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Sunday, January 27, 2013

John Pilger:Welcome to the Shammies, the media awards that recognise truly unsung talent


There are awards for everyone. There are the Logies, the Commies, the Tonys, the Theas, the Millies ("They cried with pride") and now the Shammies.

The Shammies celebrate the finest sham media. "Competition for the 2013 Gold Shammy," said the panel of judges, "has been cutthroat." The Shammies are not for the tabloid lower orders. Rupert Murdoch has been honoured enough. Shammies distinguish respectable journalism that guards the limits of what the best and brightest like to call the "national conversation".

The Shammy judges were especially impressed by a spirited campaign to rehabilitate Tony Blair. The winner will receive the coveted Jeremy Paxman Hoodwink Prize, in honour of the famous BBC broadcaster who says he was "hoodwinked" over Iraq - regardless of the multiple opportunities he had to challenge Blair and expose the truth and carnage of the illegal invasion.

Short-listed for Hoodwink is Michael White, the Guardian's political editor, whose lament for Blair's "wasted talent" is distinguished by his defence of Blair as the victim of a "very unholy alliance between a familiar chorus of America-bashers and Blair bait[ers]". (I am included).

On 19 December, another contender, White's colleague, Jane Martinson, was granted a "rare" interview with Cherie Blair in her "stately private office" with its "gorgeous views over Hyde Park" and "imposing mahogany furniture". In such splendour does Mrs. Blair (she prefers her married name for its "profile") run her "foundation for women" in Africa, India and the Middle East. Her political collusion in her husband's career and support for adventures that destroyed the lives of countless women was not mentioned. A PR triumph and odds-on for a Shammy.

Also nominated: the brains behind the Guardian's front page of 8 November: "The best is yet to come", dominated by a half-page picture of the happy-huggy-droney Obama family. And who could fail to appreciate the assurance from the BBC's Mark Mardell that, in personally selecting people to murder with his drones, "the care taken by the president is significant"?

Matt Frei, formerly of the BBC now of Channel 4 News, drew commendation for his reporting of Obama as a "warrior president" and Hugo Chavez as a "chubby-faced strongman". A study by the University of the West of England found that, of the 304 BBC reports on Venezuela published in a decade, only three mentioned the Chavez government's extraordinary record in promoting human rights and reducing poverty.

In the Gold Shammy category, the judges were struck by the outstanding work of the Guardian's Decca Aitkenhead. "Everywhere we went, before my eyes people fell in love with him... no one seemed to be immune." This was her memorable encounter with Peter Mandelson in 2009. She described his "effortless allure ... the intensity of his theatre is electrifying to behold... His skin is dewey, as if fresh from a spa facial, and his grooming so flawless he looks almost hyper-real, the cuff links and tie delicately co-ordinated, with their detail inversely echoed in his socks... His whole body seems weirdly untroubled by the passage of time..."

Aitkenhead had previously "profiled" Alistair Darling, the Chancellor who presided over the worst financial collapse in memory. Greeted as "old friends" by Darling and his "gregarious" wife Maggie "who cooks and makes tea and supper while Darling lights the fire", Aitkenhead effused over "a highly effective minister... he seems almost too straightforward, even high-minded, for the low cunning of political warfare."

The judges were asked to compare and contrast such moments of journalistic ecstasy with the same writer's profile of Julian Assange on 7 December. Assange answered her questions methodically, providing her with a lot of information about the state's abuse of technology and mass surveillance. "There is no debate that Assange knows more about this subject than almost anyone alive," she wrote. No matter. Rather than someone who had exposed more state criminality than any journalist, he was described as "someone convalescing after a breakdown": a mentally ill figure she likened to "Miss Havisham". Unlike the alluring, electrifying, twice disgraced Mandelson, and the high-minded, disastrous Chancellor, Assange had a "messianic grandiosity". No evidence was offered. The Gold Shammy was within her grasp.

Then, on Christmas Eve, the BBC News magazine published an article marking the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Christmas bombing of Hanoi. The bombing, wrote Rebecca Kesby,"was President Richard Nixon's attempt to hasten the end of the Vietnam war, as the growing strength of the Viet Cong caused heavy casualties among US ground troops".

