Thursday, September 28, 2006



The truth about The Plague Of The Grey Nomads - mostly elderly pensioners chasing the sun around Australia's coastlines in huge holiday vans - is so shocking it's been kept out of most of Australia's media. We had to turn to the English media to get this story.

Okay, we're exaggerating. A bit.

The 'grey nomads' are doing pretty much what tens of thousands of Australians used to do in VW vans, but parking restrictions and the decimation of caravan parks around some of Australia's more populated beaches have forced the travellers to go to extremes.

It is kind of freaky, though, this idea of all these oldies, cashed up in superior homes-on-wheels, linked up by e-mail and text messaging, moving in packs around the coast, watching out for each other, reporting the locations of good sites to invade and the cheapest lunches in the nearest towns.

The retirees who sell their homes and blow the children's inheritance on huge $200,000 vans are creating their own new mobile society, where outsiders are rarely welcome and new arrivals to their clans have to prove their worth, by the kilometres clocked up on their travels.

Amazing stuff.

From the UK Independent :

As summer approaches, camper vans are invading the popular beachside suburb and squatting on some of Bondi's best streets. Visitors can only park legally for a couple of hours, but no worries, as they say here. Just chop down the parking sign.

The culprits behind this spate of vandalism are not feckless young tourists, they are pensioners - the "grey nomads" who travel around Australia following the sun. "Quite a number are older people," said Kerryn Sloan, a local councillor. "It's a new phenomenon, and quite surprising.

"They want a seaside holiday for free, and bad luck to anyone who disagrees with them. They don't want to move on, and they know the law and how far they can push it. They can be quite confrontational. They are absolutely brazen, and they won't be intimidated."

The elderly anarchists operate in packs, travelling in convoy and texting each other tips on the streets with the best views. On arrival, they saw down signs, leaving parking inspectors impotent. It is usually two weeks before a new sign can be put up. By then the campers are ready to move on.

Towns and cities up and down the coast are afflicted, but Bondi - with its famous beach and numerous amenities - has been particularly badly hit. It is one of Sydney's most densely populated neighbourhoods.

One despairing local man said yesterday that he had had seven camper vans parked in his street. Removing parking signs is only one sin.

Once the unwelcome visitors have commandeered a street, they make themselves quite at home. They set up little tables and chairs on the pavement. They string up makeshift clothes-lines. They cook themselves meals in the street. They urinate and defecate in backyards and on the grass verges.

"We think that they have a network, telling each other where to go. They find the right street and all group together. Some of them quite openly taunt the residents... We've even had illegal campers in our cemetery."

George Newhouse, the local mayor, said that some campers played hide and seek with parking inspectors, dodging them when they approached. He said the council needed stronger powers to crack down on "inappropriate camping". It had also asked the state government to provide land for camp-sites.

"At the moment there's nothing we can do to stop them," he said.

"We can ban camping in our parks, but if they're on a public road in a registered vehicle, we can only regulate the hours they can park."

Go Here For The Full Story

The Life Of The Grey Nomads - 14 Years On The Road

Golden Years For Two Grey Nomads - A Lifetime Of Work For An On The Road Retirement


Australia's chief cop has told The Australian that Muslims shouldn't be singled out when it comes to the 'War On Terror' :
Federal police commissioner Mick Keelty has urged people to back off Muslims, insisting Islamic Australia is not to blame for terrorism.

...Mr Keelty said racial profiling was self-defeating because it risked alienating mainstream Muslims while ignoring the real danger of homegrown non-Muslim terror.

"I remind people that the firstperson who was convicted of a terrorist offence in Australia was a person with the unlikely name of Jack Roche," the police chief said.

And Mr Keelty said he did not like the phrase "the war on terror", because it did not apply in Australia.

"Unless people understand what is happening here, we risk alienating the Islamic community, we risk branding the Islamic community," he said.

Unlike most Australian politicians, Mr Keelty well understands how the endless terror-branding of Australia's Muslims translates to trouble on the streets for police, and risks ignoring threats rising from other parts of the Australian community.

As numerous polls have shown, and as Australia's Prime Minister has failed to publicly acknowledge, the vast majority of Australian Muslims reject terrorism, and reject the concept of violent jihad.

But trying telling that to the headline-addicted senior politicians. They've got so little to say, so few new ideas to discuss, they can't stop themselves from banging on about Muslim terrorists and trying to scare the shit out of people, particularly children.

Spreading terror is an act of terror, whether you use bombs or your supreme access to the television sets of most Australians.

Prime Minister John Howard, September 11, 2006 :

"People in Australia are in no doubt that extreme Islam is responsible for terrorism. We shouldn't pussyfoot around. We are not attacking Muslims generally, but you have to call terrorism for what it is - it is a movement that invokes, in a totally blasphemous and illegitimate way, the sanction of Islam to justify what it does."

What's so shocking about statements like that is Howard is supposed to get briefed by Australia's intelligence services and senior police and international experts. You'd think he would have heard about the Christian terrorists, the Hindu terrorists and the aethiest terrorists as well.

Of course, John Howard would never dream to mention extremist Catholics and the IRA terror bombings across England and Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Howard's not alone. It's the rare senior Australian politician who has recently acknowledged the fact that hundreds of thousands of Australian Muslims live peaceful, non-violent lives while adhering to the beliefs of their religion.

If anything was going to drive people to extremism, you'd think seeing your friends and relatives shot and bombed and killed and burned in Iraq and Lebanon would do it. But so far, the fallout in Australia from the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in these conflicts has been minimal here.

John Howard, of course, has to do everything he can to distract Australians from real issues causing great distress to Australians everyday, like the decimating house market, climbing interest rates, storming petrol prices and the fact that he is indirectly linked to a bribery scandal that saw an Australian company pay Saddam Hussein hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes, even after Australian soldiers had deployed to the Iraq region in early 2003 to find his non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

Top Cop Mick Keelty well understands that false assumptions about violence and Australian Muslims, and connections to terrorism in general, are dangerous - for the innocent and for the peace and welfare of Australian society in general :

"One of my biggest fears is how we apply the anti-terrorism legislation in Australia," he said. "If we have major operations and people are arrested, I think it's vitally important for us in our organisation - I can't speak for other organisations - to consider carefully how we portray that in the media. I think it's equally important as to how the media portrays it."

Mr Keelty said the danger of mistreating people who felt "the least bit alienated" was that they would become permanent outcasts in the community.

