Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Things are quiet newswise in Oz.

This was the lead story on the Google news site today for Australia. (I kid you not). Linking to the ABC article

I've added a little bit of emphasis on the text for even extra dramatic effect. That's a big ask with blogger WYSIWYG, you should see the code it generates...... anyway.....Where was I?..... Oh yes......... BACK TO TODAY'S STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(the headline screams............)

Giant rhubarb weed infests 3 states

Three southern states are on alert for a giant invasive rhubarb with 20 metre long roots which can rip up concrete.

Japanese knotweed was brought over to Australia 100 years ago as an ornamental garden plant but has infested Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

The weed is hard to eradicate as herbicides take years to work and its roots are difficult to dig up.

John Weiss from the Co-operative Research Centre for Australian Weed Management says Japanese knotweed is also a big problem in the United States, New Zealand and Europe.

"In Europe they are finding they can grow... underneath roads and reach up to the other side of the road or grow through cracks in concrete, or through mortar into houses," he said.

"There are stories about them growing up drain pipes and coming out the roofs of people's houses - it is a phenomenal weed."

That ends the news from the Australian desk.

Dot.Dot.Dot UPDATE!!!!! those sly devils at Network9/MSN are on to this breaking story.

Weed authorities warn of knotweed peril
16:53 AEST Wed Apr 27 2005

It's been described as the botanical equivalent of the cane toad, a noxious plant so destructive it's able to break concrete, block drains, invade homes and smash up roads.

This is Japanese knotweed, which like many plant pests once adorned Australian gardens.

It jumped the fence early last century and has since been stealthily taking up residence in Tasmania, Victoria and NSW.

"It's a case where community vigilance can potentially make the difference between stopping the invasion in its tracks - and losing huge tracts of our native bushland," he said.

So you guys in the US can keep an eye out for the terr'rists and I'll keep up the vigilance on this infernal weed.

My bags of tricks.

I've a Bookmarks folder which is titled "Tricks" some of these you may find useful. Other tricks are welcomed!

Anonymouse: Anonymous browsing using a "proxy" server which is sort of like a relay.

Babelfish: Online translation. Alas Latin is not included!

: Allows you to read those newspapers that ask you to subscribe and offer all sorts of spam opportunities.

Bandwidth Test: Tests your connection speed. Usually proves your ISP to be a liar.

Guardster: Another anonymous surfing site.

Make a shorter link: Good for shortening big long links when you subscribe to usenet, mailing lists and other forums. Long links tend to get cut and unusable when e-mailing.

Privacy analysis: I occasionally use this to remind myself of what a firewall doesn't do.

Tiny URL: Same as the make-a-shorter link above.

Shields Up:Firewall and port scanning tester.

Traceroute: Allows you to do backward seaches on DNS entries etc.

Whois: Whois search that seems to be the quickest, easiest and most reliable. No pop-ups, registration and other annoyances.

XE Com: Currency converter. Useful in the shrinking global village

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Those poor bastards.

Tomorrow is Anzac Day downunder. This is the national Rememberance Day and is held on the day when Australians as a newly federated nation collectively went to the middle east to fight some else's war. This occurred at Gallipoli, Turkey April 25th 1915...... they lost and lost badly to the Turks under the direction of a young Winston Churchill amongst others. Not much has changed in ninety years as we "support" the USA in it's objectives in Iraq.

I'm going to go to dawn service at 6am to remember all those poor bastards killed under the hypnotic causes of fascism, nationalism, fundamentalism, rationalism, imperialism and every other form of -ism that some leaders decide to push on their mob, which has resulted in that mob deciding it would be a good idea to kill another mob and take some land and/or commodities depending on what -ism they are standing for.

My grandfather's brother will be rembered as one such victim in the Pacific as a teenage sailor, another great uncle survived the concentration camps in Hungary will be remembered after he drank himself to death wracked with guilt after surviving.

Two Assyrian sisters who worked in a Hotel in Bagdhad to pay for their father's heart surgery will be remembered too. They were shot and their corpses set on fire for "consorting with the enemy" in Iraq. There's no story in the media but I know it happened.

That kid's family will be remembered. That wedding will be remembered. That ethnic cleansing will be remebered. That camp will be remembered. That prison will be remembered. I'll remember this guy. who Yahoo seem to have forgotten.

I will remember.

Just 16 years after the end of WW2 Aussie playwright, Alan Seymour wrote "The One Day of the Year" which looks at Anzac Day from the perspective from a veteran and his son. It was w-a-y out of the box and controversial in 1960 and yet still pertinent today. Here's the son's (Hughie) monologue. Wacka is Hughie's father from memory who went to Gallipoli.


Do you know what you're celebrating today ? Do you? Do you even know what it all meant? Have you ever bothered to dig a bit, find out what really happened back there, what this day meant?

Oh, Wacka what would he know about it?

What does the man who was there ever know about anything? All he knows is what he saw, one man's view from a trench. It's the people who come after, who can study it all, see the whole thing for what it was.

Wacka was an ordinary soldier who did what he was told. He and his mates became a legend, all right, they've had to live up to it. Every year on the great day they've had to do the right thing, make the right speeches, talk of the dead they left there. But did any of them ever sit down and look back at that damn stupid climb up those rocks to see what it meant ?

How do I know ? Didn't you shove it down my throat ? It's here. Encyclopaedia for Australian Kids. You gave it to me yourself. Used to make me read the Anzac chapter every year. Well, I read it. Enough times to start seeing through it. Do you know what that Gallipoli campaign meant? Bugger all.

A face-saving device. An expensive shambles. It was the biggest fiasco of the war. The British were in desperate straits. Russia was demanding that the Dardanelles be forced by the British Navy and Constantinople taken. The Navy could not do it alone and wanted Army support. Kitchener said the British Army had no men available. So what did they do? The Admiralty insisted it be done no matter what the risk. Brittain's Russian ally was expecting it. There was one solution. Australia and New Zealand's troops had just got to Cairo for their initial training. Untrained men, untried. Perhaps they could be used.