In fact, Nixon promised "an honourable end to the war" four years earlier. His 1972 Christmas bombing of Hanoi in the north was as much concerned with peace as Hitler's bombing of Poland: a cynical, vengeful act of barbarism that changed nothing in the stalled Paris talks. Kesby cites Henry Kissinger's absurd claim that the North Vietnamese "were on their knees". Far from hastening "the end of the Vietnam war", America's savagery ensured the war went on for another two a half years, during which more Vietnamese were killed than during the previous decade.

Kesby claimed that previous US targets had been "fuel depots and munitions stores". On my wall is a photograph I took of a hamlet in the north obliterated by F-105 and Phantom fighters flying at 200 feet in order to pick off "soft targets" - human beings. In the town of Hongai, I stood in the debris of churches, hospitals, schools. A new type of "dart bomb" was used; the darts were made from a plastic that did not show in X-rays, and the victims, mostly children, suffered until they died. Filmed by Malcolm Aird and James Cameron, a news report on this type of terror bombing was suppressed by the BBC.

Today our memory of all of this is sanitised. America and its allies, using even more diabolical weapons, continue to "hasten to the end of war". Such has been the BBC's unerring theme since Vietnam. The Gold Shammy is richly deserved.

17 January 2013

A History Talks Issue 6 Volume 1 by John Tognolini

Tony Robinson

Inspired by The History Channel's The People Speak. I’ve decided to make a regular weekly selection of quotations. Quotes are primary sources of history. The selection below are from the The People Speak. This series was inspired by the production of The American The People Speak. My future selections of quotes will not just be on Australia but internationally too.

John Tognolini 26-12-12

“So, 240 years after Cook landed, what is an Australian? Statistically it’s a 38-year-old living in either New South Wales or Victoria. She has 1.9 children and is married. She jogs or does some sort of routine exercise, and thinks she’s in okay shape but may actually be a bit overweight. She works in a service industry and earns around $750 a week. She was born in Australia, but at least one of her grandparents wasn’t. She has sex 1.84 times a week, which she thinks isn’t enough, and she’ll probably die of heart disease. “

Page 229 Tony Robinson’s History of Australia from New Holland to Neighbours
On the Eureka Stockade

“….A digger who had been shot in the legs was set on by three policeman; one knelt on him, another tried to strangle him, and the third went through his pockets. Dozens of diggers were killed; many were summarily executed.
Carboni, who was easily recognisable by his shock of red hair, was beaten up, stripped of his clothes and thrown naked into gaol. The rebel leaders were arrested and faced the death penalty for high treason…”

Pages 158-159 Tony Robinson’s History of Australia from New Holland to Neighbours

"Only the poor will help the poor."

FRANK HARDY 1917-94, Legends from Benson's Valley

"No man is so gullible when it comes to a bit of bulldust sprinkled on the old national ethos than the Australian, who really believes the sun shines nowhere else except out of his arse and his beer is really the best."

FRANK HARDY, The Outcasts of Foolgarah

"If Australia is The Lucky Country, the Aborigines must be the unluckiest people in the world."

FRANK HARDY, The Unlucky Australians

"Power without Glory"

FRANK HARDY, title of book

"The truth is impossible to comprehend even when one is willing to tell it. For the truth resides in memory and memory is clouded with repression and a desire to embellish. The recollections of any individual are conditioned by the general truths to which he or she has tried to live. To recall an event is to interpret it, so the truth is altered by the very act of remembering. Therefore the truth, like God, does not exist - only the search for it."

FRANK HARDY, Who Shot George Kirkland?

"I have outlived that care that curries public favour or dreads the public frown…let the hand of law strike me down if it will, but I ask that my story be heard and considered. "

NED KELLY 1855-1880

"We shall never be understood or respected by the English until we carry our individuality to extremes, and by asserting our independence, become of sufficient consequence in their eyes to merit a closer study than they have hitherto accorded us. "

HENRY LAWSON 1867-1922

"I’ve never seen anyone rehabilitated by punishment. "


"Nationalism is both a vital medicine and a dangerous drug. "


"Australians should not boast of the virtues they haven't got, when there are so many they have."