Keelty caused a storm of faux-outrage inside the Howard government in March, 2004, when he had the temerity to suggest that Australia's involvement in the Iraq War increased the chances that Islamic terrorists would launch attacks on Australian targets.

Howard denies to this day that the 'War On Iraq' has increased the threat of terrorism in Australia, despite the fact that virtually every military, terrorism and conflict expert in the world says, "Of course it does, moron."

Keelty is clearly concerned about terrorism. But it's not just Islamic extremists he's worried about.

He believes, as does the Attorney General, that there is a risk of non-Muslim terror inside Australia as well.

"...that's one of the reasons why you have to be careful about racial profiling in policing, because if you do, you risk profiling to the exclusion of people who are motivated to commit the crime," he said.

"Some of the best examples of (terror originating beyond the Muslim community) are coming out of Canada and the UK where people have, for whatever reason, converted to Islam almost as a step towards committing a crime they probably would have committed anyway."

"Some of these people harbour resentment of Western liberalised democracies in any event, or feel alienated or isolated within their own environment for whatever reason.

"Anti-social behaviour can manifest in a number of ways, and what it (terrorism) has unfortunately done is given these people reason to consider other options to be heard or to be seen or to be made martyrs."

"True Islam denounces murder, it is not practising the Koran to commit murder or to commit atrocities," he said.

"I am against racial profiling for crimes because (it) risks missing the true cause of the crime and risks focusing (on) an aspect of the community that may not necessarily involve itself in the crime while the crime is being committed."

Keelty also refuses to use the war-spin terminology of the Bush-Howard-Blair Hydra.

There is no such thing as a 'War On Terror', says Keelty. There can't be. It's impossible.

"I think a statement like the war against terror is an easy statement to make. But terrorism is a crime, it's murder. It's more about a mindset and a motivation than it is about a war ...

"As an Australian what is so important to us, I think, is that we maintain the quality of life that we have and we continue to capitalise on the benefits of multiculturalism, that we look to be embracing of all cultures."

Cheers to that brilliant burst of refreshing reality, and cheers to our Top Cop.

There is a plague of extremists in Australia causing great damage to our peace and the stability of our communities, but they aren't congregating in the mosques.

They're congregating in Australia's most expensive building ever built, right there in Canberra.




In little more than two weeks, Australians have learned that almost $1 billion worth of food crops have been lost to the effects of drought and an unexpected severe frost, which came without warning.

Prices that Australians pay for cereal-based products and stone fruits are expected to soar in the coming year.

From the Australian :

The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics today downgraded its last forecast for the winter cereal crop, made in June, from 36 million tonnes to 26 million tonnes.

Wheat production is predicted to be 16.4 million tonnes, 35 per cent lower than last year.

But even this gloomy forecast is based on reasonable spring rainfall, and the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting below average rains for all but the south west of Western Australia.

And more worrying are indications of a late-developing El Nino.

The Bureau reported August 2006 was the driest August on record. Record low winter falls were recorded over West Australia, and parts of eastern Australia.

ABARE reports West Australia, the biggest wheat producing state, should produce 8.4 million tonnes, down 39 per cent on last year's bumper crop.

WA canola is down 60 per cent, and lupins down a massive 77 per cent.

South Australia experienced the opposite, with a good start to the season, but no useful rain over winter. The winter brought a series of frosts, and crops in the south east are struggling.

The SA wheat crop is forecast to be down 30 per cent, barley down 44 per cent and canola down 38 per cent.

Victorian wheat is down 26 per cent, barley down 45 per cent and canola down 30 per cent.

The NSW wheat crop is forecast to be cut by one third, to 5.3 million tonnes, barley is down 40 per cent and canola 41 per cent.

Central Queensland crops have had adequate rains, but southern Queensland is dry.

...the area sown to rice expected to fall by 57 per cent, and cotton production is expected to fall by 29 per cent.

From :
Temperatures unexpectedly plunged to minus five degrees celsius on Sunday night, ruining healthy young fruit – including apricot, plum, peach and plum crops – across the region.

Federal Murray MP Dr Sharman Stone said she had written to Victorian Premier Steve Bracks calling on him to declare a natural disaster to "open the door to financial assistance for orchardists".

The frost was expected to have destroyed half the region's output of fruit, Dr Stone said.

"This follows five years of drought, hail last year at Shepparton East, the devastating frost of 2003 and record prices for water," Dr Stone said in a statement.

The news of these spectacular losses have barely registered in the Australian media.

These events will result in the loss of hundreds of permanent jobs and raise the prices Australians pay for everything from fresh bread to canned fruits, though there has been no mention yet whether these losses will result in the food shortages that drought and unexpected severe weather conditions have delivered in the US, Russia, China and the EU.

The routing of Australia's food industries by natural disasters continues...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Bird Flu Scare At Sydney Airport

Emergency Response Plan Goes Into Action

The man taken to a Sydney hospital with a suspected case of bird flu is instead feeling the effects of a burst bag of drugs in his stomach, reports Yahoo7News.

The 36-year-old arrived from Vietnam this morning and remained in isolation while he underwent tests which revealed he had swallowed heroin.

The passenger was allegedly a drug mule, carrying a stomach full of heroin-filled condoms which burst mid-flight.

It is understood he was unconscious for several hours during the flight before being taken to St. George Hospital, in Sydney's south.

The man's wife claimed her husband had recently visited a farm in Vietnam and eaten chicken.

Fellow passengers were initially quarantined but have now been allowed to leave.

That the other passengers on the flight were "initially quarantined" is a fact not revealed in any of the media reports earlier today, as I highlighted at the bottom of the original story below.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


As a major centre of international travel, Sydney has one of the most comprehensive response plans to the arrival of bird flu in the world. Today, the Bird Flu Response Plan got a full workout.

A man travelling from Vietnam to Sydney was already ill before he boarded the plane. Passengers have told ABC news that he was unconscious for most of the trip. The pilot, as required by law, radioed ahead to say there was an extremely ill person on board. He was taken off the flight at Sydney International Airport, by bio-suited medical staff, and taken to St George Hospital, which has a quarantine facility specifically set up, last year, to deal with international travellers who might be sick with bird flu.

The man is reported to have admitted he and his wife had visited a poultry farm in Vietnam, shortly before travelling to Australia, and they had eaten chicken at the farm.

