Sunday, February 27, 2005

The West Australian Labor Government of Geoff Gallop was returned to power last night in a stunning turnaround of fortunes that has solidified the party's dominance of state politics across Australia. Tide does not turn on the green-political-mongers ALP back with firm hold on WA reins
Democracy, democracy, democracy. Politicians in the U.S. are consistently peppering their communications with that word. No matter what dubious policy they are out to sell they will wrap it up with a copious supply of democracy. I think Lincoln's definition -- government of the people, by the people and for the people -- sums it up quite well. But I doubt that the folks who keep yapping about democracy have Lincoln's definition in mind when they use that term. Labouring Nepotism

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Last standing
The founder of human rights group Amnesty International, Peter Benenson, has passed away aged 83.

The British lawyer set up the group in 1961, after reading an article about the imprisonment of two students in Portugal who drank a toast to liberty.
"Peter Benenson's life was a courageous testament to his visionary commitment to fight injustice around the world," said Amnesty's Irene Khan.
People power: He brought light into the darkness of prisons, the horror of torture chambers and tragedy or death camps around the world. This was a man whose conscience shone in a cruel and terrifying world, who believed in the power of the ordinary people to bring about extraordinary change and, by creating Amnesty International, he gave each of us the opportunity to make a difference.
Standing up for prisoners of conscience: In 1961 his vision gave birth to human rights activism. In 2005 his legacy is a world-wide movement for human rights which will never die.
The impetus for the movement began after Mr Berenson read how two students in a Portuguese cafe had been imprisoned after raising their glasses to liberty.

Today, [ Amnesty International is in its 44th year and is the world's largest independent human rights organisation. It has more than 1.8m members world-wide.
Founder of Amnesty dies [As you know, late last year I became the Father of the House, signifying nothing more than longevity of service (sic) My admiration for the Clerks of the Parliament and all the parliamentary staff, with the exception of the violent and vicious Warren Cahill, is unbounded. Please remind Mr Cahill that he now has a record and a second offence should see him behind bars. Michael Egan, Gone Fishing Just Like Our Ron Chin A very happy little feather duster; A look at how the people don't want to have supremacy over the judiciary: One of the hot ideas in the legal academy is that the people should have supremacy over the courts. The problem is that the people don't want that. Pop Con ]
• · Two men are dead after a shooting and stabbing fight on a Cabramatta street last night Sydney Saturday Night Shooting Fever ; This could be anyone teenage boy or girl at Macquarie Fields. Youths threw rocks at police as they worked to free the bodies of two teenagers killed when a stolen car being chased by police slammed into a tree. The crowd of young men was furious police had not called off the chase because of the danger. Police need more strategic thinking and less hot blood chases Eucalyptus Drive: Fury over police chase that ended in tragedy
• · · Suicides in Marine Corps Rise by 29% ; You can't get much more different people than someone from the ABC and Tony Abbott, comedian Sorrenti told guests who waited, somewhat nervously, for the punchline It just goes to show environment wins over genetics
• · · · Joseph Laty called on Australia to present evidence to support its dramatic action Even Pontius Pilate questioned Jesus when he was accused of committing crimes. But nobody questioned Amir ; How do you fight the thieves who steal under the guise of community, How do you arrest the thieves whose way of stealing are protected from top to bottom, In reality, they are being protected by those who hold the gun and authority ; Beirut's Berlin Wall
• · · · · There are many “control freaks” in society who hate disagreement, demand unanimity and insist on more consensus, including amongst appeal judges. They speak endlessly of the need for clarity and certainty in the law. Truly, that is a goal to be attained if at all possible. But not at a sacrifice of truth, independence and conscience Dissent among judges is vital, says Justice Kirby ; Webdiary: Full text and comments Judicial dissent is an appeal to the future
• · · · · · In a desperate plan to halt the land tax revolt, the Carr Government is planning to shift the controversial tax from the unimproved value of land to the improved property value. Let the jigsaw puzzle begin ... Carr backflips on land tax ; "I've got four teenage girls," said Arlene Bolt, "and I won't let them out of my sight." The body of German backpacker Simone Strobel lay just metres from where the women played tennis. Fear grips town as woman's family mourn their 'angel'

Friday, February 25, 2005

In any case, the condemned man looked so like a submissive dog that one might have thought he could be left to run free on the surrounding hills and would only need to be whistled for when the execution was due to begin.
- Franz Kafka, "The Penal Colony"

Nightmares don't last this long, so the tragic fluid of the melting ice must be real ... Shel Israel observes the real and surreal angles of the Slavic Cold River: Together, We Can Move Mountains, Rivers and Walls

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Have we run out of ideas, that we have run aground, lost in a dry technocratic language of governance? There is something of an irresistible horror in such quick decay ... Spare a thought for lost souls employed by huge organisations!!! Organisations run by invisible hands whose heart is no longer clear and head is plotting the next office politics...
In his book, Where Have the Intellectuals Gone?, Frank Ferudi laments this reduction of intellectuals into clerks and technocrats, sucking idealism out of national life: "Whatever reservations one has about such idealism, it has inspired many to see creative possibilities beyond the sober realities of everyday life."
In his magisterial book on leadership, James MacGregor Burns describes the intellectual as someone concerned with "values, purposes and ends that transcend immediate needs". West captured this existential quest for historical memory beyond everyday anxieties in his book, Race Matters: "People, especially poor and degraded people, are also hungry for meaning, identity and self-worth."
Ayi Kwei Armah's writes:
How horribly rapid everything has been, from the days when men were not ashamed to talk of souls and of suffering and of hope, to these low days of smiles that will never again be sly enough to hide the knowledge of betrayal and deceit. There is something of an irresistible horror in such quick decay

What do Europeans want from the United States? Op-eds on reinvigorating trans-Atlantic relations Winning Back Europe's Heart

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Crossroads: Slovakia is at the Heart of Europe
Slovaks see Russian President Vladimir Putin as more of a guarantor of democracy in the world than President George Bush, a poll revealed today Brother v Cousin

There are four capitol cities that sit along the Danube River, Bratislave is one of them.
Small nations often suffer from an invisibility complex. They know what it means to be tiny spots on the map, remembered only if embroiled in a terrible conflict that turns the whole region into a nest of unrest.
Of course, there are small nations with immense historical heritages that centuries ago likely influenced the heartbeat of whole continents. There are small nations that successfully struggled through the ages to stay alive.

