ATTACK THE FRENCH and steal their oil!

IN MADISON, Wisconsin, a Daniel Pipes lecture attracts the usual anti-freedom screech bunnies. How he puts up with this, I have no idea.

A WISE young activist explains the theatrics behind the 2003 Stop Shopping Tour UK:

The group goes into a store, all wearing the same shirts. Then, in a line, each member pushes around empty shopping trolleys [carts in America] in a quiet meditation.

Er, so where did the identical shirts come from? Shops, maybe?

(Via Samizdata, who have a much longer examination of the anti-shoppers than I have time to produce. Due to a sudden and inexplicable desire to go shopping.)

GEORGE GALLOWAY was news in the US when he was a principled anti-warrior, but he ain't news no more.

HAPPY WORDS for John Howard from the Weekly Standard's David Hackett.

And unhappy words for anti-war New Zealand from Andrew Scobell, research professor with the US Army:

"At a higher level in the Pentagon there's disdain for New Zealand, especially when you contrast its policy with Australia's," he told the Christchurch newspaper The Press.

Dr Scobell also said he did not think the Pentagon was "thinking too much about New Zealand at the moment".

There's a shock.

THIS detailed and educational SARS primer is required reading for all concerned citizens.

POSTING WILL be light today while I travel to Melbourne, where I'm to be a guest of honour at the annual conference of the H.R. Nicholls society. It's a fine thing indeed to be invited to speak before a group described by The Age as "free-booting, far-right industrial relations libertarians".

Free boots! Free boots for all.

BOOZE BACKLASH! The haters at the Los Angeles Times are dissing Australian wine:

[The LA Times] lined up 10 Australian wines and compared them to 10 Californian tipples in the $US6 to $US10 ($10-$16) price range. The story, focusing on the phenomenal success Australian winemakers have had selling to the US, concluded that our producers should put a cork in it.

"The Australians aren't as good as they'd like to think they are," the paper said. "We know that because we put them to the test ...

"The Australian wine industry has worked feverishly to convince American consumers that its lower-priced wines are better than those made in California. But now the verdict from California is in. Sorry, Australia."

The disregard for the feelings of the Australian Street will not be forgotten. Expect bloody vengeance, as foretold in the Australian Koran. We will be victorious! Allan be praised!

UPDATE. David Janes writes to say “LA Times be wrong!”:

Hmmmpf, just spent lunch time splitting a bottle Cape Mentelle 'Tinders' 2000 (matched with a spicy Veal Parmigiana ) and it seemed OK to me. And this month's Wine Spectator cover is on Australian wines and the articles specifically talk about how much they're a better value than California wines.

So who you going to believe? The pasty, eyeless nightcreepers at the LA Times, all covered in fungus and reeking of decay, or the robust, massively educated and shockingly urbane judges at Wine Spectator? Your call.

WARNING to business executives: goofy press photographs can return to hurt you when things go bad. Check this file image used by News Ltd. during the ongoing Pan Pharmaceutical debacle.

RUPERT MURDOCH says Australian universities are bullshit:

While he says good universities can be great catalysts for their communities, Mr Murdoch argues Australia's educational establishment is doing the country an immense disservice.

He calls for more money to be pumped into universities so they can "buy the best brains in the world", suggesting academic salaries of up to $1 million a year.

"I think the education establishment with its insistence on tenure at a tertiary level, and its power at primary and secondary level - setting bullshit syllabuses - is really doing the country an immense disservice," he says.

Here's an example of the bullshit Murdoch is talking about.

ANNOUNCING a new Australian blog. Tickets please!

MARK RILEY, political journalist with the SMH, has stern advice for the Prime Minister on the eve of his journey to Crawford:

It is a rare and crucial opportunity for Australia, through its Prime Minister, to articulate its candid views on the US blueprint for a new world order. It is a time to exercise the special relationship Australia has developed with the US to speak frankly about the inherent risks in the new US doctrine of pre-emption, its trashing of multilateral institutions and its assumption of an inviolable right to effectively colonise Iraq and reshape its political and economic character in a way that best suits America's strategic objectives.

Here's an idea, Mark. You run for office, you become Prime Minister, and then you can tell Bush exactly what you think. Howard's views are rather different.

LOOTING not so bad:

Even though many irreplaceable antiquities were looted from the National Museum of Iraq during the chaotic fall of Baghdad last month, museum officials and American investigators now say the losses seem to be less severe than originally thought.

Col. Matthew F. Bogdanos, a Marine reservist who is investigating the looting and is stationed at the museum, said museum officials had given him a list of 29 artifacts that were definitely missing. But since then, 4 items - ivory objects from the eighth century B.C. - had been traced.

"Twenty-five pieces is not the same as 170,000," said Colonel Bogdanos, who in civilian life is an assistant Manhattan district attorney.

They were only out by, oh, 169,975 or so. Easy mistake to make.

THE SYDNEY Morning Herald thinks that this is a sad image. I'm OK with it.

