THE WORLD really needs more Palestinian poetry. Here's an example, "A Little Muslim From Palestine", by Zakaria Amara:

I'll always be a contender

Yes, I know my bones are very


And by Allah you won't see me


Look at my eyes? You'll see no


My home is filled with cries... due to

all the lost lives

But I swear by Allah I'll never


I'll still throw the stones even with

my broken bones

Why can't I hear from you, don't you

have any phones?

Ya I forgot, your not on the chase, try

it out and put your self in my place

Soon I'll return to my lord , the one

that deserves every grace

Oh you don't have to worry cause of

me you'll find no trace

It really is too late, why did you wait?

You could have sent me at least one

dinner plate

I guess it is my fate

And La Ilaha Illa Allah is my mate.

Reader Alonzo F., who located this gem, writes: "As in many a male death-wish, repressed sexuality is manifest, but how to interpret the dinner plate?"

Beats me, Alonzo. I'm forwarding this one to an expert. Hopefully we'll receive a worthy critique shortly.

PHILLIP ADAMS has run out of Prozac again:

I talk to librarians who despair of the undermining of Australia's municipal library system. To academics who watch the universities turn into assembly lines manufacturing graduates suitable for globalisation. And God help the pure, as opposed to applied, scientist. I talk to nurses who are walking away from a ravaged health system. To public school teachers and principals who feel denied respect as well as funding. To farmers who have to deal with the slow deaths of their rural communities, who find themselves squeezed between the might of the agribusinesses on the one hand and the supermarket oligopolies on the other.

It's hard to find a profession, an industry, an institution that doesn't see itself in crisis. Everywhere, Australians live in a maelstrom of self-doubt, insecurity, guilt. Everywhere, trust and hope are being eroded, corroded, destroyed.

Nonsense. Collingwood defeated Richmond by 40 points last night. Australia is perfect and beautiful. Phil doesn't know what he's talking about.

JACK ROBERTSON is right. I'm not very intelligent. That's why my homemade Enigma machine still hasn't decoded whatever it is he's writing about, or even the language he's using. It seems to be a hybrid form based on standard English, Australian slang, random profanities, and a private dialect known only to Jack.

ALI BAKHTIARI arrived in Australia – illegally – three years ago. He claimed to be fleeing persecution in Afghanistan. While his claim was being examined, Bakhtiari was granted a temporary visa.

In 2000, Bakhtiari's wife, brother, and five children arrived, also illegally. They were placed in the Woomera Detention Centre. Trying to establish from where the family had come, immigration department officials quizzed Mrs. Baktiari on Afghan currency.

She failed their tests. Further investigation by the immigration department revealed to them that the family was from Pakistan, not Afghanistan.

Bakhtiari's two sons busted out of the detention centre a few weeks ago with the help of some pinhead idealists, and on Wednesday showed up at the British consulate in Melbourne requesting asylum. Their request was refused, and the pair were flown back to Woomera. Their father, the Pakistani who says he's from Afghanistan, is outraged. So are many in the media, who don't seem to care that Bakhtiari apparently lied in his bid to gain residency in Australia. Here's AAP's Doug Conway:

Two young boys from Afghanistan, or Pakistan or the moon – it doesn't matter – did what the Australian government least wanted.

They put the human face back into the refugee debate. These are children no-one could call "it".

Few could fail to be moved by the harrowing images of the boys being forced back into detention after their plea to Britain fell on deaf ears.

It doesn't matter to Conway where the children are from. Never mind the genuine refugees from war zones who would be denied their chance at asylum in Australia by the opportunistic Bakhtiari family.

The look on the face of glassy-eyed Montazar Bakhtiari said it all - hurt, fear and confusion etched into every feature.

So blame the idiots who sprung the kids from Woomera and dumped them at the British consulate.

The technical rights and wrongs of the case didn't seem so important.

I can't believe a journalist actually wrote that.

Here was a 12-year-old boy - he might have been your son or grandson or brother or neighbour - being sent back to what he regarded as a "jail" in the barren centre of a land he might never have heard of a few months before.

Is the detention centre defined by whatever a kid thinks it is? I regarded my school as a gulag, and nobody seemed to care what I thought.

He had not asked to go there in the first place.

His parents arrived illegally and brought their children illegally. No one asked them to come here.

He had not asked for tear gas or water canon or razor wire, or to be separated from his mum, dad and three sisters, or to be hunted through frigid desert by police choppers and sniffer dogs.

He broke out of the detention centre and ran for it! What did he expect? A tickertape parade?

He was on his 1200km journey back to a camp where, according to his brother Alamdar, 13: "We didn't learn English, we learned how to cut ourself, how to drink shampoo, and how to suicide".

And who taught him? His uncle, for one. Good old Uncle Bakhtiari, who threw himself on a razor wire fence. Nice example for the kids, Unc.

It did not seem to matter that they might not be "genuine refugees", as the government said, but illegal entries whose claims of persecution at home "have been found to be false".

They were just kids - real kids - in diabolical trouble, which some Australians might have forgotten.

So the guy lies about where he's from and why he came here, his family arrive knowing they'll be placed in detention, and his kids get mixed up with morons who use them for anti-government propaganda … and this is somehow our fault?

WHEN YOU get sacked in Iran, you really know about it:

An Iranian man convicted for raping and killing his 16-year-old nephew will be executed by being thrown off a cliff in a sack, a newspaper reported yesterday. If he survives the fall, he will be hanged, legal experts said.

Legal experts?


WHY IS Zacarias Moussaoui suddenly so determined to plead guilty? A clue may be found in the court transcript. Moussaoui is clearly being driven insane by his inadequate computer:

THE DEFENDANT: I think that there's a great case for me to have more time and be allocated an outside court legal assistant, because I've been in this cell and have access to absolutely nothing. I don't even have a printer until today. We are less than three months from a trial, and I can't even print a document.

