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Showing posts from September, 2005

This Will Win Over Hearts and Minds - NOT!!!

Apropos the post yesterday on how the US is trying to somehow establish a positive profile in the Middle East, and elsewhere, it might as well forget it if the article in today's Independant is even half-accurate! Winning over the hearts and minds of those in the Arab-world hasn't got a hope. Just reflect for a moment. What would the leaders of the West be saying if it were the Iraqis paying to see dead American army personnel as some sort of porn. Probably, something like John Howard's infamous comment in relation to the so-called Tampa incident that "we don't want those sort of people in our country".

Who is the Threat?

Interesting article in the Washington Post a few days ago dealing with the view of the USA and President Bush in various Arab countries. Nothing all that new. However, anyone even remotely interested in where things are at in this troubled world cannot be other than concerned about the ways of the Americans and the impact of that on the peoples of the world in so many ways. With Australia so closely aligned to the US it's a sobering thought on how Australia is now viewed in Arab countries [has anyone gone to the trouble to find out?] - and Muslim countries in our region of the world.

Be Scared....

Well, the PM has basically had his way and the Premiers, probably with an eye on the electorate, have gone along with so-called tougher security measures. No one can quibble about tighter and more efficient security measures at airports. It's the other aspects of the proposed legislation which should concern - no, seriously trouble! - every Australian citizen, especially those who are most likely to be the target of profiling and the like. Even the police are concerned about their role in acting as enforcers of this new security regime. Needless to say the politicians have in effect dismissed concerns about any infringment of civil liberties. The catch-cry? - those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear! That's not only trite but plain rubbish! For a rather balanced summing up of what the security measures mean the article in the SMH today says it all.

Not a Good Call!

The last days have seen some discussion in the media [far too little given the implications] about the proposed new anti-terrorism laws. Do we really need more laws than already in place? And, no less importantly, have you heard our PM, or the Cadaver [as some have dubbed Phillip Ruddock, the Federal Attorney-General] provide any reason, other than the most vague, for further new laws to be introduced? For some inexplicable reason Kim Beazley has weighed into the discussion with a suggestion that it should be possible to lock down a whole suburb. His proposal has rightly brought this rebuke as published in Crikey -

"Beazley gets it badly wrong on terrorism laws

Former Australian diplomat Tony Kevin writes:

Kim Beazley's proposal to "toughen" the government's security legislation by "locking down" whole neighbourhoods at times of suspected terrorist threat is at best foolish and at worst dangerously racist. Presumably he is talking about "…

The Future of Fair Dinkum Journalism

Coincidental with reading an article in the AFR this morning that US publishers are cutting down on staff as they are confronted with a downturn in circulation and revenue-income, as well as increasing competition from internet-based news sources, a very timely posting on Margo Kingston's Web Diary is well worth reading. Don't ignore the Comments, at the end of the piece, either.

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed

What? - I hear you explain! Alan Alda, of M*A*S*H fame, amongst other things, has just released an autobiography called Never Have Your Dog Stuffed. National Public Radio has an extract from the book. But, you can even hear Alda in an absolutely delightful interview in which he reveals the reason for the name of the book. Look for the "Listen" button under the title of the article. Sit back - and be guaranteed an enjoyable time listening....

Ahhhh....French Cuisine

The passion! The food! Le vin! The "picture" of families sitting down to dine at le table. Is it really like the image we have? Evidently far from it if the article in the NYT is correct. Oh no, not a Big Mac competing with all those delicious French cheeses, etc.

Iraq - Where to Now?

With newspaper reports today suggesting that a pullout [or even a phased one] from Iraq is on the cards in the very near future one has to wonder where that leaves the people and country of Iraq. Abandoned it would seem - and confronting a civil war. That the war is said to have cost the US some US$191 billion [yes! - you read correctly] is one thing. The death and carnage is another. It is almost now beyond doubt that the US - and therefore Australia and Great Britain as willing members of the coalition of the willing - had absolutely no plan, let alone an idea, what would happen once that dreadful war of "shock and awe" got underway and the military forces arrived at the gates of Baghdad. Time magazine has an interesting article on its investigation of how the US embarked on and undertook this entire Iraq debacle

Mike Moore's Take On Pres. Bush

Ever-maverick Mike Moore [he of the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 fame] has in an item on his web site, with no small dose of cynicism, sarcasm and bite [some would say misplaced venom] had a go at Pres. George Bush [or, as I noted in a posting the other, Pres. George Shrub as Phillip Adams calls him] in relation to his handling of Hurricane Katrina. Pity that we in Australia do not have either a press or the Mike Moores of this world [Mike Carlton who writes for the SMH gets close in some respects] who are gad-flys and prepared to challenge and probe what our political "leaders" do - or, more often than not, don't do!

