12.21.2002

SUPERCHARGED, BIG-BLOCK SUBURBAN FOR SALE! A friend in NYC is selling his 7.4 litre supercharged monster Chev Suburban, having broken several county and state records for the accumulation of speeding tickets and hostile glares from environmentalists. I think he's upgrading to an eight-wheeled nuclear HumVee. Check out the ad linked above.

FOURTEEN BOMBS, Islamic literature, and Timothy McVeigh's chemical of choice, all right here in Sydney:


Police were interrogating a South African-born Muslim man last night after 14 bombs and Islamic literature were found in a dramatic raid on his western Sydney home.

Police revealed the devices were packed with ammonium nitrate, nails and metal and had enormous lethal power.

Ammonium nitrate is the same chemical used in the Oklahoma city bombing.

The terror scare, which centred on the house of Gill Daniels – described by neighbours as a committed Muslim – occurred only by chance.

Daniels, 36, now an Australian citizen, had not paid rent on his apartment in Nagle St, Liverpool, for two months and sheriffs arrived yesterday morning to evict him.



Old Gill really needs to make a few more sales.

MARGO KINGSTON has corrected Webdiary pal Carmen Lawrence's "here, here" error, noted earlier. However, as reader Bob Bunnett points out, the mistake remains in Carmen's original piece, which can be found hear – er, here.

On related issues, Paul Bickford has lost yet another catastrophic cricket bet (on yesterday's England-Sri Lanka game) and now must write a gushing fan letter to the Margoyle. Reader Andrew Davey suggests that he includes lots of typos, so Margo doesn't feel marginalised.

THE HEADLINE on this UPI piece reads, "Kashmir women 'slain over Islamic dress'". But the women were actually murdered because they were not wearing Islamic dress, as the first paragraph makes clear:


Suspected Islamic rebels killed three young women in India's Kashmir region for not wearing burqas, the head-to-toe veiled dress worn by Muslim women.

The killings came a day after handwritten posters appeared in Rajouri district warning women that they would face consequences for not wearing the veiled dress.

Unidentified gunmen barged into the house of Mohammad Sadiq at Hasyote village in the Thanamandi area and shot dead his 21-year-old daughter, Noureen Kousar.

The attackers then entered house of Khalil Ahmad in the same village and kidnapped his 18-year-old daughter, Tahir Parveen. Her beheaded body was found in jungles hours later.

Another young girl, Shehnaz Akhtar, was also shot in the killing spree, United News of India reported.



Why the inaccurate headline? Is UPI anxious not to offend the delicate sensibilities of people who hack the heads off teenage girls?

THE CRIME sounds more like a sentence. Californian Robert Cusack will spend 57 days in jail after trying to smuggle two monkeys into LA – in his pants:


Customs officials opened his suitcase and a bird of paradise flew out but that was nothing compared to what they found in his pants – a pair of pygmy monkeys.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Johns said Cusack had been undergoing a routine inspection when he arrived last June until an official opened his suitcase.

"It became non-routine when they opened his luggage and a bird of paradise took off flying in the terminal," Johns said.


HOW QUAINT! Old-fashioned Nazis are still beating suspected Jews to death in Germany. And nobody is excusing them for being driven by "root causes" or any other new-fangled nonsense.

ONE OF the great newspaper mysteries of our time: why The Daily Mirror thought Guardian-style anti-US hysteria would sell in a tabloid market. Its latest front-page story, damning George W. Bush as a "madman", is an example of the Mirror's moral incoherence – and of why (apart from a sales boost with its Diana's Butler exclusives) the Pilger-burdened Mirror is shedding readers like Pilger discards facts.

12.20.2002

THE CYCLE of violence continues. Damian Penny is now threatening to execute Rudolph and feast on the remains. And you really don't want to know about his musical torture campaign …

EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. That's how much Andrew Sullivan raised during his pledge drive. Those are US dollars, too – equal to around $150,000 Australian, which is more than all but the most senior Australian journalists make in an entire year.

Sullivan made that in just one week. Holy moley.

UPDATE. Reader Mal M. writes:


Sullivan is worth it.



Gotta agree. And he's using the cash to hire staff, which shows he's serious about building this blog idea. All power to him (and $25 from me).

THIS IS not the greatest SUV in the world. This is just a Tribute.

GEORGE MONBIOT was one of many to predict a Vietnam-style quagmire in Afghanistan. But he's one of few to admit his error, as he does in the following letter (oddly not available online) to The Spectator:


The predictions I made in October 2001 about the outcome of the bombing of Afghanistan were wrong … the war did not cause the humanitarian disaster I expected. The rout of the Taleban was much swifter than I believed possible. Though I opposed, and continue to oppose, the means by which the Taleban were overthrown, I am pleased both that they have gone and that far, far fewer people died than I anticipated.



