WANNABE REFUGEE Ali Bakhtiyari – who arrived in Australia claiming to be an Afghan fleeing the Taliban – had his story slapped down by The Age's Russell Skelton earlier this week, and now even Ali's fans are confessing their dishonesty:

Ali Bakhtiyari's supporters have admitted to covering up vital aspects of the asylum-seeker's past.

Mr Bakhtiyari's minders conceded yesterday that the 42-year-old asylum-seeker had been to Quetta, Pakistan – something he, and the Refugee Action Collective that supports him, had previously denied.

The admission gives credence to the Department of Immigration's claims that Mr Bakhtiyari is not a genuine refugee and lived and worked as a plumber in Quetta.

Undaunted, the Bakhtiyari Boosters are attempting a bold new spin – evil racist Australia forced their man to lie:

Refugee Action Collective spokesman Ian Rintoul said he accepted there were "inconsistencies" in Mr Bakhtiyari's story.

"It is quite possible he lied when he got here because he was scared stiff," Mr Rintoul said.

"Refugees come here and face a hostile environment at the hands of immigration officials. It's understandable that people would attempt to embellish the stories."

By "embellish", Rintoul apparently means to say that Bakhtiyari told immigration officials he was a genuine refugee when he wasn't.

Meanwhile, Professor Bunyip wonders if we'll "hear a peep" from Bollinger Bakhtiyarite Phillip Adams on the subject of people smugglers. "Think he'll write even a single word denouncing the entrepreneurs of human misery?" he writes. "Don't hold your breath."

Today's Phillip Adams column is about architecture.

KILLING MACHINE Robert Mugabe says we're all just a bunch of hick racists:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has denounced Western criticism of his government as a racist campaign to undermine his nation's independence.

"Today, Britain, America, New Zealand and Australia, what colour are they, most of the people there? White," Mr Mugabe said in a speech in southern Zimbabwe, quoted on national television.

Zimbabwe would be a whole lot more independent if it stopped murdering people who grow food.

CLIVE HAMILTON, executive director of The Australia Institute and a deeply confused individual, makes this claim in The Age:

No doubt Stott Despoja's opponents will try to depict her time as leader as a failure. But by any fair assessment she did not fail.

Except for dragging her party down to 3% in the polls. Apart from that, Natasha Stott Despoja was a complete success.

US READER and Margo Kingston fan RR Ryan writes:

What impresses me about Margo is that even though journalism is her occupation, she produces less than someone like Glenn Reynolds, who actually has another real, full-time job, and what she does produce is consistently riddled with typographical errors and ungrammatical constructions. How does she get away with it and where are the editors? On the other hand, losing her would be like losing Cynthia McKinney.

Sadly, I think we've lost Margo. She returned to work this week (a day late) following her recent holiday, filed some junk on Tuesday about getting her hope back, and hasn't done anything for Webdiary since.

Margo's fan club in the US is enormous. The last time I was in LA, a guy who runs a bong shop invited me and Ken Layne over to talk politics. The first thing he said to me was: "Man, thank you for introducing me to Margo Kingston! We read her every day. She's hilarious!"

HOORAY FOR Sharia law! The BBC is inviting people to comment on the death sentence imposed on a Nigerian woman for the appalling crime of having a child outside of marriage. Disgracefully, the BBC frames its question like so: "Is Sharia the answer to Nigeria's crime-ridden society?" The BBC would now apparently classify unwed mother Jerry Hall as a one-woman crime wave.

Lots of respondents are vigorous Sharia defenders:

All these comments about Sharia law being barbaric and a crime against humanity make me angry. Sharia is a law for the community whereas western law seems to be for the criminal. Do you think that you would have all the crime that you have in the West if we had Sharia Law? I think not!

Ibrahim, UK

In the West, Ibrahim, we rarely witness the crime of a woman being stoned to death.

We try and put sentiment aside and face the fact, we have the one of the highest number of crime in Nigeria simply because we put morality into the dustbin and embrace western way of life.

Mohammed Tafida, Nigeria

Morality? You're talking about morality? Get back to me after you've buried Amina Lawal up to her neck in dirt and pelted her with rocks until her skull is a bloody jelly.

Punishments in Sharia are divine. They were stated by Allah. They constitute a very important part of Muslim faith. They aim at creating and establishing a pure society. This punishment is rarely practised because adultery should be witnessed by four. In this case the evidence speaks for itself.

Siefuddin A.Karim, Suda

Crime: having a child. Punishment: being smashed to death by rock-throwing goons. This is Siefuddin's idea of a "pure society".

You have to abide by the laws of a country. This woman committed adultery, and although it is sad, she must pay for her crime. As a Muslim, punishment in this life means you are not punished for the crime in the hereafter.

Abdul Azeem, UK

Lucky her.

