July 31st 2004


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: What the COAG Water Agreement means

EDITORIAL: Issues facing the Howard Government

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Kim Beazley's return masks Labor's divisions over US

AUSFTA: Will Green preferences sink trade agreement?

NATIONAL COMPETITION POLICY: SA Government heads towards dismantling single selling-desk for barley

DEREGULATION: Stock Journal survey rejects new SA Barley Export Bill

QUARANTINE BREACH: Inquiry needed on citrus canker

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Boswell sees red over Senate marriage delay

EDUCATION: School vouchers - giving power back to parents

SOCIAL POLICY: Singapore's Provident Fund adapts to new realities

FILM: Appeals against degrading movies rejected

MEDIA: Victory on TV Code of Practice

HEALTH: Abortion causes uterine damage

VICTORIA: Are we facing a long dry spell?

STRAWS IN THE WIND : Peacock Throne / The Stasi never died / Supersized

CINEMA: Whatever happened to the family film?

Distributism defended (letter)

People without land (letter)

Ethanol industry viable (letter)

OBITUARY: Vale Brian Nash

OBITUARY: Vale Martin Klibbe

BOOKS: Nightmare of the Prophet, by Paul Gray

BOOKS: Memo for a Saner World, by Bob Brown

BOOKS: So Monstrous A Travesty, by Ross McMullin

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STRAWS IN THE WIND :
Peacock Throne / The Stasi never died / Supersized


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, July 31, 2004
Peacock Throne

When people say the present Middle East struggle is about oil, they are, at least in part, right. The continuing attacks upon Iraq's reviving oil network are proof enough. These attacks are more and more sophisticated, many of them coming from across the borders of Syria and Iran - both rogue states par excellence.

Were Iraq able to return to full production, not only would many of her economic problems disappear, but the world price of oil would probably drop to below $30 a barrel. The blackmail by OPEC in general and Iran and Russia in particular would virtually disappear. They could then be brought to see reason much more easily on certain other matters.

The all-absorbing interest of Iran and Russia in supporting anyone who will stop Iraq's return to full economic potency and, just possibly, democracy ... should be obvious. Russia's conduct in the UN, along with their buddies France and Germany, are symptoms of a larger power play.

Russia is especially dependent on her oil exports to sustain what has been a gangster state, divvied up by ex-KGB and Communist Party apparatchiks and their clients.

Quite predictably, this state is also feeding off illicit arms sales, transferring forbidden nuclear materials and artefacts, the massive movement of girls into prostitution in the West, with the usual spin-offs from corrupt or failed states - AIDS and drug addiction. A really admirable member of the international community 'tis Russia, and she launders the profits into friendly European and American banks.

When critics of America complain that she hasn't stopped the return of poppy production in Afghanistan nor the operation of the warlords in the Western part of the country ... of course not - so long as Russia can keep them in business.

These drugs are pouring into Russia via the new Muslim states en passent to Europe.

The warlords protect this traffic and live off it; and Russia arms up the warlords, and lives off it. At least her corporate warlords do.

It is difficult to always have patience with people who see all problems in the Middle East as centring around Iraq and Palestine and as the result of American and Israeli policies (and for good measure the English dating back to the First Crusade), but it got me to thinking of Iran, which has nourished great regional ambitions from well before the coming of Khomeini and his fundamentalists.

Some will remember the Shah proclaiming himself the latest member of an unbroken line of monarchs going back to Darius; and his efficient, ubiquitous secret police Savak. What they may not remember is the deal between France and the Shah for the former to supply no less than 17 nuclear plants. These were to be for domestic electricity generation, of course. However, when Iran had got her nuclear plants up and running, France was offering three nuclear powered submarines (presumably missile firing) to help Iran in her endless search for peace.

Khomeini's revolution stopped that little game, so Teheran is now trying to do it herself with a little help from her friends.

I remember pointing all this out on an Elizabeth Bond ABC radio program, asking what would have happened if the Islamic Revolution has come a few years later with Khomeini able to inherit nuclear facilities provided by his predecessor. I also asked about the earthquake faults in Iran and could we not expect a few future nuclear meltdowns on our hands.

