BohemiAntipodean Samizdat

Monday, February 28, 2005

There ought to be a limit (she thought as she steered the bronze Chrysler through the cemetery gate) on the number of open graves you had to look down into in any given lifetime.
-Jon Hassler, North of Hope

In a welcome ruling for this newspaper, and the larger cause of robust journalism and government accountability, a federal judge in New York has barred a federal prosecutor's ill-conceived effort to get the phone records of two Times reporters from the fall of 2001 in order to discover the identity of their confidential sources A Victory for Press Freedom

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Pot meet kettle, kettle meet pot
President Klaus worries about the effect political scandals have on the country's good reputation. Yet his hands have been far from clean. So when did he change his tune?

President Vaclav Klaus, lamenting the apartment scandal surrounding Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, said, "I am afraid that confidence in politicians and politics has suffered another severe blow from which it will be recovering for a long time."
Another severe blow? I guess that means the country and its politics have suffered such batterings before. Let's see if I can remember any. Hmm.
Perhaps the president was referring to the time a party deputy chairman was tooling about Prague in a brand-new, top-end Mercedes, courtesy of two German brothers who had fled to the Czech Republic to dodge tax-evasion charges at home. The said deputy failed to declare the generous gift as income, as he should have, and failed to pay taxes on it.

Highest of Hypocrite: a person who professes beliefs and opinions that he does not hold [Interview: Israeli President Moshe Katsav ; This week Health Minister Tony Abbott revealed that he had made contact with the son he had given up for adoption 27 years ago. Father and son reunion ]
• · Setting the Stage for a New Cold War: China's Quest for Energy Security ; Nightmare of “a second Cuba” A spectre stalks the Americas
• · · When Ronald Reagan stood by the Berlin Wall in 1987 and told the Soviets to “tear down this wall,” German media made fun of him. Now they make fun of George Bush Could George W. Bush Be Right? ; Interview: Peter Costello
• · · · Interview: WA Premier Geoff Gallop ; As GM pointed out today, one of the most common sense way to eliminate the sensless police pursuits and inexperienced drivers going out of control is to ban passengers for drivers who are under 20 years of age. Defensive driving is a must Parents best aid for young drivers
• · · · · John Hatton back in 1990s tried to create an atmosphere of strategic thinking in relation to police pursuit, however his proposal was squashed. When will the carnage end? Police are as much victims here as the young drivers. Riot police today arrested 12 people and seized a rifle amid continuing violence sparked by the deaths of two teenagers in a stolen car 12 held as police brace for more riots ; Amid fears of further violence, rumours are flying in south-west Sydney over the identity of the driver who survived the fatal crash that sparked riots three nights running Spreading the Bad News
• · · · · · Rioters pelt police with Molotov cocktails ; The blaming game ...

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'

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
- Theodore Rooseve

It might feel like a quagmire now but shortly the dust will start to settle on the state election, which up until now has been dominated by the great canal debate. Whatever the result, there's one certainty: Western Australians will get a new Opposition Leader
Voting has begun in Western Australia in the first test of Labor's hold on power at a state level since last year's federal election Like the old Amerikan western movie: the choice is between a lesser bully

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Spread of the Cancer of A Mates Club
Cancer terror wars: Looks at arguments over awarding of cancer research funds.

There's more to the resignation of Professor David Morris as director of surgery at St George Hospital we've discovered. He's quit saying it is ethically, if not criminally, wrong to force cancer patients to wait on surgery lists for up to six months. While these remarks caused a predictable political row this week, Professor Morris, the Australian pioneer of radical and apparently successful surgical procedures on certain types of cancers, has also blasted the Carr government's new Cancer Institute and its director Professor Jim Bishop. He's alleging there's a mates club operating behind the provision of desperately needed cancer research funds. As you are will see, the Cancer Institute rejects this saying funds are allocated after rigorous merit assessment

Political Incompetence and Corruption Worse than Terrorism [Cancer patients are unnecessarily losing out in the workplace Workplace failing cancer patients ]
• · Bush and Putin met in Bratislava on Thursday. And survived! US President Bush's love fest with Europe continued on Thursday in Bratislava. Sort of Could Bush Be Right? -- Take Two ; At Thursday's mini-summit at a castle in Slovakia, George Bush and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, called each other 'George' and 'Vladimir...' But their body language spoke volumes ... Google: Bush-Putin tensions palpable
• · · A new book argues John Curtin never received his due for courageous and enduring reforms to the Australian economy Behind the curtain ; Statutes in Australia Laws and Sausages
• · · · Prosecutors are following a new lead that might shed more light on last year's dioxin poisoning of the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yushchenko. The Prosecutor-General, Svyatoslav Piskun, has acquired audiotapes of what appeared to be a conversation between Russian secret service officials discussing the alleged role of a Moscow political analyst in Mr Yushchenko's poisoning, said Vyacheslav Astapov. The man at the centre of the allegation - Gleb Pavlovsky, the head of a pro-Kremlin Moscow think tank - denied the suggestion he had the idea of giving Mr Yushchenko the Mark of the beast ; There has always been a fine line between art and pornography, but now the family snaps have been dragged into the debate Paranoia of the Sand
• · · · · Strathfield's bad apples ripe for picking Big state thieves always hang the little local thieves ; Google: On Bush and Putin
• · · · · · Bush meeting with Putin; praises Slovaks for democracy, fighting in Fighting in freedom's cause ; [President Bush's European charm offen sive continues apace, yesterday leap ing a most difficult potential hurdle: Russian President Vladimir Putin. To be sure, differences between the two remain — as was obvious during their joint press conference in Bratislava: Putin doesn't like being reminded by Bush (and other western leaders) that Russia is backsliding on democracy Bushtin ; President Bush told thousands of people in Hviezdoslavovo Square on Thursday that they and the United States are "allies and friends and brothers in the cause of freedom." Bush trip ends, but not all Euros are won over ]

