SCROLL DOWN to the very last photograph.

(Via Blogs of War)

THE CORRECT answer, of course, is David Marr.

WALKING TO McDonald's for breakfast this morning (it's true!) I encountered three uniformed schoolboys urging passersby to purchase some kind of charity stuff:

Tim: Are you selling drugs?

Boy 1: No! This is all quality Starlight Children's Foundation ... er, merchandise.

Tim: Oh, merchandise, eh? Like what?

Boy 1: Well, I've got pens, and ...

Boy 2: (shoves Boy 1 aside) Don't buy anything from him. He looks like a fetus.

Boy 3: Yeah! Now, we've got these wristbands, and these cool stressbuster things ...

Tim: Give me that. (Examines pliable yellow "stressbuster") Why has this fucker got a smiley face on it?

Boy 2: Um, I don't know why the ... product is smiling, sir.

Tim: How much?

Boy 3: Four bucks.

Boy 1: (the Fetus Boy, elbowing his way past the larger Boys 2 & 3) I've got a stressbuster!

Tim: Sold! (Hands coins to Fetus Boy, walks away)

Boy 2: You just bought it from him out of pity!

Boy 3: I'm very disappointed in you!

PIPES are things you stick in your mouth and ignite. Pipe bombs, on the other hand ...

IRAQI POET Awad Nasir, until recently exiled in London, thanks the willing:

Iraqis of all faiths, ethnic backgrounds and political persuasions were liberated by young men and women who came from the other side of the world -- from California and Wyoming, from New York, Glasgow, London, Sydney and Gdansk to risk their lives, and for some to die, so that my people can live in dignity.

Those who died to liberate our country are heroes in their own lands. For us they will be martyrs and heroes. They have gained an eternal place in our hearts, one that is forever reserved for those who gave their lives in more than three decades of struggle against the Baathist regime.

It's quite a piece. Please read.

FISH ATTACKS MAN. Impressively, the fish was already dead at the time of the attack. Way to go, fish.

DETROIT'S ALEX BENSKY reviews Thursday's site:

What a shocking collection of posts today.

I am utterly appalled at The Age using fashion week as an excuse to offer pictures of attractive and scantily-clad women. It simply shows the collapse of decency everywhere. It is your responsibility to keep your blog readers aware of this collapse of moral values by demonstrating with other links the media's shameless use of almost-nude babes to attract readers.

I am also shocked at the blatant bias at Fox News. I watch it myself, so I can attest that it is often slanted. As soon as I send this I will be e-mailing Fox News directly to demand that they follow the noble objectivity standards of journalism, as exemplified by the BBC.

Finally, I am appalled at the situation Polly Toynbee relates. The crime rate is going down, and more people are in jail. I am outraged. Yet oddly enough, some people might find a relationship between these facts. Go figure.

ANGELA BELL is off work and on a roll.

ARE WE certain it was a mask?

READERS of the old Spy magazine may recall the prank letters of Lazlo Toth. Seems old Lazlo has lately reinvented himself as a Hungarian trauma surgeon.


FASHION WEEK becomes more fashiontastic with each passing day, and ... HEY! What are you guys doing here? Fashion Week is meant to be about fashion, not ogling semi-naked bodies! This is an outrage!

THE LATEST directive from John Howard's office demands that I mock Wayne Swan's piteous whining:

Not only is the left outgunned financially, it is often too disorganised or self-righteous to make a dent in the right's attempts to destroy the evidence of the growing gap between the rich and the rest.

Too many people on the left who profess a concern about poverty are sitting on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs or engaged in arcane arguments about definitions instead of venturing into the public domain to raise the alarm.

While conservative commentators take their cue directly from John Howard's office and run disciplined campaigns to advance their cause, those on the left are too often busy indulging their own egos.

We at the massively-financed Department for Conservative Propaganda deny Swan's claim.

UPDATE. Andrew Davey writes:

In Wayne Swan's speech on the slackbuttedness of the Left and  the Aryan-style discipline of the Right, I noticed that he described conservative journalists as being "prepared to chew up newspaper column inches with ill-informed words that simply eulogise John Howard and his program."

John Howard is dead? When did that happen? And does this therefore mean,  Mr Blair, that you are taking your cues from BEYOND THE GRAVE?

Beware, sir! You are meddling with dark forces you cannot hope to understand! Other than the Democrats, I mean.

And Dr Shrink replies:

To "eulogise", as Wayne Swan accused, is to "praise formally and eloquently". It doesn't necessarily mean he's dead. It's just a type of speech or writing, noted for its open approval of the figure in question. Swan's use was correct.

THE Magic Poetry Generator converts this site into a surrealist masterwork:

Clean up

with drink and pledge

to call in aisle five ...

The jet landing on his

sixth child

Michelle Grattan,

some trailer park, beating his preferred prime Minister ...

Liz Hurley! was wrong.

KEV GILLETT was a member of the Royal Australian Infantry Corps from 1963 to 1988, and saw service in South Vietnam as an Intelligence NCO and Section (Patrol) Commander in Reconnaissance Platoon of 7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment.

Now he has a blog. Check it out.

ANTI-AMERICAN = impartial. Pro-American = bias:

The Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel, whose determinedly patriotic stance during the Iraq conflict brought it critical notoriety but commercial success, is under investigation by television regulators in Britain for alleged bias.

