Friday, September 29, 2006

Muslim Terrorism

Keysar Trad
Originally uploaded by Sydney Weasel.
Multiculturalism, for me, is contentious as it is philosphically impossible. An individual is either from a culture or they aren't. A multiculture does not exist, except as a linguistic construct.

However, I dont think this debate is about multiculturalism, a slogan, so much as cultural pluralism, an ideal. I think this debate is also not about religious practise, so much, as secular extremism. I think you are correct to observe that Christians are not behaving as these extremists are, however, Muslims don't behave as these extremists do either. But Islamist clerics endorse these extremists, and although they are wrong to do so, their endorsement goes unchallenged by the supposed majority.

Christians do have similar expressions as Islamist terrorists. One example is the IRA. Other examples may include aspects of UDF, Middles East Christians, Indonesian Christians and some groups around former Yugoslavia or many other places in Africa, South America or Asia. But, with the exception of the IRA, Christians rarely are endorsed for terrorist activity.

I'm not Muslim. I question the right of anyone to call themselves Muslim who maintain the extremist position.


Anonymous said...

THE Daily Telegraph’s debate on multiculturalism explored the views of two Muslims, lawyer Irfan Yusuf and Lebanese representative Keysar Trad, and two Christians, Jesuit Father Emmet Costello and Anglican vicar, the Reverend Gordon Cheng.

The question which wasn’t posed was why is multiculturalism such a huge issue now?

It has to do with a number of events, the explosive reaction to Pope Benedict scholarly remarks on the nature of faith and violence, which saw sections of the Islamic world erupt with the murder of a nun in Somalia, the burning of six Christian churches (none of them Roman Catholic), and threats to execute the Pope.

This was in line with other acts by Muslims such as the fatwah against author Salman Rushdie, the hysterical campaign against Danish cartoons engineered by a group of imams, and the recent cancellation of a Mozart opera which depicted the heads of Poseidon, Jesus, Buddha and the Prophet Mohammed.

We are also approaching the anniversary of the Cronulla riots, in which religious difference played a significant factor.

Early on, Irfan Yusuf made the point out that there is no cohesive Muslim community in Australia.

He said Muslims “as a whole did not appoint Keysar Trad or Sheik Hilaly to any leadership position….they don’t represent me and I resent them always claiming to speak on my behalf.”

In fact, leaders of an umbrella Islamic organisation were asked to participate in the debate but were unable to. If no-one of authority steps forward, media savvy people will always be asked to participate in their stead.

While the debate was nominally about multiculturalism, the questions reflected underlying tensions about Islam. That may be because we regularly see terrorists and jihadis in Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Sudan, and protesters in Western nations, quoting the Koran, their Holy book, to justify murder.

There appear to be few, if any, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Hindus engaging in the same activity to any appreciable degree.

It is reasonable therefore that we examine what these people are being taught about Islam.

We know that some imams in Australia, including Sheik Hilaly, have made the most appalling statements suicide bombers, 9/11 and people who follow other religions.

We be able, in our pluralist society, to openly ask whether they interpret the Koran in the same manner as those whose violence we see abroad?

If they do not, let them say so. Neither Irfan Yusuf nor Keysar Trad provided any real answer about the interpretation of the Koran but sought to divert from the issue.

References to the Crusades or the settlement of Australia are irrelevant to today’s debate. History is history and Australians, from all walks of life, race and religion want to know is whether they will be able to live peacefully and raise their families in a secure environment.

Or will extremists demand that their particular view of the Islamic religion be observed here?

That debate continues.

Weasel said...

A tribunal has been wrestling with the question of whether viewing child pornography makes someone likely to go on to become a paedophile. The question arose during a case involving a former teacher convicted of downloading child pornography from the Internet who wanted to be allowed to work with children again. The man, identified only as UZ, had been caught with between 6000-8000 child pornography images on his computer. Even the tribunal was amazed when he claimed not to have a sexual interest in children, describing the statement as “frankly…implausible”.

The NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal was told the man, who worked as a teacher in both primary and secondary schools in NSW and Tasmania for over twenty years, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography – mostly images of pre-teen boys - in March last year. He was given a 12 month suspended jail sentence. He applied to the tribunal to have the ban on him working with children lifted because he wanted to get involved in television production and become a drama coach for young people.

The tribunal took evidence from a range of experts on whether possessing child pornography made someone a physical threat to children.