Friday, February 25, 2005

While my Mamka, like the Pope, could not be there as she was in hospital with breathing problems the day after she celebrated her 88th birthday at home Petr was there!

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Summit: New Light Cast on Dark Matters
The US and Russian Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin met on the afternoon of February 24 in Bratislava castle, Slovakia. The talks started at around 15:30

Below is a list of topics expected to be discussed at the summit meeting
Democracy: The US and other western countries have expressed concerns that Russian is backing away from democratic principles.
Iran: Bush will try to persuade Putin that the Iranian nuclear programme is intended for the construction of a nuclear weapon. Russia is helping Iran to construct a nuclear power plant and believes Tehran's reassurances that it has no ambitions to create a nuclear bomb.
Nuclear safety: According to US administration sources, both leaders will announce agreements in the field of nuclear facilities' safety.
Neighbouring countries: Bush will express concerns over the problematic relationships that some former Soviet republics and now EU members (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia) have with Moscow.
Chechnya: Although Bush is often under pressure to be stricter on Moscow's actions in Chechnya, he perceives the Russian operation as a fight against "international" terrorism.
WTO: Putin will try to acquire confirmation of US support for Russian efforts to become a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Bilateral relations: Disagreements over democracy, the war in Iraq or the Iranian nuclear programme should not hurt strong bilateral relationships.

Big issues on the summit menu [The summit takes place at an especially historic moment Cringing before the East ; Lyudmila Putina and Laura Bush ; Google: Bush, Putin: Constructive talks ]
• · Our ABC of Albrechtsen ; Webdiary commentariat
• · · I just had a very important and constructive dialogue with my friend. It was great to see -- I know Laura was pleased to see Lyudmila Putin as well Bush, Putin Address the Media ; Bush upbraids Putin for backsliding on democracy
• · · · Almost four years ago, when U.S. President George W. Bush first met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovenia, it seemed he'd found a kindred spirit when it came to democratic values Another look into Putin's soul? ; Bush may give Putin some advice on democracy, but the Russian president seems in no mood to hear it Google: Bush, Putin Agree on Biological Nukes, Not Democracy
• · · · · Outrage grows at a catalogue of obfuscation and evasion in answer to requests for truth. You may ask questions - but the Government still has the freedom not to answer them Senators go dredging for political dirt ;
• · · · · · All the main characters in the plot to unseat the former mayor of Strathfield should be charged with criminal offences Charge the main players, says ICAC

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Imagine that God were to appear on Earth for the unlikely purpose of settling, once and for all, our disputes over economic policy. The Discipline of Choices. Julie McCrossin , a day before my name day on 18 March 2005, will tell us why it is essential that we develop the discipline of making the right choices in her speech God and me. Making Right Decisions in a Troubled World

Invisible Hands & Markets: Self Interest of Mirrors

A New Yorker cartoon depicts a well-heeled, elderly gentleman taking his grandson for a walk in the woods. "It's good to know about trees," he tells the boy, before adding, "Just remember, nobody ever made big money knowing about trees."
If the man's advice was not inspired directly by the economist's rational-actor model, it could have been. This model assumes that people are selfish in the narrow sense. It may be nice to know about trees, it acknowledges, but it goes on to caution that the world out there is bitterly competitive, and that those who do not pursue their own interests ruthlessly are likely to be swept aside by others who do.

The Theory That Self-Interest Is the Sole Motivator Is Self-Fulfilling [ Property developer accused of $3.2m tax fraud ; Rodney Adler has spoken for the first time about the impact the investigation into the HIH collapse has had on his family The terrible toll on my family ]
• · Critical Thinking About Energy The Case for Decentralized Generation of Electricity ; At least 6000 of their colleagues die every year, but China's coalminers tell Hamish McDonald they have nowhere else to go but underground Digging their own graves
• · · A would-be gas developer is confronting the power not of one but many
• · · · Building the American dream…or nightmare? ; Usually the wealthy individual is a businessman who has lived in the same town for all of his life. This person owns a small factory, a chain of stores, or a service company. He has married once and remains married. He lives next door to people with a fraction of his wealth The Millionaire Next Door vs. the Politician in Washington
• · · · · Military base sold for $1 billion ; Two men spend two years making a random 18-year-old gamer the subject of their art project, in which he is informed he is the savior of the future human race. Hoax as art There's Someone at the Door, He Says He's From the Future
• · · · · · The End of Budweiser The End of Super Bowl? ; How to conquer tax research: making the most of online resources, Colin Fong, Taxation in Australia, issue. 39, no. 7, 2005, pp. 362-370. The past ten years have seen enormous changes not only in terms of tax reform, but also in the way tax practitioners have acquired information about taxation. This article highlights how tax research can be conducted using the internet and how to optimise your time in finding useful and relevant information Colin Fong is one of the best Tax librarians in the world

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.