Are you expecting me to spend eight hour or ten hour a day in front of a computer screen, having the room full of computer disk, where I should be provided with some kind of server where I can -- even today, if I were just to try to load the thing on the computer, it will take me until trial date to just load the different disk. You have provide me with the most aging computer. This is a farcical. This is a farce of justice.

THE COURT: All right.

THE DEFENDANT: And I have a right to justice and to a fair trial.

Moussaoui's next demand: a right to Blog!

KATE MOSS is being criticised for smoking while pregnant:

The ultra-thin British model has drawn press anger for "flaunting herself" in London nightspots while smoking, even though she is six months pregnant.

Strange, isn't it? If Moss decided to abort the kid, nobody in the press would give a damn. But smoking … well, that's just so unhealthy.

IT WAS only marriage artillery, officer! Honest! Moshe Cohen's excuse for selling arms to Palestinians might be the wildest ever:

Israelis are expressing outrage at news that five Israelis have been arrested on suspicion of selling thousands of rounds of ammunition to Palestinian militants, who may have used the bullets in terror attacks.

Maariv said the group was believed to have sold at least 15,000 bullets, weapons and other military equipment. It said Moshe Cohen told police investigators he believed the ammunition was to be fired as part of celebrations at Palestinian weddings.

"HE KILLS BECAUSE HE ENJOYS KILLING". Ghazi Algosaibi, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the UK, on Osama bin Laden:

Listening to him, in some of his rambling interviews, I had the impression of a madman who thought he had defeated one superpower and was about to defeat the remaining superpower. I am not a psychologist, but both his words and actions reveal a man with dangerous illusions of grandeur. He is not interested in redressing Palestinian injustices or in getting the Americans out of the Gulf, although he finds it convenient to mention those two issues. What he wants is the destruction of America itself. I refuse to dignify his actions with any justification; he kills because he enjoys killing. To compare him with Yasser Arafat is an act of folly only Ariel Sharon can muster.

THREE THOUSAND people weren't massacred in Jenin. At the same place, media credibility died a thousand deaths. Douglas Davis writes:

When Israeli troops broke up the terrorist infrastructure in Jenin which had produced at least half of the suicide bombers, European politicians, journalists and human-rights campaigners joined in a chorus of 'Massacre'. Saeb Erekat, one of Arafat's top aides, provided the justification when he spoke of at least 3,000 dead. Abu Ali added the local colour when he led willing journalists to the ruins of what had been his home and where, he said, nine of his children now lay dead.

Within days of Israel's departure, talk of a massacre ceased and Saeb Erekat’s 3,000 dead was reduced to 52 (all nine of Abu Ali's children, bless them, are fighting fit). There have been no retractions by the papers and television stations which published the original, unsubstantiated nonsense.

SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SICK, Pt. II: Reader Phil can't remember the title of the song he nominates for the George Michael Activism in Music Prize, or the tune, or most of the words. He does, however, recall this awesome line:

Take all your atomic poison power away

One of the most disgusting web searches ever conducted reveals that the song is Power, recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary in 1983 for their degenerate album Songs of Conscience and Concern:

Just give me the warm power of the sun

Give me the steady flow of a waterfall

Give me the spirit of living things as they return to clay

Just give me the restless power of the wind

Give me the comforting glow of a wood fire

But please take all of your atomic poison power away

Someone should tell these folkie drones that the "warm power of the sun" is atomic. Terry E. is another reader who nominated just a fragment of evil from which the Google robot was able to hunt down a host pod. His remembered and hated line turns out to be from Share, by despised Canadian band The Guess Who:

Maybe I'll be there to shake your hand

Maybe I’ll be there to share the land

That they'll be giving away

When we all live together

Don't we all live together already? Has anyone recently relocated to Mars?

Hey, who remembers The The? They – or he; The The was essentially Matt Johnson – had a couple of semi-popular albums in the mid-80s, one of which contained the anti-Thatcher tune Heartland:

This is the land where nothing changes

The land of red buses and blue blooded babies

This is the place where pensioners are raped

And the hearts are being cut from the welfare state

Let the poor drink the milk, while the rich eat the honey

Let the bums count their blessings, while they count the money

Something's changed in the UK since these lyrics were penned: I bet the number of pensioners being raped has increased.

Californian reader Mike M. and Oz blogger James Morrow both nominate Don Henley's End of the Innocence, which Morrow says "seems to be about popping a girl's cherry while bitching about the Reagan administration (a painful experience for all concerned)." Indeed:

They're beating plowshares into swords

For this tired old man that we elected king

Armchair warriors often fail

And we've been poisoned by these fairy tales

The lawyers clean up all details

Since daddy had to lie

"What would you rather have?" asks Mike. "A plowshare or a really cool sword?"

Reader Dave P. nominates Survivor, by bootylicious semi-porn trio Destiny's Child, for its contribution to unicellular material shallowness:

After all of the darkness and sadness

still comes happiness

If I surround myself with positive things

I'll gain prosperity

Those gals are future Scientologists, mark my words. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards sometimes ventured into the political realm, with less than wonderful results. Take, for example, Sympathy For The Devil:

I shouted out, "Who killed the Kennedys?"

When after all, it was you and me

"Sure, Mick," writes reader Paul R. "A home-grown Marxist assassin and a Palestinian terrorist assassin. That pretty much describes you and me and everyone else."

Who'll be the next songmaster to be thrown into the nomination swamp? Check this space tomorrow.

CORRECTIONS: Several readers have pointed out that nominees Simply Red weren't the authors of Money Too Tight (To Mention) – apart from the selection cited, which includes some ranting about Reagan. And others write to indicate that Brit punks Cyderdelic, nominated by reader Steve A., are a satirical outfit whose anti-Tory tracks are intended as mockery. So now we know.

QUOTE OF the week comes from Ecuadoran President Gustavo Noboa:

Julia Butterfly Hill, California's well-known tree sitter and environmental activist, has been jailed in Ecuador for protesting a proposed oil pipeline that would penetrate a virgin Andean "cloud forest" that teems with rare birds.