C'mon, Pilger, Rall, Moore, Fisk! George has set the standard! Match him!

THIS SITE has been running for over a year now. Maybe you drop by from time to time. Keep it running by hitting the donation thing over on your left. Or I will kill one of Santa's elves every day until Christmas.

SADDAM FAILS his arms test. Sydney fails its terror test. The world suddenly resembles my high school report cards.

DANCING CHICKENS were once a fairground staple. Billy Marshall Stoneking wrote a poem about the tortured birds:


At Wonder Cave in San Marcos, Texas,

a nickel bought one minute of dancing chicken –

the caged bird high-stepping it

to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy

as the hot-plate heated up under its feet.



Sixty seconds of frantic chicken action is about all most audiences could take. Like the birds of yore, John Pilger's minute may soon be up. He's now dancing for Pakistan's Daily Times, where Bill Herbert located his latest piece. Stand back as Bill turns up the heat.

FAIR AND BALANCED, etc. Caritas Australia boss Jack de Groot isn't happy about yesterday's column.

HERE'S A FIRST: Gareth Parker has moved to Blogspot.

ABORIGINAL LEADER Geoff Clark, re-elected as chairman of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, issues this warning to the white man:


"Don't force Aboriginal people into acts that are happening around the world. Don't put us on the margins. Don't put us in a situation where Aboriginal people are strapping bombs to themselves."



That's the sort of reconciliatory talk we need! This divided nation will be united within days. And not just white and black; Clark will bring together men and women, too:


He also thanked indigenous women who had taken part in the ATSIC elections, saying: "You've given us a mandate. You've returned the traditional role to Aboriginal men."



Let's see if Clark's declared sexism generates the same outrage that arose over the appointment of a male High Court judge. The Age's Michael Gordon describes Clark's words as "bizarre"; surely worse is to come. Surely.

UPDATE. The Australian calls for the end of ATSIC.

FROM THE department of "Yeah, sure" comes this report:


Men's taste in women has changed dramatically over the past half-century, shifting away from girls with curves and big breasts towards the androgynous and the skinny.


FORMER LABOR front bencher Carmen Lawrence has joined Margo Kingston at Webdiary. To which I can only say, "here, here."

Which is as Ms. Lawrence renders "hear, hear." The Margo and Carmen Show is off to a fine start. These two promise to be as moralistic and anxiety-prone as the Flanders boys: "Mandatory detention of asylum seekers makes baby Jesus cry."

12.19.2002

IT'S NOT so long ago that The New York Times sneered at Matt Drudge as an "Internet gossip" whose site merely served as a "catch basin for negative information about Mr. Clinton". Now Atrios is described by the NYT's Paul Krugman as an "Internet commentator", whose Trent Lott research "played a key role in bringing Mr. Lott's past to light."

Interesting.

AUSTRALIANS AREN'T stupid. They're just uninformed. The ABC's Matt Peacock explains, slowly and patiently, using short, simple words:


It has taken years for the UN Working Group to gain access to Australia, but last year the Government allowed it in and in its report it expresses concern the country's system of mandatory detention of unauthorised arrivals runs contrary to commonly accepted international standards.

And although it has conceded these policies may be supported by most sectors of the Australian public, the working group says if public opinion were fully and specifically informed about the conditions that human beings are kept in and of the negative consequences for Australia's image abroad as a democratic country, then public opinion would change.



Memo to the UN and the ABC: You've been informing us about detention camp deprivations for years. We're informed. Completely informed. The whole of Google has less information than us. Our skulls explode with information. We are aware that Syria and Cuba think less of us for our detention policies, because you tell us so all the time. We understand the circumstances under which illegal arrivals, unburdened by any identifying documents, are kept; newspapers and radio speak of little else. We've been informed, over, and over, and over again. Listen to me: we know. We. Fucking. Know.

And we choose to remain with the present arrangements. Good day to you.

VEGETARIAN LOAF JOHN LEE MALVO is upset about the vegetarian loaf he's receiving in prison:


Teenage sniper suspect John Lee Malvo says the vegetarian "loaf" he is being fed in jail has made him sick, the latest in a series of complaints he has lodged about his treatment at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center.

Malvo's court-appointed guardian, Todd G. Petit, requested last month that Malvo be fed the loaf after a judge denied a request that Malvo be provided with vegetarian meals. Officials said Malvo was the first jail inmate to request the loaf, a reputedly bland concoction typically given to inmates as a disciplinary measure.



The prison should rename their punishment food "Syrian Mercy Loaf" and sell it at colleges. Ten bucks a slice, easy.

