From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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Visioning the change-embracing global city, going forwards

12 October 2009

Every now and then something really spiffy slips anonymously into the Werrong Investigations PO Box. Last week I opened one of those padded bags and out dropped a CD folded in a sheet of A4 paper on which was printed “Recorded this at caucus meeting yesterday. Thought you’d be amused. Thinking of jumping ship and running as independent.” I popped the CD in the Mac and turned up the sound. At first there was just a buzz of indecipherable grumbling and the sound of chairs scraping around. Then somebody cleared their throat a few times and tapped on a table with pen and a voice said “Bit of shush please!” The background noise died down.

Voice (sounds like Nathan Rees): Good morning troops, thanks for coming. I suppose you’re wondering why I’ve gathered you all together. As you might have noticed, things aren’t travelling too well, public support-wise. We need to re-engineer our message, so I’ve asked the good folks from Spin Systems to give us a hand with that. This is Warren and Kylie. They’ve also been helping us on the CBD Metro. Over to them.

Warren: Morning everyone. Let me begin by articulating what I think you’ve all intuited: electorate-wise the government is staring down an expectation-reality mismatch.

Voice: Sorry, do you mean that the punters think we’ve let them down?

Warren: No, no. While we at SS think customer focus is a critical commitment, we had in mind that what you call the, ah, voters need to come on board with the vision and embrace the global future.

Kylie: there’s too much negativity out there. As a critical success factor these people need to get on the team. Your mission is to get them to achieve closure with the past and go forwards building a nimble change-embracing culture with a core commitment to contestability. Unless you can achieve this outcome, the human resource base will let the whole team down.

Voice: You’re talking about working famblies? What are we supposed to call them?

Warren: Stakeholders.

Kylie: Let me talk you through this by visioning where we’re progressing with the most exciting project we’re asking the stakeholders to engage with – the CBD Metro. This is mission-critical infrastructure for Sydney as a global city, going forwards into the century.

Voice: But for $3.5 billion it doesn’t actually go anywhere.

Kylie: It’s an enabler, an energiser, a catalyst, a change driver. It’s an iconic symbol of our commitment to make Sydney a global player, leveraging Pacific regional synergies to optimise future development potential. Metro has the proven ability to move more people more quickly than any other form of public transport, be it bus, light rail, heavy rail or ferry.

Voice: Yeah, yeah. But only if it runs every two minutes and only if it actually goes somewhere. It’s gunna be useless unless we spend about ten billion more so it actually goes somewhere. Why did we cancel the rail projects out in the west?

Nathan: Well, that wasn’t me … I mean us … that was Mick Costa and Morris … and Joe … ah, is Joe here?

Voice: Gave his apologies. He’s busy on Greenfield development opportunities with Sam and Kristina.

Nathan: With metro we had a watershed moment to seize a window of opportunity but be assured that Les and Rodd and the boys at Sydney Metro are working to an action plan with an aggressive timeline.

Voice: What’s a ‘global city’, anyway?

Kylie: It’s city with a metro. Metro is lean, aggressive and focused. Over the longer term we’ll grow metro into a vibrant network and deliver exciting rail outcomes to many suburbs for the first time.

Voice: How many suburbs?

Kylie: Well, on a five-year time horizon there’s Rozelle and Pyrmont and …

Voice: Pyrmont? The natives there, sorry stakeholders, are pretty pissed off about the way you’re going to gut Union Square.

Warren: Look, you’ve got to think outside the square. Those old asset structures have a significant capability gap in terms of value-adding Casino-focused retail capacity for the global future.

Kylie: We’re interfacing with Sam Haddad about Union Square … and Rozelle … can you bring up the Sydney Metro Master Planning and Urban Design Map for Rozelle please Warren? Thanks. You’ll notice here on the plan most of Rozelle on the Callan Park side is all a quote, potential development site, unquote, and notice it’s quote, not constrained by heritage listing, unquote. So, going forwards, we’re looking at project facilitation to deliver an exciting context-sensitive bus-metro interchange precinct with retail growth opportunity as a key deliverable.

Voice: You’re joking. How the fuck am I going to sell that to the vot … sorry stakeholders?

Warren: That’s the challenge, Verity, getting all the ducks in a row, and SS are here to partner you. It’s a question of cascading the vision by chunking and sequencing information for optimum digestion. The bottom line is the vot … ah, stakeholders, gotta become committed team players dedicated to achieving positive economic outcomes, major corporate benefits, and ah, of course, environmental sustainability, going for …

Warren’s next words are lost in a rising babble of voices, crumpling of papers and scraping of chairs, but, after a bit of fiddling and enhancing I think I can make out Nathan asking “Does Spin Systems do personal exit strategies?”