And Iran and Iraq then fought a seven-year war with Khomeini using boy soldiers (many of whom were suicide bombers), so the Iraqis countered with poison gas. The West armed and supported Iraq until she looked like winning, then helped out Iran. The West and Russia sold $60 billion worth of arms during that period and doubtless prayed the war would never end. In a sense it hasn't, for Iran is now sending terrorists across her border, while Syria is sending others across hers.

News just out of Washington reveals that Iran made an offer of a formal alliance with al-Qaeda (who refused anything formal), but twelve of the nineteen 9/11 bombers went through Iran - unchallenged - on their way to Saudi Arabia.

Our media isn't interested in any of this. It's all about Iraq, Cuba and Michael Moore.

But that Iran is one of the axes of evil seems quite evident - and their policies haven't really changed much since the Shah. Different style, but similar structure.

The Stasi never died

Tony Abbott, that most courageous of Howard's ministers, has come back into the abortion debate with the usual result - personal abuse and personal "revelations" by the Stasi-like sleaze department of the ALP/media complex. There is in fact little to choose between the Australian and East German groups as will emerge as we move to the election.

Any minister who suggests worthwhile reforms in, for example, the media, education, multi-culturalism, etc, can expect the same type of assassination attempts.

Abbott questioned the general validity of late-term abortions and whether Medicare should be subsidising 75,000 of the nation's 100,000 abortions, and three feminists followed him with a call for a debate on this issue. Admirable - provided that it was conducted in good faith.

But the Stasi sub-culture doesn't want any honest or principled discussion of abortion, nor, it would appear, does Labor.

My personal opinion, looking at the amazing photographs of the development of a foetus into a sentient, viable child, is that there is little doubt but that the late-term abortion of human life is a species of infanticide. Those taking part in such activities should accept the realities, and the moral responsibility of continuing on irrespective of their knowledge of those realities.

This is to leave the subject of earlier term abortions as a subject for future examination: but one thing at a time.

Supersized

I heard on the news that one-third of Americans are obese and that from next year on, obesity will be the greatest single cause of death in the United States.

Until quite recently, anorexia held all the attention, and a lot of research money was pouring in. There was widespread agreement that there was a powerful psychological component in that serious malady, which seemed to find its natural place in the province of psychosomatic medicine.

However, similar interpretations have not been made about obesity, which has, as it were, crept up on us. Being overweight, almost by definition, was undesirable, and came to be associated with subsequent, avoidable medical misadventures. The dietary profession and natural foods industries, and physical fitness institutions and philosophies, burgeoned. But to little avail it would seem, for the next stage from being overweight to seriously obese, has taken over as a very serious threat to human life.

We are being told that there is a grave crisis approaching which will impose a strain upon our medical and caring facilities that will exceed the anticipated problem of more and more people living to an advanced age. But the fallout from obesity is potentially very much more dangerous for it is afflicting the young as well as seniors.

These latter who are or will be developing substantial, even disabling medical conditions, include a vital part of our labor force and of those who are parenting Australia's children. In other words, a key segment of our economy, our society, our polity. We could be looking at a disaster, whereas the Americans are already there.

The Government, for quite some time, has had a committee studying the effects of alcohol, tobacco and narcotic addictions. It has not come up with any substantial proposals for combating any of these pathological dependencies so far as I know, and I can only attribute this comparative failure to the power of the lobbies which profit from the armies of addicts.

I don't think many of the addicts would object to the committee's work and would look forward to any help or illumination that they might have received, for many think that they do need help.

The same applies to the victory of the gambling industry over the wishes of most members of Australian society. So John Howard's objection to removing fast food advertising from children's television viewing times, just as an anti-obesity campaign got under way, testifies to the strength of our lobbies.

There seems little doubt that obesity, on the scale that is now being experienced let alone projected, should be put alongside the other pathological, addictive phenomena which I mentioned earlier.

But what strikes me is the paucity of psychological and sociological information being provided, and the sense that such factors are being sidelined in the attempts to get profiles on these various addictions.

To treat addictions in this way is like staging Hamlet without the prince.

  • Max Teichmann




























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