"IT'LL SUCK A CAT DOWN IT." The Wall Street Journal inspects toilets of mass destruction:


A new type of toilet is shaking things up in bathrooms across the country. Equipped with something the industry calls "pressure-assisted flushing systems," the toilets use a burst of compressed air to force water through the bowl. Powerful and conservation-minded, they are now in more than 3.5 million homes and offices. They have just one drawback: a startlingly loud flush.

"The whole flushing thing is like a hurricane," says Carolyn Arabatzis, a 34-year-old manager for Ernst & Young in Capistrano Beach, Calif. "It's not calming at all. People don't want to be overwhelmed in the bathroom."

Some people think a little noise is worth the powerful flush. "It'll suck a cat down it," says Kevin Sanders, 40, of Big Lake, Alaska.



Sanders owns two of the trauma toilets. The other one must be for dogs, or large birds. (Via Countrystore.)

WHITE, NON-RECYCLED, RETRO BAGS have returned to McDonald's!

DR. FRANK is rightfully proud to play in a Motel 6 band:


We've always been a Motel 6 band. There are Super 8 bands. There are Red Roof Inn bands. There are La Quinta bands … the practical reason we stick to Motel 6 is because they're nationwide and their book is extremely well-organized with good directions. But the real reason is: we're a Motel 6 band, so that's what we do.



If, like me, you're a fellow Motel Sixer – I crave a Motel 6 cap, and always ask the staff if they have one they can sell me – Frank's ruminations on M6 bedspreads will induce a weird, semi-homesick feeling.

By the way, there exists a band named Motel 6. They don't sound great, but you can bet they're cheap.

CLICK HERE to check out Dennis the Deadly Islamic Menace, cutest member of the Al Aqsa Midgets Brigade! He's loaded with boyish energy and Semtex.

SYDNEY IS awaiting a mock terror attack. Possibly street mimes will be involved. Nobody knows:


Details of a three-pronged simulated terrorist attack in Sydney today remain under wraps to put the state's emergency response to the test.

Not even NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney or Premier Bob Carr know where the mock terrorist strikes will occur or what form they will take.

The exercise, codenamed Operation Apollo, will call police, ambulance, fire brigades and other government agencies into action at three sites across the city some time this morning.


THE AUSTRALIAN newspaper used translators to examine peaceful Islamic websites:


An Islamic website regarded as a credible source for al-Qa'ida information has canvassed the possibility of Australia – which it says "persecutes" Muslims – becoming an Islamic state.

Islammemo.com is among the websites causing increasing concern to Australian and Indonesian authorities, who fear terrorists are using web traffic to sell their cause and disseminate information, including coded messages.

Terrorism expert Rohan Gunaratna yesterday said radical Islamic websites had tried to recruit Muslim Australians to a jihad over the past five years.

On islammemo.com, the story suggesting Australia will become a Muslim state says there are already more than 100 mosques and 30 Islamic schools in Australia.

It says the numbers indicate Australia, "which is persecuting and fighting Islam and Muslims who live on its land, will one day become a state with a majority Muslim population".

Taliban Online, now hosted at muslimthai.com/talibanonline, has called for Muslims worldwide to send a message of support to the family of David Hicks, the Australian Taliban held by the US.



Taliban Online is quite the place for virtual Jihad fun. There's a reader poll ("According to your estimation when will western troops leave Afghanistan?"), a guide to recent site member logins (killamerica last appeared four hours and 30 minutes ago), Norah Vincent articles, mention of "the monkey-worshipping Indian Army", something that encourages you to "Read Failure stories of Jewish Tries to Down", and a Foto Gallery – with joyful images of Smiling Martyrs, who are undoubtedly getting off with those black-eyed virgins they're so hot for.

HAMAS IN DALLAS:


Four brothers were arrested by anti-terrorism agents Wednesday outside Dallas and later indicted along with a fifth brother as well as a leader of an Islamic militant group and his wife. The charges include money laundering and trafficking with terrorist states Libya and Syria, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced.

The four brothers arrested included InfoCom Vice President Ghassan Elashi, who was also identified as chairman of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development. The foundation was shut down in December 2001 after the Treasury Department accused it of being a Hamas front and seized its assets.



The Feds have been looking at these guys for years.

LIBERATED HOLLAND permits marijuana use and tolerates harder drugs, but Nyquil is illegal. Sleepless Dilacerator has the story.

MENTIONED IN the latest column for The Australian: Stuart Littlemore, Saddam Hussein, Peter Reith, and simple Simon the fisherman.

GEORGE CLOONEY has joined the Dubya is Dumb crowd. Intelligent George believes Mario Cuomo should be President, keeps a picture of Jimmy Carter in his bathroom, and can't remember when or where he shagged a Russian fan.

WHO COULD ever have foreseen this happening to the beloved Sean of Arabia?

