The year that was…

2005 will be remembered as the year that citizens across the world started to realise the rules of the game in the “war on terror.” Extraordinary rendition, US supported and administered torture, unauthorised spying on citizens, privatised killing, diving support for the Iraqi quagmire and a growing Iranian influence. Liberation, indeed. In other news, we…

News bytes

– Yet more evidence that Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is bankrupt and unable to house its many displaced citizens. – Australia’s richest man, Kerry Packer, has died. Will the country’s media landscape change in 2006 as a result of this news? – The Jerusalem Post reports: “Some 5,700 emigrants have returned to live in Israel in…

From Beverly Hills with love

Never let it be said that car dealers don’t make great US ambassadors: “The US embassy in London was forced to issue a correction yesterday to an interview given by the ambassador, Robert Tuttle, in which he claimed America would not fly suspected terrorists to Syria, which has one of the worst torture records in…

The constant struggle

Bahrain enjoys relative political freedom for a Middle Eastern nation and the blogosphere has exploded accordingly. Political punditry is now common. Take the example of Mahmood Al-Yousif: “Shops, restaurants, coffee houses, garages and other workshops could be forced by law to close for two hours for Friday prayers, if MPs get their way. Those caught…

No state here

A headline in today’s Sydney Morning Herald reads: “Sharon may be ready to accept an independent Palestinian state“: “The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, would turn over more territory to the Palestinians and accept an independent Palestinian state if elected to a third term, according to a draft platform of Mr Sharon’s Kadima party released…

Dissent not allowed

Israel appears to see an Australian peace activist as a threat to national security: “An Australian woman has been detained by Israeli authorities for the past five days after refusing to leave the country.” Shiri Lock had been planning to attend a peace conference in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, but was denied entry…

Welcome to reality

Iran’s leading hard-line newspaper has called Iraq’s recent elections as “the creation of the first Islamist state in the Arab world.” It went on: “Of the 275 seats in Iraq’s new parliament, 140 will belong to pious Islamists, 60 will be occupied by Kurds with excellent ties with Iran, and 40 will belong to Sunni…

Kids and the bomb

One of Australia’s most popular online forums – a dance music website, of all places – discusses the current crisis between Iran and Israel and the nuclear question. A fascinating insight into the debate far away from the commentariat and “experts.” UPDATE: Der Spiegel analyses the likelihood of military strikes against Iran in 2006. Turkey…

Asking the impossible

Australia’s top spy is in the business of wishful thinking: “New ASIO director-general Paul O’Sullivan has warned his spy network not to allow politics to colour their intelligence-gathering and to avoid overstepping their new counter-terrorism powers. “As spy agencies around the world reel from accusations of political bias, Mr O’Sullivan has told the intelligence community…

Dusty trail to death

Gideon Levy, Haaretz, December 23: “On Sunday morning of last week Mahmoud Shawara, a labourer, mounted his mule and set out from his home in the village of Nuaman to look for work in the neighbouring village of Umm Touba. At about 9 A.M., he was arrested by a Border Police unit that detains workers…