One report prepared by a psychiatrist diagnosed UZ as a type of paedophile and warned he should not be allowed to engage in activities that brought him in contact with children “regardless as to treatment”. The psychiatrist noted “that the object of a person’s sexual drive (whether homosexual, paedophilic or other) is extremely difficult if not impossible to change”.

Another psychiatrist disagreed, saying she thought it “less likely” that UZ would pose a threat to children in “overt paedophile behaviour”. And yet another expert opinion provided to the tribunal said “the issue of risk of progression to contact offences is a thorny one…”. The hearing was also told that a number of people had viewed and possessed collections of child pornography but had not progressed to hands-on offences. This group “appeared to be at low risk of progressing” to becoming paedophiles, although some might.

And yet another psychiatrist told the tribunal that that UZ’s “sexual interest appears to be predominantly in the direction of male children, and that, of the paedophilic sex offender group, sex offenders who offend against male children are associated with the highest rate of recidivism”. The psychiatrist also said that although there was only limited research into recidivism rates for child pornography offenders, it “seems reasonable (with caution) to apply these earlier findings of high recidivism rates to child pornography offenders”.

The tribunal in its decision on Wednesday acknowledged that “there is a growing body of research which indicates that child pornography users will not necessarily move from that sort of activity to physical abuse of children”. But it concluded that there was nothing in the evidence presented to the hearing to show that UZ didn’t present a risk to children.

The tribunal also said that “consumers of child pornography by definition put children at risk”. “They are the market for those who produce the pornography in the first place. Without that market many of the children who are victims of the pornography industry would not suffer the abuse they do,” it said.

The problem of working with academics is that the law wants an answer, but the academic offers six, and to ask an academic to limit is, often to ask an academic to ignore relivant fact. Although those quoted appear to disagree on the question, I think they agree as to facts.

What disturbs me on this issue is the contemplation of allowing this collector contact with kids. Individual work, such as drama coaching, involves an informal atmosphere and casual contact similar to a swim coach.

It isn’t as if every transgression is ever reported, and so facts that academics deal with are incomplete. I know one former child actor who claimed to have been ‘groomed’ among the industry elite.

Weasel said...

Talks this morning were due to hammer out the final details of what appears to be a remarkable victory for Victoria’s rank and file police and their union. In a significant backdown, the force’s Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon and her deputy Simon Overland have agreed to effectively restore the disbanded Armed Offenders Squad, which has been at the centre of controversial public hearings by Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog. The new unit is expected to be named the Armed Offenders Taskforce and will include many of the members of the old squad. But those with a sense of history won’t be surprised. There’s a long tradition of Victoria Police fighting – and winning – against outside interference over misconduct allegations. And as a force insider tells Gotcha below, unrest within the force is still running deep.

Two decades ago the Victorian Government attempted to impose a new watchdog called the Police Complaints Authority on Victoria Police. It lasted just two years before being disbanded under a sustained attack by the force. The force’s bid to isolate and undermine the PCA was so successful that at the end of the two years Victoria’s official government printer even refused to publish the organisation’s final report. The PCA’s role was taken over by a deputy ombudsman for police complaints.

And in 1975 Barry Beach, who went on to become a Supreme Court judge, headed an inquiry into corruption within the Victoria Police. The force didn’t like it. As Justice Beach recalled 20 years later, heading the inquiry “was a fairly scary thing . . . All sorts of comments were made: if my wife was raped they would be the last people who would lift a finger to help.”

Police held a mass public rally and threatened industrial action – just as they did last week in protest at the Office of Police Integrity’s hearings into the Armed Offenders Squad. The Beach Inquiry heard from 240 witnesses, made adverse findings against 55 police. Thirty two officers were charged, but none were convicted. Under political pressure from rank and file police, the state government eventually appointed a committee that reviewed and overturned most of the Beach Inquiry’s recommendations.

The decision by Nixon and Overland to restore the Armed Offenders Squad came earlier this week, after the powerful Victorian Police Association made it clear it was not going to back down in what promised to be a bruising political brawl. The fallout from last week’s OPI hearings, which saw the airing of secretly recorded video of squad members allegedly assaulting suspects, was an unlikely political alliance between the police association and the Liberal state opposition just two months out from a state election. Both called for the scrapping of the OPI, which it claimed had denied Armed Offenders Squad detectives natural justice.