How did the great rivers and seas gain dominion over the
hundred lesser streams? By being lower than they. - Lao Tzu
Just as professionals built the Titanic and amateurs built Noah's Ark, it seems amateurs are crossing the Digital Rivers ... Welcome Mat on the Morava River

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Snow Castle: Bush, Putin in Blava
Children look at a snow sculpture of the Bratislava castle with flags and portraits of Russian president Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President George W. Bush are displayed in Bolesov village, about 140 kilometres north of Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday Feb. 21, 2005

For a pretty small country, it's a pretty big deal.
This week's summit in Bratislava between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will showcase Slovakia, which shook off Soviet-era communism and has become a staunch U.S. ally with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Slovaks hope hosting the leaders will raise the profile of their tiny nation, which Bush once famously confused with Slovenia during the 2000 American presidential campaign.

Bush seeks to begin a thaw in a Europe still cool to him [Best of Google on Bratislava Talks ; Czechs hope U.S. leader will press Russia on democracy ]
• · Slovak success story holds lessons for Bush ; The intrepid Russian spy, saving the Motherland if not the world, has come in from the cold In Russia, a Pop Culture Coup for the KGB ; Google on Summit
• · · Putin said the road to democracy must be adapted to the realities of Russian life, traditions, and history Russia Will Pursue Democracy On Its Own ; Three security rings will be formed in the Slovakian capital during the Russian-US presidential summit Google: on Security & Biological Weapons
• · · · Opponents of Communism Seek Prohibition of Party and its Symbols The Big Ban; Whatever you do, do not think of an elephant. I’ve never found a student who is able to do this. Every word, like elephant, evokes a frame, which can be an image or other kinds of knowledge: Elephants are large, have floppy ears and a trunk, are associated with circuses, and so on. The word is defined relative to that frame. When we negate a frame, we evoke the frame Don't think of a dragon
• · · · · Those watching from the sidelines as the reputation of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross further implodes over his housing scandal have the right to be very confusedEveryone loves a scandal ; If this be the case (and I'm not sure that it is) for a Christian, is the basic issue whether it is more moral to kill or be killed, with numbers have nothing to do with it. And is it reasonable to raise the question of whether it is only an assumption that it is necessarily better staying alive, at any cost. From here the moral debate spirals. For me, the clear message from Christ is that dogma itself is the trap, and that the golden rule is that 'as you judge so shall you be judged' And boy, can I judge: It pays to be prudent on morality in world politics
• · · · · · A decade after the Royal Commission into the NSW Police Force: Bloodied room cleaned by police ; Businesses had a legal responsibility to provide enhanced security at workplaces to thwart terrorist attacks Terrorist targets warned on duty of care

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A mere $5000 will buy you a seat at Mr Carr's table at the East Circular Quay restaurant ARIA on February 28. There has probably never been a more accessible Premier. The Premier will be joined by his new Treasurer, Andrew Refshauge, to discuss "infrastructure and the economy." Mr Mark Arbib said there had been a "strong response" to the dinner series. "There's a lot of interest in the new cabinet," he said.
The Greens upper house MP Lee Rhiannon slammed the dinner series as another way of "buying influence and buying favours" from the Government Lofty views and Carr access for $5000 a singing pop

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Freedom House

The February 13 issue of Parade Magazine in the States ran contributing editor David Wallechinsky’s list of “The World’s 10 Worst Dictators,” along with Wallechinsky’s “Dishonorable Mentions” list (i.e., No.s 11-20). An explanatory note told us that he prepared his list “after consultations with Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders---human-rights groups that have not hesitated to expose the policies of dictatorships on both the left and the right.” Parade Magazine‘s website even provided links to each of these four organizations. The list itself was prefaced with the following insight: “Leaders with absolute power too often abuse it.”

