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Showing posts from December, 2005

Kerry is dead. Toyota for sale.

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Packer is dead. Again. Though this time it seems more perminent. I guess it's a wake up call to all of us that no matter how wealthy, how well connected or how many servents you have who are willing to donate their vital organs, your life can end prematurely.

It's inevitable that in the first few days after his death, Packer will be deified and viewed through the rose-coloured glasses which seem to be standard issue in TV, radio and newspaper news rooms. A little down the track, though, hopefully a more truthful and sober reflection on Packer will be aired. From various accounts of those who worked for him, Packer was a thuggish boss who used his power and wealth to intimidate his staff. Whilst he had great business acumen, he seemed to lack the personal skills that make for an admired boss.

Paul Barry quite literally wrote the book on Kerry Packer (The Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer), and this is one I am yet to read. One I have read, though, is Barry's book on the …

Sure beats Adelaide

I've been reading two very interesting travellogues of late, and they're both worth having a glance at.

Chris Berg is in Hong Kong, and soon Beijing, with an NGO at the World Trade Organisation conference:

There were an enormous amount of cops, armed with big roman-style shields, little hoplite-style shields, and big computer-game-style shotguns. And, apparently, pepper spray. But none of it mattered, because, apart from the intimidatory tactics by the Hong Kong police, nothing happened. The police drew a line just off the beach, about 1km from the convention centre itself, and the protest was unable to pass that line. While the media I have seen has reported a few skirmishes, it has massively overplayed the extent of the violence. Nothing happened.

DMargster (that's Daniel to you and me) is living it up in crazy, crazy Hanoi:

It's also incredibly noisy because of drivers' monotonous use of their horn. From about 6am to 9pm you cannot hear much of anything for the bla…

Beattie on media and the Canberra option

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Is Peter Beattie Canberra-bound? Whilst many have been watching Bob Carr with interest to see if he'll "Do a Carmen", one who has slipped under the radar has been the Queensland Premier. The whisper started on Crikey yesterday, where Christian Kerr published a one line suggestion under the heading 'Wild Rumour Department':

Is the federal Labor team really looking around for a safe seat for Queensland Premier Peter Beattie? Isn't it a bit late?

Speaking at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday, the rumour was put to Beattie and the Premier given a chance to respond. Confirm?? Deny?? "I read it with quite considerable interest," the Premier said sheepishly. Even if there's no truth to the rumour, it's clear that Beattie is happy to have people whispering about a possible Federal future. After seven-and-a-half-years as Premier and age on his side, the Canberra option must surely be a tempting one.

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Beattie was delivering the A.…

Scott Ritter: On the trail of WMDs

My Scott Ritter interview has made it online over at Vibewire:

On the trail of WMDs

Contributed by Ari Sharp
14 Dec 05
By the time their work ended, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq were being squeezed on one side by the CIA, and on the other by the Iraqi secret security service. Scott Ritter was in the midst of the action and recently spoke to Ari Sharp.

The story of recent Iraqi history is straightforward.

In 1991, in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the rest of the world, acting through the United Nations, imposed rigorous weapons disclosure and inspection requirements on the demoralised Middle Eastern dictatorship. In 1998, the inspectors were kicked out, sparking the skirmish known as Operation Desert Fox.

In the years that followed, the lack of inspectors lead to the presumption that Iraq was rebuilding its weapons stockpile, and by 2003 the fear was so great that a coalition of nations took action to ensure once and for all that Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction.…

"We shall fight them on the beaches..."

A bunch of pissed idiots in Cronulla is probably not what Winnie had in mind.

Take a step back from the Cronulla race riots of the past 48 hours, and you'll realise they're not an isolated incident. There are plenty of similarities with the Macquarie Fields riots earlier this year. And with Redfern last year. And even with the French riots in November. All of them occur in urban areas. All of them are dominated by angry young men, often under the influence of alcohol. Most importantly, all of them involve the defence of one's own turf.

The genesis of the Cronulla riots was the mistaken idea that the beach somehow belongs to one social group or another. Even though it is notionally public space, the way it had been used was as the exclusive plaything of the locals. This was our beach, and one whose territory we need to defend, or so went the logic of the traditional beachdwellers. To the locals, the presence of visitors from other suburbs - and ethnic visitors at tha…

Less talk, more action

In recent weeks I have found myself the initiator of two different consumer complaints. At first they seemed completely separate and unrelated, although the more I think them through, the more I see a common theme. In brief, here's how I've been screwed over:

During November I started recieving spam text messages on my mobile phone from 199xxxx. Paraphrasing, they read "XYZ (female, aged 21) wants to chat with you now. SMS 'chat' to chat, or 'stop' to stop. Visit sms.ac/xyz." As with all spam I recieve, I refused to take the bait and respond. I had the added fear that I would be charged some absurd amount for sending a text message to the number, even if it was 'stop'. At the end of a fortnight of these lame messges, I finally SMS'ed 'stop' and sure enough, they did. A few days later my mobile phone bill arrived, and it was approximately $15 higher than usual. Sure enough, I'd been charged 50c per unit for each of the…

It's William Hag... I mean David Cameron!

From the newly elected leader of the British Conservatives, David Cameron:

I said when I launched the campaign that we need to change in order to win. Now that I have won we will change. We will change the way we look. Nine out of ten Conservative MPs are white men. We need to change the scandalous under-representation of women in the Conservative party and we will do that. We need to change the way we feel. No more; grumbling about modern Britain. I live in a world as it is not how it was. Our best days lie ahead. We need to change the way we think.

Hmmm, so now we'll end up with a Tory party that's more progressive than Labour, and a Labour Party that's becoming more conservative than the Tories. Surely there's not enough room for everyone in the middle of the road. Someone might get run over. Tony?? David??
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And just a quicky - the Conservatives have launched a new slogan: Ideas that will change our country. Obviously the irony-o-meter was on the blink that da…

It's all an illusion

Did anyone catch this one on SBS tonight?

8:30pm CUTTING EDGE SPECIAL - THE POWER OF NIGHTMARES - Baby It's Cold Outside
Should we be worried about the threat from organised terrorism or is it simply a phantom menace being used to stop society from falling apart? This three-part documentary series explores how the idea that we are threatened by a hidden and organised terrorist network is an illusion.

Of course, it's all an illusion. That terrorist business was just a bad dream. What a relief. It must give great satisfaction to the post-modern geniuses who think this stuff up to know that you can serve up any old crap and it will get an airing. We must go and tell the victims of Netanya and Bali and London and Madrid that it was all an illusion. They'd be so relieved. If they weren't dead.