Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will "Better To Be Safe Than Sorry" Be The Liberals Election Campaign Mantra?

The only line about the Dr Mohamed Haneef fiasco dumber than John Howard's "better to be safe than sorry" dismisser, was Alexander Downer's pathetically sooky "Get real" whine.

But was Howard actually giving the Liberals federal election campaign slogan a bit of an early airing?

Howard claimed that when it comes to terror, "It's better to be safe than sorry". A line that, if it actually held water, could be used for virtually any injustice, false detention or personal smear campaign by the Howard government that had even the barest of linkages to the 'War on Terror' or national security. It's a disturbing precedent.

Some Muslim bloke gets shot dead for wearing a backpack that looks a bit suspicious?

Better to be safe than sorry.

An innocent man gets detained and held without charge for a few weeks or a few months, or in the case of David Hicks, a few years?

Better to be safe than sorry.

Billions of taxpayers' money pulled out of education and health and re-directed to unjustified foreign wars and completely invasive homeland security?

Better to be safe than sorry.

Michelle Grattan lays out the facts of John Howard's involvement in the Dr Haneef fiasco, under a headline that asks if the 'War on Terror' really does mean that anything goes now :
By yesterday, however, Howard was circling the wagons, as was Alexander Downer, who bluntly told sceptics to "get real". Howard said there'd be no apology, and mistakes happen.

The message is, if you are dealing with allegations to do with terrorism, forget highfalutin notions of accountability.

Here's the embarrassing Alexander Downer sookfest quotes in full, after being asked if Dr Haneef was owed an apology from the Australian Federal Police or ministers in the Howard government :

A request for an apology seemed to offend Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

"What do you expect them to do, fall on the ground and grovel - eat dirt - I mean, get real. This is a quite common situation," he said.

Mr Downer shrugged off the critics of the bungled case as political operatives with an axe to grind.

"[It is] an attempt here by Howard-haters to try to paint the Government as having conducted the investigations unsuccessfully and this was all some political stunt - I think that's pretty reprehensible," he said.

What's wrong with Downer? Is he mentally or emotionally unstable? Why does he get so easily wound up and unfurl such patently ridiculous answers to simple questions from reporters? It's clear Downer is losing it. He should be drip-fed valium during the APEC summit in September so he doesn't embarrass himself, and the country, in front of world leaders.

The only thing more laughable than Downer's whining is his government's repeated use of the Andrew Bolt line that anybody who dares to question the motives of the prime minister is automatically a "Howard hater".

That Downer has been reduced to viewing any criticism or finding of faults in the actions of the Howard government as being part of some broad conspiracy, or proof of hatred, is another sign of the crippling paranoia infecting the government right now. They are beset with The Fear, and it shows every time someone like Downer has a hissy-fit.

What Downer is actually saying when he calls millions of Australians "Howard Haters" is that he thinks the government should not be held to account, and should not have to tolerate genuine, and well deserved, criticism.

Absolutely pathetic.

The Howard government could try and cling to its hold on power with a $100 million advertising blitz in the weeks before election day ringing out its "Vote Liberal. Better To Be Safe Than Sorry" message.

But the polls clearly show, in the huge numbers of former Howard voters now backing Rudd, that plenty of Australians are already sorry about the choice they made back in 2004.

It's unlikely Howard can say, or do, much now to win them back.

And trying to fear up the electorate, when more than half already clearly trust Kevin Rudd, is not going to work.

If Howard & Friends go for The Fear this time, it will show just how far out of touch they really are with the Australian people.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Dr Haneef Back Home In India

Keelty : The Brits Blew It

Claim : $200,000 For Haneef's First Interview

UPDATE : Contrary to earlier reports, presumably leaked by the police involved, and that we based the last lines in the below story on, Dr Haneef said in his first public statement that he was victimised by the authorities during his time in their custody.

Dr Mohamed Haneef has arrived back in India after three weeks in Australian custody, leaving behind a storm of controversy assaulting the Howard government and the Australian Federal Police.

Howard sent Tony "The Cleaner" Abbott and Malcolm "Mr Nice Guy" Turnbull onto Sunday morning talk shows to try and undo some of the political damage the Haneef fiasco has caused. Abbott and Turnbull's main line of parry and defence was to claim the Rudd opposition supported the government over what happened to Dr Haneef. Disingenuous at best.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Mick Keelty, is pushing the main blame for the Haneef fiasco back onto the British authorities, who he claims first told them that a SIM card once owned by Dr Haneef was found in the burning vehicle that crashed into glass doors at an airport in Scotland earlier this month. It was later revealed the SIM card was found hundreds of miles away.

Stories this morning claim that Dr Haneef was paid between $100,000 and $200,000 for an exclusive interview with the 60 Minutes television program.

The interview was said to have been conducted in the hours at the airport before Dr Haneef boarded the plane that took him back home, and back to his family.

Here's the Mick Keelty 'Blames The Brits' story from the Sydney Morning Herald:
Mr Keelty said British police initially told AFP investigators that Dr Haneef's mobile phone SIM card had been found inside a Jeep allegedly used by his second cousin, Kafeel Ahmed, in a failed car bombing in Glasgow on June30.

Instead, the SIM card had been found in the home of Kafeel's brother, Sabeel, in Liverpool...

But Mr Keelty said: "Whatever else you may think of Haneef, the fact remains his SIM card was found in the possession of the person labelled as a [suspect]" in the failed Glasgow attack.

Mr Keelty said the case had been "poorly handled by some sections of the media".

"There is a lot of confusion at the beginning of any complex investigation...errors in the investigation came to us from the UK...we're all under time pressures," he said.

On (Immigration Minister Kevin) Andrews's intervention in the case, Mr Keelty said: "You can't blame Andrews. He acted on our information."

A report here claims that one of the conditions of Dr Haneef's immediate release from 'home detention' yesterday was that he would not give a media conference at the airport before flying back to India :
Immigration authorities had also made it a condition of Dr Haneef's return to India that he did not speak to the media or allow his picture to be taken.

Mr Russo said he had tried to organise for Dr Haneef to speak to the media before his departure but was not able to.

Mr Russo said Dr Haneef could speak about his ordeal once he left Australia but he would rather he did not speak publicly before his visa appeal on August 8.

Mr Russo said Dr Haneef's legal team was disappointed that he was prevented from publicly thanking Australians who supported him during his detention.

"This has been a severely traumatic time for him, made worse by the fact that his wife has just had their first child, a baby Dr Haneef has not even seen yet. His mother is also ill and he wants to be there with her."
Dr Haneef's wife is obviously very happy that she is getting her husband back, after three weeks of intense pressure and damaging media speculation.

The Indian Government wants Australia to restore Dr Haneef's visa, but Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews says, for now, that is not going to happen.

