From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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A bushman shoots his own dog

18 November 1999

I was sitting outside the café in the sun, picking through the papers over a late breakfast when the mailman roared down the lane on his little red motor-bike and handed me a letter from the ABC. Inside there was a fat cheque and a little thank-you note on a Gary Larson greeting card from the team at Media Watch.

"Nice work, Nick, mightn't have done it without you!" it said.

The cheque couldn't have arrived at a better time. The renovations had forced me onto Bankcard for the first time since the dark days of the mid-80s and I had been feeling nervous and depressed.

It will be a beautiful thing if Lawsie and Jonesie go down. Millions will cheer. When I think of Sydney talk-back jocks I always get a mental picture of a particularly mean sheepdog. That is the role: to keep the flock together and moving in the right direction -- to be shorn or slaughtered. Not many people get the Big Job on commercial radio without being ideologically "sound" and only real trusties get it in the prime time hours. Late at night and in the small hours of the morning there are clowns to confuse and entertain the insomniacs, but the working hours are mostly reserved for industrial strength bullies who can keep the masses moving in the right direction.

Sheepdog is not the sort of job you get by doing a good interview in front of a gender-balanced committee. You need the right breeding and have to be trained, inculcated, groomed. It needs a fine instinct and you have to be trusted.

A good sheepdog is well-regarded by its owner and it eats well -- lots of fresh-killed meat from old ewes slaughtered along the way. Kelpies like it like that, still warm and reeking of blood, along with half an old loaf of stale bread soaked down with hot water to soften it up.

In the bush, nobody notices when the dog kills the wildlife and they're inclined to turn a blind eye when the odd chicken disappears. The problem begins when Donko starts seriously freelancing -- knocking off the neighbour's sheep -- and when he starts to run in a pack with Patch and Brainless, when he starts to get greedy for the kill, rather than the meat, something drastic has to be done.

There's an old bush saying to the effect that "a bushman shoots his own dog". That, I suppose, is how I got the documents. The boys at 2UE had gone too far, my contact said. Getting a bit out of the Road Transport boys or Optus, or the clubs was like stealing eggs, or biting the heads off chickens, but bailing up the banks put it on a whole 'nother level.

I will admit that possums don't like dogs much, and I have my own deep personal reasons for not trusting them not since I was old enough to understand what had happened to Dad when he met his unfortunate "accident" training Bluey Crabtree's greyhounds back in '51.

Yes, when Donko goes too far, a bushman shoots his own dog: he takes him out behind the barn and puts the muzzle to the medulla, apologises quietly and pulls the trigger ... then he goes out and gets another dog, because you have to keep the sheep moving in the right direction.

I took another sip of my second black coffee, wiped the last bit of basil pesto off the plate with the last crust of toast and wondered whether the day hadn't arrived for the young turks to slide into the Big Jobs at 2UE.