Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Mail From Snowy Whitewash

A sequel to "Howard Didn't Know" (see below) which seems to be flying everywhere.

There were movements down in Mayo when the memo got around that the kickbacks, through neglect, had leaked away. Brown trousers? More than likely, Downer lost a thousand pounds, and all of DFAT's cracks began to fray.

And Johnny, full of overflow, came down to lend his hand. It was grand to see a Canberra man astride all the gossip from the media, herding stories left and right, and defending all his ministers with pride.

This hardy little memo had been seen around before... Aussie dollars buying bullets in Iraq, but nobody said they'd seen it, and it safely slid away, to be hidden from the public in the dark.

But Lex and Pete had seen it, and Johnny Howard too, and then it disappeared again for years, to return, all proud and feisty, to the Government's surprise, and leaving Phillip Ruddock near to tears.

"Deny it" cried the riders, "round it up and herd it out – a coupla days and everyone will forget." But the memo kept on running, through the cities and the towns, reminding everyone of old regret.

So Johnny and his mountain-men, slumped upon their mounts, trotted back to Canberra in dismay, as the hardy little email, that in Downer raised the trots, left the cabinet's bright hopes in disarray.

Poor Eddie

Thanks to Samantha "Chip" Bolton for this one:

A man on his way home from work, comes to a dead halt in traffic and thinks to himself, "This traffic seems worse than usual. Nothing's even moving."

He notices a police officer walking back and forth between the lines of cars, so he rolls down his window and asks, "Constable, what's the hold up?"

The constable replies, "It's Eddie McGuire. He's just so depressed about his personal life - the thought of moving with Carla & Joseph to Sydney and the state of disruption amongst his beloved Magpies, Channel Nine losing the football coverage, having to give up The Footy Show, Who wants to be a Millionaire, and his Triple M radio show, that he's
stopped his motorcade in the middle of the freeway and he's threatening to douse himself in petrol and set himself on fire.

He says his family hates him and he doesn't have the money to pay for the new house renovations at Point Piper and to bring his current house in Toorak up to scratch to put it on the market. We're taking up a collection for him."

"Oh really? How much have you got so far?"

"About three hundred litres, but a lot of people are still siphoning."

Merry Christmas From Rupert Murdoch

Dear Colleagues,
As the year comes to a close, I want to thank all of you for another outstanding year. Each of our divisions excelled and our company posted record revenues and profits. Yet there is much more to the spirit of this company - and to this season - than just the bottom line.
Among the many highlights of this eventful year, your response to the natural disasters that took so many innocent lives and destroyed or disrupted whole regions stands out. Together our company and employees contributed more than $8 million to help the victims of the South Asian tsunami. When catastrophe struck again less than a year later, in the forms of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, you rose to the occasion once more, generously donating more than $675,000. Nothing could better illustrate the values of our company, and I am inspired by your commitment to helping those in need.
This year, I had the good fortune to meet many of you and visit your places of work. My travels took me from New York to China, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy and Los Angeles - nearly every
place we have a business interest. I came away more impressed than ever by the quality of our
operations and especially of our people. It is clear that wherever we operate, there is one standard by which we measure ourselves: excellence.
Since last year, our corporate family has grown. We have acquired exciting new businesses and
dramatically expanded our presence on the Internet. In the months and years to come, our company will have no higher priority than ensuring that we are as successful online as we have been in print and
on the big and small screens. We will pursue the same strategy as always: offer the customer the
highest quality content and the widest possible choices. But we will do it in new venues, in a media environment that is changing faster than ever. As we transform our company - and all its divisions - into an Internet heavyweight, we will lead, not follow.
For our company, next year may yet be even more eventful than this one. Competition will grow more fierce. Yet I have full confidence that we can rise to the challenge. Our company has not only thrived on change, we have been a catalyst for change. We have created new businesses and pioneered new products. We have the talent, the energy - and the urgency - to forge ahead. I know that through your hard work, we can, and we will.
So this holiday season, let us stop to cherish and appreciate those dearest to us. And let us look
forward to another year of great things for our company, and for us all.
With my warmest wishes for a joyous Holiday Season,
Rupert Murdoch

Filled with Christmas warmth as he embraced the internet, Rupert gave his Adelaide print staff a Christmas bonus of twenty five dollars (Australian) each

Thank You, Mister Hart

As they say, anyone who went to Pro Hart asking a favour never came away empty handed. I wonder how many lives he changed in this way, and how many others indirectly? Something he did certainly changed mine.