When historians go to record human history over the last century, the rise and fall of communism and the expansion of American and capitalistic ideals may well be the dominant theme
• Walking the tightrope between identity and political necessity Where does Slovakia stand? [REVOLUTION! Revolúcia! Let the cry ring out again, and again, and again. Attendant to the upcoming summit in Bratislava between US President George Bush and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin is a protest titled "ani Putin ani Bush" - neither Putin nor Bush. What does the street roar? ; A serious moral-ideological-emotional bind Google: People, especially poor and degraded people, are also hungry for meaning, identity and self-worth ]
• · At the end of 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a powerful "fireside chat," a fitting backdrop to the visit to Europe this week by his successor, George W. Bush. Arsenals of tyranny ; Russia bashing reaches limits ; Google on Blava Summit ; I wonder how many more of these are never known to the public Man Accused of Plotting to Assassinate Bush
• · · Investigating historical mysteries is, possibly, one the most fascinating and rewarding aspects of the work of a skeptical researcher. Mysteries that appear to have no possible solutions, that could certainly be termed “cold,” can, sometimes, become clearer thanks to a more careful investigation of the original sources and also to the advancements of science Facts and Fiction in the Kennedy Assassination ; According to Greek legend, Poseidon's son Theseus sailed to Crete to slay the monster Minotaur Soul of Science
• · · · Cathy Young on how the right has no monopoly on morals--or on Moral Bullying
• · · · · The People’s Business: One does not have to look far in Washington these days to find evidence that government policy is being crafted with America’s biggest corporations in mind Controlling corporations and restoring democracy ; A remedy for executive branch lies about budget item costs: Should Congress pass a Sarbanes-Oxley Act for the government?
• · · · · · The Persian Puzzle The State of Iraq: An Update ; Our Mission Remains Vital, BY KOFI A. ANNAN The U.N. needs to be reformed, but it still performs a crucial function.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Slavoj Zizek on The Not-So-Quiet American

The geopolitical realities continue to evolve in a direction that most descent people will certainly not relish. It's time to talk to Pyongyang: Negotiating with dictators is odious, but the alternatives are far worse. It's Time To Talk to Murders
Gaddafi's son to buy Darling Point home at Darling Point Road in the street where Alex was conceived during the optimistic fever of the Velvet Revolution of 1989 ;-) Welcome Mat?

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: PM, Paul Martin, is having problems
The prime minister will probably survive a sleaze inquiry. Will that allow the old Paul Martin to stand up?

As Prime-Ministerial occasions go, being questioned for more than four hours at a judicial inquiry—broadcast on live television—hardly ranks among the most agreeable. Indeed no serving Canadian prime minister had suffered such an indignity for 130 years. In the event, Paul Martin acquitted himself rather well when he appeared as a witness before an inquiry into sleaze on February 11th. But 15 months after succeeding his fellow-Liberal, Jean Chrétien, Mr Martin, a successful finance minister for almost a decade until 2002, cannot quite shake off the impression that Canada's top job is too big for him.