This editorial from Arab News is a good example of the slamming tone much international media, particularly in Arab and Muslim states, and across India, are now taking on "the appalling treatment metted out to the doctor."

Dr Haneef is widely portrayed as a victim of a vindictive and racist Australian government, who went after Dr Haneef for being a Muslim first and above all, with his family connection to a British terror suspect as merely a grounds for suspicion.

The line taken by Howard government ministers that this fiasco has not damaged Australia's international reputation, or the credibility of its fight against terror, is laughable.

If there is any good news from this fiasco, it is that Dr Haneef appears to have been sympathetic to the police during their interrogations of him, understanding the pressure they were under, and that he was treated with a certain level of decency by those who detained him. In short, he wasn't tortured, unlike terror suspects detained in the United States, Afghanistan, Iraq and across the Middle East.

The Haneef Fiasco : An International Embarrassment

Haneef's Wife Thanks Supporters

Haneef Free But Fallout Rages

Immigration Still "Suspicious" Of Haneef As He Flies Home

Farewell From The Land Of The "Fair Go"

"Disgraceful Treatment" Of Mohamed Haneef Part Of Howard's Political Games

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Army Recruiting Posters Scrapped For Being "Offensive"

UPDATE : The poster series discussed in this story have now been scrapped by the Department of Defence

The above is a screengrab from the news.com.au homepage, showing two images from a new series of Army recruiting posters. There's a bit of a kerfuffle over the use of a buxom, doey-eyed cartoon woman in the posters, mostly because some female soldiers feel this portrayal of a female digger like that is inappropriate.

But as regular reader Rollie points out, perhaps there is a more subliminal form of offensive imagery going on in that poster to the left.

Rollie (via e-mail) :
"I'm not a perv, but I'll be fucked if I don't see a huge cock and balls in profile in the steam coming off that soup pot she's stirring. Am I wrong?"
We didn't actually notice it until Rollie pointed it out, but know we know it's there, it's impossible not to see it.

Yep. It's a cock and balls all right.

This story claims the posters are about to be recalled.

We, and now you, know why.

Stuck for something to read?

Darryl Mason is the author of the free, online novel ED Day : Dead Sydney. You can read it here

Friday, July 27, 2007

An International Embarrassment

Weak 'Terror' Charges Against Dr Haneef Dropped

Dr Haneef Set Free

You can have your shoes back now, Dr Haneef. Sorry about the whole 'terrorist' mix-up

Dr Haneef will be given back his passport and allowed to stay in Australia.

So, no great surprise here :

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has dropped the terror charge against Indian doctor Mohamed Haneef.

Commonwealth prosecutors withdrew the charge of supporting a terrorist organisation in Brisbane Magistrates Court this afternoon, following a review of the case by DPP Damian Bugg...
The 'terror charges' being that Dr Haneef had "recklessly supported a terrorist group" because he gave a SIM card to a relative back in England who then allegedly went on to try and launch terror attacks in England.

Of course, the British authorities haven't charged Haneef's cousin with being a part of a terrorist group. So how can Haneef be charged with supporting a terror group that doesn't, at this point, officially exist?

Hence, the dropping of the charges.

A statement from the Director Of Public Prosecutions :
"On my view of this matter a mistake has been made ..."
Understatement of the year. The DPP accepts some responsibility for the "mistake", the Australian Federal Police says it did nothing wrong, and prime minister John Howard still backs the Immigration Minister's very public, and legally damaging statement, that Dr Haneef was "of bad character" and so had to have his visa cancelled.

The blame gaming has now officially begun.

First Draft Of Joint Australian Federal Police/Howard Government Statement Of Apology To Dr Haneef :
Umm, sorry about the whole "You're probably a scumbag terrorist" thing, Dr Haneef.

We realise now that you were telling the truth all along and that you didn't try to make a bomb-detonating call to those supposed car bombs in London, and that you didn't plot to blow up buildings in Queensland and that you don't want to destroy the West and that you don't worship Osama Bin Laden.

But, you know, them's the breaks in the 'War on Terror', mate.

And after all, you are a Muslim. And all terror attacks are done by Muslims....well, except those done by the ETA, and the ones carried out by black ops forces on enemy infrastructure, and the occasional bombings by Mossad and MI5, and the governments of Pakistan, India, Russia, China, the United States and all those trying to fight the War On Terror by using state terror for...look, none of that really matters to you, right?

So, thanks for coming to Australia and helping to fill the shocking doctor shortage. And thanks for being such a good sport about us holding you in custody without charge for, what, it was only 12 days or so, wasn't it?

And thanks for letting us 'interview' you for 12 hour long sessions, and parade you in front of the media dressed like a convicted criminal, with no shoes.

You'll probably want to sue us now, right? Okay. Well, here's the deal : Fuck off back to India, we'll see you in court. And don't forget we'll spend five million of taxpayers money to avoid having to pay you even $100,000 in damages.

By the way, Dr Haneef. Could you pass the word around back home that we're still looking for more doctors? We've still got a pretty bad shortage of them here.

Of course, a lot of Australians are paranoid about Indian or...well, let's face, any dark-skinned doctors now, what with all that 'Those Who Will Heal You, Will Kill You' black propaganda stuff.

Again, sorry about the mix-up.

Thank you, come again. (just a little joke there to show the Aussie sense of humour)

BTW : Even though the charges against you have been dropped, the Immigration Minister still thinks you are "of bad character". Which probably says more about him than it does about you.
I'm not sure the above letter is the real deal. It seems a bit restrained to me.

Naturally, Howard government spin master Tony Abbott got in early this morning, clearly aware that the charge against Dr Haneef would be dropped today :

"If he's a good guy who has done nothing wrong, I suppose, he should be treated like other good guys who've done nothing wrong."

Tony Abbott only supposes Dr Haneef should be treated like someone who has done nothing wrong even though it was abundantly clear he had done nothing wrong. Continues Abbott :
"But whether he is a good guy who has done nothing wrong is the sort of thing that Kevin Andrews, quite rightly, will be seeking expert advice on
Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews hasn't changed his mind :

"I believe that Dr Haneef fails the character test and for that reason I cancelled his visa," Mr Andrews told ABC radio today.

"Nothing that has been revealed to me in the last 24 or 48 hours would lead me to believe that information was inappropriate or incorrect."

Of course not, Dr Haneef is still a Muslim.

Here's but one example of the Murdoch media' s terror scaremongering around Dr Haneef, before even the most basic facts were known or even taken into consideration. Naturally this example comes from the Daily Telegraph's blockhead-in-chief Piers Akerman :
The detention of a Gold Coast doctor shows the alleged sweeping extent of the global links of international terrorism.
The liberal use of "alleged", "seems" and "probably" in the Akerman column of July 4 will presumably protect News Limited and the Daily Telegraph from having to fork over another six figure sum in damages for Akerman's inability to restrain himself from writing such garbage, and trying to smear people long before they are even charged, or not charged, with terrorism-related crimes.