There must be laws to deter people from committing fornication and adultery. These acts are common in societies such as Britain and it is disgusting. It breaks up families, creates unwanted pregnancies and spreads diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

Abdul, UK

Abdul doesn't understand that killing a mother because she became a mother also tends to break up families.

The critics of this law don't understand. The aim of the Islamic punishment for adultery or any similar sin deemed to be inhumane, is a firm set of rules that have been put forward by God for the good of humanity. We are humans and not animals - that's why we are not allowed to have sex outside the legal bond of marriage. I am a proud Muslim and would absolutely accept to be punished this way if I committed such a sin.

Mohamed, Egypt

I'll hold you to that, Mohamed, once you develop the ability to give birth.

The majority of Nigerian Muslims want Sharia law, so if they want it why should the West condemn it? Western nations should not get involved in Nigeria's internal politics. The West needs to know that Muslims believe Sharia law is a divine law given to us by God and they should respect the beliefs of the Muslims.

Ayuub Rajes, Somalia

Fine. Stay in the Stone Age. And don't ask for any more of our Western cash.


TIM DUNLOP announces the latest Australian political blogger: Darwin's Ken Parish. Welcome. Now you are one of us.

NO NEWS IS SBS NEWS. When the Cheryl Kernot/Gareth Evans story broke, SBS decided not to cover it. When the leader of a rape gang was sentenced last week, SBS decided not to cover it. Amanda Meade reports:

It was the biggest news story in NSW last week: the record 55-year sentence meted out to the ringleader of a group of 14 men, all of Lebanese Muslim extraction, who, two years ago, gang-raped four women in Sydney's west.

With a non-parole period of 40 years, the jail term was one of the longest non-life sentences in modern NSW criminal history. It was given extensive television coverage on Thursday night – but not by SBS.

SBS's sensitivity didn't win them any friends. When the network belatedly decided to cover the sentencing – by interviewing a Lebanese Muslim community leader, of course – angry Muslims cornered the SBS crew and beat on them like they were Robert Fisk.

KEN LAYNE attends his sister's graduation (hi, Ronda!) and somehow manages to include a damned puppet monkey in the celebratory photograph. The man's monkey obsession is all-consuming.

WHAT A beautiful morning. Happy magpies provided my wake-up call. Sydney's skies are blue. And the Australian Democrats are utterly destroyed. Does life get any better?

Well, yes. I have a Honda S2000 test car that I'll drive to Canberra and back this afternoon, with the roof down, Warren Zevon loaded into the CD stacker, and a cool redhead in the passenger seat. But first let us recall the highlights of the Natasha Stott Despoja era, an era that began dumbly and ended crazily:

•Natasha declares that Afghanistan has better maternity leave policies than Australia. An intriguing proposition, reported Mark Colvin, "given that under the Taliban women aren't even allowed to work."

•Natasha takes political advice from Margo Kingston. Smart move!

•Natasha's then-boyfriend, television journalist Hugh Riminton, whiles away the hours he is apart from his beloved by writing book reviews at Amazon.com.

•Natasha is compared to Anna Kournikova: "Each is a beguiling clothes horse with minimum talent in what they do for a living. Kournikova can't play tennis. Stott Despoja is a complete political and parliamentary dunce."

•Natasha seeks asylum at the Woomera Detention Centre.

TODAY'S LITTLE COLUMN in The Australian deals with the Asian Brown Cloud, which, like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, is thick, hovers above us like a pall of death, and reeks of animal waste.


MARK STEYN examines the curious standards that apply to Muslim crimes in the West, including the recent Australian gang rape disgrace:

Last Thursday, in Sydney, the pack leader of a group of Lebanese Muslim gang-rapists was sentenced to 55 years in jail. I suppose I ought to say "Lebanese-Australian" Muslim gang-rapists, since the accused were Australian citizens. But, identity-wise, the rambunctious young lads considered themselves heavy on the Lebanese, light on the Australian. During their gang rapes, the lucky lady would be told she was about to be "f---ed Leb style" and that she deserved it because she was an "Australian pig."

But, inevitably, it's the heavy sentence that's "controversial."

BEFORE YOU click through to the story, guess which headline The Independent attached to this description of domestic ordinariness:

It is evening. The curtains are drawn, the halogen lights have been turned down low. A compact disc is playing on the stereo. Later, there's the prospect of watching that new Tom Cruise movie on the DVD player. The microwave has just pinged to announce that the chicken tikka is ready to serve. Maybe there'll be time to sneak in a few rounds of Premiership Manager on the PlayStation before bed.

Here are your headline choices:

A: Lights Low In Mystery House

B: Man Buys Tom Cruise DVD, Plans To Watch

C: Bird Corpse Irradiated

D: How Your Quiet Night At Home Is Destroying The Planet

PILGER WATCH. A friend has just arrived in London having shared a flight with elderly commie pin-up John Pilger. His exclusive report:

Pilger brought his own 'trail mix'/fruit with him and eschewed the Thai Airlines business class meal. Much of said trail mix was left for the cleaners to enjoy/clean up.