All the passengers on the flight in question have had their personal details collected, but have not been tested for bird flu, or isolated, as the Bird Flu Response plan would require were any of them also showing signs of infection. It appears none were.

It is highly unlikely that the man, under quarantine for the time being, is carrying an infectious form of bird flu. That he is sick with the bird flu virus has not yet been ruled out, but the health authorities are not concerned enough to have quarantined all passengers and flight crew, as per the response plan.

The man is currently being tested for the H5N1 virus at St George's Hospital.

From :

Jeremy McAnulty, director of communicable diseases at NSW Health, said the man was in his 30s and is being assessed by clinicians in an isolation ward at a Sydney hospital.

"We understand that the person was relatively well but had some flu-like symptoms potentially in the last few days - the history is a little bit vague," Dr McAnulty told a media conference.

"[He] was on the plane and then was difficult to rouse in waking up in the morning time as [the plane] was about to land in Sydney.

"For that reason and the reason of a history of flu-like illness and being in Vietnam, in a place particularly around chickens, we wanted to exclude the possibility of avian influenza."

He said further information since then suggested it was "very unlikely to be avian influenza".

Under Australian quarantine laws all airlines are required to report ill passengers to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service prior to landing.

But then there's this from a story :
"This person has a recent history of being in an area with chickens in Vietnam and of having a previous influenza-like illness," the spokeswoman said.
The avian influenza virus is expected to have the highest chance of mutating into a pandemic-ready form when a person already suffering from flu-virus infection comes into contact with the H5N1 virus (most likely from infected birds) and then the two viruses merge.

Bird Flu Diagnosis Unlikely, Says NSW Health

We Must Remain Vigilant On Bird Flu, Say Experts

Go To The 'Bird Flu Blog' For More

Friday, September 15, 2006

Boy : 'Save Me From The Cannibals!'

TV Networks : Hello Ratings Bonanza And Major CatFight

By Darryl Mason

A massive public brawl has broken out between the two highest rating 'current affairs' programs in Australia over which one would, or would not, help rescue a six year old boy allegedly under threat of being "consumed by cannibals."

Yeah, that's right. A six year old boy, Wa-Wa, living in a remote region of Papua has been determined by his tribe - one of the last in the world to supposedly still practice cannibalism - to be full of evil spirits and therefore he must be eaten in some kind of tribal feast.

What better story to enjoy on the tele at dinner time?

'A Current Affair' claims they were never interested in doing the story of Wa-Wa's rescue. 'Today Tonight' claims they had the means and the contacts to rescue the kid. Presumably they would have had permission from little Wa-Wa's parents or guardian to feature him so prominently in such a controversial story. They must have. Otherwise it would be...exploitation or something.

And 'Today Tonight' would never stoop so low.

And just how did Today Tonight find room in its packed schedule of quality stories detailing 'society falls apart', 'dodgy councils' and 'bogan mum with ten kids to ten different dads' to fit in this heartwarming tale?

Child in danger. Lost tribe. Cannibalism. Heroic rescue by glamour gal talking head.

How could they possibly resist?

But the 'Today Tonight' team didn't get "We Saved Wa-Wa From Becoming Dinner" story.

They got another story instead. About their craptacular adventure.

A better story?

Maybe not. But it's far more entertaining.

'Today Tonight' host Naomi Robson was busted by Indonesian authorities trying to enter Papua on a tourist visa and was briefly jailed, then tossed out of the country.

Now Robson's team now claims that their rival, 'A Current Affair', dobbed them in to the Indonesian authorities to screw up their story and embarrass the star host.

Mission accomplished!

Read on.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

The head of Seven's news and public affairs, Peter Meakin, said his crew had secured a team of locals to help Wa-Wa "or whatever his name is".

"I can't think of too many people who had a motive to shop us into the authorities for trying to save a child from being eaten other than ('A Current Affair')," Meakin said.

Here's Channel Nine's head of news and current affairs in reply to Meakin's allegations :

"They get off a plane and they have at least a dozen camera cases … If you try to do that in Jayapura with your hair extensions hanging off you and you say, 'We are here to write a story on cannibals', what do you really expect them to say?"

But what about Wa-Wa, Mr Meaking? You remember, "Whatever His Name Is"?

"What's going to happen to the little boy is now in the lap of the gods," Meakin said.

There you go. Australian journalism at its finest.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Angry Australian Soldiers Blows Whistle On Top Secret Taliban Fight

Six Diggers Wounded As Australian Special Forces Kill 150 Taliban

"Most Intense" Battles Since Vietnam War

By Darryl Mason

A soldier involved in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan has revealed his anger at the decision to pull an Australian Special Forces team out of an area now shaping up as the largest battlefield in the 'War On Terror'.

He's angry because the Australian Defence Force is not going to send in replacement forces when the task force leaves.
"It's not right to pull out. We shouldn't just go there for a shoot 'em up and then come home..."
The soldier is referring to news only now reaching Australian media.

In July, Australian special forces and commando units were involved in a nine day long battle against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan.

150 Taliban are reported to have been killed by the Australian teams, with six Australians suffering serious wounds during the fighting.

From :

"In the most intense battles since the Vietnam War, Diggers from the Special Forces Task Group used superior weapons and overwhelming airborne fire support from USAF AC-130 Hercules Spectre gunships.

Codenamed Operation Perth, the hardest fighting took place in July during search-and-destroy missions in the Chora district, about 40km northeast of the Australian base at Tarin Khowt, in southern Afghanistan.

During the year-long operation the three rotations of the task group have sustained 11 casualties, including several men seriously wounded.

One commando had part of his jaw blown off, another was shot in the buttocks and an SAS specialist was hit in the abdomen. Amazingly, the round missed his vital organs.

In one action, six commandos, including the company sergeant major, who sustained leg injuries, were wounded by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade. the height of the battle, three AC-130 Spectre aircraft ran out of ammunition.

The task group includes a commando platoon of 50 men from the Sydney-based 4RAR and 40 SAS troopers from the unit's No.3 squadron. The 100 support soldiers include chemical weapons experts from the Incident Response Regiment.
If the Australian government is so committed to the 'War On Terror', why are they pulling special forces teams out of battlefields where the fighting appears most intense?

Running out of money? The Australian government has committed more than $20 billion to defence and war-fighting in the next few years. This may be a key reason why they are so enthusiastic about flogging valuable assets of the Australian taxpayers, like Telstra and Medibank Private.