The World's 10 Worst Dictators? [ ; The Premier, Bob Carr, vetoed the purchase, allowing Kerry Packer's PBL to move in Buying SuperDome was seen as cheapest option ; SOMETIMES there are perks in a premier's life -- and, if the smirk on this one's face was anything to go by, yesterday was one of Bob Carr's perkier days as six leggy showgirls greeted him at the Sydney launch of Mel Brooks' The Producers Premier's razzle-dazzle ; Bob Carr (Australian politician) Wikipedia ]
• · Federal State Relations ; The Daily Telegraph revealed yesterday that subcontractor Alstom had warned BHEgis it was failing to perform vital maintenance and was breaching its agreement with the Government. Meanwhile, Premier Bob Carr has called the M5 East manager who scheduled roadworks to avoid parliamentary sitting days a dunce ; The ALP will review the party's rules governing the conduct of councillors in local government, several ALP local government representatives having been named in corruption inquiries Tony Kelly
• · · Donald Boudreaux, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review -Wrongheaded notions about the economy are always in high supply. Most calamitous was the idea that central planning outperforms the market. The pulverizing poverty and tyranny of the former Soviet Union, North Korea, and similar Workers' Paradises have ended that particular illusion. Other less disastrous but equally mistaken notions about the economy remain on the loose -- for example, that tariffs promote prosperity. Capitalism & Slavery ; The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must, wrote Thucydides 2500 years ago and, given the state of anarchy, distrust and chronic insecurity in which states continue to exist, that remains true today. Moral standards can and should be applied to foreign policy, but the morality that is appropriate to the soiled, selfish and dangerous world of power politics is a modest one. Its goal is not perfection - not utopian bliss - but decency. It is, more often than not, a morality of the lesser evil, of prudence. Prudence requires that one is often prepared to settle for half a loaf, rather than making the best the enemy of the good
• · · · By Debra Saunders - How does freedom slip away? It doesn't happen all of a sudden, without warning. It erodes in stages. One day, you read that an employer has fired four employees because they refused to follow the company's no-smoking policy -- including not smoking in their own homes on their own time -- and that's OK because you don't smoke. A year or two later, employers go after your pet vice -- eating, tippling, maybe snowboarding -- and then, such a policy is an outrage Where There's Smoke, You're Fired ; Warranty insurance is important for consumers and those who want to lie and thumb their noses at the requirements can expect to be rubbed out themselves. NSW Trade Union movement erasing people from existence - Freudean Slip. Who will get rid of that trader? (traitor) John the don ; Melbourne Airport's mystery leak Thousands stranded, 57 sick as gas mystery deepens
• · · · · Twenty-seven years after handing his baby boy over for adoption, Tony Abbott received the phone call that changed his life forever Discovering Daniel ; Google and Tony Abbott
• · · · · · The anti-Bush billionaire supported lawyer who aided terrorists Soros Funded Stewart Defense; Hardly... ; The bitter chill in the air will not be confined to the weather in Bratislava when the US President, George Bush, renews his acquaintance with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in the snow-covered Slovakian city this week Not quite Cold War, just a cool welcome

Monday, February 21, 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

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Arbib, son of a Libyan-born, Italian-speaking father, is one of the architects of a strategy to weld the votes of right-leaning federal Labor MPs from Queensland, Victoria and NSW into a solid bloc that can be delivered to Beazley as and when he needs it At first glance Mark Arbib appears an unlikely ALP powerbroker
Dissent is un-American and therefore justifiably punished by a fine, imprisonment Kids Say the Darndest, Most Stalinist Things

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Courage Under Fire
While having Byrnes as a big player might be poison for the share price, Sydney Gas executives have an even bigger PR disaster on their hands: a swag of celebrities campaigning to thwart the company's mining ambitions.
Leading the charge are the best-selling author Bryce Courtenay, the barrister Tony Davis and the scriptwriter-producer Gary Reilly. They say the mining will destroy the beauty of the Yarramalong and Dooralong valleys north of Sydney and seriously damage the water table. A would-be gas developer is confronting the power not of one but many

Four years ago the Premier, Bob Carr, and the Sydney Gas chief executive, Bruce Butcher, "turned on the gas" about 50 kilometres south-west of Sydney in front of 250 guests.
"NSW contains enormous coal-bed methane [natural gas] resources," the company declared. "However, to this point, no-one has been able to successfully extract methane from the geological province known as the Sydney Basin in sufficient quantities [to make] it commercially viable."
Since then Sydney Gas has gone about its business with varying degrees of success - it is yet to post a profit - and plenty of controversy.