The independent television commission is investigating nine complaints by viewers of the channel, broadcast on Sky Digital satellite, also controlled by Rupert Murdoch.

If the network is found to have breached the ITC's "due impartiality" rules, it could be forced out.

Nine whole complaints. Wow. Encouraged by this tsunami of outrage, The Guardian editorialises:

We don't want biased news over here.

Oh, please ...

HEY, Media Watch! Over here! More bad lefty journalism for you to ignore!

WHO EVER knew that shock absorber franchisees were capable of such rage?

HEH heh. Probes. Heh heh.

LOTS of fine posts over at Damian Penny's.

POLLY TOYNBEE in The Guardian:

Only the state can buy the things that make people happiest.

Which explains why government employees are always so cheerful, and why the Soviet Union was known as "the federation of smiles".

AUSTRALIA'S KEITH WINDSCHUTTLE puts Noam Chomsky to the sword:

Chomsky has declared himself a libertarian and anarchist but has defended some of the most authoritarian and murderous regimes in human history. His political philosophy is purportedly based on empowering the oppressed and toiling masses but he has contempt for ordinary people who he regards as ignorant dupes of the privileged and the powerful. He has defined the responsibility of the intellectual as the pursuit of truth and the exposure of lies, but has supported the regimes he admires by suppressing the truth and perpetrating falsehoods. He has endorsed universal moral principles but has only applied them to Western liberal democracies, while continuing to rationalize the crimes of his own political favorites. He is a mandarin who denounces mandarins. When caught out making culpably irresponsible misjudgments, as he was over Cambodia and Sudan, he has never admitted he was wrong.

Today, Chomsky’s hypocrisy stands as the most revealing measure of the sorry depths to which the left-wing political activism he has done so much to propagate has now sunk.

Go read the whole thing, and be sure to click on the author's name so you can witness for yourself the brutal reality of Windschuttle's Chomsky-oppressing, dissent-mashing world.

NORMAN MAILER thinks one of the reasons George W. Bush committed to war was that white US males were failing at sport:

"With their dominance in sport, at work and at home eroded, Bush thought white American men needed to know they were still good at something. That's where Iraq came in ... "

I wonder how Norman will explain Australia's involvement, then.

UPDATE. Eric Jablow makes an excellent point:

I would sooner believe that France's behavior during the 11 September 2001 aftermath, the Battle of Afghanistan, and the Battle of Iraq are based on her sorry sporting performances and her self-image. Consider:

The second greatest cheating scandal in Olympic history involved a corrupt French ice skating judge. [I consider the greatest cheating scandal to be the 1972 US-USSR men's basketball game. After all, I am an American.]

No Frenchman has won the Tour de France for many years. Lance Armstrong, an American, has won the last four, only a few years after nearly dying of cancer. Furthermore, he has not resorted to illegal drugs, the way many French riders have.

No defending World Cup champion has ever performed worse than the 2002 French team. They could not even tally a goal in their three games, even playing for a 0-0 draw in their second. They did not even try to win. Meanwhile, the US team reached the quarterfinals, and the South Korean team reached the semifinals.

Can anyone doubt that this has caused the French to become even more sullen over time?

"IN THE war on terror," writes The Age's Michelle Grattan, "some Australians have had their rights trampled on." She's talking about two Australians who exercised their democratic right to join the Taliban. Talk about a crushing of dissent.

PETE TOWNSEND gets off on child porn ... charges.

THE NEWS just keeps getting better every day:

Australia's relations with United Nations human rights committees have plummeted to new lows because of government recalcitrance on international law, according to a new report.

A study by the left-wing think-tank, the Australia Institute, said the government's hard line on asylum seekers during the 2001 Tampa standoff had seen relations with UN human rights committees reach unprecedented lows.

(Via happy Tex.)

I'D VOTE for Kerry. Teresa Heinz Kerry, that is.

FASHION WEEK continues in Australia, so learn up on all the latest
fashion trends. You know, hemlines and stuff.

DUBYA'S air drama was overdone:

For his dramatic jet landing on an aircraft carrier last week, George Bush wore a flight suit and a helmet and had to take underwater survival training in the White House swimming pool.

But as it turns out, the United States President chose to make the jet landing even after he was told he could easily reach the ship by helicopter, the White House said, changing its explanation for Mr Bush's Top Gun-style event.

Well, it's not as if he delayed anyone while he got a haircut.

BUYERS of this week's print edition of The Bulletin in Australia receive a special treat - the first southern hemisphere publication of a Day by Day cartoon by Chris Muir.

Chris whipped up a 'toon - referring to Australian Prime Minister John Howard's visit to Crawford - for my column. A damn fine 'toon it is, too. Possibly you'll shortly be able to see it at Chris's site.

And the only payment Chris demanded (apart from several hundred dollars in cash) was Australian beer! And the link you now see to your left. Chris is one deadline-hitting, topic-nailing act. He'll be appearing in The Bulletin again.

UPDATE. Obviously, I'm far from the first to notice Chris's talents. One of the first to publish him, though. Hope he'll still speak to me when he's rich and married to Jane Pauley.


MARK STEYN ... movie star!

THE MELBOURNE AGE now has a blog. Displaying The Age's usual acute understanding of its audience, the blog is devoted solely to the television program Big Brother.