Mr Dithers and his distracting fiscal cafeteria [It is a characteristic of charmers that when they suspect they may have caused offence, they calculate that a sufficiently charming apology should get them off the hook. But the trouble with charm is that it makes things worse if the people it is aimed at have seen through it. Which is why Tony Blair's attempt last week to confront his own unpopularity by talking like a marriage-guidance counsellor about his relationship with the voters had most people reaching for the sick-bag Tony Blair is right to be worried about his unpopularity ; A man who shouted buffone (buffoon or clown in Italian) at Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was fined 500 euros ($652) by a Milan court Costly insult ]
• · Thailand, how one of the more peaceful, successful democracies in Asia disintegrated Advise Given by Parliamentary Marco Polos Helped ;-) ; Why both sides think they have everything to lose ... NSW police lawyers have lodged a series of complaints with the corruption watchdog about the conduct of the former police minister, John Watkins, and some of his most senior public servants Watkins payout reported to ICAC ; Senior Liberal joins attack on 'rorts' scheme
• · · The international community has long ignored the activities of a certain network of black-market arms dealers. As a result, extremely dangerous missiles have fallen into the wrong hands. The large weapons stockpiles left to rust after the end of the Cold War fed an illegal arms trade network spanning Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to supply weapons to warring factions in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and Africa The dealers have disregarded UN sanctions and armed anyone who had cash ; Counter Terrorism blog ; Me (sic) mate & Partner in crime-blogging, Petr Bokuvka, might ask unGannon-like questions ;-) Ani Bush Ani Putin
• · · · The reason I tend to select the Naked Eye stories is usually because Alex Mitchell & Kerry-Anne Walsh find an angle overlooked by other journalists. Sandra Lee also seems to be highlighting the angles which will matter in the future: A regular newsletter from the NSW Labor Party’s administrative committee, called NSW Labor Political Briefing, gives a cruel indication of the party’s attitude to its fallen federal leader Mark Latham. The latest bulleting mentions Latham’s resignation in a single paragraph while the departure of former treasurer Michael Egan receives more than half a page... Meanwhile, the recycled Labor leader Kim Beazley has a new deputy chief of staff. He is John Whelan, son of former NSW Labor Council boss, John Whelan and nephew of former police minister Paul Whelan (he made a fine government leader at the Legislative Assembly who employed the most friendly staffers such as Lyn). Greens MP Lee Rhiannon is about to become the most unpopular politician in State Parliament by forcing a clean-up of MPs' jealously guarded superannuation scheme and their taxpayer-funded allowances Greens ready to cut pollies' perks ; Jeff Shaw, QC, slipped quietly back into the familiar surroundings of a courtroom last week.
• · · · · Naked Eye also asks Say that Again Bob? When former Paul Keating speechwriter Don Watson declared war on the mangling of the English language with his two maverllous books, Death Sentence and Weasel Words, he reconed to have an ally in Premier Bob Carr, a persistent advocate of the practical and coherent usage of the English language. But in his speech outlining the NSW Government latest efforts in the war in terrorism, Carr produced some howlers (see hard copy of the Sun Herald) ... Osama Bin Laden will be trembling in his slippers and Watson will be gnashing his teeth; Premier Bob Carr is under fire for failing to provide the funds and political commitment to improve rail safety in the wake of the Waterfall and Glenbrook disasters, which claimed 14 lives. Fourteen people died in two train accidents and still Bob Carr is playing for time Brogden's fury over rail terrorism ; Parents and teachers are alarmed that the push to reduce kindergarten class sizes this year has resulted in a blow-out of pupil numbers in other grades and an increase in composite classes Anger at class size blow-out ; NSW Traffic Services commander Chief Superintendent John Hartley ordered the body of a man killed in a freeway pile-up to be removed on the back of a tow truck because he was worried about the safety of officers at the scene Road victim's body taken away on back of tow truck
• · · · · · From the Progressive Government Institute, a wealth of data is available on the President's appointees from this website, which offers users the option of locating specific information via graphical charts for each agency, or using keyword searching on fields that include: Appointee Name or Title, Appointee Job Function, and Nominee Name or Background Searchable Database of the President's Appointees ; You know about "bollards"? Well, it isn't enough that John Howard's Government is spending $11.7 million walling itself in in the national Parliament in a project the bureaucracy quaintly calls "security enhancement". But $2.26 million of the cost is buying 220 "special" steel bollards from the Americans as part of this "enhancement" because Australian bollards "aren't up to specification" Politicians' self-importance never comes cheap; How grassroots action, participatory initiatives and new structures for participation might make a difference Getting over post-election blues

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A senior air force officer summarily removed from his post has been denied a full investigation into the decision because it "could embarrass" the former chief of defence and the air force, internal defence documents reveal. The documents suggest that the Australian Defence Force has a policy of not taking action that would damage the reputation of former top brass. As well as suggesting a culture of cover-up, the policy appears to contravene long-established Defence regulations that state it is an offence punishable by three months' imprisonment "to attempt to prevent or dissuade" an investigation. How the ADF protects its masters

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Shadows and Fright
A Sleazy Israeli spy was expelled from Canberra for trying to seduce women employed by some of Australia's most sensitive national security, defence and spy agencies.

The Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, has insisted his daughter's relationship with an expelled Israeli consul was irrelevant to the diplomat's departure, because the consul's replacement bowed out of the posting because of an alleged sex scandal.

Expelled diplomat spooked women: The only sober man in the bar [ The strange case of the disappearing diplomat: Amir & Caitlin ; Google of Ruddock ]
• · Israel is ready to say sorry to New Zealand over last year's spy scandal, with diplomats negotiating the text of the apology. The Australian Jewish News has reported the diplomat, Amir Laty, as telling Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem that his friendship with the daughter of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock was behind the expulsion. Israel ready to say sorry ; Anywhere you look the Islamic extremists are exploiting the Iraqi conflict to recruit new anti-U.S. jihadists War Helps Recruit Terrorists, Hill Told ; Hariri's killing in Beirut on Monday sparked anti-Syrian fury among many Lebanese and renewed world pressure on Damascus to loosen its political grip and remove its troops from Lebanon. Lebanese opposition calls for 'uprising'
• · · The Australian Government seemed to have no problem keeping up with Mamdouh Habib when he was a free man. It was after his detention that it lost track of him. Consider the possibility that Habib was a terrorist or terrorist sympathiser, yet also persecuted; that he has gone free because crimes were also committed against him, which our Government and that of the United States do not wish to acknowledge; that the struggle against terrorism has been compromised by the fact that the "good guys" resorted to illegal tactics. The information that has emerged this week strongly suggests such possibilities Tortured Lie ; Habib; An Arabic word meaning "one who loves," from the tri-literal root HBB, to love Google on Love
• · · · Media Dragon has emails from two presidents, George Bush and Vladimir Putin, who will be discussing international security and terrorism Feb. 24 in Bratislava. Biological weapons will be discussed. Yet no formal agenda has been set for the summit. There is a demonstratin in the air under the banner of Ani Putin ani Bush (Neither Putin nor Bush) Paying tribute to the people of the Slovak Republic, and also other countries in the region, for the right choices they made in pursuing democracy and freedom ; Blava Summit ; Google on Bush and his fence-mending trip
• · · · · We have abandoned our dearest values on asylum ; Mental health inquiry tackles system in crisis Cornelia Rau
• · · · · · Graeme Leech, of Bondi Junction, wishes to raise a matter of some urgency with CityRail. "You know how sometimes a bloke has a couple of drinks after work? And you know how sometimes you have to wait 30 minutes for a train to convey a bloke from Central to Bondi Junction? By the end of the journey, he can find himself caught seriously short, so the aromatic cubicles that pass for lavs at Bondi Junction station become sanctuaries of blessed relief. Except the station staff close them at 8.30pm Column 8 agrees that this is an outrageous state of affairs. We are on the case; It had to happen: the life and times of Karl Scully has finally made it into security format ;-) The NSW Government would operate from a political command centre - likely to be located in Parramatta - in the event of a major terrorist attack or natural disaster. Carr reveals command centre plans in case of attack; A Nifty bit of mad ambush marketing: Carr accelerates: Spare me the tears

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Thank you one and all for making me this week #440 on the Blogstreet and some high profile journos acknowledging my links at Technorati Blogs are like bras, a good one never lets you down!
Jay Rosen said it in Bloggers vs. Journalists is Over: "A blog, you see, is a little First Amendment machine."