Or does the Prime Minister, John Howard, in particular, fear the reaction of the public if the body count of Australian soldiers killed fighting the 'War On Terror' starts to rise?

One thing is clear. Australian special forces are not happy at all about being wrenched away from the battlefields where the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda is so vitally important, and proving to be extremely decisive.

No doubt they fear a repeat of what happened last time, in late 2001, when the focus for Australia's military was pulled away from the war in Afghanistan to prepare for the 'War On Iraq'.

A clear majority of military analysts across the world now believe moving the 'War On Terror' fight away from Afghanistan to focus on deposing Saddam Hussein is chief amongst the key reasons why the Taliban have been able to gain back so much ground in Southern Afghanistan.

Australian special forces have a hard-won and highly respected reputation amongst the world's military forces for never walking away from a fight.

But now it seems at least some those forces don't have a choice when it comes to leaving Southern Afghanistan.

Howard and his 'War On Terror' chiefs have made their decision.

They're out. Presumably to prepare for deployment elsewhere.

Syria and/or Iran perhaps?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Steve Irwin Gets A Touching Campfire Goodbye

Steve Irwin spent thousands of nights of his life in the middle of the Australian bush, jungles, rainforests and deserts. When he wasn't tracking crocodiles and nocturnals by torchlight, he enjoyed sitting around a fire, chatting with his wife, his camera crew, his friends, or just listening to the sounds of the night wilderness.

So it's wonderfully fitting, then, that as part of the farewell for Steve, his family and friends gave him a send-off around a campfire.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

On Saturday, (Steve's wife and kids) were among a small group of family and friends who took part in a funeral in the grounds of Mr Irwin`s Australia Zoo.

Bob Irwin, the wildlife celebrity's father, told a media conference today that the intimate farewell "was held just like he would have wanted with everyone telling their favourite stories about him around a candlelit fire.

Soon after his death, the Irwin family turned down offers by the Queensland and Federal Governments for a state funeral, saying he had regarded himself as "just an ordinary bloke" who would not have wanted such a fuss being made.

A PETA spokesman was asked for his thoughts on Steve Irwin as a conservationist, and on the way he lost his life. Not much sympathy here :
“It comes as no shock at all that Steve Irwin should die provoking a dangerous animal....He made a career out of antagonizing frightened wild animals, which is a very dangerous message to send to kids.”

“If you compare him with a responsible conservationist like Jacques Cousteau, he looks like a cheap reality TV star.
Cheap? Far from it.

Steve didn't blow his money staging demos and handing out leaflets to mostly disinterested people to promote his cause. He did something that obviously shocked PETA. He made his education of children to all things environmental FUN.

Yeah, PETA's idea of a "responsible conservationist" obviously doesn't include someone like Steve who spent millions of dollars buying up tens of thousands of acres of wilderness across Australia and the US, and a few Pacific Islands, to ensure vast pristine tracts of endangered animal environments will be protected forever.

Does that sound like a "responsible conservationist" to you? Hell, no!

Steve's sudden death has apparently shocked the hell out of the Jackass team, no strangers to throwing themselves in amongst the some of the most dangerous animals on the planet.

Here's Johnny Knoxville's reaction :
"God bless Steve Irwin. All the guys were really upset about that. We had so much respect and love for the guy.

"We were all talking about it and thought, 'If he's going to go it's the way he'd want to go'. He's got kids and that's horrible, but he was doing what he loved.

"I know it's cliche, but if there's any man who was doing what he loved it was Steve."
It ain't a cliche when it's that true.

One member of Jackass, Steve-O has been so shocked by the death of Irwin that he's thinking about throwing in his own blood-soaked encounters with some of the most dangerous animals on the planet :
"I think I'm generally going to close the book on wildlife encounters,"
Steve-O had a nasty brush with death recently when he offered himself up as 'human bait' to a Mako shark during the filming of a Jackass movie. The Mako nearly took his leg off. He managed to kick it away in time.

The 'Crocodile Hunter' Is Being Remembered, And Celebrated, Right Around The World

Steve Loved His Surfing - 250 Australian Surfers Give A Special Ocean Memorial 'Service' In His Honour

Steve Irwin To Be Replaced On Animal Planet By....Ted Nugent!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Six Australians To Be Shot On A Bali Beach

Indonesia's War On Terror Vs War On Drugs



By Darryl Mason

The story of 20 year old Australian Scott Rush is an unfolding tragedy. He got busted in Bali, part of a gang hired to smuggle heroin out of the Indonesian province and into Australia. His father knew what he was going to do and dobbed him in to the Australian Federal Police.

But the AFP didn't intervene, like his father had hoped they would. Instead, they gave Indonesian police the information and Scott wound up being busted in Bali and sentenced to life in prison. The Indonesian police managed to lose track of the suppliers of the heroin.

Rush appealed the sentence, against his own gut instinct, and now he is facing the death penalty - a bullet in the head on a Bali beach at dawn - along with five other Australians who also acted as drug couriers.

But there's another sting in the tail to this story.

Yesterday, the same day that the new death sentences were made public, two Indonesians involved in the Bali terror attacks of last year, were also sentenced for their crimes.

From the Jakarta Post :
Judges sentenced two Islamic militants to up to 18 years in prison Thursday for involvement in the 2005 terrorist attacks on Bali...

Mohammad Cholili and Dwi Widiarto were among four men charged in the attacks on the Indonesian resort island, which killed 20 people and wounded nearly 200 others.
Death for drug couriers.

Prison, with the chance of parole, for convicted terrorists.

The Indonesian judge who tossed aside the life sentences and handed down death instead said :

"Drug problems are a very dangerous crime against the Indonesian community, and not just for Indonesia but also for other countries and communities," Judge Kamil said.

"This is a serious case. The amount (of heroin) is quite large. Heavy crimes must be paid with similar punishment."

Obviously, blowing people up figures lower down the "heavy crimes" chart than being a drug courier.

For the families of those now facing death by firing squad, the way they found out was a total fiasco.

The father of Scott Rush was not told by lawyers or any government official that his son's appeal against a prison sentence had been commuted to the death sentence. No.

Like the parents and families of the three other young Australians who also just learned they are now facing the death penalty, Scott's father knew nothing had changed until he was informed by the media.

The federal government, including the prime minister, the foreign minister and the justice minister also claimed they knew nothing about the horrific changes to the sentences, even though the decision had been made some three weeks earlier in Jakarta.