Before The Age's online forum on the program was closed (after only ten responses!) this is what readers had to say:

Big Brother is just another example in a line of awful home produced shows.

Who gives a stuff?

It's cheap, over produced, and hopefully dead in the water after this series.

Big Brother is for main stream follow the rest of the heard mindless zombies.

Are we that pathetic as human beings that we depend on a fictional interpretation of life (TV dramas) for entertainment?

The Age's pointless blog (is there a sponsorship connection or anything to justify it?) even uses an out-of-date brunette shot of newly-blondified BB host Gretel Killeen. The Age can't get anything right.

THE MOTHER wanted something more traditional, like Fuckto the Goat Boy:

One of the key suspects in last October's Bali bombings has named his son "Usama", apparently after well-known terrorist Osama bin Laden, news reports said today.

Ali Gufron, one of three brothers who have been labelled key suspects in the October 12, 2002, bombings of two nightspots in Bali that killed at least 202 people, decided to name his recently-born sixth child Usama while awaiting his upcoming trial.

This kid is going to be hell on wheels when he starts teething. How do you pacify something named "Usama"?

CLEAN UP in aisle five ... clean up in aisle five ...

THE ABC website features a quiz to decide whether you prefer hot blondes or mulish enviroskanks. At least, that's what I think the quiz is about.

THOSE DAMN JEWS. Now they've captured Tony Blair:

Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House, sparked outrage last night by accusing the Prime Minister of "being unduly influenced by a cabal of Jewish advisers".

In an interview with Vanity Fair, the Left-wing Labour MP named Lord Levy, Tony Blair's personal envoy on the Middle East, Peter Mandelson, whose father was Jewish, and Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who has Jewish ancestry, as three of the leading figures who had influenced Mr Blair's policies on the Middle East.

See how they plan these things? They've clearly been working on Tony Blair for generations, even before he was born! No wonder he eventually fell to the devious machinations of the "cabal".

The Prime Minister, Mr Dalyell claimed, was also indirectly influenced by Jewish people in the Bush administration, including Richard Perle, a Pentagon adviser, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, and Ari Fleischer, the President's press secretary.

Jews! Jews everywhere!

(From Henry Hanks at Jeeeew Bl ... er, Croooow Blog.)

WARNING: the following news item contains concepts and ideas that may shock some readers. This website advises that a physician be present for the next four paragraphs:

Australian journalist John Pilger has won the 2003 Sophie Prize for his work in helping the public to examine the real causes of the war in Iraq.

In its citation, the jury said that over the past 30 years, Mr Pilger has contributed to uncovering the lies and propaganda of the powerful, especially as they relate to wars, conflict of interests and the economic exploitation of peoples and natural resources.

The panel has highlighted Mr Pilger's coverage of the Vietnam War and a recent documentary on the Palestinian situation, which it said shocked and provoked debate.

It says he assisted the public in critically assessing the true motives for the war in Iraq and its legitimacy.

Well, I guess that's sort of true, if we understand this to mean "Pilger presented the polar opposite of reality in such a way as to easily convince the public of the immediate need for total war." Congratulations to John on his Sophie. But will he ever win a prestigious Moxie or an Aimee?

IRAQ'S WEAPONS of mass destruction have so far proved difficult to locate, but mass human destruction is tragically all too apparent:

Iraqis clawed or shovelled through a mass grave yesterday to uncover dozens of corpses, some with blindfolds and hands tied, who appeared to have been executed during a 1991 Shiite uprising.

At least 20 bodies, including a few women, were unearthed from the site about 20 km north of Najaf. Many had plastic-coated identity cards in their rotting clothes. Combs, coins and watches lay among them, along with bullet casings.

IT'S AUSTRALIAN Fashion Week. So, fashion pictures.

THIS WEEK'S Continuing Crisis column in The Bulletin mentions the Scientific Apparatus Recycling Scheme, the San Antonio Rocket Society, the South African Revenue Service, the Swedish AMC Rambler Society, Shenzo Gregorio, ABBA, John Howard, George W. Bush, Dr Helen Caldicott, Lemrick Nelson, Yankel Rosenbaum, Helen Clark, Greenpeace, Antonio Pizzonia, Mark Webber, Steve Waugh, Russell Crowe, Jimmy Barnes, Bob Ellis, Natasha Stott Despoja, and Carmen Lawrence.

GEORGE GALLOWAY'S whole world of trouble is big news everywhere but at the ABC, which formerly gave the commie clown every available opportunity to rant about whatever stupid notion entered his small, flat head.

Since the story of Galloway's alleged Iraqi connections broke on April 22, however, the ABC has been noticeably silent. A brief wire story features on the ABC site today, but ABC radio and television seems to judge George's travails as not newsworthy.

The state broadcaster also fell mute when one-time Mr Popularity Scott Ritter became involved in a sordid Burger King teen-luring debacle. Our ABC: half the news, all of the time.

UPDATE. ABC radio in Sydney ran two sub-minute Galloway stories this morning - one during the 6:30am news and another during the 7:00am news. Wow, primetime!

And ABC contributor (he has no choice) Lew Bretz writes:

Mr Blair,

No wonder Media Watch has it in for you.

Are you suggesting that 2.8 seconds on the George Galloway story is a form of censorship to help the Left cover its embarrassment? I heard it this morning and yes, every last bit of detail that could be put in a 16 word sentence was included.