WHAT IS Viv Richards smoking?

Richards, now West Indies chairman of selectors, reportedly said in the Caribbean that Lillee had lost his aggression after the West Indies discovered a crop of electrifying pacemen, including Michael Holding and Joel Garner, in the late 1970s.

Richards had effectively accused Perth-based Lillee of cowardice, the West Australian newspaper said.

It said Richards had implied Lillee had stopped bowling bouncers regularly because he feared what he would receive in return.

Hmmm. I remember Lillee in his second-to-final season putting Richards on the deck with a bouncer that almost took Viv's head off. Obviously Richards doesn't.


LINKS are working again. However, a couple of people are having trouble loading this site, for reasons unknown to me. I'll have the tech staff look into things.

AS SOMEONE of Scots ancestry, I deeply resent George Galloway reinforcing the stereotype of my people as miserly, cash-grafting, never-put-our-hands-in-our-pockets penny-mooching scum:

George Galloway yesterday launched an appeal to fund his high court libel battle against two newspapers that claimed he received money from Saddam Hussein's regime.

The beleaguered Labour MP urged supporters and sympathisers to back his court action.

"I expect we will raise a significant fund and we will need it, because it is a daunting undertaking, as I have discovered all over again," he said.

Galloway earns about $US110,000 per year for a weekly newspaper column, nearly $90,000 annually as a member of Parliament, and has previously scored more than $300,000 in lawsuit victories. And don't forget his Mariam Appeal, which raised $160,000 for the sick Iraqi kid but spent more ($200,000) on hiring inner-London offices. Almost $30,000 went to Galloway's wife, while George himself unloaded more than $400,000 of the appeal's funds on self-serving publicity visits (if that's all they were) to Baghdad.

And now he's playing poor and begging for cash. The man is unbelievable. My tartan blood boils.

WITH THE war safely over, The Daily Mirror has decided to retrospectively support British troops:

Two British special forces soldiers were held prisoner in Syria after yomping almost 100 miles in three days.

Pursued by Saddam Hussein's troops, the men from an SAS-SBS team raced to safety when ambushed on a secret mission in Northern Iraq.

Their extraordinary escape was a race against time to sanctuary - and the greatest escape of the Iraq war.

The story, run on the front page of today's Mirror, is one month old. When the extraordinary escape was taking place, the Mirror was running front-page stories like these.

MAYBE misguided peace protesters are simply victims of tainted travel sickness tablets. Sufferers report an array of paranoid peacenik symptoms:

"You get images constantly being bombarded into your brain."

"You get nightmares but you're awake. It's non-stop. It's nightmarish, ghoulish, spiders and other things. You are almost clawing at your head to get them out of it."

"You don't have any control about what's coming into your mind."

"I was in ga-ga land. I sat up on a park bench getting these images coming at me."

"I was acting like a crazy man."

"She was very disorientated and had no balance ... next minute she was seeing things, asking crazy questions and couldn't walk straight."

"You don't get much control over them. You get thousands of images at one time. You would have to sit up all night and battle it. You get so tired."

JOE QUEENAN writes that the main victims of New York's smoking ban are non-smokers:

The immediate effect was to force legions of angry, drunken smokers out into the streets where they could congregate in large angry circles and keep everybody in the neighbourhood awake until three o’clock in the morning complaining about not being able to smoke inside any more. New York City used to have a lot of bars. Now it is a bar.

Anyone unfortunate to live anywhere near a bar or a restaurant - in other words, every other resident of Manhattan - has been plagued by the late-night carcinogenic clatches outside the city’s 13,000 bars and restaurants.

All of them should march down to the Mayor's house and, as the saying goes, smoke him out. Then, as another saying goes, beat him up. And, to quote yet another, less well-known saying, attach him to a medievel catapult and fling him into Jersey.

FOLLOWING REPORTS that Mohammad Saeed al-Sahaf is alive, Andrew Sullivan wonders: "Will Roger Ailes offer him a talk show before the military nabs him?" The Fox boss would face a bidding war for Mo's services, however. Reuters reports:

An Arab television network said on Tuesday it wants to give a job to former Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, whose colorful daily briefings during the U.S.-led invasion won him a cult following.

Ali al-Hadethi, supervisor of the Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite channel, told Reuters that Sahaf, who does not figure on Washington's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, was welcome to join the network immediately as a commentator and analyst.

Hadethi said he did not know the former minister's whereabouts and asked him to contact Arabiya to take up his job.

"We want to benefit from the experience of Mr Sahaf and his analysis of the current situation and the future of Iraq," Hadethi said, without giving details of the job package.

He'd make a brilliant sportscaster.

NZ PUNDIT reports that the New Zealand government spent $899,650.00 purchasing a domain name.

THE BUNYIP compares Sydney Morning Herald reporting with actual reporting. Highly instructive.