It is a mark of acknowledgement of just how Indonesia feels about Australia that the key Australian ministers were not even briefed, off the record, about what has already proved to be a public opinion bombshell in Australia.

Nobody from the Indonesian government contacted their Australian compatriots because they obviously have no respect, or time, for them at all.

The news that drug couriers copped a death sentence, but terrorists got less than twenty years in jail has caused has caused widespread angst, disgust and plenty of dissent in Australia.

Prime Minister Howard has said he has little sympathy for convicted drug smugglers, but has been careful not to stir up anymore trouble in Jakarta than is necessary to try and appease his public, who in the majority are firmly opposed to death sentences.

Australia, and the Howard government, clearly have little influence in Jakarta now.

Particularly since tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions) of Indonesians were outraged to see Howard, and numerous other ministers and opposition politicians, on television parroting the Bush Co. mantra that : "Israel has the right to defend itself" last month, while Israel reduced Southern Lebanon to rubble and massacred hundreds of Lebanese Muslims.

Australians are mostly unaware of just how often clips of their politicians defending Israel's actions were shown on Indonesian television, followed by graphic footage of dead Lebanese women, children and the elderly.

In the space of one week in Bali, I saw such a sequence of images on the news at least a dozen times, in the course of less than 20 newsbreaks. The destruction of Lebanon by Israel, with the backing of the US and Australia, was the biggest story across Indonesia for weeks.

For the prime minister to now kick up a fuss about convicted drug smugglers being put to death in Indonesia is clearly going to increase tensions between the two countries.

It won't help, either, that the government backs the US in slagging and lie-mongering about Iran.

Indonesia views Iran as a closer friend, and a far more important strategic ally and trading partner than Australia.

The Indonesian president can use clemency provision to free the Australian drug couriers, or clear them of the death sentence. It's not going to happen, even though it would be a huge favour to Howard.

Howard will say little that may offend the Indonesians, even though he insists he will push pleas for clemency, knowing it won't matter an iota.

This is why Howard has now started his spin campaign about Australians living on "false optimism" that the death sentences will be wiped.

He wants, and needs, to get Australians used to idea that all too soon Indonesian police volunteers will execute six young Australians.

Howard can hope that the brutal execution of these six young Australians will not take place while he is still prime minister of the country. Death sentences in Indonesia can take years to be carried out.

But widely respected QC Lex Lasry believes the executions may come even sooner than most people expect, including Howard.
"I'm not confident that there's two years to go, I think it might well be less time than that and I think it's therefore important that we do the things we have to do reasonably quickly.
Scott Rush is ready to beg for his life, awestruck at the extremely short future he now faces :

"If there is anything people can do to prevent this, please make it happen because I need a second chance at life...they won't give us a second chance …"

This is going to get very, very ugly.

Scott Rush : "Don't Bury Us Before We're Dead"

A Mass Execution Of Australians?

Final Throw Of The Dice For Bali Nine

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Australians Need Threats & 'Realities of Terrorism ' & War To Feel United

By Darryl Mason

This is downright weird, and a little disturbing.

A piece in today's 'The Australian' claims that our "sense of well-being" has plunged, mostly because we feel so distant, so unconnected with our fellow Australians.

Something called the 'Wellbeing Index' has recorded the "lowest personal wellbeing" ratings since April, 2001 :

"...the marked drop was directly linked to how we feel about our relationships and connection to the community.

It was also linked to the fact Australians were feeling less threatened by external events and were subsequently less attached to each other.

This in turn caused their personal wellbeing to drop, he said. As people felt more secure within the world, their sense of wellbeing was more attuned to the quality of personal relationships.

"(The Index) showed a marked rise in personal wellbeing following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the Bali bombing and the early stages of the Iraq war...."

Go here for the whole story.

Does this explain why John Howard is apparently planning to use National Security as a key platform in next year's federal election?

There may well be a serious threat of terrorism in Australia - we don't really know for a fact if this is true because the details of such threats are now off-limits to the public, journos, lawyers, even those accused of being a threat - but it is a little creepy to think that all a politician has to do is ramp up the "You Will Be Bombed Soon" mantras to unite the country and install a sense of national unity.

Or can they?

In the US and the UK right now, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair are learning that The Threat Of Terror isn't uniting the masses like it used to.

At least, The Threat is not uniting the public behind their leaders.

Recent polls in the UK exposed a mind-blowing statistic : Only about 20% of all Brits believe their Prime Minister when he talked about the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK. And that's after the July 7 bombings last year.

Very, very strange.

One of John Howard's closest mates, and former staffer, is Sydney Morning Herald columnist Gerard Henderson. He stated a few days ago that :
"....John Howard and (Treasurer) Peter Costello have given clear indications that national security will be an election issue, with a focus on the real threat of radical Islamism..."
If we go the way of the Yanks and the Brits, John Howard may discover that ramping up the rhetoric about terrorism and Radical/Militant Islam Threats To Our National Security won't work to unit the country behind him like it used to.

It's something like the threat of Bird Flu.

The headlines may well say, "1/3 Of Humanity Could Die," and you can then hear of outbreaks killing people in countries around the world, but until it happens in your own country, until you lose someone close to you, or see lines queuing outside of hospitals or bodies piled up in the streets, the Fear Factor fades after a while, the threat doesn't seem so real, so looming.

The hassles of day to day reality intrude on the sense of being in perpetual danger from something deadly that may or may not impact upon your life. The longer it doesn't, the easier it is to treat The Threat dismissively.

When something terrible happens, it's easy to get The Fear, but then it fades, it always does. You move on, you get on, and the talk of The Looming Threat loses its power the longer the danger remains an unreality in the lives of most people.

How many Australians live with a serious fear of a massive meteor strike destroying a population centre?

Or a tsunami smashing coastal communities?

Or out of control bushfires destroying whole towns?

Or perpetual drought causing a whole city to eventually run out of water and result in tens of thousands of people having to relocate?

All of these are serious possibilities, and all would cause a far larger loss of life and have a far greater impact on the economy and the lives of everyday Australians than a terrorist attack the size of most we have witnessed during the War On Terror.

But what if Attorney General Philip Ruddock is right?
"One has to be clearly focussed, we believe that Australia is vulnerable, a terrorist attack in Australia is certainly possible."
What if Australia is hit by a terrorist attack between now and the federal election late next year?