The new Armed Offenders Taskforce will include most of the old squad’s 35 members, apart from those under investigation by the OPI. It is possible some of those could eventually face assault or perjury charges. But the peace deal over the squad hasn’t healed the bad blood between the Police Association and force command. Yesterday the association reacted angrily when the Chief Commissioner used special powers to sack a senior sergeant over alleged misconduct.

A glimpse of ill feeling inside the force over Christine Nixon and Simon Overland – both non-Victorians - has been given to Gotcha by someone who wants to be known only as “Detective”. Here is what they said:

“Victoria is gradually becoming the crime capital of Australia under the reign of Chief Commissioner Nixon and Deputy Commissioner Overland. The first instance of Victoria Police showing signs of becoming a dysfunctional police department was the commencement of the ‘Gangland Wars’. Although accepted by the public as ‘Just crooks doing their own house cleaning’ it was more a case of criminals having a free run without fear of any heavy decisive police response. Assistant Commissioner Overland reigned over the Crime Department during those long dark months of criminals running riot on Melbourne streets. The shoes of those career criminals that died or eventually went to prison as a result will quickly be filled by new contenders if police management, judiciary and government don’t get their act together and continue to do nothing constructive.
“After reading the Herald Sun article on Sunday in respect to former police Detective Inspector Brian Dabb’s comments I can assure you that Brian is one hundred percent correct in his assertion that what has occurred at the Armed Offenders Squad Office is a management problem and management should be held to account, not just the few young overzealous detectives identified by this department and the OPI back in May this year. For example no one has identified the fact that Assistant Commissioner Simon Overland was their boss during this period of so called ‘corrupt culture’ yet the only impact of vicarious liability on him has been promotion to the rank of Deputy Commissioner on the 2nd of July this year along with a pay increase to reward. In similar circumstances back in 2002, when the Drug Squad suffered a similar fate, the then Assistant Commissioner Crime, George Davis, and the Crime Commander, Rodney Lambert, were duly punished by Ms Nixon in that Mr Davis’ contract was not renewed and Mr Lambert was relocated to a basic portfolio project position as a result.
“The OPI investigation has been conducted in a similar fashion to Operation ‘Bart’ in 1995 (the window shutter reward system). Operation ‘Bart’ became a covert operation with the only significant result being two police members being charged criminally, lots of disciplinary offences against young inexperienced police members who thought they were doing the right thing by collecting funds for station social clubs and loads of bad media. This was clearly a matter that could have, and should have been handled as a management issue. The problem occurred as a result of a lack of understanding, training, supervision of young police members and obviously poor judgement and decisions as to how to manage the problem by police command. Once again the upper echelons of police management walked away unscathed because they instigated and supported the covert investigation.
“The ultimate question will be ‘Do Victorian’s want a dysfunctional police force similar to that of where Ms Nixon hails (NSW)?’ It is now clear the issue is purely political and obvious the polls will provide the answer. At the end of the day if the Labour Government makes their return, Victorians will get the police service they deserve. Nixon and Overland were both Labour Government appointments. (If we really deem ourselves a democratic society why don’t we have our police chiefs elected by the public like in America?)
“I, for one, would not look forward to the prospect of retirement in a city where young police officers are too scared to leave their office or alight from their vehicle for fear of a complaint investigation by the Office of Police Integrity; A society where the criminal element is the one significant minority group to whom our government pays homage.”

Had the OPI made a case of prima facie corruption, I’d not be supporting the PA. However, the detectives filmed beating up alleged armed offenders does not strike me as being in the same class as the film showing NSW police on the take in the mid to late ‘90s.

I now feel that the OPI erred badly in not involving administration to solve the problem. Ms Nixon is looking heavy handed, not even handed in her dealings.

Weasel said...

How bad does a sex offender have to be – and how much of a risk to the community do they have to pose – to deserve never to be released?
Self proclaimed Celtic witch Robin Angus Fletcher must come close. He used drugs and hypnotism to lure two young girls under his power. He sexually abused them in sadomasochistic ceremonies, which involved chaining and whipping them. He then offered one of the girls “for sale” over the Internet for sadomasochistic sex, describing her as a “submissive teen schoolgirl” who was “bruisable” and “wears dog collar”. When caught by undercover detectives posing as customers, Fletcher tried to arrange to have the two girls killed for $12,000 to prevent them giving evidence against him.
Finally jailed for his crimes, he managed to access the Internet from prison and used a US website to try to recruit future followers. When released on parole, he was found to have written to contacts in Ghana in West Africa discussing “improper and unacceptable conduct” and was put back in jail.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Fletcher’s bizarre tale is the fact he escaped with a minimum eight year sentence after he pleaded guilty to a range of sex offences and attempting to pervert the course of justice at his Victoria Supreme Court trial in 1998. Perhaps part of the explanation lies with the comments of the judge at the trial, who somewhat incredibly described Fletcher as having a measure of kindness and compassion in his nature. “Too often the best side of your character has been concealed behind a fog of muddled thoughts associated with your professed status as a witch,” the judge said.