Pilger is more a columnist than a journalist when it comes to the free, albeit warm, Thai beer. Neither of us drank the plane dry.

Pilger worked on a dossier of clippings (SMH/Age/ABC transcripts) — with words like 'Howard's shame' underlined — for much of the Sydney-Bangkok leg.

Pilger spent much of the flight scribbling what will presumably be an article. Major source material appeared to be his own new book (The New Rulers of the Whole Goddamn World, etc). Pilger spent much time re-reading bits of it.

Pilger didn't don the headphones for the stupid movies – Showtime (Murphy/De Niro buddy cop thing) and Spiderman. He just did what we all do: pretend it's all beneath us and that we're too time-poor to waste valuable air-hours on pop culture, but then try to follow the plot with intermittent lip-reading. He did this much more during Spiderman than Showtime.

Pilger had a circular from the Sydney High School Old Boys Association which he read and tore up. At least the cleaners had something to do.

Pilger kept talking to the air hostess in an officious manner. I'd like to think he was complaining about me reading the Fairfax press clippings over his shoulder but I couldn't really tell as I was struggling to follow Spiderman with headphones on.

And on arrival in Bangkok:

I was hoping he'd vanish into the pungent South East Asian night in search of another Khmer Rouge story but instead I saw him in the Royal Orchid Lounge checking e-mails.

London readers – be alert for Pilger! He walks among you! Send your sightings to Pilger Watch!

GARETH PARKER salutes the heroic return of Margo Kingston to her daily duties at the Sydney Morning Herald. So does reader Steve T., who noticed the SMH's ecstatic reaction to Margo's long-awaited latest postings: "Our ace commentator is back, brimming with hope." He writes:

Not only is she back, she's been declared an "ace commentator" by today's SMH website, for God's sake.

Alan McGilvray was an ace commentator. Richie Benaud is an ace commentator. Margo is a goose.

Steve T.

PS: Just read her analysis of the Stott Despoja resignation. Apparently it's all "the result of a paradigm shift in Australian politics which began with the Hanson election in 1996 and climaxed with the Tampa". Yeeeeeeeees, of course it is ...

Margo analyses everything through a Hanson/Tampa prism. She's convinced that racism is the primary force in Australian society. Speak for yourself, Margo:

Hi. I had a wow of a holiday in Bryon Bay after its annual writers festival, where the audience played the starring role. A great vibe at an Australian writers only event where 17,000 people turned up and got right into it.

Australian writers only? What happened to any foreign writers who turned up? Were they taken away to detention centres? And what the hell was Margo Kingston doing at a writers festival anyway? Especially in a place called Byron Bay, which she can't even spell?


In Australia, a man is sentenced to 55 years in jail for the gang rape of four women.

In Nigeria, a woman is sentenced to be stoned to death for having a child out of wedlock.

JOURNALIST GILES COREN recently wrote a book review for the Times of London in which he dismissed a certain work as a literary stunt. Part of his review ran as follows:

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. Very clever. All 26 letters of the alphabet in a 35-letter sentence.

But a subeditor changed the "the" to an "a". This meant the sentence no longer contained 35 letters. Read Coren's calm, measured response to the alteration and subsequent error here.


THE AGE is claiming that my old high school English teacher, Robert Doyle, has the numbers to take over as leader of the Victorian Liberal Party. That's not what I'm hearing, although my low-level Liberal Party connections have been known to get things wrong. So has The Age, which evens things out. We'll find out today.

UPDATE: The Age was right! Way to go, teach.

"I'M OFF to the Byron Bay Writers Festival tomorrow and a two week holiday, when I'll get get my head around Robert Lawton's demand for a return to serious content. Back August 19."

So wrote wrote Margo Kingston back on July 31. But she isn't back back, and nor is there a link link to her Webdiary Webdiary on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald's site site. Whatever could be happening happening?

YOU AIN'T NOTHING BUT A WARTHOG. Mark Steyn reports on the trade in holy Elvis relics:

Most prized of all is the wart supposedly removed by his doctor when he entered the army in 1958. The Elvis wart is the Presley fan's equivalent of the Turin Shroud, though, unlike the Shroud, there seem to be several competing warts, many of doubtful provenance: I myself have seen and held what most experts regard as the Elvis wart, personally shown to me by Elvis curator Joni Mabe, who suggested the DNA within it could be used to clone a new King.

The process would be known as the Son Sessions. Meanwhile, is anyone trying to clone Jerry Lee? Let's get our priorities straight here.

MARC HEROLD, Afghanistan death stats exaggerator, is still learning how to count.