ERNEST GORDON BIAGGINI 1889-1978, You Can't Say That

"When you play test cricket, you don’t give the Englishmen an inch. Play it tough, all the way. Grind them into the dust. "

DON BRADMAN 1908-2001

"I'll tell you where the dead heart of Australia is. It's right back there in the cities. Not out in the sand and the mulga and the stones burning hot under the sun."

DAVID IRELAND 1927-    , Burn

"The twentieth century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy. "
ALEX CAREY 1922-1987

"Fear can do terrible things to a man."

A. B. (Albert) FACEY, A Fortunate Life 1892-1982

"Despite the fear the men mostly took everything that was thrown at them. I saw some brave things at Gallipoli. One thing that made a big impression on us was the actions of a man we called 'The Man with a Donkey'. He was a stretcher-bearer and he used to carry the wounded men down to the clearing station on the beach... This man, Simpson his name was, was exposed to enemy fire constantly all the days I was there, and when I left Shrapnel Gully he was still going strong. I considered, and so did my mates, that he should be given the Victoria Cross."

A. B. (Albert) FACEY, A Fortunate Life

"I know this beach like the back of my hand."

HAROLD HOLT 1908-1967, Last words.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

John Pilger:The dirty war on WikiLeaks


War by media, says current military doctrine, is as important as the battlefield. This is because the real enemy is the public at home, whose manipulation and deception is essential for starting an unpopular colonial war. Like the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, attacks on Iran and Syria require a steady drip-effect on readers' and viewers' consciousness. This is the essence of a propaganda that rarely speaks its name.

To the chagrin of many in authority and the media, WikiLeaks has torn down the facade behind which rapacious western power and journalism collude. This was an enduring taboo; the BBC could claim impartiality and expect people to believe it. Today, war by media is increasingly understood by the public, as is the trial by media of WikiLeaks' founder and editor Julian Assange.

Assange will soon know if the supreme court in London is to allow his appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations of sexual misconduct, most of which were dismissed by a senior prosecutor in Stockholm. On bail for 16 months, tagged and effectively under house arrest, he has been charged with nothing. His "crime" has been an epic form of investigative journalism: revealing to millions of people the lies and machinations of their politicians and officials and the barbarism of criminal war conducted in their name.

For this, as the American historian William Blum points out, "dozens of members of the American media and public officials have called for [his] execution or assassination". If he is passed from Sweden to the US, an orange jumpsuit, shackles and a fabricated indictment await him. And there go all who dare challenge rogue America.

In Britain, Assange's trial by media has been a campaign of character assassination, often cowardly and inhuman, reeking of jealousy of the courageous outsider, while books of perfidious hearsay have been published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or resuscitated on the assumption that he is too poor to sue. In Sweden this trial by media has become, according to one observer there, "a full-on mobbing campaign with the victim denied a voice". For more than 18 months, the salacious Expressen, Sweden's equivalent of the Sun, has been fed the ingredients of a smear by Stockholm police.

Expressen is the megaphone of the Swedish right, including the Conservative party, which dominates the governing coalition. Its latest "scoop" is an unsubstantiated story about "the great WikiLeaks war against Sweden". On 6 March Expressen claimed, with no evidence, that WikiLeaks was running a conspiracy against Sweden and its foreign minister Carl Bildt. The political pique is understandable. In a 2009 US embassy cable obtained by WikiLeaks, the Swedish elite's vaunted reputation for neutrality is exposed as sham. (Cable title: "Sweden puts neutrality in the Dustbin of History.") Another US diplomatic cable reveals that "the extent of [Sweden's military and intelligence] co-operation [with Nato] is not widely known", and unless kept secret "would open up the government to domestic criticism".

Swedish foreign policy is largely controlled by Bildt, whose obeisance to the US goes back to his defence of the Vietnam war and includes his leading role in George W Bush's Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. He retains close ties to Republican party extreme rightwing figures such as the disgraced Bush spin doctor, Karl Rove. It is known that his government has "informally" discussed Assange's future with Washington, which has made its position clear. A secret Pentagon document describes US intelligence plans to destroy WikiLeaks' "centre of gravity" with "threats of exposure [and] criminal prosecution".