Hill, 28, was arrested Tuesday with seven other demonstrators in Quito outside the offices of Occidental Petroleum, a U.S. oil company.

"The little gringos have been arrested, including the old cockatoo who climbs trees," Ecuadoran President Gustavo Noboa said of Hill, who attained fame for a two-year occupation of a redwood tree in Northern California.


Former federal Labor frontbencher Cheryl Kernot will discuss her affair with Gareth Evans during a radio interview to be aired this weekend.

ABC journalist Monica Attard today said Ms Kernot was "full and frank" in her account of the five-year relationship, and how it affected her political and private life.

"She talks about her relationship with Gareth Evans and the impact of that relationship on her family, the impact of that relationship on the Labor party, and on her decision to leave the Democrats," Ms Attard said.

"I think it's full and frank, as Cheryl Kernot always is."

Except when she's writing a book.

"KARL MARX has never been more relevant than he will be in the coming years," writes lefty Ozblogger Jack Robertson. In other news:

•Global communications will soon be rocked by the invention of a device that can send messages long distances. Researcher Samuel Morse believes his "code" could prove especially useful in military applications.

•Carbonated beverages are tipped to be next year's hot sales item among hip teenage consumers.

•Automotive technology will shortly have advanced to the point where two out of three vehicles will be sold with inflatable tyres as standard equipment.

•Businesses are believed to be studying the medium of television with a view to its possible use as a means of promotion and advertising.

•Boeing's new range of zeppelins is due to be launched this December.

ACCOUNTING IRREGULARITIES – capitalism's latest tool of oppression – continue to trample the globe:

Media conglomerate AOL-Time Warner was in turmoil today as Robert Pittman, the erstwhile wonder-manager who headed the company's online division, stepped down amid reports of accounting irregularities.

Pittman, AOL-Time Warner's chief operating officer, had been widely associated with lofty promises for growth that the company made to investors shortly after its mega-merger was announced in early 2000.

Accountants always complained about their bland public image. They can't complain any more; accountants are this year's James Gang.

TIM DUNLOP, another refugee from desolate, insanity-riddled Margostan, has joined the Australian blogging movement. Lefty Tim is opposed to markets:

Markets, by their nature, create winners and losers. Anyone care to argue?

He's partially right. Markets, by their nature, create.

THE SPECTATOR'S Bruce Anderson on George W. Bush and war against Iraq:

This is one of the least guileful Presidents in American history; what he says, he means. When he announced that the US would deal with al-Qa'eda in Afghanistan and then move on to Iraq, that was what he intended to do. In Qatar, where there is an American base, the provision merchants are already building up their stocks. Over the centuries, these characters have proved that they are good at reading markets and anticipating future demand. That food will be needed. Mr Bush's phase two is now beginning.

The Americans will not be deflected by the absence of support from continental Europe. A few months ago, William Hague asked George Bush how he would deal with European objections to ballistic missile defence. 'I've got a secret plan,' Mr Bush replied. 'What is it?' 'I'll go ahead anyway.' So he will on Iraq.

Let's roll.


BEWARE THE insidious Bogota Breast Scam. This is a public service announcement.

WHENEVER AN Australian gets in trouble overseas, the problem is usually alcohol-based. Adam Hart, the 20-year-old Aussie suspected yesterday of being an al Qaeda operative, turns out to be a beer desperado who ended up in jail after trying to subvert Texan drinking laws. The Australian newspaper explains:

The tale of the baby-faced accidental terrorist began in a war memorial park in Houston, Texas, on the night of July 11 when a local sheriff hauled in a dark-skinned youth behaving suspiciously and whose dodgy American passport identified him as Farouk Kigozi.

To the lawmakers of the deep South, he was exactly the kind of shady character who has terrified the US since September 11.

But Hart's explanation was simple and persuasive: he had replaced the passport's original photograph with his own -- not to operate as a terrorist but to legally buy beer in a country where the legal age was 21. He was three weeks short of his 21st birthday.

"I don't know where this crap came from that he's an al-Qa'ida terrorist," Mr Hart's lawyer Ed Chernoff said yesterday. "Adam's just a stupid kid who was trying to get drunk."

THE LATEST column in The Australian is all about a whole bunch of domestic stuff.

SONGS THAT MAKE THE WHOLE WORLD SICK. A couple of weeks ago I asked for contributions to a list of the world's worst political song lyrics. The response, to quote Meatloaf, took the words right outta my mouth. Here, then, are the first batch of nominees - mostly my own, to start with - for the George Michael Activism in Music Prize:

Imagine, by John Lennon. This toxic truckload of sentimental slumming set the standard by which all idiot lyrics must be judged:

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world

Imagine no possessions? Yoko just woke up in a cold sweat. As for "sharing the world", well, this song was recorded at an isolated mansion in the English countryside. His old friend Paul will tell you how keen John was on "brotherhood", too.

Eighties Brit band Simply Red, led by carrot-top Mick Hucknall, assumed to speak for busted-ass ol' black folks suffering under the Reagan jackboot in their 1985 hit, Money’s Too Tight (To Mention):

I been laid off from work, my rent is due

My kids all need brand new shoes

So I went to the bank to see what they could do

They said, "Son, looks like bad luck got a hold on you."

We're talking 'bout Reaganomics

Oh Lord, down in the Congress

They're passing all kinds of bills

From up there on Capitol Hill, we've tried it

Oh, Lordy! Dey been passin' dem bills agin. You know, when someone needs a bank loan to cover the cost of shoes, they probably aren't really qualified to talk 'bout Reaganomics or any other kind of 'nomics.