Get it while it is hot [Bear Pit Pollies ; I think it was John Kenneth Galbraith, speaking in the early 1960s, the high point of post-New Deal liberalism, who pronounced conservatism dead. Conservatism, he said, was "bookless," a characteristic Galbraithian, which is to say Olympian, verdict Not Much Left ; The word terrorism is on everyone's tongue but what is it? Anthony Gregory gives us his views on the subject in Targeting Civilians at Hiroshima and Nagasaki Let's assume that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified to protect our political and cultural way of life then can't the same be said for the jihadists who see America and western civilization as a threat to their culture. Can you justify one and not the other? ]
• · Putin says Iran is not making nukes — One guy, at least, seems optimistic about Iran's nuclear ambitions: President...If Putin is an ally then perhaps we need a new definition of the word ally ; It hasn't been a good week for the Federal Government, under pressure over Australia's alleged involvement in the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners, the torture of Guantanamo detainee, Mamdouh Habib, and the treatment of mentally ill Australian resident, Cornelia Rau. Interview: Kim Beazley ; For the past several years, the conventional wisdom has been that the United States and Europe have grown apart, that the end of the cold war and 9/11 have produced a strategic divergence that is impossible to overcome. Tensions over Iraq, Iran, Israel, the environment and other issues purportedly demonstrated that Americans and Europeans were going their separate ways A Concrete Strategy for Mending Fences
• · · The craft of politics is expensive and requires increasingly large amounts of money to operate. But, writes Paul Williams, if democracy is to be safeguarded, political parties must resist the increasing pressure donors appear to be placing on recipients of their largesse The rising price of political donations ; Habib: The tortured truth
• · · · Well, the seven judges who we blocked, nothing has changed about them and we're going to try to block them. I mean, the charge of obstructionist is laughable. It seems like, you know, President Bush and his Republican colleagues want one-party rule. Judging Judges ; When David Boies stands up to speak today to lawyers in Miami, he won't use a text, and the odds are that he won't refer to the single-page outline that he always commits to memory when he gives a speech. The Word According to David Boies
• · · · · Ruddock met Israeli 'spy' once, at baggage carousel Only Once ; The third time this happens, I am going to to throw the wake. Ken Bruen has developed an unfortunate habit of being declared dead prematurely. The first time happened last November, when the Galway government council gave him a "vote of sympathy" for his Shamus win, an honor only accorded to the nonliving. After some embarrasment and hilarity, the matter was resolved. But now it's happened again. Phyl [ed. Ken's wife] got a letter from the Inland Revenue commiserating with her on the death of her husband but alas. if art imitates life, than is the acclaimed Galway author Ken Bruen being taken over by one of the sinister plots in his own novels? Who wants Ken Bruen dead?
• · · · · · Early last year, a bill was tabled in federal parliament proposing various changes to the proceeds of crime laws. The effect of these complex changes was that individuals who had engaged in conduct that was illegal in a foreign country but not necessarily illegal in Australia at the time it was committed would now be liable to confiscation orders. If it could be proven that their conduct was illegal in Australia at the time the government applied for a confiscation order then any income earned from notoriety associated with that conduct could be forfeited to the government Mamdouh Habib should be allowed to earn a living ; Iran and Syria declared that they would form a "common front to face threats

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

It Helps to Remember that the Wolves Arrive in Sheepskins Measuring Investment in Blogging – The CEO Bloggers Club

Invisible Hands & Markets: Turnbull has taxing thoughts

Malcolm Turnbull, believed to be the richest person to sit in the Australian Parliament, had some advice for his new Coalition colleagues yesterday: before the Federal Government considers cutting tax rates for the rich it needs to crack down on tax avoidance

Everybody apart from tax practitioners are in the dark about tax matters. It is a black art
Turnbull's tax warning [Debate on Tax ; Business offers tax remedy ]
• · Yesterday’s Fin had a piece by Louise McBride arguing for cuts in personal income tax rate, and including the claim that, according to Tax Office stats, Australian companies had a total taxable income of $1.1 trillion, far more than individuals (about $300 billion), even though individuals pay far more in income tax. McBride’s stats imply that company profits are approximately 150 per cent of GDP ; Watching the human heards: We have an incentive system that directs ... a disproportionate amount of investment into housing The Goldilocks years are over
• · · Australia has 21 per cent of the world’s poker machines Regulating social problems ; A SQUAD of 200 tax collectors would hit 200,000 high-income earners with superannuation tax bills backdated eight years after a $323 million tax office bungle, a Senate committee was told yesterday. Superannuation lottery ; Two shonky financial advisers have dudded more than a thousand people out of their life savings. That's just the tip of the iceberg of superannuation fraud: Andrej and Martin Michalik Up the creek without a pole or a paddle
• · · · Like an incoming tide that lifts all boats, the rising sharemarket looks to have raised our view of the money world. Soaring share portfolios and sparkling super balances have turned our heads. We have even stopped complaining so much about stock brokers and financial planners. Whingers on the wane ; How do you find a good financial adviser? There is a new website which will get you off to a good start Rainmaker
• · · · · A troubling paradox about corporate philanthropy has surfaced. Is such largesse even legal? Tsunami: the backlash ;
• · · · · · Carly Fiorina's confrontational tenure as a Silicon valley CEO unravels - with a $27m handshake Silicon Valley star's fatal error

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Romance is in the air today across the land. But in Washington, the buzz continues about The Kiss No, not Gustav Klimt's famous painting. It's the big fat one an exuberant President Bush planted on Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman's right cheek as he waded through the Capitol crowd after the State of the Union a couple of weeks ago.

Republicans, the environment, and the Second Coming: The origins of a liberal myth Fear of the religious right: after the last tree is felled, Christ will come back

Claims and counter-claims, but where's the evidence?
Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Biological Espionage
With the coming into effect of the Kyoto protocol, the use of nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has taken greater prominence in debate as world prices are rising
Despite terrorists’ demonstrated preference for conventional explosive devices, the possibility that a weapon of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear [CBRN]) could be acquired and used by terrorist groups is now conceivable. Potential targets might include food sources and water supplies, heavily populated urban centers, and infrastructure critical to government and economic activity. Changing tactics, the potential use of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons, and threats to the infrastructure represent current realities in the fight against Al Qaeda and its adherents.

