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

Mixed up confusion

23 August 2000

It was eight o'clock on Wednesday night when I got back from Newcastle.

The Brushtail Café wasn't crowded and Old Possum was sitting in the corner, scribbling in one of his fat notebooks. I leaned over the bar and snatched a kiss from Joadja. She handed me a cider, and I pulled up a chair at Old's table.

"So what are you working on?" He asked.

"I've been hired by Newcastle University. I dunno, this one's weird. In years of sleuthing I've never come across anything like this. I don't even know how to describe the crime."

I took a long pull on the cider, rolled it around my mouth, and waited a couple of seconds for the alcohol to kick in.

"They think this bloke who works in the English department is getting money off people by claiming he can get Imre Salusinszky to attack them in his column, or on the radio. What do I call that: inverse influence peddling?"

Joadja came over with a vegetarian foccacia and a glass of bubbly.

"So what's your theory?" She asked.

"Obvious isn't it: they get a lot of street cred out of it, so much they're willing to pay rather well."

"Yeah, I can see that. These days, if you're on the Left you can't show your face in public if you haven't been attacked by Slutulinszky."


"Whatever. Is this bloke you're investigating a go-between?" Jo asked, "Does Imre get the money? 'cos if he did, that'd be cash for unfavourable comment."

"Nup. There's no evidence that Imre gets a cent. Why would he need to take a silly risk like that? They reckon on top of his university salary he gets paid a thousand bucks a week for his column. No, I'm sure the subby's a lone conman who's picked up on the fact that Imre is just utterly predictable.

"The thing only came to light when this ABC producer went to the subby's office one day and started pushing him around. When the cops arrived the producer claimed he'd been ripped off. The cops didn't want a bar of it so they passed the whole thing over to the University administration. The producer said the subby gave the money back and told him Imre wouldn't attack the ABC now that he'd got a radio spot with them. Plausible yarn, but I don't believe a word of it."

" Okay, so we're talking fraudulent inverse influence peddling. Who's this bloke shaken down so far?" Jo asked.

"Virtually the entire cast of Sea Change, a couple of leaders of the anti-globalisation mob, some worthies from the Uniting Church ..."

For some reason Old took all this rather calmly. "Of course there's another possibility", he remarked slyly.
"Let me ask you, leaving aside Salusinszky's politics for a moment, what do you think of his stuff?"

"It's repetitious. Judging from his column his range of interests is incredibly narrow."

"Well he's only got one idea: he's a rabid race-to-the-bottom market fundamentalist. He's got about two jokes and he recycles them endlessly. Reminds me of a young bloke who came to a couple of student parties back in the sixties. He had one trick: he'd drop his daks, bend over and light one of his farts with a cigarette lighter. The first couple of times it was mildly funny in a grungy undergraduate sort of way, but people soon got bored with it and he wasn't invited back."

"Yeah, he's incredibly vulgar, coarse even, and egocentric. Remember the column where he has himself fucking the school-aged daughter of some imaginary friends?"

"Pathetic. But in the final analysis, he isn't even funny", Joadja said.

Old Possum took another sip of cider and smiled. "So this is the new doyen of right-wing columnists: a weird, repetitious, egotistical, vulgar ex-pothead; a Bob Dylan freak who couldn't write bum on a wall. Has it ever occurred to you that if Imre hadn't existed the Left would have had to invent him?"

"Are you saying what I think you're saying?" I asked.

"Sometimes all is not what it seems in politics".

"Holy Mother of Darwin, you might be onto something", I muttered.