In much of the Swedish media, proper journalistic scepticism about the allegations against Assange is overwhelmed by a defensive jingoism, as if the nation's honour is defiled by revelations about dodgy coppers and politicians, a universal breed. On Swedish public TV "experts" debate not the country's deepening militarist state and its service to Nato and Washington, but the state of Assange's mind and his "paranoia". A headline in Tuesday's Aftonbladet declared: "Assange's moral collapse". The article suggests Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks' alleged source, may not be sane, and attacks Assange for not protecting Manning from himself. What was not mentioned was that the source was anonymous, that no connection has been demonstrated between Assange and Manning, and that Aftonbladet, WikiLeaks' Swedish partner, had published the same leaks undeterred.

Ironically, this circus has performed under cover of some of the world's most enlightened laws protecting journalists, which attracted Assange to Sweden in 2010 to establish a base for WikiLeaks. Should his extradition be allowed, and with Damocles swords of malice and a vengeful Washington hanging over his head, who will protect him and provide the justice to which we all have a right?

The UK Guardian 9-3-12

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A History Talks Issue 5 Volume 1

Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official...
~Theodore Roosevelt

War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.
~General Smedley Butler
Imperialism is an institution under which one nation asserts the right to seize the land or at least to control the government or resources of another people.
~John T. Flynn
War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious.
~General Smedley Butler
I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
~George McGovern
Because I do it with one small ship, I am called a terrorist. You do it with a whole fleet and are called an emperor.
~A pirate, from St. Augustine's "City of God"
We are the ones responsible to determine whether the war that our marines, soldiers and airmen are fighting in is worth the cause...
~Scott Ritter
I am not blaming those who are resolved to rule, only those who show an even greater readiness to submit.
The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.
~Frederick Douglass
The dangerous patriot...drifts into chauvinism and exhibits blind enthusiasm for military actions.
~Colonel James A. Donovan, Marine Corps
I've been immersed in it too long. My spirit is wobbly and my mind is confused. The hurt has become too great.
~Ernie Pyle
It is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.
~Theodore Roosevelt
It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood...War is hell.
~General William Tecumseh Sherman
Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.
~Groucho Marx
Look at you in war...There has never been a just one, never an honorable one, on the part of the instigator of the war.
~Mark Twain

 [The] constant yelping about a free press means, with a few honourable exceptions, freedom to peddle scandal, crime, sex, sensationalism, hate, innuendo and the political and financial uses of propaganda. A newspaper is a business out to make money through advertising revenue. That is predicted on its circulation and you know what circulation depends on.

Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, 1953

The important thing about the so-called ‘communication industry’ is that it is basically concerned with merchandising. News is a kind of by-product and if you want sell things, you don’t want to offend anybody.
I.F.Stone, The Listner magazine, 1963
News is something someone, somewhere doesn’t want you to print – the rest is advertising.
All newspaper editorial writers ever do is come down from the hills after the battle is over and bayonet the wounded.

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.
~Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice
Football is a game designed to keep coal miners of the streets.
Jimmy Breslin, American Writer,1973.




Sunday, January 13, 2013

A History Talks issue 4 Vol. 1 by John Tognolini

Quotes from David Ireland, Australian writer 1927-

David Ireland is a three time winner of the Miles Franklin Award for The Unknown Industrial Prisoner, 1971, The Glass Canoe, 1976 and A Woman of the Future, 1979. A Woman of the Future, also won the Age Book of the Year Award 1980

The Chantic Bird 1968
If there is no other life, why is this one so lousy?

The Unknown Industrial Prisoner 1971

We know that man is alienated from his true function, but what is he? What is his true function? That is the hardest question. What should he do? What should he try to be?

The purpose of a job is to keep you off the street. It’s still a penal colony. All the thousands of

"Your push is what makes the wheel turn. Without your shove there is no system....


A pay packet stops you form dying, it doesn’t teach you how to live....

Now take my case. I’m twenty-nine and have two brothers—one in the Liberal Party and one serving six years for rape and arson. My sister Peg is on the streets and Dad lives off her earnings. Mum is pregnant by the boarder and because of this Dad won’t marry her. Last night I got engaged to an ex-prostitute and I wish to be fair to her: should I tell her about my brother in the Liberal Party.

Be not led into the wretchedness of right conduct.