UPDATE: According to the Iraq Daily, Sean Penn is capable of travelling at 1,800,000 mph!

GREG SHERIDAN writes in today's edition of The Australian:


Every now and again a senior politician makes a decision that is so lame, so ramshackle, so out of touch with reality, that you have to question the whole basis of his judgment. Does he understand the context at all? Is he in fact hopeless?



He's referring to Simon Crean. And with good reason.

12.18.2002

OSAMA BIN LADEN and his followers would cease their terror campaign if only the West would support Palestinian justice. Osama stands for a liberated Palestine! So runs the argument of so many Western leftists, anyway. Too bad Yasser Arafat doesn't agree:


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has ordered al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to stop exploiting the Palestinian cause to further his own interests.

In an interview with Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, Arafat said he believed bin Laden and his al Qaeda network were using the Palestinian campaign for independence to gain support in the Islamic world.

"Why is bin Laden talking about Palestine now? ...He never helped us. He was working in another, completely different area and against our interests," Arafat told the paper.

"I'm telling him directly not to hide behind the Palestinian cause," Arafat said.



Man, when even Yasser cuts you loose, you're really alone.

AUSTRALIA'S CONSERVATIVE government has appointed a conservative judge to the High Court. The Sydney Morning Herald is on the case:


A Sydney conservative, Dyson Heydon, QC, was announced as the new High Court judge last night.

One fellow QC, asked whether he had a reputation as a conservative, retorted "Is the Pope Polish?"

A former student recalled last night that he was "almost medieval in his approach" to students. The former pupil, now at the Bar, said he was an "authoritarian teacher who would tell pupils what they needed to know".



The online version of this piece omits several lines from the print edition, including a description of Heydon as a "capital-C conservative", a claim that Heydon "raised eyebrows" by denouncing judicial activism, and a priceless quote from Law Council president Ron Heinrich, who is paraphrased as saying that while some people might describe Heydon as conservative, "it was unfair to pre-judge him."

IN A WORLD CLASS post, Professor Bunyip dwells on his loathing of the dread phrase "world class" and its constant application in Australia. He's right; New South Wales premier Bob Carr is addicted to the term, as was former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett.

The only nation with a similar fixation is Canada. When the Toronto Blue Jays won baseball's World Series in 1992, the Toronto Star ran this front page headline: "WORLD CLASS, EH!"

DAMIAN PENNY continues to expose the anti-war movement's intellectual credentials.

A GAMBLER'S debt is paid.

MR BLIX! Over here! AgBlog has found your weapons of mass destr … er … well, he's found something.

CREDIT WHERE it's due. Conspiracy-mongering US lefty site Bartcop sometimes throws up a funny line or two. Here the editor is complaining about the difficulty of putting his daily site together:


Sometimes at noon, the issue is skinnier than Ann Coulter on Day 30 of Survivor.


THE ONION has somehow got its hands on The Melbourne Age's mission statement. Speaking of crap, today's SMH reports that The Age received only 19 complaints about the infamous Fiona Scott-Norman piece. Strange that the paper bothered, then, to go to the trouble of drafting a form letter in response. Strange, too, that none of the 19 complaints were published.

IN MARCH we march:


Senior Australian defence commanders have been briefed to prepare for a war against Iraq in March.

Troops from the Special Air Service will spearhead Australia's involvement as US and British forces lead the major air and ground assaults.

Senior military officers said they expected US President George W. Bush to give the green light early next month to begin the final 60-day preparations for the March campaign.



UPDATE. The SMH reports a Howard denial:


No decision had been taken on whether to commit Australian troops to a war in Iraq, Prime Minister John Howard said today in response to a report that senior Australian defence commanders had been told to prepare for a war in March.


TENNIS OGRE Damir Dokic says he'd kill himself if his daughter was gay – but he also wants to end Jelena's relationship with her boyfriend. Make up your mind, crazy lunatic psycho daddy!

UPDATE. Reader Sean R. writes:


Jelena is 19. Surely it's time for her "University Lesbian Experiment".


AFTER SEPTEMBER 11, US government agencies were blamed for not seeking out potential terrorists. Now they're being blamed for "overreacting to a threat".

THE SECRETARY to the Prime Minister's department has quit, and suddenly people are claiming that Howard will soon quit as well. I'd be surprised. Then again, I'm often wrong about internal micro-political matters. Paul Kelly says Howard is here to stay.

AS THE RESULT of a tragic gambling accident Paul Bickford now must write a fan letter to Phillip Adams. Under the terms agreed, no sarcasm is allowed. As well, Paul's letter to the Australian Lard Bard must be posted on his site for all eternity. Blogging is truly the cruellest sport.