You can only hope that this appalling fiasco does not make Australians less alert to the threat of terrorism, from whichever groups or extreme religious true believers who think they can change the direction of politics or international policy through the killing of innocent people.

But the more often incidents like the Dr Hannef fiasco occur, the more often that terror attack warnings are issued for reasons other than the safety of the public, the more people will tend to believe that the threat of terrorism is overwrought, and that fear campaigns are being used against the public for strictly political reasons.

The terrible irony is that in the case of Dr Haneef the only people who ended up being terrorised was him, and his family.

An Earlier Story From The Orstrahyun on the Dr Haneef Scandal

Howard Tries To Distance Himself From The Collapse Of The 'Terror' Case Against Dr Haneef - Good Luck With That PM

Haneef Will Be Released

India Uranium Sales Key To Formation Of Asia Pacific Alliance To Contain China

Pakistan Gives Australia Harsh Warning On Selling Nuclear Fuel To India

By Darryl Mason

The Howard government wants to sell uranium to India, to power some 14 nuclear power stations it needs to keep up with its ever-growing energy demands. This news comes in the wake of a remarkable bypassing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) by President Bush, who is pushing Washington to allow India to expand its nuclear energy capabilities and to gain more nuclear technology, and equipment, from the United States.

India is not a member of the NNPT, designed to stop a new Cold War style nuclear arms build up, but the Howard government wants to sell them uranium, regardless. The Bush administration has spoken. Australia must sell uranium to India, so naturally the Howard government moves quickly to please our American allies.

But behind the sniffy rejections by the Howard government of the genuine fears that India will use Australian uranium to build more nuclear missiles, and other weapons, Australia is moving ahead with American-led plans to form an Asia-Pacific alliance between India, Australia, Japan and the United States with one key long-term goal on its agenda : contain China.

The Howard government is already selling a local angle on supplying India with nuclear fuel as a move towards helping India lower its future carbon emissions, and it being generally good for the Australian economy, which undoubtedly it will surely be.

But at what cost to regional and world stability?

So enthusiastic are the Howard government to follow the coal export-driven golden economy with a nuclear-fuel driven one, they are "seeking advice" on how to over-ride state controls that limit or impose outright bans on uranium mining.

The majority of Australians reject the expansion of uranium mining, and have done so for decades. So much for democracy.

You would expect the news that Australia, with Bush Co. backing, will sell uranium to India might upset India's neighbour Pakistan. And you'd be right.

A senior Pakistan government minister last night gave Australia a dark warning over its plan to supply nuclear fuel to India :
TONY JONES: Do you expect there to be a diplomatic backlash from Pakistan if a uranium deal goes ahead with India and Pakistan is excluded?

IJAZ UL-HAQ: As a Pakistani, I can tell you the entire nation is going to be very upset.
Pakistan argues that if India refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and it can still access nuclear fuel from Australia to power its economy, then Pakistan should be given the same access to uranium supplies.

Locally, Howard government ministers are already trying to hose down opposition from Australians to the purposeful shattering of the NNPT.

Treasurer Peter Costello told Melbourne Radio 3AW :
"I would want to know that there were very strict safeguards in place before we sold to any country that was outside the Nonproliferation Treaty."
Err, safeguards more strict than the the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Costello?

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer tried to claim that "no final decision has been made" on Australia exporting uranium to India. Well, not officially anyway :
Mr Downer said exports could go ahead if India agreed to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), similar to a deal being negotiated between India and the US.

"In these circumstances it is a possibility that we would begin negotiations with India over supplying uranium to power stations which were subject to United Nations inspections and to the regime of the international atomic agency," he said.

Interesting then that Downer, and the Howard government, remain so vehemently opposed to Iran using these same IAEA surveillance measures to create its own nuclear energy industry.

But then hypocrisy is Alexander Downer's middle name. Unofficially.

The larger, global context of new strategic alliances has never been, and will never be, brought into the national debate in regard to uranium exports by Downer, or anyone else in the Howard government.

Australia won't sell nuclear fuel to Pakistan because Pakistan is gradually becoming part of the strategic military and energy alliance between Iran, China and Russia.

India is okay to get uranium outside of the NNPT because they will be part of the future Asia Pacific axis between Australia, Japan and the United States. There'll be more hints towards the formation of such an access at September's APEC summit in Sydney in September.

The Australian people, meanwhile, and as usual, are treated like mushrooms (a dark room, lots of bullshit) by the Howard government who don't seem to comprehend that many Australians are keenly aware of what is going on in the larger world, and how the new world alliances are taking shape. These things are hardly secrets.

But the Howard government will, as always, appeal to Australians through its foundation mantra "Please think of the economy!" And why not? They've done a great job of transforming the way most Australians view wealth and the accumulation of assets.

Through a decade of appealing to base instincts, and lots of very expensive marketing and propaganda campaigns, the Howard government has morphed Australia into a greedy nation. A national mindset that was all but non-existent until the mid-1990s.

Australians are loaded up with shocking levels of personal and family debt, and the Howard government can now use all that debt-related fear and anxiety to ram through anything it likes, simply by saying, with varying degrees of subtlety, that if we don't sell uranium to India, for example, the economy will suffer. And we all now what that means.

In reality, the long-term balances of regional stability, and the possibility of future economic embargoes against Australia from China, if things get really ugly, will make a few billion dollars worth of uranium sales in the next few years look like a handful of worthless coins in the coming decades.

We are told by the Howard government that China uses the coal it buys from Australia to fuel its generators. No doubt this is true enough. But there are growing rumours that China is saving up its own huge coal deposits in anticipation of future isolation attempts by the United States, and is using Australia coal to also expand its apparently fairly successful energy programs to turn coal into oil. Australian coal may sound expensive, but its cheap if you can turn it into oil, particularly when oil is likely to reach $100 per barrel, or more, in the next two years.

Every action of this kind - selling uranium to India - carries a larger, long-term cost. But don't expect the Howard government to lay out all the options and information so Australians can decide what is in their best interest. The Howard government will keep insisting that everything it does is in "our national interest". But its definition of "national interest" differs greatly from what most Australians would assume it means.

Powerful New Asia-Pacific Axis Gathers Pace : Australia-India-Japan-USA Looks At New Alliance To "Contain" China

Nuclear Deal With India Met With Skepticism In Washington

The Abuse Of Realism : Australia In The Pacific, "National Interest" Above Regional Stability

Containing China : Australia And Japan To Join US Missile Shield, As Part Of New Asia Pacific Alliance

In Anticipation Of US Led Asia-Pacific Axis, Japan Re-Arms, Prepares For Future Wars
Kerry Packer's House Of Hookers Still Holds Dangerous Secrets

What Journalist Will Be Brave Enough To Reveal The Politicians And Business Leaders Who Accepted Packer's Sex Bribes And Corruption?