The judicial attitude was a little different in May, when the Victorian Government applied to the Supreme Court to have Fletcher restricted by an extended supervision order after his release in June at the end of his 10 year sentence. The judge accepted that there was a “high degree of probability that the offender is likely to commit a relevant offence if released into the community” and placed him on a five year supervision order. Under the eight terms of the order, Fletcher could only live where the Victorian Department of Justice decided it was safe and could not leave the state without permission.

The Victorian Government obtained legal advice that the terms of the supervision order, which was obtained under the new Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring Act, meant it could order Fletcher to remain living in jail. In July it declared part of the prison grounds inside the walls to be no longer part of the jail in an attempt to comply with the technicalities of the legislation. But yesterday the same Supreme Court judge who granted the original order ruled that keeping Fletcher behind bars was not legal under the new legislation, which allows for offenders to be monitored after their release into the community.

It is the second set back for the new Victorian law in as many days. Gotcha reported yesterday that the Supreme Court had lifted an extended supervision order against another paedophile after ruling the legislation did not give it the power to amend an order’s terms. It described lifting the order and allowing the paedophile to go unsupervised as the “lesser of two evils”.

Yesterday’s ruling on Fletcher is also expected to have implications for another notorious paedophile, Brian Keith Jones - better known as Mr Baldy – who is also on an extended supervision order. Jones and Fletcher had both been forced to live within the grounds of Ararat prison in western Victoria under the terms of their supervision orders. It is likely now that Jones will also seek to be released back into the community. And the Victorian Government will have to go back to the drawing board with its Serious Sex Offenders Monitoring legislation to fix the flaws.

The forced release into the community of Fletcher – possibly followed by Jones – will also add pressure on the Victorian Government to pass new laws, similar to those operating in Queensland, NSW and Western Australia, to allow the indefinite detention of serious offenders deemed highly likely to re-offend.

It is possible that victims can be complicit in their crime. In this situation, the victim is the voter of Victoria .. and any Australian state these two may visit.

I don’t know why a condition of release placed on predators of continuous demonstration of penitence can’t be made. Then, any apparent deviation would result in further incarceration. Throw in a GPS monitoring chain on the ankle .. Jail is cheap compared to what these people may cost the community

Weasel said...

You’d think that in this day and age car owners would know better than to leave their vehicles unlocked. But they do. Often. Which probably explains why Australia has one of the highest car theft rates with the western world, with one vehicle disappearing every six minutes. Now a survey by insurer AAMI has pinpointed where we still leave our cars unlocked and waiting to be stolen.

The survey found that one in 20 drivers (five per cent) admitted to regularly leaving their cars unlocked. Of those:

• 79 per cent leave their cars unlocked at petrol stations when paying for fuel.
• 70 per cent outside their homes.
• 68 per cent inside the home garage.
• 52 per cent at work.
• 34 per cent at the supermarket.

Men were more likely to leave their cars unlocked in petrol stations and at work, while women were more likely to do it at the supermarket.

“There is a false perception that leaving your car unlocked for only a short time is less risky, but people forget it takes only seconds for a thief to jump in a vehicle and drive off,” says AAMI Corporate Affairs Manager, Selina O’Connor.

And which cars are they most often driving off? AAMI’s list of most frequently stolen cars in 2005 is:


And the most likely day you’ll lose your car? Saturday.

My car was stolen on a weeknight. It was a 1986 Ford Fairmont Ghia, ten years old. It was locked, but the dysfunctioning alarm had been booked to be reconnected later that week.

It was never recovered.

I worked at a servo for a year. I would never leave a car unlocked for a second.

Anonymous said...

Reckless - and possibly illiterate - Kim Beazley:

KIM Beazley has vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq as soon as he becomes Prime Minister, describing it as the “wrong war in the wrong place”...