PHILLIP ADAMS is angry at Kim Beazley's failure to fawn over Phil and his wealthy commie pals:

In one of our few long conversations, I tried to remind Beazley that he was alienating people for whom politics isn't the one day of an election year but a lifetime of involvement. To my astonishment, the nice Kim Beazley wasn't nice at all. He dismissed them as the "chattering classes", using that contemptuous and contemptible expression beloved of Paddy McGuinness.

Poor Phil. Nobody listens to his radio show. His column is read only for mocking fun. And Labor leaders don't want to talk to him.


Iraq's former information minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf, who denied to the end the presence of US forces in Baghdad, was turned down by US troops after trying to turn himself in, said the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, citing a Kurdish official.

Sahhaf had been at his aunt's house in Baghdad for the past four days and wanted US troops to arrest him so that "they can protect him" but they refused since he was not on their "most wanted" deck of playing cards, said the paper, citing Adel Murad of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

Mr Murad said Sahhaf was in Mosul before going to Baghdad and that some PUK partisans saw him in the northern city and that he even asked some of them to intervene on his behalf with US troops, but "we told him that we didn't want to be party to this matter", the paper added.

"Negotiations are still going on to hand him over to them," said Mr Murad.

Please, let it be soon. The world wants mo' of Mo.

JOURNALISM 101, with guest lecturer Dr. Malcolm Bollard, a recognised expert*:

"Hello, students! Selective use of vernacular terminology is an easy way to add some 'zing' to dull copy. Allow me to demonstrate, using this dismal article as a starting point.

"Now read on as I improve the article by deftly replacing a few of the more boring phrases with colourful everyday words and such. The key is to not go overboard - in fact, unless you pay close attention, you may not notice any changes at all!"

NORTHAMPTON - Smith College students earlier this month made a decision some might find mystifying: Although Smith is a skirt college, the chicks voted to change the language of their student constitution so that the pronouns "she" and "her" would be replaced with dickless, unbreasted terms.

The student government vote is an indication of a deeper issue facing Smith College, and other girl-on-girl institutions, which is that a growing number of students identify themselves as she-males, and say they feel uncomfortable with hot femme pronouns.

"Smith College is a college for broads, and within that there is a place for all kinds of ass," said Brenda Allen, director of institutional diversity.

In addition to the issue of gender identity, within the girly-man movement there is also the matter of sex-reassignment surgery, formerly known as "marrying Liza Minelli".

"See? See how with a bare minimum of alterations that terrible article has suddenly become Pulitzer material? See?"

*Dr. Malcolm Bollard is the world's foremost authority.

(Link via Tonguetied.)

PETER KERR has done moved on over to Blogger - and Sarge is back!

A NEW group, the International Academic Friends of Israel, has been formed to fight anti-Israel bigotry in institutes of higher learning worldwide. There is as yet no Australian branch. There needs to be.

BIAS by stealth: reader John Softly writes to point out that in this week's Sydney Morning Herald TV Guide, a piece on rear-projection televisions contains three pictures of said viewing devices - one of them displaying an image of anti-war Susan Sarandon, one showing anti-war Peter Garrett, and one with anti-war Nelson Mandela.

THIS WEEK'S Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions Simon Crean, Kim Beazley, John Howard, Smiths, Browns, Joneses, Nguyens, Captain Mainwaring, Corporal Jones, David Marr, US Marine Corporal Ed Chin, Robert Fisk, Phillip Adams, Richard Ackland, and Eric Bogle.

Plus there is an appalling SARS joke.

GEORGE GALLOWAY may not find it easy to win his threatened lawsuit, writes media lawyer Dan Tench:

The proper course, the court may consider, was for the story to be published fairly and with balance and for Galloway to be given an opportunity to respond. Arguably, this is what happened.

The problem for Galloway is that he now appears committed to a libel action. If he were to decline to bring or withdraw such an action or if he were to lose it even on the qualified privilege defence (which would not legally give any credence to the allegations), he may - perhaps unfairly - be widely seen to be culpable of the charges against him. Not only would this damage his reputation, but it is likely to be very costly for him.

The law now recognises much more than before that important matters and allegations should be ventilated in the press. Provided this is done fairly - with a moderate tone, balanced coverage and a right to reply - no action in defamation is likely to succeed. Galloway may come to learn, as fellow politicians Archer, Aitken and Hamilton did before him, to beware of the libel courts.


THE ENTIRE "crushing of free speech" debate in the US may be summarised as follows:

Some wealthy people in the entertainment industry said some stupid things. Folks criticised them for this. Then the entertainers resumed their careers without suffering any losses at all.

The End.

(Jonah Goldberg has more on this, but, hey, I don't get paid by the word here.)

BBC executive Mark Damazar said last month that the BBC had erred in its coverage of the war:

"If we have used the word 'liberate' in our own journalism, as in 'such and such a place had been liberated by allied forces', that's a mistake," he said.

"That is the wrong language to use without evidence of Iraqi people feeling as though they have been liberated," Mr Damazer added.