By Darryl Mason

In our story yesterday - Kerry Packer : King Of The Whores - we mentioned that journalist Paul Barry had faced legal threats over the inclusion, in his 1993 biography The Rise And Rise Of Kerry Packer, of key details about Kerry Packer's involvement with prostitutes, and the bordellos he set up for the pleasure of himself, his mates, Australian politicians and key business leaders in Barry's earlier version of the book The Rise And Rise Of Kerry Packer.

Barry has now explained all this in greater detail in a remarkable interview.

The immensely sad story of Carol Lopes, the woman Packer used to recruit his hookers, is filled out by Barry. And points to the ABC for not burying the lead.

Media magnate Kerry Packer used paid sex to advance his business and political interests, an expanded edition of his biography has revealed.

The revised edition of The Rise and Rise of Kerry Packer says the former PBL boss had a long-term mistress who supplied him with prostitutes and effectively ran a brothel for him and selected friends.

Mr Packer gave her a house and paid her regularly. He put her in a Los Angeles business but after it went bust, their contact stopped.

"She felt that she was being punished for that and she couldn't see Packer thereafter, she couldn't get through to him," Mr Barry said.

"She would dress up and go down to Consolidated Press and sit in the foyer, trying to see him, and she would be ushered away.

"She would try to ring him and she would write to him, and she would sit outside his house. She wasn't able to see him.

Barry denies it is cowardly of him to release the story after Mr Packer's death.

"I think you would have been suicidal to write something like this about Kerry Packer while he was alive," he said.

"I think he was personally quite a frightening man, anyway. He was rich enough to keep you in court for evermore, even if he didn't have a case against you.

"He had been very aggressive in pursuing legal action against journalists. He would sue them personally to make sure their own assets were at risk.

"I think it would have been legally extraordinarily unwise to publish this while he was alive."

The author says he left the stories out the original edition because he feared he would be sued for defamation.

"...the stuff that we really baulked at is the personal stuff, even though it involved allegations about a brothel being run for him and paying off business and political mates.

" ... when you've got a very rich and powerful man who has a lot of dealings with government and with politicians, who is running or causing to be run a brothel or a bordello to reward people he does business with or can have favours from, I think that's absolutely in the public interest to know about that. I think the public has a right to know about it."

So are Australians really that interested in finding out which particular politicians and business leaders frequented Kerry Packer's bordellos? Do they really want to know such details?

In short, is there still life to be found in this story for investigative journalists, seeing as Barry refused to name the politicians involved in his biography?

To gauge the level of interest from Australians in this story, here's three screenshots taken after the Packer's Bordellos story had been online for almost 24 hours.

From the News Limited homepage (the central hub site for all of Rupert Murdoch's Australian city daily, rural and suburban online newspapers) :

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

From the Melbourne Age :

It's worth noting that this is one of the few occasions where a story about a dead Australian businessman has beaten stories about American celebrities, or cute animals, or violent murders, to the top of the 'Most Popular Stories' rankings.

More than a million Australians, a massive slab on the Australian online news readership, accessed this within hours of it being published. Millions more read about in newspapers across the country, and heard it reported on radio.

Australians clearly want to know more, and it would not be presumptuous to say that they want to know who the politicians and business leaders are who were bribed, or repaid for favours, with free visits to Kerry Packer's bordellos full of very expensive prostitutes and escorts.

But will Australian journalists dare to dig deep and crack the rest of this story? Will they find out who these politicians and business leaders were, and what they did for Kerry Packer that earned them such generosity?

We'll hazard a guess :

No. Not a fucking chance in hell.

Some secrets are not worth discovering for those who dare to dig too deep, and go so far as to name names. Some closets are too full of skeletons to even dare to think about opening. You might get a bone in the eye.

Many prominent Australian journalists and senior ranking politicians will rip and tear each other to shreds in public, and in private, but they still have boundaries they will not cross. Even when it involves the use of prostitutes for bribery and to repay favours that have led to massive wealth gathering.

Hopefully in a few weeks, or months, we can update on this story here and highlight some excellent mainstream media investigative journalism that has told Australians which politicians allowed themselves to be bribed and corrupted by Kerry Packer, but we seriously doubt it.

Too many people, in politics and in the media, have shared secrets they never want revealed.

And once those kinds of tidal waves start hitting the beach, lots of people end up getting swept away.

Kerry Packer : King Of The Whores

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kerry Packer : King Of The Whores

By Darryl Mason

So what does SONAP means?

Sex Only, No Appearances in Public.

Why does it matter? Read on.

Money can't buy you love, but it can buy you the influence of politicians, if you're prepared to lay out tens of thousands of dollars to import the finest prostitutes in the world to your private bordello.

Just ask Kerry Packer. Well, you can't of course, he's dead, but you could ask the politicians who were pleasured at his private bordello. If you knew who they were. You probably won't find out who they were, either, of course, until after they're dead.

This story discusses new information in the updated and rather extraordinary Paul Barry biography, The Rise And Rise Of Kerry Packer. One particular, and integral, story from Packer's life that was kept out earlier editions of the book concerns the media magnate's mistress, Carol Lopes. One of Packer's many mistresses.

Lopes' tale is a tragic one. She told her friends she was a SONAP. She was there for Sex Only, with No Appearances in Public. No doubt, Lopes lived a life of luxury, but there was enough sadness to drive her to thoughts of suicide. She tried to end her life at least three times during their years together. When Kerry Packer finally abandoned her, and locked her completely out of his life, she killed herself :

Packer put (Lopes) up in lavish apartments in Bellevue Hill, near his family residence, and she enjoyed brief public fame as a late-night B-grade movie hostess on Packer's Nine television network.

After their affair ended in the early 1980s Lopes began organising for Packer private bordellos each summer in expensive and secluded rented houses in Palm Beach.

Lopes travelled to New York, London and South America to find intelligent, well-educated and beautiful women who were paid about $10,000 a week at the bordello, the biography says.

Barry writes: "Carol confided to friends that Kerry ran this private bordello to thank men who had done him a good turn." He says politicians and business people attended the bordellos, but does not name any.

Packer supported Lopes financially until the late 1980s. When he cut off, she tried to kill herself three times. In 1991, she managed to carry through with her threat to take her own life.

She left a 16 page suicide note to Packer. Apparently it's still on file with the NSW coroner's office, but its contents have never been released.

But another letter Lopes left has been made public :

"Kerry Packer is the only family I know [Lopes had been raised by foster parents]. He has taken care of me for 12 years. I have been denied access to this man. For what reason, I don't understand. He is not aware of how distressed I am … I have no alternative but to end my life."