Australia's Midnight Oil have produced a slew of songs that since the '70s have hung above successive generations like a pall of death. They are nominated twice, first for Beds Are Burning:

The time has come

To say fair's fair

To pay the rent

To pay our share

The time has come

A fact's a fact

It belongs to them

Let's give it back

You give your land back first, guys. We'll watch and see how it works out. The Oils are also nominated for The Dead Heart:

Mining companies, pastoral companies

Uranium companies

Collected companies

Got more right than people

Got more say than people

Notice they don't mention record companies. Billy Bragg – or, to spell it as he'd pronounce it, Biwwy Bwagg – corrupted dozens of impressionable commie kids with his Red Wedge faux working class "songs". He is nominated for There Is A Power In A Union:

The Union forever defending our rights

Down with the blackleg, all workers unite

With our brothers and our sisters from many far-off lands

There is power in a Union

Now I long for the morning that they realise

Brutality and unjust laws cannot defeat us

But who'll defend the workers who cannot organise

When the bosses send their lackeys out to cheat us?

Who'll defend the workers from the unions, Biwwy? I love the line about "brothers and sisters in many far-off lands", as though unions care about anyone outside of their membership (and often not even those). Unions – fearful that they'd lose jobs to immigrant labor – were the force behind Australia's shameful White Australia policies. We see the echo of those policies in today's anti-globalisation protests.

From reader Steve A. comes a motherlode of powerful nominations, including North Sea Bubble, another song by Mr. Bwagg,:

My American friends don't know what to do

But they'll wait a long time for a Beverley Hills coup

War! What is it good for?

It's good for business.

It certainly is, if your business is writing songs about it. The catchily-titled We Support All Forms of Resistance Against This Racist System (Part II) by Chumbawumba is also a Steve A. call, as are the four following:

'Freedom of speech' – it's a worthless cause

As long as freedom is defined by laws

How else are you going to define it, you Dumbawumbas? By molluscs, or pillows, or photocopiers? From Intravenous Agnostic, by the Manic Street Preachers, come these punishing lines:

Brutality is needed in capitalist society

Television abandoned my very entity

Nature failed me

But then it made me

We all pray for pluralist babies

"Pluralist babies" – sounds like the crew over at IndyMedia. Public Enemy's Kevorkian raises the vital issue of cheese appropriation:

Start a war on the poor, gettin' mad donations

Takin' cheese out of poor nations

Got Haitians still on sugar plantations

Wiped 'em out, called it exotic vacations

As you dig it they set up regulations

Turn the rest of the world into cancer patients

Why haven't Pilger or Chomsky investigated this imperialist cheese theft? It's disgraceful. So is Tony Blair, according to Cyderdelic's Smash Up the Government:

Tory Tony Blair

He's worse than Hitler

There goes Thatcher

Quick catch her!

Lucky her name wasn't Thucker. Heaven 17 struggled not for rhyme but for reason in their '80s hit, (We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang:

Democrats are out of power

Across that great wide ocean

Reagan's president elect

Fascist god in motion

Maybe the ICC should be ratified. Then they could drag Sting before it to answer for his infantile nomination, Russians:

How can I save my little boy

From Oppenheimer's deadly toy?

There is no monopoly on common sense

On either side of the political fence

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

I hope the 12-year-old girl he stole these lines from was justly compensated. Sting thinks communism and freedom are morally equal, which tells you a lot. And his mastery of the physical sciences – almost as great as his mastery of verse; this song rhymes "precedent" with "president" – entitles him to dismiss nuclear technology as a "toy".

Rage Against the Machine provide an apt soundtrack to anti-globo protests. Their lyrics match the protesters for incoherence, illogic, and self-importance. They are nominated for Take The Power Back:

Bam! Here's the plan

Motherfuck Uncle Sam

Step back, I know who I am

Raise up your ear, I'll drop the style and clear

It's the beats and the lyrics they fear

The rage is relentless

We need a movement with a quickness

You are the witness of change

And to counteract

We gotta take the power back

It's the beats and the lyrics that we fear? Sure, motherfucker. We're really scared. Now get back in the studio before Sony rips up your contract.

Reader Phil can't recall the title of the song he nominates, or the tune, or most of the words, but says the one line he remembers is "the most grating bit of naive, hippy-dippy bullshit in the whole steaming pile." To discover Phil's startling selection, and lots more besides, be here tomorrow for the next atonal instalment of Songs That Make The Whole World Sick.


GOT OURSELVES A NEW ONE! Just as John Walker Lindh is being locked up, another western al-Qaedian has allegedly been caught – and it's an Aussie:

The Defence Department today refused to comment on a report that an Australian army reservist was arrested in Houston, Texas for alleged links to the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

The 21-year-old served briefly in the army's 7th Field Regiment and suddenly disappeared in late August, The Canberra Times newspaper said.

The reservist reportedly went missing weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, the paper said.

UPDATE. It's now being claimed that the Aussie arrested in the US had no al-Qaeda connections. More soon.

HE WAS A TEEN WHO DREAMED. That's how AP's canonisation of John Walker Lindh begins. And it only gets worse:

John Walker Lindh took a journey, first in spirit, then in the physical world, that will keep him behind bars for what's left of his youth.

A journey? Like when Charles Manson moved from San Francisco to Spahn Ranch?

He was a dream chaser from an early age. When he liked hip hop in his early teens, he collected 200 albums.

Ah, hip-hop, sweet music of dreams. Bitch be gangin'!

When he turned to Islam, he was transformed and went abroad, alone, to soak himself in the faith. All before the age of 18.

Big deal. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson began their voyages of discovery when they were just ten.

The filthy, exhausted and disaffected American whom United States soldiers and their allies stumbled across in the early days of the war was beardless and with short hair, able to pass for the studious Californian he once was.

Translation: he'd had a bath.

Gone, too, was the freedom he once had in such striking measure. The product of a comfortable, indulgent upbringing, Lindh was cut a lot of slack when chasing his dreams.

Hey, watch it with the judgment, fella!