Here's your
evidence, pal (if more were needed):

In the two weeks since Kirkuk fell to a mix of Kurdish and US forces, free media outlets have been busting out all over: An Internet cafe opened its doors; a radio station called the Voice of Kirkuk started broadcasting part time; a newspaper called New Kurdistan, published in the autonomous northern city of Sulaymaniyah, started circulating here; and people are tuning into several Kurdish television channels broadcasting from the self-rule zone, an offense which in the past could have landed a person in jail, at best.

The race to let new voices be heard is also on in Baghdad, where a new newspaper began its first run on Tuesday.

And the people's choice of television network?

Still desperate for war news, they tune to CNN, BBC, and what appears to be a local favorite, Fox. They like it, people here say, because it has been the most supportive of the war.

For many here, the only foreign channels they can understand are in Arabic, and they are deeply resentful of the most prominent one, Qatar-based Al-Jazeera.

Abu Bakr Mohammed Amin, an elderly man in a red-checkered headdress visiting Salih's television shop, gives them a dismissive flick of the wrist: "They only knew how to support Saddam," he says.

So much for Western voices who hailed Al-Jazeera as the voice of balance and freedom. The battle for liberation continues; Iraq may have Fox, but New Zealand still doesn't.


THE PHRASE "all jokes aside" usefully functions to indicate that the preceding wasn't a joke (or at least wasn't a funny joke) and that the speaker is probably incapable of making or even recognising a joke. Humourless (yet strangely self-amused) media scold David Marr proves my point.

GERARD HENDERSON on the problems facing the Australian Labor Party:

If the ALP wants to work out what went wrong, it should spend some time reassessing the contemporary meaning of the Anzac legend. Here John Faulkner and Robert Ray, watching the Test cricket in the West Indies on a privately funded holiday, may provide some assistance. The Labor senators could report how Steve Waugh and his team participated in a ceremony to mark Anzac Day. It is unlikely that members of a touring Australian cricket team would have involved themselves in such a ritual a decade or more ago.

It's not that previous Test teams were uninterested in Anzac, but that Australians are now more outwardly patriotic than at any time since the Pacific War. For the first time in many years, the Chief of the Defence Force, Peter Cosgrove, is a well-known and popular figure. Indeed, the military has seldom been so admired.

GERHARD SCHRODER is hinting that he may quit. So is
Robert Mugabe.

EVERYONE should stop taking all non-essential vitamin and mineral supplements. Why? Because tainted vitamins are making people sick. According to an Australian government spokeswoman:

"Some people were very, very ill. They tried to jump out of planes, off ships and things like that because of the hallucinatory effect."

The blotter paper should have been a hint that these "vitamins" weren't exactly the regular kind. And the "chewable O'Learys" for children were just plain wrong.

DON'T HAVE a cow, Naomi! Vice-presidential image wrecker Naomi Wolf has been in Australia for maybe three hours or so, and she's already decided that we treat our mothers like common breeding ruminants:

Celebrity feminist Naomi Wolf says Australian mothers are being reduced to a kind of solitary servitude by society's "contempt" for motherhood.

"We need to shower them (mothers) with affirmation, we need to give them money, we need to not act like motherhood is some natural thing you just do like a cow."

Well, guess I'd better take cud off this year's Mother's Day gift list. Australia, as it happens, does give money to mothers. It's a secret we only reveal to visitors after they've been here longer than one day. As for this "contempt" Wolf mentions:

As evidence of the "contempt" in which motherhood is held, Ms Wolf cited "the fact that medical procedures in Australia, as well as the US, tend to treat birth as an emergency rather than a natural process".

So we shouldn't treat motherhood as natural and we should treat motherhood as natural. Stupid mother.

UPDATE. Gareth Parker e-mails to point out that Wolf isn't even in Australia - the interview was a pre-emptive strike via satellite to publicise an upcoming book tour or somesuch. Be warned, Wolf! We hold mothers in contempt!


-- sign placed next to a donkey during Iraqi celebrations marking Saddam Hussein's 66th birthday. Said Sadr resident Ali, 24: "For the first time in my life, I won't be forced to attend Saddam's birthday ceremonies. He was a dictator, he was nothing but a donkey ruling over Iraq."

WHO IS Noah Feldman, and why should you care? The BBC explains:

Noah Feldman, a law professor from New York University, will be advising the future Iraqi interim authority on how to design a new constitution.

He will be working for retired US general Jay Garner - Iraq's interim leader - in the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance.

He told BBC News Online that in his view the US should support democracy in Iraq even if it was a not a secular democracy.

Judging by some of Colin Powell's recent remarks on "democratic Islam", Feldman may have some influence among the influential. Which is a concern, as retired blogger Diana Moon points out via e-mail, because Feldman is ... well, let's allow his opinions to speak for themselves:

Feldman laughs at the cliché that Islamists are medievalists. On the contrary, he argues, Islamic parties stress clean government, social welfare and economic equality.