Some Sugar!

Always wanted to know the "inside story" of how pharmaceutical companies sell their drugs? Look no further than this rather intriguing article here from Harpers on how Merck & Co."tutored" their salespeople to promote and sell the now discredited Vioxx.

A Legend in his Own Lifetime

The death of Simon Wiesenthal has, justifiably, brought world-wide tributes to him and his quite extraordinary dedication to tracking down Nazis. By all accounts not only did Wiesenthal lead a "charmed life" [well kinda, for the moment ignoring the circumstances - escaping death twice by a hair's breath!] but his tenancity was almost legendary. Others have writtten eloquently and in detail about Wiesenthal. I won't repeat them here.

However, the following 2 extracts from the New York Time's obituary I found "interesting" and revealing -

"It was a matter of pride and satisfaction, he said in 1995, as he approached his 87th birthday, that old Nazis who get into quarrels threaten one another with a vow to go to Simon Wiesenthal"

And this one -

"He was often asked why he had become a searcher of Nazi criminals instead of resuming a profitable career in architecture. He gave one questioner this response: "You're a religious man. You…

An Economist's View of Happiness?

Most people would be surprised to learn that an economist, of all people, Richard Layard, has written a book, Happiness: Lessons from a New Science [London: Allen Lane 2005] - already highly regarded - in which he explores, amongst other things, wealth and happiness. So does, for instance, money buy happiness? You don't need to buy or read the book but this article on the book and the underlying theories of Layard, are thought-provoking.

Pastor Niemoller Remembered

The deportation of Scott Parkin by the Australian Government last week, without explanation let alone due process, is gravely troubling and concerning. It appears that the media haven't really understood the implications for all Australians. With an element of hysteria relating to terrorism, and the like, trampling of rights gained over the centuries look fragile and at risk. As we have seen all too often once rights and privileges are curtailed it's a slippery slope.....

The actions of the Australian Government bring to mind the now famous words of Pastor Niemoller

First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.

Pastor Niemoller has an interesting background worth reading.

Never Again?

World War 2 came to and end - and the world gasped as it saw the opening of the gates to concentration camps and acknowledged [how many already knew previously?] the mass systematic extermination and genocide of 6,000,000 Jews plus gypsies, homosexuals and others. The words "never again" echoed around the globe. So, here we are in 2005, 60 years after the end of the War and witnesses to the genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, China, Iraq and Darfur amongst others.....

The UN recently debated genocide. Did they determine to issue a definitive statement on genocide? No! A declaration that the countries had an "obligation" to respond to genocide was blocked by the USA. The declaration was diluted to say that "We are prepared to take collective action....on a case by case basis" to prevent genocide.

The words "never again" sound singularly hollow. Passivity is the order of the day. The media doesn't seem at all that interested either. …

One Take on President Shrub

It has not been too difficult to come across media coverage critical of Pres. George Bush [almost always described by Phillip Adams as "President Shrub"] in the way he and his Administration responded [?] to and then attempted to deal with Hurricane Katrina. Maureen Dowd of the NYT has never been a fan of George Bush - as she so clearly articulates here.

Does Anyone Remember Africa?

With much fanfare at the G8 Conference at Gleneagles back in early July we witnessed the gathered political "leaders" making lofty declarations of support for Africa on a multitude of levels - debt, food, medical aid, etc. Needless to say the media lapped it up. And Bob Geldhof and Bono got their minute in the sun as did the various concerts around the globe.

2 months later and Darfur, in Sudan, and the ongoing troubles plaguing the African continent, generally, have disappeared off the radar. When did you last read, see or hear anything about the travails of the atrocities, sick, dying and diseased in Africa?

The whole thing is no more than a reflection of politics at play - and who cares about the lives at stake? Might it just have something to do with the fact that Africans are black and poor? Is there any reason to be anything but cynical especially when one sees how Americans "internally" dealt with African-Americans and the poor in relation to Hurricane Katrin…

People in Glass Houses....

The departure of the Israelis from Gaza has garnered world-wide praise together with condemnation of the Palestinians for vandalising or destroying synagogues left behind. Clearly any attack on a house of prayer should be condemned. Whether the Israelis should have dismantled the synagogues in the first place or whether they were left there as a lightning-rod for the propoganda war which would follow if the synagogues were attacked is another matter. Only last Tuesday in a Melton class a member of the class thundered that what the Palestinians had perpetrated was outrageous and what would the world have said had "we" [presumably Israelis and Jews in the Diaspora] even touched one stone of a mosque.

