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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Sunday, 1 February 2009
Fatties Piers Akerman and Michael Moore in sumo death match
Topic: big media

Funny to read son of the empire Piers Akerman getting more strident by the day lashing out against PM Kevin Rudd. Piers in existential angst mode? Interesting to read on wikipedia he was expelled from school in his final year, born in the PNG colony, a baby in India, raised in white supremacist Western Australia.

As colleagues Penberthy and Hilderbrand migrate to the web. As coffee coloured Obama holds the USA Presidency with grace and wit with a team prepped for the next 4 years hard slog. Likely more grey than brown when it's done.

One becomes increasingly aware that big Piers won't make it to the web frontier or even News Corp mark II post Rupert hegemony.

Centre Left governments all over South America. Former PM Howard here booted from his own seat. W Bush in disgrace. Pro Nazi Nationals out of power in South Africa a good 20 years. Europe collectively committed to global warming policies.

Israel's Right increasingly exposed for their murderous double game of domestic torture of Palestinians not least via local aparthied land law and siren song of international victimhood.

As corporate giants of decades long provenance and reputation stagger, then collapse in rubble. Akerman still sings the capitalist free market hymn.

An amusing anecdote last federal election compared Akerman to a Japanese veteran fighting WW2 .... in 1954 ..... ensconced deep in a jungle somewhere on some mosquito infested tropical island. For younger readers that's 9 years after the war ended.

A man who doesn't change even when the world around him does? Bring on the comfort food?


By contrast we have that other committed fatty Michael Moore, obverse of Akerman. We've been catching the pepperoni pizza loving, still clean shaven one, in series 1 of The Awful Truth 1999 (Marrickville Library) filmed in Obama land Chicago Illinios, and even by the 3rd episode some spontaneous insights:

File:Michael moore.jpg

1. The stage set with large tv screen backdrop reprises Academy Award winning Australian Peter Finch's Network political media satire of the mid 1970ies. A forelock tug by Moore surely to the radical tradition of critique of his own mass media industry. A man who respects history and context complete with slogan "People's Democratic Republic of Television" PDRTV for short.

2. This is not some accidental comic. This is 'I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore' with intellect and humour ... just like Network. Truly comedy can be deadly serious.. This is The Chaser here in Australia exposing the hyperbolic security industry at APEC. This is brave good work: The 30 year old father standing up in the audience to acclaim for getting his pancreas transplant from the stooges at Humana HMO aka Health Maintenance Organisation aka "pure evil" (story 2, episode 1 "Funeral at an HMO").

3. As if to ram home the comparison with Network by episode 3 Moore notes incredulously "We are still on the air" just like Finch's Howard Beale character defied the odds after a nervous breakdown on air:

File:Peter Finch in I Thank a Fool trailer.JPG

4. James Carville turns up in episode 1 as former campaign director of Bill Clinton, called "A Cheaper Way to Conduct a Witch Hunt" regarding Ken Starr's $50 million investigation of Bill Clinton 'to prove old guys have affairs with young women'. Amusingly Michael Moore points out he could tell you that for $50. We recognise home boy of the South, drawling Carville in 2009 on the panel of the Obama election victory CNN coverage of 4 November 2008.

But the joke was on the American electorate and us worldwide as the US Republicans built their shiny platform for a morals candidate in GW Bush for President for the next 8 disastrous years. Never has a democratic president in Bill Clinton f*cking around caused so much deathly grief.

Posted by editor at 11:20 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 2 February 2009 8:27 AM EADT
Misconceived Robbo abuse as Big Govt workers comp 'reforms' pay off big time for Big Insurance?
Topic: nsw govt

Is that the best News Corp ninnies can do yesterday page 4 of the Sydney Daily Telegraph?:

Will former union boss John Robertson run NSW one day? | The Daily Telegraph ...By Joe Hildebrand. January 31, 2009

If you are going to attack now minister in NSW John Robertson MP on ideological grounds at least get your facts and history right.

Regarding the protest pictured above, the NSW budget was under pressure early this century from escalating workers compensation insurance payouts and litigation costs. So the then premier Carr tried to 'reform' the sector. Then union secretary Michael Costa led a strong campaign against weakening workers legal rights only to trade his political capital for a cosy parliamentary pension, and implement the 'reform' as a Cabinet minister and more so later as Treasurer.

Trouble is since then we have seen the HIH collapse with huge social disruption and various convictions for fraud in the insurance/finance sector. Also academics and judges have now spoken out about insurance premiums for workers comp going up while payouts to actual injured workers have gone down while company profits have gone up - alot.

Big Govt and Big Business - quite possibly the same thing - are happy. But is it right?


Picture: Screen print of a death: Workers are killed and injured in this state every year in the course of earning a living, guaranteed. People who only work in offices tend to forget this reality.


This 'reform' has been our own mini Enron, our own whiff of the Madoff and Walls St meltdown. courtesy of Carr, treasury hacks like John Pierce and treacherous Michael Costa. It was a bogus 'reform' deal at the expense of the little people and simply fed the big end of town's insatiable greed.

Fact is the 'reform' was a big business crock of financial and legislative shite.

Robertson as NSW union heavy blockading the gates of NSW Parliament over protection of labour rights has been vindicated on this topic. So this is just more Big Press nonsense. Like the whining over failed energy privatisation in a dead market, which would have destroyed jobs, asset value, state income. Thank heavens it didn't proceed. We are no friend of the ALP but this ideological irrationality and anti ALP tribalism is frankly quite tedious.

See the real financial story below - from the same conservative press 2 years back - with some juicy bits in bold (added except for the first paragraph which is the newspaper's intro). Read this and ask yourself one question - how big were the donations by the insurance industry in NSW and Australia generally to both sides of politics over this period? A good second question: Who in the big parties in parliament got sweet sinecures later on?


Liability of flawed law reform | The Australian

| April 14, 2007

FIVE years ago, David Ipp proved he was no ambulance chaser. At the height of the insurance crisis, the NSW Court of Appeal judge drew up an instruction manual for state governments on how to end the litigation explosion.

It became the bible of tort reform and led to restrictions on personal injury claims that have slashed the amount of litigation around the nation. Plaintiff lawyers, who lost millions of dollars in potential income, still seethe.

Ipp's credentials on this issue are impeccable. And that is why this judge has just become the worst nightmare for state governments.

Ipp has aligned himself with those who have been arguing all along that tort reform had gone too far.