Mr Beazley said the latest intelligence reports from the US confirmed Iraq was getting worse, not better, and was undermining both the US and Australia’s ability to fight terrorism

Reckless Kim Beazley’s former chief of staff Michael Costello (who at least can read):

The media coverage and most political reaction suggests the (National Intelligence Estimate) summary is damning of Bush’s position on Iraq. I have two things to say about that. One is that people must be reading a different document from the one I am. The other is that the summary seems to me to ignore some significant considerations.

Bush says that if the US were to pull its forces out of Iraq it would lead to increased terrorism and, conversely, that victory in Iraq would be a blow to terrorism.

Here’s what the NIE says: “Perceived jihad success (in Iraq) would inspire more fighters to continue the fight elsewhere.” And “should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight”. That’s supportive, not undermining, of Bush’s opposition to withdrawal.

Bush constantly emphasises that the spread of democratic processes, pluralism and support for moderate forces will eventually work against the terrorists. So does the NIE, not just once but in several places.

It says democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations during the next five years will drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and groups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. There is a risk that such reforms could be destabilising in the transition period, but that’s the case whenever countries move towards democracy.

So the NIE supports two key Bush propositions.

How come Beazley misrepresents what his own former top advisor says is in the NIE? How come he proposes a retreat which even his own former top advisor concedes would be a deadly mistake?

Anonymous said...

If you go out to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Look up and say “cheese”:

Spotters poring over satellite images housed on the popular Google Earth service have spied what appears to be two topless sunbathers in the Dutch city of The Hague soaking up the rays.
More pics of sunbathers snapped by satellite here.

Anonymous said...

This is a lot of dead terrorists, and doesn’t even include the home-grown ones:

The new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq said in an audiotape posted on the Internet Thursday that more than 4,000 foreign insurgent fighters have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
But what is interesting is that you don’t hear - even on the Left - the sounds of sobbing for these dead. No one seems to mind that such people get killed. That seems new. And perhaps it’s good.

Anonymous said...

What on earth is the good of maintaining a ghetto as far from hope - and any jobs - as Palm Island:

It is a common complaint of the 4000-strong community suffocating on the deceptively idyllic island, 70km off Townsville, in a climate of social and economic deprivation. On Palm Island there is no industry to provide employment. There are the basic services: a council, general store, butchery, bakery and canteen selling grog.

But with no freehold title to allow islanders to own houses or land and raise equity to invest in business, unemployment among the adult population languishes above 90 per cent. And with boredom, overcrowding and in many cases alcoholism, there is lawlessness: horrific levels of domestic violence, theft and sexual assault.

One day we’ll finally have the courage to realise there is no happy future for children born and raised in such communities, and we’ll finally try to bring the Aborigines living there into the productive mainstream, rather than pay them to live in such sinkholes of uselessness and despair.

Anonymous said...

The ICC’s decision last night in the Darrell Hair case stinks.

First, Pakistan capitain Inzamam ul Haq is flogged with a bail for having refused to play on after Hair’s ruling that Pakistan had tampered with the ball. A suspension of just four one-day games is as light as the ICC could make it without actually caving in utterly to Pakistan’s threats and tantrums.

Second, Hair has had an on-field decision over-ruled by ICC adminstrators after the game. Will we now have post-match second-guessing of lbw decisions, too, if the complaining team acts thuggishly enough? Which umpire will now dare to make a tough decision against Pakistan?

And then the ICC rules that Hair cannot stand in any Champions Trophy games, claiming that the Indian hosts cannot guarantee his safety or that of those around him. Hair himself said he did not fear for his safety, and Cricinfo managing editor Martin Williamson gives the ICC the contempt it deserves for running this less-than-frank excuse:

It raised two scenarios. The first was that the Indian authorities, who in the last year have had no worries keeping Pervez Musharraf, George Bush and Tony Blair safe, genuinely could not protect an umpire. That was clearly nonsense ... but if it had been true, then it would raise massive concerns about the well-being of other players, officials and spectators. Yes, heads of state are slightly different from ICC officials, but this is a global event and given that, the government as well as the board would pull out all the stops to ensure that all bases were covered.

The other was that this was nothing more than a face-saving exercise. Given that no mention had been made of possible security issues until today, that seemed the more plausible explanation.

In fact, everything about this decision seems an exercise in saving face (and dollars), and very little seems to be about saving cricket itself.

