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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The Grey Mardi Gras

3 February 2000

I hadn't been back from Perth a couple of hours when the phone rang. It was Dave, the chief actuary from an insurance company that keeps me on a retainer.

"There's been a big theft of industrial strength human growth hormone from some place in Frenchs Forest", he said. "The cops seem to be treating the whole thing as a bad joke, but we really want to know who's stealing this stuff and who's buying it. I mean, if it's a crime growth industry, we're going to have to change our premiums. Can you get a handle on it?"

"What is this stuff? Do you snort it? ingest it? what?"

"Somatropin. It's sweeping the US. They claim it reverses the ageing process: the Fountain of Youth, the Peter Pan drug. Apparently you inject it with an insulin syringe. It's a protein consisting of 191 amino acids. In the natural order of things it courses through the veins of children and young adults, but it fades away as you get older. Up until now the manufactured version has mainly been used to treat developmentally challenged kids, but the internet has created this big market. In terms of US dollars, you can get it on the web for somewhere between $90 and $65 a hit. It's like a designer drug for ageing lotharios ... worse than pocket rockets and trophy wives."

He gave me a few more details and hung up. Holy Mother of Darwin, I thought, where do you make a start on something as weird as this?

I could see I needed to workshop the bugger, so I went down to the café, propped myself up at the bar, and explained the job to Joadja.

"You can buy this gear from the US on the internet, so why steal it? My working hypothesis is that whoever's stealing HGH knows that there's somebody out there who'll pay extra to get it on the sly", I said.

"Something makes me think of shock jocks", Jo said. "Lawsie's looking very old and worn, and now he's going to have to compete with this Howard Sattler character they've imported from Perth. He's going on 2SM."

"You're kidding! Sattler on 2 Saint Mary's? Jesus wept! He's like Attilla the Hun on steroids."

"My point exactly. I reckon Lawsie'll need a shot or two from the fountain of youth ... and then there's Alan Jones ..."

"Nah, it wouldn't be for Alan. Somatropin's for Homo sapiens, it doesn't work for parrots", I said. "What about the weight loss angle? I got this off the web: some jerk called Ronald M. Klatz, MD, who describes himself as the President of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine reckons HGH 'does something no other weight loss regimen does. It recontours the body, melting away fat and building muscle'. Maybe somebody reckons they can sell it to Piers Ackerman and Paddy McGuinness."

"Or Kim Beazley, Amanda Vanstone and Meg Lees. If HGH had arrived a few years ago, Big Russ Hinze might still be with us ... and he'd look like Sylvestre Stallone."

"Ghastly. This stuff has to be stopped."

"And there's got to be a market among politicians. Lots of them are ageing rapidly at the moment. Figure it out: the Howard Government is staring down the barrel of the GST. There must be a couple of dozen backbenchers who know they'll be doomed after the GST hits."

"Yeah ... The Living Dead. They'd pay big time for a few hits of HGH. And Bob Carr's mob are looking pretty wilted too. That's a huge market. This is the drug for the Grey Mardi Gras", I said.