And from his book, After Jihad:

In nearly every Muslim country, however, there are voices today calling for greater democracy. Remarkably, the loudest voices are often those of Islamists, activists who believe that "Islam is the solution" to all problems in politics and private life alike. The Islamists' call for democratic change in the Muslim world marks a fundamental shift in their strategy.

This guy merits close observation.

TAKE the Wonderlic intelligence test (used by NFL scouts to rate possible recruits) and discover if you are smarter than an offensive tackle or dumber than a halfback. Sample question:

These things in front of you, written on the page and composed of letters. What are they called?

a. Me is hungry

b. Blood? Blood for oil?

c. Contract

I exaggerate slightly. Dave Francis has more details, including the information that someone called Javon Walker, out of Florida, scored only nine - out of a possible 50.

MANY YEARS from now somebody will type "snub wobblers" into a search engine. Possibly that person will be drunk. Anyway, this story will appear.

ALL THIS terrible wartime looting! And nobody is doing anything about it:

The United Nations (UN) has extended to May 31 the deadline for senior Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) officials to respond to allegations that they looted diamonds and other natural resources during the four-year DRC war.

A UN official said the deadline had been extended from March 31 to give all those implicated by a UN report issued at the end of last year time to meet with the world body's investigating panel and compile their responses to the allegations.

The official, Amin Mohsen, said the UN would publish the responses of those implicated in last year's report on June 20. "There was need to give everyone a chance to dialogue with the investigating panel, exchange views and have adequate time to make detailed responses," Mohsen, the UN official assigned to the DRC, told the Financial Gazette from New York.

Give 'em the full dialogue treatment. That'll show those looters.


I MEANT to link to this Anzac Day message from Bryon Scott days ago. Also to this John B. Dwyer piece in the Washington Times:

As April 25th approaches, let us remember the tremendous contribution of the Australian military to the success of Operation Iraqi Freedom: In the air, its FA-18 Squadron; at sea, the ANZAC and the DARWIN, along with Navy divers; on land, its elite SAS, an Army Commando Task Group and other units.

A component of coalition special-operations forces, the SAS, for instance, captured 60 senior Iraqi officials trying to leave the country with $600,000 in U.S. currency and, more recently, discovered a huge armaments cache that included 51 MIG jets, or half the Iraqi air force. They participated in western Iraq operations that neutralized potential use of SCUD missiles. With their air force and navy counterparts, they will observe Anzac Day thousands of miles from home, but only 900 miles southeast of the site where that day was born.

(Oh, and while you're at Bryon's site, check out his discovery of Sprint's new Vulcan hiring policy.)

WHAT ARE the penalties for lying to the UN? Do they make you stand in a corner?

A leading Iraqi scientist who worked in the country's biological weapons program in the 1980s said he and his colleagues lied to UN inspectors about biological and chemical weapons, The New York Times reported.

The stories he gave the inspectors "were all lies," Nissar Hindawi told the paper.

Iraq "produced huge quantities" of liquid anthrax and botulinum toxin, he said.

So it's little wonder that ...

Only a minority within the Bush administration want UN inspectors to return to Iraq.

"Forget it. On principle, we don't want the United Nations running around Iraq," one official told the paper.



GEORGE GALLOWAY could go away for two years if he's convicted.

TONY BLAIR warns the crows during his latest press conference:

The BBC's Andrew Marr, as always, is given the first question, rather puncturing Mr Blair's domestic electioneering by demanding to know when WMD will be found in Iraq.

Mr Blair says a thousand sites have now been identified, and he is confident such weapons will be found.

Mark Mardell asks why the UN are not invited back into Iraq to independently verify WMD finds.

The prime minister insists there is "no doubt" that Iraq had WMD, and that "people who crow" about their absence now should "wait a little bit".

IF SARS doesn't get you, the vitamins will:

Australians have been warned against taking herbal, vitamin or nutritional supplements following the biggest recall of medical products in the country's history.

The national medicines watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), today suspended the licence of Pan Pharmaceuticals for six months and ordered the immediate withdrawal of 219 of its products following a series of grave safety and quality breaches.

Pan represents 70 per cent of the Australian complementary medicine market and exports to dozens of countries.

Here's a list of the recalled products. I've taken the precaution of removing all vitamins from the house and replacing them with harmless cigarettes. You can't be too careful, you know.

VIA the Bunyip, this March 31 war commentary from the Australian Financial Review's Michael Pascoe (subscription required for AFR link):

It looks like a little dose of reality has finally been allowed into George Junior's war party. It will be rather lonely there by itself but before long it should be joined by its friend, disillusionment.

Together they will stand against a wall, casting dark looks around the room, asking each other in voices growing steadily louder: "How did we get into this mess?"

