Thursday, July 28, 2005

this is what the labor party does, remember?

We have two Senators — one from the governing Coalition — willing to block the impending assault on the rights of the worker.

We also have a High Court challenge by the unions to the government’s propaganda campaign.

And what is ‘Bomber’ Beazley, our fabulous ‘Leader’ of the Opposition, going on about?

Terrorism. And security. And how Howard has left the country in an unprepared state.

Get a grip. (Somehow) You are the Leader of the Labor Party.

And people wonder why the ALP is stuck in opposition, and haemorrhaging members…

Monday, July 25, 2005

five bullets in the back of the head.

On Thursday, Tony Blair declared to his English constituency;

“We've just got to react calmly, get on with our business as normal.”

On Friday, an unarmed man was brought to the ground, and then shot five times, point blank, in the head. Because there was a suspicion he may be a suicide bomber. A main reason is because it’s summer in London, and he was wearing a parka. No one has openly suggested it was because his skin was not white.

Jean Charles de Menezes was a 27 year old Brazilian, working as an electrician and on his way to work. He was younger than I am.

The full story is still to come out. Police claim that they identified themselves, and that this unarmed man had attempted to flee, so they tackled and killed for fear that he was a suicide bomber with a bomb strapped to his torso.
There are so many questions remaining in all this is, why did he run? (Or did he even run?). Why were police so convinced that he was a bomber that they felt compelled to shoot him. The accounts of this violent manifestation of a city on edge differ greatly:
From the Times:
“[A] family member said that he [had recently been attacked and robbed in that area by a gang of young white men and thought the plain-clothes officers were muggers.
By far the most controversial claim comes from a number of witnesses who have cast doubt on police statements that they shouted a warning or identified themselves to the suspect before opening fire.
Lee Ruston, 32, who was on the platform, said that he did not hear any of the three shout “police” or anything like it. Mr Ruston, a construction company director, said that he saw two of the officers put on their blue baseball caps marked “police” but that the frightened electrician could not have seen that happen because he had his back to the officers and was running with his head down.
Mr Ruston remembers one of the Scotland Yard team screaming into a radio as they were running. Mr Ruston thought the man that they were chasing “looked Asian” as he tumbled on to a waiting Northern Line train.
Less than a minute later Mr Menezes was pinned to the floor of the carriage by two men while a third officer fired five shots into the base of his skull.
Again, Mr Ruston says that no verbal warning was given.”

The head of the Met has ‘apologised’ for the outcomes that result from the shoot-to-kill policy:
“To the family I can only express my deep regrets. What we have got to recognise is that people are taking incredibly fast-moving decisions in life threatening situations. There is no point in shooting in someone's chest because that is where the bomb is likely to be. There is no point in shooting anywhere else if they fall down and detonate it. The only way to deal with this is to shoot to the head.”

More on shoot-to-kill here.

This is frightening. Here we have the beginnings of a demise in civil society, with fear and suspicion and state control taking over, and individual rights and liberties steadily compromised under the umbrella of the fight against terror. All over the world, there are ongoing requests for more and more powers to detain without charge, for longer periods of time, with less reason. What is this supposed fight for, if not to maintain our civil society?

I agree with Tim Hames: “If al-Qaeda has created an atmosphere in which an ordinary person can have five bullets pumped into him by the police, and society shrugs its shoulders, then the terrorists have already won a modest victory.”

Thursday, July 21, 2005

run machine.

“[Mohammed Ali] says that the fight is won before you get in the ring, under the lights in the gym and on the streets, and I believe that as well. My preparation has been meticulous for this series. I had 12 rounds of boxing on Saturday; I’ve trained like a heavyweight fighter and now it’s business time. Australia versus England at Lord’s — it does not get better than that.”
Justin Langer, interviewed for the Times.

Everyone has been largely ignoring JL in the runup to the series. I wouldn't be so dismissive — he is a complete psycho, and a genuine run machine. Who has played a lot of cricket in England. And fantasises about beating the shit out of Steve Harmison.

*stop salivating with anticipation*

what does it take to get a new minister around here?

The Palmer Report was released last week, documenting the failure of the Department of Immigration, Multiculurallism and Indigenous Affairs with regards to Cornelia Rau and Vivian Alverez Solon. The list of fuckups continues to grow, with the two Hwang children now released.
Palmer said in his report that:
“Old values and attitudes must be removed, and a new, enabling culture must be fostered”.

I say, how about starting with the Minister?*
As you would expect, Vanstone refuses to accept that she has done anything wrong:
“I don't know that a new minister would do better, frankly”.

Arrogance personified. Is this “ignor[ing] criticism”? Is she “unwilling to question [her]self”? Is she solely interested in “justifying and protecting the status quo”? These are all concerns that Palmer raised about the nature of DIMIA (see pages 164-165).

Palmer goes on — DIMIA is “deaf” to the concerns of others, and, “people seem unwilling to accept ownership of matters beyond their immediate responsibilities … there [is] no effective management oversight”. I really don't know whether he is talking about Vanstone or the department.