Bias? Hah!!!

And think of the many, many, many, many interviews Our ABC has had to conduct just now to fish out the reservations that all and sundry might have about the Governor General not resigning. If they couldn't invest the time to conduct this journalistic softening-up operation, how could they and like-minded media folk then run polls to ask people whether they think the G-G should go ahead and resign? What do you think they are, journalists???

Please let the ABC get on with its noble work and stop bothering them with all this fair-play nonsense, as if they somehow weren't being evenhanded outside the righteous spectrum ranging from Carmen Lawrence to Bob Brown.

If they didn't know why George Galloway's treachery was less important that Peter Hollingworth's good-faith error in his previous incumbency, they couldn't act as public servants, could they? And certainly David Marr, who's assured us he hasn't a left-wing bone in his body, wouldn't let them get away with an error brought about by anti-American or anti-Howard bigotry. Not that there's any of that about, of course ...

THE SYDNEY Morning Herald has obtained audio tape of someone who sounds like Saddam Hussein, apparently recorded just two days ago:

A tired-sounding voice calls on Iraq's people to stand together in a new underground war against the occupying forces.

"I don't want to talk in details about the occupation and why and how, and I am going to focus instead on how to face these invaders and kick them out from Iraq," it says, pausing to cough.

"... It sounds as if we have to go back to the secret style of struggle that we began our life with. Through this secret means, I am talking to you from inside Great Iraq and I say to you, the main task for you, Arab and Kurd, Shia and Sunni, Muslim and Christian and the whole Iraqi people of all religions, your main task is to kick the enemy out from our country."

The SMH has played the tape to various folks who say, "Oh, man! That be Saddam for sure!" Decide for yourself, Hussein fans.

STEPHEN MAYNE has lately been friendly to the Left, but the Left isn't being friendly to Mayne:

The internet publisher Stephen Mayne, having been forced to sell his house in response to a defamation action by the radio presenter Steve Price, has now paid Senator Nick Bolkus $25,000 to settle a second.

Hmmm. Mayne's crime was to incorrectly slur Bolkus as a drunk driver. Wonder if I could get anything out of Media Watch, whose website currently states that "Tim Blair ... lies and spreads propaganda!" Legal opinions are welcome. Just for interest's sake, of course ...

THE CHICKS at the Burger King would've been thrilled:

Iraq's intelligence services bought gold jewellery that they planned to give to the wife and daughter of Scott Ritter, a filmmaker and former weapons inspector, in a project to encourage him to work closely with Saddam Hussein's regime, according to documents The Sunday Telegraph has discovered.

GEORGE GALLOWAY has been suspended by the Labour Party and faces further investigation into his Mariam "charity". George says the whole deal is "unjust".

EVERY DAY we hear stories of lives ruined by doctoral degrees in media arts. How refreshing, then, to read of Isaac, who recovered from years of media studies abuse and finally achieved contentment:

Isaac is pumping his fists in the air, noticeably energized and happy ... That's a long way from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which awarded him a dual doctoral degree in architecture and media arts and sciences a decade ago.

LIVELY SYDNEY blogger Gianna has added a PayPal donation point to her site. Good for her! Being a lefty, however, and therefore deeply frightened of the Capricious Money God, she's anxiously concealed her PayPal link. Go to her site now. Try to find it.

You gotta promote, girl! Get out there and work it! Don't make me put my rings on.

CITING GEOGRAPHIC concerns, John Howard has ruled out the idea of Australia joining a formal Anglosphere:

Australia would reject ever becoming part of an Anglosphere group of nations in recognition of the importance of Asia to the nation, Prime Minister John Howard said today.

While there was talk in some diplomatic circles of the creation of an Anglo-group of nations, taking in Australia, the United States and Britain, Mr Howard said he saw no reason to join it.

Well, we don't need to. We're already in. Meanwhile George W. Bush is laying on the praise, which some interpret as a swipe against Canada:

When the White House announced on April 13 that Bush was scrapping his planned May 5 visit [to Canada], it cited his "ongoing obligations" tied to the war, not the simmering anger in Washington over Ottawa's refusal to back the campaign.

But just one day later, it announced Howard would join just a handful of world leaders invited to the US leader's Prairie Chapel ranch, leaving little doubt that he was snubbing the United States' northern neighbour.

NOSTRADAMUS predicted this, you know. Here's the relevant quatrain:

The great power and the weaker one

Shall in conflict create a grander being;

His words of unshaken faith

Then appear on garments of the beasteater

BBQ aprons bearing Mo Sahhaf's undying line "God will roast their stomachs in hell" are possibly the coolest Mo-related gimmick thus far, along with this t-shirt: "We will kill all of them ... most of them."

And now there's a Mo movie:

A comedy short movie has been produced in Egypt about Saddam Hussein's top spin doctor Mohammed Said al-Sahhaf, who became a global celebrity for his persistent refusal to admit US troops were in Baghdad.

The 12-minute film, titled I am not Sahhaf, tells the story of a man of the street who admired the former Iraqi information minister so much that he ends up thinking he is Sahhaf.

Location shoots were a problem:

The film was shot in the crowded streets of Cairo and almost triggered a riot, because "people actually thought it really was the Iraqi minister of information", said Rageh, who heads the production company Shouaah.

"We had to call in the police to break up the crowd," he said.

There were no crowds! Never!