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Absence of Malice
It is not hard to feel sympathetic toward Superior Court judge Ernest Murphy ...

The US Supreme Court, in its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan decision, raised the bar to an extraordinarily high level for any such person to sue for libel successfully. The court ruled that a public official must prove "actual malice" — a legal term that means Murphy must convince the 12-member jury that the Herald and its lead reporter, Dave Wedge, went to press with articles that they knew were false, or that they acted with "reckless disregard" for whether those articles were true or false. Such a standard, Justice William Brennan wrote in the Times decision, is necessary to ensure that "debate on public issues" remains "uninhibited, robust, and wide-open," even to the point of including "vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials."

• The Boston Phoenix explains the difference between a newspaper being wrong about a public figure and being libelous [Remembrances of Arthur Miller ; Add Your Name to the Tribute to Doug Engelbart ]
• · Scoop: Access to Public Records; Is there a legacy of which CNN's Eason Jordan and his counterparts should be proud?
• · · Salam Pax takes to the streets of war-ravaged Iraq Baghdad blogger switches to the camera
; How insane. It’s a world where, on the one hand, we drownourselves in tears of regret about a meaningless destruction of human communities (tsunami) while remaining a party to the deliberate destruction of others (Iraq War) Phillip Adams in the Magazine 12-13 February
• · · · A newspaper editor has become the third person to admit lying to the NSW watchdog's inquiry into corruption at Strathfield council. Surprise, surprise ...Editor lied over bribe tape he didn't think was a story ; A former media adviser to federal Liberal MP Barry Haase is seeking restraining orders against the member for Kalgoorlie and his wife. Mr Haase and his wife, Dallas, have been summonsed to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court on Monday to respond to applications for misconduct restraining orders lodged by Natasha Mutch Too Much Attention
• · · · · There is an element of irony when a so-called 'homeless hacker' is sentenced to home detention Doing time for cyber crime ; Rather than bringing users closer together, the increasing array of telecommunications available today may have made it harder to "get in touch Dating and dumping via email
• · · · · · Going into the 2004 election cycle, just about everyone said the Internet was going to change politics. But no one was sure how. Now we know Blogosphere politics; In a lengthy, wide-ranging interview with E&P today, former White House reporter Jeff Gannon, whose real name is James D. Guckert, revealed that, contrary to many media reports, he has not been subpoenaed in the Valerie Plame/CIA case. I haven't been this psyched since the sequel to Political Assassination on the Sussex Street

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Neville Wran, that engaging pragmatist, was the first to codify one of the iron laws of Australian politics: never hold an inquiry unless you know beforehand what the result will be.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry has rejected as "terribly exaggerated" an Israeli newspaper article claiming the newly appointed consul in Canberra, Arie Scher, had to leave Brazil five years ago after being implicated in a sex scandal Sex scandal past haunts new envoy ; Army Officers in the Nitra Barracks know a thing or two about disarming a certain type of women: Referees' cruel sex ritual - find a fat woman

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Odyssey of a lost soul
Anna's bizarre and shifting claims are the only evidence anyone ever has that she is in Australia illegally. The Department of Immigration has no proof she is telling the truth. Nothing ever turns up to corroborate her claims. It doesn't matter ...

This is a story of official bungling, denial and cover-up. And the whole sorry saga happened for no good reason. David Marr with Mark Metherell and Mark Todd reveal the facts behind the imprisonment of one very troubled and confused Australian.

Ach, Mike Carlton never misses the target when it comes to pointing out the deep tragic irony of human existence: The grandly titled National Missing Persons Unit, an agency of the Australian Federal Police, consists of precisely two people housed somewhere in Canberra. It has a website, though, and a splendid thing it is, replete with pages and pages of stodgy bureaucratic hogwash about vision, mission statements and the like.
[The name Ms Rau was using when arrested by police – Anna Schmidt ; Camden Hospital's maternity unit Gone: a number of departures from an acceptable standard of care]
• · When bosses junked job security, they ended the days of loyalty to the company Be nice, boss, or you can keep your job ; Despite contribution limits, lobbyists and PACs keep filling the candidates’ coffers. David S. Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix analyzed campaign contributions to Massachusetts state legislative candidates, finding that of the 650 registered lobbyists and 167 active PACs in the state, just 20 prominent lobbying firms and 10 large PACs collectively pumped more than $1 million into legislative candidates’ war chests in the past two years Who’s buying the legislature ?; The bad news for the people of Strathfield is that some of their councillors appear to be conspiring against one another. The good news is that they don't seem very good at it Mayor culpa
• · · Israeli Amir Laty was told to leave Australia last month, but just why is hard to pin down. At first blush the secretive expulsion of an Israeli diplomat from Canberra a month ago had all the makings of a James Bond movie - there were claims of espionage, liaisons with women, and plenty of intrigue. The strange case of the disappearing diplomat ; How he quit in disgust after the CIA censored a crucial WMD report, leading to deletion of central facts and conclusions. We left the impression that maybe there were, was WMD out there … I thought it was dishonest ecrets and Lies
• · · · Here's a story that will cause every cattleman to choke on breakfast. Bill's beef: who let the Wagga shipment in?
• · · · · Sunday Nine: Interview: Alexander Downer [Once upon a time Lord Clarendon's daughter Anne shocked her father and consigned him to political oblivion by marrying the future James II and VII and becoming a rock chopper. Royal]
• · · · · · The Indonesian province of Aceh bore the brunt of the Boxing Day tsunami, more than 230,000 Acehnese were killed and a similar number are still missing The Fortunes of War

