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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Don’t give me Religion, Lordy, Lordy

1 February 2004

Knock at the door, look who’s here
Two suits knocking say the End is near
One had a Bible in his hand
The other had a life investment plan.

Mic Conway

I tailed a merchant banker to a clandestine meeting the other day. The job was part of an ongoing investigation into the notorious Oasis development, which has made many politicians nervous, shattered Liverpool Council and exposed the dark soul of Sydney’s elite.

He wasn’t an easy tail. It’s notoriously hard to lock onto a subject in the city because it’s hard to park while you’re waiting for him to drive out of an underground car park, and there’s the problem of multiple traffic lights and kamikaze pedestrians.

Total concentration and edgy driving are required, so I persuaded Joadja to operate the cameras and recruited Abdul The Cabbie to back me up. Plus I spent a couple of days watching from the street and established that the subbie usually left the office just after one pm.

Joadja and I pulled up in Pitt Street just before one and past his exit point and I mucked around under the bonnet, playing for time. Abdul loitered on the other side of Martin Place with the metre running, as if he was waiting for a fare.

It worked fine. I fixed the car just as his BMW passed us and pulled in a couple of cars behind him at King Street lights. Abdul lurked a bit further back.

We tailed him up Oxford Street and down Anzac Parade, ‘changing off the lead’ a couple of times so he wouldn’t always see my white Toyota in the rear-view.

Finally he pulled into the carpark at the Maroubra Seals Club. I backed into a space at the beach carpark across the road and radioed Abdul to stop short, down by the shops.

Jo filmed the subject walking into the club. I watched with binoculars. Was he meeting somebody? Five minutes passed, then a late model white sedan pulled up outside the club. A parliamentary car? Yes! I whistled softly under my breath as a colourful ALP identity hopped out, spoke to the driver, and strolled inside.

It was probably going to be a long boozy lunch. I sent Jo to scout around inside and settled down to wait.

There wasn’t much to look at, but my eye was caught by a wonderful juxtaposition of lunacy gracing the ugly southern wall of the club. On the right was huge poster from the fundamentalist Jews for Jesus campaign. “Be a Real Jew – Believe in Jesus”, it said. Alongside was a poster for Underworld, the vampire thriller, featuring Kate Beckinsdale with a big semi-automatic, a bad haircut and clumpy boots. The slogan read: “An ancient feud in a gothic Metropolis: Deadly action, ruthless intrigue and forbidden love”.

That pretty much sums up the last couple of thousand years of theological history, but recently, things have started going from mad to worse. What with the advent of the barking mad Jensen brothers, even the staid old Church of England has fallen into the clutches of people who think the Bible is literally The Word of God.

The Jensens (who can’t prove either that God exists, or that he dictated the Bible, or that the C of E has his franchise, except by saying the book says so) are telling the credulous that all the other religions are “evil” because they’re worshipping the wrong God. This is dangerous obscurantist twaddle – nobody has ever come up with any independent, testable, evidence that an all-powerful supernatural being exists, let alone that he favours any particular sect.

A couple of desperate Jewish parents recently asked me to trace their daughter who had apparently run off with Jews for Jesus. I looked into their bewildered eyes and referred them to a cult deprogrammer, but not before doing an internet search on JFJ.

It was a sad case: another of the dumb neo-conservative fundamentalist groups that infest Middle America. These people are Christian Zionists with a deep antipathy towards Muslims, moderate Christians, “unbelievers” and Palestinians (even the Christian ones). The reason they’re so keen to convert Jews is that, in their mad world of eschatological prophesy, the conversion of the Jews signals The End of Days.

Their guru is one Martin “Moishe” Rosen, a Baptist hayseed from Denver, who saw the light at a motel on the road to the North-West Bible College. It was a brutally hot night, and the Lord kept him awake, whispering “tyres, tyres, tyres” in his ear. He went out with a torch but he couldn’t see anything wrong and the Lord sent him again and again until he looked under the car and saw that the right-front was bulging and about to blow. Thus the Lord saved him from a blowout on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Which is proof of nothing, except perhaps that Rosen is wilfully credulous. He calls it a “God incidence”, but it looks to me like a nervous man having a sleepless night. Why didn’t the Lord just whisper “right-front tyre” and save him the trouble?