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

The times they are a'changing back

24 August 2000

As I walked down Sydney Street I got that strange stiffening tingle down my tail -- the one that tells me something is badly wrong. The police cars were first thing I saw. There was a fire smouldering in the rubbish bin outside the newsagent and a cop was pouring water on it with a jug.

I went to ask him what was going on, but then I looked down Werrong Lane and saw it. "Fuck the ABC" and "Off your fat bludging black arses" had been sprayed across the front of the Brushtail Café.

Inside, Joadja was talking to the cops amid a scene of devastation. The chairs and tables were all up-ended among broken bottles and glasses. The big painting of the dancing nude that hangs in the café window was lying on the floor. It had been slashed from the navel to the breasts and somebody had scrawled SLUT across it with shiny red lipstick.

Jo was still shaking. "Holy Mother of Darwin! What happened? Who did this?" I asked.

"A whole mob from Fairfax came in. It was some sort of party to celebrate the first couple of weeks of the new-look Herald. And then it spun out of control."

"The facts. Just the facts Ma'am", I said, but I saw she was in no mood for a laugh.

"There was about a dozen of them ... Paul Sheehan and Paddy McGuinness carried Paul McGeough in on their shoulders. Mike Carlton and Bettina Arndt and a bunch of others were waving rolled-up copies of the Herald they'd set on fire.

"I told them to put the fires out and they weren't too happy about that, but they did it. The other customers started leaving.

"Anyway, they ordered drinks and started discussing what they called 'the lesbian threat'. Paddy McGuinness was fulminating about the universities being overrun with LUGs ... "


"Lesbians Until Graduation ... some pathetic undergraduate story his daughter told him. Anyway ... They'd been drinking for a while and somebody was saying Noel Pearson was an intelligent boy and somebody else said yes, he must have some white blood in him, and it was then that Imre Saluslutsky ... "


"Whatever ... anyway he saw that old theatre poster with Judy Davis on the wall and he tore it down and urinated on it. Then he started ranting on about Tom Uren and Colin Friels running Sydney and that poet who just died ... you know, Judith Wright ... and then he threw up over the bar. I told him to leave ... and then they just went berserk. I locked myself in the kitchen and called the cops.

"I kept my head down for a while but then I watched through the kitchen hatch. They started chanting 'Mob Rules! Mob Rules!' and then Slakulasky ... "

"Salusinszky ... "

"Yeah him ... he started singing The Times They Are A'Changing. Then they must have heard the police siren and they left."

I looked around the room. "Phillip Adams is a grub" was scrawled across the wall in what appeared to be Mike Carlton's handwriting. Somebody had left behind a handbag. It contained no ID, but there was a greasy, well-thumbed copy of Among The Barbarians, an autographed photo of Pauline Hanson, and thirty dollars in small unmarked notes.

"I hope you're going to charge a few people over this", I said to Inspector 'Shag' Pile when he turned up.

He pushed his hat back on his head and his toupee shifted with it. "Nothing we can do about it" He muttered. "Government policy. We're not allowed to charge them. They'll say we're victimising them and they get all this free legal aid and smart-arse lawyers from their own mob."

• • •

INCLUDED in Whispers from the mean streets -- Best of 2000

FREE downloadable PDF booklet.