Perhaps. Perhaps they could be pushed in there, into a place everybody knew was impossible to take from the sea, to make the big gesture necessary to save the face of the British. The British, Dad, the bloody Poms. THEY pushed those men up those cliffs, that April morning, knowing, KNOWING, it was suicide.

You know what it was like. Show them the maps. Show them the photos. A child of six could tell you men with guns on top of those cliffs could wipe out anyone trying to come up from below. And there were guns on top, weren't there, Wacka, weren't there ?

Oh yes, great credit to them if you happen to see any credit in men wasting their lives.

And as long as men like you are fools enough to accept that, to say that, there'll always be wars.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Some good political cartoons.

From Clay Bennett, cartoonist at the Christian Science Monitor.


Life out of balance

Some of the more obscure and hard to get books and albums are only available from Europe or the USA. And if they are available downunder they can be up to three times the cost overseas, I order them from over over the ocean. No import duty is a bonus.

So this sunny Saturday morning, I checked my snail mailbox and there was a copy of Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass which I ordered last week, as well as a book I ordered back in February which had taken a trip by the slow boat across the Pacific.

I ordered Koyaanisqatsi as the guys at Stereophilerecommended it as part of their essential 40 albums of the past 40 years. They recommended the newer re-recorded version, the one I ordered is from the soundtrack.... most reviews seem to agree the older recording sounds "warmer" and less sterile. I saw the movie last year, it moved me and loved the music, finally got around to ordering it and it sounds gorgeous.

I've got some of the 40 albums. Sleepybombs probably has got the lot (on vinyl!) and Peter (the other) could have some facts of interest about some of the listings and on Glass himself.

Side note on the movie. If you played some Hopi Indians going about their traditional lifestyle (whatever that is) at increased speed, they would probably look "out of balance" too :-)

The movie is now available on DVD after some wrangling with Francis Ford Coppola's studio. Philip glass is doing concerts with a live orchestra and the pictures playing in the background. I missed the Sydney gig.

Raed in the Middle

Raed in the Middle

Here's another interesting blog I came across today. It's from Raed Jarrad (and his family) in Bagdhad. Raed and his family look like a normal middle class family in some pictures. There's some photos of his sitting room which is similar to friends of mine whose families have emigrated from the middle east. A cool hard floor for those unbearably hot summers and some nice furniture. Go to any middle eastern immigrant's place and there's sure to be tiles on the floor throughout the house (bed rooms included) and in some instances up the walls.

The difference between Raed's living room and a normal middle class sitting room is that the place is full of medical supplies.

Raed has been appealing for money to provide medical supplies to victims of the war in Iraq. His accounting seems open and frank. Full records from his last venture are on his blog. It makes a nice change from all those "classified" and "security sensitive information" black holes that the US seems to have. More on SSI later. BTW Canadians seem to have the deepest pockets.

The cynic in me has a small doubt that Raed may be profiting from this, the optimist hopes his blog is 100% honorable. Honorable people these days are difficult to come across. I'll let you decide.

Raed is also doing an "at the coalface" survey on casualties in Iraq

Another interesting thing is that he reports the death of Marla Ruzicka. Ruzicka was doing a casualty count too and got killed in the process. Raed actually knew her. Her website at CIVIC was assembling the cost of the war in people in Iraq. For a alternative rather horrid opinion, view on her activities see this article from a "patriotic American" (TM).

An early report to Raed states:

Sometime between 3-6pm Baghdad time Marla died in a car crash. My current information is poor, but the accident may have happened on the Baghdad Airport road as she travelled to visit an Iraqi kid injured by a bomb, part of her daily work of identifying and supporting innocent victims of this conflict.

A US military convoy was involved in the event, but it is not clear at this stage in what way precisely.

Later reports around the web attribute Marla's death to "suicide bomber" in a car. I actually asked an Iraqi who managed to get out and become an Australian citizen about these suicide bombers and it appears it never happened during the Iraq/Iran war. It seems to have occurred with the involvement of US/Israel, so do your own guesswork on that one.

There's also some interesting commentaries as the various factions try to piece together a constitution, some inconsistencies about the "50 bodies found in the river" and some photos of some really big protests trying to get the USA out.

Seems as if the Iraquis are understandably sick and tired of this freedom and democracy.

Going to work. Thursday morning Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Richard Neville- Another Aussie's opinion.

Richard Neville has just put this up on his website this morning. I've included the whole article. It's available from his website

I know it's not good blogging etiquette to post whole articles but I thought this was rather good.



A recent poll reveals 32 per cent of Australians are “very worried” about US foreign policy. Here’s why:

1)Nuclear Revivalism. By expanding its stockpile of nuclear weapons and the ways it can deliver warheads, the US is re-charging the arms race. Having unexpectedly refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1999, the US is poised to resume nuclear testing. In 2002, George Bush dumped the long standing Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia and revived the Reagan era nuclear program of national missile defence, also known as “star wars”.

2)Nuclear Treaty Violations. The 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty provides that states without nuclear weapons must not acquire them and those that do must progressively reduce stocks. The US has flouted this provision, while trying to stop other nations from acquiring their own weapons. In addition, it is cranking out a new generation of nuclear warheads.

3)Nuclear Brinkmanship.
In 1994, the US reached an agreement with North Korea (the Framework Arrangements) to provide parts and technical help for the country’s nuclear power plants, which it failed to honour. This breach – plus the nomination of North Korea as an agent of evil - has propelled Pyongyang into strategy of nuclear brinkmanship. “We will continue to expand our atomic forces”, it announced in April, for as long as the US “tries to isolate and suffocate” Korea.

