BOB ELLIS (see a couple of posts below) interviewed the two Bakhtiari kids while he was inside Woomera. They asked him not to publish the interview. Bob ignored them:
I am releasing this transcript of things said by the Baktiari boys against their wishes (''We have many enemies here,'' Alamdar said, ''and they will punish us'') because I believe more harm will come to them and others if I do not.
They obviously don't believe so, but Judge Ellis has overruled them. What do kids know, anyway? Just as well headline-hunting Hogslop Bob is available to make decisions on their behalf.
TOO BAD the media was barred from this kooky event. AAP has secured some details:
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer draped himself in a purple and white kaftan to appear on stage at a gala dinner in front of 22 of his high-powered counterparts following the close of a major Asia Pacific security meeting in the Islamic sultanate of Brunei.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell stole the show with a multi-media skit that ridiculed his poor on-stage performance at last year's event in Hanoi.
The audience reportedly fell silent when US President George W Bush appeared on screen from the White House and ordered Powell to improve on his Hanoi performance or else.
"I want you and your staff to be better than the Russians this year," Bush says. "Got it?"
Russia's skit showed the dinner what the world would be like further into the millennium.
Australia would be taken over by a regime of Aboriginals whose rebellion was backed by New Zealand's Maoris.
BOB ELLIS, Australia's Michael Moore, has visited the Woomera Detention Centre, wherein are held various illegal immigrants. He seems to think he's accomplished a major feat of daring and bravery:
What I did was show up with some lawyers, claim to be Robert Ellis, of Palm Beach, NSW (which I am), wear glasses, present my driver's licence, put a tape recorder which could have been a bomb in my inside jacket pocket, and the nice young official admitted me and I spent a day there.
This is a day more than Philip Ruddock has this millennium but he is a coward and I am not. If he isn't he can arrest me. If he doesn't, and a known enemy of the Howard Government can enter its most secure facility with a potential weapon in his pocket then the billion spent on our "war on terrorism" is wasted and our border protection is pretty useless.
To test this theory, Ellis should return to Woomera with an actual bomb instead of a tape recorder. Let's see how far you get then, drunky!
Inside it's both like and unlike what you expect ... Few people in the morning, more around lunchtime. All of them look like dark-eyed Australians, which means the recent racist election was fought against white bogeymen.
Ellis, you fool! Presented with evidence that the issue of illegal immigration wasn't racist – the rest of us already knew that Afghans are essentially Caucasian – he remains convinced that it was.
The food is good, they say. They can watch Foxtel at any hour, Discovery, Sky news (the news sometimes containing them), but nothing in Arabic or Parsee, though such channels exist and could be piped in.
This is the terrible "prison" we've heard so much about? With good food and pay TV?
Some details are pretty shocking. Primly brought up Arab girls, for instance, must go each month when menstruating to a male official to ask for sanitary pads. If on the pill they must go each day to that male official and ask for their contraceptive medication. No reason is given for this requirement.
This is the very worst that Ellis can find to complain about – after a whole day inside.
Akram al Masri, an Iranian divorcee who, fearing discovery, hides my taperecorder in her bosom. So beautiful you would cast her instantly in Seinfeld or Ally McBeal, she fled Iran with her son because her ex-husband swore he would kill them both.
What would the point be of casting her in cancelled TV shows?
Although the UN says this makes her, as an uncommonly educated Iranian woman, a "gender refugee", Ruddock does not. She is a trained nurse and Australia does not need nurses and anyone escaping from the Axis of Evil is not a refugee, and she must go back to her murderous husband.
No, just back to Iran. Big country. Lots of places to live.
So she decided to kill herself so her son would be adopted in Australia and so prosper and not grow up in prison. As a nurse, she knew how to do it.
Apparently not, Bob. Seeing as how you're talking to her and all.
What the Baktiari boys said in their wonderful gusty Biblical English was possibly enough to secure their release from what is clearly an abusive situation into the custody of their father and can't be printed here, not yet … I will quote these words of Alamdar: "When the Federal police were bringing us back to the centre from Melbourne they said things like, 'Look at the people, they are enjoying their life, but look at you, you are going back to a graveyard."