Sadly, as reflected on by the Former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Israel stands accused of treating mosques in Israel in less than a reverant manner to put it at its mildest:

"Out of some 140 village mosques that were abandoned due to the war in 1948, some 100 were totally torn do…

Dershowitz hits a new low...

Alan Dershowitz is probably best known in Australia as a Harvard Law Professor who was part of the legal team in the von Bulow trial in the USA, and more high profile, in the O. J. Simpson murder trial. Perhaps less known is that Dershowitz is a profilic writer with many of his books distinctly pro-Israel. The press, including the AJN, clearly in ignorance, often refer to Dershowitz in glowing terms. Dershowitz gained notoriety a couple of years ago when he argued that torture of prisoners was justified in certain circumstances. When Dershowitz appeared on SBS Dateline to argue his view on torture, he came across poorly and certainly not a convincing advocate for his extraordinary proposition.

Dershowitz has now shown another side of his character - or lack of it! Confronted by a Professor Finkelstein publishing a book in which he accuses Dershowitz of plagarism and simply false facts in one of his books, Dershowitz has gone feral in attempts to stop publication of the book. Legal thre…

Strange logic?

There would be few Australians who do not view the way guns are freely available, and used, in the USA as more than troubling. The number of drive-by killings and deaths and injuries through the use of firearms in the US is quite staggering. Therefore to read the following item from jewsweek.com is "interesting" - and of concern - to say the least:

"Turns out the newly elected president of the National Rifle Association [in the USA] is not only a woman, but... a Jew! Not your typical NRA member, Sandra Froman -- a Harvard-educated lawyer and California native -- says, "firearms in America today represent freedom; they represent the ability to defend yourself." For Froman, the right to bear arms has important Jewish historical implications. "You look at what the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto were able to do because they had firearms, and you understand how necessary is the right to own a gun."

That's it then!..... carry a gun and use it as you will and …

An Apple a day.....

One would have to be blind not to see what seems like an ever-increasing number of people under the age of 35 "plugged into" their Apple ipods or Apple Shuffles. Never tried either one? Now with the ability to download podcasts from a vast range of web sites not to join into the ipod revolution is to be missing out on one of the joys of music and everything beside - "on the go", as it were, and wherever. Check out www.apple.com.au and you too will soon be rockin' and rollin' in and with whatever music genre appeals to you. And the beauty of the Apple technology is that you don't even have to have an Apple computer. The whole kit and kaboodle will work equally well in the PC world.

The Question of Zion

Those who saw or heard Prof. Jacqueline Rose on the ABC on either Lateline or Phillip Adams' Late Night Live the other day could have been other than impressed by her sober and clearly articulated response to the searching matters raised by the interviewers in relation to her recently published book The Question of Zion [MUP in Australia]. Anyone interested in an extremely well documented and researched book on the issues surrounding Zionism and the establishment of Israel - and how that plays out today - really should read this book. Perhaps the author does tend to err on the side of too much psychoanalysis, one of the author's specialities, but that does not detract from the overall impact and compelling arguments raised in the book.

No doubt the usual suspects will attack the author and the book. Those attackers will not have read the book - hey, why let a minor matter like the facts stand in the way of an attack? - and will be the poorer and even more ignorant for not havi…

A Father's Response

I suspect that most people see bloggers as 20 somethings out there promoting this or that cause, idea, political agenda, etc. Being a 60 something male barrister and the Oz director of a Canadian company now operating in Australia, I toyed with the idea of mixing it with the rest out there in the bloggersphere! Now, I can - and will!

Thanks to son Antony [antonyloewenstein.blogspot.com] and his truly delightful partner/girlfriend and soulmate Liz - their message and Father's Day present "launching" this blog is so wonderful and touching - I can realise my previosuly tentative thoughts of starting up my own blog. Liz and Antony truly launched me..... To them go my most sincere thanks.

Why Mahler as part of the blog's name? Simple really! I love Mahler. So this site will be an eclectic miscellany of this and that, some serious and "heavy", others items of general interest on a variety of topics as they take my fancy. I also plan on links to sites which might pr…

Happy Father's Day

There's little doubt how important fathers really are. They raise us, nurture us, cushion us when we fall down and support us when we stand up. In short, they help us become the very best people we can possibly be and our lives are forever indebted to them.

A great father is a rarity. Seldom few are wise enough to know when to speak, let alone strong enough to speak when they shouldn't. Rarer still is the father who is open to change and able to embrace the challenge of new concepts and ideas, even when he is fast approaching the most mature years of his life.

As a long-time blog devotee, we thought it was time for you to have your own personal space. What should you write about? Mahler's Third Symphony, Howard's foreign policy, the Melbourne Jewish community or maybe just reflections on your recent travels. Once a day, once a week or whenever you feel the need to vent.

Enjoy.

Love

Liz and Antony