To lawyers, this is the equivalent of St Peter denouncing the Catholic Church for excessive zeal. If the architect of these changes says they went too far, it gives credence to those who have questioned whether Australia gave away too much in order to solve an insurance crisis of the time.

Ipp's intervention has highlighted the fact that the price of solving that crisis goes beyond the realignment of the civil justice system. It has also handed governments the power to strike out a category of litigation that could expose their incompetence.

One of the reasons public liability insurance was unavailable or unaffordable in 2001 was the withdrawal of many insurance companies from the Australian market. They were struggling under an avalanche of litigation, were losing money and, understandably, had no desire to lose more.

Ipp's 2002 report provided the intellectual framework for the legal changes that enticed them back. But he did not have the last word. The insurance industry had a seat at the table and helped state and federal governments design the new civil justice system. A revolution that began in NSW has spread in varying degrees to the other states.

So while it should come as no surprise that lawyers criticise the system that has cost them a fortune, it is entirely predictable that insurers defend it vehemently. It has put them in clover.

The general insurance industry's return on net assets in the year to last December was a healthy 19.4 per cent. And that was no fluke. The year before it was 21.4 per cent, according to figures compiled by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

Net incurred claims for the year to December were down 5.1 per cent, following a 0.5 per cent rise in 2005.

The Insurance Council of Australia says the changes are "carefully designed and principled". "The reform brought together the fundamental issues of people in the community taking greater personal responsibility for their lives while providing for the needs of the seriously injured," ICA spokesman Paul Giles says.

Even though insurers still pay for most awards of damages, they have greater certainty over their exposure. They are insulated from thousands of small claims that once would have cost them money. And even when injured people win in court, insurers have the comfort of statutory caps on the amount of compensation.

Tort reform has undoubtedly eased the pressure on public liability insurance premiums, which have fallen by 20 per cent. It has also made it possible for the insurance industry to write 610,000 new public liability insurance policies between 2003 and 2005.

The number of civil claims lodged in the nation's courts has been slashed by 75,376 since 2000-01. More than half of that reduction was in NSW, where Productivity Commission figures show civil claims have fallen by 39,959 cases.

But the new system is far from perfect. Rushed and inconsistent law-making has left so many anomalies and loopholes that Ipp and some other judges are clearly exasperated.

The legislators have left a gap in the compensation arrangements of NSW that is big enough for an injured policeman to fall through.

This system also hands blanket immunity to some government authorities, a change that goes beyond the approach recommended by Ipp.

The judge started criticising NSW compensation arrangements in 2005 when he handed down a judgement that said: "The statutes in this state relating to workers compensation and common law damages claims by workers against their employers and others can be described as a hodge-podge. No consistent thread of principle can be detected."

He removed all doubts about his position last month when he addressed a legal convention after crossing paths with former policeman Gordon "Bennie" Ball, who is seeking compensation for psychological injury.

The judge had been obliged by NSW law to strike out crucial parts of Ball's compensation claim, undermining his chances of winning a payout and lumbering him with a legal bill expected to be between $25,000 and $30,000.

This is not the outcome envisaged by former NSW premier Bob Carr when he introduced the first stage of the Civil Liability Act, which is the centrepiece of that state's tort reforms. "There are fundamental rights involved in what we are drafting and no one wants to deprive the genuinely deserving of compensation," Carr told parliament.

Two days after ruling against Ball, Ipp made it clear he did not like what he had been obliged to do. He told a stunned gathering of lawyers in the NSW Hunter Valley that the legislative inconsistency at play in the Ball case had led to "anomalies and unfairness".

He was referring to the fact that Ball, like other long-serving police, is not covered by the statutory workers compensation system, which only gives benefits to injured officers who were employed after 1988.

Ball is receiving a proportion of his final income. But if he wanted compensation for his injury, he would have had little option but to go to court. That would have put him up against the legal immunity the Carr government gave government agencies in the Civil Liability Act.

Ipp told his audience that tort reform had gone too far and those seeking changes had "really good points".

While adhering to what he said in his 2002 report, Ipp said he believed the legislation put in place had gone further "and sometimes much further" than what he had recommended.

He also revealed that two weeks earlier he had criticised the NSW Government for placing government agencies in a privileged position.

"Public authorities are given a host of novel and powerful defences that are in conflict with the notion that the Crown and government authorities should be treated before the law in the same way as an ordinary citizen," Ipp told a conference marking the anniversary of the Australian Law Journal.

"It is difficult to accept that public sentiment will allow all these changes to remain long-term features of the law."

In 2002, when introducing changes to the Civil Liability Act, Carr said he believed that courts should not have the power to determine how a public authority should spend its money. As a result, public authorities were given immunity from all actions concerning the general allocation of resources.

That might sound reasonable. But in practice, the immunity has allowed the NSW Government to dodge the sensational accusations of mismanagement contained in Ball's statement of claim.

Until he retired, Ball had been crime co-ordinator in the state child protection enforcement agency: the pedophile police.

His statement of claim accuses the Government of almost halving the number of police pursuing the state's pedophiles and child molesters in the late 1990s.

In the five years to 2001, the strength of his unit fell from 50 to just 30 officers, Ball's claim says.

Under-resourcing meant his unit had insufficient resources "to adequately carry out its investigations or prosecute pedophiles", it says.

He also claims staff shortages led directly to many investigations being suspended when he believed they should have been pursued. As a result, he claims he had to prioritise every investigation until he retired on medical grounds suffering from guilt, depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The case has outraged the NSW Police Association.

Association secretary Peter Remfrey accuses the state Government of "hypocrisy" over its handling of the matter.

Instead of testing Ball's claims in court, the Government assembled a high-powered legal team and took him to the Court of Appeal.

The Government's legal team included Crown Solicitor Ian Knight, Paul Menzies QC and barrister Elpi Chrysostomou. They did not challenge the substance of Ball's claim that government negligence had directly caused an injury that forced him to leave the force.

They urged Ipp and the other judges to apply the immunity that rules out claims based on a government authority's general allocation of resources.

The judges found themselves duty-bound to rule against Ball.

By relying on the immunity, the NSW Government might have beaten Ball. His case will need to be re-pleaded on narrower grounds that do not accuse the government of causing his injury by under-resourcing his unit. That will weaken his ability to prove the government was at fault. It could also reduce the amount of any damages.

By invoking the immunity, the NSW Government has pushed the police association into the arms of those who want the immunity abolished.

Remfrey says the government had effectively "legislated themselves out of being liable for their own actions".