Yep. Sounds like just the thing a Federal copper would say.
Poor good brave little boys.
Brave isn't the half of it. They've had to cope with Bob Ellis.
CONSIDER MY ass fact-checked. I'd note, though, that the vast majority of Ruddock's comments refer to illegal workers rather than Tampa-style illegal immigrants. We're talking visa-overstayers, not boat people. Big difference.
Lefties always complain that boat folk are demonised while visa scofflaws get away with lenient punishment. It isn't so. On the claimed similarity of Howard and Hanson; Howard links immigration policies to unemployment (and employment), where Hanson more dumbly links immigration itself.
UPDATE. Reader James L. writes to inform that of course Howard hasn't attacked illegal immigrants (or boat refugees, or whatever) on the subject of employment - because they are not available for employment, legal or otherwise. They are held in detention centres.
THE BASTARD GREENS are trying to take away my Vegemite.
Don't. Even. Think. About. It.
The NSW Greens yesterday called for the spread to be taken off shelves unless the multinational food giant guaranteed it was GM-free.
Greens MLC Ian Cohen said Kraft should come clean on the product's contents.
"Parents spread it on their children's sandwiches everyday. The very wellbeing of Australia's children may be at stake," he said.
For the record, Kraft says Vegemite contains no genetically-modified ingredients. It's made from delicious beer scum scraped from huge brewing vats, same as it always was.
SURE, HE may be a murderous lunatic determined to destroy his own country, but Robert Mugabe has his principles. No genetically-modified corn for him! David Hogberg explains.
MAMAS, don't let your children grow up to be fragments
Don't let 'em pack Semtex or blow up old trucks
Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Hamas, don't let your babies grow up to be shrapnel
'Cos they'll never stay whole and they're always apart,
Even with someone they love
WEEKEND AT BINNY'S. It's the feel-good movie hit of the summer! Starring Osama bin Laden as a dead al Qaeda goofball, Weekend at Binny's guarantees big-time laughs as Binny's wacky terrorist friends pretend the old freak is still alive and ready to wage war against the West.
STEPHEN GREEN has the inside word – direct from his contacts within the US Military-Industrial Complex – on Saudi Arabia's imminent collapse.
Speaking of which, he's to be married within three days. Have a great wedding, Stephen and Melissa, and may VodkaPundit long continue to post even after morphing into SoccerDadCommentator and GeritolDude. Cheers, man. An Australian gift is on the way.
EVIL RACIST AUSTRALIA: Nurul Nasihah Nasser, 7, has been banned from wearing a Muslim headscarf at her local school.
But this didn't happen in Australia. It happened in Singapore. Nurul's family moved to Australia so Nurul would be allowed to wear her scarf. The Age reports:
Her father, Mohammed Nasser Jamaludin, recalled that when the Singapore Government told him to choose between their religion and their child's education, he was determined to come to Australia because he could have both.
Melbourne's Islamic community has welcomed Nurul Nasihah. Mr Salman said Australia was not the evil country portrayed here and overseas over its handling of asylum seekers because Nurul Nasihah's freedom to wear her scarf showed that Australia was leading the way in human rights.
"To be accepted into Australia is a great thing for religious tolerance," he said.
"Australia should be proud that it is leading the world because there is more tolerance here than any other country."
More tolerance here than in any other country. Listen up, United Nations slur pods.
THE LATEST entities to be struck with severe bouts of Accounting Irregularity are the European Union (in a case exposed by the EU's own former chief accountant) and the US government (in several cases exposed by Radley Balko).
Who could have believed that governments could ever be as sneaky and deceitful as businesses? It defies all reason.