Meanwhile, the Asian doomsday clock keeps ticking. India, Pakistan and China possess the bomb, Iran is accused of seeking one of its own, and Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are presumed to share the same intentions. On top of this, the Pentagon’s list of nations targeted for possible nuclear attack has lately been revised. It now includes five non nuclear weapon states. (See Fact or Fission by Richard Bronoiwski, 2003)

4)The militarisation of outer space, the “fourth dimension of warfare”.
According to documents on its websites, US Air Force Space Command is developing nuclear warheads and versatile spacecraft that can strike any target on earth within minutes. The aim is to create an instantaneous global strike force, a range of exotic new weapons and achieve “full spectrum combat dominance” in space. This includes nuclear capability. The commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSC), Gen. Lance W. Lord, is refreshingly frank: “We must protect and defend our interests in space,” he told the 21st National Space Symposium in September, sponsored by weapons giants Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, “It’s critical to our security. Our nation depends on it”. Tactics could include blowing up enemy satellites in the blackness beyond the atmosphere. “Our message is clear. You can’t go to war and win without space.” General Lord said America has completed the transition from a nation interested in space to a nation with national interests in space.

In its Strategic Master Plan, published in October 2003, AFSC sets out its vision for the next 25 years: “We will organize, train and equip space and missile forces to provide the President with a range of options to deter and defeat aggression or any form of coercion against the US. Our charter is to rapidly obtain and maintain space superiority and the nuclear, and conventional strike capabilities that produce desired warfighting effects.”

However, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, signed by the US, specifies that harmful contamination of space and celestial bodies shall be avoided and “states shall not place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in orbit or on celestial bodies or station them in outer space in any other manner”. By 2011, according to its own documents, AFSC intends to field “technologies that provide revolutionary capabilities in communications, propulsion, conventional and nuclear strike.” The hatching of this plan makes the United States the first nation to break the 40 year global taboo against arming the heavens.

(Note: the quotes from the AFSC Master Plan are taken from the .pdf file still on its site in Feb 04, but since toned down. For a copy of the unrevised version, email me.

5)Disregarding international laws, treaties and conventions, including those it has ratified

A senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, Ivo Dalder, puts it in a nutshell: “America will use international institutions and abide by international laws, when they advance its great mission. But it will abandon institutions and ignore international laws when they constrain its freedom to act”. (SMH April 9/05). Isn’t this the modus operandi of a professional criminal? The US is currently in flagrant breach of the Geneva Conventions and key articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (especially Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture or to cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment). In war zones, the US ignores treaties relating to the use of weapons, the protection of civilians, the rights of children and the obligation of occupying forces to restore infrastructure and maintain security. The US Military’s systemic disregard for treaties, laws and conventions, include:

- The kidnapping of ‘suspects’ in foreign lands and removing them without due process to secret jails.

- Holding such people in solitary isolation indefinitely and failing to disclose their identities to the International Red Cross. The floating population of "ghost detainees", according to US and UK military officials, now exceeds 10,000.

- The outsourcing of torture.

- The insourcing of torture. (Even the Pentagon has admitted to over 100 deaths of those held in its own custody).

- The jailing of women & children, sometimes with the aim of “flushing out” a fugitive family member.

- The arrest and/or elimination of journalists, doctors, ambulance drivers and other witnesses of US operations.

In the early stages of the Iraqi invasion, President Bush was asked for his reaction to Iraqi TV footage of American POW’s, and he said he expected them to be “treated humanely … just like we’re treating the prisoners that we have captured humanely”. Bush promised that those who mistreat prisoners “will be treated as war criminals”. Instead, his senior officials who ordered, justified and condoned the torture of prisoners - 90 per cent of whom were innocent, according to the International Red Cross – have been rewarded with his “full support” and promotions.

6) Institutionalised cruelty.
The brutality of today’s US military is compounded by its culture of implausible denial. On April 15/04, as the Abu Ghraib revelations were starting to surface, the then US Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, told a Washington press conference: “We are the most humane military in the world. We punish our people when they exceed bounds, and we do it transparently. We regret every single civilian life which is lost”

This is odd, seeing there had been numerous confirmed reports of families slaughtered at check points, bombed at outdoor markets and exterminated at wedding parties (in both Iraq and Afghanistan). Even today, three years after the US invasion, Iraqi children are dying limbless in hospitals without aspirin. Civilians are still being beaten and shot, sometimes while at prayer. Documents recently obtained – not by the media - but by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), include detailed accounts of brutal beatings, "exercise until exhaustion," and sworn statements that soldiers were told to "beat the f**k out of" Iraqis. According to the ACLU, “torture and abuse of detainees in Iraq has been routine and such treatment was considered an acceptable practice by U.S. forces”. Teenagers were beaten until their jaws broke, often while blindfolded, zipcuffed or sandbagged. An unknown number of prisoners died and were buried without autopsies. Anal probes were routine. It was a military version of the Hellfire Club. Iraqi scientists were tortured to reveal the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction, the absence of which was already known to those who authorised the torture.

A secret network of US jails and military bases encircles the world, to which hordes of hooded captives are ferried back and forth night and day, rarely knowing where they are or what they’ve done. The hub of this global gulag, according to The Guardian (19/ March/05) is Afghanistan, “one huge jail”, where the country’s the human rights commission has logged over 800 allegations of serious abuses committed against detainees by US troops. The Guardian’s lengthy report makes grim reading. Deaths during interrogation, improvised tortures, such as naked prisoners chained to stone floors in icy conditions, unmarked graves, and the enforcement of homosexual intercourse among the inmates by female guards. According to Michael Posner, director of the US legal watchdog, Human Rights First ,"The detention system in Afghanistan exists entirely outside international norms, but it is only part of a far larger and more sinister jail network that we are only now beginning to understand,"

7)A serial war criminal. All cultures are shaped by their past, few more so than the US military. In the Second World War, three months after the defeat of the German army in May 1945, Europe was at peace and Japan was on the verge of surrender. At this time, on August 6, US President Harry Truman announced that an “American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base”, though he was well aware the target was a city of 400,000 inhabitants. Despite Truman’s pledge that the US wanted to “avoid, as much as possible, the killing of civilians”, the world’s first Atomic bomb was detonated without warning 600 meters above the Shima hospital in the center of the city during morning rush hour. Between a quarter and a half of its people were instantly incinerated, and over a thousand died slow agonising deaths. However, General Grove assured Congress that nuclear radiation caused “no undue suffering – in fact, they say it is a very pleasant way to die”. (On the eve of the Baghdad invasion George W Bush assured the world that Iraqi civilians would be spared “in every way we can”). Three days after bombing Hiroshima, the US dropped a nuclear bomb over the Roman Catholic cathedral in Nagasaki, with incredible effect, but for no apparent reason. The official July 1946 report on the Pacific air war by the US Strategic Bombing Survey concluded: “Japan would have surrendered even if Atomic bombs had not been dropped”.

