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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Sticking it to the greedheads at Bexley North

24 March 99

"This election is a classic example of my belief that the most fundamental issues are the most difficult to get discussed. Politicians will tinker endlessly with the edges of a problem but they really hate to look at the fundamentals', he remarked.

It was Old Possum's First Law of Political Discourse. I had heard it a few times before, during late cider-soaked nights, but it had never struck me with such force.

I twisted the top off another cider and pushed it towards the old bastard. It was past 10 pm on Saturday night and I'd just staggered in from the giant Reclaim The Streets rally against the M5 East motorway at Bexley North. My ears were still ringing from the techno dance music.

Michelle, one of the organisers, had asked me to go along and take the Nikon in case there was trouble with the police, but it turned out not to be necessary. The first trainload of kids succeeded in closing nearly a kilometre of Bexley Road before the cops accepted the inevitable and redirected the traffic.

Old Possum breathed on his ancient prescription sunglasses, rubbed them vigorously with his grubby hankie, and held them up to the light to examine the effect.

"What I'm saying is that our form of democracy is becoming less democratic and representative by default. Society is becoming more and more complex, but the opportunities for the vast majority of people to really participate in managing society are still pretty much as they were at the turn of the century."

"Yeah, it's like this motorway business", I said, "The whole of transport planning in this in this state is a closed shop run by a cabal of RTA engineers. The government makes a great show of 'community consultations' and environmental impact statements but they're just a sophisticated form of crowd control. In the end big business almost always gets what it wants, the traffic problems gets steadily worse and people get cynical and alienated.

"Carr has really messed this thing up. He came to power promising to stop this motorway madness and he's ended up as the biggest motorway builder ever. He really has no transport policy. He just drifts on doing whatever the Macquarie Bank wants on any given day. There are a few wild promises of public transport projects, but they're set for about 2010 -- which is three changes of government in the future! In the meantime it's business as usual for the road-builders.

"If we're ever going to reclaim the streets from the car, we're going to have to create one hell of a stink. You never even get to talk to the chief assistant to the roads minister's assistant chief unless the minister feels The Fear.

"Ah, but you would have laughed if you you'd have been there today", I said. "You've never seen a more flamboyant crowd, at least not since the sixties. There were forest ferals, retro hippies, elderly residents, bemused coppers, gothics, space cadets, sophisticats, cyclists, techno dance freaks, skateboarders, and kids with their bodies pierced in more places than I knew existed."

Old Possum sucked on his cider. "Of course there'll be the usual fake moral outrage and spluttering contempt from the usual columnists and talk-back radio nazis but that's as it always was. No social progress was ever made by words alone", he chuckled. If there was one thing that warmed his old heart it was seeing a new generation stick it to the greedheads and humbug merchants.

Nick's pix of the Bexley North Reclaim The Streets.