TAKING HIS cue from Cold War novellist Anthony Hyde, FrontPageMagazine's Joseph Yeager has produced a means of calculating the immorality of pro-Palestine Leftists:
Those who rejected the Arab/Palestinian/Moslem cause after the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics are to be faulted far less than New Left figures such as Robert Fisk, Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, Susan Sontag, Cynthia McKinney, Katha Pollitt, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Robert Scheer, Michael Albert, and a very significant percentage of the American professorate, who continue to adhere to the Arabist position even after the attacks of 9-11, and the homicide-bombings in Israel. The abjurers, in their contrition and willingness to grasp the obvious, may be at least partially forgiven. The diehards, however, in their militant support for the insupportable, must be called the most repulsive of all repulsive Leftists.
The "repulsive Left". Hmmm … catchy!
LAURA CRANE is yet to post her weekly lemur picture – Wednesday is Lemur Day! – so to make up for her lapse here's a recipe for Barbecued Bear. Meanwhile Ken Layne, Laura's indescribably blessed husband, has wonderful thoughts on The Boss. Ken's a Springsteener of many years standing, and a sometimes performer of Bruce tunes.
He needs to install a Springsteenesque V8 in that Jeep of his. Maybe a Hemi. Prop her up in the backyard on concrete blocks …
SAY IT LOUD! I'M DUMB AND PROUD! Alex Damon, guest columnist at the Sydney Morning Herald, launches a logic-free missile at his enemies:
Everything we fought for from the 1960s to the 1990s - human rights, women's rights, workers' rights - is to be swept away and dismissed as "politically correct".
Hey, good start. He's hit 9.5 on the bullshit meter already.
The phrase is now a mantra trotted out contemptuously - and as though they have just invented the term - by writers of every second letter to various editors, by talkback hosts or their callers and by the burgeoning ranks of right-wing columnists, some of whom even inhabit supposedly quality papers such as the Herald.
There's no place for right-wing views in a "quality" newspaper. Of course.
Since Tampa and September 11 we have witnessed the worst form of cowardice as the ugly face of right-wing journalism, emboldened by popular opinion, has emerged from behind a screen of reasonable language to spread its poison unfettered by delicacy.
As the official Ugly Face of Australian right-wing journalism, I take offence at this.
Is there no pity for us bleeding hearts? Are we really to blame for all social ills?
Well, since you ask …
Anyone who takes a principled stand which contradicts the populist line is guilty of what Tony Abbott calls "moral vanity". And yet, as Liz Porter pointed out in an article in The Sunday Age (January 27), if it weren't for the "chattering classes" or "elites" in Germany regularly reminding Germans of their Nazi past, they would long since have succumbed to the popular desire to try to forget the Holocaust and their part in it.
Modest, isn't he, the way he identifies his own views a "principled". And about those German "elites" … weren't they the same class who a few years earlier were conducting the Holocaust?
Be warned, though, ye scoffers at political correctness. The legions of bleeding hearts may have degenerated to a tatty bunch, but we are here, holed up in the hills and waiting for our star to rise once again.
Holed up in the hills … of Balmain and Carlton.
Some time you are going to suffer a massive hangover from the orgy of hatred and mealy-mouthedness you have been indulging in. For instance, when a recession inevitably arrives and hundreds of thousands more people suddenly find that they are counted among Them – the despised unemployed - and barely a social safety net in sight. Then we strike.
Typical bleeding heart. Wishing for misery to be visited on people so they'll be forced to see the light.
When we take charge there will be such an emphasis on human rights and dignity, such an affirmativeness of action, such a restoration of social welfare, such a hugging of trees, such an abandonment of divisiveness and such political correctness imposed so rigidly by Thought Police that, like the Pilgrim Fathers, you will abandon Australia in boats and set off for a more unjust society, taking your Howards, Joneses, Lawses, Devines and McGuinnesses with you. And when you get there, I hope the locals throw you all into a detention centre.
What happened to your commitment to human rights, PC nancy boy?
JIM HOAGLAND identifies the main problem in the Middle East – pygmies!
In a time of Middle Eastern turmoil that calls for giants of spirit and of vision, the region is afflicted with pygmies who cannot see beyond their own immediate interests. They capitulate to moral obtuseness shaped by decades of conflict and corruption.