QUESTION: Why would Beazley want to be leader of the ALP?

If a federal election had been held at the weekend, Labor's primary vote would have hit its lowest level in 100 years, confirming fears inside the party that it risks an electoral wipe-out.

UPDATE. Mark Latham doesn't want Big Kim to return:

Volatile Labor frontbencher Mark Latham has warned Kim Beazley off challenging Simon Crean after yet another round of opinion polls showing diminishing public support for the embattled Opposition Leader.

"We had two massive opinion polls about Kim Beazley - they were called general elections and, unfortunately, we lost them both," Mr Latham told The Australian last night. "That's why Kim stood down on election night 2001 for his preferred successor, Simon Crean."


NOW EVEN the Left is trashing Michael Moore:

Moore is not just a quirky guy with enough talent and dough to reach a wide audience. His political criticism signals problems faced by the left more generally: marginalization, a tendency to seek the purity of confrontation rather than to work for long-term political solutions, a cynicism about the possibilities of politics today, and questionable political judgments. Moore exhibits all these weaknesses.

Unfortunately, an effective left cannot draw energy or inspiration from a deeply cynical view of politics that blurs entertainment and argument. Moore takes short-cuts when it comes to politics. He entertains, but he doesn't always do much more. That speaks to the state of the left; we are angry and sometimes vocal, but we have too little to offer those looking for or needing social change. Meanwhile, the entertainment industry chugs on, denigrating serious political argument and avoiding deliberation. That is the depressing world Michael Moore has broken into.

(Via Angela Bell.)

WHATEVER YOU do, don't mention the owls:

Several years ago, a bias and sensitivity review panel working on contract for the federal government ruled that, when testing the reading comprehension of fourth graders, any mention of owls ought to be verboten.

The reason - that owls are taboo to the Navajo and might upset someone of that ancestry - may have seemed farfetched, had the panel not made an even stranger decision to eliminate a story about a dolphin. That story was judged to be "regionally biased" and potentially confusing to kids who didn't live near an ocean.

The above is from a review of The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch, which might become to publishing what Bjorn Lomborg's Sceptical Environmentalist was to the green movement. Some more censor highlights:

A typical publisher’s guideline advises that:

* Women cannot be depicted as caregivers or doing household chores.

* Men cannot be lawyers or doctors or plumbers. They must be nurturing helpmates.

* Old people cannot be feeble or dependent; they must jog or repair the roof.

* A story that is set in the mountains discriminates against students from flatlands.

* Children cannot be shown as disobedient or in conflict with adults.

* Cake cannot appear in a story because it is not nutritious.

Which explains why my groundbreaking children's text, Dr. Feeble, The Old Mountain Man Who Shot His Grandchildren For Eating Cake Then Made His Wife Clean Up The Blood, never made it to the bookshelves.

UPDATE. Dr. Alice sends a list of children's classics that wouldn’t have made it past modern book-slashers:

Grimm's Fairy Tales - Oh, forget about it. Disobedient children who go to hell/kill their stepmothers/are punished for not conforming to gender roles. Grimm, you are so busted.

Huckleberry Finn  - the ultimate disobedient kid. Also uses the infamous "n word."

Mary Poppins - She's a caregiver! Even if she is a magical one. Away with her! Also, the father is a banker, and uncaring toward his kids (though he does change his ways at the end).

Green Eggs and Ham - a saga of virulent discrimination against these innocent ptomaine-bearing viands.

The Jungle Book - Mowgli decides he likes living with the wolves better than joining humans and contributing to the survival of the village collective. He is clearly an entrepreneurial capitalist and must be destroyed. Also, the book implies that it's okay for carnivores to eat herbivores and the vegan point of view is not presented.

Also from Dr Alice: via her trainer, the inside word on dogs. Labrador owners, look away in shame.

THE TRAGEDY of looted Baghdad continues to be not so tragic:

U.S. military officials charged with rebuilding Iraq's emergency services say that hospitals in Baghdad are in far better shape than previous reports of massive looting had indicated.

Far from having been stripped bare, the majority of hospitals have adequate equipment, and more crutches and medication have arrived than are needed, thanks to contributions from international humanitarian organizations.

Many of the those being treated appear to be victims of Iraq's lively business culture:

Patients at the Al-Thawra hospital in a Shi'ite area of Baghdad included Abdul Nagi Hamid, who was shot in cross fire during what he described as "trading" activity, and Sayed Abdel Abas, 36, a restaurant manager shot through the neck during a quarrel at work.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENTS, state and federal, dump $4.5 billion dollars every year on alleged arts and culture. Andrew Bolt presents a damning study of artistic tax mooching, including:

* $68,000 to send seven writers to live for months in Rome and Paris

* $321,000 to 11 literary magazines

* $22,100 to the Workers Cultural Action Committee

* $300,000 to send visual artists to live in Spain and Italy

* $40,000 for a "BioFeel" display of "Tissue Culture and Art" from a university's anatomy department

* $25,000 for a satellite-guided tour of Melbourne

* $12,000 for four musicians to create new songs with Arab lyrics

* $6000 for a CD of new work inspired by Brazilian choro music

* $89,000 for a dance-opera that tells the story of a doomed cosmonaut Viktor Khlebnikov

As an artist working in the medium of blog, I want in on this gravy train. Give me the free money!

GEORGE GALLOWAY tastes eggy justice.