The day before obliterating Nagasaki, the allies signed the London Agreement, which made crimes against humanity punishable in an international court. Awkwardly, the fourth Hague Convention of 1907, had banned the bombardment of civilians. However, the American war crimes prosecutor, Telford Taylor, decided that since air bombardment had become a “recognised part of modern warfare”, such acts had become “customary law”. As historian Sven Linqvist points out: rather than ruling that the allies – “especially the allies” – had committed this kind of war crime, “the American prosecutor declared the law had been rendered invalid by the actions of the allies”. (See A History of Bombing by Sven Lindqvist, Granta Books, London, 2001)

In 1963 President Eisenhower, the Allied commander in Europe during World War II, recalled how he had opposed dropping the atomic bomb on Japan. He told the Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, that he was against it on two counts. “First, the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn't necessary to hit them with that awful thing. Second, I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.” His gut reaction was right. The chain reaction unleashed by the splitting of the atom, has been replicated on earth by the chain reaction of nations conspiring to acquire bomb. Should a nuclear bomb ever strike another city, the responsibility will be rightly sourced to those who chose to incinerate Hiroshima.

Aerial bombardment of civilians is still standard US practice, often involving the use of weapons outlawed by the 1977 Geneva Protocols. The US employed chemical weapons in Korea, napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, depleted uranium in the first Gulf war, cluster bombs in Kabul, vacuum bombs in Tora Bora, phosphorous bombs in Falluja and most of the above various parts of the Iraq and Afghanistan. On the way are nuclear tipped bunker busters. Taken all for all, despite the best intentions of its citizens, the US Government has committed more acts of airborne terror than all the other nations of earth put together.

8)The infliction of childhood deformities.
The US Military continues to use depleted uranium (DU), both to armour its tanks and strengthen its shells, despite its well documented medical consequences. The soaring cancer, leukaemia and malignancy rates that followed the first Gulf War have been linked to the use of DU, and the weapon’s trail of radioactive dust can enter the food chain through the soil and the water table. Exposure to DU can cause kidney damage, cancers of lung and bone, neurocognitve disorders, chromosone damage and birth defects. (See The New Nuclear Danger, Helen Caldacot, 2002). During the second siege of Falluja, DU shells were used to blast through the dwellings of civilians.

Neither mounting statistics of deformities, nor heartrending documentary images of disfigured Iraqi babies, has altered Pentagon policy, despite the risks to its own troops. The department of defence admitted in 1998 that its own investigation into the “potential health hazards of uranium point to serious deficiencies of what our troops understand about the health effect DU posed on the battlefield ”. A UN subcommission on human rights has condemned uranium munitions as weapons of indiscriminate destruction. What does this say about the morality of a military which uses such weapons, knowing they are capable of deforming the future unborn?

9) The disinformation industry with a global reach.
This all started years ago as an acceptable, almost charming, culture of exaggeration in advertising, tabloid journalism, PR, the movies, etc, and has since blossomed into a full blown mindscape of institutional distortion. So now the norm of civilised life in the 21st Century is to navigate spin, lies, illusions, propaganda, “non core promises” and “plausible denials”. Soon after the twin towers collapsed, another sound could be heard across the US; the mass media barons closing their minds. A typical outcome is the recent poll showing 57 per cent of Americans still think Iraq had weapons of mass destruction before the start of the war, while six in 10 say they still believe Iraq provided direct support to al-Qaida.

“Americans believe these lies not because they are stupid”, notes Amy Goodman, host of New York’s independent TV news show "Democracy Now, “but because they are good media consumers. Our media have become an echo chamber for those in power”. Instead of challenging the fraudulent claims of the Bush administration, the US media have become a megaphone for government propaganda, a cheer leader in the Terror Wars, a sanitising filter of everyday horrors. Six huge corporations control all the major media outlets. As Goodman points out, the lack of diversity in ownership helps explain the lack of diversity in the news.

The difference between the April 1937 bombing of Guernica and the 2004 razing of Falluja, is that the latter was more bloody minded, lasted much longer and has not yet produced a Picasso to capture the world’s conscience. The Falluja attack began with US forces storming the General Hospital, menacing doctors, dragging away patients, putting snipers on the roof and blocking attempts to help the city’s wounded - all in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions. And where was the media? In bed with the marines, which is why they’re referred to on the web as “presstitutes”.

Of the enormous numbers of women and children killed in Iraq since the invasion, the media have taken it upon themselves to self censor the images of human wreckage. Night after night our TV screens are filled with images of actors getting sliced and diced, but the false God of patriotism blocks the truth of what the world’s most expensive weapons are doing to the people we claim to be liberating.

10) Eating the planet.
America continues to act in its own self interest, regardless of the interest of the world as a whole. While this may have been okay 50 years ago, it is now the ethical equivalent of piracy. How can a country so innovative in its use of technology, become so stuck in the Darwinian swamp, when it comes lightening its earthly footprint? A landmark study backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries, has recently warned that almost two-thirds of the natural systems that support life are “seriously degraded”. The consequence, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report, are imminent abrupt changes that will harm humans, including the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of “dead zones” along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate.

Like it or not, global survival depends on a mainstream mind-shift. While this is understood by many US citizens, the White House is still groping in the dark, dreaming of endless oil, space wars, and the Return of Christ.