Barry's book reveals Kerry Packer spent a fortune on Lopes and a long stream of mistresses, while penny-pinching from his staff at Channel Nine and the employees of his racks of magazines. Staff were told to buy cheaper coffee for the canteen, while the mistresses got apartments and Packer blew tens of millions of dollars in Las Vegas casinos.

While his tabloid magazines raged and hissed over the slightest indiscretion by Australian actors and rock stars, and regularly sent photographers to destroy the lives of any who dared to have an affair (all the while generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for his empire), the details of Kerry Packer's stable of mistresses and his bordello for politicians and business leaders were kept under wraps until after his death. And any journalist, like Paul Barry, who even appeared to be digging too deep were threatened with legal action.

Most Australians were unaware that Packer even had one mistress, let alone many, and Packer's Hooker Palace was one of the best kept secrets of Australia's media, politics and business elite for more than a decade. Many of them knew about it of course, many of them frequented the bordello(s), but they never talked about. At least, they didn't talk about it outside of their own insulated little circles.

All the while Packer kept his bordello, and his stable of mistresses, his media empire gently portrayed him as a pillar of society and politicians lined up to praise him. The outpouring of emotion from the upper ranks of Australian politics and business at Packer's funeral can now be viewed as a mix of genuine grief and utter relief. Many secrets died with Packer, and once in the ground, Kerry Packer at least would never be able to tell tales on those who frequented his menagerie of whores.

How could such incredible secrets stay secret for so long? It certainly makes you wonder what sort of information, or images, were collected in that bordello to keep so many politicians and power brokers firmly in line and consistently under Kerry Packer's control.

Paul Barry's The Rise And Rise Of Kerry Packer is a remarkable book, if only for how much you can learn about the business and social worlds that Packer moved through, and the scandals he kept hidden by his power and money for so long.

Along with Neil Chenoweth's Packer's Lunch, you can discover some of the details of the very private worlds in which Australia's media, business and political elite existed through the 1980s and 1990s. No doubt, some of the same players in the books are still living lives not altogether different from those days, but with Kerry Packer dead, the lifestyle are presumably far more subdued.

Of course, as Rene Rivkin died knowing, the full story was/is even more debauched and shocking than either these two books will tell you. But they come close. As close as we're allowed to get to knowing what goes on behind the headlines, inside the boardrooms and beneath the sheets of the bordellos frequented by Australia's mega-rich and ultra-powerful.

Don't worry, they're not laughing at you.

They don't even know you exist.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Spin Is In : Voters "Bored To Sobs" With Howard

After taking a Bush-length European holiday, Andrew Bolt is home and dipping straight back into his stale old bag of tricks - projecting misinformation, twisting the truth and trying to ram obvious falsities into the national debate about why voters have turned so strongly against prime minister John Howard.

Today Bolt claims :
...voters seem bored to sobs by Howard after 11 years...
Clearly Bolt hasn't been keeping up with the polls or the media coverage of those results while he's been jaunting through those European countries he used to revile for being so anti-American and full of Bush haters.

Australian voters aren't going to vote Howard out because they're "bored to sobs."

The majority of Australians have clearly and repeatedly stated they don't believe Howard on climate change, on the Iraq War, on interest rates and are furious over the often dire changes to their working lives, and their pay packets, that Howard's WorkChoices have wrought.

"Bored"? Anything but. Voters are energised, engaged, and, for now, are enthusiastically reacting to the day when John Howard and the coalition government no longer are in control of the country and their lives.

And then there's this extremely creepy thought bubble from Bolt :
...something might yet turn up that will make us appreciate anew his vast experience and steadiness under fire....

Even if there were to be another terrorist attack, God forbid, the public is now so cynical it’s as likely to blame Howard for provoking it as it is to admire his firmness in handling it.

Another terrorist attack? We haven't had a first 'War on Terror'-era attack in Australia yet.

Do Howard-huggers like Bolt sit around contemplating the benefits of a terrorist attack in Australia for the government's re-election chances? Anticipating the opportunity for Howard to showcase his leadership skills in the wake of such horror? It sure sounds like it. Absolutely disgusting.

But be under no illusions that the Australian public is simply "bored to sobs" with Howard.

The 'Letter To The Prime Minister' page we highlighted and excerpted from here will give you hundreds of reasons why the Australian public will vote Howard out of office. Few of those reasons have to do with people being "bored".

In saying that the Australian public are simply "bored to sobs" with Howard and that "seems" to be the main reason they will vote him out of office is to all but declare that Australians are stupid.

Or at least simple-minded. That they are not politically aware, or keeping track and score of the issues where John Howard has lied and been dishonest, the numerous 2004 election promises he has failed to deliver on, and the endless storm of controversies that have swirled around the prime minister ever since he decided to join Bush Co. in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in mid-2002.

"Bored to sobs"? Yeah, right. Australians are more likely to vote against John Howard come election time because they feel he is "desperate", "old" and "sneaky".

From The People Of Australia To The Prime Minister : Dear Johnny, It's Time To Go

Howard's Claim That Australian Families "Have Never Had It So Good" Will Haunt Him All The Way To The Election

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Haneef Contacts Lawyer To Free Police Of Allegation They Wrote 'Incriminating' Names In His Diary

AFP Commissioner Mick Keelty now claims police did not write anything in Dr Mohamed Haneef's diary. It was a duplicate diary, or something...wait, it now appears that Dr Haneef himself contacted his lawyer to tell him that the story of the police writing names in his diary was not true. The police wrote names on a piece of paper and showed them to him, according to this story.

Keelty says, wait for the case to go before the courts. And then what? Find out the entire case against Haneef was worthless? The most likely scenario now appears to be that the charge of "supporting a terrorist group", a group that doesn't appear to actually exist in the UK, will be dropped and he'll be deported. Or he willingly flee Australia.

The Haneef fiasco is receiving blanket media coverage in India, soaking up front pages, editorials and letters to the editor. A friend writes from India that Australia, its police and the Howard government are disparaged nightly on the news and current affairs shows. The Greens, apparently, are being seen as the action makers in trying to get Haneef released.

An international 'Free Haneef' campaign also appears to be gathering steam.

All in all a very poor outing for first major use of the updated 2004 anti-terror laws. While talk back radio and online public comment has a few "deport the terrorist" types, the vast majority of Australians contributing their opinions to the public debate seem pretty annoyed, disgusted and ashamed at how Dr Haneef has been treated, how the AFP have conducted their investigation and how some in the media have frenzied in their coverage.

PREVIOUSLY : Is the case against Dr Haneef really so pissweak that federal police officers have to try and fake evidence?
...investigating AFP officers wrote the names of overseas terror suspects in Dr Haneef's personal diary, only to later grill him during an interrogation over whether he had written the potentially incriminating notes.
Apparently, it was all just "a mistake".