POLLS CONTINUE to show Crean sliding, Beazley rising, and Howard coasting:

More than 50 per cent of Labor voters want Kim Beazley to return as party leader, but barely one in 10 says Simon Crean should keep the top job.

A special Age-ACNielsen poll also reveals that Labor's primary vote has dropped to 35 per cent, its lowest level in 100 years, as Prime Minister John Howard's Coalition holds a 53-to-47 lead over Labor in two-party-preferred terms.

Mr Howard also has opened a 42-point gap over Mr Crean as preferred prime minister.

Meanwhile, the Sydney Morning Herald portrays the Prime Minister as a dog in an illustration alongside Texan SMH intern Leo McKinney's confession that he is ashamed that George W. Bush is from his home state. Leo is obviously angling for a naked Entertainment Weekly photoshoot.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS are upset that a conservative, in the estimable person of Ron Brunton, has been appointed to the ABC board. John Cavanagh sets them straight.

PHILLIP ADAMS, Robert Fisk, and Robert Fisk's girlfriend. The Bunyip has it all, including an Adams about-face that should draw Media Watch's attention. After all, as Media Watch executive producer Peter McEvoy once said, "we're more than happy to come down on some lefty columnists if we catch them stuffing up."

So come on down. We've been waiting for years.

WHEN YOU'RE stealing essays from the Internet, it pays to proof-read:

"In the middle of the last line it said, 'click here for further links'," Lithgow High School maths teacher Mike Manderson said. "The kid got zero."

ON THE SUBJECT of teachers, Teacher Tony's recent visit to Sydney - which involved a couple of civilised wine-tasting evenings and the occasional chair-kicking and obscenity-screaming - has resulted in him swearing off alcohol.

I feel slightly responsible for this, although all I did was ply him with drink and encourage his violent outbursts. Honestly, Tony's behaviour wasn't all that bad - I've done worse, and pledge to do so in the future. In the meantime, here's a booze-free toast to teetotal Tone. He's welcome back anytime.

FORMER AUSTRALIAN politician Cheryl Kernot, now an amorphous campaigner for various causes in London, believes victory in Iraq has hurt Tony Blair in recent council elections:

A Baghdad backlash - not the predicted Baghdad bounce - cost Labour 700 seats! Don't you just love it when the voting public continue to contradict accepted political wisdoms?

Don't you just love it when Cheryl Kernot presumes to comprehend the voting public?

ANOTHER CARD is out of play:

Coalition forces have captured one of Iraq's top biological weapons scientists, defence officials said.

Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, among the top 55 most wanted members of Saddam Hussein's fallen regime, was taken into custody yesterday, a Defence Department official said.

US intelligence officials said Ammash, 49, was believed to have played a key role in rebuilding Baghdad's biological weapons capability since the Gulf War in 1991.

On the Pentagon's list of the 55 most wanted, she is number 53 and referred to as the party's Youth and Trade Bureau Chairman.

My most-wanted-Iraqi playing cards, which arrived today courtesy of Firebox in the UK, include Huda as the five of hearts. The pack is getting thin.

THE SYDNEY Morning Herald's readers urge that George W. Bush be assassinated, wish that he'd choked, believe him to be the equal of Idi Amin, and condemn his connection to "key Jewish power-brokers" :

"There's only one solution to preventing him taking the civilised world down his own private S-bend - take him out immediately; one bullet through the forehead at point blank, and all of a sudden the gene pool will be that little bit cleaner."

"really wish he'd choked on that pretzal... "

"George Bush is the most arrogant, despicable, horrible excuse for a human being I can possibly imagine. He is a dishonest, sly, disgustingly rich and priveleged lowlife. If this man had been born into any middle or lower-income family in the US, he'd now be living in some trailer park, beating his wife, kids and dog. He is filth, and I know this because I've watched his antics pretty closely for the past several years. I am a US ex-pat who also cringes at the very thought that people might associate me with GW Bush in any way, shape or form. I wish he'd eat another pretzel because I think the world would be a much better place without him."

Note the assumption that poor people beat up their wives. Why are lefties such snobs? The hate continues:

"Without doubt he represents a dangerous development for the wider world, and is too far in debt with corporate America financing his ascent. Directed by key Jewish power-brokers the US support for Israel's illegal actions in the middle east is only one example of dozens of double-standards it operates around the world."

"Bush is currently the greatest treat to world peace, he is a second IDI Amin, he over estimates his own self worth, I put him up with all the othe dictators of the world. The IQ of America can move from 1 to 2 if he is put in exile. I continue to deplore anything American, as they are one of the most backward countries in the world."

THE WOGBLOGGER'S links aren't working, which is just as well, because there is too much goodness happening there for individual links to be worth linking to. Go read the whole site, but pay special attention to the posts on Jana Wendt's hysterical interview with North Korean "unofficial spokesman" Kim Myong Chol, and the latest British bingo call.

I WAS WRONG. The flag that was draped over the statue of Saddam did not come from the Pentagon. Media Watch last night presented two impressive sources who contradict widespread international reports - and my own repeated and, as it turns out, incorrect claims - that the flag was sourced from the Pentagon on September 11.

But what Media Watch won't admit is that they didn't know they were right when they aired their initial report. It took Media Watch three weeks of research - prompted by this site and various comments at the Media Watch website - to prove their case. Their situation is analogous to someone who assumes OJ Simpson is guilty because of his race, and who is subsequently proved correct by DNA evidence.

