Right Thinking From The Left Coast
I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have. - Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Shooting Down Under
by Lee

One again the Aussies take no fucking shit.

Fighter jets and Black Hawk helicopters will have the power to shoot down suspect aircraft during next year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.

Police Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon has revealed plans for a 46-mile no-fly zone to safeguard the games from a Sept. 11-style terror attack.

FA-18 Hornets and choppers will circle the city as 81,000 people—including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and political leaders from around the world—celebrate the opening and closing ceremonies, the Melbourne Herald reported.

Nixon said new legislation would authorize military jets to destroy unidentified planes that ignored repeated requests to turn away.

“It won’t be something that people will have a half-hour discussion about,” she said. “The pilots involved, the control staff involved will know exactly what would have to be done in those circumstances.”

Absolutely.  You have to be prepared for any contingency, and you have to have the will to act should the situation warrant it.

Posted by Lee on 12/06/05 at 09:47 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, December 01, 2005

I Want A New Drug
by Lee

And on the same day we hit lucky 1,000 the Singapore government will be executing this guy.

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Thursday the execution of a convicted Australian drug smuggler will go ahead as planned at dawn on Friday.

“We have stated our position clearly,” Lee said in answer to a question after meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “The penalty is death.”

Australia been lobbying for months to stop the execution of 25-year-old heroin trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van, who received a mandatory death sentence after he was caught in 2002 at Singapore’s Changi Airport on his way home to Melbourne carrying nearly 14 ounces of heroin.

Earlier Thursday, Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock called it “a most unfortunate, barbaric act that is occurring.”

Ruddock criticized the imposition of the death penalty, especially in Nguyen’s case which he said had mitigating circumstances—Nguyen said he smuggled the drugs to try and pay off loan-shark debt for his brother in Australia.

Asked about the comment, Lee would only say that “the Australian press is colorful.”

Lee emphasized that all factors, including Australian letters for clemency, had been “taken into account” but said that “the law will have to take its course.”

He said had the drugs gotten into circulation they would have caused misery for thousands of people, and said his country had to uphold the rule of law “with impartiality for Singaporeans and foreigners alike.”

Look, I have to side with Singapore on this one.  When you walk through Changi airport they have signs reminding you that drug trafficking is a capital offense in Singapore.  In customs they have signs all over the place.  It is absolutely impossible to enter Singapore and not, at some time, be aware that drug smuggling could get you executed.  Singapore is a law-abiding country, with a solid court system.  They’re not some third world backwater in any sense of the word.  They’ve determined that the penalty for drug smuggling should be death, this guy broke their law, and now he’s going to pay the price for it.  If you don’t want to suffer the punishment for breaking another country’s laws, there are two simply solutions: don’t go there, or don’t break the law.

Posted by Lee on 12/01/05 at 08:17 AM in Down Under  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, October 13, 2005

AFL-C Ya Later
by Lee

Right now Gov. Schwarzenegger is engaged in an epic battle to try and reduce the power of bloodsucking labor unions, who have a sweetheart deal under existing law, costing the state billions of dollars.  Down in Australia, John Howard has much the same idea.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard introduced legislation Monday to reduce the power of unions and give the government the power to break many strikes.

WorkChoices would give the minister for workplace relations the ability to end strikes that pose a threat to public safety or the economy, The Australian said. Employers would also have greater power to challenge strikes in court.

Howard argued that the changes would reduce unemployment and give the economy a boost.

“I can look the workforce of Australia in the eye tonight and say, ‘Look at what has happened under my prime ministership over the last 9 1/2 years,’” he said.

Unions would have more difficulty organizing job actions, with regulations requiring that strike votes be run by the Australian Electoral Commission.

I love it.  The union movement is under siege the world over, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Posted by Lee on 10/13/05 at 04:37 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Skippy the Bush Burger
by Lee

I went to the Royal Melbourne Show a couple of days ago.  It’s more or less the Aussie version of a State Fair, but cooler because they have show bags.  The really noteworthy thing I wanted to blog on was that I actually ate a kangaroo burger.  That’s right, it was a half pound of ground farm-raised red kangaroo.