Will Australians' "sense of wellbeing" rise as a result?

Will Australians feel more connected to each other, more united?

And will we then, on mass, unite behind the Howard government?

Or will Australians be like the Brits and, in the majority, blame their leader for any terrorist attack?

Hopefully, we won't have to find out.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"The Animal World Has Finally Taken Its Revenge On Steve Irwin"

Germaine Greer Hammers Steve Irwin in Life, And Death

By Darryl Mason

The UK media is ripping into the issue of whether or not Australians were divided on their feelings about Australia's most famous man, Steve Irwin. Did we love Irwin more than we hated him? What did he contribute to the image of Australians across the world?

Was he a hero of Australian conservation? Or just a loundmouth nest raider? Protector of rare fauna? Or exploiter of defenceless animals for fame and profit?

It doesn't seem to be an issue in the minds of most Australians right now, he died a tragic, way too early death and his kids and wife are crushed. There's been little outright hate on display in the majority of Australians' reactions, not that you would expect there to be.

But there have been plenty of comments amongst the tens of thousands of comments listed on Oz sites that meander around : "I never liked his show, but..." and "I couldn't stand him, but my kids loved him".

Writer Germaine Greer decided some time last night that she wasn't going to wait even a few days before she put the boot into Irwin's still warm corpse.

She lets rip today in the UK Guardian :
"The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin..."

Ahh, yeah, right.

Greer has taken the Gaia concept to a frightening new level of Nature collectively fighting back against those who dare intrude upon its sacred spaces.

According to Greer, all the world's animals apparently shared a blood-thirsty dislike of Steve Irwin and finally decided they couldn't tolerate his presence in their habitats any longer.

The unified world animal mind issued the call for Irwin to be X-ed and a 2.5 metre long stingray off Port Douglas carried out the hit, efficiently and effectively.

As the Chaser sang on the ABC last year, after she wrote of her visual admiration for the bodies of young boys : "What will that crazy old Germ say next?"

This :
What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space. The one lesson any conservationist must labour to drive home is that habitat loss is the principal cause of species loss.

There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies. There was not an animal he was not prepared to manhandle. Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress.
Greer seems to miss the point, by obviously never having given his shows more than a grimaced glance, that Irwin well understood that to get his message of conservationism over to the next generation, and to ram home just how spectacular and wonderful the creatures of Australia really were, he would have to be more entertaining, more vivid, more over-the-top than everything else on television, or in the video game console.

David Attenborough's kept a whispering distance from his televisual prey, most of the time, and it worked for the kids of the 60s and 70s.

Irwin reached hundreds of millions of people, mostly children, and instilled in them a love and respect for the wild world which will reap huge rewards for their generation and the animal world.

Greer seems to think that Irwin has inspired children to tromp into unexplored jungles and wrench animals out of the trees and shake them around for fun, or that they will put themselves in dangerous proximity to lethal creatures trying to be like their hero.

But the number of children getting bitten by snakes and spiders, particularly in Australia, has plunged in recent years, and some of that must surely be attributed to what usually followed a classic Irwin wild-eyed rant - a quiet, stern warning that kids must keep their distance from dangerous animals and respect them and their habitat.

If she'd actually watched his shows, no doubt Greer would be aware of this.
Freak Death Of Steve Irwin Caught On Video

Russell Crowe On Irwin : "The Ultimate Wildlife Warrior"

By Darryl Mason

Steve Irwin boasted in 2003 that television cameras follow him around and capture almost every second of each day in his life.

It is then, not surprising, that Irwin's sudden death has been caught on any number of cameras, and not just those that were vidding him for a new TV series on Australia's deadliest creatures (the irony would have made him laugh long and loud, no doubt).

A camera crew caught the moment when a 2.5 metre long stingray pierced his heart, but tourists on a reef cruise nearby also captured the frantic attempts to revive this legendary Australian on the deck of a boat.

Right now, Queensland police are reviewing the video of the moment the stingray pumped venom straight into his heart, bringing on cardiac arrest.

It will only be a matter of time before the videos of tourists pop up online.

For a man who lived his life so publicly, should the moment of his death be private, or shared with those who wish to view it, regardless of how traumatic the footage of a dying man may be?

From :

"The footage shows him swimming in the water, the ray stopped and turned and that was it," said boatowner Peter West, who viewed the footage afterwards.

"There was no blood in the water, it was not that obvious ... something happened with this animal that made it rear and he was at the wrong position at the wrong time and if it hit him anywhere else we would not be talking about a fatality."

Stingrays the size of the one that killed Irwin have a spike on the end of their tale, described as being "like a dagger", 20cm long. It seems likely now that Irwin may have died almost instantly.

Spear fisherman and fellow film-maker Ben Cropp has a few more details on what happened :

"He was up in the shallow water, probably 1.5m to 2m deep, following a bull ray which was about a metre across the body - probably weighing about 100kg, and it had quite a large spine. The cameraman was filming in the water."

Mr Cropp said the stingray was spooked and went into defensive mood.

"It probably felt threatened because Steve was alongside and there was the cameraman ahead, and it felt there was danger and it baulked.

"It stopped and went into a defensive mode and swung its tail with the spike.

"Steve unfortunately was in a bad position and copped it.

"I have had that happen to me, and I can visualise it - when a ray goes into defensive, you get out of the way.

"Steve was so close he could not get away, so if you can imagine it - being right beside the ray and it swinging its spine upwards from underneath Steve - and it hit him..."
Millions of Americans, like Australians, like people across the planet, have gone into a state of shock over the sudden death of Irwin.

Irwin once explained to US TV host Jay Leno how he goes about determining whether a crocodile is male or female :
"I put my finger in here and if it smiles, it's a girl," Irwin said. "If it bites me, it's a boy."
Interesting bit of info on just how valuable an entertainment icon Irwin was viewed as in the US
He was being wooed by cashed up Las Vegas casinos willing to pay a reported $US50 million to perform nightly, long-term shows.
Hard to imagine such a lover of the outdoors and animals in their natural state would have ever commited to a Las Vegas strip show, that would have kept in the desert city for months on end.

The RSPCA said Irwin was like "a modern day Noah" due to his devotion to conservation causes and efforts to save endangered Australian fauna :
"His loss will be felt by animal lovers not just in Australia but all over the world," said RSPCA Queensland chief executive Mark Townend.