Thursday, February 10, 2005

A thing may be too sad to be believed or too wicked to be believed or too good to be believed; but it cannot be too absurd to be believed in this planet of frogs and elephants, of crocodiles and cuttle-fish.
- Maycock, The Man Who Was Orthodox

Over a Chinese New Year luncheon, which doubled as a farewell, one of the more colourful characters, often described as a cool father, a down to earth soccer coach, a trainer Frank Lowy would be proud to have in every soccer club, has an uncanny ability to illustrate how the comedy of man survives the tragedy of man. Bureaucracy, Chinese, Czech or Australian, equates with inefficiency, laziness, ... achieving results which end up in enlarging the size of the bureaucracy. A bureaucrat is someone who is more concerned with avoiding mistakes rather than making good decisions. ‘No-one ever got fired for buying IBM' was the public servant's slogan of the 1970s and '80s. Now as we download Window 2003 in 2005 'No-one ever gets fired for buying Microsoft.' Lets hope Open Access Linux will soon rock this kind of mentality ... On a lighter note GM uses a rather thought-provoking analogy for bureaucracies: Public service is like smoking dope the more you suck the higher you get ;-) ...
It’s not what you know ... It is not depth or breath of knowledge ... To succeed, you must never ask awkward questions, you have to agree not to rock the boat, most of all you need to keep an eye on anyone who might rock the river!
Frequently executives have very outdated, or even no real skills in the area they are working in. Their real skills are in playing politics, going to meetings, wandering around giving orders, self-justification and backstabbing. They are like paying taxes (or bribes), or having to employ feminists to meet an affirmative action target. They are corporate 'overhead'. In order to survive, he (or she) takes credit for anything that works out well, and passes the buck when something goes badly. Rarely, if ever, are these people asked "so what are your actual people skills?"

The individuals are administering laws whose legislatures have long term goals, but whose performance bonuses have short term goals - All long lived bureaucracies are fundamentally self serving and this is why you often hear self serving managers claiming that while they will do everything in the best interest of the organisation the evil ones are working against it (LOL) Acting in one's own interests, while claiming to act in the interests of the organisation. Bum covering is still the dominant paradigm: Moore's Laws of The Castle

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Closing Ranks: A Club Too Exclusive
Who cares if no one knows what will be in the Social Security reform package suggested by President Bush in concept but with no details? Not the club ...

The Republican Party rules the White House, as well as a majority in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which means the party is flying so high that only Republicans can muck it up.
Enter the Club for Growth, a group of supply-side economists on a jihad to bury Republicans they don't deem to be pure enough. Given a choice between half a loaf and none, the club says: none.
So last week, the club's new president Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., announced a campaign to send a "gentle message" to three Republicans -- Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., and Sherwood Boehlert, R-N.Y. -- by airing ads in their districts telling voters to urge their lawmaker to support private savings accounts as part of a Social Security reform package.

Au contraire, only cowardice or stupidity could prompt a member to sign onto a reform package that doesn't exist [NSW political leaders today welcomed a proposed film about Sydney’s notorious gang rapes, saying it was a story that deserved to be told. Gang rape film wins political backing; More than 40,000 weapons were seized in major crackdowns across NSW, the state’s police commissioner Ken Moroney A Million to Go? ]
• · By his own admission, writer Frank Moorhouse has benefited from almost every kind of government patronage - grants, awards, soft diplomacy jaunts overseas, even an Order of Australia. So he might have been peeved to find the government meanwhile had ASIO watching him, checking who came to his barbecues, what campaigns he mounted, which motions he moved at fringe meetings - exploring whether he was an enemy of the state. Not so. What left him “gravely disappointed” as he leafed through the thick file during his research at the National Archives of Australia was that his youthful anarchist activities ultimately weren’t taken seriously enough to make him a grave security risk. Frank Moorhouse Lesser Threat; Come and enjoy pre and post show drinks at Munchero’s (dress: trenchcoat; code: Steps to the Pole Dance; Period: March to Fool’s day). While many comics claim to push the envelope, Austen Tayshus tears it to shreds in a blistering evening that leaves no stone unturned. David Callan is the only spook ever to leave the spying game for the comedy game. He used to perform at the Icebergs Bondi and now even CNNN considers him to be Bloody Funny! He knows his Stuff and Yours Too! Cracker: Funniest show in the Festival. A five star rating is not enough. David’s is a sixer! And Sexier too
• · · Shobhakar Parajuli is on the move. He has slept in six different houses in six nights as he adjusts to life as an underground political figure. Democracy goes underground as fear grips Nepal; Steve Cole: Traditional thinking, focused on governments, still dominates US weapons policy The fear that terrorism will go nuclear; What does the son of an infamous Libyan colonel do for entertainment in Sydney? Host a bash at my old swimming club which turned into the trendy Bondi hang-out Icebergs, of course. Accordingly, the football player and wannabe media magnate Al-Saadi Gaddafi has invited 60-odd members of the meat, rice and media industries to Icebergs for an intimate dinner on Friday night. Brother of a gun
• · · · Kim Beazley has promised his Opposition will concentrate on making the Government more accountable and yesterday he scored a political hit. The grant of money to flush a creek that was already flushed was served up by Beazley as a prime case of the unstoppable Coalition pork barrel. Round one to Beazley: At the mouth of the Tumbi Creek; Media Dragon has referred to this quote about politicians by Nikita Khrushchev in the past and today it came back freshly re-observed politicians seem to be the same all over the world: They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river. He would have loved question time yesterday, as the Government struggled to rebut claims it had allocated $1.5 million - before it had been requested - for the dredging of a creek which didn’t need dredging. Overflow of pork leaves ministers over a barrel
• · · · · Former Liberal premier and mental health campaigner Jeff Kennett has joined a growing chorus of demands for the Howard Government to hold a public, judicial inquiry into the Cornelia Rau affair. BeyondBlue depression initiative
• · · · · · Allan Fels: Services to support people with psychoses have been shamefully neglected Rau is only an extreme example - our prisons are full of mentally ill people; Out of a system designed to produce failure: About 10am on Tuesday, Christopher Dean Binse blinked in the sunlight as he emerged from a 13-year sentence in Goulburn’s forbidding super max prison. Badness ready to come good Do you know a unique Sydney story? email: citizen@smh.com.au