He says the police association agrees with Ipp.

"This tort reform has gone too far," Remfrey says. "Why should the NSW Government be able to pass laws making itself immune from the obligations placed on every other employer?

"Police officers are particularly vulnerable under these changes because they are charged with dealing with the implications of shortfalls in spending by all government agencies."

The Law Council of Australia and the NSW Bar Association believe it is time to review the impact of tort reform.

Law Council president Tim Bugg said the fact that the author of the last round of changes believes they have gone too far is a strong reason for calling a second review. "Our starting point is that no wrongdoer should be protected from his or her negligent actions, regardless of whether it is a government instrumentality or someone out in the street," Bugg says.

NSW Bar Association president Michael Slattery QC said any law that gave governments privileges above those of the rest of the community was not sustainable.

"Even worse, why should the community tolerate the suppression of litigation that would have revealed government incompetence and mismanagement?" Slattery says.

"This legislation suppresses criticism of government operations. The Ipp report did not authorise that."

A spokesman for NSW Police Minister David Campbell said details were not available on staffing levels when Ball was still in the force.

As well as appointing 40 extra police to prevent and investigate crimes against children, the Government had increased police powers and introduced new laws to protect children, he said.

Newly appointed Attorney-General John Hatzistergos adheres to Carr's argument in favour of the immunity.

"It is not the courts' function to be determining budgets. That is obviously a matter for the executive government," he said. "We need to ensure that duties of care are observed but that the courts, at the end, are not entrusted with a role of resource allocation in the general sense," Hatzistergos says.


More from the labour lobby here quoting former Compensation Court judge and former Attorney General Frank Walker:

Workers Online : Legal : 2001 - Issue 95 : View from the Bench

15 Nov 2005

Posted by editor at 10:34 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 1 February 2009 1:18 PM EADT
Saturday, 31 January 2009
Norman Lee father of Ben Lee, a nasty bald headed political raptor expelled by the local ALP
Topic: local news

Some historical 'clarifications' are needed of the Ben Lee cover story in the Good Weekend supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald today regarding his political father Norman Lee. It doesn't behove well to speak ill of the dead especially given one's own alcoholic father was just buried yesterday in Melbourne. But the true nature of Norman Lee the local council politician should be recorded. The truth - not rose tinted. This might also help his son Ben Lee unscramble a bit.

Here's our campaign photo, skinny and hairy, in 1995 with Rosie (medical student) and Lexy (actor) on the successful ticket with about 15 others competing for the last councilor position in Bondi Ward behind Labor and Liberal.

This writer sat 2 seats from Norman Lee for 4 years 1995 to 1999, Cr Peter Moscat (ALP) thankfully between us. That was every Tuesday evening till late and one Saturday a month for 4 years. You knew these people like family members loved or not. Lee was the most loathsome of the 12 councilors plus senior staff around the chamber, not least because of his skills at niggling and undermining of a personal not policy nature. He was an independent for the Dover Heights, Rose Bay, Vaucluse end of Waverley Council. His constituency was in particular the Jewish vote up there.

No problem with that, a significant demographic with an inherent need for democratic cultural representation. He was for most of the next 4 years always an independent aligned personally to Armitage as Mayor for 2 of those years. Apparently he had been booted out of the ALP caucus peviously as unmanageable.

Contrary to the sanitised version in the press today possibly sourced to then mayor Barbara Armitage via journo John Huxley, Norman was an aggressive prick and this was well understood by most councilors.

His clashes with youthful fellow Jewish councilor George Newhouse (in the ALP proper) were often and at times serious. At one point we intervened Gandhi style to prevent a sincere threat of defamation proceedings by Newhouse on Lee over the latter's rumour mongering in their common social networks. This would have infected the reputation of the council and increase friction at meetings already demanding enough. This was not normal politiking, ALP to Liberal or my own Green Party at that time. Lee was a brute and a dinosaur.

From the very first in 1995 Lee took a set against this writer possibly for being a bright eyed idealistic successful Green Party councilor. In reality on many discretionary decisions outside party platforms councilors could chop and change to make shifting and creative alliances. But Lee always spoke against and voted against the Green position if at all possible. It became cliche for to speak in opposition to us far more than any Labor or Liberal councilor cared to or needed to. Indeed he was instrumental in attempting to orchestrate a referral of this writer to the Dept of Local Govt to have us expelled from council for campaigning against the Waterloo Incinerator. Just another example of political bullying.

Some, but by no means all of this conflict with Lee might be explained as normal policy clashes over closure of that facility spewing dioxins. Lee and the ALP under Armitage but not so much now MP, then Cr, Paul Pearce wanted to rebuild it, not closure. It was the closure decision in 1997 by the NSW State Government that saw Paul Pearce take over Armitage's role as leader of the ALP group, the mayoralty and fast track to Ernie Page's seat in Parliament.

Fact is Norman Lee was a nasty little man at Waverley Council 95-99. We always put his abrasiveness down to our position being one of true independence, as an honest broker between the two major parties in a well to do part of the city. By contrast Lee was independent in name only as the crucial last vote keeping Barbara Armitage in power. Never was a mayor more happy than to see Norman return after a serious heart attack late 1997 or so.

True Lee senior was always associated with Norman Andrews House charity for the homeless, and his turf was chair of the Traffic Committee which he did competently. But these were the exception not the rule. More generally he was a brawler and contrarian on his last legs.

A change in tone eventually transpried when he linked arms at a Port Botany picket line against the Patricks Howard Govt takeover of industrial relations. Norman was heard to call the federal Government "fascist" in the council chamber which was surprising given his constant negative attitude to the Greens. He was re admitted to membership of the ALP in his last years of life, possibly on the strength of this renewed loyalty.

Lee made it easier in the end for the Green Party to make a decision to sell off vacant public land for house blocks in Dover Heights - Norman's turf - in order to transfer the income for construction of the new Waverley Library in Bondi Junction. Norman wanted them to be tennis courts to promote outdoor sports, which meant in effect no library. And intrusive floodlights and noisy balls going bop, bop, bop all day or night in a built up area. Ironic therefore to see his name and ours on the same plaque (below). A travesty really of history albeit good unity politics by the Labor machine.

It's true Norman Lee was proud of his son Ben, explaining how he played music from the youngest age at BeeBees bar and lounge when it was on Curlewis St Bondi , now a phone shop if memory serves. To paraphrase John Lee Hooker when a kid has the boogie woogie in him it has to come out.