A member of a bush band I played squeezebox for in the '90s, Kelly's Revenge, had just finished an album when one of the members suggested asking Pro Hart if he'd do the cover. Naturally we asssumed such a thing would never happen and told the guitarist to try his luck. Doing it properly, he took a drive to Broken Hill to ask the question, and came back with a four-color of a bush dance.

I have no doubt that this cover was intrinisic in our touring Texas, Poland, Japan, Ireland, Denmark and Germany. The life experiences gained on those trips are still changing me. Thank you, Pro Hart

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Howard Didn't Know

Hamish from Webdiary received this as an anonymous parody in circulation.


With apologies to Banjo Paterson.

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him at the wheat board, years ago
He was chairman when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him
Just on spec, to make the point, that "Howard doesn't want to know".

And an email came directed, not entirely unexpected
(And I think the same was written in some Middle Eastern bar)
'Twas his CEO who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it,
"Trevor Flugge's gone to Baghdad and we don't know where he are.

But when he left Australia, he was going to meet with Alia,
A trucking mob in Jordan, who were keen to grease the wheels
For 10 per cent commission, they could swing Saddam's permission
To get our wheat accepted: it's the mother of all deals.

But I guarantee, Prime Minister, that there's nothing at all sinister:
The chaps at DFAT told us that the sums looked quite okay.
When you're selling wheat in billions, what's a quick 300 million?
If it keeps the Nationals happy it's a tiny price to pay."

Sitting here at Kirribilli, I've been thinking, willy nilly
That it's somehow reminiscent of the children overboard:
But I can handle Rudd and Beazley as I always do, quite easily,
By endlessly protesting that there's nothing untoward.

I'll tell Bush next time I meet him at The White House, when I greet him,
That I'm sure he'll understand about the wheat board's quid pro quo:
He'll forgive this minor error in the global war on terror
When I look him in the eye and tell him Howard didn't know.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Downer and Rice- US State Department Transcript

Sydney, Australia
March 16, 2006

FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER: Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin by saying how delighted I am to host this visit to Australia by Secretary Rice. It's her first visit as the Secretary of State though she was here not that long ago with President Bush when he was last in Australia. We had this morning, the first part of the visit, which is our bilateral meeting, I suppose it’s been an hour or an hour and ten minutes, and we have a series of other functions and meetings over the next couple of days, culminating on Saturday in the Trilateral Security Dialogue with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso.

We've this morning talked about the Secretary's visit to Indonesia. We've talked, of course, about the Trilateral Security Dialogue and relations with other countries in the region. We talked about regional architecture. We talked about India and, of course, the nuclear deal between President Bush and Prime Minister Singh. And we've had a discussion about Iraq, the situation in Iraq, and about Iran. So I would just say in a overall sense it won't surprise any of you to hear me say that the relationship between the Howard and Bush administrations is a very close relationship. We work together as, of course, allies. We work together as a bit more than that. We work together as friends and people who share many common perspectives both in the region and beyond the region around the world and we work together very hard on trying to achieve an agenda that both of us very passionately believe in and that it's an agenda to see greater not just peace but greater freedom and democracy in many different parts of the world.

So, Secretary, welcome to you.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much, Minister. Thank you, Alexander. We've had a very extensive discussion this morning and I want to thank the Foreign Minister for hosting me here. It's great to be in Australia, this beautiful country. I have a lovely view from my window of Sydney and, of course, of the Opera House, which I might have thought I might have played in at some point in another lifetime. But it's a really wonderful place.

We do indeed have this very unique and deep relationship that's based on common values, that's based on our determination to defend freedom when it is under attack and wherever it is under attack, and not just to defend it but to promote it and to support those who are still seeking it.

