February 3rd 2007


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Is Malcolm Turnbull out of his depth?

EDITORIAL: Are we in for another interest rate hike?

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Why Howard Government could fall this year

THE ECONOMY: Qantas takeover bid - leave it to the market?

WORKPLACE RELATIONS: New laws exploit vulnerable employees

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Sheik's outburst - more than once is enough!

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: When truth is no defence

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Invisible premier / Victoria Agonistes / From log-rolling to White House / Another conspiracy? / Russian roulette / Media watch

SRI LANKA: Who are the terrorists in Sri Lanka?

CUBA: Mass-murderer Fidel Castro to die unpunished

EAST TIMOR: Alkatiri's right-hand man tried in East Timor

SCIENCE: Cull the human race - Australian scientist

No such thing as 'private' morality (letter)

Messiah status for Labor leaders (letter)

Major doctrinal errors in Nativity film (letter)

Word engineering (letter)

BOOKS: FROM THE GULAG TO THE KILLING FIELDS, edited by Paul Hollander

BOOKS: JACKA VC: Australian hero, by Robert Macklin

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STRAWS IN THE WIND:
Invisible premier / Victoria Agonistes / From log-rolling to White House / Another conspiracy? / Russian roulette / Media watch


by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, February 3, 2007
Invisible premier

Tim Le Roy, a spokesman for Coastal Guardians Victoria - a group representing communities fighting wind farm proposals - told us in a recent Australian letters column (January 18, 2007) that "a brief glance around Victoria's wind farms on Tuesday showed five out of 12 turbines broken down at Toora. At Wonthaggi and Ararat, the wind speed was almost zero."

Le Roy continued: "Wind energy? Clean, green and useless, but what a great 'look at moi' headline for Premier Bracks."

Nicely put: but the problem recently has been to find Victoria's Premier in order to look at him. Ever since the fire season and the water fiasco started, he's become the little man that wasn't there.

He wasn't there again today …

But, more seriously, wind is a useful ancillary source of energy, as is solar power. Countries such as Germany have invested in them in the past, but are still forced to accept that coal or oil or nuclear power are going to carry the main burden for the foreseeable future.

As we know, oil, coal and nuclear power all have prima facie serious disadvantages: environmental and medical with coal; political blackmail with oil; and terrorist dangers, nuclear accidents, waste disposal, etc, with nuclear power.

Ideally, we would probably prefer to use none of them - but, short of returning to hunter-gathering, we have no present alternatives.

At this point in time, our main parties - vainly trying to appease every interest - are semi-paralysed.

They had better not be. The time for taking big, unpalatable decisions is upon us, and energy choices are just one of them.

Victoria Agonistes

Rick Wallace, in The Weekend Australian (January 20-21, 2007), put his finger on the malaise in Victorian politics during a time of continuing disasters and emergencies, and a possible baleful future for Victorians.

The Bracks Labor Government, having contributed mightily to our ongoing tribulations, viz., the trashing of Melbourne and now the rest of Victoria - are in hiding and emerging only briefly to distribute more spin, but no credible policies.

The Liberals have also been on holiday while mayhem occurs all around them.

An effete, compromised, time-warp from the dying days of the Dick Hamer and Lindsay Thompson period, they make the Jeff Kennett period seem like a Golden Age, and the comparison between these suburban dilettantes and John Howard's people is painful indeed.

In this situation of paralysis of the main parties, Peter Ryan and his Nationals, as Wallace says, are deserving of much praise.

"Nats take Opposition baton from Baillieu" runs his headline. And this is true: Family First would have helped; but the Melbourne Liberals, in their pathetic pursuit of Green preferences, dished them.

Liberal Opposition leader Ted Baillieu has made a few appearances - at a little-known yachting contest between rich businessmen (and doctors?), and coming out of the surf, like Grace Darling, wearing "Death to the swimsuit" on his back.

As Victoria burned, half of the state was blacked out. Ugly collapses in law and order - including cross-ethnic strife - occurred. Meanwhile, Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls was in New York, joining the conga-line holding forth about David Hicks.

What was Peter Ryan doing? Tearing around Gippsland, addressing community meetings affected by their horrendous bush fires; forcing the Government to make permanent the fire breaks hastily created during this bush fire period; and pressuring Bracks's people to revise the beleaguered country towns and their precious tourism.

Forget the firecracker displays in Melbourne, the Grand Prix, the needless sports "happenings" - for Victoria's eyes are now elsewhere.

I have said that the only credible oppositional voice was the Family First people. But I would now add our Nationals.

From log-rolling to White House

With the next U.S. presidential election nearly two years away, no fewer than 20 Democratic politicians have already declared themselves as more than worthy to lead the party next time. Leaving aside the mountains of self-deception bubbling out there, it would seem that there is no natural, or inevitable, choice of leader for the American Democratic Party, and hence America.

Token ethnics, token women, embittered war heroes and ex-generals (of course), but a new powerful voice? None, so far.