REMEMBER BOB ELLIS'S promise of a few months ago to "destroy me professionally"? I've been waiting and waiting. Turns out old Bob has been busy destroying other things. His visit to the Woomera detention centre in the company of refugee advocate Jeremy Moore resulted in all manner of destruction, as Piers Akerman reports:


It now appears that Ellis understands that through his blunderings, he has harmed the cause he hoped to help and a letter of apology he has written to Mr Moore is in circulation.

"My going into Woomera may have harmed your cause, and I'm sorry," he wrote.

He says he gave undertakings about his behaviour about the gathering of information and confidentiality, that he found himself unable to keep.

"I quickly became a devious undercover journalist, sniffing about for scandals in the usual way. Members of your team were very upset, I know, and conveyed to me in some distress and rage that my breach of trust might wreck your efforts to help the Bakhtyaris to their freedom.

"I said I believed, but I wasn't sure, the publicity would hasten their release.

"I emphasised that I wasn't sure, but made what I called 'a political judgment' in acting as I did, illegally and sensationally.

"It may be that what I did increased his [Ali's] distress, and also his vulnerability to aggressive questioning and factual challenges. If this is so, I'm sorry.

"We do what we can, and as the film Charlotte Grey shows, we sometimes stuff up; in fighting evil, we increase it, and it's a pity.

"I'm sorry. Please accept my apology. I sense that you will not ... I'm sorry."



It took Ellis months to realise his error. Most people knew he'd done the wrong thing the instant they learned of it. Ellis is hopeless.

12.17.2002

BAD ENOUGH that it happened in a funeral home. Bad enough that it was with a sheep. But worst of all is that the creature was part of a nativity scene

Via Adventures in Bureaucracy.

IT'S THE blogger equivalent of a casting couch. Donate money and you'll be in the movies!

TRENT LOTT'S mother is named Iona Lott. Seriously.

AUSTRALIA'S BRUTAL Howard government is subjecting asylum seekers to a nightmarish regime of PlayStations, finger-painting classes, and Iranian movies:


Condemned by their critics as concentration camps, Australia's detention centres are providing asylum seekers with everything from DVDs and pay-TV to classes in yoga, flower-arranging and driver education.

At some centres, a minimum of up to 25 different films must be hired each week, with specific attention paid to Sri Lankan, Hindi, Farsi and Iranian movie titles.

Foxtel has been installed 24 hours at some centres and the number of Sony PlayStations, Nintendos and personal stereos and portable hi-fi systems has increased.

Gymnasium and sporting facilities have increased, with every detention centre having a fully-equipped gymnasium including full sets of weights and, in some cases, rowing and walking machines.

Pool and snooker tables are also provided, as well as sports ranging from badminton and volleyball to soccer, league, Aussie Rules and cricket. The asylum seekers also enjoy a higher degree of freedom of movement than has often been claimed, with Villawood child detainees enjoying day trips to Taronga Zoo, and the Woomera detainees going on visits to the township to swim and shop.

Kindergarten classes including alphabet and reading skills, counting, and arts and crafts including finger-painting are provided for children under the age of five.

Primary-aged children receive five hours a day schooling with subjects including maths, sciences, English, computing and arts.

Teenagers are given the opportunity to study special vocational subjects such as information technology and to learn skills such as preparing CVs and handling job interviews in readiness to enter the workforce if their claims to asylum succeed.



I demand that the UN take immediate steps to get me some of this action. Story via WogBlog.

FORGET THE running dogs of capitalism. Here's Socksy, the running dog of Islam!

WHO'S UP FOR some friendly blog gambling? England have not won any of the 13 games they've played so far during their Australian tour. Today they play Sri Lanka (currently without off-spin, er, "bowler" Muttiah Muralitharan) in Brisbane. I bet England wins.

UPDATE. Paul Bickford backs Sri Lanka. We've agreed that the loser will send an e-mail to Phillip Adams praising his latest column. Readers may follow the progress of this deadly wager here. England are currently 18 without loss after four overs.

SPEAKING OF CORRECTIONS, as we were earlier, here's a killer from Sunday's New York Times:


An article on Nov. 10 about animal rights referred erroneously to an island in the Indian Ocean and to events there involving goats and endangered giant sea sparrows that could possibly lead to the killing of goats by environmental groups. Wrightson Island does not exist; both the island and the events are hypothetical figments from a book (also mentioned in the article), "Beginning Again," by David Ehrenfeld. No giant sea sparrow is known to be endangered by the eating habits of goats.



Like goats, it seems that these days the NY Times will swallow just about anything.

THE MELBOURNE AGE has obviously received a pile of mail about Fiona Scott-Norman's article comparing Australia to Nazi Germany and slamming suburbanites as artistically ignorant. Yet not one single letter or e-mail has been published.