In that regard, we have had a broad discussion of a number of issues: Iraq, Iran. We discussed my trip to Indonesia and the remarkable course that Indonesia is taking as that young democracy which is a place that is as diverse as yet as inclusive as anyplace on the globe, the course that Indonesia is taking and our desire to support Indonesia in that course and Indonesia's role here in the broader region and on the globe.

We will indeed look forward to our Trilateral Strategic Dialogue with our colleague from Japan later in the week and to further discussions of our common agenda as this next couple of days goes on. So thank you very much for welcoming me here and we look forward to your questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER: And we're looking forward to attending the Commonwealth Games.

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, yes. That's --

FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER: Even though the United States is not in the Commonwealth for all sorts of obvious historic reasons. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: That's all right.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER: Could have been. Could have been. (Laughter.)

All right, now we're going to do four questions, I'm told, two from the Americans who at a glance are over here and two from the Australians. So we'll start off with the Australians since that's the home team.

QUESTION: Secretary Rice, what chance has the U.S. of leaving a relatively secure Iraq behind when they turn over (inaudible)?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think that there is a very good chance that the Iraqi people, with the support of their coalition partners, will build the foundation -- will have built the foundation for a stable and secure Iraq over the next couple of years.

This is a difficult process that they're involved in. I was saying to the Foreign Minister that it is sometimes very difficult when all of the pictures are about the violence and when you have terrorists and old (inaudible) that wish to literally blow up the process of the political reconciliation of the Iraqi people, it's difficult to focus on what is quite a remarkable political process that is going on.

They've had three elections, including one to ratify a constitution. They're now engaged in coalition building for a national unity government -- something that most countries in the world recognize as quite familiar. The Shia parties did not gain enough votes in the election and so they have to bring in partners in order to form a national unity government. That is a process that is well underway. The difficulty for the Iraqis is that they do it in the face of violence perpetrated by those who don't want a political process to go forward.

But I believe that like many peoples who've gone through the trials of trying to build a democracy that they're going to succeed. And we should express confidence in them because every time they have been confronted with a challenge, going all the way back to the transfer of sovereignty in 2004, the Iraqis have faced up to that challenge and they have been able to move the next step ahead in the political process. And we are supporting them. We're supporting them in the training and equipping of Iraqi security forces that can defend their young democracy. But I believe that they've been remarkable in what they've achieved thus far and I really do believe that we're going to look one day at a stable and secure Iraq and be very grateful to those, like Australia and the United States, who were determined to see the Iraqi people have this chance.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday that the U.S. and UK supported his raid on Jericho prison. President Abbas, whom you say you support, thinks it was a crime. What does it make for the credibility of the Quartet, which is now accused of taking sides?

SECRETARY RICE: Sylvie, let me explain what happened. Let's just establish the facts of what happened here. In 2002, the United States and Great Britain agreed with the Palestinians and with the Israelis that we would monitor a prison in Jericho in which several very, very dangerous figures, including people accused of the murder of the Israeli Tourism Minister, were housed. This was in order to break at the time the so-called siege of Ramallah that was taking place. We agreed to monitor this prison but security for the prison was the responsibility of the Palestinian security forces.

Over the last year, it has been increasingly difficult for the monitors to play their role and we and the British have become increasingly concerned for the safety of these monitors -- again, who are not to secure the prison but are there to monitor the goings-on in the prison.

More than a year ago, we started to say to the Palestinians that this was a problem. Those concerns have mounted over the last months and on March 8th there was a letter delivered to the Palestinian Authority saying that we could no longer tolerate the situation, our people were in danger, and the monitors would have to pull out if things did not improve immediately -- or we would have to pull out immediately if things did not improve.

That happened when the monitors then pulled out. That has been the role of the United States and Great Britain -- nothing more and nothing less. Now, we have in the face of the recent actions and difficulties in Jericho been in touch with all the parties to urge calm and restraint. But I want to be very clear that the role of the United States and the role of Great Britain, because we did it in coordination, was to inform the parties, as was required by the agreement in 2002, that the monitors could no longer maintain their monitoring mission in the prison and that they would be leaving. That was what was done and that is the extent of the role of the United States and Great Britain.