Would they dare to recycle the Clintons at such a point in America's fortunes? A kind of New Age version of Ma and Pa Kettle, scripted by Teddy Kennedy?

The Republican Party seems marginally better off, despite its present tribulations. Arnie, if he were ever allowed to run, would romp it in. But he is foreign-born - like Henry Kissinger and Albert Einstein.

It's difficult to see any other Republican who isn't implicated with the Iraq War or, if not, who is sufficiently well-known to challenge the Establishment people dominating both parties. So the next presidential election could be a pretty bogus affair.

But whatever happened to former Vice-President Al Gore, quite recently proclaimed as the next Big Winner by some of our grizzled, local, dead-beat columnists?

Instead of continually shouting, "I've got a horse! Have I got a horse!", like a deranged tipster on Derby Day, they should stick to what they know best - i.e., slandering John Howard and George W. Bush and inviting us for yet another walk down "The Left's" False Memory Lane.

Politics is too serious to be entrusted to old advertising hacks, and broken records.

Another conspiracy?

The substantial drop in the price of oil - and belatedly of petrol - is to head off the projects to move to power and fuel reduction by other sources, and to turn around the move to small cars and realistic public transport.

The big gas-guzzlers must be saved, along with the Neanderthal companies making them. The oil companies and motor industries continue to support our oil sheiks and Third World dictator-extremists. And how much media advertising comes from these political and environmental stranglers?

Russian roulette

For those still able to follow the tortuous and dragged-out negotiations between the British and Russian governments to find the murderer of Alexander Litvinenko, negotiations are being dragged out because the Russians, i.e., the FSB (formerly the KGB), want them that way. Indeed, they need them this way for the burden of guilt lies heavily upon them.

Having refused to allow British detectives to interview the principal suspects, who had fled to Russia, unless FSB officers were present, Russian President Vladimir Putin - in the face of Britain's continuing determination to get to the bottom of it all - has now stipulated new conditions.

The Russians have demanded the right to interview over 100 people in Britain. Some of these are already asking Britain for firm safety assurances.

The Russians have made it clear that they want to interview Boris Berezovsky, Putin's billionaire critic and friend of Litvinenko. Russian stooge newspapers are speculating that the billionaire was behind the poisoning. They want to extradite him.

Berezovsky has said he fears being poisoned should he be interrogated. Anyway, once he was there, the Russians would never let him out again.

And they want to extradite and interview former Chechen separatist leader, Akhmed Zakayev. He would be questioned too and should be extradited for that purpose. He, like Berezovsky, was granted political asylum by Britain. In this new Stalinist set-up, he would be most unlikely to survive.

But what would an exiled Chechen separatist leader have to do with the poisoning of Litvinenko?

Well … one of the accusations Litvinenko made from the beginning, and while still in Russia, was that Putin and the FSB engineered the massive apartment block bombings in Russia in 1999 that killed more than 300 people (and which was then blamed on Chechen rebels).

The bombings enabled Putin to seize far more power, and to launch the second Chechen War. The thesis seemed far-fetched at the time, but now less and less so.

Incidentally, our jihad Muslims have never made any significant noise about the year-in, year-out slaughter of their co-religionists in Chechnya - by the Russians. Had it been by the Americans … !!

The same applies to our veritable army of civil libertarians and human-rights entrepreneurs in the West. Their reaction to the butchery, and to the tyranny over the Chechens, makes the UN's Kofi Annan seem like a raving fanatic.

One of Putin's hidden agendas is to make intending asylum-seekers, i.e., his internal critics, feel that there is no place to hide, and that they cannot count on their new protectors not to turn them in, as the British did at the end of World War II.

Tony Blair would be crazy to allow the Russians to extradite or intimidate his Russians. The Soviet record of assassinating dissidents and destroying their families started as early as the 1920s and has never stopped. The British, among others, have had long experience of this sadistic Russian sub-culture.

But when Britain refuses to make such odious concessions, then Putin and his captive media will say that the Brits are protecting the real murderers. Checkmate.

We know that China's views on how to handle such matters are very similar to Russia's, and that our own government, for one, gives the impression of being very weak-kneed and hugely embarrassed by Chinese asylum-seekers (as against just about anyone else's). But, the Chinese don't seem to be into a permanent campaign of murdering Chinese émigrés.

But as to trying to smear or intimidate Chinese critics overseas, or to spy on their students here … of course they do this. This doesn't seem to concern our vice-chancellors or the now defunct student unions.

But if ASIO, the CIA or Mossad were caught doing the same … then the ABC, the Fairfax mob, not to forget our academics, would be going feral.

Media watch

Apropos of our national broadcaster's rumoured secret plan to change the English language, I caught ABC television's finance report on January 18. It was discussing how much of the stock exchange activity and volatility seems to be caused by endless takeovers and talk of takeovers.

The ABC are right. So, to help us understand, they provided a table of firms likely to be the subject of takeovers, or takeover offers, and those making the offers. The table was headed: "Preditors (sic) and Prey". At least they spelt "prey" right.

Alan Kohler, where were you?

- Max Teichmann.




























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