CAMILLE PAGLIA sticks it to the Left. Some of her claims – that Leftists are paranoid snobs who nowadays are confined to media and university ghettoes – will resonate particularly with Australian readers.

AN EDITED e-mail from a reader in Milan, Italy, on the European-American impasse, stereotypes, and the influence of blogs:

Well, now it seems that Europe is no longer the home of lots of different people. It has mysteriously come to be densely populated by just one person, and this single person is called European Man. Those who make this claim accuse people in Europe of group thinking, and of assuming that who you are is determined by where you were born. In the same breath they say that if you are European Man you are automatically a communist and a fascist and anti-American and anti-Jew and you can't possibly hold a different opinion.

Sadly, this reminds me of encounters I had with several British people in which I was authoritatively informed that, being Italian, I worked for the Mafia (here they breezily asked me how many people I had killed), that I was male dominated, that I was illiterate, that I was owned by the Pope, that all Italian men are rapists, that I had no right to be alive, and so on and so forth. They would also ask accusingly, "How come you don't wave your hands about when you speak?", and "Your skin is very white. Why is it so?" I have long since come to accept the sad fact that whatever answer I can offer is perfectly useless. They issue their statements like a royal edict and the wog can only be grateful. Yes, why bother to use some common sense and see someone as an individual when you can wallow in stereotypes?

Is the same thing happening in the US? Asinine anti-Americanism over here breeds anti-Europe resentment over there and so we end up with this kind of idiocy ricocheting to and fro on both sides of the Atlantic. True, we are blessed with a very vocal left which is still raging because the great communist revolution they expected never materialised. True, the elites in Brussels or wherever should stick to issuing regulations about zucchini and tomatoes and not worry their little heads about anything more complicated than that.

Opinions over here are by no means as uniform as Americans tend to think. French intellectual elites don't represent everybody. Just think of Oriana Fallaci's Anger and Pride. It sold a million copies in Italy. But now it seems we'll just have to wait to see who will zap us first, the pacifists, the Arabs or the Americans.

Maybe part of the problem is lack of proper information. Since I discovered the blogs, last autumn, my views have been influenced by what I found out through them. We get only half of the picture from the media. And maybe more blogs from Europe could help bridge the gap between both sides of the Atlantic. Before being turned overnight into European Man and being thus deprived of the right to an opinion of my own, I thought anti-Americanism stupid and ill-informed. I mean, even as intelligent a man as Victor Davis Hanson was lectured about European cultural superiority by some nitwit in Rome and came away believing we all think exactly the same.

More blogs from Europe! Bring them on. Forza Azzurri!


COMMIE WEBSITES are a valuable source of punctuation and spelling assignments for English teachers. Students, test your skills here.

WHY DO THEY HATE US? Remember all those pinheads whose immediate response to September 11 was that the West should examine why it was so despised?

A similar note is struck in this letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, on the subject of a Lebanese psychopath rape gang:

As terrible as the crime was, we must not confuse justice with revenge. We need answers. Where has this hatred come from? How have we contributed to it? Perhaps it's time to take a good hard look at the racism by exclusion practised with such a vengeance by our community and cultural institutions.

Monroe Reimers, Maroubra, August 16.

Quite so. Those racist, exclusionary raped women must ask themselves some serious questions.


JUST SAW Australian Islamoblogger Amir Butler jabbering on a old episode of Compass about an increased number of conversions to Islam since September 11.

Amir turns out to be an Islamic version of the Comic Book Guy. He apparently runs the bookstore at the Australian Muslim Public Affairs Committee. Those top shelves sure are a bitch to reach, Amir.

Among the recent converts interviewed on the show was the intriguingly named Mohammad Pike. I wonder what his first name used to be.

UPDATE. Alan Anderson writes to point out that the Compass transcript contains this information about Amir's organisation:

Thanks to what Amir describes as "no strings attached "support from Saudi Arabian charities, AMPAC has extensive information resources. They were put to the test last November.

"Hmm ..." wonders Alan. "What sort of organisations usually attract funding from Saudi charities?" Only fair and decent ones, I'm sure.

HUGH MACKAY, who helps fill the spaces between advertisements in the Sydney Morning Herald, gets a deserved thrashing from Chris Textor.

QUORN-BRAINED actress Susan Sarandon is opposed to a war against Iraq. No surprises there; she is, after all, an internationally recognised idiot. But the bat-nosed peacenik isn't opposed to a war against America:

Ms Sarandon said one of the positive results of the September 11 attacks was that it gave America something in common with other countries who have fallen prey to terrorism.

"Afterwards, I said to my kids: 'We've joined the rest of the world now'," she said.

"You're so lucky in Ireland, England and Spain. Everyone there already knows what it's like to have inexplicable terrorist violence."

I'm just guessing, but I don't think that thought would've crossed the minds of anybody inside the World Trade Center.