QUESTION: Dr. Rice, you said that Iran may pose the biggest challenge of any state (inaudible) United States. The Security Council this week seems to be unable to agree on this issue. If that remains the case, what would be the next step for the U.S. and what role would you like to see Australia play in dealing with challenge from Iran?

And I want to also ask you a question about another subject you say you discussed, which was India and the nuclear cooperation agreement. Would you like to see Australia supplying uranium to India under that agreement?

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, on Iran, Iran is a challenge because it is seeking to have a nuclear program that would allow it to develop a nuclear weapon and it's doing that, we believe, under cover of the NPT and it's lied about its activities and therefore is in contradiction to its requirements or to its obligations under the NPT. It also, of course, is involved as a central banker of terrorism and so Iran is to be -- we have many reasons to be concerned about Iran. It also, by the way, has an unelected few who repress the desires of its population. So it is a troublesome state.

The Security Council has now taken up the issue. I'm quite certain that the Security Council will find an appropriate vehicle for expressing again to the Iranians the desire and indeed the demand of the international community that Iran return to negotiations, having suspended the activities that it began in contradiction of its requirements under the Paris Agreement, and that it's time for Iran to heed the international community's call.

I'm sure we'll find the right vehicle for that. The negotiations are underway. I would caution that we not try early to determine how those negotiations are going to come out. That's what negotiations are like. And I've been in contact with my counterparts.

I really do appreciate the fact that Australia has been stalwart in also calling on Iran to find an arrangement that would be acceptable to the international community in terms of its proliferation risk and I'm sure that Australia will continue to play that very active role.

As to the India agreement, it is obvious that the agreement strengthens security by expanding the reach of the IAEA to be able now, when there is a safeguards agreement with the Indians, to have access to Indian civil nuclear facilities which it currently does not have. And I would just note that Mohamed El Baradei himself has noted that this is an important -- would be an important achievement for the nonproliferation regime.

Secondly, everyone understands that a growing economy like India, this great democracy -- India -- that's growing rapidly, needs energy supply. And civil nuclear energy is clean. It protects the environment. It can be plentiful. And currently India is not capable of pursuing civil nuclear power to the degree that it will need to.

And finally, the United States -- and I know the Prime Minister was in India just a couple of days after the President. India is a rising power in Asia and a democratic power that is rising, and it is a multiethnic, vibrant place that is finding its place in the international economy and in international politics. And we need a broad and deep relationship with this rising democracy.

And so on all those grounds, we believe that this is an important deal. I appreciate that the Australian Government, and the Minister can speak for himself, has said that they think the deal itself is a good deal. I think the issue of whether or not one decides to participate in fuel supply is a quite separable issue and it's one for the Australians to determine but not one that is at issue with the United States by any means.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER: And I just want to reinforce the view that I put to the Secretary that Australia absolutely supports the arrangements that have been made between President Bush and Prime Minister Singh. We think that's an important step forward. It's been a difficult negotiation and they're very difficult issues, but we certainly support the logic of what the United States Administration has done there and believe that the broader arguments about the growing importance of India, particularly as the world's largest democracy, a country that from Australia's point of view we have a lot of standing links with -- we share the Indian Ocean together -- and so we're delighted to see the not only growing relationship between ourselves and the Indians but the growing strength of the relationship between the United States and India, which is pretty unprecedented, really.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as you know, there are concerns here given China's importance to the region and the Australian economy about a potential hardening of the Administration's view towards China. Could you tell us what assurances, if any, you offered Minister Downer on that front today and the status of those talks?

And Minister, if you could be a little more specific with us about is Australia considering finding a way to bend its policies on the fuel cycle to assist in the Indian deal. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, U.S. policy on China has been consistent for the extent of this Administration and it is to try and create an environment in which China will be encouraged to be, as it grows and as it grows in importance and influence, responsible in international affairs, more open both towards its own people and toward the international system; to encourage Chinese participation and integration into important international institutions like the World Trade Organization, where the United States supported Chinese accession; to recognize that China is going to be and is influential in international politics and to have every desire to see that influence be positive.