It is reminiscent of the era when the Vatican burnt alive those who maintained the Earth was not the center of the universe. How long will it take our leaders to realise the ground has again shifted, that nature has no political borders, that fossil fuels are finite, the weather is getting wilder, the consumer society is getting ridiculous, and even the rich are depressed. Today’s mindshift is both philosophical and practical, as we move away from a system based on extraction to one of restoration; from a lifestyle of waste to one of sustainability. This is the dawning of eco literacy; the emerging of a whole earth awareness that will jolt nations to see themselves as social units in a global family. A time when the national interest can no longer subvert the wider interest of global renewal.

In such matters, everyday citizens are far ahead of those who govern in their name. After the Boxing Day tsunamis, when both Canberra and the White House made offers of financial help publicly condemned as “stingy”, it was citizens who first emptied their wallets, shaming the politicians into upping their offers and preening before the media, to crow about their “generosity”, (which no truly generous person does.) Since the tsunami devastations, it is high schools which have been leading the way, with students and teachers from NSW raising over $1 million to date, in a spontaneous outburst of citizen diplomacy.

Washing its hands of Kyoto was a dumb move for America and Australia, whatever the protocol’s shortcomings. This is a vital mechanism of global co-operation. The American way of life is no longer not negotiable. The solutions are blowing in the wind, rising with the tide, soaring through solar panels. One day, shopping will cease to be the primary source of human fulfilment.


1)The flair and persistence of domestic dissent. Despite its anaemic trickle into the mainstream, free speech is alive and frothing in a myriad of tributaries. On the net, in thoughtful glossies, at concerts, in cafes, in Flash art, at public meetings, at poetry slams, in small town newspapers, even on military blogs, in docos, in ginger-group emails & on alternative radio and TV, such as the above mentioned Democracy Now. Today’s alternative media thrive on foreign news sources, which offer a counterpoint to the head-in-the-sand corporate staples and, perhaps for the first time in decades, reveal the sad standing in which the US Government is widely held. It was the web audiences who first learned, via the surge of links to Der Spiegel, that the first glimpse of the US President on the big screens at the Pope’s funeral, was greeted with an outburst of “deafening” catcalls.

The blogs reap the reward of mainstream mendacity. From the first thud of the war drums, radical bloggers ridiculed the official reasons for invading Iraq and the manipulation of public hysteria. Long before Colin Powell addressed the UN with his bogus charts and anthrax props, such claims had been discredited. During the siege of Falluja, it was the bloggers who linked to the street lined images of child corpses and eye witness accounts of US atrocities, including the influential . In April, Rupert Murdoch confessed he had been wrong about “this thing called the digital revolution”, which didn’t “limp away”, as he hoped. But now comes the scary bit. Murdoch plans to “grasps this huge opportunity”, and expand his reach!

2)The revival of Protest music.
This had completely passed me by, until a tip-off from extreme blogger John Kaminski. Much of it is inspiring, embracing many genres, and every bit as revolutionary as the soundtrack of the years spanning the Civil Rights movement and the counter culture. The daughters of George Bush have reportedly presented their dad with an I-Pod. Here are suggestions for his playlist (all available online, if you know where to look): Falluja, by David Rovics; What Would You Do, Sonic Jihad; Know Your Enemy, Dead Prez; It’s a Rich Man’s War, Steve Earle; To Kill the Child, Roger Waters; We Can’t Make it Here; James McMurtry; Self Evident, Ani Di Franco; Bomb the World, Michael Franti, who sums it all up: “We can bomb the world to pieces, but we can’t bomb it into peace.”

3)The growing legion of truth seekers.
These are the freedom fighters of the information age, the foot soldiers of the NGO’s, the anonymous cyber-mice who ferret out and post “lost” Government documents, as well as the few remaining investigative journalists who put truth telling before flag waving, as well as - yes! – conspiracy theorists, maligned by coincidence theorists and others partial to official sources. While some “alternative” scenarios put forward to account for 9/11 seem delusional, that doesn’t vindicate the version insisted upon by the White House, or its hand picked commission, where George Bush & Dick Cheney were allowed to testify in secret, together and not under oath. The Bush administration received ‘dozens of urgent, credible warnings that the attacks were coming’, including a Presidential Daily Briefing of Aug. 6, 2001, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S" , reporting "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Nothing was done. Even today, it is still not known who really hijacked the planes. For more on this, and numerous other anomalies, you may profit from a sceptical tour of the waterfront with Steven T. Jones in the March 05 San Francisco Bay Guardian.

You might even agree that 9/11’s most bizarre conspiracy theory of all is the one put forward by the White House. Anyway, thank God for free speech, even in its diminished version, which is all that’s left between us and Orwell’s 1984.

According to a recent US poll, almost 50% of New York City residents believe “some U.S. officials knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around 9/11/01 and that they consciously failed to act”, which brings to mind the Reichstag fire. In the event, we may never know who struck the first match, but the whole world will go on feeling the heat for years to come. Thanks to the New Yorker, I have learned the 73rd hexagram of the I-Ching is interpreted such: “Two towers fall. When smoke fills people’s eyes, they can be led anywhere.” Only when the Government and the media are returned to the people, will the smoke will be blown away.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Trailer Queens

Yesterday I went to a small car display down in the outskirts of Sydney at Penrith. It was combined Ford/GM (Holden) day and there were some nice cars.

One of the disappointments for me were some of the cars that were "over restored" and those "trailer queens" brought in by trailer and wheeled off without firing the motor. For example there were some Ford GT's complete with original Dunlop Aquatread tyres that have been out of production for thirty odd years. There were cars that had these tyres and had chrome plating on nut and bolts etc that were never on an the original from-the-factory model. Still with a $80,000 asking price for a early 70's Ford XY GT I can sort of understand.

I'm in the "classic cars should be driven and enjoyed" camp. I own an oldish '74 Benz and have restored it over the years using factory original parts mostly from e-bay and through the car club. Some parts I've had to get from the MB factory parts division and they've supplied the most minute part no problems.

