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 fevered vision of heaven on an autumn afternoon

4 May 2000

I came down with a bad relapse of Possum Creek fever shortly after The Great Easter Cider Binge -- a sordid incident of solo inebriation of which I was not proud.

In one sense it was a relief. I had attributed my moodiness and bad dreams to a deep internalised anger over Dad's death, but, looking back, it was probably just the start of the relapse.

I retired to bed with a dripping nose, aching paws and a cramp in my tail. I slept for hours on end and the nightmares came back. In one, the greyhounds that got Dad finally got me. They were chasing me through Darling Harbour when I stumbled and fell ... and then they were upon me.

I must have died, because suddenly I was rising above my body and floating upwards. I looked down and the dogs were tearing my body to pieces. All the crooks and political thugs and shock jocks and pederasts and conmen and bent cops I had ever run to ground were standing around, drinking and laughing.

After a while, the tableau of my death receded to a speck and I drifted over the Harbour. The water was glistening in the mellow autumn sunlight and the bush looked green and cool and inviting.

Then I floated through the clouds, and I was at the Pearly Gates. They looked curiously like the entrance to Luna Park.

Bob Carr must have walked in front of a bus because he was in the queue in front of me. He was arguing the toss with St Peta. "Look", she said, "I saw the Kaye Loder interview on TV the other night. I looked into the poor silly bugger's eyes. You didn't have to be God to see what she was thinking. She was thinking 'What would Bob want me to say?' And then she blurted out that dumb answer about being sorry to see the drug money go out of NSW. She gave Four Corners the party line Bob ... and then you sacked her ... scapegoated her. Don't apply again for a thousand years, Bob".

The cloud opened up and Bob slipped through, gibbering about "New Labor" and the "Third Way".
I stepped forward and St Peta embraced me. She was black and she was dressed in rumpled black linen, and had very short hair and an ear-ring in her left ear.

I said I wanted to meet Darwin and Marx. "But I couldn't possibly take you to them, they were materialists ... hey, just joking", St Peta laughed, "I have to introduce you to The Big Mother first, just a formality, you understand. Karl and Charlie usually drink at the same joint".

We set off. Heaven was remarkably like Sydney on a beautiful autumn day, but without the traffic. You could just walk down the middle of the road safely. People of every creed and colour were mingling at pavement cafes and picnicking on the grass. There was amiable argument and laughter.

"So what's the secret?" I asked.

"Heaven is where people have learned to rise above their religion", she replied.

Then we were walking across a beautiful park alongside a high forbidding stone wall. St Peta had fallen strangely silent and I could hear the chanting of psalms and squeaky voices raised in querulous argumentation from behind the wall.

"What's going on there?", I asked.

"Shh!", whispered St Peta, "Don't spoil the illusion. That's the Sydney Anglican Diocese, and they think they're the only ones here".