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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Chasing the dollar

20 April 2000

I should never have got involved in the greyhound doping case. I knew that when I first took the job. It was all too close and personal. When Stan from ICAC rang I should have just said "Sorry mate, I'm all booked up. Try Cliff Hardy", but lured on by some grim fascination I said yes.

It isn't that I stuffed up the job -- quite the opposite. The surveillance photos of Rodney Potter looked great in the papers and the recordings of the Luddenham car park meeting came out wall-to-wall and tree top tall. No, the point is I should have stayed away from it.

Surveillance is morally confusing at the best of times, but you should never get involved in a case where you have trouble feeling sorry for the victim.

It was the bad dreams at first and then the anger. In the dreams I was running, running and going nowhere and my limbs grew huge and wouldn't respond and I felt naked and the greyhounds were thundering down on me and I must have started yelling because Joadja shook me awake.

It is Dad's death of course -- the so-called accident he met while training Bluey Crabtree's greyhounds. I was too young at the time to understand it. I just knew he would never come home, and I never saw the body. There was probably not much left to see. Mum left Possum Gully a few days after the funeral and took me to Sydney.

That was in 1951 and I have only been back a couple of times, when I was just passing through. The last time was about '84 when I stopped at the service station on the main road. The best of the timber had long since been logged out and they said the mill where Dad worked before the war had closed ten years before.

I have met a few nice dogs, but none of them were greyhounds. They're like brainless athletes, who think only of killing. They may be dumb, but they know the hare is just a stuffed toy. They run after it in the way men masturbate in front of Playboy centrefolds. That is why trainers like blooding them with the occasional possum -- they know the memory of a real kill heightens the fantasy.

And me? I have fantasies about shooting the bastards, but not at night, not as nightmares, only when I'm awake. When they come in the night I can't run fast enough to get away.

It is a malevolent thing and I know it would rot my soul if I didn't fight it; didn't struggle to understand, to work it out rationally. Of course some of it is in their genes. They are bred to be dumb and fast, but mainly they're caught in a bad culture. They train them to be competitive killers from a young age. They inculcate the urge to get the hare before the other dogs get it, and they put them down if they look like losers. Do they mind being doped? I have never worked that out, but in some ways it hardly matters. The dogs chase the hare but the owners chase the dollar.

The whole competitive, individualist, thing has gone too far and in any case it has been poisoned by money. They don't play cricket any more, they play Cash, and dog racing is so rotten it makes the Olympics look like a school sports carnival. They should pull down the Wentworth Park dog track and plant some trees as a memorial, or maybe let it fall into ruins like the Colosseum.

• • •

INCLUDED in Whispers from the mean streets -- Best of 2000

FREE downloadable PDF booklet.