He played the flute and video and computer games - Splatterhouse 2 and Captain America & The Avengers among his favourites - before starting to turn away from such idle pursuits at the age of 15, already a student of Islam.

Yes, far better that all western teens adopt extremist religions and take up arms than waste their time on "idle pursuits".

"What has America ever done for anybody?" he asked in a February 2000 note.

Let's see ... apart from the hip-hop and the computer games and women's rights, America is also tolerant of homosexuality. Ask your dad about it, John.

Lindh said family life in Pakistan "really makes me look upon American society with pity". He saw US conspiracies behind Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and even the bombing of its own embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Are we sure this is John Walker Lindh and not John Pilger Lindh?

"I don't really want to see America again," he said.

Wish granted. He won't be seeing much of it for the next 20 years.

When the guilty plea came down, Bill Jones, a friend of Lindh's father, recoiled. "I had a chill right down the middle of my stomach," he said. "His only guilt as far as I'm concerned is that he became a fundamentalist Muslim."

Plus all that incidental stuff about being an armed member of the Taliban, of course.

TERROR AS ART. Unemployed Welsh chemistry teacher Nicholas Roberts has been jailed for sending white powder to a politician during last year's anthrax alarm. His defence: the packages were works of "conceptual art" which would benefit society.

UPDATE. Reader John T. writes:

"Nicholas Roberts can experience imprisonment as art. Wardens and jailers as art critics. Fellow prisoners and performance art, with rape, beatings and intimidation as the performance.

"Hey, if art is what an artist does, and everyone is an artist, then everything is art."

MUMIA WHO? European anti-death penalty folks have switched allegiances from boring old Mumia Abu Jamal to thrilling new Zacarias Moussaoui:

Several French associations have formed a support committee for Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged as a Sept. 11 conspirator, the suspect's former lawyer said Friday.

"Free Zacarias" just doesn't have the same zing, does it?

JACQUES CHIRAC's would-be assassin was just another idealistic foe of Israel, the Guardian reports:

Maxime Brunerie sent a message to the C-18 website hinting of his plans the day before the assassination attempt.

He posted a message saying: "Watch the TV this Sunday, I will be the star ... Death to ZOG."

ZOG is an acronym for Zionist Occupation Government and is a term used by white supremacists to describe modern democracies.

Not just white supremacists, Guardian. Ever heard of that Yasser Arafat guy?

ANTI-ISRAEL academic Steven Rose is now branding those who oppose him as cyber criminals who traffic in hate mail.

The correct legal defence to this argument, I believe, goes as follows: I know you are, but what am I?

WHEN SOMEONE claiming to be an expert in marine biology says that all the dolphins will be dead within a decade, you might pay attention. But if the same person then says that Scotland is owned by the Scientologists, cell phones cause pregnancy, and ice cream is made from cats, well, you'll probably reconsider your source's opinion.

So it is with Dr. Helen Caldicott, who for decades has been howling about the danger of nuclear weapons, nuclear power, nuclear submarines, nuclear families, nuclear medicine … in fact, pretty much anything with the affix "nuclear". If deer were suddenly re-named "nuclear squirrels", she'd be out there in the forest laying traps.

It's interesting to discover what else she thinks. According to this profile in the Sydney Morning Herald, Caldicott believes that one-third of Americans are on anti-depressants. Really, Doc? Most put the figure at 28 million.

Caldicott claims that the end of the Cold War was brought about by her and her fellow shriekers:

In the '80s we mobilised 80 per cent of the Americans who opposed the nuclear arms race. It was really the second American revolution, I believe, because it led to the end of the Cold War.

And Reagan had nothing to do with it. Helen really is a piece of work; after a lifetime of intercontinental jet travel, publishing loads of books, violating the planet with her gene pool and otherwise contributing to the global pollution problem she claims to care so much about, Caldicott says she will be buried in a simple cardboard coffin because "I want the worms to get into me when I'm soft and juicy and fertilise the soil. I don't want to be turned into CO2 to increase global warming."

So selfless of her. I bet she flies first class.

IT'S ANOTHER week-old Nick Kristof column in the Sydney Morning Herald. Ho-hum. Read it days ago. Why do they run this stuff so long after it's been converted to bedding for the homeless back in New York?


AS PREDICTED, John Hirst's piece on Australia's non-racism has provoked a crazy response.

Among various letter writers to today's Australian, Guy Rundle advises Hirst to "tackle the issues on their merits" while pointedly not doing the same; John E. Ransley says that Hirst "doesn't get it"; Ross Devine says the Howard government is "racist" then attacks "foreign capital" and "foreign corporations" for undermining Australia's sovereignty; Marilyn Shepherd misrepresents the Tampa's hijacking before launching in to a vague conspiracy theory involving the "foreign" Queen and the US; Garry Bickley compares Hirst to David Irving; and Nahid Kabir asks: "Why did the issue have to be over race?"

It wasn't, Nahid. And it isn't.

IN THE US, it's called "trash talk". In Australia, it's "sledging". South Africans call it "chirping". It's all the same thing: abusive language used against sports opponents.

But how to keep verbal slams within today's politically correct boundaries? No Watermelons Allowed is running a contest for the best PC trash talk. Among the entries so far:

"There are no winners or losers – but you're chronically success-impaired!"

"You've failed to actualize your potential!"

"I reject evil white male patriarchs and your lame-ass shots!"

"Your core family dynamic is dysfunctional!"

"I'm hotter than the earth is going to be in 75 years!"

"You deny the justifiable aspirations of formerly exploited peoples!"

"You're inhibiting my territorial self-realization!"

"I'm gonna whoop your ass the way that court ordered intermediaries prevented your dysfunctional parental dynamic from doing!"

"Your momma! And your other momma too!"

"You're so bad, you're not even differently abled!"

And my favourite:


WHAT SORT of people want to keep Jews out of universities? Well, there's these people:

Hilary Rose is professor of social policy at Bradford University; Steven Rose is professor of biology at the Open University. They codrafted the Israel academic moratorium call.