RSPCA Queensland spokesman Michael Beatty, who first worked with Irwin when the Crocodile Hunter was just 15, said Irwin's contribution to society would only truly be recognised in the years ahead.

"He put his money where his mouth was," Mr Beatty said.

"Other people talked about it, Steve did it.

"His television series inspired millions of people all over the world to not only appreciate and understand wildlife, but to become active in the conservation movement.

"Whether he was speaking to global leaders or ordinary Australians, Steve Irwin told it like it was.

"His death truly is a tragedy.

"Wildlife has lost its most vocal champion," Mr Beatty said.

Australian actor Russell Crowe says goodbye to his mate :
He was the Australian we all aspire to be. He held an absolute belief that caring for the richness of our country, meaning specifically the riches of our fauna, was the highest priority we should have. And, over time, we might just see how right he was.

He was and remains, the ultimate wildlife warrior. He touched my heart. I believed in him. I'll miss him. I loved him and I will be there for his family.

His manager and close friend, John Stainton, says goodbye :
"The world has lost a great wildlife icon, a passionate conservationist and one of the proudest dads on the planet. He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind. He would have said, 'Crocs Rule!'"
Internet forums across the world are steadily filling with millions of tributes, goodbyes and words of praise for Irwin and his work. It's truly remarkable. It's easily the most volumuous outpouring of public grief and affection since the death of Princess Diana.

The forum in Australia has logged more than 3000 comments in less than eight hours since the news of his death hit the headlines. The homepage has been down for hours due to the millions of people trying to reach the site to say their goodbyes.

Hopefully Irwin's most important message to all of us will never be forgotten.

Treat the Earth with respect and love and conserve it for future generations.

After all, it's the only one we've got.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom Of Steve Irwin, Wildlife Warrior

By Darryl Mason

He was a genuine, true blue Australian. He loved his wife, adored his kids, he lived his dreams and he never tried to hide who he really was. Steve Irwin also happened to be one of the biggest stars on the planet, and one of the most famous Australians in our short history.

Few know that he wrote a series of widely admired scientific papers on Australian fauna and died as one of the largest private landowners in Australia - he used his millions to buy up tens of thousands of acres of pristine Australian bush and rainforest, never to be developed, never to be touched. That's putting your money where your mouth is and putting those hard-earned dollars to a wonderfully good use.

Some Australians found him a little hard to take, he was maybe too Australian in his honesty and his vocabulary, but it was probably his unbound enthusiasm and energy that grated on the nerves of some of his fellow countrymen.

But the kids loved him. Absolutely loved him.

There's been quite a few comments from Australian bloggers who were in the US in 2000 and 2001, as I was, who were stunned to learn about this Crocodile Hunter that seemingly every American loved and couldn't stop talking about.

But how many Australians knew who he was back then? Not many.

If he was known at all by the masses in Australia it was as the over-the-top, hammy host of a kids afternoon TV show.

But in the US? Mega-star. I lost track of the amount of times Americans said, "Oh, you're an Australian? Can you say 'Crikey! Look at the size of this fella!" or variations on that theme.

Okay, and onto the subject of this post.

Steve Irwin, as well as being Australia's most enthusiastic conservationist, was also quite the philosopher, and stand-up comic, as well as a storyteller of immense talent.

Here's a selection of quotes from some of the longer, in-depth television interviews Steve Irwin gave during 2003 and 2004.

Read them and think of his voice and add the energy and laughter.

It's interesting how different these quotes read to hearing them come out of his mouth on television. Some of them seem far more powerful in type.

Quick note on the first quote : Irwin had a big problem with entreprenuers who called themselves conservationists but promoted crocodile farming (for meat and skins). Same with kangaroos. He wanted to save all Australian animals, all the time.
They're on some crusade, these wildlife perpetrating people, where they think that, you know, by eating crocodiles and whales that we'll actually save the world, and that is bullshit, and that is bad, and it is something that must stop, and it is something that I fight vehemently.

Just say what you're gonna say, mate.

I'm fair dinkum, like kangaroos and Land Cruisers, winged keels and bloody flies! I think we've lost all that. I think we've all become very, sort of, money people.

If you don't have your highs and your lows, then you're just going to have a pretty mundane sort of a boring life and and my highs are really really high and my lows are really really low...

And then you've got the detractors having a go at me. You know, "Taking tourism back to the Stone Age." It seems to me that they're actually trying to promote nice beaches, cosmopolitan cities, cafe latte. That's in every country. What haven't they got? They haven't got kangaroos, haven't got koalas, haven't got saltwater crocs, mate.

I've got a photo of my daughter and I can just sit there and start crying just looking at her. Who would have thought someone as ugly as me could bring into the world something so beautiful, such a treasure?

I think I've actually got animals so genetically inside me that there's no way I could actually be anything else. I think my path would have always gone back to or delivered me to wildlife. I think wildlife is just like a magnet, and it's something that I can't help.

You know, easily the greatest threat to the wildlife globally is the destruction and annihilation of habitat. So I've gone, "Right, well, how do I fix that? Well, making a quid here. People are keen to give me money over there. I'll buy it. I'll buy habitat."...

There's too many good ones. I'll post another round-up, or you can read the interview transcripts in full for yourself, here and here and here
Steve Irwin The Crocodile Hunter Is Dead

By Darryl Mason

Known across the planet as the Crocodile Hunter, the TV presenter, actor and conservationist
Steve Irwin was killed earlier today near Port Douglas, Queensland, hard at work making a new documentary on Australia's beautiful, and sometimes incredibly deadly, marine life.

In what is being widely described as a freak accident, the long, razor sharp barb of a large stingray is believed to have entered his chest, causing his death in less than two hours.

Here's a good, quick-read obituary. His love of Australia's wildlife, in particular crocodiles, was instilled in him from his earliest years, and he deeply admired his father, an avid wildlife protector and part-time adventurer :
...the (Irwin) family's consuming passion was rescuing and rehabilitating local (Queensland) wildlife.

In 1970 the hobby became a full time operation when the Irwins opened the Beerwah Reptile Park.

Irwin recalled how, even with the advent of a formal facility, the family home was itself a mini zoo and wildlife hospital, with makeshift marsupial "pouches" slung over the backs of chairs and snakes stashed everywhere.

