Floating Life 4/06 ~ 11/07

an archive

Archive for the ‘News and Current Affairs’ Category

Reckoning: The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush

Here are some extracts from a  Joseph E. Stiglitz article published in Vanity Fair two days ago.

When we look back someday at the catastrophe that was the Bush administration, we will think of many things: the tragedy of the Iraq war, the shame of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, the erosion of civil liberties. The damage done to the American economy does not make front-page headlines every day, but the repercussions will be felt beyond the lifetime of anyone reading this page.

I can hear an irritated counterthrust already. The president has not driven the United States into a recession during his almost seven years in office. Unemployment stands at a respectable 4.6 percent. Well, fine. But the other side of the ledger groans with distress: a tax code that has become hideously biased in favor of the rich; a national debt that will probably have grown 70 percent by the time this president leaves Washington; a swelling cascade of mortgage defaults; a record near-$850 billion trade deficit; oil prices that are higher than they have ever been; and a dollar so weak that for an American to buy a cup of coffee in London or Paris—or even the Yukon—becomes a venture in high finance. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 26, 2007 at 5:17 pm

Sirdan’s Sunday lunch

The Empress, E, Sirdan’s neighbour and I had our post-election Sunday lunch today. There was no weeping or gnashing of teeth.


The conversation did get around to a remarkable story that was front page news in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald even with that day’s election dominating: Lesson for the school of hard Knox, concerning the young man above.

IT TAKES a lot of guts at the best of times to stand in front of 1350 fellow students, 150 teachers and 600 parents in the school assembly hall and tell it as it is.

But when it involves accusing some of your year 12 classmates of being cheats, and fingering influential parents for bullying the school authorities into giving prestigious positions to undeserving sons, the effect can be nothing short of sensational.

Especially when the school is the well-respected North Shore institution Knox Grammar, which counts among its alumni the veteran broadcaster John Laws, Macquarie Bank chairman David Clarke, former editor of the satirical Oz magazine Richard Neville, Hugh Jackman and ethicist Simon Longstaff. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 25, 2007 at 3:59 pm

8.30pm: ABC computer delivers government to Kevin Rudd

Written by Neil

November 24, 2007 at 8:49 pm

Polling Day in Surry Hills

Just past 8am and the polling booths will have just opened for today’s election. There will be no surprises in Surry Hills where Labor is 100% sure to win. But nation-wide? There were those at last night’s meeting still saying “landslide to Labor” but it does seem it will be a very close thing.

I have to say I thought Noel Pearson’s dummy spit yesterday was impolitic. He could have saved that for after the election. I really wonder too whether he bothered to look beyond the campaigning hype (on both sides) at actual ALP policy on Reconciliation and Indigenous Affairs, particularly Constitutional Recognition Of Indigenous Australians. All he has done is tarnish his own reputation for a degree of balance and originality — for which I have up to now tended to respect him — and made life difficult for himself if Labor gets elected.

Here in Surry Hills it is a grey morning and the sound of crows fills the air. Is this ominous? If so, for whom? I go coaching in Chinatown shortly and will vote either on the way there or on the way home, depending on the crowds. Meanwhile I note, if this relates to anything, the relative readership figures for the past 21 hours on my blogs here at WP:
Read the rest of this entry »

Stand by me…

Yes I know this probably belongs on Oz Politics, but I can’t resist sharing it again here. I first posted the following back in July 2007 on Journalspace, where I think I may just go and say something about Cricket*. Been languishing, the old Journalspace blog, and it is rather pretty…

But after last night’s double act on Seven on Anna Coren’s show, this is quite poignant.

* Done!
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 20, 2007 at 9:15 am

Beth Yahp

I greatly admired Beth Yahp’s The Crocodile Fury (1992). I was interested to see Beth Yahp: Open letter to Abdullah Badawi is a top WordPress post today.

Dear Prime Minister Abdullah,

26 September 2007 saw two thousand lawyers “Walk for Justice” to defend the good name and protest the sliding standards of their profession. “When lawyers march,” said Ambiga Sreenevasan, President of the Bar Council, “something must be wrong.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 13, 2007 at 11:53 am

My South Sydney Herald piece

Inside the Whale

Former ABC Middle East correspondent Mark Willacy doesn’t just take you into the news or even behind the news. He takes you under the news – and I for one wanted to scream. Not at Willacy, but at the leaders of this world…

Mark Willacy will be at Politics in the Pub on Friday 23 November from 6 pm to 7.45 at the Gaelic Club, Level 1, 64 Devonshire St., Surry Hills (across from Chalmers St exit and Devonshire St tunnel at Central Station). Parking is usually available in side streets. Afterwards you may have dinner at the Royal Exhibition Hotel across the road.

Imagine this. “The 17-year-old was just a torso and a head. His legs had been blown away, and his stomach had been peeled open. He looked like the android from the movie Aliens after the alien queen has torn him in two with her stabbing, serrated tail.”

This was a suicide bomber. It is the first scene to confront Mark Willacy as he takes up his appointment as ABC correspondent in Jerusalem in 2002. It is the first paragraph in his recently published The View from the Valley of Hell: Four Years in the Middle East (Macmillan Australia 2007 $35rrp). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Neil

November 2, 2007 at 6:33 am