Soviet sabotage agents planned to leave phials of lethal bacteria at Western military establishments, including an Australian naval base, a former KGB spymaster has revealed.
The scientist, Alexander Kouzminov, said agents prepared sites where the phials would be placed, ready to poison military figures, civilian settlements and political leaders in the event of war against the Soviet Union. Dr Kouzminov said he was required to evaluate the effectiveness of the sites: "I remember one of the operational files given to me for analysis - five pages of typed text with attached diagrams and clandestine photos of places selected for dead drops close to a naval base in Townsville, Australia, which was used by the US Navy."

Soviet spies planned poison attack on Australia [Grave-side of that Past Thing: Beyond WMD and Beyond Anthrax: The Axis of Research - Svit, Neratovice, Bratislava, Chernobyl, Kiev ...; Google: Pipes, Polls, and Paranoia ]
• · Germany's former spy chief, who was a key figure in a huge slush fund scandal surrounding ex-chancellor Helmut Kohl's conservative party forces was extradited to Germany from France on Thursday Shandy of schande ,
• · · Openness and honesty are rare concepts in the debate over public space. Call me naive, but I still hang out for the occasional public truth. But while the rhetoric is all public interest, reality suggests quite another priority-set. A whole new meaning to the word icon ; Cinnamon Stillwell, San Francisco: Those who favor smaller government will likely be familiar with the term "nanny state." A nanny state is defined as "a government which tries to give too much advice or make too many laws about how people should live, especially about eating, smoking or drinking alcohol." Perhaps not coincidentally, nanny states and blue states tend to go hand in hand. San Francisco Is Nanny State USA
• · · · C. Hurt & S. Dinan, Wash Times Frist Has Votes to Change Filibuster Rules ; It took the presidency of a privileged son of a president who spent his time in the White House doing the bidding of well-connected businessmen to first bring together the Democratic Party Democrats, once again, are the party of 'the plain people
• · · · · They have provided a forum for a host of Arab politicians and commentators not just to express their sadness, but also their suspicions over who might have killed him - and fears for what the future might hold. Arab media outrage at Hariri killing ; Google: Rafic al-Hariri (1944-2005); The issue is very complex, but The Australian Federal Police believes Mamdouh Habib trained to be a mercenary for the terrorist group al-Qaeda I'm no terrorist, but I won't say why I was there ; Sorry seems the hardest word
• · · · · · Question Canberra! Er, but not Sydney! When their wait for an appointment becomes too painful to endure, some public patients are resorting to homemade dental remedies such as Superglueing their dentures Glue and pliers for those who can't bear to wait ; A Herald investigation today revealed patients in NSW were waiting up to eight years for attention while the number of children needing hospital treatment had doubled over the past decade. Bizarre Zuby

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A few days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, I found myself in the center of Dresden, standing in front of a pile of stones that formed a memorial, remnants of a city that was destroyed by British and American planes at the end of World War II. The passersby appeared to me like the city itself: gray and haunted by their past. A few East German policemen in black boots who looked like Nazis, very young and very blond, stood beside me, also gazing at the monument, and for a moment I thought of telling them that I am not to blame for what happened to their city; really I'm not. Because they belonged to a generation that was taught in communist schools that the city's demolition in February 1945 was one of the crimes of imperialism and capitalism - that is, crimes perpetrated by the world that was on the west side of that wall and anyone who came from there, myself included.
East Germany dealt with its Nazi past with relative ease: It is not us, the good, communist Germans, who are to blame for the regime's crimes, but them, over there in the west, the capitalist bastards. With the encouragement of the Soviet Union, East Germany created the theory that the Nazis, the British and the Americans as one were agents of evil: They built Buchenwald, they destroyed Dresden.

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Stones Cry Out

Imagine that mind reading were suddenly imposed on humanity automatically transmitting all our thoughts to those around us. Involuntary telepathy would destroy countless marriages as wives learned of their husbands perverse fantasies. Bosses would fire millions after they found out what their employees really thought of them. Police would be inundated with reports of ordinary citizens contemplating hideous crimes. But eventually we would realize that all humans harbor evil thoughts and an equilibrium would emerge in which we forgave bad thoughts that didn't lead to terrible deeds.