I drive it, it gets dirty, it leaks oil, it gets bugs on the radiator, I don't put it in shows.

There were a couple of reasons I bought and old Benz, one was Daimler Chrysler's recognition and support of those who look after their past pieces of engineering. They have accomplished this by forming the Daimler Chrysler Classic division, which recognises their past.If you want a part for one of their original 1896 buggies they can still supply it. The Daimler Chrysler classic director, Stefan Roehrig takes the attitude that classic cars should be driven, not stored in museums gathering dust. He's also dead against the over restoration bug that I saw yesterday and sees some cars appearing "better" than when they left the factory. I like this attitude.

They put this into practice too. Recently Daimler Chrysler Classic brought a rare 300SLS roadster downunder to take pasrt in a classic rally. A couple of other like minded owners brought some 300SL Gullwings.

Anyway my old girl is getting prepared for a rally In Adelaide in September. I'm driving it 1000 miles just for a 70 kilometer trip, it should be fun.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Dullest Blog?

Carpet Tools

It's not quite chatty enough to be a blog and not quite generic enough to be classed as spam.(although all the links are directed to one site). Complete with a partly beige header and a great piece on some sort of grout removal tool.

Things must move pretty slowly in the carpet tools world, 7 entries in six months.

I'm adding this to my blogroll.... for those times when I need calming down.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Gorilla in the Room

Interesting developments over at The Gorilla in the Room as punters try to get to the bottom of who is bankrolling Jerome Corsi's Iran Freedom Foundation.

EDIT: A most interesting bunfight is emerging. There's black/grey propaganda, intelligence, counter-intelligence, red herrings and other goings on. I actually wonder if Gorilla In the Room could be some sort of honeypot to see who knows what? On one hand it seems well informed and in other it seems a little vague.

BTW: Groundwork for Iran can be found at the July 2004 Council of Foreign Relations report

Authored by Robert M Gates (CIA Director 91-93) and Zbigniew Brzezinski

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Just trying something

This was courtesy of some code I picked up at Mandarin Studios. They encourage you to make mistakes. Took me a couple of tries to get this series correct. Who knows? I might make some more mistakes using their tips to jazz this blog up a bit.

The above is a montage of my old cat who sometimes thinks the desk is more his than mine. So I 'spose it ours. Grainy photos were taken in poor light on my phone camera in night mode. Gives it that sort of warm fuzzy look.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Single Chinese guy takes on the man again.

It's been a hard day's night

I hired a buncha DVD's on Sunday and have been watching one or two as time permits.

One of them was the Beatles "Hard Day's Night", I didn't watch the movie but watched the bonus disc with a ton of interviews and behind the scenes type stuff. I think it went for about two hours. Nothing from Paul, Ringo or George (who was alive at the time). But a stack of recollections from cast and crew who were behind the making of the movie. The bespoke tailor, the hairdresser, George Martin(who is wonderful as ever), various bit actors who only made it to the cutting room floor etc etc.

It was a rush job made on a very tight budget as the general feeling was that the Beatles were a fad that would fade pretty fast. Some recollected working on "something special" others were that busy they didn't really appreciate how big an event it was until it was over. However one could get the sense of the hurricane that was Beatlemania at the time of filming. A couple of actors caught a ride with an individual Beatle and found the experience genuinely scary. So much so, one actress refused a second offer from McCartney and caught the tube instead.

And boy can some of these people who were involved in the film talk! They talk and talk and talk and talk without prompting..... actors especially. I noticed a couple of edits where they were cut down. And it was funny seeing the sound editors almost yelling during the interview, the bespoke tailor with a button undone on his jacket and one actor who was in the swingin' 60's scene describing how there was only 800 people really involved in it who shopped at the "right" shops, went to clubs and had their hair done by the "right" people.

A touching slice of life from a period I wasn't around to remember.

I watched another DVD from Billy Connoly. Very funny and he had a recollection of the biege bland boring 40's and early 50's. When he heard Elvis, 'Well, since my baby left me....." BA BOOM he could remembering thinking "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? I DON"T KNOW WHAT IT IS, BUT I WANT SOME."

Perhaps the tired old noughties need another Elvis of some kind.

Tuesday morning breakfast

Why have birds in cages when they come right to your door? Click the above pic for a better view.

I leave some seeds in the railing from time to time and get some visitors. These are rainbow lorikeets which come in some lovely hues of purple, green, orange, yellow and red. Their song isn't as beautiful as their plumage (they tend to squawk a bit) and they hop around on both feet which is comical to see. I've posted some pics before but this is some different ones on a different day.

They live on seeds and flower nectar, I don't try to leave seeds out too often as they can become reliant and eventually stop looking for food naturally. But a visit from time to time is appreciated by both parties. A kinda win-win situation.

As the Catalytic Convertor says

"I encourage you to visit his blog, The Open Mind, where he will regale you with pictures of parrots and tales of obscure COINTELPRO activities."

Not a bad byline! Anyway, today's one of those days when the COINTELPRO takes a backseat to the cockies.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Project Implicit

How do you view the world in terms of good/bad, young/old, black/white?

Bob Ellis has a spray about Iraq

spray:Aust.colloq An emotional piece of writing. Derived from the practice of delivering a particularly vehement speech where the speaker "sprays" the audience with saliva.

Bob Ellis is a stalwart of the Australian Labor party and therefore I suppose is part of the Australian political machine. He has stood for Oz parliament and written speeches for numerous Labor Party party heavyweights including the last Labor Party Prime Ministerial contender, Mark his bio reveals.

He has had a long and close involvement with politics, covering as a journalist twenty-four campaigns in Australia, the UK and the USA, and writing speeches or slogans for Kim Beazley, Bob Carr, Mike Rann, Jim Bacon, John Faulkner, Cheryl Kernot, Bob Brown and Mark Latham. In 1994 he stood as an Independent against Bronwyn Bishop, who was then thought likely to lead the Liberal Party, and gained with her political diminishment an enduring, if ambivalent, national reputation.