Monday, February 07, 2005

Joe Posnanski said recently that “there are wonderful books out there. Books that will reach inside you and make your heart soar and change you like only a good book can. You just have to look for them. Go deep into the bookstore. Find a book that strikes you. Read a few pages. Nothing worthwhile is easy. You have to think for yourself. Because in this world, if you don't want to think for yourself, you can be sure that someone will think for you.”

I’ve been drunk on books for most of my life. From the early days when I opted for the library over the playground, to 13 years as a bookseller, to my current job as a book rep, it sometimes seems as if books are all I’ve truly cared about ... When a book makes a best-seller list it is instantly less interesting to me We are awash in great books, more than we could possibly read

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Voices from Chernobyl
Many families in Eastern Europe are haunted by the disaster. Three years after the blast the Velvet Revolution took place. However, no one can help my nephew, Tomas, 18, who will never recover from Chernobyl disaster. He cannot communicate, read, even walk properly ...

n April 26, 1986, at 1:23:58 a. m., a series of explosions destroyed the reactor in the building that housed Energy Block #4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. The catastrophe at Chernobyl became the largest technical disaster of the twentieth century. . . . For tiny Belarus (population: ten million), it was a national disaster. . . . Today, one out of every five Belarussians lives on contaminated land. This amounts to 2.1 million people, of whom seven hundred thousand are children. In the Gomel and Mogilev regions, which suffered the most from Chernobyl, mortality rates exceed birthrates by twenty percent.

Svetlana Alexievich's oral history of Chernobyl
• · Louis de Bernieres famously once likened "the pressure of trying to write a second bestseller to standing in Trafalgar Square and being told to get an erection in the rush hour". First Draft, Complete
• · · Didn't think it was possible for the left to be anymore splintered? Welcome to the world of biopolitics, a fledgling political movement that promises to make mortal enemies out of one-time allies -- such as back-to-nature environmentalists and technophile lefties -- and close friends of traditional foes, such as anti-GMO activists and evangelicals. How biopolitics could reshape our understanding of left and right
• · · · Life's a Gift? Quick. Exchange It; The notion of the gentleman has been out of fashion for some time, especially because of its connection to boorish, Victorian-era stoicism The Warrior, the Lover and the Monk;
• · · · · Folks, we’re probably going to see one of these things enacted every couple of years. Senator Feinstein may pretend to be a liberal, but all politics is local, and corporate Hollywood has her in their pocket. Indeed, there wasn’t one single senator who felt big business didn’t deserve these latest new protections. That’s good for those of us making a living in this industry
• · · · · · David Steinberger, a former senior executive at HarperCollins who helped create parts of Publishing Plus, says communicating directly to readers is important because most publishers cannot afford to compete directly with film, television and other media for their attention. Michael Crichton? He's Just the Author ; John Kremer's Book Marketing Blog (Our favorite on this topic); Book Marketing Works - Booklets and consulting for authors who want to sell into "non-traditional" markets; How to Get Happily Published -- Info on Judith Applebaum's book which is widely hailed as best-in-class ; Authors: How to Get Your Business Book Published -- a special report by MarketingSherpa's staff

Sunday, February 06, 2005

I translated this mother's sad farewell and sent it to my Mamka. The universal love of mothers expressed ever so deeply ... The eulogy Claudette Clausen will read at the funeral of her only daughter, Klara. There is nothing as hard as burying your own child. It's not the way it's meant to be. It's not the natural order of things. It's just not right... The day has lost a special light

Art of Living & Literature Across Frontiers: Doing It For Love
Clair Scobie meets some talented Australians who know you can’t put a dollar value on success. They may be at the top of their field - in writing, sport, fashion and acting - but they wouldn’t want to be doing it for the money.