ALAN MOIR'S cartoon in today's Sydney Morning Herald is fantastically dishonest. Never have Tony Abbott, John Howard, or Philip Ruddock suggested that their opposition to illegal immigration is anything to do with protecting Australian jobs (in fact, their government has increased legitimate immigration to help generate jobs). Moir is putting Pauline Hanson's words in their mouths. He's another example of the stupid left's belief that conservatives are evil.
IMRE SALUSINSZKY – or, as the Sydney Morning Herald prefers, "Salusinksy" – takes on the Dim Twins of Australian politics:
In everything that has been written about Natasha Stott Despoja's problems, nothing has been said about the extraordinary parallels between her career, and that of the other most prominent anti-capitalist politician of the 1990s, Pauline Hanson.
Can it really be a coincidence that these two women's trajectories - to be rejected by the voters, and then to preside over the meltdown of their own parties - have been so similar?
At the time of their greatest mutual popularity, in the mid- to late-1990s, there was hardly an issue on which Hanson and Stott Despoja disagreed.
He's right, although the Democrats (Hansonites with university degrees) will screech denial.
SYDNEY MORNING Herald credibility problem Margo Kingston is dismayed that the inquiry into refugee children being thrown overboard has ended without taking down the Government. Her report begins:
The four-month Senate inquiry into the children overboard affair - which ended suddenly on Tuesday without hearing key evidence - has produced "a big fat nothing" because the Opposition gave in to the Government, a Liberal member complained on Wednesday.
The Liberal member, Senator George Brandis, did no such thing. Here are his comments – from the fourth paragraph of Kingston's story:
"We suspect that Labor was fearful that if the evidence was called, there'd be nothing in it. The whole inquiry has turned into a big fat nothing."
Brandis is saying that further inquiry would produce nothing because the evidence likely contained nothing, not because the Opposition "gave in". And how is Brandis "complaining"? He's clearly gloating because Labor has backed down.
Margo has been bouncing around the SMH newsroom telling people that this inquiry would prove to be Australia's Watergate. It hasn't quite worked out that way. Deal with it, Kingston.
THE UNITED NATIONS, as dim and creepy a bunch of crybabies and know-nothings as you'll find anywhere outside of the International Socialists, has released a report on Australia's treatment of illegal immigrants.
It is lousy with cant, sentiment, and idiocy:
Retired Indian judge P. N. Bhagwati, who visited Woomera in May on behalf of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, said in his report: "They were prisoners without having committed any offence. Their only fault was that they had left their native home and sought to find refuge or a better life on Australian soil."
Wrong, retired Indian judge P.N. Bhagwati. They aren't prisoners, for they are free to leave at any time to return to their native homes. And they arrived here without documentation, and in many cases with bogus stories about where they'd come from. Retired Indian judge P.N. Bhagwati is a sap.
"When Justice Bhagwati met the detainees, some of them broke down," the report said.
Excuse me, but big deal. What has this to do with anything?
"From a human rights point of view, the detention of children in the context of immigration procedure is certainly contrary to international standards," he said.
Maybe, but what about in the context of illegal immigration, your judgeship? The UN will complain when this latest report is ignored by the Australian government, but, seriously, what else is to be done with it?
AFTER A torrid hiatus, James Morrow is back to blogging. With no help from Telstra, Australia's part-private, part-government, all-stupid telecommunications network.
DON ARTHUR has more on the Norwegian antipathy towards Israel – an antipathy that doesn't apparently extend to the military:
While many Norwegians are demanding a boycott of Israeli goods, the Armed Forces are buying munitions from Israel with the approval of the Defence Ministry. The day after Terje Rød-Larsen was declared persona non grata by Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 100,000 rounds of machine gun ammunition arrived in Norway from Israel. Both Foreign Minister Jan Petersen and Defence Minister Kristin Krohn Devold declined to comment on the deal.
ROCK STARS and other wimps are now too scared to perform in Israel, reports the Washington Post. This intriguing aside is included in the same article:
Some Norwegian supermarkets label Israeli products with stickers so customers can decide whether to buy them.
Let me guess; does the sticker look anything like this?