And then there's these people.

EMILY JONES has received an alleged "eyewitness account" of the phantom NYC firetruck said to have participated in the Bastille Day parade (scroll down for more on this):

"Biggest cheer of the day from the French crowds on the Champs-Elysee Bastille Day parade? Step forward the men of the New York Fire Department. Chirac invited a NYC fire engine & crew to lead part of the parade, and the French cheered like the often irritating but essentially decent people that I secretly hoped they were. Of course, the French military complained that the parade is a military one and so fire crews shouldn't be invited, but Chirac bullied it through, good for him. Further proof in my little theory that the vast majority of Frenchies are friends of the civilised world, despite the best efforts of their elite."

Could it possibly be that the Arab News somehow got this story wrong?

BLOGS TO WATCH: The OmbudsGod continues dealing out vigilante journalistic justice, Sasha Castel combines high culture with a hot temper, and Brian Knapp gives a working man's perspective. All fun, all different.

THE ROAD TO RESPECTABILITY. Larry Klayman and his Judicial Watch lawsuit factory didn't get much respect during the Clinton presidency. Given Judicial Watch's frenzied approach – it launched scores of actions against President Bill Clinton and Clinton associates, most of which went nowhere – the lack of respect perhaps wasn't surprising.

Nor was it surprising to read, in mainstream media reports, that Judicial Watch was a "conservative group", a "conservative legal group", or a "conservative Washington, DC, legal group". CNN reported that Judicial Watch enjoyed funding from Richard Mellon Scaife and described Judicial Watch as "a conservative public interest group". Associated Press used the phrase "conservative legal group", and ABC news said "Judicial Watch pursues a conservative poltical agenda". Damn those conservatives. Why won't they leave Bill alone?

With a change of administration has come a change in Judicial Watch's targets. Now the group is suing Dick Cheney. And, in the media, Judicial Watch has suddenly become one of the good guys.

Associated Press, which tagged the Clinton-attacking Judicial Watch as a "conservative legal group", now hails the anti-Cheney Judicial Watch as a "watchdog group" and accepts Klayman's claim to be "non-partisan".

MSNBC says the new, improved Judicial Watch is a "legal watchdog group". The BBC (as noted by Mark Steyn) uses "anti-corruption group". In the Sydney Morning Herald, Judicial Watch has been transformed from "a conservative legal organisation based in Washington" to "an independent legal group". CBS runs with "public interest group". (Two years ago CBS had Judicial Watch pegged as – of course – a "conservative legal group".) CBS's latest reporting omits any mention of Judicial Watch's Clinton activity, saying only that "Judicial Watch is no stranger to conflict with the Bush administration."

No stranger? Why would it be? As the Baltimore Chronicle now calls it, Judicial Watch is "a public interest law firm that conducts investigations and legal proceedings to combat government corruption". So, while Judicial Watch has revealed itself to be non-partisan, the US media has revealed itself to be exactly the opposite.


DAVID HOROWITZ fries Stanley Fish in Salon. Too bad it's a subscriber-only article; it may have been worth reading.

UPDATE. The Horowitz piece on Stanley Fish – and most all of Horowitz's work – is available free of charge right here. So where does Salon get off charging for it?


Brussels killjoys want to wipe the smiles off drinkers' faces by BANNING pub happy hours.

Euro MPs will vote next month on outlawing the practice of cutting booze prices for an hour or two to attract punters.

Scandinavian socialists in the European Parliament claim big pub firms lose money on happy hours simply to crush rival bars that can't afford discounts.

And who is the loser here? The poor bastard who just wants a cheap drink. The EU is doomed.

RUSSIAN executioners charged with the responsibility of killing Nazis at the end of World War 2 would sometimes arrange it so the Germans' feet just touched the ground, leaving their victims twisting in agony for minutes.

If anyone in Pakistan is reading this, perhaps they could pass that along to whoever pulls the lever on Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, convicted killer of Daniel Pearl:

A British-born Islamic militant was today sentenced to death in Pakistan for his role in the kidnap and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Lawyers for Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, and three co-defendants who each received 25 years imprisonment, said they would appeal. Saeed was sentenced to hang for his part in the abduction last January of Mr Pearl, aged 38, South Asia correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

FIRETRUCK or no firetruck? Reports are divided on whether a New York City firetruck took part in this year's Bastille Day parade. First, let's hear from the great and glorious Arab News, may Allah be praised:

This year's Bastille Day parade, which today will go down the Champs-Elysee before a reviewing stand top heavy with such dignitaries as President Jacques Chirac, will not include one exhibit that US authorities had hoped would be accorded a place of honor in the July 14 manifestation: A shiny bright 9-meter long firetruck belonging to the fire department of the city of New York.

And now from the filthy diseased Westerners (I spit on them!) at Associated Press:

This year's festivities had an additional New York touch: an FDNY firetruck also rode in the procession. The families of the firefighters attended the display with a mixture of excitement and sadness. They took pictures and video of the parade and cheered when the firetruck passed.

Who to believe? Further confusing matters, here's a fake picture of the firetruck, obviously assembled by Mossad's elite photoshop squadron.

IN ONE of the finest pieces yet written on the subject, John Hirst explains why Australia's response to the Tampa boat people incident was not racist:

[Prime Minister] Howard did not, as his critics allege, "create" the refugee problem when the Tampa entered the scene. Handling the refugees was a long-standing problem for the government. In 1999 it set up a special task force to deal with the issue. It was administering a law that it thought was inadequate and could not change to the extent that it wished. The number of unauthorised arrivals was rising. Since the Tampa refugees had hijacked a seaworthy vessel and directed it away from Indonesia and towards Australia, the PM could act decisively. This incursion was both more blatant and more readily repelled.

During the election campaign, Howard did not bring the migration program into question. On the contrary, he continued explicitly to support it. To characterise as xenophobic a country that is running a large-scale non-discriminatory immigration program is a contradiction in terms.

