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

Working on Sunday

5 July 2000

It was just after 4 a.m. when the mobile rang.

I rolled over and groped among the newspapers and empty cider stubbies beside the mattress, retrieved the bastard thing and poked the yes button.

A female voice: "Nick, is that you?"

"I think so", I muttered. "Who? Why?"

"Sorry, mate, It's Rebecca from ABC Current Affairs. They've just shot Louie Bayeh, but he's still alive. Do you think you could fill in some of the background for us? Sorry to get you out of bed. We'll make it worth your while".

"Fascinating. Two-fifty dollars a day plus expenses and GST. Where was he shot?".

"In the stomach and legs, apparently".

"No. I mean the location of the crime".

"Oh, sorry, outside some Lebanese joint called the El-Bardowny in Narwee. A couple of his mates got shot too. Looks like a gangland hit."

There were not many passengers on the first East Hills train out of Central, which I caught at 5.19 -- just a couple of bored security guards in blue tabards and a smattering of homeless people sleeping in corners.

It was raining at when the train pulled in to Narwee at 5.40 and it wasn't hard to find the site. The flashing blue lights of the police cars bounced off the wet pavement and the broken glass and the blue and white striped plastic tape and the forensic team and the bored uniforms keeping a few onlookers at bay. The debris had long since been swept into the ambulances.

I hoped to get a feeling for the case, and some loose talk from a friendly cop, but there were none that I knew that well. There was the usual shop-talk about Louie's brother, Bill Michael, cocaine dealing, heroin and brothels.

I asked after Louie's health, but nobody was feeling sorry for him. Nobody much likes Louie. Not his victims, or the judges, or the ALP, or his fellow crims, or even the cops, who he paid off for years and then dobbed in to ICAC and the royal commission. He is the best argument I know that money doesn't buy you love, or even a better class of friend.

Superintendant Lowe wasn't saying much but it was pretty clear that Louie had been gunned down in the foyer as he left the restaurant. A detective told me a couple of 'associates' had been hit too, but nobody was sure they weren't innocent bystanders. There was talk about a bunch of young toughs in a black BMW and a gun found nearby.

When the sun came up I walked back to the station to catch the 7.07 home. The night people had gone and the carriage was studded with horny-handed men wearing cheap tracksuits, cotton work clothes and dried concrete on steel-capped boots.

It was Sunday morning but the sprawling construction site that is Central station was coming to life. The flashing lights were yellow and the safety tape was orange and white and the CityRail people herding confused travellers wore yellow tabards. Sydney was rebuilding itself and yesterday's tough guy mattered less than the concrete rubble and the twisted iron and smashed timber piled in the big steel rubbish skips.