The rest of the party will try hard to ignore them, then to disparage them, but they won't be silenced. The party will begin to break down as arguments start about who let "them" in. Eventually most will give up and depart, with the remainder left to bickering and finger-pointing, until finally agreeing with the question. "Yeah, how did we get into this mess?"

By the end of the party Tony Blair and John Howard will have lost or resigned their jobs. George Junior will remain in denial, locked like Macbeth into a course where he is so steeped in blood it's as easy to go on as to turn back. He will have guaranteed an escalation and extension of terrorism against the west, destabilised the Middle East further and made sure that, just like his Dad, he's a one-term president.

It's possible to see only one person happy as the party dissolves - the tall skinny guy, smiling broadly under his beard and answering to the name of Osama.

With the Pentagon now admitting publicly what it tried to tell George Junior privately, that this Iraq war will take months, not weeks, there are terrible implications to be thought through. This war so far is going to Saddam's plan, not George's.

The last time I checked, both Tony Blair and John Howard still had their jobs. So does Pascoe, oddly enough.

CHARITY BEGINS at home. Specifically, at
George Galloway's home:

The appeal set up by George Galloway to treat a sick Iraqi child spent more than 800,000 pounds on political campaigns and expenses, including a direct salary payment to his wife, the MP admitted yesterday.

Dr Amineh Abu Zayyad, Mr Galloway's Palestinian wife, was paid around 18,000 pounds by the appeal fund to "look after" Mariam Hamza, the girl who received treatment for leukaemia in Britain and America.

The charity spent £860,000 on anti-sanctions campaigns, expenses and administration, and only £100,000 on the kid. She was effectively used as a front for a propaganda operation.

Interesting to note, too, that Appalling George is still only threatening to sue the Telegraph:

He is threatening to sue The Daily Telegraph for libel and said last week that, if he discovered from his own records that he was not in Iraq at Christmas 1999, "the Telegraph will come down in flames". He has denied ever knowingly meeting Iraqi agents. But confirmation of his presence in Baghdad at the time of the alleged meeting has emerged.

It's not looking good for George. Then again, it never was.

FORMULA ONE garage area in 1973. Note the chap with the oily rag, a mandatory requirement of the era.

And a Formula One garage area today. The surgical-quality lighting gantry probably costs as much as did a team's entire stock of trackside mechanical equipment 30 years earlier. Here's another comparison.

(By the way, the car in the first image is a Shadow, proof that despite the excesses of the 1970s - "the decade that taste forgot" - some beautiful designs were nonetheless achieved.)

THIS JUST IN: Tribble weighs 820 grams. Developing.

In related news, Acidman reports:

I had a dog named "Wiggles" that could put a whole Krystal hamburger in his mouth, chew it, swallow the burger and spit out the pickle every time.

ACTOR Mike Farrell - well, he was an actor, sometime back in the 1970s - on the brave Hollywood dissidents:

"The Dixie Chicks are back on the air and their record is number one again," he said. "Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are not going to stop making movies for a long time. Janeane Garofalo has a (TV) pilot going forward. These ugly-mouthed people like to think they are more powerful than they are."

They sure do. By the way, what exactly are the qualifications of the Bush-hating intellectual elite?

Cher: Dropped out of school in 9th grade. Career: Singing and acting

Martin Sheen: Flunked exam to enter University of Dayton. Career: Acting

Jessica Lange: Dropped out college mid-freshman year. Career: Acting

Julia Roberts: Completed High School. Career: Acting

George Clooney: Dropped out of University of Kentucky. Career: Acting

Michael Moore: Dropped out first year at University of Michigan. Career: Movie Director

Sarah Jessica Parker: Completed High School. Career: Acting

Jennifer Anniston: Completed High School. Career: Acting

Janeane Garofalo: Dropped out of College. Career: Stand up comedienne

HOORAY for the foamy friar, foe of fanatics:

The Pope yesterday beatified a 17th-century friar credited with halting a Muslim invasion of Europe and in the process gave the world cappuccino coffee.

LOOTING in Manchester!

TARIQ AZIZ wants to live in England, but The Sun sez:

He should still be punished as a war criminal, not made to feel like a Lottery winner.

Why not force him to stay with George Galloway?

That would teach him.

PHILLIP ADAMS suffers from insomnia. He should try reading his own columns. How does he stay awake while he composes them?

WHOA! Coolest Emmanuelle photograph yet! Emmanuelle and Matt lately visited the regal Layne-Crane estate in Reno. Songs were sung and the gambling precinct invaded. Speaking of songs, Ken's nü metal outfit has been trumped by a Sydney band whose promo flyer I caught a glimpse of last week. It had the umlaut goin' on and the German title and everything.

The band's name?


SOMETHING strange and wrong is happening at the New York Post, and Mickey Kaus is on to it. Editor Col Allan isn't expected in the office today - I just spoke to the city desk - but I'll try to get hold of him at home or tomorrow. Conversations with Col are always entertaining, although I expect on this subject he may be somewhat circumspect. We'll see.