REGARDING THE Koran written with three pints of Saddam Hussein's blood, reader Dave Schipani writes:


I'll take 100 copies. By Friday.


THE GM food ruckus continues. Anti-GM foodster Mark White – he's happy to receive e-mails – responds to readers who slapped him upside the head:


"There is nothing wrong with the GM food cited. It is perfectly edible. Tell him to send me some and I'll cook it up with my next batch of waffles," writes Aaron Oakley. Would love to, but my conscience forbids it.

By the way, can you or your readers find out what varieties of GE corn the USA withdrew from Zambia and gave to its neighbours, when it substituted a donation of non-GMO corn instead earlier this month? If you can't find out – the Zambian government couldn't – how can you, or anyone, say this corn is fit for human consumption?>

You do know not all varieties have been approved for human consumption, even in the USA, right? Or don't you two-fisted bloggers remember the Aventis Starlink (tm) scandal of September 2000, when nine million bushels of the stuff ended up tainting much of the USA's corn harvest for the year, resulting in huge drops in corn exports abroad and putting 13 Americans in hospital? Realising the customer is king, 80 percent of US farmers now say they are ready to drop GE corn for good as China and Brazil snaffle the global market with non-GE based strategies.

Maybe that's why, according to the Zambians, the USA tried to link a $50m emergency loan to Zambia's importing of GE foodstuffs, possibly even GE seeds, despite the threat this would pose to Zambia's nascent organic food export industry? It's all about shifting the growing piles of the USA's unwanted GE corn, according to the Zambians, and they are not going to play along.

A recent piece in the London TImes suggests that the USA and various agencies supporting the GE food industry have not been open about this agenda with the Zambians, raising suspicions and sowing much distrust. Consequently, a panel of the country's top scientists and agronomists toured the USA and Europe in October, saw for themselves the agricultural future being planned for their country in western corporate boardrooms, and rejected the GE food "aid" out of hand. Guess they don't get the picture: just as there can be only one dominant military hegemony in the world, there can be only one global food superpower – and it, too, is the United States and its agrichemical multinationals.

In this aim, the agribusiness lobby in the USA hopes to use WTO power to enforce a "race to the bottom" in terms of laws designed to protect the environment from the uncontrolled GMOs of corporate agribusiness – the patented organisms Washington and its lobbyists decide the rest of us must accept.

As for health, remember, we aren't now talking about a sprinkling of finely ground Starlink(tm) corn in toasted Taco shells. Millions of Africans will be chowing down on 100 percent GE corn porridge, lightly cooked, three times a day for months, maybe years, despite readily available non GE foods. This is an experiment with the health of people Washington knows can't easily afford to be choosers – no doubt DeLay -n- Lott and their spiritual bretheren would be proud.

PS: I am a US citizen, soon to be a naturalised Australian, so yes Mr Fred Butzen, I regard myself as a cornbread-lovin' fully human person, last time I checked. My views also seem to be shared by many US farmers.



Myself, I still lean towards Ken Layne's point of view.

WHEN I write my book of notable newspaper corrections, this will be a prime entry.



BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE is the greatest documentary ever, according to some group called the International Documentary Association.

In related news, this is the world's finest boat, here's the biggest housecat ever captured, and these guys are the highest-scoring openers in Australian cricket history.

A SYMBIONESE Liberation Army fugitive spent time in Australia as a student, The Age reports:


One member of the gang, James Kilgore, disappeared to Zimbabwe to escape the FBI dragnet. He re-emerged in the 1980s as Charles William Pape and headed for Australia to further his education.



Alert Australian academics were naturally wary of the mysterious American:


In Melbourne, Pape is remembered by academics at both universities as a brilliant student who always carried an aura of suspicion about his past. They thought he was working undercover for the American government. "We thought he had links to the CIA, not the SLA," said one Melbourne academic.



Melbourne academics are leading the call for Australia to withdraw from any involvement in a war against Iraq. The Gilgore/Pape case demonstrates that they don't know an enemy when they see one.

12.16.2002

THE MELBOURNE AGE has been so overwhelmed by criticism of Fiona Scott-Norman's indefensible Cabaret piece that it is sending the following form reply to angry correspondents:


Dear reader,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding our Definite Article column on Saturday December 14, which featured an opinion piece by Fiona Scott-Norman on the musical ‘Cabaret’.

This is a general response to you all because the feedback has been varied.

We would like to make several points.

First, the Definite Article column is not a review, but an opinion piece designed to stimulate discussion about issues in the arts community. It is an important forum.

Second, the opinions expressed by Fiona Scott-Norman were hers and not those of the paper. We refer in particular to the comparisons of Nazi Germany with contemporary Australia, and Fiona's comment that the show attracted "people from the suburbs who don't know anything about art".