NEXT THEY'LL be telling us his real name was "Deng":
Israel has withdrawn its exhibition in China of Albert Einstein's life after the Ministry of Culture demanded all references to the scientist's Jewish identity and advocacy for a Jewish state be dropped, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday.
The ministry ordered that about 10 percent of the text referring to Einstein being Jewish, his support for Israel's creation and the invitation for him to be the first president be deleted, the newspaper said.
PEOPLE OFTEN stop me in the street and ask: "Tim, what sort of search icon do they use on newspaper websites in repressive Muslim hellstates?"
Thanks to reader Trevor A., of California, I can now point these people towards The Cairo Times. Now that's a search icon.
The Russian government on Friday outlined plans to build five more civilian nuclear reactors in Iran despite U.S. objections. The continuing construction of a single reactor at Bushehr has been a flash point in U.S.-Russian relations for years. The release of the 10-year plan for additional reactors, as the U.S. officials were preparing to leave for Moscow, caught President Bush and his foreign policy advisers off guard.
IN THE West, "repression" means telling some squealing leftist you disagree with them. In Egypt, "repression" means repression:
A leading Egyptian human rights activist, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, was jailed for seven years yesterday for receiving foreign funding without government approval to finance a project aimed at encouraging Egyptians to take part in parliamentary elections.
NEW POLITICAL BLOGS, tested and recommended:
Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker compile Power Line, a compendium of musings on US and global current events.
In the UK, Peter Cuthbertson runs Conservative Commentary. The title is a clue.
And in Melbourne, Australia, Meyer Rafael sifts through a maze of news to present to you his Blog of Middle East Politics.
MRS. NKONUKO, the latest scam letter artist to emerge from Africa, writes:
As it may interest you to know, I got your impressive information through my good friends who works with chamber of commerce on foreign business relations here in Lome-Togo. It is him who recommended your person to me to be viable and capable to champion a business of such magnitude without without any problem.
Yes, it does interest me to know, Mrs. Nkonuko. Especially as this morning I had to argue the guy at the repair shop down on the price of a new seatbelt because I couldn't afford a replacement at his original quote.
(I've been driving around beltless for a few weeks, which in Australia gets you fined. The damn attachment thing broke. I actually prefer non-seatbelt driving – I figure I'll be thrown clear – but beautiful Nadia, who understands logic and physics, insisted on a repair.)
Anyway, car fixing (and tax paying) will cut into blogging for a few days. Donations via PayPal, over to the left, might accelerate matters.
But it's no big deal. I can always hit on old lady Nkonuko. She's loaded!
RICHARD ZURANSKI held his girlfriend at knifepoint and beat her unconscious … but he wasn't sent to prison, because crazy Richard was under the influence of an anti-smoking drug:
A Canberra man avoided jail yesterday after an ACT Supreme Court judge said he could not rule out the possibility that an anti-smoking drug had helped trigger an eight-hour episode of domestic violence.
Justice Terence Higgins was sentencing Richard Zuranski, 40, after Zuranski pleaded guilty of assaulting his ex-partner causing her actual bodily harm on April 21 last year.
Zuranski's lawyer, Richard Thomas, had submitted the couple's volatile relationship, alcohol abuse, family issues and anti-smoking medication Zuranski was taking at the time had contributed to his client's outburst.
While there was no evidence of a causal effect, he suggested Zuranski might have been suffering from some of the side-effects associated with taking Zyban medication.
Since when is a history of conflict – "family issues", "volatile relationship" – a mitigating factor? Do murderers get lenient treatment if they've been consistently murderous? Would Richard have gone to the Big House if his relationship had previously been peaceful?
IRAN'S FIRST nuclear power plant is nearing completion. It's been under construction for seven years. Strangely, nobody from the environmental movement has made loud speeches about this, or sung horrible songs, or beat on drums, or built bomb puppets, or acted all dead and ghostish, or trailed around behind Luka Bloom like tone-deaf labradors.
Is it only Western nuclear plants they oppose? Come on, you anti-nuke crazies! Think local, act global! Save the stupid planet, already! Or else all the glory will go to George W. Bush and his fellow anti-nuclear environmentalists in the US Department of Defense.