Weasel said...

Hamid Karzai, the brave president of Afghanistan, cannot believe how dumb people can be to blame the liberation of Iraq for terrorism. To an American reporter who trotted out that trite line, he points out:

(T)errorism was hurting us way before Iraq or September 11th… These extremist forces were killing people in Afghanistan and around for years, closing schools, burning mosques, killing children, uprooting vineyards, with vine trees, grapes hanging on them, forcing populations to poverty and misery.

They came to America on September 11th, but they were attacking you before September 11th in other parts of the world. We are a witness in Afghanistan to what they are and how they can hurt.

You are a witness in New York. Do you forget people jumping off the 80th floor or 70th floor when the planes hit them? Can you imagine what it will be for a man or a woman to jump off that high? Who did that? And where are they now? And how do we fight them, how do we get rid of them, other than going after them? Should we wait for them to come and kill us again? That’s why we need more action around the world, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, to get them defeated—extremism, their allies, terrorists and the like.

Anonymous said...

Tim Blair notes that Belgian artists are adopting the tactics of the Islamists they now defend:

Belgian artists warn that a victory of the “islamophobic” Vlaams Belang [Flemish Interest] party in the local elections on October 8th may lead to violence. In an interview in the Dutch-language weekly Knack Magazine this week painter Luc Tuymans says: “In the worst case you will get organised resistance, perhaps even rather violent reactions. I suspect many shop keepers will have their windows smashed. People do not seem to be aware, but a vote for the Vlaams Belang may have serious consequences. They should realize this before they take a final decision in the voting booth.”
Maybe if Vlaams Belang responded by treating artists the way one Islamist treated Theo van Gogh next door in Holland, they might persuade Luc Tuymans to change his weaselly mind.

Anonymous said...

It seems that at last a cultural line has been drawn. The banning of a production of Mozart’s Idomeneo that features the severed heads of several gods, including Mohammed, has turned out to be one cringe too far, even for (or especially for?) German’s Turkish minority, which seems to understand the issue at stake for better than do some of the strident Leftist warriors who read this blog:

"Why must we cower before Islam?” blared the mass circulation Bild, whose pages included a photo montage of the German Reichstag, or parliament, with minarets poking from the roof. “Cowardice before the enemy!” stewed John Dew, the artistic director of Darmstadt’s state theater in Die Welt, a newspaper. German politicians denounced the decision as “kneeling to terrorism”. The ordinarily understated Chancellor Angela Merkel called the decision to cancel the show “unbearable”.

In an attempt to cool things down, the head of Germany’s Turkish Community, Kenan Kolat, suggested that the 30 participants at a government-sponsored Islamic conference meeting in Berlin attend together a special showing of the opera as a gesture, an idea the government has approved though the Oper itself has yet to make a decision. “We are moving in the direction of a clash of civilizations,” Kolat told TIME. “I understand the feelings of those who may be hurt by the depiction but in the 21st century, art should be free and independent of religion.”

Anonymous said...

A new movie from Sacha Baron Cohen causes Kazakhstan a problem - but one I can solve:

"My government send me to USA to make a movie film. Please, you look,” Borat says while being pulled by a horse.

Borat is really British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, and he has gotten well under Kazakhstan’s skin with his spoof portrayal of a Kazakh news reporter.

Maybe it’s because he showed up for the premiere of his new movie in a cart, apparently being pulled by Kazakh peasant women.

Maybe it’s because he has said that homosexuals in Kazakhstan had to wear blue hats.

Maybe it’s his attitude toward women.

So wounded have the Kazakhs been by the image of their country that Borat presents that the former Soviet republic has taken out expensive spreads in major newspapers extolling the virtues of their developing land. They’ve also dispatched senior diplomats to refute the suggestion that they can’t take a joke.

“This may seem funny to them, but some will not take it as very much funny,” says Erlan Idrissov, Kazakhstan’s ambassador to Great Britain.

My advice to Kazakhstan? Forget the newspaper ads. Just ask other artists what might make them stop mocking you. Start with the director of the Deutsche Oper’s Idomeneo, the director of The Sum of All Fears, the director of the Melbourne Comedy Festival, the creators of South Park and so many others and ask: if you wanted to stop an artist from saying bad things about you, what works best? A newspaper ad or the threat of mayhem and murder?

Anonymous said...