He's mainly freelancing now as well as relying on booksales. Two of his books "Goodbye Babylon" and "Goodbye Jerasulem" had to be pulped due to a various legal reasons.

His website is here . He should Blog!

The below essay is in regards to Iraq. If Latham had won the Prime Ministership in 2004, one wonders if he would have been as passionate in his views? From memory there wasn't much difference in opinion between both parties on Australia's and its support of US foreign policy. With the exception of Gough Whitlam who was booted out with some CIA help in 1975, both sides of politics have enjoyed a cosy relationship with our cross the Pacific brethren.

So that's sort of where Bob comes from. Here is his rather good essay on the situation in Iraq.

For Byron Shire Echo, Feb. 2005

George Bush in his Inauguration address used the word 'freedom' twenty-three times, in his State of the Union Address six times. He used the word 'justice' only four times all up. He used to be bigger on 'justice'. Osama bin Laden would be brought to 'justice'. His earliest war he called 'Operation Infinite Justice'. He said the word with a kind of pleading, penetrating smirk some followers mistook for sincerity. But lately the word has faded from his rhetoric. It's not too hard to work out why.

For if he now said, as he used to, 'We will bring these killers to justice' he might attract attention to the twenty thousand children the US and its allies killed in 2003 and 2004 (according to Johns Hopkins University), and the thirty thousand women they, we, killed. If killing of this order is okay when our side do it, how can we credibly claim to be 'the bringers of justice' anywhere? Fifty thousand women and children plus, we must assume, fifteen thousand civilian males, and ten thousand male conscripts, add up to more than all the Australian dead in all our wars. A slaughter of this size can have no role in bringing 'justice' to anyone. Nor can the lewd humiliations of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

And so the President's language has lately been 'rectified', as Confucius recommended. 'Weapons of mass destruction' have become 'weapons of mass murder'. The 'Axis of Evil' has given way to the 'Arc of Freedom'. 'Pockets of resistance' have become 'A full-blown insurgency' directed by 'evil foreign terrorist masterminds', and so on.

Changing spin like this is nothing new. In Stalin's day mass killing came to be known as 'liquidation'; in Hitler's as 'relocation'; in Richard the Lion Heart's day 'smiting the heathen devils'. In our day a war that has bereaved eight million siblings, parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins is called 'bringing freedom from beyond the stars'.

Keep in mind that eight million figure. It is the same as the number of Iraqis who vote. And eight million voters may soon redefine 'justice' in ways that suit them, not Bush or Allawi or Texaco. They may want compensation for their smashed-up houses. They may want compensation for their abolished jobs. They may want back pay, and pensions, and their 'just entitlements'. They may want their oil back.

They may want as well to charge Americans with torture in the International Criminal Court. They may want to charge with murder soldiers who shot dead whole families at checkpoints, including women and children. They may want to charge the airborne fools who shot up a wedding and killed thirty-three members of the one extended family and Iraq's Elvis Presley on May l9, 2004.

And what will happen then? Will these 'mass murderers' be 'brought to justice'? Or will they plead like John Howard that killing twenty thousand children was 'minimising civilian casualties'? Or plead like George Bush that when 'freedom is on the march' it can trample eighty thousand innocent people underfoot, and cripple and mutilate two hundred thousand more, with impunity? And will they then be let off because they committed their serial killings mistakenly, but sincerely?

When fascism comes the words change first, mutating into something vaguer. Torture becomes 'abuse' or 'inappropriate punishment'. Randomly killing people on public streets becomes 'cultural insensitivity' or 'a regrettable pattern of over-reaction'. Assassination becomes 'targeted killing'. Bombing a suburban house with children in it becomes 'a pre-emptive strike on a suspected terror cell'; and so on.

And soon the real words fade out and vanish, as in the 'whiteout' of brain cells attacked by Alzheimer's Disease. And so it is that 'justice' has largely gone from the President's rhetoric as it did, long ago, from his policy when he broke all existing American records for executions per month by lethal injection of even half-witted teenagers, and women. 'Justice' was useful to him for a while. And so will 'freedom' be, for a while. After that, I guess, will come 'order'. And then we'd better really watch out.

© Bob Ellis

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Gimme Shelter

Written in 1969......... what's changed?

Ooh, a storm is threatening my very life today
If I don't get some shelter, yeah, I'm gonna fade away.
War, children, its just a shot away, it's just a shot away
War, children, its just a shot away, it's just a shot away.

Ooh, see the fire is sweeping, our very streets today
Burns like a red coal carpet, mad bull lost its way.
War, children, its just a shot away, it's just a shot away
War, children, its just a shot away, it's just a shot away.

Rape, murder, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away
Rape, murder, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away
Rape, murder, it's just a shot away, it's just a shot away.

Mmmm, the flood is threatening, my very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter or I'm gonna fade away.
War, children, its just a shot away, it's just a shot away.
It's just a shot, away, a shot away, a shot away.

I said, love, sister, it's just a kiss away, it's just a kiss away
It's just a kiss away, it's just a kiss away, kiss away, kiss away.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Bush nominee for Council of Economic advisors has an epiphany.

This from Maxspeak, via The Economic Policy Institute's a doozy. It's from a paper written by Benjamin Bernanke I (note "the first" which is a surefire sign of a pretentious git). I pity the person who had to go through this report, although uncovering this gem amongst the dross may have made it worthwhile.

First of a continuing series, and boy are we going to have fun with it. Meet the new Bush nominee for head of the Council of Economic Advisers:

"Figure 21.6 showed that, following the opening to trade, real wages and employment fall in (a) textiles and rise in (b) software. At that point, wages and job opportunities are much more attractive in the software industry than in textiles. Will this situation persist? Clearly, there is a strong incentive for workers who are able to do so to leave the textile industry and seek employment in the software industry."

-- Principles of Economics, Robert Frank and Ben Bernanke, p. 558, 2001.

(One of our goals at EPI is to save the world from economists.)