Yours sincerely,

Paul Ramadge (Editor, Saturday Age) and Jo Roberts (Acting Arts Editor).



Australia's resemblance to Nazi Germany and the ignorance of suburbanites are apparently "issues in the arts community". What a load.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR. Adventures in Bureaucracy puts forward this stellar nomination.

DURING A speech in which he complained about bigotry in Canadian society and accused the media of inciting racial hatred, Saskatchewan Indian leader David Ahenakew had this to say: ""The hell with the Jews. I can't stand them. And that's it. I don't want to talk about them."

Oh, and he thinks Hitler rocked, too. Presumably, then, he would have been on the side of the German soldiers who in WWI allegedly crucified a Canadian sergeant.

IF YOU'VE got a print edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, check out page three, where our street's annual Christmas party deal is written up. Michael from a few doors up was the Santa Claus. To confound anti-Santa forces, he's Jewish.

That's my house in the background of the SMH's photograph. Concentrate hard and you can sense the hate.

ONE DAY someone who actually has a terminal illness will kill themselves after falling under the spell of death advocate Philip Nitschke. So far only the healthy have died.

12.15.2002

AUSTRALIA IS similar to Nazi Germany, WWII was provoked by mere religious differences, people from the suburbs don't know anything about art, and we're the bad guys who want to oppress Jews and homosexuals. The Melbourne Age has spoken. And the Bunyip calls them on it.

Read the shameful Age piece, then send e-mails here. Send lots.

THE HOUSE OF DOWD says Gore won't run in 2004, but John Hawkins ain't so sure …

POOR CHERIE. The world was never meant for one as sweet and intelligent and trusting as she. The Melbourne Age's Paul Daley sympathises:


When you are an established Queen's Counsel with aspirations for the High Court, a mother of four, an architect of the New Labour steamroller and the wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair, there are certain things you don't need in your life.



Like any negative press, apparently. Paul will make it up to her.


One of them is your mostly absent father, actor Tony Booth, who has a nasty habit of publicly criticising your husband's government ...



How dare he! And in public!


Another might be your journalist half-sister, Lauren Booth, who writes a column - largely about what goes on inside Downing Street and which is invariably critical of the Prime Minister - for the Daily Mail, a paper which your husband regards as Public Enemy Number One.



They should all be quiet and respectful. Cherie has four children, you monsters!


It is testimony to the Blairs' generosity of spirit that their doors remain open to those in the family who may criticise them.



Oh, please …


But then, as recent events involving the convicted Australian fraudster Peter Foster, have shown, the Blairs are nothing if not trusting.



They'll trust anybody who can get them a $A200,000 discount.


The story of how Mr Foster helped Mrs Blair buy two flats in Bristol - and plunged her into controversy because of the half truths she told as she tried to explain the matter away - is now well known.



Not to Daley, obviously. Foster didn't merely "help to buy" two flats. He somehow negotiated savings of £69,000 on the purchase of the units, and arranged for £4,000 worth of accountancy fees to be waived. Most journalists would be intrigued as to how this was achieved, and what favours Foster might have expected in return.


But little attention has been given to the reasons why Mrs Blair made herself so vulnerable through her long association with Carole Caplin, who became Mr Foster's lover.



Vulnerable Cherie, armed only with the puny PR and advisory resources the Prime Minister's office can afford her, and a spare £500,000 to buy some flats.


By all accounts, Cherie Booth was the cleverest girl in the class … She became an accomplished junior barrister and later a brilliant human rights lawyer. All the while, she managed to care for three young children while supporting her husband's bid to become Labour leader in 1994 and Prime Minister in 1997.



Why, she's less a woman than a god!


As soon as Mr Blair won the leadership, Mrs Blair's role changed … The woman - striking, though not beautiful - who had always been valued for her intellect and opinions was now required to look good and say nothing. This, according to those who know Mrs Blair, caused a crisis of confidence.



Beats me why Daley is laying it on this thick for an Australian readership. We don't vote in British elections.


Mrs Blair met Ms Caplin - a fitness instructor - at a gym in the early 1990s. When Mr Blair became Labour leader, Ms Caplin helped her deal with her new role.



How polite of Daley. He calls Caplin a fitness instructor. No mention of the topless modelling, or the crazy New Age beliefs, or the cult membership, or the goat's milk fetishism.


"The Prime Minister's wife had never felt good about her appearance until she met this guru (Caplin)," Mary Ann Sieghart, a friend of the Blairs, said.



The poor thing.


Even Mrs Blair's critics concede that she has a girlish naivety and lack of guile. Mr Foster undoubtedly spotted that a mile off. Ms Caplin has also succumbed to Mr Foster's confidence.