True Lee senior was entertaining at times, recalling the Liberal Mayor of the 1980ies at a Red Cross charity dinner going from table to table at the end of the function and finishing every leftover half glass of wine. He was an alcoholic and said to be a Force of Darkness for the developer lobby. This was the time of ICAC corruption finding against then director of planning Don Stait pursued to the end by Armitage and Lee providing the muscle for her protection.

For these achievements of throwing out the spiv white shoe brigade at Waverley in the 1980ies when it counted the community can and should be grateful but the vicious grip on power afterwards late 90ies was unhealthy. In 1999 the Green Councilor numbers tripled from 1 to 3, though this writer stepped down for other interests. Richard Davidson as leader of the Liberal Group including now Mayor Sally Betts told us in 1999 if only we had stayed "you would have been mayor" with 3 Green and Liberal votes. A position he of course really aspired to. Ah yes Richard, but then possibly only to end up like Norman Lee.

And how pray tell would that help save the forests?

Posted by editor at 9:29 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 1 February 2009 10:33 AM EADT
Friday, 30 January 2009
Green Senator Milne seeks 2nd pulp mill notch on her belt with referral to ASX and ASIC?
Topic: corporates

For a while now we have held the view that political corruption by Gunns Ltd would inevitably also involve financial deceptions. We assumed it would be flushed out, if ever, by say new rules requiring auditors to answer written questions of shareholders (thank you John Howard!).

But here we read today of alleged failure to disclose correct market sensitive information relating to an expert report. This project has a bad whiff of dead cat about it just like the Franklin River Dam project of the early 1980ies. Another bad project by a bad company.

Green Senator press release follows:

Did Gunns mislead ASX? Full investigation needed immediately

Hobart, Friday 30 January 2009

The Australian Greens are today calling for a full ASIC investigation
into whether Gunns misled the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday.

Gunns yesterday released the Herzfeld hydrodynamic modelling Report,
which Senator Milne has been attempting to obtain since April 2008. In
releasing the report to the ASX, Gunns claimed that Minister Garrett had
approved Module L of their environmental impact assessment, a claim
denied by Minister Garrett this morning.

"In trying to spin their way out of Dr Herzfeld's frying pan, Gunns may
well have landed themselves in a much bigger fire," Australian Greens
Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"The ASX must immediately commence an inquiry into whether or not Gunns
misled investors yesterday, and refer the issue to ASIC for a full

"The Herzfeld Report is deeply embarrassing for Gunns. It confirms that
Gunns' pulp mill will pollute Bass Strait and will jeopardise the
precious marine environment."

Dr Herzfeld said: 'this creates the possibility for high concentrations
to be carried significant distances from the source and will certainly
reach Commonwealth waters [and the coast] under conducive forcing

Dr Herzfeld goes on to say that, based on criteria prescribed in the
State Pulp Mill Permits 2007 regarding chlorate, Gunns would be in
breach of the conditions 'on an almost daily basis'.

"Gunns has spent the past four years trying to persuade the Tasmanian
community that its pulp mill would not pollute Bass Strait," Senator
Milne said.

"Gunns is clearly trying to spin the Herzfeld report as superseded on
the basis that Minister Garrett has approved Module L, but the Minister
has made it clear that nothing in Module L is set in stone. Minister
Garrett has said that, not only has he not approved Module L, but that
he will not do so until he has all the necessary science in front of him
from the real time hydrodynamic modelling, which will take a further 18
months to be completed.

"Gunns' claim that Dr Herzfeld's report has been superseded is desperate
and misleading spin from a company increasingly on the back foot.

"Far from being superseded, the facts remain that Gunns will dump 64,000
tonnes of effluent, including dioxins, every day into shallow Bass
Strait waters.

"Tasmanians do not want their precious coasts, marine life and seafood
compromised by Gunns' polluting pulp mill," Senator Milne concluded.

Posted by editor at 11:40 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 30 January 2009 12:32 PM EADT
Big press commentary on NSW Cabinet recruits surprisingly immature
Topic: big media

Strewth column in The Australian today correctly notes that Alex Mitchell in Crikey.com.au, as entertaining as he is, got it wrong to say factional organisers Obeid and Tripodi have no influence anymore. To be so categorical was indeed immature for a veteran like Mitchell (or deliberately tendentious which is not quite journalism Alex, as participation). We suggested as much on his comment string.

But then The Australian's serious reportage elsewhere same edition has some real flaws: Imre Salusinszky has been infected with a bout of the cliches, possibly reading too many hyperbolic Lisa Carty articles, referring to "firebrand" John Robertson getting his promotion.

Strange too to see their editorial caterwauling about the lost debate over privatisation of state energy assets: A famous victory of the left wing in society - sparing jobs and the public balance sheet in reality which are both national goals. This has bent all the commentary out of objective shape today. None of the market fundamentalists have the grace to note the Global Financial Crisis means a sale decision then would mean an absolute slaughter of the public revenue in a fire sale of energy assets now or later. This is a real giveaway of their hopeless economic rationalist bias.

The Oz is not alone for laughably referring to Robertson's mere '3 or 4 months in Parliament'. Give us a break. He led the NSW union movement in a tough decisive federal election victory in late 2007 for his side of politics playing both the industrial relations and climate change issue like a virtuoso violinist. He's hardly a political neophyte by any measure - age, experience, skills, demonstrated ability to win. To be off the front bench would be a joke. Is that why the big press are really annoyed? Because it empowers Labor?

Then the speculative intrigue by Clennell (Sydney Morning Herald), and Benson (Sydney Daily Telegraph) today, pursuing alleged internal power games. What it all presents like is a case of Big Press projection of their own power mongering aspirations: We decide whose going up and down; We decide the government in fact. And the hope rather than the reality of splitting the ALP government with their Big Press power. Not since web 2.0 would be our view.

None of them make the Politics AO1 observation that Steve Whan MP, whether he is left, right, green, red, yellow or brindle, is in an extremely marginal seat of Eden Monaro wrenched off the National Party; That green issues will play large in the marginal politics of that forested and coastal seat and he will need every opportunity to build a margin via a complementary ministerial profile. His promotion again is a sign of real preparation to fight a 2011 election to win. It's sound logic whether via Tripodi, Obeid, or manager of the Wiggles.

As we say in the headline, the media commentary today is immature which is surprising (and ironic) given this is the implicit criticism of a youthful 40 year old premier Nathan Rees. Oh, and Rees and big union man Robertson are both lefties. Of course the former wants the latter within Cabinet for future stoushes there.

