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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Petrol at $1.20 a litre? Say goodbye to all that

27 February 2007

The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.
Sir Edward Grey, British foreign Secretary, watching the street lamps being lit in London, on the eve of World War I.

It was raining when I drove through Newtown late on Sunday afternoon. King Street was teeming with people from the Soundwaves concert in Sydney Park and the cafes and pubs were full of laughter. Soon the street lights would come on and the restaurants would start filling up and the neon signs would lend a tawdry glamour to the old town.

It will look like this on the streets of Tehran just before the American blitz starts. They say Iran is a beautiful place, but bright lights will probably not burn there for many years, and the country, like Iraq before it, will be poisoned by radiation from DU munitions, if not actual nuclear bombs, for thousands of years to come.

Some people say George Bush is only bluffing, but what will he do if the Iranians keep calling his bluff? He has no soldiers left to invade and occupy them, so he can only try to bomb them back to the Stone Age.

If that happens we can probably write off the Australian contingent in the South of Iraq. In the slugging match between the US Coalition and the vast Iranian army and its Iraqi Shiite allies, our piddling little bunch and the beleaguered British forces on which they depended for air and artillery support would go at a discount. There’d be a savage irony to that because Howard thought he was keeping them out of harm’s way by basing them in the south. The last thing he wanted was the electoral liability of diggers coming home in boxes … even if they were volunteers.

A military disaster would doom the Howard government, but most Australians wouldn’t be thinking about our hapless soldiers, they’d be frantic about the price of petrol – if they could get it at all.

World oil production is flatlining but demand is heading north. Peak oil is starting to bite. Soon the decline will set in. Everybody in the business of buying crude oil knows there just ain’t any spare capacity.

In this environment, if Mad King George orders a US attack on Iran, or if the crazy-mad Israeli Zionists go in first and drag the Yanks behind them, there’ll be global mayhem. The price of oil will go through the roof. Forget $60 a barrel, or even $75, like it was a few months ago, we’ll be glad to pay $150 a barrel, if we can get the stuff at all.

That’ll translate to rationing and petrol way over two bucks a litre at the pump. Filling up the car whenever you want? Petrol at $1.20 a litre? Say goodbye to all that.

It’s not that Iran itself produces a big proportion of the world’s oil. Of the roughly 80 million barrels consumed each day, Iran contributes only a couple of million. But take that capacity out of the system and it’s disaster time.

Don’t take this possum’s word for it, Take Dr Samsam Bakhtiari’s. The man is a senior expert of the National Iranian Oil Company and an advisor to the UK’s Oil Depletion Analysis Centre. In July last year he said this to a Senate committee in Canberra:

“What would be impacting heavily on the price is the psychological impact of any geopolitical happening, whether in the Persian Gulf or in South-East Asia. Because … the slightest impact geopolitically will have enormous consequences. If you had in Saudi Arabia, for example, or anywhere else, some two million to three million barrels of spare capacity—that you usually had before—then people would not be so worried about this geopolitical impact. But you do not have spare capacity anymore. I do not believe the Saudis have any spare capacity today, although they say they have a million or one-and-a-half million barrels. They have no spare capacity. Nobody, in my opinion—neither OPEC, nor non-OPEC, nor the Russians, nor the Saudis—has any spare capacity. It would have an enormous impact. The price could go anywhere.”

And then, of course, a war against Iran would close the Straits of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, to shipping, and 17 million barrels of oil a day pass through the straits. The only alternatives are a couple of pipelines, but these would probably be knocked out in the first few days of the fighting. And the war could drag on, embroiling the Chinese and Russians who are Iranian allies.

All this is a long way from the average punter’s thoughts. Prices have gone up and then come down a bit, there’s been some pain, but on the whole, most people think it can be managed. They think that something will come up, some alternative fuel or something, that’ll solve the problem. They don’t have a clue how massive the underlying problem is.

How can you blame them? After all, the mainstream media and ninety-five per cent of the politicians are positively hostile to any discussion of peak. As Dr Bakhtiari told the Senate committee:

“Nobody likes the idea of peak oil. Firstly, you have the politicians. Naturally, a politician will never say that there is such a thing as peak oil. It is suicide to give bad news so a politician will never do that. He will always say, ‘The International Energy Agency says that we will be having 118 million barrels in 2030 so why worry?’

“Secondly, you have the media. The media does not like peak oil. Why? There is no sponsorship for peak oil. The oil companies do not like peak oil because you should not say that your soup is cold; you should always say that it is very hot and very tasty, yes? So nobody wants to hear of this phenomenon.”


Use your brain Morris, take the train
Oil’s inexorable decline must drive Sydney public transport reforms


29 September 2005
Possum News Network

History will record that the Carr Government’s greatest failure was that it squandered the opportunity to make timely preparations for “peak oil”. Few Australians are familiar with this phenomena, but its ramifications will seep into every aspect of political and social life in the coming years.

For a whole decade state cabinet ignored a sincere and increasingly strident warning from oil industry experts: the maximum possible level of world oil production was imminent and would be followed by inexorable decline. It remains to be seen whether the Iemma cabinet will face the issue squarely or remain in denial. ...