Resistance is FUTILE!
Saturday February 25th 2006, 8:55 am

I am Little Johnny of Borg. You will be assimilated.


There’s just no other word to describe my reaction to anti-Islam statements by John Howard and Peter Costello.

Treasurer Peter Costello’s comment about revoking Australian citizenship from dual nationals is not only stupid and divisive, but since 1958, Australian citizenship acquired by naturalisation is equivalent to that acquired by being born to parents where one is an Australian citizen. Unless one has committed fraud on a citizenship application, citizenship granted by naturalisation cannot be revoked. (But wait- the bar is about to be raised for acquiring and keeping Australian Citizenship. Heard about the Citizenship Bill of 2005 yet?)

Costello, for absolutely no apparent reason, is whipping up Islamophobia where there simply was none before. PM John Howard has backed Costello’s comments and is further calling for Muslims who have moved to Australia to "assimilate." At least we now know where Danna Vale’s ridiculous comments from last week come from.

On the bright side, Peter Beatty sees the Howard/Costello/Vale troika of cheap shot wedge politics just for what it is.

I had rather thought that official policies of assimilation had croaked with the halting of the Stolen Generation policies… guess not.

This government wouldn’t know the strength of diversity if it jumped up and bit them on the ass. 


UPDATE: Suki nails it: "Divisiveness- Trot it out to divert from Wheatgate."

UPDATE II: Alan Moir sees something in the diversionary theory as well…



Sydney Police radio more secure?
Tuesday February 21st 2006, 3:24 pm

image: Dick Smith ElectronicsYou may recall that I reported an event of jamming of police radio in Sydney back on 12 December 2005, during the Cronulla and Brighton-le-Sands race rioting. No mainstream news organisation made any mention of the jamming at the time.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 17 February that police are advising that the affected channel has been converted to digital to prevent recurrences of jamming:

Police radio more secure

February 17, 2006

THE NSW police radio channel that was interfered with on the second night of revenge attacks after the Cronulla riots has been converted to a more secure digital channel, police say.

The incident occurred on December 12 between 10.30pm and 11.30pm. On that night, groups of young men caused malicious damage to cars and shops and assaulted a number of people in the Sutherland Shire area. Assistant Commissioner Bob Waites, who is the spokesman on communications, said interference of the police radio network was "not an infrequent occurrence".

"It’s not as serious as it sounds," he said. "The radio operator could still hear the other police even though this person was playing music over the channel. We immediately switched to another channel."

All well and good; reliable 2-way radio communications for police are of paramount importance to public safety. Digital radio is less susceptible to interference and eavesdropping. However, I dispute Waites’ estimation that police radio operators were able to hear the units in the field during the jamming.

Most police radio systems employ ‘repeater’ stations which listen for signals on one channel then retransmit them on another. On the night of 12 December, some person unknown to me had set up a gateway website (then located at but now offline), which carried the audio from a scanner radio, which I and many other people used to listen to the police broadcasts on the night.

From what I could gather while listening, the radio operator at the police base station couldn’t hear the field units and frequently asked them to repeat their transmissions. The jammer appeared to be transmitting on the input channel to the repeater, which blanked out all the field units trying to access it.

The police radio control operator several times told the field units to change channel. The person operating the radio-to-web gateway didn’t have much trouble changing frequency to follow. Neither did the jammer, who carried on interfering until about 1am Sydney time on 13 December 2005, well past the 11.30pm time as stated by Assistant Commissioner Waites.

However, unless the digital radio system is encrypted, there are still scanning radios available which can receive those digital signals- you can buy them at Dick Smith.

Let’s hope the police have got the radio system sorted. I sure wouldn’t want to be the person who needed help while the police 2-way system was being jammed.


Robert Fisk lecture to be podcast
Tuesday February 21st 2006, 9:04 am

Robert Fisk (image:

Can’t make it to Sydney to hear Robert Fisk speak?

No problem!

Antony Loewenstein has secured permission for me to digitally record and podcast the 10 March Fisk lecture at Macquarie Uni. 

Check back on the evening of 10 March 2006. The podcast will either appear here or on Jon Fox’s Fourth Estate Radio.


