THERE WAS A JENIN MASSACRE: Stefan Sharkansky, inspired by a note from an Australian reader, examines a moral equivalence freak show on display Downunder.

MILITARY GENIUS Saddam Hussein is crafting a wily strategy to block the US, according to the Sydney Morning Herald:

The Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, plans to foil any United States invasion by avoiding desert fighting and massing his military in cities, where civilian and US casualties would be highest.

Seems like this move is already covered, however, as earlier reports indicate:

The attack plan might not be conventional at all. It could be the so-called "Inside-Out option," in which US forces begin with a rapid move on Baghdad, bypassing entrenched forces in the rest of the country.

BEATS ME how I ended up writing so much about politics. I prefer to write about cars. In a few hours I'm heading for Melbourne in a supercharged Holden Monaro (soon to be sold in the US as a Pontiac GTO), which I'll review for an Australian magazine. Next is a Honda S2000.

So blogging will be down for the day. Speeding fines may be up.

WHAT'S THE real long-term war aim of the United States? Mark Steyn asks, and answers:

I'd say it’s this — to bring the Middle East within the civilised world. How do you do that? Tricky, but this we can say for certain: you'll never be able to manage it with the present crowd — Saddam, the Ayatollahs, the House of Saud, Boy Assad, Mubarak, Yasser. When Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, warns the BBC that a US invasion of Iraq would 'threaten the whole stability of the Middle East', he's missing the point: that's the reason it's such a great idea. Suppose we buy in to Moussa's pitch and place stability above all other considerations. We get another 25 years of the Ayatollahs, another 35 years of the PLO and Hamas, another 40 years of the Baathists in Syria and Iraq, another 80 years of Saudi Wahabbism. What kind of Middle East are we likely to have at the end of all that?

The same damn one. Let's roll.

"WHAT YOU HAVE SAID WILL DESTROY YOU PROFESSIONALLY." So Bob Ellis told me yesterday. We chatted a couple of times on the phone about my column in The Australian, which Bob didn't much care for. "You are terrible," he said.

I've been called worse. So has he. Ellis is sometimes difficult to understand, with his exaggerated mumbles, sighs, and groans, but as near as I could tell our conversations covered these subjects:

Refugees. Ellis asked if I thought Iraqi nurse Akram al Masri, interviewed by Ellis in the Woomera detention centre, should be returned to her country. Yes, I answered, adding that once returned she should apply to migrate to Australia legally. He was concerned that she would be killed by US bombing or by her murderous husband.

Ellis pointed out that she'd won a court case establishing her right, as a refugee, to live in Australia (I'm fine with that) and that minister for immigration Philip Ruddock had appealed the court's decision (and I'm fine with that, too).

If people arrive here as genuine refugees, let 'em stay. If not, well, so long. Whatever the courts decide, if cases go that far.

Immigration. Ellis said that Middle Eastern immigration queues to Australia are dominated by corrupt officials, and that many people have no option but to immigrate illegally. My problem with that: people smugglers are even more corrupt. I favour massively increased immigration, but – like Bob Hawke – prefer that it be controlled and legitimate. Ellis's rejoinder: "You do like control, don't you?"

People smugglers. Ellis reeled off a list of various fictional and actual individuals who were people smugglers, including characters from Dickens and the movie Casablanca, and Oscar Schindler. I told Ellis this was similar to his argument made after September 11 – that George Washington, like Mohammed Atta, was a terrorist. "So, you've been watching," he said.

I'm sinister like that. I read things.

Detention centres. Ellis claimed that torture and murder occurs in Australian detention centres. The torture, he said, was evident in children being held in "prisons". As for murder, Ellis said I should "wait and see".

He also asked if I'd ever visited a place where refugees are held. As it happens, I have; so have many Australians. That's because some of our refugee detention centres are former or current army barracks. I've been to Puckapunyal, outside of Melbourne, where refugees from Kosovar were housed in 1999. It's not such a bad place. Ellis himself reported that conditions in Woomera aren't so bad, either. Good food. Cable TV.

Canada. I told Ellis that Australia isn't the only option for refugees; Canada was accepting people also. "Yes, I know," he said. "The Canadian governor general is my friend." I told him that I thought he was a friend of the Canadian governor general's husband, John Ralston Saul. "I am," came his chilly reply, "and I also a friend of his wife." I am guilty of appalling sexism.

Reparations. Ellis asked if I thought someone who'd been held in detention for two years before being granted the right to live in Australia should have access to financial redress. I told him I didn't believe so. This upset him.

Confrontation. "Your tone of voice suggests that you think you are more intelligent than me," Ellis said. I tried to convince him otherwise – for all I know, Ellis is a secret genius – but he interrupted me with this challenge: we must have a public debate! I'm up for it, Bob. Name your time and place, and my appearance fee.

