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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Brushtail Graphics

The Fairfax follies

26 October 2000

Monday's sky was mean, grey and low. When I went down to the Brushtail Café at 6 o'clock, looking for a little cheer, all I found was Mike, the journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald, who was nursing a beer and looking glum.

"How's the scribbling trade?" I asked, just to be social.

"The Herald isn't a very happy place at the moment. We've got a new editor."

"I read that they'd taken Paul McGeough out the back and made him an offer he couldn't refuse -- roving reporter in New York -- and they've brought in a management fixer called Robert Whitehead to edit the thing. What happened? I mean, McGeough was the blue-eyed boy for a while there ... rammed through the Big Redesign, and all that."

"The fact is the Herald lost money during the Olympics. We expanded our coverage but there wasn't the extra advertising to support it. The rumour goes that when it was over, the big boys wanted to put in even more advertising and cut the editorial content back further but McGeough resisted, and he paid the price. They reckon he was shell-shocked."

"Aw, my heart bleeds", I muttered. "So the bugger falls out of favour and he gets an all-expenses paid trip to New York. They'll probably pay him about a hundred and fifty thousand a year, plus flat, etcetera, etcetera, for which he'll probably be expected to file a couple of dozen stories a year. Nice work if you can get it, but how many writers can they have in the US of A? It's getting a bit crowded. They already have Gay Alcorn and Jennifer Hewitt over there.

"Well I heard a different rumour", said Joadja, who was polishing glasses behind the bar. "According to which, star reporter Margo Kingston was keen on the Paul Reith Phonecard story but big chief political supremo Michelle Grattan wasn't. Anyway, the story goes that McGeough championed the Kingston line, but the Herald's senior figures came under incredible pressure from the Federal Government to kill the story so McGeough ... had to go, as they say."

"Who cares?" I muttered, taking a swig of cider. "McGeough implemented this ghastly 'redesign'. I hate it. It's a triumph of trendy designer wank over content. All those silly white spaces and acres of unjustified copy. It's a waste of space, and it ... lacks, well ... authority. I'd noticed I got through the paper quicker, but apparently there's fully 25 per cent less space for editorial since the Great Redesign."

"And we've been hit by a circulation crisis of our own own making", Mike said. "Sales of the Saturday Herald have declined by something like two and a half per cent since we started publishing the Financial Review on Saturday.

"And then there's the lurch to the right. For God's sake, Once we had just one resident confusionist -- Paddy McGuinness himself. Now there are four Paddies: there's the original Paddy, there's Paddy on Acid (that's Imre Salusinszky), Paddy in Drag (Bettina Arndt) and Paddy on Prozac (Paul Sheehan).

"And you reckon McGeough's on easy money? What about Salusinszky. Scuttlebut has it that they pay him a thousand dollars a week just to write that silly column on Mondays. He's only got one point to make: he hates economic wets. He's a fanatical free market fundamentalist. He rehashes this every Monday. Then he insults about a dozen people from the entertainment industry, or the media, or his collegues at the Herald. I mean, about 75 per cent of all Australians and about 85 per cent of the intelligentsia oppose market fundamentalism to one degree or another, so he can almost select names out of a hat. Not a bad little earner for a bloke who's been sucking on the public tit at Newcastle University for years."