Robert Fisk in Sydney – 10 March
Monday February 20th 2006, 6:44 pm

Robert Fisk (image: Fisk is the Middle East correspondent for The Independent. Fisk is based in Beirut and has been reporting from the area for almost 30 years. Few people, much less journalists, are better placed to know and tell the real stories of armed struggle and politics from Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and the greater region.

Author, journo and blogger Antony Loewenstein, now a member of the board of Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies, has scored a real coup in organising a Fisk lecture.

Fisk will speak at Macquarie University, based on his latest book, The Great War of Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East.

The details: 

What: The Great War for Civilisation Revisited by Robert Fisk

When: Friday March 10th, at 7:30pm

Where: Mason Theatre, Building E7B,

Macquarie University, Balaclava Road, North Ryde.

Parking: Free. Use the University car parks (normal restrictions won’t apply)

Further information:
For attendees: (02) 9850 8869

For media comment: Dr Andrew Vincent (02) 9850 8825.

Listeners of Philip Adams’ Late Night Live already know that Fisk is a riveting speaker. Fisk last appeared on LNL on 9 February 2006, addressing the Danish cartoons controversy. (LNL MP3) Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see Fisk speak in person.

Major kudos to Antony Loewenstein for pulling this one off!


Danna Vale: Wrong, wrong and wronger
Sunday February 19th 2006, 9:58 am

duh!Did you catch ABC Insiders this morning? A bit more research was done on Danna Vale’s extraordinarily racist gaffe from last week.

In case you missed Vale’s racist wrongability (as if you possibly could):

So saith Danna

"I’ve actually read in The Daily Telegraph where a certain imam from the Lakemba mosque actually said that Australia’s going to be a Muslim nation in 50 years’ time," she told reporters.

"I didn’t believe him at the time, but you know when you actually look at the birth rates and when you look at the fact that we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence by 100,000 abortions every year and that’s on a guesstimate.

"You multiply that by 50 years, that’s five million potential Australians we won’t have here."

Insiders points out:

* Vale didn’t see any news item about an imam from the Lakemba mosque in the Daily Tele. It was in the SMH.

* It wasn’t last week, it was in 2002

* The ‘Australia will be a Muslim nation in 50 years’ comment in fact was NOT a statement from an imam from the Lakemba mosque- it was actually a paraphrasing of a statement by Abu Bakar Bashir who was visiting Australia at the time.

Bashir is directly quoted by SMH as saying "The Islamic faithful in Australia must endeavour to bring about an Islamic state in Australia, even if it is 100 years from now." Apparently 100 years wasn’t soon enough for Danna.

There are not 100,000 abortions performed annually in Australia. The Medicare number for a therapeutic D&C, which is usually performed after a spontaneous miscarriage (which occurs naturally in 16% of all pregnancies) is the same number for a D&C performed for the primary purpose of terminating a pregnancy. There is no way to differentiate the therapeutic D&C procedures from those performed for pregnancy termination. A more reasonable estimate is about 25,000 terminations per year.

Danna, "guesstimates" are not the domain of Members of Parliament. Such silly-wild-assed-guesses might fly for pissed featherheads in a pub, but the Australian public expects much better of our public servants.

Get it right- or keep ya mouth shut.  


The geriatrics physician who plays politics with women’s reproductive health
Saturday February 18th 2006, 10:24 am

Dr John Obeid of Castle Hill NSW, is one of Mitchell MP Alan Cadman‘s medical advisors on the drug RU486. Obeid is a specialist in geriatric medicine who practises at Blacktown Hospital. One would have to wonder if Obeid frequently treats his elderly women patients for unwanted pregnancies.

Obeid appears to hold political advantage above his medical judgement. Obeid seems to have handed Cadman some very bent, cherry picked information about RU486. Obeid’s political aspirations (and quite possibly his religious affiliations) are made a bit more clear in this comment he sent to the Sydney Morning Herald:

Senator Kerry Nettle can only be described as a bigot for her disgraceful wearing of a T-shirt which abused a sacred symbol for Catholics for her own political purposes. She must publicly apologise to Catholics in Australia and her party leader. And the Senate President should demand that her religious vilification never occur again.

John Obeid Castle Hill

Really now, Dr Obeid? Bit of a red herring on Kerry Nettle- and a very belated one at that. Now, despite all your medical training, you’d have a politician, one merely appointed to the Health Minister portfolio, making decisions on approvals of new medications instead of the pharmacology experts at the Therapeutic Goods Administration?