Revenge. Ellis is writing something about me, or so he claims. "Can I quote you?" he asked during our first chat. I think he meant this to sound like a threat. It didn't. In any case, I told him he could quote me on anything I'd said. I'm never off the record.

Which led to Ellis telling me that "what you have said will destroy you professionally", his final comment before hanging up.

I look forward to his article.


AMIR BUTLER thinks that Afghans were better off under the Taliban. He should talk to Osman Akram Sargaden, editor of the beautifully named Hod Carrier of Sorrow, Afghanistan's only satirical journal:

For five years, hidden away in his home, Osman Akram Sargaden used his pen to fence with the rigidly Islamic Taliban mullahs who ruled this country, hand-writing page after page of witty, acerbic, savagely biting criticism of the hard-line regime.

"You should have seen me," chuckled Sargaden, his hands shaping an enormous beard beneath his chin. "You would have been scared to death. I looked like a Talib."

At his side, those many years, was Mohammed Zia Kushan, the magazine's cartoonist, who skewered the holy pretensions of the Taliban, the arrogance of Osama Bin Laden and his Arab warriors, and even the sanctity of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban.

Sargaden was very careful in trying to control the distribution of the magazine, knowing full well that if his identity as the author were ever discovered, it would prove fatal.

The man is a hero. And now the Hod Carrier of Sorrow is … well, not thriving, but things are looking up:

There are two computers in his office, given by an NGO, but as Sargaden says with a belly laugh, "These are the first computers ever made. They never worked. They're just here for show."

Like most NGOs, come to think of it. Still, if those ancient computers can be revived, we may one day be able to read the Hod Online. It'll be a lot more fun than reading Amir Butler.

FLY A JET and save the planet.

MARS ATTACKS! More on Daniel Pipes' Sydney speech, from Miranda Devine:

He cites an article by Robert Kagan in the American Hoover Institute magazine Policy Review, summing up the divide as "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" … Pipes, on his third visit here, says he thinks Australia is Martian (meaning more American than European in its outlook), along with Turkey, Israel and India, while New Zealand (definitely) and Canada (maybe) are Venusian. But he was surprised last week, when he spoke at a lunch in Canberra at the Australian Defence College, that some officers seemed most concerned about the "morality and legality of invading Iraq" and were "vigorous in their protests". One New Zealand officer described any such attack as "savagery".

Join the Martian forces, New Zealanders! Or face Martian wrath!

THE SPEED OF LIGHT is getting older and slower.

MET DANIEL PIPES and Francis Fukuyama at a lunch the other day, thanks to Greg Lindsay at the Centre for Independent Studies. Pipes is just as aggressive in person on the threat of militant Islam as he is in print; his overriding concern is that most in the US don't realise how grave the threat is. An entire city may be erased, he said, before Americans agree to curtail certain freedoms and privileges that must be curtailed if the war against militant Islam is to be won.

Interestingly, Pipes said that although he is constantly denounced as a racist in the US, this criticism hasn't gained any traction at all. In Australia, by contrast, an accusation of racism is a debate-stopper.

That evening Pipes and Fukuyama spoke at the New South Wales Supreme Court. A smear of Leftists was present. One asked Pipes why Australia should join the US in attacking Iraq. Pipes answered (I'm summarising) that Iraq was armed, dangerous, and shaping to move against the West. He concluded (to applause): "You want to be a freeloader? There are plenty of freeloaders around. You can join them."

(By the way, it looks like the Australian Labor Party is taking the freeloader option.)

I asked Pipes later if all the arguments he'd heard from the Left in Australia had been as weak as those aimed at him after his Sydney talk. Absolutely, he said: "They don't have any smart people on their side any more. They're on the run."

DO YOU have what it takes to succeed in today's ultra-competitive hermit job market?

A newspaper advertisement seeking a resident hermit for the stately Shugborough Home in Staffordshire, central England, has prompted a flood of replies from men eager to ditch stressed-out modern life for a spot of peaceful cave-dwelling.

The successful applicant will be expected to live in a cave on the grounds of the estate and abandon human contact, except for scaring visitors - and will probably have to give up shaving and bathing as well.

Sounds like the editorial floor at The Guardian.

THE LUTEFISK MUNCHERS have completely rejected Australia's call for an end to the Australian-Norwegian War. This is typical behaviour on their part. They claim to desire peace, yet when offered the chance, Bjørn Stærk and the rest of his comrades in cruelty simply turn their yellow-streaked backs.

The latest communique from Stærk is a catalogue of deceit:

After all this spilled blood, Tim Blair wants 'peace'. Shake hands, drink a cup of tea, and forget about it all, just like that.

Which is exactly what the Norwegians requested at the Ballarat Peace Summit of '98! But they still withdrew, even when we increased the offer to two cups of tea. And a hug.