The young Irwin came to share his parents' obsession with wild creatures, and he soon displayed an uncanny rapport with them, able to sense their moods and preferences intuitively

As the Australian media scrambles to cover the story, marine life experts are being innundated with questions about how many people have actually died after being stung by a stingray. Some experts in Queensland say none, never heard of it. Others outside of Australia say such deaths are not as common as shark bite deaths, but they are not completely unknown.
...stingrays have poisonous spines that can inject venom deep in to the unwary victim, causing excruciating pain. Handle all fish with care, avoiding the spinous areas along the backbone and around the gills.
From the early reports, it sounds like Steve may have been stung close to the heart, as the stingray's barb is believed to have actually pierced his chest.

Reports of divers being stung by stingrays are not uncommon, but usually the stings occur on the feet or the legs. People can become violently ill from such stings, but stings to the chest, and in particular reports where the venomous 'spike' of the tail actually entering the chest are extremely rare.

There will no doubt be much fear amongst the Queensland, and particularly Cairns, tourism industry over his death.

Dive boat operators will now be questioned by tourists on just how dangerous it is to get in the water with stingrays.

How will they be able to deny that stingrays can kill?

Steve Irwin became famous for his theatrical wrestling of crocodiles, but stingrays will be viewed with fear and dread now they have claimed the life of Australia's most famous son.

Terrible news. He was one of the best friends Australia's shrinking rainforests and increasingly threatened wildlife has had in a long time. His TV shows, watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world, regularly featured him talking about the rare beauty of the Australian wilderness, and why it was so important to preserve it for the good of the country, for the benefit of the tourism industry and for future generations of Australians.

See you later, Steve. You were a top bloke. We'll miss you plenty.

Go here to read tributes from Australian fans to Steve Irwin.

Another board of tributes and comments can be found here.

We'll post links to other news boards of comments and tributes. Can't supply the links right now. At least major Australian news comments boards have crashed due to the overwhelming number of people who want to say goodbye.

UPDATE : I should point out that the tributes and goodbyes pouring in to Australian news sites are now also coming from people in the US, the UK, all across Europe, Russia, Turkey, all across the Middle East, New Zealand...indeed, most of the known world that is hooked up to the net.

Stingray "Fear Factor" Media Freakout Begins

It only took a few hours after the death of Steve Irwin was confirmed for some of the Australia
to begin ramping up the fear over the dangers of stingrays. The best quotes so far have come from the wildlife expert and film-maker long regarded as the original Crocodile Hunter :
"...they (stingrays) are very dangerous.

"They have one or two barbs in the tails which are not only coated in toxic material but are also like a bayonet, like a bayonet on a rifle.

"If it hits any vital organs it's as deadly as a bayonet."

Go here for the most recent updates and stories, including 'The Wit And Wisdom Of Steve Irwin'

Friday, September 01, 2006

New US Ambassador Says It's Okay For Aussies To Disagree With American Policies...

Particularly The Ones That Result In The Deaths Of Thousands Of Innocent People

By Darryl Mason

Apparently Australians don't have to agree with every vicious, brutal, war pig ideology and mantra that stumbles from the lips of President Bush and Offence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The new US ambassador to Australia has announced it's okay for Australians to disagree with American policy, and if we choose to do so, that doesn't make us anti-American.

That's a good plan. If dissenting against the War On Iraq and the way Bush Co has chosen to fight the War On Terror was a sign of anti-Americanism, then, well, something close to 60% of all Australians would have to be branded with this badge of dishonour.

Of course, the majority of Americans as well would also be anti-American. Which would mean America would be populated with more than a hundred million anti-Americans.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

THE new US ambassador to Canberra wants Australians to understand that it is OK to disagree with the Bush Administration yet still feel warm towards America.

Apparently trying to contain the damage that the Iraq venture has inflicted on Australian sentiment towards the US, Robert McCallum said he would appeal direct to the Australian public.

"I want to get out across the entire continent of Australia" to say that "it's OK to disagree with this US policy or that US policy but still be pro-American, because we have so much in common", he told the Herald.

He agreed that this approach was designed to stop Australians throwing the baby out with the bath water.

And the ambassado....said he was surprised to learn that a majority of Australians polled last year said US foreign policy was a potential security threat.

"The national security of Australia and the US is a common interest, each with the other," Mr McCallum said.

A poll for the Lowy Institute last year found 57 per cent of respondents believed US foreign policy to be a security threat, the same percentage that cited Islamic fundamentalism as a threat.

"Australia and the US are both pioneer nations with great energy and determination. Americans have the greatest respect for anything Australian. It's quite remarkable."

Complete crap. Most Americans know next to nothing about Australia, Australians or Australian culture, outside of the Crocodile Hunter/Dundee cliches.

Most Americans remain unaware that Australians devoted tens of thousands of troops to the Vietnam War, with more than 500 killed in action.

Today, the vast majority of Americans also remain unaware that Australians are fighting in Iraq. This is not unexpected, as President and Secretary of Offence Donald Rumsfeld rarely mentions that next to the UK, Australia is the United States' chief ally in the War On Iraq.

Rumsfeld, and Bush, have also failed to adequately acknowledge that Australian supplied more than one third of the special forces that tore down the Taliban regime in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US, and saved the lives of countless US special forces troops and CIA agents on at least three separate occasions.

Robert McCallum has a particularly difficult job ahead of him if he thinks he can turn the tide of Australian opinion on how Bush Co. has conducted itself in the War On Iraq and the War On Terror.

Australians don't hate Americans, but most Australians are smart enough to know that the road to the War On Iraq was paved with deceit and ouright lies, and that the Howard Government and Bush Co. conned them all in the worst possible way.

The always excellent Road To Surfdom blog has a great take on this story, and the comments are well worth reading.

This blogger's contribution on the Road To Surfdom board reads as follows :

We do have so much in common with Americans. More than 60% of Australians also believe that President Bush is a threat to world peace and the War On Iraq was an appalling mistake.

The new ambassador is off to a great start with his enthusiastic embrace of dissent.

Of course, Australians are free to dissent, as Howard has repeatedly said.

(Attorney General Philip) Ruddock will soon release new guidelines on what the parameters are of the kind of dissent and free expression we will all be able to democratically engage in….within the specificed Dissent Expression Zone in the Simpson Desert, and after you obtain the right permits to freely express yourself, for which you will need to provide proof that you are, at least, a fourth generation Australian.

The new ambassador….Good to see a Skull And Bonesman finally walking the corridors of power in Canberra. He should feel right at home amongst all those Freemasons and Opus Dei-ists.