Yep folks, all those out of work textile workers are now writing code for your computer.

Loose Poodle

Loose Poodle

Monday, April 04, 2005

Chatres Initiate Posted by Hello

David Penberthy on asylum seekers.

Here's the story that Penberthy wrote in the Telegraph 18 months ago. As I said it is very un-Murdoch like in it's subject matter. One wonders if David will "sing from the same song book" as many of his fellow News Corp editors seem to do? Or will he follow his conscience as he did with the article.

BACKGROUND: Penberthy wrote an article "Five star asylums", which one would assume was based on a press kit/release put out by the spin doctors at the Australian Department of Immigration. This was more to counter the "concentration camp" tag placed on the asylum centres for refugees awaiting residency status. (Some have been waiting up to six years.) The "The five star asylum" article was a beat-up based on the press kit which desribed facilities at the detention centres.

He was invited to take a look at an actual detention centre by an advocate and from what one reads was moved by the whole deal. And he didn't just visit once, he went back ten times.

Anyway the link is here:

Here's a brief snip

"I tell them it mean I am going to die," the man says, as his wife looks at
the ground. "Death threat. They kill me." For every chatty conversation you
have, look over your shoulder and there is some poor bastard who you have never
met, never seen talking to anybody, staring into space as if they have been
clubbed over the head.

Pharmaceutically, they may well have been clubbed over the head. In the
course of two visits, you can see the same person twice and it's like meeting
two people.

"I am taking 12 pills a day," says Kristina, a Russian mother who has been in detention for 18 months, separated from her baby son, who was born here and is an Australian citizen. She is estranged from the father and hasn't seen her boy for several weeks. If she wasn't so dosed up she'd be totally hysterical. Read this, from about six pages of notes:

"I am taking valium, Panadeine Forte, another one for my stomach ... I don't remember. I can't eat. They give me pills to level me out. If they didn't I probably would hang myself by now. Mothers can't go a day without seeing their child and I haven't seen my little boy for six weeks. Six weeks. Six weeks, what is that in days? 42 days.
"Where is my baby? I only have to look at him to know what's wrong with him. We are one person. I know when he is thirsty and I know that if I give him a box of apple juice he does not like to drink from a straw, only from a bottle. Nobody else knows that. I am his mother."

Spam Blogs

Blogger has been so-so lately. It's been impossible to edit, add or even view blogs from downunder. Add to this I've been on a 26kb restriction after using up all last month's bandwidth. So accessing blogs through a miniscule 26k limit half a planet away is going to be slow.It has been extremely frustrating.

But I'm back on ADSL now so can't blame that.

The guys at Blogger know this and suffering along with us, they have no server space put aside especially for them....or so they say. The problem apparently is server size and electricity supply.

I think another problem is all the useless spam blogs, generically coded, generic subject matter .........well just plain generic. For example one has "Home owners search for FREE our extensive Worldwide database of house-sitters. House sitters make yourself available." repeated ad nauseum. People and mostly robots adding these blogs of uselessness and just having them sit there as google search engine enhancing devices is taking up a lot of energy and clogging up the system.

I just did a quick "next blog" surf and here are the results

Life through the eyes of a Labrador Blog done by a dog!
Better Days Blog owned by a real life person. Actually a good read
Boating Guide SPAM
Government Jobs Info SPAM
euro2004 Soccer fan
homesecuritypotal SPAM
MP3EditorPortal SPAM
DVD Duplication SPAM This one has 151 generated pages. Surely This
is going to bog down the Blogger. Theres a blog entry done every 6 or 7
minutes or so.
Welcome to my garden Teenager's blog

I was going to do ten but GUESS WHAT? Blogger froze up once again in Firefox. If this gets posted it will be from a saved copy from wordpad as a backup (which I have learnt to do when posting) and posted using IE6.

For some reason M$ Explorer seems to keep operating (very slowly) when Firefox stops cold and just hangs. So sometimes a browser switch fixes things.

Anyway, surely these spam blogs are going to overload the blogger. Each one seemed to have about 150+ entries which create 150+ plus pages for each entry. Surely blogger can weed out the spam crap which IMHO is akin to globules of unecessary fat floating around in a system with an overworked heart.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Some guy I knew......

Not many people can say this........

David Penberthy has just sold his soul and been made editor- in-chief of the Murdoch (NEWS Corp.) daily in Sydney. The Daily Telegraph.

David and I used to hang out at the Adelaide University "On Dit" student newspaper offices in the late 80's. He used to write a bit and I used to sell advertising/stabilise things with my country boy good manners in an environment ruled by highly neurotic personalities.

I was once helping him type up a movie review as I was on computers a lot and he was an arts student in the late 80's with limited keyboard skills. I deleted the whole 3000 word review on the OnDit Macintosh when trying to save it.

So therefore I can proudly say....... I have deleted a Murdoch editor's work.

Inspector Lohmann

Inspector Lohmann

I checked out Inspector Loman's site counter and I seem to be sending him a little bit of traffic. Rightly so too. This is one of the better blogs I've found via the Peirrot's Folly link on the sidebar. Another good blog with a healthy dose of satire.

One wonders what the good Inspector does to earn his filthy lucre in real life? On reading his EXCELLENT article on google available here, one has visions of the genteel Inspector being a quality investigative journo(Aussie slang journalist), hobbled under the jackboot of the Asper house in his native Canada?

Or is he a disgruntled lefty academic venting his brimming spleen at the politically retarded world?

Who knows? Great blog..... and the crossing out/correction effect is subtly hilarious.

Oh and for more on the Stanford search engine experiment turned godzilla check this out at here at Google Watch. I'd inform the Inspector but his comments seem to perpetually OFF.

Google-watch is from the Mom-and-Pop outfit that gave us the excellent para-political namebase site. They used to own but the domain was bought out by some dot org organizing website.

Namebase and Google-watch are small, scratching for dough, not linked as much as they should be and......dig those funky "powered by Amiga" free and easy cartoons man!!!!!!