A RUSSIAN scientist claims to have built an anti-gravity machine:
Researchers at the world's largest aircraft maker, Boeing, are using the work of a controversial Russian scientist to try to create a device that will defy gravity.
The company is examining an experiment by Yevgeny Podkletnov, who claims to have developed a device which can shield objects from the Earth's pull.
Dr Podkletnov claims to have countered the effects of gravity in an experiment at the Tampere University of Technology in Finland in 1992.
The scientist says he found that objects above a superconducting ceramic disc rotating over powerful electromagnets lost weight.
Cram it, Podkletnov. Here in Australia we refer to this alleged breakthough as the Jesaulenko Effect. It's been known of locally since 1970.
BINNY'S KID takes control of the family firm. From AFP:
Osama bin Laden's eldest son, Saad, has taken over the command of the al-Qaeda terror network blamed by Washington for the September 11 attacks, the Saudi pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported.
Imagine the scene, many months earlier …
"One day, son," – the old man indicates with a grand sweep of his arm the caves of Tora Bora, five ruined old Toyota trucks, a dialysis machine built from goat parts, and two loyal soldiers attempting to connect a Beta VCR to the Internet – "all of this will be yours. How do you feel?"
"I feel," says the boy, overcome by emotion, "so fuckin' saaaaaaaaaad …"
IF YOU'VE arrived here via a link at Jack Robertson's site, what the hell were you doing there in the first place?
AVERT YOUR EYES! The Guardian's John O'Farrell is attempting humour:
There was a major scandal in Wall Street this week when a rogue US corporation was found not to have been fiddling the books. "We can't imagine how this has been allowed to happen," said the shame-faced auditors. The chief financial officer immediately resigned in disgrace as it was revealed that the firm's profits were exactly what he'd claimed they were, with no trace of false accounting or the artificial inflation of share prices. However, it is thought the chance of this happening in other US corporations remains very slim.
Oh, mercy. The poor sad bastard can't even write in the style of a news report, even though he works for a newspaper.
SIMPER AND BIGGINS. They sound like a pre-war British comedy team, don't they? Picture them in the following routine:
BIGGINS: "I say, Mr. Simper, your arm is all red and bloody!"
SIMPER: "That's because it's been up a cow's arse, Mrs. Biggins."
BIGGINS: "Oh dear, Mr. Simper! I hope the calf was delivered alive."
SIMPER: "What calf?"
HOW COSY. Tony Kevin, who led the charge of the wild anti-Howard conspiracists over the SIEV-X affair, has joined the Australian Labor Party as a foreign policy adviser.
SYDNEY MORNING Herald television writer Greg Hassall thinks George W. Bush is dumb. Here's his preview of The West Wing, from today's SMH TV guide:
The West Wing, Nine, 10.30 pm: With season three over, we'll have to wait a while to see how President Bartlet tackles his Republican opponent, the folksy, populist and not-terribly-bright Governor Ritchie (now who could he be based on?). In the meantime, console yourself with this quasi-documentary, which combines clips from past episodes and interviews with former Democrat presidents Ford, Carter and Clinton.
Hassall believes Gerald Ford was a Democrat. Yes sir, that George W. Bush sure is an idiot.
Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the assault rifle which bears his name, says he is proud of developing the AK-47 but wishes he'd designed something to help people instead – like a lawnmower.
"I would have preferred to invent something which helps people and makes life easier for farmers. A lawnmower, for example," the 82-year-old general told Bild newspaper.
Meanwhile, somewhere in a parallel universe, a peasant uprising is being quelled by merciless Briggs & Stratton death squads.
MIKE CARLTON discusses smarm queen Cheryl Kernot:
"I need to get on with the rest of my life," said Cheryl Kernot in that dreamy voice, settling in for an absorbing two-hour interview on ABC Radio National last Sunday evening. "There are some issues like causality that I want to talk about."
Cheryl talks as if she were writing sleeve notes for a '70s record album. "I've made the choices that I've made," she says, all breathy with meaning. With relevance. With, yes, causality.