What the conservative Big Press in Sydney don't seem to understand is that they lost the last federal election, their PM was dumped out of his seat - over IR, climate and civil liberties amongst other issues and the electorate have moved to the left, and to the green. And they wonder why their circulation is going down?

Posted by editor at 10:36 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 30 January 2009 12:27 PM EADT
Thursday, 29 January 2009
The era of the brilliant Bill Leak every 24 hours may be over at The Australian?
Topic: big media

Even allowing for convalescence it may be the public consumer of mass media will have to moderate their expectations.

Bill ran a cartoon about a week back in The Australian here:


It's a bit jarring for our taste. Very confronting. Not quite sure about it. Bush's redneck reputation? Record on capital punishment? White supremacists voting for Obama? Bill has always been a take no prisoners kind of cartoonist and often brilliant like David Rowe at the Australian Financial Review/Sunday Herald.

There is something just too over the top about a corpse on a rope even in cartoon form.

For Bill's undoubted artistry to really work he also needs to get across the current affairs material in a 24 hour cycle. We imagine his job as catching the political economic context of his audience awareness just right - like the take off surfing a wave, not too far ahead where the water has already broken, not too far back so the pulse leaves you behind dithering.

And that's very demanding and why he was really so good pulling it off most days. It's hard enough for this writer to keep a weather eye without a serious brain injury to recover from, let alone drawing it too.

We fear that we may never quite see Bill at the cutting edge again day after day with a ground breaking insight.

It's a shame because there is an obvious hole in the principal cartoon space of the opinion page in The Australian bravely filled by Kudelka and Nicholson lately, but not really to the old Leak standard.

Posted by editor at 4:34 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 29 January 2009 4:52 PM EADT
Local coverage Gaza scandal: Israel free pass for war crimes, racist elements of IDF
Topic: human rights


The bigoted and criminal illegal squatter movement in Israel who no doubt exist within the Israel Defence Force are well reported here:



IDF soldier like this one possibly?



And this alleged war crime here:



This story immediately above was also well covered by the ABC TV prime time news last night 28th Jan 2009.

This great protest effort was hardly reported anywhere except the local suburban freebie:


We noticed the following story on New Matilda ezine by the insightful Antony Lowenstein here:

israel/palestine 28 Jan 2009 Gaza: Where To From Here?


How many noticed the Lowy Institute’s complete silence during the 22 day slaughter, including Hugh White former secretary of defence dept here in Australia. Bad form Hugh, reduced to an apologist by ommission in your recent piece in The Oz?

"Tell the US ‘No, we can’t’ | The Australian
23 Jan 2009"


Here is an important quote in The Oz referring to the new CIA director on fear given the 314 million population of Arabic countries proximate to Israel:

In "Beyond torture lies a great hope | The Australian
12 Jan 2009"

"Leon Panetta is well known to everyone who is anyone in Washington, DC. Bill Clinton’s former chief of staff is a huge player in Californian Democratic politics and was a congressman for many years. A centrist, his expertise is in managing bureaucracies and budgets, not intelligence. But he served on the 9/11 commission and knows his way around the federal labyrinth.

Getting solid intelligence to the president’s desk outside other pressures and departments is the key task for a CIA director. With the heavyweights Hillary Clinton at the State Department and Bob Gates at the Pentagon, a CIA officer promoted from within to run the agency would never have stood a chance. Panetta is a real political operator with great connections. Sometimes that matters more than being marinated in CIA culture for decades.

But Panetta’s core qualification at this particular moment was his public statements on the Bush-Cheney torture program. This is what Panetta wrote in The Washington Monthly last year: "How did we transform from champions of human dignity and individual rights into a nation of armchair torturers? One word: fear. Fear is blinding, hateful and vengeful. It makes the end justify the means. And why not? If torture can stop the next terrorist attack, the next suicide bomber, then what’s wrong with a little waterboarding or electric shock? The simple answer is the rule of law. Our Constitution defines the rules that guide our nation… "

Who doubts Gaza is not being tortured with a seige right now motivated by fear?

Also who doubts the fascist extremists within the illegal squatter movement as per this:

"Settlers lash out at Palestinians after eviction | The Australian" Dec 6-7 2008

Noting too the implicit 30% support in Israel says Haaretz, for pardon of Yigal Amir assassin of Israeli Labour PM Yitzak Rabin?:

Yigal Amir’s thousands of sons
By Haaretz Editorial (6 July 2007)



02.11.2008 | 00:00 By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent
Settlers preparing for war, says Shin Bet chief


Posted by editor at 4:20 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 29 January 2009 4:49 PM EADT
Skinny turns 40
Mood:  party time!
Topic: local news

Funny man Adam Spencer, ABC Sydney Radio is 40 today apparently. Which usually means packing on the lard but in his case the guy is a whippet confessing on air he lost 35 kg. Gutsy!

Here's a card funny man:

Posted by editor at 3:43 PM EADT
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Email traffic at Addison Rd 'community' Centre: A sorry tale of power, land, secrets, violence?
Topic: local news

Preface: We recently received a bunch of emails off the back of an ARC choo choo train. The folks mentioned below are all influential and/or long time figures at 'the biggest community centre' in Australia based in Marrickville. The string indicates at first a kerfuffle over a volunteer past retired age shown the door.

Then it morphs into an allegation of criminal assault by a bloke who just happens to be the spouse of the general manager on a former president Mamouney who apparently doesn't want to take it any further.

Late last year Mamouney was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald as having his longstanding theatre group Sidetrack cut off funding from the Arts Council of Australia. This was big news at ARC given his association and indeed protection of the 4 ha site from developers with a 50 year community lease from the State Govt.

We imagine one topic of tension at the ARC is whether Sidetrack buildings will be vacated or sub leased and kept under Don Mamouney's voting control at the centre.

Declaration: The writer, editor of SAM worked at ARC part time as gardener and website builder from 2003 to 2007.


Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 3:40 PM
Subject: Elmo Petition
Dear Members,
I have just been presented with a petition from Don Mamouney, signed by some Members, about Elmo Medley and am responding to it.
Elmo volunteered with the our ground crew. He was a paid employee until he resigned in 2006. He returned, as a volunteer at the end of 2007. Last week I told Elmo he would not be able to volunteer here any more. There were increasing numbers of OH&S incidents which could have very serious consequences for Elmo, other staff members and people who use the Centre in general. I did not enjoy having to do this but my priority must be the safe management of the Addison Road Centre. Unfortunately, we do not have any roles that would be suitable for Elmo. If any of you can offer Elmo volunteer work with your organisation, I'll pass the message on to him. I'm sure he would appreciate it.
I am very happy to discuss the matter with you in person if you would like more information.
Yvette Andrews
Manager, ARC




From:DON MAMOUNEY [mailto:dfmam@mac.com]
Sent: Tuesday, 20 January 2009 12:01 AM
To: Yvette Andrews
Cc: ............
Subject: Re: Elmo

Dear Yvette: Re the Bring back Elmo campaign. Thank-you for the response and I will take the opportunity to talk to you about this. I also wish to place on the record that we (the members and management of ARC) have greatly benefitted from the work of volunteers and semi-volunteers. The groundsmen (volunteers and semi-volunteers) have made an extraordinary contribution to ARC for many years doing necessary yet often quite menial tasks. I believe they like many of us have a great love of this place and even enjoy a certain pride in their contribution to it. Elmo may not be the most necessary of them but for a long time he has been part of the team. I started this campaign to have Elmo reinstated because I am hoping that we can get him his position back. I know he felt deeply hurt being suddenly forced to leave. I also know that he has very few other interests in his life. He is a vulnerable old man who for better or for worse has been a part of this place for a long time. We owe it to him and to ourselves to restore his dignity and our own by bringing him back to work. If indeed there is an "OH&S" issue then surely he can do tasks where there is no OH&S threat. One of us could offer him a volunteer position (that would be something) but I think there is a principal here about the way we treat volunteers. Come on give the old guy a break let him work with his mates again. It's not going to cost us anything. In-fact we can only gain from it.


PS: Thanks to all of you who signed the petition

Here is a copy of the petition header for those of you who didn't see it


This old soldier has been a volunteer at ARC for many years. Over the years Elmo has donated thousands of hours free of cost to the centre doing simple but important tasks as part of the ground crew.

On TUESDAY 13th he was sacked. He was told to go for reasons of "?occupational health & safety issues".?

Now exactly why anyone would want to sack one of ARC?s iconic characters is beyond logic. When you take into account that Elmo is a single old age pensioner who is as vulnerable as he is whimsical with few other interests or friends outside his Centre associates his sacking begins to look like a cruel and heartless act.

We the undersigned call on the Board of management to reinstate Elmo immediately and offer him a sincere apology.



# 3

From: Steve Economidis
To: Don Mamouney, Yvette Andrews
Cc: '
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 9:04 AM
Subject: RE: Elmo

Dear Don, Yvette and ARC members,

I?m also of the opinion that Elmo should be reinstated to his position and should be given tasks of low OH&S risk.

As an old member of ARC, I know and appreciate the work done by Elmo and the volunteers generally.

My name was not on the petition, but I would like to be considered as supporting it.

Best regards




# 4

From: Vivi Koutsounadis
To: Yvette Andrews ; Don Mamouney
Cc: ....

Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2009 12:16 PM
Subject: Fw: Elmo

Dear Yvette, Don, Stavros and other members of ARC

I agree that Elmo who has been with the centre for many years and is providing his services on a voluntary capacity because like all of us he feels part of the centre and loves this unique centre. The Centre has grown as it is today from the work, commitment, love, of so many hundreds of people who came here to give something of themselves and left their little mark on the centre. People like Elmo who because of various reasons, were not accepted in other places but here in Addisonr Road Community Centre, (it was unfortunate that the Community was dropped from the title of the centre some time ago - because it is a community centre, it does not belong to any individual or organisation here - it belongs to the community) everyone was accepted, given a chance and their contribution no matter how small was valued and honoured.

So many people like Elmo are looking for somewhere where they would be accepted and feel part of and identify with the place to fill a vacuum in their lives and there were many Elmo's who came to the centre and found something to do and be part of the community which is ARC.

The unique aspect of the centre is that it gave an opportunity and chance to all people who came here to belong, to create, to give of themselves and this offering was accepted without any strings attached. We need to be humane and treat people as human beings first and then look at other attributes.

Yvette you say that you dismissed Elmo because of OH&S risks. I agree the centre needs to look at OH&S risks and it is its job to minimise the risks and not dismiss the person whom you feel is a risk. You cannot dismiss a volunteer. A volunteer is a volunteer and it is the role of the organisation to minise and deal with the problems presented in a sympathetic, respectful manner taking action including consulting with the membership of the centre, (one time all the members made decisions about issues such as this, however, unfortunately, this has stopped for many years because of changes to our constitution and management structure, which I am afaid to say has not worked and it has not improved relationships between members rather, it has alienated us all and we hardly know who we are any more, because there are no avenues in the management structure to bring us together to hear about what is happening in the centre, talk to each other, make our suggestions and contributions and bring solidarity and working together spirit for the advancement of the centre) to exhaust all avenues to deal with the problem presented before making a decision to terminate a volunteer's involvement.

I can go on and write more but I do not want to bore you. I strongly agree that we need to re-instate Elmo and give him some jobs which have minimal risk and allow him to be part of this community where its members no matter who they are should be accepted and allowed to make their contribution and the centre will be riches and gain more from this contribution.

Regards to All,

Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis
Executive Director - ECCFCSC




Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 12:15 PM
Subject: Elmo returns
Dear All,
Thank you for your emails. I've spoken to the insurance company and we have agreed on a way for Elmo to do one day a week on appropriate duties, taking into account his age and making sure he is safe and not exploited. When you see him back at the Centre, perhaps offer him some volunteer work at your hut.
I'm on leave for two weeks. I'll see you all when I get back.



# 6

> 2009/1/22 DON MAMOUNEY
>> Dear Members: In struggling to get Elmo back it appears we have run into an even bigger OH&S problem and perhaps even a public liability minefield. If at least until the manager gets back members should call upon the board to put in place an immediate emergency moratorium on any workers, volunteers and general public over the age of 69 entering ARC. In the mean time if members can get written confirmation from their insurance companies that indemnifies ARC from any potential liability it may be possible to ask the board to issue a special entry permit for your aged associates to enter the premises one day per week.
>> Regards
>> Don


# 7

----- Original Message -----

From: "Terry Cutcliffe"

Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 1:53 PM Subject: Re: Elmo returns

> Dear Don
> To my mind there is a bigger OH&S problem to be confronted and that is
> the very real one of the ARC policy on violence. In my view there has
> to be a zero tolerance policy in relation to violence and assault.