DIANE SAWYER is one interviewer you don't want to mess with.

THANKS FOR calling that one in, Tariq:

The favourable surrender terms agreed between coalition commanders and Tariq Aziz has prompted speculation that Saddam Hussein's trusted foreign policy adviser provided the intelligence responsible for the cruise missile attack on the Iraqi dictator's bunker.

BECOME a Face For Peace! Just like Tough Josh and this pretending-to-be-dead chick and
Kaushalya catalyst for change! You can even be severely retarded or an elderly dictator and still be a Face For Peace! (Fidel's appearance courtesy of this prankster.) EVERYBODY must become a Peace Face! Especially now that the war is over, and we have - peace!

UPDATE. Joe adds his face!

And Lee contributes his peaceful image!

I WONDER how many lives have been altered by blogs?

Reading blogs has changed my world. Lileks is a nightly ritual before I go to sleep and the lack of Bleat will put a small dent in my day. This goes along with the fact that I sprinkle my conversation with references to what Michele has said and the fact that thanks to Tim Blair I know a bit too much about Australian politics. I keep sending friends strips from Day by Day and I insist on referring to George Clooney as an "Asshat" because of Rachel Lucas. Kim Du Toit has convinced me that I need to buy a gun or ten and Pave France has supplied me with a seemingly endless source of frog bashing ammo. Add to that the fact that I have felt an even greater connection to the war in Iraq because of reading Where is Raed and all the military blogs I list to the left (Lt. Smash, Sgt. Stryker, Will, and Primary Main Objective). I have made a greater effort than I normally would have to keep up to date on the events of the war because of my contributions to Command Post.

FROM Randy Robinson's Top Five Signs Your MP May Be On The Take:

3. His face is on the Five of Clubs

THE WOGBLOGGER has this take on the Hartford Courant editor who banned a journalist from blogging:

Dyareckon he would take that view if the personal blog was filled with "My boss is God. He is the bestest boss. Lovelove for Boss."?

"Lovelove for Boss". Journalists used to send me notes like that all the time back when I worked in offices. Also from Wogblog - a multicultural solution to the looting of Baghdad:

Someone do a stocktake of what's left in the museum, and from the museum but elsewhere in Iraq, so we can work out what stuff has to be recovered from the plunderers.

I am thinking a team of Italian and Spanish shopkeepers can do this job in a weekend.

KINKY FRIEDMAN is hanging with a bad crowd. And not for the first time - in '96 we met Kinky at Austin's Driskill Hotel, and a few days later caught up with him at home (Clinton sign in the yard, natch) to watch baseball on TV and haul down a few cigars. By the way, you think Kinky's wise and funny? You should have met his late father, Tom. Extraordinary, wonderful family.

THE CONCEPT of supply and demand eludes the Daily Mirror. Which is what you'd expect from a paper that thought hiring John Pilger would increase sales.

GEORGE GALLOWAY'S Cuban love toy tells all:

Judy Lonchan Lopez said last night: "George was very important in Cuba. I'm not surprised he was friends with Saddam, because he was close to Fidel Castro.

"He desired me and I respected him. He was very passionate. He had learned some Spanish and he would say things like, 'I adore your body', and, 'You make me fly like a bird when I touch you'."

Here's a few other Spanish phrases George might have learned:

Amo a dictadores

Deme más dinero

Tráigame por favor mi sombrero la cima y monóculo inmediatamente


Saddam Hussein will be 66 on 28 April - that is, if he is still alive. Traditionally his birthday has been a day of great celebration, but who knows where, how, or if he will celebrate this year? What is certain, is that it will be unlike the spectacles of previous years.

Yep. No games of "pin the electrode on the peasant" this year. Maybe Jacques won't even send a card!


LIKE many dissenters, Lahib Nouman demonstrated against her government. She tore up images of government officials. She chanted slogans.

The difference was, she did it in Baghdad.

Time's Aparisim Ghosh tells how her dissent was never quite crushed, despite years of brutality. And Ghosh - with whom I collaborated years ago on sports stories - has also turned up something terrible in Uday Hussein's backyard. Stunning reporting.

EVEN crazy leftie junkie Will Self has his limits:

Shortly before British and American forces began rolling towards Baghdad, I was asked to appear at a Stop the War benefit at the Shepherds Bush Empire.

I had several reasons for declining, but not least of them was that George Galloway MP was to be one of the speakers. In fact, I made it a condition of my support for Stop the War that I wouldn't share a platform with the man.

Anyone who had paid attention to Galloway's pro-Saddam statements should have realised his motives for meddling in Iraqi politics were far from humanitarian.

No humanitarian could ever have sang hymns to the Butcher of Baghdad the way he did. Nor did Galloway's background in the Tammany Hall of Scottish Labour politics lead one to expect a character unsullied by greed.

NOW that The Independent is charging Net users for the privilege of reading Robert Fisk, I suppose I should start charging for Fiskings. Two bucks per fact-checked ass!