She always talks like that. I interviewed her once; it was like listening to a slightly politicised Carol Brady.
HEADLINE in The Independent:
Ecstasy As Cheap As A Bar Of Chocolate For Children
And we adults still have to pay full price. This sucks.
THE AUSTRALIAN Democrats continue to howl and sulk. It's worth considering, during all the media concern over this pointless, invertebrate clan, just how insignificant the Democrats truly are.
If it weren't for their white-knuckle hold on the balance of power in the Senate, which forces governments to yield to imbecile Democrat whims, this crowd would be as influential as electric car advocates or Radio National listeners.
WHOSE SIDE will Saudi Arabia ultimately take in the upcoming war? From The Guardian:
Saudi Arabia is teetering on the brink of collapse, fuelling Foreign Office fears of an extremist takeover of one of the West's key allies in the war on terror.
Anti-government demonstrations have swept the desert kingdom in the past months in protest at the pro-American stance of the de facto ruler, Prince Abdullah.
At the same time, Whitehall officials are concerned that Abdullah could face a palace coup from elements within the royal family sympathetic to al-Qaeda.
Reader Brett M. notes: "The British Foreign Office seems to be considering a new strategy -- attack Saudi Arabia first! That'll surprise everyone, even Saddam."
WHERE IS he from, this elusive Ali Bakhtiari? Robert Manne, writing in The Age last Monday, was convinced that the Bakhtiari clan were from Afghanistan, and are in Australia as legitimate refugees escaping the Taliban:
In 1998 their family, along with many thousands of the persecuted minority Hazara group of Afghanistan, fled into Pakistan. The father of the family, Ali Bakhtiari, went ahead in search of a new home.
But today's Sun-Herald reports the reverse: that before embarking on his Australian adventure, Bakhtiari left his homeland of Pakistan for Afghanistan. The paper tracked down a number of people in Quetta who recall Bakhtiari:
"Yes, I know him, he is Asghar Ali Bakhtiari, a plumber, or was a plumber working here a few years back," said Rajab Ali, who owns a medical store in Barnas Road, where Mr Bakhtiari ran a plumbing business with his brother.
"It is being heard that he wants to become a person of some other country - he is in search of political asylum. He now declares himself an Afghani instead of Pakistani."
So does Robert Manne. Even Bakhtiari's brother – or someone claiming to be his brother – gives Ali up:
Sikandar Bhaktiari was astonished to be shown a photograph of the refugee who now lives in a flat in Auburn in Sydney.
"Yes that is my brother - where did you get that picture?" he said. "He used to live in Quetta, but now he is not here. He went to Afghanistan but then he left there and now I don't know where he lives."
My money is on Manne being wrong. This is what's known locally as a "safe bet".
THE LATEST edition of British satirical magazine Viz features a cartoon strip called "The Modern Parents", which isn't on line, but from which reader Ross F. sends the highlights. Modern Parent (Father) has set off a metal detector at the airport:
Airport Security Man: If you could just step this way, sir …
Modern Parent, Father: Get your hands off me! This is a violation of my human rights!
ASM: Calm down, sir. I expect you left some change in your pocket.
MPF: You only picked me because I've got a beard, didn't you?
ASM: Ah, could I just ask you to remove your pendant and go through again sir?
MPF: This isn't a pendant. It's my sacred tribal arrowhead! I made it last week at our rainforest craft workshop. I never take it off.
ASM: I'm afraid we have to confiscate sharp objects, sir.
MPF: That's outrageous! This arrowhead is part of my cultural identity, and anyway I'm an internationally renowned pacifist. You'd let me through if I was an arms dealer! Just because I signed a petition supporting the Palestinians last week you’re treating me like some kind of terrorist! Well, let me tell you a lot of people think that your political masters in America brought Sept. 11th on themselves … I mean, if I was a Palestinian refugee whose family had been butchered by your CIA death squads, I'd be morally justified in hijacking a plane and crashing it into the White House!
ASM ( into radio): Security? We've got a nutter with a knife.
MPF: Get away from me, you imperialist fascists! No-one's going to stop me getting on that plane!