Thank God for that. Otherwise you might be led to believe that something absolutely dodgy has been going on, what with all the 'leaks' claiming that Haneef was more evil than previously speculated and was somehow, once more allegedly, involved in plotting terror attacks in Queensland.

The Courier Mail reported on Sunday :

Police are investigating whether detained doctor Mohamed Haneef was part of a planned terrorist attack on a landmark building at the Gold Coast.

Australian Federal Police are examining images of the building and its foundations found among documents and photographs seized in a police raid on the doctor's Southport unit three weeks ago.

The AFP inquiry is looking at documents referring to destroying structures discovered in the raid, law enforcement sources said.

Within hours the story had been exposed as complete twaddle, by none other than the head of the Australian Federal Police, Mick Keelty.

Still no word yet on where the Courier Mail got its information, or even if the source was valid, and the editor has published no apology for being involved in yet another smear campaign against Haneef.

Presumably the bullshit story came from the police, otherwise why would Mick Keelty decide he needed to all but apologise to Haneef's lawyers for such an allegation becoming public?

...Mr Keelty issued a statement describing as "inaccurate" reports police were investigating a local terror plot after discovering images of the Q1 building in Dr Haneef's Gold Coast unit.

"We will be taking the extraordinary step of contacting Dr Haneef's lawyer to correct the record," Mr Keelty said.

David Marr :
Crooks are not caught by backyard gossip and idiotic speculation but by bringing logic to bear on facts.

Was that tiny weapon of mass destruction - Haneef's SIM card - found at the scene of the crime in Glasgow? No. Perhaps the overcoat he left also with his cousin turned up in the blazing Jeep Cherokee driven into the airport terminal? Apparently not. Was he roaming Surfers Paradise looking for a target to destroy? Not according to the police.

It seems we're just where we were last Friday: the public case against Haneef has entirely collapsed.
Mick Keelty back on July 3, when talk radio and online news page comments were busy spreading the myth that Haneef may have tried to detonate the London car bombs by mobile phone calls from Queensland :
...we should be cautious here that Dr Haneef may have done nothing wrong and may, at the end of the day, be free to go.
Keelty was insisting on July 20 that the police case against Dr Haneef had not been damaged by the near endless stream of controversies, foul-ups, leaks and mismanagement of the investigations.

After another weekend of false stories and allegations being leaked to the media, by "law enforcement sources", and yet more mopping up by Mick Keelty, you have to wonder whether he still believes there is still a case worth pursuing against Dr Haneef at all.

British police still haven't named or even confirmed the existence of "the terrorist group" that Haneef is being accused of supporting.

The Haneef tale has become a major story across the world, particularly in India, the UK and across South East Asia, but not because of the charges against Haneef, but for the endless series of screw-ups and controversies surrounding the federal prosecution's increasingly hole-ridden case.

As the Calcutta Telegraph writes in this lead :
Critical information used to brand Mohammed Haneef a terrorist and condemn him to solitary confinement might not be true...
Somewhere in Pakistan, the leaders of Al Qaeda are laughing themselves stupid. They barely have to even try anymore to send a nation and its federal law enforcement officers into a state of confusion, panic and chaos. We are quite capable of doing all that to ourselves.

Lawyer : Government Is Trying Haneef By Media

Prosecution May Have Misled Court

No Comment From Ruddock On Haneef 'Plot'

Australian Federal Police Under Fire As Haneef Case Unravels

Australian Authorities Flayed For 'Sloppy' Investigations

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Prime Minister John Howard is so spooked by his inability to get back in the favour of the majority of Australia's voters that he is refusing to commit to even running for prime minister again, and has taken to babbling like a loon in response to unremarkable questions :

...when asked if he would now guarantee he would lead the Government into what is expected to be an election as close as October, he refused.

"Look I know the games you fellas play," Mr Howard said.

"I have a position in relation to this and it, it, it applies for all time. For all time that's relevant. And I just don't intend, I just don't intend. I know you'll start saying: 'Oh Howard, you know, he's altered his formulation'. Come on, you know that, I know you. Situation normal. Situation usual. Response usual. Response normal."


Maybe the medical reason Howard will cite as a reason to to bow out of running for re-election will be dementia.

If you get picked up
by police in New South Wales for so minor an offence as jaywalking, they will soon have the power to take a DNA sample from you and store it in a database. Naturally, it's supposedly all part of the effort to fight terrorism. The new police powers are already being called part of "a police state by stealth." But where's the stealth?

John Howard's beloved "battlers"
are abandoning the prime minister in droves. He is widely seen by former Liberal voters as "too old, desperate and sneaky." Not exactly the kind of descriptions you'd want blasted across Sunday newspapers in bold type, but there they are.

Howard is also suffering a "youth revolt", particularly over climate change and WorkChoices. One in four young voters are said to have switched to backing opposition leader Kevin Rudd.

The number
of prominent religious leaders, lawyers and politicians demanding the Howard government get its shit together over the treatment of alleged terror suspect Mohamed Haneef grows by the day. At the same time, letters pages and online comments are, in the majority, faulting the government and AFP's handling of the case, and even usually pro-Howard media are raging against the spectacular abuses of civil and human rights now on show.

So what to do?

Slurry the waters even further by getting out rumours that Haneef was somehow possibly involved, or possibly linked to, a possible terror plot in Queensland because he had photos of Queensland buildings in his possession. His lawyer summed up the new rumours that are not yet charges, or even official AFP allegations :
"Obviously if you're Muslim and you come from India, don't dare take any photos of any structures ... or that will be interpreted by the Queensland police force of having a sinister intent."
Another option under consideration is simply to deport Haneef, as soon as possible :

“Our best option is to cancel the Criminal Justice Certificate .... and that is my understanding of what our intentions are,” the source told the newspaper.

“Cancel the certificate and get this guy out of Australia...”

The string of apparently baseless allegations and media leaks against Haneef has proven to be a major international embarrassment, not only for the Howard government and Australia's fight against terror, but also for the Australian Federal Police, who are being referred to as Keystone Kops, "bumbling" and "hopeless" in British and Indian newspapers.

He was bitten three times on the leg by a bronze whaler shark, but the 15 year old boy fought back and has survived the attack. His mother thinks he was inspired to defend himself, and to try and stop the bleeding, after having recently watched a horror movie where a man bled to death.

John Howard
was rallying the troops yesterday in western Sydney, while all the usual key Liberal Party media addicts were hiding from the cameras and microphones.

Howard told a Liberal Party conference he was "very proud of the fact in the 11-and-a-half years we have been in government ... we have lifted defence expenditure by 48 per cent in real terms..."