There is no doubt that as with any complex relationship there are difficult issues as well as positive elements. I think we believe that the growth of the Chinese economy, if it's done in a rules-based way in which China is fully obeying the rules of the global economy, is a very positive development for international growth and for the United States.

We've said that we have concerns about the Chinese military buildup. We've told the Chinese that they need to be transparent about what their military buildup means. I don't know, I used to follow Soviet defense statistics and so I'm always a little bit uncertain about statistics on these things, but I heard that there's going to be a 14 percent increase in the Chinese defense budget. That's a lot. And China should undertake to be transparent about what that means.

But China is a country that's very much in transition. Its economy needs to continue to open. It needs to pay attention to intellectual property rights. It needs to pay attention to the effect of not having at this point a currency that is market-based and flexible. It needs to pay attention to concerns about the fact that much of the economy is still government-owned. And when there are certain rules about what can be sold in financial services or in software to the government sector of the economy, there are reasons to be concerned about whether that really reflects an open trading policy.

So to say that there are concerns about this changing and transitioning China, I think is still to say so within the context of every hope and every intention of trying to encourage positive trends in China's development and working very closely with China on all kinds of global issues. We are, after all, partners with China in the six-party talks on North Korea. We are working with China in the Security Council on the Iranian issue as we speak. So we have a lot of work to do with China, but to the degree that we have concerns we're going to raise them. We're going to raise them about human rights and religious freedom. But I think this policy has been consistent from the day the President came to Washington.

FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER: And just from our point of view, we've never had a concern that the United States was pursuing a policy of containment of China or something like that of a, if you like, commensurate with a once upon a time Cold War strategy and I think we feel comfortable with where the United States is at in terms of its relationship with China.

Our relationship has its own dynamics, we have our own issues, but we have a very good and constructive relationship with China. We have President Wen coming here very soon in the next couple of weeks and I'm sure that visit will be successful. But you know, China, as it's a growing power, it's an emerging power in the region, is a country that needs to understand that brings with it a lot of responsibilities. It has a responsibility to make sure that it works comfortably and constructively with other countries in the region and it makes a positive contribution to regional as well as to global issues, and we hope that they'll continue to do that.

In relation to nuclear policies in India, look, we don't have any plans to change our current policy and we've explained that. I explained that to the Secretary but she knew that anyway and we’ve said that, the Prime Minister and I, on a number of occasions over the last couple of weeks.

But having said that, you know, we have some legal issues there, of course, in relation to obligations we have, but we think that the United States deal that they have done with India is a good deal and it takes forward this whole process of openness and transparency about at least many aspects of India's nuclear program. Is it perfect? I don't know that you could put together a perfect deal. Maybe the answer is that a perfect deal would be for India to give up its nuclear weapons program and sign up to the NPT, and that, no matter how idealistic and passionate we may be about that, that's a dream; that's actually not going to happen anytime soon, if ever

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

F***ing Melodeon

I never knew that this was a derogatory expression for a bad night. A melodeon, for those who don't know, is a single or double row button accordion. And this following letter, printed on an Irish football site, shows what happens when a squeezebox player tells the flautist he's out of tune (thanks to Peter Christie for passing this to me. As a player of the maligned instrument, I loved the steam of invective which follows :