Peace is good. But I don't give much for the prospect of a peaceful world that has Australia in it. I'm not a racist, but it's common knowledge that these people are incapable of peaceful coexistence with civilized nations.

"I'm not a racist." Ha! Stærk says this even as he alludes to the infamous Australian Beer Libel, wherein we allegedly force infidel Norwegian infants to go and buy beer for us during religious feasts.

Our demands are simple and just: the complete obliteration of the nation of Australia, with the exception of that crocodile fellow on TV. And still they resist, and claim even to want peace! Hypocrisy and spite, that's what it is, and they'll pay for it.

What about the Dapto Accord, Stærk? You think we've forgotten that? Your oily countrymen were granted 97% of their demands, but within days the Al Norska Death Brigades were blowing up our football grounds.

One last reminder, in case some casual reader is tempted to pay attention to the treacherous words of this war criminal: It is a closely guarded secret, but Australia was actually founded by prisoners. Bet you didn't know that! Tells you what kind of people they are.

Let me tell you what kind of people Norwegians are: common Vikings and pagans. According to the Ancient Greeks, Norway didn't even respect the laws of nature. The planet will be better for Norway's removal.

ROD QUANTOCK was once a terrific comedian. Then a centrist conservative named Jeff Kennett was elected premier of Quantock's state of Victoria, and it broke Rod's mind.

He became obsessed – as did many on the Left – with the idea that Kennett was a force of pure hate. Quantock's shows became exclusively Jeff-based. The jokes declined.

John Howard has stilled even further Quantock's formerly mercurial abilities. The Age thinks he's hilarious, but to me this is just sad:

This show, subtitled "An Evening of Comic Revenge", takes further the ruminations of Quantock's Comedy Festival Show, Scum Nation.

His subjects are many: Andrew Bolt, the World Economic Forum, George Bush and his Axis of Evil, Warracknabeal's passionfruit sponges, tram conductors and, of course, Tampa, Woomera, Philip Ruddock and, saved for a wonderfully comic act of revenge at the end, John Howard.

As usual, his engaging presumption that the audience shares his opinions is proved correct.

Well, that would be because Quantock's show is presented at Melbourne’s Trades Hall, home of the shattered Victorian Left. Those people aren't consumers of comedy; they are comedy. Same goes for Rod; the funniest thing he's done in years was get roughed up by some coppers at the World Economic Forum protests. Talk about Comic Revenge …

GO GET a quesadilla from Oz femme blogger Delfi.

MANIFESTO used to menace the IndyMedia midgets at their various complainy chatrooms. Now the pseudonymous troublemaker is taking his message to the wider world of Blogdom. Shoot the cow!

MENTIONED in today's column in The Australian: Eddie McGuire, Natasha Stott Despoja, the UN, Germany, Alan Bond, Andrew Murray, the gay Mardi Gras, Max Gillies, Bob Ellis, the anti-SUV crowd, Dr. Josef Mengele, and Sally Loane.


MADNESS IS soon to descend on Johannesburg as thousands of tree romancers, earth apocalypters and tax graspers arrive for the World Summit on Sustainable Development. The Daily Summit promises to provide "an informative, provocative and entertaining guide to what will be a chaotic, controversial, landmark event." Excellent!

HERE IN Australia we're regularly ordered to wear sunscreens, hide in the shade, and clothe our kids in stupid hats, all to avoid the wrath of the Sun God.

Well, thanks for the bone disease, bastards:

Many Australians are deficient in a vital nutrient derived from sunlight and skin cancer campaigns may have to be reconsidered, a researcher warns.

Professor Caryl Nowson of Deakin University, whose research is published in today's Medical Journal of Australia, says the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Australia appears to be much higher than previously thought.

Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to the brittle bone disease osteoporosis, and Dr Nowson says it is time to devise a more appropriate health message.

I'VE HAD weird e-mail trouble lately. Apologies to anyone who has written recently and not received a reply. Apologies also to those considerably unluckier people who did receive a reply.

THE BBC has interviewed some of the spacks and dips responsible for the Church of the Nativity siege. One of them, Mamdoukh al-Wardian, had this to say:

"I am not a member of Hamas. A man loses his children. A woman's son is buried in rubble. In the Jenin massacre houses were destroyed and 500 killed. There must be a reaction."

It's been some time since the Jenin lie was disproved, and several days since even the sucks-like-a-Hoover UN published a report declaring the massacre a myth. So where does the BBC get off running this, without a hint of a correction?

Here's the relevant paragraph of the UN report. BBC reporters may print it out and pass it around amongst themselves:

Fifty-two Palestinian deaths had been confirmed by the hospital in Jenin by the end of May 2002. IDF also place the death toll at approximately 52. A senior Palestinian Authority official alleged in mid-April that some 500 were killed, a figure that has not been substantiated in the light of the evidence that has emerged.