Will Blogs Produce a Chilling Effect? [Arthur Chrenkoff is an Australian Polish writer and reformed Soviet blogger: Like a four-year-old child, the media were so distracted by bright colours and loud noises that they missed the real story. The End of the Beginning ; Maryland's faux-family-values Governor Erlich had to fire his aide for getting caught spreading FALSE rumors about the family life of a potential opponent. Hey Mr. Erlich! ]
• · On first impression, the latest news about the Iraqi election returns has confirmed my most optimistic hopes. Granted, my expectations weren't very high, but things could have turned out a lot worse.... Successfully holding the election was itself a remarkable triumph (under the circumstances)... and the results give the Iraqis just about the best possible chance they could have gotten to put together a decently acceptable political future for the country - if they don't blow it, of course The election results in Iraq ; A tale of two Shiites ; - Michael Hirsh and John Barry, Newsweek Reason to Worry: Kim Jong Il
• · · Like a canary in a mine shaft, Mexico is beginning to exhibit signs of distress and we should take the warning on board and begin to address the challenge.... With the US preoccupied with the war on terrorism little attention has been paid to what once was a "war on drugs". It is time for policymakers to recognize that these wars are different sides of a security threat and that actions to address one threat can be used to address the other. A Terror War in Mexico? ; Check this post from Littlegreenfootballs. Bertrand Pecquerie, Director of the World Editors Forum, argues that [Eason] Jordan is the victim of a new “McCarthyism Provisional Epitaph for Easongate/It ain’t over ’til the tape rolls
• · · · Michael McGough, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Are 'Free Speech' Judges Liberal? ; A media release from St Vincent de Paul Society on the topic of parliament's consideration of tax cuts which will favour high income earners. Whatever happened to Robin Hood? - Vinnies
• · · · · Jack Robertson: The hands that signed the papers ; One of the more tiresome canards about liberal Democrats is that they're so angry, so bristling with righteous indigation and moral superiority, that they turn off moderates and fans of the mellow sounds of FM 106.7 From Some Lemons No Lemonade Can Be Made
• · · · · · Doug Arellanes Shaped Like Prague ; Stanislav Gross said his uncle lent him the cash for the flat deposit. An anti-corruption watchdog has asked Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to explain how he paid for his luxury apartment in Prague five years ago Czech PM faces corruption claim ; Even if the money for the prime minister's apartment came from Hitler, it's nobody's business. That's what Stanislav Gross' Uncle Frantisek Vik is telling the press after being questioned for the umpteenth time about whether he loaned his charismatic nephew 2.5 million Kc ($108,225) to buy an apartment. Intimate Dinners with Stan (Meaning Tent) ; Toss another log onto the fire of current events. Nothing keeps pundits and newshounds warm in deepest winter like a red-hot political scandal. 'Apartmentgate' not likely to fade for Stanislav Gross ; Critics press for clearer answers over luxury flat; PM Gross says he has nothing to hide Under The Spotlights

Monday, February 14, 2005

There comes a time in any man's life when he realizes that he is an insignificant speck of dust careering aimlessly through the cosmic woof of time. I've lurked the blogs, read the trades, surfed the web and exchange in "chats" with so many other dissatisfied writers, that if I scribble only one idea this entire month, I want it to be this heartfelt wish of warmth from the bottom of my pen on this Valentine's Day 2005 for each of you. Kvetch, kvell & klassy

Tracking Trends Great & Small: The Flame & Flower: Much Ado About You
I fell in love with romances on the spot. But my father was a poet, and he would have preferred that I had fallen in love with Whitman

Dman you precious virgins! snarled the bodice-ripping rake over the sound of tearing silk. It was fifth-grade choir practice in the spring of 1972, and I was learning about sex from a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss's "Flame and the Flower" that a classmate had purloined from his mom. Now that was a bodice-ripper: passionate, crazed and outrageously overwrought.

I've a good notion that many people, no matter their reading preference, are hoping for a Valentine's Day that involves a bit of flying lingerie.
There's enough wrong with publishing without us keeping alive this old sterotype [Once the realm of poets, artists and philosophers, love has been exposed as biochemistry Two Decades of Exile, Love & Sex; As psychology advances its understanding of the mind and brain, perhaps the last bastion of mystery about why we do what we do remains our perplexing behaviour around love and romance. Lovers, beware candlelight’s allure ]
• · The state is not only virginal and sexually attractive, it is also populated by people who are innocent to the point of being stupid. The Hindus and the Jews are the people who want to sexually violate this virgin State as a ‘violable’ virgin ; Can true love survive political differences? Passing the Political Mouse
• · · We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights - though, of course, V.I.P.'s must be taken care of, as they are in any other circumstance The Age of the Resume Gods ; Imagine there's no accountability; it's easy if you try
• · · · Announcement from WikiMedia: Google Inc. has made a proposal to host some of the content of the Wikimedia projects. Gookimedia ; About All of Us The Unassociated Press ; Bibliography of Online Research Tools and Trends
• · · · · Why does the Web's biggest retailer want you to confide your hopes, dreams and aspirations to a Web site called 43 Things? It's not telling. On the Internet, nobody knows you're, if you hide behind the friendly face of an independent start-up Salon investigates 43 Things ; Maud tells us about a new column in The New Republic called "Found in Translation," focusing on translated works that have been neglected by the media Increasingly, writers, readers and publishers are turning to literature as a bridge between cultures
• · · · · · The fortuanes of spa holiday resorts can ebb and flow like the tide. Lovers of hot spars are no longer like a sheep and insecure. They have done their homework on the internet. When I was young we used to head on weekends to Ruzbachy, but to escape the costs and queues today people head to Vrbov by name and its spring is boiling ; Hungarians are obsessed with bathhouses, but Peter Hay remains high and dry

Sunday, February 13, 2005

We cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror

Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Doing it for the Freedom: I Suspect We Might All be Doomed
Most Eastern Europeans say to George Soros: You should win the Nobel Prize No one in my eyes has shown interest in social issues in the underdeveloped countries as George Soros. He has funneled massive sums into education, public health, science and non-governmental groups, mostly in the former communist bloc. It is hard to think of anyone who deserves to be Nobel laureate more than him ... especially if we decide to judge the depth and breadth of his character according to the idea developed by Franklin D. Roosevelt: I ask you to judge me by the enemies I have made.