Regarding the night we met in Ned O’Shea’s, there is something I would like to point out to you. As regards to tuning an instrument, is that I have been playing the flute since 1960, 44 years, and never in all that time did anyone ever tell me how to tune it except one before yourself. She was a young girl too, just like you; pompous, abrasive, self-centred, egotistical. And I gave her short shift and left her in tears. The same thing would have happened to you on that Sunday night only you were surrounded by Kerry supporters and your boyfriend’s minders.
Now, I was disappointed in Kerry’s finest hour that you wouldn’t play some Kerry music, Kerry slides or Kerry Polkas. Perhaps you thought they were not traditional. Well, they’re not. Authentically, they all came in from Scotland. But they would have been more authentic, and over the years it is more Irish now than what you are playing on that accordion of yours. Because what you are playing is mixture of bluegrass, Appalachian, Scots, classical, Breton, Brittanic – Celt and other mongrel sounds that have nothing to do with Irish traditional music at all.
I notice that your right hand is quite good technically, but your left fingers touching the basses are like milking the tits on a bull, which have no substance to the music whatsoever, because we can’t hear them, and therefore they are of no use to the overall sound. Hence all we have is a glorified melodeon player, which is what you are. And it has come to inflict itself on the Irish traditional music world once again.
In County Sligo in the old times, we called melodeon players the grunt and groan merchants. And on a bad night of music we always said “It was fúcking melodeon.” Coleman said, - and I am sure you have probably never heard of Michael Coleman, the greatest traditional fiddle player of all time, from Co. Sligo, - When they were collecting for a dead melodeon player in America, “Here’s five dollars to bury him, and here’s another five to bury the fúcking melodeon with him.”
You think you are God’s gift. Well, you are not. You are only a copy cat, and a medium one at that. You have a long way to go. Another thing I want to point out to you about concert pitches. The night before I met you in Ned O’Shea’s I was playing in Clare. There I was playing with a Russian lady who has a degree from the orchestra of Stalingrad, once known as Leningrad. She played the keyboard, I tuned with her, and had no problem getting concert pitch with her. So what is the fúcking matter with you?
Now, you only come from fúcking Killorglin in the Co. Kerry, and their only notoriety is King Puck. Perhaps you should play there and give us all a break. I would have to put the flute so far out of joint, and I still would not be in tune with you. So perhaps you should get that fúcking melodeon of yours tuned in proper concert pitch, and give our heads peace. I mean in concert pitch, and not go around annoying saying “You’re flat” or “out of tune” and you will make yourself an awful lot more friends.
Now, as far as I am concerned, you are a self-opinionated, pompous, self-centred little bitch who wants to get to the top quickly and is greedy for money. You wouldn’t be playing that melodeon, or Irish music at all, if it wasn’t for the money to be made out of it. Like a lot of your generation, you’d just as soon be playing rock, jazz or the Beatles. Well, why the hell don’t you go back to it, and give Irish traditional musicians, who fought to keep it alive over the generations, a fúcking break, and fúck off out of it. Keep out of Irish traditional music. You are poisoning the well.
You probably think this is a pretty nasty letter, and it is meant to be because you did me out of a night’s wages. And anybody who takes the bit out of my mouth, or crosses my path the way you did, can expect nothing else

BillyConnolly Chain Letter

I can't ensure the authenticity of the authorship, but it certainly sounds like His Lordship:

Hello, my name is Billy Connolly and I suffer from guilt for not forwarding 50 billion fu@king chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe if you send them on, a poor six year old girl in Scotland with a breast on her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her to a travelling freak show.
And, do you honestly believe that Bill Gates is going to give you, and everyone to whom you send "his" email, $1000? How stupid are we?
Ooooh, looky here! If I scroll down this page and make a wish, I'll get laid by a model I just happen to run into the next day! What a bunch of bullsh!t..
Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my house and sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing a chain letter that was started by St Peter in 5AD and brought to this country by midget pilgrim stowaways on the Endeavour. Fu@k'em!!
If you're going to forward something, at least send me something mildly amusing. I've seen all the "send this to 10 of your closest friends, and this poor, wretched excuse for a human being will somehow receive a nickel from some omniscient being" forwards about 90 times. I don't fu@king care.
The point being? If you get some chain letter that's threatening to leave you shagless or luckless for the rest of your life, delete it. If it's funny, send it on. Don't piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth who has been tied to the arse of a dead elephant for 27 years and whose only salvation is the 5 cents per letter he'll receive if you forward this email.
Now forward this to everyone you know. Otherwise, tomorrow morning your underwear will turn carnivorous and will consume your genitals.
Have a nice day.
Billy Connolly
P.S: Send me 15 bucks and then fu@k off

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Breaking News . . . . .

In an attempt to thwart the spread of bird flu, George W.Bush has bombed the Canary Islands.