Howard's slogan for the campaign was: "We will decide who comes into this country and the circumstances in which they come here." Note that it was not: "We will have no migrants." Nor was it: "We will send the migrants home." These would have been the cries of a genuine populist. His words were: We determine who comes here. This minimum claim for the sovereignty of the nation is denounced as xenophobia and racism.

Hirst's article is so calm, rational, and well argued that he is bound to be denounced as a racist himself. Lunacy responds poorly to reason.

BEER-DRINKING SURRENDER MONKEYS. That's all we Australians were to French zoologist and master spy Francois Peron, who planned to conquer our nation back in the 19th century. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Historian Michael Connor said the secret designs of a French zoologist who arrived in Port Jackson in 1802 were recently uncovered in a manuscript held in the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre, France.

In it, Francois Peron praises his own skills as a spy, and claims to have won the confidence of Sydney's governor, most of the colony's civil and military officers, doctors and Protestant ministers.

Mr Connor said the result of Peron's espionage was a 122-page plan of how to destroy Sydney, an idea that later softened to a mere invasion.

Peron considered the NSW Corps to be cowards, and claimed it would take less than 45 minutes for French troops to reach the town centre if an armada came ashore under the cover of night.

Two hundred years later, we're still waiting. Do your worst, Francois!

HAIL THE great Takeru Kobayashi, hotdog-eating champion of the entire world! The Economist reports on a man who buys mustard by the truckload:

In the annals of sport, seldom has a victory been so decisive, or fellow competitors so crushed and demoralised. At high noon, on a sweltering July 4th, a young Japanese man, weighing in at a mere 112 pounds, out-ate the best, not to mention the biggest, that the rest of the world had to offer, scoffing down an astonishing 50 slimy hot dogs in just 12 minutes.

Mr Kobayashi brought a sense of industrial efficiency to the task. Placing a cup of water on each side, he dunked the bun with his left hand and crammed it in his mouth, while with his right hand he dunked the hot-dog and brought it midway up his chest. Then, with both hands, he broke the hot-dog in half and, with one section in each hand, used the sausage as a plunger to force down the bun as he chewed.

A POSTAL worker in Melbourne has received a $3,000 pay cut for having too many personal items on her desk, reports The Age:

The Community and Public Sector Union secretary Stephen Jones said the company demoted Cori Girondoudas for refusing to remove a photograph of herself with friends from her desk.

He said that under an Australia Post policy, workers at its La Trobe Street call centre have been told they could have only three personal items on their desks – Ms Girondoudas had four.

Only four items? Cori isn't exactly an Australian Mimi.

SOME ASSASSINATION attempt. Imagine how good a shot you'd have to be to kill someone at a distance with a .22:

A neo-Nazi student tried to gun down Jacques Chirac today as the French president paraded through the streets of Paris crowded with tens of thousands celebrating Bastille Day.

Chirac was driving near the capital's famed Arch of Triumph when the gunman, named by police as 25-year-old Maxime Brunerie, pulled a rifle from a brown guitar case and opened fire on his motorcade.

The president was unhurt.

Brunerie fired one shot from a .22 rifle before being overpowered by bystanders and police, who were out in full force for the holiday, which commemorates the start of the French revolution.


ZACARIAS MOUSSAOUI wasn't the only jihad weasel to miss his flight on September 11. The FBI is seeking Ramzi Binalshibh, said to have been involved in 9/11 planning, and a wannabe killer himself:

Binalshibh planned to participate directly in the attacks as a pilot. Between May and October 2000, however, he failed four times in Germany and Yemen to obtain a U.S. visa. "It was only by luck, really, he wasn't given a visa," said one official. "Otherwise, he'd have been on one of those planes that went down."

POOR, STUPID, vile Mona Baker. Mona is the director of the Centre for Translation of Intercultural Studies at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. In June, she felt she had to do something to highlight the suffering of Palestinians. So she sent this letter to Gideon Toury, an Israeli member of the Centre:

Dear Gideon,

I have been agonising for weeks over an important decision: to ask you and Miriam [Toury's wife] to resign from the boards of The Translator and Translation Studies Abstracts. I have already asked Miriam and she refused. I have 'unappointed' her, as she puts it, and if you decide to do the same I will have to officially unappoint you, too. I do not expect you to feel happy about this and I very much regret hurting your feelings and Miriam's. My decision is political, not personal. . . I do not wish to continue an official association with any Israeli under the present circumstances."

The Tourys were fired because they were Israeli. Now, as the UK Telegraph reports, Mona Baker is bewildered that her decision has caused controversy. She's upset and hurt.

She's contemptible.

LET SLIP THE PUPS OF PEACE! The Jerusalem Post reports:

A group of American Jews has offered to train and provide sniffer dogs to Israel to help find Palestinian suicide bombers and attack them before they kill,
Internal Security Minister Uzi Landau said yesterday.

The group, which calls the project "Pups for Peace," has offered to buy the dogs and set up a school in the Golan Heights to train them and their Israeli handlers, Landau said. The group is based in Los Angeles.

The dogs would be trained to smell explosives at a distance and attack the bomber, pinning him to the ground before he could get into a crowd of civilians, Landau said.

Good doggie.

BOB ELLIS has been voted Columnist of the Year in Australia's 2002 Magazine of the Year awards.

Ellis last year described the 9/11 attackers as "very brave", said the attacks had produced a "real truce" in Israel, and claimed that Osama bin Laden was "almost certainly not" responsible for the atrocity.

And now he's columnist of the year. Australian journalism sinks lower by the day. In the Best Cover category, a magazine bearing an image of Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge defeated this nominee. Who judges these worthless things?

MARK STEYN offers wise counsel to Democrats seeking political mileage from recent developments in the corporate sector:

Sometime in the next two months President Bush will be invading Iraq. After that, any Democrat who wants to fight an election on "It's the accountancy, stupid" would be advised to re-think.

