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 Terror

30 June 1999

I was sitting at my favourite table outside the café, contemplating the fate of the Balkans and the state of civilisation the end of the 20th century, when the lynch mob came down the lane on their way to Waterloo.

There was a flaming cross at their head and they were led by some of the boys and girls from News Limited. TV cameramen were running in front, egging the mob on, and a couple of wild-eyed women held aloft a thick rope with a noose. Many people were waving copies of the Daily Telegraph and even the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Kill the pedophile! Kill the pedophile!" they chanted.

I stood up and shuffled towards the safety of the café door. A fat leering journalist lurched past. Was that a pistol in his pocket or was he just having a good time?

"What's going on?" I asked a weedy man in a cheap tracksuit.

"We're going to burn out the pedophile. Are you with us?" he muttered.

"No thanks, I've helped put away a few criminals, but when they've done their time, they've done their time."

He had eyes like a dead shark, but suddenly there was a flicker in them. He backed away and turned to the mob.

"Here's one of Lewthwaite's poofter mates!" he screamed, "Skin the possum! Skin the possum!"

Just then, Joadja stepped out of the cafe with the baseball bat she keeps behind the bar. The crowd turned away and the weedy man decided he had better move on or he might miss the fun. We were watching them stream around the corner into Sydney Street when Kerry Chikarovski and Bob Carr came past.

"Hey, be careful, that's a pretty ugly mob" I said.

"We must follow them, we're their leaders", Bob muttered, and they hurried on.

"Was that the bloke from Media Watch bringing up the rear? You know, the bland one who took over from Stuart Littlemore. Was that him?" Joadja asked.

I couldn't be sure, It had all happened too fast. We went inside and I knocked down a cider and asked for another. It's no longer politically correct to shoot the Jews and lynch the blacks, so the trash have to keep their hand in by stoning pedophiles, or former pedophiles.

"What is it about that mob from the Telegraph?" I asked, thinking aloud.

"Well, if you work on the Terror you have to find -- or invent, if necessary -- somebody who's lower than yourself to flog. If there's one thing those boys and girls like doing it's administering a good beating to somebody who's on the ground. It helps them purge the terrible guilt and tension that comes with the job. I reckon it's a bit like when pederasts go to gaol and the axe murderers beat them and rape them", Jo said.

It started to rain outside so I settled in at the bar and read the papers. The rich were getting richer and more arrogant and the poor were getting poorer and going crazy and the punishment freaks were getting their way everywhere. Bob Carr was building three new prisons and hiring 700 more cops and there were 900 people on death row in the Philippines -- which has just reinstated capital punishment -- and thousands in the USA.

I was on my way to getting pissed and moody but Joadja dragged me down to the Palace Academy to see Robert Altman's latest flick -- Cookie's Fortune -- which cheered me up no end.

• • •

INCLUDED in Whispers from the mean streets -- Best of 1999

FREE downloadable PDF booklet.