RUN, MULLAH OMAR! Run for your life! The one-eyed cleric is scuttling all over southern and central Afghanistan. Sometimes he's on foot; sometimes he's on a motorbike. Will Dr. Richard Kimble ever catch him?

HERE'S A FIRST: a German chancellor who doesn't want war.

THE ARAB NEWS calmly analyses the murder of five US students at the Hebrew University:

As to the 5 American students that died, why weren't they studying in the United States, at Yale, or Vassar, instead of being in a foreign country in which a genocidal war against Palestine was going on? If those students were, like many other such "American" students that go to work, study, live, or join the Israeli army, then they must have known they would be in jeopardy.

Quite right. They'd have been perfectly safe from lunatic Islamopsychos if they'd only stayed somewhere out of their way. Say, in the World Trade Centre, perhaps. Or the Pentagon.

FRENCH RESISTANCE, harsh Afghan winter, left-wing think tank … add another to the list of oxymorons: jubilant Manchester.

THE REAL battle in the Middle East isn't between Palestine and Israel, Muslim and Jew. It's between men and women. Or at least I think that's what Andrea Dworkin is trying to say.

THE WAR ON TERROR – written by Ian Fleming, produced by Cubby Broccoli. Another 007-style twist is reported in the London Times:

A millionaire diamond-smuggler closely linked to a notorious arms dealer was arrested in Italy at the weekend on suspicion of supplying weapons to al-Qaeda.

Sanjivan Ruprah, who is Kenyan-born, was picked up near Milan, which investigators say is al-Qaeda's main European headquarters.

Mr Ruprah’s name features prominently on a United Nations list of those banned from international flights because of links to arms and diamond-trafficking in Africa, as is his close associate, the Russian businessman Victor Bout.

Didn't these guys have cameos in Diamonds Are Forever and From Russia With Love?

BLAND, LUMPY, gozz-eyed actor John Howard shares his name with Australia's Prime Minister, which gives him the chance to mouth all manner of greasy pieties and have them reported hilariously as "John Howard said". Here's his latest:

John Howard said yesterday that he was sorry for libelling the innocent, desperate people who are known as asylum seekers.

He said he was wrong about Woomera, and he apologised for detaining children there, calling it an abuse that evoked the worst of 19th-century England. And he said the so-called Pacific solution had tormented many blameless people.

"And all my government is sorry, especially [Immigration Minister] Philip Ruddock," said Howard, the actor.

He was speaking at the launch in Hobart of Australia Shamed: A List of Dissenters. It is believed to be the first such list of citizens' signatures collected in opposition to the Howard Government's policy on asylum seekers.

Stupid dissenters. This list will only assist the black-shirted death squads with their evening search-and-exterminate missions. Meanwhile, can't these people find another John Howard to recite their lines? This one has great dissenting experience.

DON'T TEASE the Bunyip. He bites:

The next time you come across one of those well-meaning souls who tell you in voices quavering with faith and earnestness that war solves nothing and we all have to give peace a chance, roll the current edition of The Economist -- the one that contains this editorial -- into a tight, hard tube and jam it with as much force as you can muster into your interlocutor's eye.

And then he gets angry.

ELIZABETH NICKSON, a rare Canadian right-winger, identifies the signs of left wing fascism:

Liberal corruption, which this paper has proved conclusively is epidemic and endemic. Public cynicism and withdrawal. The bullying of challengers by human rights tribunals who suppress free speech. The hobbling of police forces unable to investigate crimes in immigrant populations. The financial constriction of middle-class families. The time-bomb of an ever-increasing under-class. A consistent policy of putting the ideas of political correctness ahead of public safety. An imperial judiciary.

Australia may have been headed down this same path until we hit on a policy of ignoring almost everything said by anyone from the UN. It's worked wonders.

THIS ESSAY by humorist Katha Pollitt contains the phrase "Palestinian civil society". Watch out, Mark Steyn! Katha's taking political satire to a whole new level!

THE NORWEGIAN-AUSTRALIAN AXIS: Bjørn Stærk is back, and among his return posts is coverage of a multiculturalism dispute in the pages of Norwegian paper Dagbladet (which always sounds to me like an old man cursing: "I can't find my ear medicine, dagbladet!").

Strange how similar the dispute is to current feuds being fought out in Australian newspapers, right down to accusations of Norwegian racism, "white Norwegians' guilt", and harassment of Muslims. The starting point of the dispute is similar, too; crime within the immigrant Muslim community. In Australia's case, it was the gang rape by some Muslim men of a number of young women. In Norway, it was the murder of a Muslim girl by her father (although the murder occurred in Sweden).

Common ground like this could soon see an end to the brutal Norway-Australian War. We can only pray.