Do tell.

So, should we start asking our physicians for their political opinions before discussing a proposed treatment plan, just in case their political and religious biases will guide their medical judgement instead of their medical training?

We bloody well should.


Chalk one up for commonsense: RU486 bill passed
Saturday February 18th 2006, 12:15 am

The bill to move final approval authority for RU486 to the Therapeutic Goods Administration has passed in the House, to be met by much celebration by Australian feminists.

Unfortunately, since the vote was passed by voice, as no MP called for a division, there is no record of the vote.

You can rest assured that the pollies who voted to keep control of RU486 with the Health Minister are self-serving party politicos who have no sense of responsibility to 51% of the Australian electorate.


RU486 to turn Australia into a Muslim nation
Tuesday February 14th 2006, 9:42 am

want fries with that, Danna?Danna Vale, gaffer extraordinaire, has uncorked another real corker.

Vale yesterday stated that if approval authority for RU486 is given to the Therapeutic Goods Administration instead of remaining with the Health Minister, in 50 years time, Australia will become a Muslim nation:

Quoth Danna

"I’ve actually read in The Daily Telegraph where a certain imam from the Lakemba mosque actually said that Australia’s going to be a Muslim nation in 50 years’ time," she told reporters.

"I didn’t believe him at the time, but you know when you actually look at the birth rates and when you look at the fact that we are aborting ourselves almost out of existence by 100,000 abortions every year and that’s on a guesstimate.

"You multiply that by 50 years, that’s five million potential Australians we won’t have here."

Leave it to desperate politicians to play the racism card when they can’t otherwise justify their actions. I thought Vale was a member of the Liberal Party, not Australia First… but there you go.

Stay Brave And True, Danna.


Why does Tony Abbott hate women?
Monday February 13th 2006, 12:27 pm

image: Daily Flute

Health Minister Tony Abbott, through his wish to deny Australian women the ability to access RU486, apparently desires to increase harm to women who elect to terminate a pregnancy. The sole other option for pregnancy termination is surgery. Anaesthesia and invasive surgical procedures bear their own risks, notably lethal reactions to anaesthesia and ‘golden’ staph infections, those which are resistant to antibiotic treatment, which are most commonly found in medical environments.

RU486 is not a magic ‘un-pregnant’ pill. Undesired side effects include vaginal bleeding for up to 60 days as well as other complications normally associated with spontaneous miscarriage. However, using RU486 is less problematic compared to spontaneous miscarriage. Undesired side effects from use of RU486 occur in 5% of cases, where spontaneous miscarriage occurs in 16% of all pregnancies.

These considerations are all aside from the common wisdom that it should, without question, take more than one person to be in charge of approval of medications in a country of more than 20 million people. Those in control of approval of medications should certainly professionally specialise in pharmacological research- instead of professional politics. Abbott’s objection that unelected public servants, albeit those trained in statistics and pharmacology, are less desirable as the appropriate parties to approve new medications, is both spurious and self-serving.

I’d sooner trust my next knee surgery to a guy with a chainsaw and good intentions.


Abbott’s T-shirt tizzy – a year too late
Saturday February 11th 2006, 8:31 am

It has been very close to a year ago when I last caught up with Greens Senator Kerry Nettle. Nettle introduced a showing of the film Vera Drake on 2 March 2005, whilst wearing this particular t-shirt… which for some odd reason, is only NOW controversial.

(click for larger size)

Health Minister Tony Abbott is presently all upset because he’s all but lost the ability to keep Australian women from accessing the abortifacient drug RU486. Abbott is now (rather coincidentally, of course) claiming that he’s ‘offended’ by the wording of Nettle’s t-shirt.

Wassamatta, Tony- bit of sour grapes?

Get over it, Reverend Abbott. You don’t own Australian women’s ovaries and uteri- and if you’re not a uterus owner/operator, your opinion on women’s reproductive rights is fairly irrelevant. 


UPDATE: If Kerry’s t-shirt offends Abbott, Alan Moir and Bill Leak must give the Mad Monk an absolute conniption.

 image: Alan Moir for The Sydney Morning Herald
image: Bill Leak for The Australian