Despite the success Pert author Brett D’Arcy, along with most of his fellow authors, is struggling at the low-income end of town: “Last year at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, I remember being on the stage with three others and looking at the sole of the shoes of one of them, a successful Sydney writer. Just like my own shoe, it had a hole in it. Afterwards I said to him, ‘Do you stuff it with newspaper or what?’”
Life is tough at the top. According to a study commissioned by the Australia Council in 1000-2001 just 26% of Australian actors earn more than $50,000 that year. Authors routinely earn $10,000 a book. Passion, talent and genuine desire to make a difference inspire many but on the consumerist merry-go-round some of us ride, success is often equated with a fat pay cheque. “Society makes money a measurement for success. It is obvious thing to do,” says celebrated fashion designer Akira Isogawa. “How much you earn - to me is absurd if you measure success by that ... The Question I have: am I passionate about it? And if I’m not, even if money comes, I do not thin it is worthwhile.”
Actor Nicholas Hope, who last year turned into his years on a fringees of stardom - he won an AFI for Bubby - into an amusing memoir, Brushing the Top Tip of Fame. “I have dealt with the [financial strains] through high blood pressure ... Suddenly, I think, ‘I’m 45, I’ve lost the chance of building up a pension and I only have enough money for the next six months.”
Unpredictability goes with the territory. “Risk is part of the actor’s existence,” says Michael Gow, 49, whose 1986 award-winning play Away is studied as a set text in schools... Then, he points out “I may not have a BMW, but I’ve inspired a whole generation of schoolkids.” In Australia there is ‘one millionaire playwright - David Willimason - and a huge gap between him and the rest of us struggling for scraps’ “The whole thing of the struggling artist is becoming a more respectable idea,” says Nicholas Hope. “Australia has always liked the idea of the rebel, the battler.” Brett D’Arcy is less convinced. “People are embarrassed by the sort of remuneration writers get ... you take a vow of silence as well as a vow of poverty.” (Indeed, many renowned Australians approached for this story were reluctant to talk about it)

Media Dragon is of an opinion that if you cannot take it to the coffin what is the point of owning it? People might be smart enough to accumulate amazing quantity of power and riches, but they also must be dummies enough if in the process they end up with a soul so empty that charity becomes a foreign word in their world ...
• Not on line It won’t make you rich but ... [credits: Complete strangers often approach Mitch Albom and ask whether they can give him a hug. His presence can trigger grateful tears from middle-aged men, while Oprah simply adores him The Five People you Meet in Heaven ; Raising the dead: Brave voice of the silent witnesses. Koff belongs among these modern mercenaries of the human rights and humanitarian world. Like them, she exudes restlessness, a sense of pleasure in risk, a need for this kind of adrenalin, as well as an obvious enjoyment in the camaraderie of working friendships as colleagues, befriended in Rwanda, are encountered again in Bosnia and Croatia. Like them, she is drawn back, again and again, by a feeling that it is still possible in the world to do something worthwhile and by a belief that witnessing is all that keeps the world from sinking into barbarity. She is part of what Michael Ignatieff has called the "expanding moral imagination" of our times. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I don’t have a poker face ; Not only do these people want to make you rich, but they can do it in record-breaking time. And they will make it so easy that you won't even have to do any real work. Why Are There So Many People Eager To Make You, like me, Rich? ]
• · It is award time in America. In all the precincts of intellectual and cultural endeavor, the hubbub begins. One book fewer given to literature; A Post-Pulitzer Coogler
• · · Chicago-based Jessa Crispin launched her literary webzine and daily blog hoping publishers would send free books. Three years on, she is a minor celebrity. We asked her to keep a diary Strange meetings ; The agony and the ecstasy of a reading life Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs ; Bookslut
• · · · I went on a date a while back and met one of the founding members of the "for Dummies" series. His thoughts on publishing were simple. Figure out a way to get rid of the writer. Money, money, money: Big thieving monkeys always hang the little thieving dummies!!! Always!!! ;
• · · · · Sandra Lee: THE State Government is gearing up to celebrate 150 years of responsible government in 2006 by shelling out almost $2 million in grants for a string of back-slapping congratulatory books on the politics, politicians and those who cover them. In 2002 Premier Bob Carr set up a bipartisan trust charged with dishing out money to a series of authors commissioned to produce riveting titles including A History of Politics of the 1850s ($50,000 grant) and the Book on Premiers of NSW 1856 to 2005 ($60,000). Other projects included $27,500 to a political journalist to write The History of the NSW Press Gallery (potential readership, 25), and another on the sporting prowess of politicians throughout the years. Seriously! Interestingly, one committee member who signed off on the project is the newly trim deputy Opposition leader Barry O'Farrell, who once endured the cheeky nickname, Fatty O'Barrell. Your money hard at work. Literary follies of our pollies; First he was on radio hamming it up and promising a law to ban people from wishing others a belated Happy New Year. This week the funster Premier played actor (is there any difference?) at the official opening of the Sydney Film School. During a mock Oscars ceremony, Carr was awarded a green zucchini for his film, "Million Dollar Maybe" (geddit?). Ever the showman, he brandished the award in good grace, a la Clint Eastwood at the recent and real Golden Globe Awards. Is Premier Bob Carr auditioning for life outside of politics?
• · · · · · There's an affliction called mirror-face which strikes many women. When we catch sight of ourselves in a reflective surface, the following instinctively happens: we suck in our cheeks, tilt our jaws upwards and sideways, and bug our eyes out in what's supposed to be a startled-fawn expression. I could write a thesis on the reasons for this phenomenon, but in short, I believe we assume mirror-face so our external image matches our fragile internal one.First Daughter ; It's often said that motherhood is a thankless task, but being the mother of a writer is much, much worse than that Granta 88: Mothers

Friday, February 04, 2005

The unusual weather that turned summer into winter in eastern Australia had meteorologists gasping, with some describing it as among the most extraordinary they had witnessed ... Siberian invasion!
Dubbed the “shock jock” of blogging by The Sydney Morning Herald, journalist and Bulletin columnist Tim Blair has a history of stoushing with ABC TV’s Media Watch. More recently, he exposed a plagiarised story about the Redfern riots from the Chicago Tribune, resulting in the journalist’s sacking. Whether or not you agree with Blair’s often irrational diatribes, he’s arguably the most widely-read Australian blogger. Shock Jock

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Revolutions: These days, the World is Smaller and Faster
Making a killing by spinning stories in a smaller revolutionary world of freedom from real information. Will the real corporate thug please stand up?