George Soros, the billionaire investor, yesterday told a Paris appeal court that he was innocent of the charges that led to his conviction for insider trading in France.
The 74-year-old investment wizard, whose Quantum Fund is now worth US$8.3 billion (euro6.5 billion), indicated on Thursday that he was more concerned about clearing his name than avoiding the fine, calling the original guilty verdict a gift to my enemies.

Save Me from my foxy enemies ; [Google on Soros ; Another Russian Stan (Tent) ; Webdiary on Korea: Axis of Not So clear ; Set in Iran from 1928 to 1981, Morteza Baharloo's debut novel is about a devoted servant to a dynastic family of rural landowners Nuclear Seeds: The Quince Seed Potion ; Iran by the Book ]
• · She Loves You: Family life at Number 10, fess by Cherie ; Parents are among the major culprits when children pack on the pounds Parents to blame for obese children
• · · You can send up the the wasted opportunities. It is in the rules of democracy! When Size Matters: I can't explain it. I had no role in it ;-) ; Naked Eye of Alex Mitchell and Kerry-Anne Walsh - Sun Herald - notes that State Libs are angling for a Howard favourite. David Elliott, who resigned last week as national affairs manager for the Australian Hotels Association, was responsible for reorganising and refocusing the national office in Canberra and opening many doors to powerful people....With federal, state and council elections all to be held in 2007, the recruitment of Elliott would send shudders through the cave-dwellers in Sussex Street, headquarters of NSW Labor Party; Naked Eye also notes that Next week Sydney Harbour Foreshore will be under spotlight in NSW Parliament; Also Frank Sartor the previous director of the Public Accounts Committee in NSW, former Mayor of Sydney, has a new minder in Ross Neilson. As a result, ethnic guru Aldo Pennini will be back working for the Canadian Indian Walter Secord of Premier Bob Carr fame Report from Africa: The case ruffled feathers of politicians in New South Wales state, leaving Premier Bob Carr pondering the mysteries of life ; I asked the scholar-premier what preoccupies him these days. He rolled his eyes. "Services. Just keeping health care and transit working." What dominates this fascinating man's career? Events. At least he was well-read enough to expect no better. Down Under Politics 101 ; One gun in the hands of a criminal was one gun too many ; NSW Operation Peregnine is a multi-phase operation targeting different political crime types, commencing with the more serious to the less serious leaks. ID Card - Bring Them On!
• · · · It is unlikely Don Bradman would ever have taken a banned substance. If he had, however, it is inconceivable that he would have blamed his mother. Balancing money and compassion ; Tax concessions designed to help small businesses are having the opposite effect Small end of town ;
North, south and west of the big smoke they shake their heads and ask: Why buy in Sydney when you get more bang for your buck here? You'd have to be bonkers to buy a house in Sydney
• · · · · Public fury at Carr over state of services Public satisfaction with the state's hospitals and public transport system has plummeted following well-publicised scandals and bungles ; The Royal remarriage is another installment in the survival tale that is the British monarchy and the NSW Legislative Council: What was it Shakespeare said: ‘The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables?” Dr Meredith Burgmann, the republican and Queen representative in the NSW Legislative Council of NSW observed “I think it’s time we swapped the British royals for Princess Mary of Denmark. That way we would get a shiny nice Australian woman as queen who looks good in a hat.” The Ernie Awards: A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse ; Sandra Lee writes: Some of the overworked (humour me!) members of the NSW Upper House are worried about changes to their leisurely lunches with the recent resignation of Michael Egan. Despite his political shortcomings and tax, tax-nad-more-tax mantra, the State’s former chief bean-counter was known for his gentlemanly ways in the legislative chamber. Among them was his occasional penchant for insisting on 90-minutes lunch breaks when the House was insession, ensuring that members returned well watered and better fed for postprandial debate. Upper Dismay
• · · · · · A scandal about the sexual abuse of Congolese women and children by U.N. officials and peacekeepers intensified Friday with the broadcast of explicit pictures of a French U.N. worker and Congolese girls and his claim that there was a network of pedophiles at the U.N. mission in Congo Explicit Photos Fan U.N. Sex Scandal ; Sending in the political clowns by tell-tale e-mail - Stephen Loosley. E-mail is a permanent record of sin. Or perhaps to put it more accurately, a permanent record of perceived sin. Whatever it takes, but no email