Can we have some sort of ministerial responsibility? If Vanstone was a decent Minister, she would recognise that there had been systemic failure of DIMIA under her control. Whether or not this failure is the result of policies and structures implemented under her control is not the issue here — she has allowed it to continue, and has overseen this ongoing "culture of denial and defensiveness" and has done nothing to fix it. We need someone who can fix it.

* I would be happy with a Royal Commission to start with. However, the Howard government actually rewards incompetence and mismanagement, having already promoted the former Secretary of DIMIA, rather than questioning it.


I disagree with a lot of what he did. And I guess I do agree with some of it. I agree with of this (except the bit about not rubbishing the party). This is just a cracker of a quote:
I said "Tomorrow John" and he said "I know where your sympathies lie" and I said "I don't give a fuck. I have no sympathies any more. You're all a pack of shits and tomorrow I'm going bezerk". Well he went off his brain and in the end I said to him, I said "Howard. You're a cunt. You haven't got my support, you never will have and I'm not going to rubbish you or the party tomorrow but I feel a lot better having told you you're a cunt."
Jeff Kennett talking to Andrew Peacock about John Howard, from an intercepted car phone conversation, 23 March 1987.

Found via flute.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

blogging in baghdad.

This week’s Guardian Weekly (we only get it once a week here in Oz) supposedly contains an excerpt from a “Girl blog from Iraq”.* The blog, written by Riverbend, is worth reading to gain some an impression of what living under US occupation is like.

For example:
“Detentions and assassinations, along with intermittent electricity, have also been contributing to sleepless nights. We’re hearing about raids in many areas in the Karkh half of Baghdad in particular. On the television the talk about ‘terrorists’ being arrested, but there are dozens of people being rounded up for no particular reason. Almost every Iraqi family can give the name of a friend or relative who is in one of the many American prisons for no particular reason. They aren’t allowed to see lawyers or have visitors and stories of torture have become commonplace. Both Sunni and Shia clerics who are in opposition to the occupation are particularly prone to attacks by “Liwa il Theeb” or the special Iraqi forces Wolf Brigade. They are often tortured during interrogation and some of them are found dead.”

You may want to contrast this with Chrenkoff’s schlock about how good things are in Iraq. Of course, he is able to say how good things are in Iraq on the basis of his experiences ... with the Australian Liberal party, possibly in Brisbane (?).

Maybe it is worthwhile to recognise that not everything that goes on there (Iraq, not Brisbane) is terrible, and that there is hope for progressing beyond occupation. But if I am seeking commentary on the situation in Iraq I am always going to go to someone writing a blog from Baghdad over someone trawling media releases for anything that appears remotely responsive to positive spin. And her writing is so much more enjoyable.

Anyway, am going to keep on reading...

update: The Guardian entry is here. It is an extract from a forthcoming book. An introduction to the Chrenkoff blog can be found here.

* I say supposedly, because I have only heard about it being in the paper — someone may or may not have run off with my Guardian before I got to that bit.

only seven more sleeps.

It was good to see that last night the Australians put the upstart English back in their box, prior to the Ashes series that begins on 21 July. Only seven more sleeps ‘til the first Test. Of course, this is only pyjama cricket and is of no real importance, save to the bank balances of those concerned.

A few of things to be said about this cash cow one day series*;

  • Gillespie bowled quite decently last night (though he shouldn’t have dropped that catch), and so the Australian selectors are faced with a quandary as to what fast bowlers to take into the first Test at Lord’s.

  • It is good to see Ponting and Gilchrist (he really shouldn’t have dropped that catch, either) back in form. Gilchrist’s ability to deal with the English pitches — the ball coming onto the bat a bit more slowly and with less bounce — could be quite important in allowing Australia to post bigger scores than the English. And then you add JL to the mix…

  • Steve Harmison has looked awesome so far (especially that spell at Bristol), but last night he was mauled by the Australians, coming away from the game with the second worst ever one day figures for England (apparently part time bowler Derek Randall’s gentle lobs got him the worst ones ever). Harmison is very good, and is not to discounted, but he is not the bee’s knees like Glen McGrath.

  • Kevin Pieterson has to play in the Tests (though please bat him at 6). He is great to watch and just makes the game exciting — you know something is going to happen when he is there. Sort of like whenever Chris Judd gets the ball for West Coast.

  • Where do you fit Mike Hussey into the Australian Test side? He is so untroubled by the English conditions and attack it is disturbing. If Hayden or Clarke don’t make runs in the first Test, I would bring him in straight away for either of them (and if any Victorians say anything along the lines of, “what about Brad Hodge?”, just laugh and say “who’s he?”). In fact I would seriously consider dropping Clarke right now.

  • And finally the new one day rules have got it wrong — they do confer an unfair advantage on the side that has won the toss, not that this had any real effect on the best of three series. This can be easily changed by making the teams name their twelve players, toss the coin and decide who’s batting first and then decide who’s playing.

  • * I have to say them here because I could ramble on about this all day and no one will listen to me in real life.