# 8

On 22/01/2009, wayne and philip
>> Dear Terry,
>> Like everybody else, I've been following this saga with interest and
>> concern. However, your most recent email has pushed the matter into a whole
>> new and disturbing area. You obviously have access to information
>> unavailable to me. Presumably I'm not alone in this. How do 'violence and
>> assault' relate to the situation with Elmo? Please explain in detail in
>> order that I may, if invited to do so, give an opinion on a fully informed
>> basis and feel assured that everyone else at the Centre also has the
>> complete information about this matter at their disposal. Any information I
>> receive from anybody will be forwarded on to everybody.
>> Yours in anticipation, Wayne Hutchins



# 9

Subject: Re: Elmo returns
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 12:17:12 +1100

Dear All
I am with Wayne on this one .

How can a brief little note about the Elmo situation
explode into not allowing certain people into the centre
and an assault and violence policy. of zero tolerzance ?

I know nothing about the situation with Elmo the original
email gave almost no information but the response seems
massively over the top. Apart from the logistics of having
someone at the entrance checking to see if people are
eligible to enter at the entrance I am opposed to going down
this road of exclusivity.
What next ?? Who else will be excluded? And on whose say
so ?
Remember it is a community centre - and that includes
everybody. Any course of action taken to prevent certain
people from entering would surely run foul of Anti
Discrimination laws as well.

As for the alleged assault and violence I do not believe it
is an OH&S question. The centre does come under normal
Australian Criminal law. And any alleged assault should be
dealt with by the appropriate law. If Don Mamouney decides
not to press charges or bring it to the notice of the
appropriate authorities I think this sends a very strong
message that this behaviour is permissable and acceptable
in the centre. This is the opposite to a policy of a zero
tolerance and can onbly have the opposite effect.

It would help everyone in the centre if there was more
information and transparency on these matters.
Barry Gazzard



# 10

From: "Terry Cutcliffe"
To: "wayne and philip"
Cc: ......

Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 5:41 PM

Subject: Re: Elmo returns
> Dear Wayne
> I was replying to Don's email without realising I was also
> corresponding with what now appears to be the whole of the Addison
> Road email list. I was witness to a vicious assault on Don Mamouney on
> Tuesday of this week in so much that I was in the gallery and heard
> the assault of Don take place including the sound of him hitting the
> floor when he was knocked to the ground by John Blair. Don told me
> that he does not wish to press charges and indeed intended to say
> nothing by way of compaint but of course the whole issue is now one
> for all members at Addison Road as it is a key OH&S issue. I no longer
> feel safe at Addison Road Centre. Don's decision to not take any
> further action is extremely magnanimous but overall I believe that
> there should be a zero tolerance policy relating to violence. As far
> as I know Don did not suffer any serious injuries other than bruising
> to his cocyx and some abrasion and bruising to his arm.
> Terry Cutcliffe




Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:08 AM
Subject: ARC
> G'day .....,
> Errata: John Blair is Yvette Andrews partner.
> Its interesting to note that in all my time here at ARC this
> is the first time ....


Posted by editor at 3:54 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 28 January 2009 8:09 PM EADT
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Local coverage of Gaza scandal: 'It's not over', Barry Bullsh*t, 'pathetic' Israeli Right lobby
Topic: human rights


It's been a time of reflection over the death of our father early Friday 23rd January 2008. All the memories good and not so, his drinking, his religious faith, the 9 children's worth of chaos, our siblings. The truth is we've had 20 years to practise letting go as we learned more about the implications of his addiction. That also gripped his father before him, a conservative war correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald, confidant of famous PM Robert Menzies. But like every child it's a sad grieving time.

Which is all a way of noting how our personal emotional journey possibly echoes the millions of diaspora Jewry on their own personal journey on this 64th day of the Holocaust memorial (says Fran Kelly back on ABC RN). Grieving dead children, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers. 72 million died in the 2nd World War. Reportedly 6 million were Jewish deliberately targeted for racist reasons. An evil slaughter on historical scale.

It's no different for the Palestinian Arabs today grieving their dead children, mothers, fathers, brothers. Just as it's no different for the Irish diaspora with a degree of race memory of the million dead in the human created Irish 'famine' of mid 19C. George Mitchell appointed by US President Barack Obama as Middle East Envoy will know that story well.

This kind of grieving is not particularly reasonable or rational. Indeed it calls up all kinds of paranoia and neurosis. We saw an example of this with former ALP federal MP Barry Cohen's loyal special pleading for Israel in The Australian yesterday: He actually asserted that starving 1.5 million people suffering collective punishment was because UN sanctioned "food" supplies were used to make "rockets". That's right - bread makes rockets. As if. This kind of irrationality can't be argued with. Cohen makes the same false premise as Colin Rubenstein and other loyal friends of Israel, either as dupes or propagandists: This graph from Israelpolitik.com proves without any decent doubt Hamas suspended all rockets and mortars, in July, August, Sept, October 2008 and notice even here the attempt to hide the successful 4 months amongst the phase in and last 2 months after an Israeli air strike on 4th November 2008:

 http://www.israelpolitik.org/2009/01/07/how-did-the-cease-fire-end/ :

...............................................start of extract


In a sleazy game of statistics the Israel lobby hide the effective 4 month lull burying it in 8 years of statistics and annual figures, not to mention the Israeli airstrike killing 6 on 4th November 2008 as reported by The Guardian in the UK:

Gaza truce broken as Israeli raid kills six Hamas gunmen | World ... 5 Nov 2008

That's pathetic and deliberately deceptive. It hides the truth of Israel's crippling food blockade for ruthless military purposes.

To quote Mark Regev to RN's Cannane speaking recently for pretend/disposable allegedly corrupt PM Olmert  'the economic sanctions' continued to prevent rocket attacks. There it is again. Bread used in the making of rockets. Milk too. Baby formula. Apples and Oranges perhaps? Toothpaste? Perhaps flour is the secret ingredient of the metal casings?

Cohen also airbrushes the brutal fatal impact of a starvation blockade killing the vulnerable, sick and weak in the 1.5 million population of Gaza. That's real 1st world cruelty on the 3rd and disgrace on the Israel lobby. They comfort themselves that Eqypt should allow access on their border, but that's a Greater Israel gambit, and they know it. Once Eqypt makes the border wide open Palestine effectively loses Gaza as part of the 2 state solution. Indeed Israel's active apartheid laws and house destruction programme in Palestine are a long term agenda for colonial expansion, and they know it. But will never admit it in the western press including Australia.