Curiously, this is almost the exact same percentage by which US defence expenditure has risen since the Project For A New American Century architects, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, 'Scooter' Libby and Paul Wolfowitz, started rallying for 1995 and 1996 for less money to be spent on education and health and more on weapons and bombs. Luckily, Al Qaeda and Islamic extremist-linked terrorist attacks rose dramatically around the same time.

Australia will spend more than $23 billion on 'defence' in 2008, giving Australia the second highest per person defence expenditure in the world, after the United States. The Iraq War has already cost Australian taxpayers $4 to $8 billion.

More than 130 people have attended the funeral of a baby boy they didn't know. The baby, named Luke for the service, was found dead and abandoned in rubbish. Many of the people drawn to the funeral, some of whom wept openly, said they didn't want the infant to be unrecognised in death. Police believe the unknown mother of the child may have been amongst the mourners. A christening gown and headstone were donated by the public and funeral directors.

Piers Akerman stabs fruitlessly at his keyboard : "It's no real surprise that the book actually flying out of the stores this weekend is the new Harry Potter novel, and not John Winston Howard: The Biography..."

It's no real surprise because John Winston Howard : The Biography hasn't been released yet.

Akerman claims "the biographers can only recycle and repackage past events, adding a little light and shade gleaned from interviews with some of the participants but nothing that was not already known."

The biographers interviewed more than 70 people, including John and Janette Howard. If Akerman is so keen to write off this book by claiming there is nothing new inside, you can rest assured that there is actually reams of valuable information and important insight to be learned that the vast majority of Australians, and probably lots of federal politicians, didn't know about John Howard.

To show just how ridiculous Akerman's attempts to claim there's nothing new, or of interest to the voting public, to be found in the new Howard biography, in the very same pages of the Sunday Telegraph, fellow columnist Glenn Milne writes :
The most damaging insight to emerge from the new biography of the Prime Minister comes, remarkably, out of the mouth of his chief loyalist: his wife, Janette.

The problem for Mrs Howard here is that she has inadvertently shone a light on the darker recesses of Howard's modus operandi that were for years hidden, but have now come to dominate the public debate about whether he deserves another, final term.

The Sunday Telegraph's lead editorial finally admits that the majority of Australians are unlikely to vote for John Howard come election time :
...the situation for the Prime Minister looks dire.
It's a crushing loss of confidence for John Howard from one of the primary newspapers he has long counted on for support, and to paper over his numerous lies, deceptions and faults, particularly on the eve of yet another Newspoll which is likely to show that Howard has already lost his chance for a fifth term in Kirribilli House :
After 11 years in office, the idea that he is a bit too sneaky has taken hold in the public psyche. It is a culmination of the "children overboard'' affair, the AWB wheat scandal and the ongoing suspicion that he dudded loyal deputy Peter Costello on when he would hand over the job.
Not to mention the widespread realisation that he deceived the nation into joining the United States in the illegal and horrific War On Iraq, and spat in the faces of the 75% of Australians who didn't want their country to be involved when he did so. Not to mention the wage-and-benefits stripping IR reforms. Not to mention the David Hicks fiasco and the widespread disgust Howard's generated by his acquiescence to Indonesia over the Schapelle Corby trail in 2005. The list is long, and grows longer by the week.

ABC Radio's
coverage of the horrors of the Iraq War once made John Howard so angry his "face went red and his lips white." That's the trouble with the truth, it often sparks emotional and physical reactions in the people who don't want it to get out.

More than 150 people have died in just four weeks of Sydney's flu epidemic. Hospitals are crowded with the sick and close-to-dying. Hundreds of babies and children have needed specialised care, pushing hospital capacity to the brink. Compared to last year, viral infections are up by an astounding 200%, with respiratory illnesses ratcheting up by 70%.

Australians may soon have to come up with a 20% deposit to secure a home loan. Considering most young Australians don't have $30,00 or $40,000 kicking around, they'll have to get their parents or grandparents to put up their homes as security. Personal bankruptcies are rocketing towards record highs, and falling house prices mean that tens of thousands of families will be left with enormous debts if they are forced to sell the family home due to "economic shock". The Howard government continues to claim that there is no housing crisis in Australia, that the Australian economy is booming and rock solid and that Australian families have "never had it so good."

A former bodyguard of Saddam Husein wants to open a fish and chip shop in Sydney.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

While the local 'outrage' over the absurd Haneef Sim Card Of Terror case continues to grow, the scandal is now making international headlines of the very worst kind.

Paul Kelly writes that the Haneef case has thrust the Australian legal profession and the Howard government into a state of open warfare.

The intervention by the immigration minister to verbal Haneef by claiming he was of "bad character" may see the weak-as-piss charges against the Indian doctor thrown out of court and Haneef set free.

Attorney General Philip Ruddock is now being told he should have to explain his role in the scandal.

Australians owe
more than $40 billion on their credit cards. With interest rates on credit cards ranging from 10% to 19% (and sometimes beyond), Australian banks are reaping in more than $4-7 billion a year off interest alone. Another billion or more is scoured from late payment and 'account keeping' fees. Not bad from a customer base of less than six million people.

Underneath Sydney, there lies an all-but-forgotten system of abandoned train tunnels. It now takes longer to get to Newcastle on a train than it did in 1937.

The Sydney house
where John Howard grew up has been turned into a KFC outlet. John Howard has been treating poor people like shit since he was a little kid at the local cinema. Little Johnny once considered a career in acting. Few would deny he has proven to be an accomplished performer with a mastery of faking various emotions. Before he entered politics, Howard worked in a shop selling budgerigars. That's a small sample of just how exciting the new biography of John Howard is.

Why John Howard
is a "dead man walking" only a few months out from the federal election.

Brisbane just
had its coldest day on record. Out and proud global warming conspiracy nuts, like this goose, celebrate, not seeming to comprehend that the theory of global warming induced climate change claims there will be increased episodes of extremes of temperature, both hot and cold.

John Howard says Australia will not become a nuclear waste dump, even when exporting uranium becomes the nation's biggest export industry, after coal. Nobody believes him. Naturally, foreign minister Alexander Downer is doing exactly what he is told to do by the Americans, who want nuclear energy to crush renewable energy.

Downer says concerns about such trivial matters about widespread radioactive contamination after accidents or spills of nuclear fuel or waste materials are just plain "wacky".

Michelle Grattan explains why Treasurer Peter Costello might get a shot at the leadership of the Liberal Party about the same time he qualifies for the pension.

The Federal
Government were always aware that controversial changes to the wages and working lives of most Australians brought in under WorkChoices - changes that they so thoroughly embraced on behalf of big business - would lead to ruin for many working Australians. They knew it, but they didn't care.

29 passengers who were believed to have been exposed to a man sick with polio, on a flight into Melbourne, are still missing.

