Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hour of gesture

Central Sydney fails to dim in any meaningful way

While the Muftim cheers on his followers in their collective act of rugged individualism, here in Melbourne’s South Eastern Growth Corridor I’ve been trying to hear myself think — above the unremitting roar and hoonery of traffic from the nearby arterial — about the symbolism and efficacy of tonight’s Earth Hour.

Neighbours up the street have coloured lights blazing all around the front of their house... and they have a bunch of young kids whose future is supposedly at stake!

Streetlights burn imperturbably, neon shopfronts bathe their surrounds in solicitous illumination, while yonder the local railway station remains floodlit, presumably as a concession to concerns that customers may stumble blindly off the platform into the path of scheduled trains, running as usual powered by coal-fired electricity.

The futility of the gesture is as much a collective wank as the Muftim’s vaunted ‘hour of power’. Seeing as there’s a widely agreed problem, perhaps folks should be burning the midnight oil writing letters to the papers or their MPs — at least, doing something useful given the privilege of the ability to banish darkness.

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Bibi’s sluttish ways

Incoming Israeli PM, apologist for political terror and ideological slut, Benjamin Netanyahu, just can’t help himself.

In a distinct change from his pre-election rhetoric, Mr Netanyahu committed his government to negotiating with the Palestinian Authority in the search for peace.

Gee, that’s nice! And such lofty rhetoric surely cannot fail to push the right buttons with the US government.

Oh but what’s this...? The “search for peace” seems to have taken a strange twist from day one, if the following is anything to go by...

Mr Netanyahu’s comments about negotiating with the Palestinians came as the army radio reported he had made a secret deal with [Avigdor Lieberman] for construction of new Jewish settlements on land in the Palestinian West Bank...

Any new settlement expansion would be likely to create tensions with the Obama administration. The US has long opposed expansion of the settlements, arguing that it makes it harder to create a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.

Readers may recall why the expansion of settlements might “make it harder” to advance the peace process, such as it is.

If the “secret deal” is for real, then sadly for Bibi it’s out of the bag — well ‘sadly’, assuming the peace process (such as it is) is really a priority for the US government.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

A voice from the past.

Several weeks back, on Sydney’s 2BL, John Brown (former federal Labor minister) recalled his days as assistant to Kim “Bomber” Beazley. Beazley – as “Bomber” intimates – was minister for defense at the time. Brown was holding forth on the utter intransigence of the defense department (“a law unto itself”) when it came to daily dealings. Apparently “Bomber” whilst popular “with the troops” was not so with the bureaucrats.

Brown described the persistent nature of these people. He gave one example of a non-commissioned officer who was up for retirement from the forces within some eighteen months. You know: a lifetime’s service, full benefits, etc. Problem was she was female. Further, investigations (“at whose request?” Brown) had revealed that she was now involved in a lesbian relationship. Recommendation to the minister? Dismissal from the service.

Brown stated that for all of those months he was presented with report after report insisting on this person’s dismissal. He kept them all until her retirement date and “bomber” bid her farewell – benefits and all.

The reason for all this? Brown then opined that he didn’t know whether Joel Fitzgibbon was the bloke to “stand against this mob”.

He might well be right: Defence leaks dirt file on own minister.