The great annual political donations list was released by the Australian Electoral Commission on Tuesday morning and, as usual, there are about 50 interesting stories.
Our intrepid political correspondent Christian Kerr has already driven down to the address of Family First's biggest donor in South Australia, the mysterious Hardel Pty Ltd at 255 Port Rd, Hindmarsh, and discovered the generous benefactor to the tune of $23,000 resides in a modern business centre with several tenants.
Could it be Johnson & Johnson? We doubt it. Could it be a Job Network provider? Unlikely.

A deluge of political donations [At least 12 skyscrapers the size of the 47-storey Australia Square, housing 25,000 workers, could loom over Darling Harbour in order to pay for the Premier's dream of a huge harbourside park Roasting and Toasting the villages in order to save them ; Bush is an idealist and a revolutionary willing to fight for other countries' freedom Gun Point Democracy; St Kilda Writer's Festival Artists and Political bloggers ]
• · Property developers are becoming a more important source of funding for political parties as big sharemarket-listed companies adopt "no-donation" policies ; [Paul Whittaker and Michael McKinnon of The Australian used a freedom of information request to obtain records on travel spending by members of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. The 49 members spent about $250,000 on foreign travel during the past two years, and another $1.4 million on trips within Australia. Tribunal's $2m travel bill]
• · · Two members of Sydney's notorious rape gang could escape a retrial for an attack on a 16-year-old girl, after prosecutors accepted she was unable to face the ordeal of giving evidence again Skaf brothers escape retrial on rape charge ; [The High Court today granted a new trial for a man who allegedly confessed to murdering a prostitute when the video recording of his police interview was switched off Prostitute murder: High Court orders new trial ]
• · · · A key witness has backed independent MP Tony Windsor's claim that a Tamworth businessman offered him an inducement on behalf of two government members to stand aside from his federal seat of New England. I witnessed bid to bribe MP ; [Chris Casteel and Tony Thornton of The Oklahoman used federal campaign finance data and local property records to show that Oklahoma taxpayer money was used in 2002 to buy property in McAlester from then-state Sen. Gene Stipe, a transaction that allowed him to repay a $50,000 loan that had been illegally funneled into the 1998 congressional campaign of Walt Roberts.” The price was more than double the property’s assessed value at the time. “Taxpayer money was directed to the project from the city of McAlester and from the state, when Stipe was still a powerful senator]
• · · · · The State Government failed to intervene for almost three years in the business affairs of Westbus, despite the troubled bus company's directors refusing to submit key financial records as required. Mr Watkins insisted the firm's troubles had nothing to do with the Government's slow and controversial transport reforms, which are splitting the private network into 15 divisions. State looked on as Westbus stalled
• · · · · · For the first in more than three years, Mamdouh Habib is enjoying the freedom of open spaces with his family and friends. Marty Morrison, a member of Rural Australians for Refugees; [Margo Kingston: Your democracy ]

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Tim Dunlop states that his weblog will be back soon. I hope so as I am suffering from the surfing withdrawl symptom. It is not very pleasant to come to a dead page especially when Tim has done so much for one and all bloggers Down Under. I really miss my daily reads ... The road to surfdom will be back soon
Alan D. Mutter is perhaps the only CEO in Silicon Valley who knows how to set type one letter at a time, just like his hero, Benjamin Franklin Exclusive Short History: Googlezon

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Union of Disunion
Are bloggers journalists? Do they deserve press protections? By Randy Dotinga | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

An Apple lawsuit against the operators of fan websites stirs debate on whether bloggers can claim legal protections.
In the small universe of powerful bloggers, Joshua Micah Marshall and John Hinderaker are separated by 900 miles and an even wider political divide. Mr. Marshall leans to the left from Washington D.C., while Mr. Hinderaker, a Minneapolis attorney, sits firmly in the conservative camp. But the two men do share something in common: No one is really sure what to think of them.

Are they journalists with an obligation to check facts, run corrections, and disclose conflicts of interest? Or are they ordinary opinion-slingers, like barbers or bartenders, with no special responsibilities - or rights?
Barbers, Baristas ... [Read it here and read it now: Blogs give instant feedback Bloggers get set for State of the Union; Muscling up to fight cybercrime ]
• · Excuse me if I immodestly point out that you can now buy the Grumpy Old Bookman in book form: to be precise, in trade paperback format, available from most good bookshops and to be had from Amazon for a mere £9.09 and possibly free delivery if you buy something else as well. Book blog book
• · · Sam - let's call our interviewee Sam, it's suitably anonymous - lives in a three-bedroom semi-detached house in London, drives a vintage Jaguar and runs his own company. But "it's not not all rock and roll and big money", says Sam. What isn't? Spamming websites and blogs with text to pump up the search engine rankings of sites pushing PPC (pills, porn and casinos), that's what. Interview with a link spammer ; [Google: Microsoft punches miss their target ]
• · · · They published the Prime Minister's home phone number on the front page ("John Howard doesn't listen to the people so call him at home on ... ") and were then raided by the Federal Police. Chasers call off the pursuit as readers fail to get the joke ; [As the internet boosts the use of pornography, there are fears that for some it can become a dangerous addiction The perils of porn ]
• · · · · We asked each blogger such questions as: when and why did you start blogging? How has it met your objectives? Have your objectives evolved? What have been the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? How do you benefit from other blogs? What are your favorites and why? What advice do you have for other bloggers? Business Blogs: A Practical Guide; Blog Activity Over the Past 10 Months
• · · · · · 100 Top RSS, Atoms... ;

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