, the Western protectionist far right (Hanson) and the European social democrat left (Schmidt) are working from the same script. Yet media condemnation of Schmidt will be minimal.

NIXON'S ALASKAN REVIVAL. The disgraced ex-President has staged a triumphant comeback in Anchorage:

A piece of Anchorage history came mustily to light like political hieroglyphics Thursday morning when workers peeled away siding on a Midtown remodeling project and discovered a billboard-sized poster from the 1960 presidential campaign.

"Vote NIXON/LODGE. Experience Counts!" the sign urges in black on yellow between huge portraits of Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, the Republican candidates for president and vice president.

A BUNCH of asylum seekers have been busted out of the Woomera detention centre by attention-craving bath-needers. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

About eight asylum seekers were being sheltered by protesters last night after escaping from the Woomera detention centre.

As a stand-off developed at a tent city near the compound, activists encircled one of the escapees, an Afghan woman, in an attempt to fend off police.

Big deal. The big picture missed by the protesters is that Australia doesn't fear or loathe the asylum seekers. We aren't scandalised or shocked to learn that some of "them" may now be in our midst. Australians would simply like to know who these people are before granting them citizenship. A simple request, yes?

Incidentally, the chances of anyone being granted citizenship after breaking out of a government facility are zero. Thanks, protesters. You've helped your friends wreck their shot at a new life in Australia. Losers.

And how is the SMH so certain the woman shielded by the protesters is Afghan?