Kashmir writer’s festival over before it began

As someone who believes in the responsibility of artists and intellectuals to take a stand against tyranny, this news is positive: Indian-administered Kashmir’s first major literature festival has been cancelled after local writers and artists said it would give the false impression that basic freedoms are allowed in the troubled region. The Harud literary festival…

Book reviews can save lives

A fascinating piece of history written by Australian academic Scott Burchill: In August 2004 I was asked by The Age to review [Australian journalist] John Martinkus’ new book ‘Travels in American Iraq‘ (Black Inc, 2004). It was a very good account of life after the invasion and Martinkus was clearly more sympathetic to the occupied…

Who would like to provide PR for a brutal, US-backed dictatorship?

PR Watch has the news: Bahrian’s Sunni-led monarchy has hired the Washington, D.C. PR firm Qorvis Communications at a rate of $40,000/month to help improve its image after the Bahraini government, struggling to suppress a Shia-led protest movement, attacked the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders (DWB). The group offers medical care to injured protesters who…

This is Australia’s past and future?

My following book review appeared in last Sunday’s Sydney Sun Herald newspaper: The Protectors Stephen Gray (Allen & Unwin, $29.99) “Mainstream Australia is equivocal about the apology [to the stolen generations] at best.” It’s a provocative start to a work that aims to understand the motives of the farmers, politicians and public figures who took…