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

Light rail to Dulwich Hill
Simple, cheap, efficient, so Iemma's probably against it

8 May 2008

“The price of oil just keeps going up. It’s looking for $120 a barrel. The price at the pumps will be over $1.60 a litre by the end of the year for certain”, I said to Old Possum, as we sat with Joadja sipping ciders outside the Brushtail Café.

“And it could be worse than that, much worse”, Old replied. “The neo-conservative crazies are talking up a war with Iran again. If that happened, all bets would be off. We’d be looking at petrol over $2.00 a litre, if you could get it at all.”

“Imagine how overcrowded public transport would be then! Patronage is already on the up-and-up. Overall, it rose 4.3 per cent last year, but some bus routes went up by 20 per cent.”

“Look, there’s one way of getting a lot more public transport capacity, at least in the inner west, and that’s by extending the Metro Light Rail from where it terminates at Lilyfield all the way to Dulwich Hill. It’d be as cheap as chips.” He peered triumphantly through his scratched old bifocals. I knew he was warming to one of his favourite topics.

“Fantastic idea, and it’s just there for the asking! So what needs to be done?”

“I went and had a look at it the other day. It was built for heavy freight trains, it’s been well maintained and it was electrified in the 1960s. The track is in great condition. They just need to run the whipper-snipper over the weeds, convert the overhead wiring to tram voltage, whack in a bit of signalling and some simple platforms. The light rail company already has enough vehicles to operate the service. For less that $20 million we could have an extra six kilometres of light rail serving a densely populated part of the inner west. The whole thing could be up and running within a year.”

“And look at this”, Joadja said, spreading out a printout from Google Earth. “The old goods line passes under the Western Line. All you need there is a walkway directly from a light rail stop to Lewisham station, which is only 200 metres away, and you’ve got an interchange. And down the bottom end, the Rozelle line joins the Bankstown line right at Dulwich Hill station. Apart from anything else, it’s a fantastic north-south link between the two heavy rail lines.

“Of course the stops along the line would also connect with a bunch of bus services and there’s plenty of space for bike storage. There’s also plenty of room next to the line for a bikeway.”

“Look at all the places it serves”, Old said, stabbing his finger at the image. “Just along the section from Rozelle to Dulwich Hill there are six schools near the line. And then there’s Leichhardt Market Town and the new apartments in those old flour mills next to the line. Folks from the inner west could get quick direct access to the Glebe restaurants, the Fish Market, Paddy’s Market, The Powerhouse Museum, Chinatown and Darling Harbour.

“And it’d be a really pleasant scenic trip, what with the greenway next to it. A much better experience than grinding into town in a bus.”

“Yeah, but the dumb-arse Iemma mob are really hostile to light rail”, I said, twisting the top off another cider.

“True, neither of the major parties are well disposed towards light rail. It took a whole popular campaign by The Glebe Society to get the present service into existence, but it has to be said that it got the go-ahead in 1994 under the Greiner Liberal Government. Orginally it had been intended to take it all the way to Dulwich Hill, but the line
got to Lilyfield in 2000 and nothing has happened since.”

“Yeah, it’s just freeways, freeways, freeways. And now they’re trying to touch the Rudd Government for funds to build the mad M4 East and Port Botany truck tunnel proposal. Fancy blowing $10 billion on another expensive freeway when peak oil has already struck and petrol’s rocketing up! They’re absolutely nuts.”

Old sighed. “It’s worse than that. They’ve led Sydney into a terrible trap. If they’d started preparing the city for the decline of oil a decade ago, when the future became pretty obvious, we’d have a whole bunch of light rail lines under construction: lines to the eastern suburbs and the northern beaches, lines running out to the suburbs from Parramatta. But instead we got the Cross City and the Lane Cove tunnel debacles … and they’re still talking freeways.”

“But what’s to stop them just agreeing to extend the existing, very successful, light rail service when it’d cost next to nothing?”

“Easy. They’re still listening to their mates in the construction industry. Those leeches want the old freight line for a feeder road for the M4 East motorway. There’s no profit for them in light rail extension. But of course the Iemma Government doesn’t dare admit it, ’cos doing that would lose them a swag of votes to The Greens in a couple of vulnerable electorates.”

• Do your bit for the campaign to get light rail extended to Dulwich Hill! Send an Ecotransit e-card to Iemma. Go to ... and follow the links!