To recap:

On April 14, Media Watch described as "incredible" a Daily Telegraph claim that the flag had been under debris at the Pentagon on September 11. Numerous sources, however, indicated that the flag had been at the Pentagon; the only dispute seemed to be whether it had been anywhere near debris.

Media Watch ducked and dived on the issue. Questions asked of Media Watch went unanswered, or were bluntly rebutted with non-specific assertions that "Media Watch's criticism stands". No evidence was offered as to the non-Pentagon origins of the flag until last night's episode.

You won't find this on the Media Watch website, but the e-mail from one of their sources confirming that the flag didn't come from the Pentagon was sent on May 1. Which tends to confirm my original comment that "Marr and his Media Watchers appear to have run with the first opinion they received that supported their prejudiced notion that the Telegraph had fabricated the flag story."

Only after three weeks did they finally locate a source supporting that claim. Still, the bigger issue is the flag story itself, which Media Watch has clearly settled with something of a global scoop.

Me totally wrong. Media Watch completely right.

And now the readers have their say. From John McBeath:

Tonight you copped the put down you so richly deserve.

The artfully named "artful me" writes:

If the latest Media Watch research is correct, and the flag in question was simply purchased as a present from a giftshop at the pentagon (apparently only coincidentally on September 11) and had no other links to that event than any more than any other pen or packet of tic-tacs bought on that day, will you be issuing any sort of acknowledgment or apology to Media Watch?  Or are they not the only ones who are "Shameful and gutless"?

Certainly, it appears that the essence of the Telegraph article, that there was a direct association between the flag draped over the statue and the tragic events of September 11, seem completely unjustified, except perhaps to the chronically pedantic.  It would be like saying a soldier was draping an Autralian flag flown at the 2000 Olympics when they just bought it at the corner duty free while the Olympics was on and waved it at their next door neighbour.

Just wondering what your position will be now after your attacks on Media Watch ?

Evan E. Hughes sends an SMS-style smackdown:

SUCT in, U got 2TALLY RIPT by David MA on M WATCH and that U should CHK UR SRCES Prop R ly NXT time! CUM ON how CUD that FLG EVA have cum from the 5agon?

Need a translation?

Ask David Marr, he seems to know more than you, smarty pants! (Ouch, now THAT has GOT to hurt)

From dfhannah:

tim, i think you are a disgrace - not mediawatch

And this from Stan McKeon:

Hey Tim,

Where's the flag from again?????????????

Lets go to the giftshop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sale of the Century price only $9.00

You goose!

Gareth Parker says it's game, set, and match to Media Watch, while support arrives from Matt DuPree:

You're dead-on about MW running away with their own bias, then checking the facts later. And at least you 'fess up when you're wrong, unlike so many other columnists. You're still all right.

And further from Jeffrey Collins:

In regards to your admission that Media Watch was right about the Pentagon flag, I'm surprised that you didn't point out that a major part of your original criticism still stands. As you pointed out, several news agencies reported the story, but Media Watch singled out the Telegraph because of the Murdoch connection.

Kevin V. Russell inquires about my preferred brand of cigarette:

You stated that the flag came from under the pentagon with any proof and yet you take a poke at Media Watch for saying it did not without any proof? Just what is it you are smoking?

Craig Lawrie isn't swayed by MW's latest offering:

Media Watch is a joke. David Marr is the smarmiest, most patronising person on TV. To think that they would devote all the air-time, research time, and what must be huge expense just to cover their own lack of fact checking in the first place! Why didn't they make the calls weeks ago? Then they weaseled around your argument. The issue was what the Telegraph reported and
MW's initial attack on them - NOT whether the flag came from debris or not.

You have obviously got up their nose for them to come after you this way. David Marr was swinging his chair around and fidgeting about all over the place. On a commercial network he'd get a blast. He was obviously extremely nervous about the confrontation and yet still managed to be patronising, arrogant and insipid all at the same time.

Reader Rick has a tip for MW's next investigation:

You're to be commended for so manfully taking your medicine in that inestimably important story about the provenance of the U.S. flag unfurled by the jarhead in Baghdad. Since this is a tempest in a Barbie&Ken teacup, the fact that the flag carried by that one Marine, at that moment in time, had any thread going back to the Pentagon is merely Gee Whiz/Truth Stranger Than Fiction stuff.

Now, will your triumphant Media Watch conquerors ride any journalists and commentators about any big deal they may have made over the Incredible Shrinking Museum Looting story? I doubt it, too.

There are several comments on the flag story over at the Media Watch guestbook, by the way. Next, a message from Anthony Towns:

The point's evidently been missed by Mediawatch in any event. Their transcript says "... we took the Daily Telegraph to task for its incredible claim about the flag ...'' -- but that really isn't the issue. Lots of things are incredible at face value, the appropiate question for journalists is whether they're true or false. The Telegraph's claim was false by any measure, but as it turned out not particularly unbelievable at all; the surprising and unlikely fact was the relationship of the flag to the attack on the Pentagon -- but in fact that relationship did exist.