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Anne Summers backs Al Gore for president of the United States:

What no one had factored in was the possibility of a highly credible contender for the Democratic nomination. Suddenly Al Gore is everywhere, restoring his reputation and staking a claim to be the man who can save the planet, a task that has taken on a considerable urgency according to the scenario outlined in his film An Inconvenient Truth. He also has the considerable advantage of not having the pro-Iraq war baggage carried by members of Congress (all of whom voted to endorse the invasion). He would not divide the Democratic Party the way Hillary Clinton does.
Backing Gore is a strange move, of course. He has no charisma, isn’t all that bright, and uses dodgy “facts” and implausible scares to push his global warming message, while all the while jetting around the world trailing great plumes of gasses.

So why does Summers back him so heartily? Would that be because she has for some years been chairman of Greenpeace? And don’t the readers of the Sydney Morning Herald deserve to have that declaration of interest stated at the bottom of each Summers’ column?

Anonymous said...

Kevin Donnelly asks:

SHOULD geography centre on teaching students about the water cycle, topography and different types of land use? Or should the subject, as the creators of the Queensland curriculum believe, deal with sentiments such as “active participation and stewardship by applying the values of democratic process, social justice, ecological and economic sustainability and peace”?
It would be kind of nice to think that students of such courses could at least figure out where exactly on the globe is the forest they are trying to save. And where in the world are the people who will actually be creating the wealth to keep such dreaming well-subsidised

Anonymous said...

How is it that the “progressive” Left seems so often to lack even basic civility, let alone kindness? I’m not thinking of Mark Latham or Paul Keating this time, but of the wife of another former Labor leader. What could excuse Margaret Whitlam for being quite this nasty:

Mrs Whitlam describes Mrs Howard as a “useless” woman who has no sense of humour.

Mrs Whitlam, whose husband Gough was prime minister from 1972 until his dismissal in November 1975, claimed Mrs Howard had given nothing to the community…

But most hurtful of all, Mrs Whitlam takes Mrs Howard to task for still holding her husband’s hand in public.

“For God’s sake, they’ve been married for over 30 years!"

To be so astonished by - and contemptuous of - a sign of love. That can’t be healthy.

Anonymous said...

The 1993 bomb attack on the World Trade Centre wasn’t enough warning for Bill Clinton, it seems. Nor were the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. No, says Bill’s wife, the fact is that Clinton can be excused his fiddling over al-Qaeda because he didn’t get a report with the exactly right title warning him it was dangerous:

The comments brought Hillary Clinton to her husband’s defence with a thinly veiled shot at Dr Rice’s handling of the threat of al-Qa’ida chief Osama bin Laden prior to September 11, citing a security memo sent to the administration a month before the attacks.

“I’m certain if my husband and his national security team had been shown a classified report saying, ‘bin Laden determined to attack inside the United States’, he would have taken it more seriously than our President and his national security team,” Senator Clinton said

Anonymous said...

The proof is in: you were indeed spun a lie on Iraq.

The headlines this past week were that the CIA and other US intelligence agencies had jointly concluded Iraq was a disaster that had only made us less safe. Full stop.

Well, now we’ve seen declassified excerpts from the National Intelligence Estimate rather than just the anti-war spin of journalists briefed by anti-war leakers from within the CIA, trying to do some pre-election damage to George Bush’s Republican Party.

And what is in fact the true story of this report?

First, that it is such general if-maybe-could waffle that it is essentially meaningless. I could have written it myself without the help of the biggest spy agency in the history of the world.

Second, the bits the CIA leakers didn’t pass on the New York Times, or which the New York Times didn’t seek to publish, in fact confirm two central aspects of Bush’s policy in Iraq - and elsewhere.

First, Bush’s (and Howard’s) strategy to replace tyrants with democracy in the Middle East is ultimately an important way to beat jihadist terrorism - or, as I’d judge, the most important way of all.

Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit.
Second, to retreat from Iraq before the job is done would be disastrous, and defeating the jihadists there will make us safer:

The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.
So the gloating anti-war headlines this past week would have been more honest if they had read “CIA urges democracy in Middle East” or “CIA warns US must win in Iraq”. Instead the spinners did their spinning once more, urging the public to back the very kind of defeatist policies that would make the jihadists stronger and would have put us in more danger.

This kind of media gotcha is beyond stupid and worse than reckless. Some leakers - and some NYT reporters - should be sacked for this dangerous deception.