The Glass Canoe. 1976

Never be ashamed of being Australian’ he’d say. ‘There’s plenty just as bad as you in the world. The Australian just wants to be left alone, he doesn’t want to hear nasty things or be bothered by politics, he’s not ambitious, he doesn’t want to much fun, look at the bar.

We started of in chains, we do our best when we are not pushed, we pay back a good turn, say no to authority and upstarts, we’re casual, we like makeshift things, were ingenious practical, self reliant, good in emergencies, think we are as good as anyone else in the world and sympathise with the underdog.

And on the bar, as at the edge of an ocean or the banks of a river, I saw empty rows of glasses being filled; those frail glasses men commit themselves to, some days floating calmly out into broad reaches of water between sympathetic shores and willows and friends and waving picnickers on the banks, and other days whipping dangerously around a sudden bend towards nervous shallows and sharp aggressive rocks.

And now and then, as they drank deeply, they saw in the bottom of the glass, not the face of a man they knew, but the monster that was within waiting and all to willing to be released.

Democracy is not for people who just want to be left alone, so long as they do what there told and don’t answer back. The key people in the democratic process are the critics, dissenters, reformers. If their sealed off from the political process, the system grows tired and sick, and turns into something else.

She’s not a bad little thing the Queen. I wish the sluts round here could hold their grog that well.




A Woman of the Future, 1979


It is a continent of dreams we inhabit, a waiting continent. All who have set foot in the bush, its lonely places, know the silence. The continent is dreaming. We have felt it and been afraid, and turned to trivial things, and retired to the outer rim as if to depart. Everyday the quiet tides darkness roll over us from the menacing interior…

They take refuge in tight settlements on the least inhospitable edge of the continent. The interior remains unsubdued and empty because they don’t know what to fill it with; they neither have the energy or the fierceness to subdue it….

I speak to you, because you will be the future citizens of whatever class. Where is your sense of achievement? Where is your sense of responsibility? You act if you must work because penalties await you if you don’t,you speak as if today was unbearable, and tomorrow will hopefully, not exist . You have no dream just a national sleep.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

A History Talks issue 3,Vol 1 by John Tognolini

Inspired by The History Channel's The People Speak. I’ve decided to make a regular weekly selection of quotations. This series was inspired by the production of The American The People Speak. Quotes are the primary sources of history. They are the flesh and blood of history. The selection below are from my own research. My quotes are not just on Australia but are from all over the world.

John Tognolini 6-1-2013

"We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend our rights and liberties"
– Oath taken by 500 miners on the Eureka goldfield, November 30, 1854

"The source of pauperism will be settled in Victoria by any quill-driver, who has the pluck to write the history of public-houses in town, and sly-grog shops sellers on the gold-fields."
"‘Your licence, mate,’ was the peremptory question from a six foot fellow in blue shirt, thick boots, the face of a ruffian armed with a carbine and a fixed bayonet. The old ‘all right’ being exchanged, I lost sight of that specimen of brutedom and his similars, called as I learned, ‘traps’ and ‘troopers’.
Inveterate murderers, audacious burglars, bloodthirsty bushrangers, were the ruling triumvirate, the scour of old Europe, called vandemonians, in this bullock-drivers’ land."
Raffaello Carboni 1820-1875
The Eureka Stockade Melbourne 1963

"At Melbourne, in a long veranda giving on a grass plot, where laughing jack-asses laugh very horribly, sit wool kings, premiers and breeders of horses after their kin"d. The older men talk of the Eureka Stockade, and the younger men talk of the ‘shearing wars’ in North Queensland, while the traveller moves timidly among them wondering what under the world every third word means."
Rudyard Kipling 1865-1936,

On the Melbourne Club, Letters of Travel (1892-1913) Kipling stayed at Melbourne Club in November 1891.

"By and by there was a result; and I think it may be called the finest thing in Australian history. It was a revolution-small in size,but great politically; it was a strike for liberty, a struggle for a principle, a stand against injustice and oppression. It was the Barons and John over again; it was Hampeden and Ship-Money; it was Concord and Lexington; small beginnings, all of them, but all of them great results, all of them epoch making.
It was another instance of a victory by a lost battle. It adds an honourable page to history; the people know it and proud of it. They keep green the memory of the men who fell at Eureka Stockade, and Peter Lalor and his monument."

Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] 1835-1910 Following the Equator 1897

"Lalor used to say that however rash and foolhardy his had been, it was one of which any honourable man might be proud. The mass-vote of later generations has been in overwhelming agreement."
Alan Geoffrey Serle 1922- The Golden Age 1963

[In November 1938 Port Kembla wharfies/dockers declined loading up 23,000 tons of pig-iron for Japan. There action was in solidarity with the Chinese who had been invaded and occupied by Japan. but were forced to by legislation drafted by the commonwealth/federal attorney general Robert Gordon Menzies. Darwin was bombed by Japan in 1942 and Menzies was nick named Pig Iron Bob.]
"I believe that the mount Kembla with the sturdy but peaceful and altogether disinterested attitude of the men concerned, will find a place in our history alongside the Eureka Stockade, with its more violent resistance of a less settled time, as a noble stand against executive Dictarship and against an attack on Australian Democracy."
Sir Isaac Issacs 1855-1948, first Australian to become governor-general, Australian Democracy and Our Colonial System 1939
On Law
The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common,
But lets the greater felon loose,
That steals the common from the goose.

What are laws but the expression of some class which has power over the rest of the community?
Thomas Babington Macauly, Baron Macaulay, 1830

The love of justice in most men is nothing more than the fear of suffering injustice.
Francois, Due de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, (1665)

Justice is like a train that's nearly always late.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, A Precious Autobiography (1963)

The only way to make the mass of mankind see the beauty of justice is by showing them in pretty plain terms the consequence of injustice.
Sydney Smith, quoted in Roads to Ruin, by E.S.Turner, (1950)

In any civilised society, a police force is a necessary evil, but some members of it are more evil than necessary.
Ken Buckley, President, Council of Civil Liberties, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 1969.

"I would like to know what business an honest man would have in the Police as it is an old saying it takes a rogue to catch a rogue..."
Ned Kelly, 'Jerilderie Letter', 1879, in Overland, No 84, 1981

"The law, in all its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges."
Anatole France, The Red Lily, (1894)
"I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn’t make it worse."
Brendan Behan

"To the right wing “law and order” is often just a code phrase, meaning “get the niggers”.To the left wing it often means political oppression."
Gore Vidal 1925-2012

"The law isn’t justice. It’s a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may also turn up in the answer."
Raymond Chandler 1888-1959, The Long Goodbye, (1953)
The Media

“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper.”
George Orwell
On World War Two
“The enemy is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on.”
“Sure there's a catch," Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

"That's some catch, that Catch-22," he observed.” 
Joseph Heller 1923-1999, Catch 22
They who are in folly or mere greed.
Enslaved by religion, market, laws.
Borrow our language now and bid.
Us to speak in freedom’s cause.
 It is the logic of our times.
No subject for immortal verse-
That we who live by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse
C.Day Lewis  1904-1972 Where Are The War Poets?
"World War II is not simply and purely a 'good war.' It was accompanied by too many atrocities on our side – too many bombings of civilian populations. There were too many betrayals of the principles for which the war was supposed to have been fought.

"Yes, World War II had a strong moral aspect to it – the defeat of fascism. But I deeply resent the way the so-called good war has been used to cast its glow over all the immoral wars we have fought in the past fifty years: in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Afghanistan. I certainly don't want our government to use the triumphal excitement surrounding World War II to cover up the horrors now taking place in Iraq.

"I don't want to honor military heroism – that conceals too much death and suffering. I want to honor those who all these years have opposed the horror of war."
Howard Zinn 1922-2010 Dissent at the War Memorial By Howard ZinnThe War On Terror

"Well, I think Australia should now grow up and stop being a junior ally, either to Britain - for years it was a junior ally to Britain. Australian Prime Ministers just mimicked the British. Now, they're doing the same as far as the United States is concerned and this is a country now which has lots and lots of young people from many different cultures and nationalities and it should just realise which part of the world it's in and settle down to it. Now, as far as the United States is concerned, you know, it's tempting to agree with you and say there are all these disasters happening. The American economy is on the decline. The war in Iraq has gone bad, the war in Afghanistan is getting even worse, and this is the end of America. It's not as simple as that. It isn't the end of America and it isn't the end of the American military industrial complex and America remains the world's most powerful militarised state, with a military budget that is 10 times more than the six countries after it put together and one just has to be aware of that. It's been written off before and it's also a world hegemony now with no rivals. You know, the notion that China is a serious military, political rival to the states is nonsense. It's an economic rival. That's absolutely true. The European Union isn't a rival so where is the treat to American hegemony coming from? I think it's overrated, this threat, and what will change the United States is not going to be defeats abroad, but what will change the United States is if there are movements of its own people within that country. That is what will bring about organic change so I hate to disappoint you. I wish I could agree with you but I can't."
On History