It's hard to call the Tele's error particularly misleading, but there's an interesting point to discuss that's well within Mediawatch's charter: the tendency to take significant, metaphor laden events, and exaggerate them into hyperbole, based on wishful thinking and a lack of effort put into fact checking. Hell, this story has it in spades: from the Tele's hyperbole and random blogs' exaggeration of the flag's origins, to Al Jazeera and others taking the brief showing of the US flag as a symbol of forthcoming American dominance, to, at a stretch, Mediawatch considering a single error of fact warrant to dismiss the entire story out of hand. The story alone is interesting and moving, there's no need to embellish it or pretend that it's more than it is. It's a pity that the story Mediawatch presented was just an excuse for its trademark sneering contempt.

Tim Train sends congratulations:

It appears that Media Watch was right, and you were wrong, though you did provide at least three credible sources in your April 16 post. That said, the spectacle of David Marr gloating over his victory is unpleasant, to say the least - you would have thought that they would have been gracious enough to acknowledge the sources you provided.

In this context, your post today (May 6th) was everything that it should have been - polite and gracious in defeat. Congratulations.

As a closing note, I might say that if it hadn't been for your incisive commentary, Media Watch would not have pursued the debate this far. Again, congratulations for your good journalism and your graciousness in defeat.

And finally, I think, from Bob Bunnett:

You are dead right that MW are a disgrace and this whole episode only shows that more completely than ever. Sure, they have uncovered what (at this stage) appears could be the true facts of the matter, but only after they were forced to do their research. It is clear that they have tried throughout to cover their initial sloppy performance - your criticism remains perfectly valid in that regard.

Jeffrey Collins is also correct in identifying the unfair singling out of the Telegraph as an issue that they have tried to sidestep. It seems pretty clear that their sloppy initial conclusions were influenced by their hatred of all things Murdoch rather than any kind of genuine research.

Having said that, your readiness to acknowledge the greater importance of the truth of the flag story itself is an example of the kind of journalistic values these pricks are supposed to be upholding. The contrast with David Marr's performance on Media Watch could not be starker. I don't think I have ever seen such wriggling smugness in a public place, let alone on national television! It was a truly sick-making spectacle, made all the worst by its fundamental dishonesty in relation to MW's own bias, inadequate research and subsequent attempts to cover their tracks.

Still more, from Mark Joyce:

What in the world is Media Watch crowing about? Didn't they concede that the flag came from the Pentagon, just not from out of the rubble? Or did I misunderstand their whole point. Either they were wrong then or they are wrong now, too. They can't have it both ways.

Good on you for fessing up and taking your licks, although I agree with you that your central bitch with Media Watch is not diminished. The tinny left is desperate for a win and you are it. For those of us who trust your website, however, your coming clean only demonstrates your trustworthiness.

If only Media Watch could learn what you already know: anybody can make a mistake -- it's what you do after that reveals you character.

Fight 'er fair.


SOME SORT of racist vibe is troubling Laurence Fishburne:

Matrix star Laurence Fishburne, who has visited Australia twice to make films, said he felt racism while in the country, describing the "vibe" as similar to the US in the 1950s.

Fishburne was born in 1961.


In the television age, it is vital for party leaders to interest people.

The same is true of newspaper columnists.

ISN'T cementing a car to a forest road kind of eco-unfriendly?

Megan Clinton, of The Wilderness Society, today said 50 activists had closed the road near Thomson Dam, north of Moe.

One was locked to a car, which had been cemented onto the road, she said.

THE AGE'S Terry Lane makes an unsurprising admission:

Do you ever have the feeling that perhaps you have arrived on an alien planet where you don't fully comprehend everything that is going on? Or that you are out of touch with the times?

LIZ HURLEY was about to have sex in front of other aircraft passengers. The passengers complained about it:

"First class passengers paying that sort of money don't really want to watch couples getting quite so close."

Maybe this is what Terry Lane was talking about. You people are insane. Liz Hurley!

FROM Martin Woollacott's exciting world of inversion, this report:

The United States today is discovering what other great powers have found before it: military victories can have results opposite to those intended. The world has not been made more pliant and respectful by a demonstration of American might, but is, on the contrary, more recalcitrant, sulky, and difficult than it was before the Iraq war.

ALAN RAMSEY'S crazy columns have broken the SMH's site, which is now presenting his unmoored thoughts twice.

ACCORDING to observers, Comical Ali remained in brilliant denial right till the very end:

"I saw American tanks on Haifa Street across the river and I asked him about it. He said, 'No, no, no, maybe there are two or three tanks, but they will go.' "

On the evening of April 9, a courier arrived with a videotape of what was supposedly Saddam's last recorded speech and an official handwritten note that ordered it to be broadcast continuously, and Sahhaf's spirits lifted visibly, said Mr Hassan.

"He said to me, 'As I told you, this is Saddam, this is the government, everything is normal.' But there was gunfire in the background," the studio manager said.

Apparently Mo digs the Egyptian chicks:

The former Iraqi general, who declined to be named, said Sahhaf wanted to get to Egypt as he had "a lot of money stashed there in a bank and loves those Egyptian women very, very much".

JAMES VALENTINE, one of Australia's least funny citizens, has sold a book of his, er, jokes for $500,000.

That means Jim Treacher must be worth about $25,000,000. Go give him some money now, and maybe he'll talk to you when he's rich.

THE BUNYIP writes a fine tribute to Michael Kelly.

TEX has returned from the US!

JEFF JARVIS is right. The Left are snobs.