Police have found a suburban Sydney house literally stuffed with more than $800,000 worth of cannabis. Meanwhile, someone is wandering around unaware they've won $20million in a lottery.

An Australian publishing
industry insider claims there at least six "dirt" books being written by current and/or former members of John Howard's staff and team of advisers, in preparation for his departure from federal politics. One book deal is said to be worth some $200,000. Presumably the details in that book, in particular, will be extremely juicy and controversial.

A man in
Canberra became hypothermic after jumping into an ice-touched lake to retrieve a ticket that would guarantee him a copy of the new Harry Potter novel this morning. He had to be rescued. He lost the ticket.

Two teen lovers plotted to kill the parents that were trying to keep them apart. Now they will spend more than a decade apart, in jail, for planning the failed killings.

The West Australian health department has denied that there is a "killer bug" circulating around Perth, after a fourth child died from what appears to be a "killer bug."

Fifi, probably the world's oldest chimpanzee, has died, only weeks after celebrating her 60th birthday in good health. Fifi will be missed by three generations of Sydneysiders, who trekked out to Taronga Zoo to show their kids the beautiful chimp they saw when they were kids.
Akerman Blog : YouTube Sucks And Blogs Are Written By "Hate Filled Obsessives"

Our favourite old media dinosaur worthy of regular mockery, Piers Akerman, was one of the last of the News Limited stable of opinionists to allow his columns to go online in blog form.

He resisted, we were told, because he didn't want to have to engage with readers, or to allow his work to be publicly criticised.Akerman lost that battle, as New Limited boss Rupert Murdoch made it clear that all his opinionists would eventually have to become bloggers, because blogs were the future of News Limited and a source of online ad revenue.

Of course, now that Akerman's Daily Telegraph columns go up on the website in blog form, nearly every paragraph he writes results in readers enthusiastically criticising his fawning, ceaseless pro-John Howard bias and correcting his many, sometimes purposeful, errors of fact and distortions of history.

Considering that prime minister John Howard has now posted a short, two minute spiel on YouTube about how he has been fighting climate change for 17 years (he doesn't even blink), and all the headlines his dipping into new media politics generated, it was time for "One of the nation’s most respected journalists" (as his own website calls TheAk) to take a closer look at this whole Tubing phenomenon.

Because The Ak is "One of the nation's most respected journalists", he naturally spent a great deal of time studying the rich and varied content ofYouTube and divining its worth and impact as a medium of discourse and information and a potential tool and forum for political debate and impact.

The Ak summed up YouTube as being :
hardly the platform for a person of any stature or maturity to deliver messages of any substance...a site for sad and sick eyes.
The Ak knows this because of his deep, probing investigation of all that YouTube has to offer :
Take the videos which were listed as most viewed yesterday.
He doesn't appear to have looked beyond the front page of the YouTube site. Now that's research.

Had The Ak looked a little closer, he would have seen the YouTube search engine, where people with even his limited online research skills can find messages of substance from a century of filmed andvideod speeches and lectures.

Here's what we found in just five minutes of entering the names of people expected to have delivered messages of substance into the search box :

Martin Luther King on 'I Have A Dream'

Robert Menzies on 'Why I Had To Retire'

Michael Crichton on Global Warming

Carl Sagan on the Library Of Alexandria

Stephen Hawking on The Origin Of The Universe

Winston Churchill on 'Their Finest Hour'

Niall Ferguson on The Wall Street Crash

Every time The Ak writes about the internet, and the growing range of tools - like YouTube - that are already becoming indispensable to writers, researchers, historians and journalists, he makes an idiot of himself. It's like reading a non-driver writing about cars.

What's worse, The Ak doesn't seem to comprehend that he is now a blogger, or blog writer.

Witness his latest screed against the new media tool that his own boss, Rupert Murdoch, believes is the future of news, and News Limited :

...the now ubiquitous blogs with their legions of ill-informed, hate-filled obsessives.

Fantastic. The Ak clearly isn't aware that he is referring to himself.

It's interesting to note that since we last wrote about Akerman's all but non-existent interaction with readers on his Daily Telegraph blog, he has suddenly become more engaged, replying to more than half a dozen reader comments in a recent rant about why John Howard is still mega (something about where he buys his suits).

But it's clear from his tone and words that it is not something The Ak enjoys doing.

Like many of the fatted cows of his aged generation of opinion writers, Akerman pines for the days when his columns in the printed newspapers were the last word. There'd be letters to the editor about what he'd written the week or day before, but he could always laugh as he screwed them up and aimed them at the bin.

Not anymore.

Now The Ak has been reduced to having to defend his opinions, his facts and his bias almost every time a new column goes up on his blog.

No wonder he hates YouTube so much. Too much like real freedom of speech, right of reply and active democracy.

The Last Online Stand Of Piers Akerman

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Dooming Of John "Dead Man Walking" Howard

This is the first column of the 2007 federal election, that I know of, by a key member of The Australian editorial writing team that sounds the alarm, and calls a state of emergency for Howard and the Liberals. What a headline :
'Howard Doomed, One Way Or Another'
The short version is Howard's days are over, he has to go.

Michael Costello lays out three options. Howard can step down with most of his dignity intact, for the good of the party; a desperate life-saving patch-up attempt on Howard could be made to try and stop the festering wounds from bleeding and weeping all the way to the election; Howard can get the tap on the shoulder and refuse to go, and then fight a bloody, gore-soaked leadership challenge.

Costello says all three options are basically bad. But Howard and the Liberals have no choice left now. John Howard has to go :
Howard is close to the end of his political career one way or another. He may as well go out doing the right thing by his party.
The flow of 'Howard Must Go' editorials from The Australian will soon become a torrent.

Did Rupert send a memo?

Good to see the op-ed writers of The Australian, like Michael Costello, getting some badly needed inspiration from a story on this blog back on July 5 :
After 11 years as prime minister of Australia, John Howard stands today a doomed man. And he knows it.

And early next week, terrible poll numbers, and sweeping rumours of a leadership challenge, will confirm it for the entire nation.

UPDATE : On Lateline last night, Tony "The Cleaner" Abbott was asked for his thoughts about the Costello Vs Howard leadership war still being fought, very publicly, only a few months out from the election. Abbott supplied the kind of deep, thoughtful insight that he has become famous for :
"Shit happens..."
It certainly does, more and more often to Howard and the Liberals. Rudd and Labor barely even have to try anymore. The Liberals are eating each other alive as the ship goes down. It only gets uglier, and more bloody, and more entertaining, from here on in.

Jeanette Howard : The Puppet Master Of The Prime Minister

Howard's Army At War With Itself - The Rats In The Ranks Killing NSW Victory Hopes

Howard, The Failed Treasurer - By Peter Costello

Why Should The Public Trust John Howard When Peter Costello Does Not?