A FINE IDEA from Mark Steyn:

John Pilger can keep boring on about Vietnam until he's driven away every last Mirror reader, but to any sentient columnist the analogy is irrelevant: indeed, a canny newspaper would design a software programme that crashed a columnist's computer every time he typed in the word.

Of course, some columnists will require crash-words tailored to their specific needs:

Maureen Dowd: Alpha

Phillip Adams: John Howard

Hugh Mackay: Values

Adele Horin: Children

Peter Roebuck: Hamlet

Mike Carlton: Me, myself, I

Margo Kingston: Core values

Robert Manne: Let me explain

UPDATE: The Observer has obviously put Steyn's idea into practice. This US-bashing Terry Jones column contains not one single mention of oil - unlike most earlier Jones pieces. Now if they could just install software to make the lame bastard funny ...

WE ALREADY know George Galloway is a traitor. The question is, will he be tried as one?

In other George news, his links to various unfriendly people continue to be explored, and David Aaronovitch points out some interesting George history:

Galloway was once a genuine critic of Saddam's. In the mid-1980s Hansard records him delivering a ferocious assault on the Baath regime, and those in the West who traded with and encouraged it. By 1994, however, he was in Baghdad famously saluting Saddam's courage and indefatigability. He was soon a frequent flyer to Baghdad, and a reveller at Tariq Aziz's Yuletide festivities in 1999 (a fact which Galloway seemed to have forgotten last week, despite my having reminded him of it personally on a television programme in October 2001).

So why did George change? One of the reasons that I ended up supporting this war was that I agreed with Galloway back in the 1980s, and Saddam never got any nicer, or less murderous. What happened?

Leaving aside unproved accusations of personal gain, there are other explanations that might cover George's sudden blindness on the road to Baghdad. And the most obvious is that sin of the committed, the belief that my enemy's enemy is my friend. Or, in the context of the modern world, any anti-American will do. When Iraq stopped being a friend of the West it became a friend of George's.

Aaronovitch's column is quite devastating. Read whole thing.

YAY! GM food in Australia!

LOTS of interesting documents are surfacing in Iraq. The Daily Telegraph reports:

Papers found yesterday in the bombed headquarters of the Mukhabarat, Iraq's intelligence service, reveal that an al-Qa'eda envoy was invited clandestinely to Baghdad in March 1998.

And from the Toronto Sars ... er, Star:

The documents were found by correspondent Mitch Potter, the Star's Jerusalem bureau chief. Potter, who has been in and out of Iraq since the war began, was digging through the rubble of the Mukhabarat's Baghdad headquarters with his translator Amir when they uncovered the intelligence treasure trove.

Bin Laden's name appears three times in the handwritten Iraqi file, but each of the references was clumsily concealed with White-Out and then blackened with ink, "presumably by agents of the Mukhabarat," writes Potter, who was travelling with Amir and Inigo Gilmore of London's Sunday Telegraph.

How come Robert Fisk isn't digging through the rubble? Is he frightened by what he might find?

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSON has your gift-giving needs covered. Make mine a Drug Enforcement Agency travel mug!

SPOT the lone voice of reason at this feminist protest.

PERSONALLY, I prefer veal:

The leader of a prominent U.S.-based animal rights group said she had drawn up a will directing that her flesh be barbecued ... Ingrid Newkirk, 53, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), said on Thursday she had chosen to donate her body to her organization for use in a variety of startling protests.

But one body part listed in the will is not protest or animal related. It says a small part of her heart should be buried near the Hockenheim Formula One racing circuit in Germany, preferably near the Ferrari pits.

"I love Formula One. I love Michael Schumacher, and I thought I would have a little bit of personal indulgence there," she said.

What, she doesn't like baseball?

OH, this is great. It's 5am, I’ve just finished working on a column, and now I'm under spider attack. A huntsman spider about the span of a child's hand has just skittered across the ceiling above me.

Go get Spider Death Gas. Remind self of relative Tim-spider mass difference. Stop spidey panic.

UPDATE. Gassed and death-bound, my nemesis seeks shelter behind the owl portrait on the wall opposite.

UPDATE UPDATE. And ... then ... it ... reappears ... on ... the ... stairway .. next ... to ... my ... desk ...

UPDATE 3. More death gas. Where is air support? I called in air support, dammit!

UPDATE 4. A thought: What if stairway spider isn't owl portrait spider? What if ... there are more than one?

What if I pass out, say, five seconds from now?

UPDATE 5. The monster, having lunged towards me in a crazed bid for matyrdom, has fallen to the stairs below. He's twitching with resentment. And I am trapped! He's claimed the crucial stair exit point.

To hell with gas. I need a book.

UPDATE 6. May I recommend Media Virus by Douglas Rushkoff? It is beautifully balanced, aerodynamically sound, and lands with murderous accuracy when launched from my third-floor home office. The stairway is liberated. Now I sleep.