True some splinter groups sent some ineffective fire crackers with evil intent for mass murder over the same 4 month lull, almost certainly not authorised by the elected Hamas Govt quite well known for saying openly where they stand. Cohen rolls out all the usual postures about Israel's existential risk but his selectivity is grotesque. What about Palestinian existential risk? The 30% of Israelis, according to Haaretz, support Yigal Amir killer of Labour PM Yitzak Rabin who wanted to recognise Palestinian land rights? That's 30% of Israelis who are arguably racist, certainly predators, seeking to expel Palestinians. And these extremists hold hostage majority coalition politics in the Feb 2009 general election in Israel.

Cohen also neatly ignores one Koutsoukis report from the Gaza scandal last Wednesday of alleged war crime mass murders and racist graffiti by IDF, while targeting another piece by the same journo last Monday about blocking UN food supplies. Reports now too of racists within IDF shooting murder of two little Arab girls under a white flag:

Only a diaspora dupe or a propagandist ignores the very real racist underbelly in Israeli society: Just as we in Australia were forced to expose the dog whistling of John Howard and Pauline Hanson as political leaders here. Only in the Middle East the racists are armed and dangerous members of the IDF in Gaza supporting the 500,000 illegal militant squatter (not 'settler') movement and evil nutters like Yigal Amir.

We received yesterday a carefully crafted piece of email propaganda from a lefty written in Spanish for the Palestinian cause which carries with it - like all effective PR - a degree of truth. It is fair to observe Gaza as a symptom of a national 'holocaust loop' for neurotic, paranoid Isrealis. Or as some cynics might also say - a real sensitivity vulnerable to ruthless exploitation by hawkish Israeli and US politicians. On the other hand such graphics are double edged - as emotional violence on the still grieving older generations of Israelis and Jewish diaspora - which ironically just feeds the intensity of the loop and the suffering of victims of the IDF in Gaza or the West Bank. Of victims becoming perpetrators (like 'conventional' child abuse).

The broader political significance including here in Sydney Australia is that via the web this comparison of Germany 1945, and Gaza 2008/9 is being made in the general public. It's not entirely true, but it's not entirely false either. There are 4.5 million Palestinian refugees and great anger about their treatment in the Middle East. Also world wide.

Nor can Koutsoukis or the SMH be dismissed as biased. They ran an important story about Hamas fighters seeking to hijack neutral ambulances. A real balancer to the story about racist IDF murdering familes and children. The overall fact remains the pathetic Israelis Right and their apologists here are running a concentration camp in Gaza and responsible for the civilian body count.  This quality coverage is supplemented by excellent interview with Bob Baer ex CIA, adviser on the Syriana George Clooney movie, with Steve Cannane on ABC RN last Friday - stating Iranian Ahmadinejad is in effect irrelevant and doesn't control the military in Iran.

No wonder we felt the need to re watch the Richard Attenborough film of Gandhi's life winner of 8 Academy Awards: Alas only to get half way through the 3 hour epic late last night. It actually has an intermission just after "the horrific massacre at Armistar, where British opened fire on 15,000 unarmed men, women and children" meeting to discuss a campaign of freedom from colonial occupation. The second half will be Gandhi's genius in resolving the British violence to achieve independence for then 350 million people. Nor was he passive. As secular Jew Naomi Klein argues a similar kind of peaceful confrontation and boycott of the international financial and political structures giving a free pass to Israel's IDF bullying of the Palestinians is probably the way forward.

We have written before of the various phases in the PR here of the expansionist Israeli Right lobby both government and allied groups:  We can expand this list as follows from our extensive media consumption:

1. roll out the Holocaust tragedy historical greivance tub thump as a western guilt trip to encourage self censorship of criticism of Israel's slaughter of women and children in Gaza. Effective tactic in the past because the Holocaust tragedy was and is real. The tactic is losing it's bite as the internet reveals the true ruthless power, and elements of racist, IDF military machine;

2. roll out the anti semitism historical grievance tub thump as a variant on point 1, again to encourage sympathy and self censorship. An effective tactic to the extent critics of Israel do fall prone to gross generalisations and lose perspective;

3. more recently it's been a smear on Arabs generally with old, extremist views of isolated religious types here in Australia or other cultural disjunctions. All designed to indirectly dehumanise or divert attention from the 5000 plus killed and injured in Gaza. This is an ugly corrosion of Australia's wonderful multicultural society. Just as it is wrong to treat Jewish society as a generality, so too it is wrong to stereotype Arabs.

On the weekend we had a surreal moment at Bondi where the water and the weather under a whispy cloud cover was almost perfect. The Stones song from The Departed  'Gimme shelter' boomed out from what used to be called The Swiss Grand. A germanic monstrosity on the Campbell Pde Beachfront. So emblematic. Earlier that day we read about two Rabbis in a violent feud here in Sydney.

Earlier we passed the presser by Police Minister Tony Kelly to a throng of Big Media about the Tuno II mass murder inquiry front of Surrey Hills police bunker. A perfect promo for the Underbelly 2 tv series in 09 here. A day earlier we threw a verbal prod to the star of Underbelly 1 08 looking fit along the lines "so fame hasn't crushed you yet?'. He looked sheepish about the power of the Tube. Emblematic too of South African Jewry fleeing to Sydney's East to avoid the violence over pre Mandela ANC and even afterward, including Waverley Mayor Sally Betts we chatted to on the promenade a week back.

We had spent 2 hours doing our legal tutoring for disabled colleague Carol, a secular local of Hungarian Jewish background whose now dead father was a survivor, Phd in Philosophy, qualified rabbi and rich real estate businessman. A few days earlier we cycled over to repair the bicycle of our buddy Steve another local secular Australian Jew and lefty, same building as the actor. We also chatted to Marc on the sun glasses stall, a trained actuary too, annoyed about the "racist" media coverage against Israel he had noticed: Perhaps not realising the overall pattern actually in favour or silent as the slaughter proceeded over 22 days. All had left and right wing views, hardly monolithic, and thank heavens for our peaceful democracy in that respect.

And of course emblematic of our own bereavement, all in some kind of strangely soothing, intoxicating and potentially dangerous admixture suggesting: Enjoy the art and stay out of the rip.

Posted by editor at 7:04 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 29 January 2009 3:09 PM EADT

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