The importance of history to me was reinforced by the answer given from veteran journalist and film maker, John Pilger, to a question I asked him, on Friday March 7 2008. At a public meeting in Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney, at Australian acting icon, Jack Thompson’s when he owned the Gearin’s Hotel. John Tognolini

I asked him, “John you mentioned with Rudd, going through our Blair period, we are now. I remember in your book New Rulers of The World, how Blair modelled himself on Keating. I also remember at the Sydney Writers Festival, when Blair was elected a number of years ago now, you saying we were going through our Hawke/Keating period in Britain. It seems to recycle. I’m saying this as a history teacher and I’ve used your work on East Timor and many other things including Vietnam. A lot of [other] history teachers have as well.

How important is that struggle of memory? That you’ve really put forward.

Just seeing your film The War on Democracy, it took me back as someone who did solidarity with people of Chile, the people of El Salvador and of Nicaragua, and seeing people from Chile, who were in tears, who lived through it.

The whole thing to me, I’m looking at now, is let’s get rid of that history. It’s like journalism. The point you’ve made is that you can’t work as a journalist in Australia because Murdoch controls so much of the media here. He controls twenty five per cent of the world’s media. You talk about grass roots. How important do you see that struggle of history and memory? Because to me that’s what history is memory.

John’s answer was, “ Absolutely, for those people at the back, the gentleman who asked is a history teacher and boiling it down, he asked how important is memory in our understanding of events and acting on them.

Well it’s absolutely critical. Today it is more important than ever because as Time magazine once said, “We live in a time of eternal present.” Well they’d like to think we live in a time of eternal present. We don’t off course and all of us have memories, individual, collective but it is our political, even cultural memory, intellectual memory if you like, that is assaulted constantly.

We are asked to support wars abroad while the memory of the previous war that Australia has been involved in, time after time of any nation of its age in its modern era. We are asked to support these wars without understanding how the previous wars were begun. The idea of understanding Vietnam. How we got into Vietnam. How we were conned into Vietnam. How when we got into Vietnam it was a rather ignominious sacrifice of our own troops as well as of course the Vietnamese, because unknown to the Australian public, we  were doing some very, very dirty work for the Americans in Black Teams working for the CIA and so on and so forth. I mentioned earlier Australians being left by Rudd in the Green Zone, the Australian SAS. The same thing.

The Australian SAS was actually in Iraq. That’s been pretty well established if you read some of Tony Kevans’s work on this before the March invasion in 2003. Now that’s the extinguishing of memory. Because, if we understood, what a monstrous time Vietnam was. If we decode it, we strip away its clichés. If we take away the language of power, then we restore our own memory.

So it’s the old Orwellian thing. If we don’t understand the past, we will never understand the present and the future paraphrasing basically it was common sense. So much of the media is geared to preventing us understanding the past and drawing lessons from it.

On the positive side, I have to say that I’ve never known a time when public awareness about something going on. About insecurity, about wrongs happening in the world. I don’t think it has ever been as high as it has been today. So we mustn’t and I’m speaking for myself become obsessed with the media being this impenetrable obstacle to us finding out. It isn’t.

We’ve got a meeting like this tonight in Katoomba. There are plenty of books in the bookshop. The internet is full of some interesting journalism. We have people like yourself teaching and others but its drawing all this together. It’s never acting alone. It’s always acting together and sharing this information and that’s how you reclaim memory in my experience. It’s drawing in people with the experience of the past and describing the lessons we might draw then for the present and the future. All this is in a way all about intellectual and political direct action and that is where
politics in my view should be. It is about direct action. That direct action can happen against ALP just as it happens against the Coalition. It can be direct action against the media. Why should the media not be a target for direct action? ....