GREENPEACE GO HOME. So read a sign at a recent demonstration in Finland, where the majority support a government decision to open a new nuclear reactor.

THEY CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. Miranda Devine kicks some deserving heads in today's Sun-Herald:

So now we know the facts, straight from the Supreme Court, that a group of Lebanese Muslim gang rapists from south-western Sydney hunted their victims on the basis of their ethnicity and subjected them to hours of degrading, dehumanising torture. The young women, and girls as young as 14, were "sluts" and "Aussie pigs", the rapists said. So now that some of the perpetrators are in jail, will those people who cried racism and media "sensationalism" hang their heads in shame? Hardly.

The journalists, academics, legal brains and politicians who tried to claim last August that the gang rapes of south-western Sydney were just a run-of-the-mill police blotter story being beaten up by racists, scaremongers and political opportunists don't ever want to acknowledge the truth.

JAMES MORROW links to an excellent Fisking of Noam Chomsky – "America's dumbest intellectual" – in the latest City Journal.

A FIVE-YEAR-OLD anorexic? WTF?

A MUSLIM gang was this week convicted for a series of horrifying sexual assaults in Sydney. The parents of the rapists – as do so many parents of criminals, from all backgrounds – denied that their sons were responsible.

Impressively, and bravely, the leader of Australia's Muslims contacted the parents to convince them of their sons' guilt, and to tell them their crimes had shamed Islam:

The head of the Islamic community has been visiting the mothers and fathers of the young men convicted of a series of gang sexual assaults to convince them their sons are rapists.

Sheikh Tajeddine Hamed el Hilaly, the Mufti or spiritual leader of Australia's Muslims, has spoken to parents who cannot believe their sons were involved in the attacks on at least six teenage girls in Sydney's south-west two years ago.

REMEMBER THE happy days of yore, when right-wing reactionaries were bigots and left-wing progressives were enlightened? Times have changed, as this e-mail, from Canadian YellowTimes columnist John Chuckman, shows:


"Couldn't help thinking you're one of those guys that went to Vietnam and slit the ears from murdered peasants."

I was only following orders, John. Of course, I was only three years old in '68, but I made damn sure to get as many of those commie ears as I could. I brought them home in my Structo Dumper Truck.

"And I'm sure you're in the forefront of making life miserable for third-world refugees in Australia."

Every day I drive to Woomera, in South Australia, to set fire to their lodgings. Lately they've been saving me the trouble by lighting the fires themselves.

"Fundamentalism must figure into your complex makeup, too. Do you speak in tongues and roll on the floor like Ashcroft or just follow the teachings of the good Rev. Falwell?"

Both! I also blow up abortion clinics and defile synagogues. Australia is the Deepest of the Deep South, you know.

"Do you have a boxed set of Tammy Faye's greatest hits?"

No, but I've got her ears. Old habits from 'Nam are hard to break.

"At any rate, you do demonstrate that that potent mix of ignorance and arrogance is not the exclusive intellectual property of American Appalachian Throwbacks. Australia apparently has its own branch of the family. May we call them Outback Hominoids?"

You are very funny, John! And you share the same inaccurate assumptions common to your kind everywhere. Your wing of the global smugness movement may be known as the Lesser White Nerds of the Great White North.

UPDATE. Oklahoma reader Kerry K. writes:

"Got just two words for our Canadian brother J. Chuckman: Get Fucked!

"It's bad enough that we have to tolerate our own bags o' shit, but hearing the same crap from the Brits and Canucks really irritates me. You know, there was a reason we tossed King George's damn tea into Boston Harbor! Now, if we could just treat the Chuckmans of the world in the same manner.

"Oh, and I AM a Viet Nam vet. Never did get my ear collection. Hey, maybe Chuck would like to provide me with a starter set. Always hopeful."

RES IPSA LOQUITUR. It's a Latin legal phrase. Means "the thing speaks for itself". Comes to mind in the case of Jeff Hauser.

Hauser, a Harvard graduate, wishes it to be known that George W. Bush's Harvard degree is no indication of intelligence. Hauser proves his theory about Harvard and intelligence by speaking for himself:

Is there anything dumber than people who advocate "testing" in education claiming that Bush is not dumb/ignorant on the basis of his business degree from Harvard? Well, yeah, Andrew Sullivan claiming status as a "corrector" of newspapers, baseball owners' status as the only avowed socialists supported by talk radio listeners. . . .

Hauser demonstrates that, despite his Harvard education, he is unable to write a coherent sentence. It's no surprise that Hauser is an opponent of testing. He continues (or, to use his version of punctuation, "continue's"):

Anyway, DESPITE BEING THE GRANDSON OF A SENATOR and the son of an erstwhile TX member of the US Congress and (at the time) current Senate candidate -- and, oh, I fail to mention, instate -- George W. Bush got REJECTED by the University of Texas' Law School before he got into HBS. I presume that the explanation is that UT, as a state school, applied strict numerical analysis to Shrub's GPA (which we know was laughably bad) and LSAT (I'm going to go out on a limb here. . . .), and, unlike HBS, failed to apply the WASPocracy's affirmative action (which is of course both more important and more invidious than the sort I support, but such a substantive debate is the province of the HR, not PF!) bemoaned by the right wing. Basically, the man who insists on "objective" standards in education got rejected by the school that applied them, and got into the school that practices affirmative action, which he claims to reject except, it would seem, when he does not.

Uh, OK, Harvard boy. We are talking about the Harvard, right?

Shrub's self-evident lack of qualifications to attend HBS doesn't stop the Denver Post or Tim Blair from citing's Bush's attendance at HBS as an opportunity to invoke Harvard University's good name in vain.

Citing's? Invoking Harvard's name in vain?

Reminds me of how Libertarian's have written Robert Nozick's Lockean proviso out of their ideology. . . .

Reminds me of third-grade English class.