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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Mobile madness

14 December 2000

"Tarkis just rang from Brisbane", Joadja said, when I went down to the café. "He got a call on his mobile from Bruce. Bruce's been arrested at Grace Brothers. Can you go down to the cop shop and bail him out?"

"D'you know what happened?" I asked."Shoplifting? Doesn't sound like Bruce. Why would a serious young yuppie who's a partner in a PR business do something like that?

"Tarkis said he's been charged with assaulting some bloke at the Telstra counter."

"I'll go down to Grace Brothers on my way to the cop shop and get their side of the story", I said.
Things weren't exactly busy at the ground floor Telstra counter when I got there. It was manned by a couple of nice looking, wide-eyed kids aged maybe 25. It was the usual sort of mobile phone place, stocked with dozens of little phones with features you couldn't possibly use unless you devoted half your waking hours to reading the manual. I scanned across the display. The phones were each worth hundreds of dollars, but all of them were free.

"I'm making investigations into an assault that happened here this morning", I said, flashing my PI's licence and hoping they'd mistake me for the store detective.

"The cops took him away about an hour ago. Bastard nearly killed me. We've already given a statement", said the young Chinese-ish man whose name badge described him, improbably, as 'Angus'. The other counter-jumper was a young Lebanese-ish lady in urban-grey camouflage.

"What's your side of the story?" I asked, somewhat unfairly. I knew he'd be so delighted to tell me, he wouldn't think to question who I was.

"Yeah, mate, well it was about 10.35. This bloke ... sort of Anglo type about this high with close-cropped blonde hair. He comes up and he's got a cheap phone that he says keeps dropping out all the time. He'd like to replaced it and he wants to know what it's going to cost. So I rang up and found out that it was out of contract ... he's had it a bit over two years ... so anyway I told him that that was OK, we could give him a new Nokia worth $399 for free and he looked, like, stunned.

"So, like, I tried to explain about the different deals and he looked, like, stunned ... and eventually he decided on the $20 a month deal."

"What's that?" I asked.

"Well, it costs you $20 a month but you get $11 worth of free calls every month. Anyway, we started filling out the papers and he started muttering something about how it can't keep on going like this. Anyway, he signed the papers and I gave him the phone and then I handed him a free $50 Grace Brothers gift voucher -- it's part of the deal and ...

"That was when he went right off ... when Angus gave him the voucher", said the young lady.

"He grabbed me by the throat and pulled me half way over the counter and he was screaming ..." Angus said.

"Yeah, he said 'Why are you doing this, Angus, you fuckwit? Do you realise you're destroying capitalism?'

"Yeah, then he said, like, 'It can't go on like this Angus, you mad bastard ... it'll all collapse! You can't keep handing out everything for free!', and I started screaming for help and some customers came over and pulled him off and after a while the store detective arrived, and the cops ... and they took him away. Are you with the store?"

"Consumer Protection", I muttered. "Is the store going to press charges? The case'll probably collapse of it goes to court. I understand this bloke's really psycho. He lost all his money in the eisa debacle and became seriously bewildered. A sad case." The two kiddies looked perplexed.

"Eisa was an internet sharemarket thing ... a tiny service provider that tried to buy out the whole world. It went face down in the Kitty Litter. In a way, the crazy bastard that did this to you has a point", I remarked. "How do you mobile phone people make money, anyway?".

"I dunno. Telstra sells shares to people I guess. I just work here", Angus said.