We're expected to believe that the "cleverest girl in the class", an "accomplished junior barrister" and "a brilliant human rights lawyer" who "had always been valued for her intellect and opinions", is also a moron easily duped by a diet scam merchant who himself is so inept that he's been arrested in three countries. I'm not buying it.


But in Mrs Blair's case, her vulnerability might be attributable to having too many balls in the air at once. Mr Foster saw she lacked time and offered to negotiate the property deal himself.



Balls to that. Does every time-poor Prime Minister's wife turn to thrice-arrested conmen when they want to buy real estate?


Should Mrs Blair have reasonably known about Mr Foster's background? Perhaps not.



He's only been all over the tabloids since the 1980s. Besides, hasn't the cleverest girl in class ever heard of Google? Or the telephone? Was she too busy to make even a cursory background check? How dumb is this broad?


But when she eventually found out, her nature is apparently such that she would only stand by Ms Caplin.



Fuck off!


Mrs Blair's biographer, Linda McDougall, said Mrs Blair had always managed to remain calm in times of domestic chaos and crisis where the wheels would have fallen off other families.



A family without wheels is a family without love.


While Mrs Blair will undoubtedly start paying more attention to the company she keeps, there is a growing view that the Foster episode will only hasten the Blairs departure from Downing Street. It probably will not come a moment too soon for Mrs Blair.



Or for people who can't stand Paul Daley's suckhole journalism.

JIMMY CARTER: CNN's Most Respected American On The Planet Today.

UPDATE. Australian reader Sam Jonis writes:


The problem with CNN is not that it has a soft left-liberal bias but that it is extremely BORING. So boring that I have not detected any bias at all. In fact, I suspect it has taken out virtually all opinion and analysis in order not to offend anyone. (Elliot Goblet would be an ideal recruit.)

Which brings me to the FOX network.

I have no problem with FOX supporting right wing/conservative views, but to do so partly on the premise that the other major network is left-leaning is disingenuous or self-delusional.

Just because someone doesn't support a particular point of view, doesn't mean they support the opposing view.

Yet there is no doubt that being opinionated can be a ratings winner. Take me, for example. I have a left-leaning bias, yet I always flick on to FOX rather than CNN.


TOP TEN WORST GIFT IDEAS FOR CHRISTMAS 2002

Corn Rootworm Larvae Starter Kit

"Breed Your Own Crop-Savaging Insects"

Early 20th Century Slag Ladle

"Eight tons of rusty fun!"

Nigerian Scam E-Mail Generating Plant

"Join Africa's Fastest-Growing Industry, Besides Islamism"

Shuffleboard Wax

"Why Endure The Shame of Waxlessness?"

Fort Bragg US Army Base Hazardous Materials Incinerator

"Burn Everything. That's An Order"

BeakSlasher™ Duck Eradication System

"No More Freakin' Ducks"

Salon Premium Subscription

"Read what nobody else is reading!"

Economy Industrial™ FerroAlloy Cone-Casting Machine

"Cast Metal With Higher Strength and Smaller Grain Size Than With Conventional Techniques"

Basketweaving Clamps

"Now in two colours"

Polio Calipers

"Look Who's Walkin', Sort Of"

UPDATE. Michael Miller writes:


I have to disagree that number six, the BeakSlasher™ Duck Eradication System, would be a bad present. I bet there are dozens of English batsmen hoping to receive one in their stocking.



JOANNE JACOBS brings news of a teacher facing assault charges for throwing a Koosh ball at a student:


It landed on the sixth grader's desk. The teacher also has been suspended for one day for bad judgment.



And for poor aim. Joanne remembers her fourth grade teacher, Mr. Parker, as a wayward eraser-hurler. Check the comments: readers happily recall chalk tossers, baton pitchers, stick wielders, bee feeders, and punchy Jesuits. My favourite:


I saw my high school history teacher throw his stapler at a deserving student. A bleedin' Swingline 747. This was in the early 1990s. No biggie.



The best teacher I ever had – Mr. Trotter, sixth grade – was a gifted shot with most anything at his disposal. And if he didn't get you in the classroom, watch out during recess football practice. He'd take on (and beat) ten of us at once. It was like My Lai out there. Well, except for the court-martial, which would probably result from similar teaching techniques today.

UPDATE. Greg Taylor, who reported the Swingline 747 attack, writes:


Recalling that incident, I went back to my high school's homepage to see if that guy was still there. He's now the dean of students.



IF YOU'VE not already enjoyed Andrea Harris's superextrafunny look at an idealist's vision of life in a socialist paradise, why not go there right now? I'll tidy the place up a little while you're gone.

BERNIE SLATTERY is hunting down an AFL-political scandal. Naturally, it involves those twin evils of Victorian life: the Carlton football club and the Australian Labor Party.