Absolutely delicious.  Seriously, I loved it.  If you ever get the chance I highly recommend it.

Never let it be said that I won’t eat anything once.

Posted by Lee on 09/25/05 at 08:46 AM in Down Under  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Keep Australia Safe
by Lee

Australia has created a National Security campaign, which you see on TV and on bus stops here.  They’ve got the TV ad posted on their website, which you can see by clicking here.  This is a great campaign, it seems perfectly reasonable to me.  And if it had been shown in the US, people would accuse Bush of being a paranoid fascist playing off people’s fears of terrorism to institute a police state and enrich corporations or some other such nonsense. I’m sure there’s been criticism of the government for these ads (this is politics, after all) but I wish that some of the terrorism messages that our government put out to the public were as reasonable as this one.  I just found it really impressive.

Posted by Lee on 09/22/05 at 07:31 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Down Under 2
by Lee

I managed to catch a few minutes of an interview yesterday with Aussie PM John Howard.  As I’ve said a million times, I’m a big fan of Howard, have been for years, and this interview really showed why.  It was a polite but adversarial interview during Howard’s recent attendance at the UN stroke fest in New York.  The interviewer was trying to pin Howard down on his refusal thus far to commit to the UN’s so-called Millennium Project, where developed nations pledge to devote 0.7% of GDP to wipe out poverty or whatever other sinkhole charity project the UN has lined up.  Howard masterfully refused to take the bait, stating repeatedly that the UN is a necessary operation and does good work through Unicef and other organizations, but that its goals of wiping out poverty are rather ludicrous.  Howard favors improving trade with impoverished nations, pointing to the growth in South East Asia over the past 20 years as a shining example of how trade can make poor people wealthy.  When the interviewer pointed out that the Yanks still hadn’t ponied up to the 0.7%, Howard said something to the effect that the Yanks never get credit for anything they do because the world has such high expectations for them, and those expectations can never be met.  In terms of real dollars the US gives more than any other nations, but by expressing the goal as a percentage of GDP he UN places the onus on the US for giving more.

I wish I could remember more of the specifics, but the overall message of “trade not aid” really struck with me as its one of my fundamental beliefs.  Simply pouring money into the UN sinkhole is not the way to solve the world’s problems.  Howard knows it, Bush knows it, and I know it.  I like ‘em. 

I just wish that Bush was as adept at verbally sparring with the press as Howard is.  The men both have similar beliefs on the role of the UN, the impotence of that organization when it comes to issues like terrorism, and on the importance of sponsoring global free trade.  Howard can sit down in an interview and clearly elaborate his views, very much like Reagan was able to.  Bush just hasn’t got the chops and would get crucified.

Posted by Lee on 09/20/05 at 09:06 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, September 16, 2005

Down Under 1
by Lee

Well, it’s been a fun few days so far.  Good catching up with the family.  Man is it fucking COLD down here!  It’s about 49˚ here, and I’m about to leave to go watch my cousin play in his football finals.  (That’s “footy,” Aussie rules football.  See here to learn more.)

We’ve got plenty of fun activities planned for the rest of the week, BBQs and the like.  All in all it’s been quite restful and welcome respite from the usual disaster that is my workaday life.

Posted by Lee on 09/16/05 at 07:26 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hooligan’s Holiday
by Lee

And now a report from the “What the fuck were they thinking?” file.

VIOLENT criminals were given a taxpayer-funded skiing holiday this week.

Three inmates from Malmsbury Juvenile Justice Centre spent Tuesday and Wednesday skiing at Mt Stirling in Victoria’s high country.
Prisoners involved included Dang Pham, 20, who was locked up for his role in two stabbings.

Pham was one of a group who a judge said “mercilessly” bashed a man unconscious in a cafe, then stabbed in the liver another man who intervened.

While on bail for the first attack, Pham held a man while he was stabbed by an associate in a fight over a bottle of fish sauce.

But this week Pham frolicked in the snow, four months after a County Court judge sentenced him to three years in Malmsbury.

And what was the logic behind the trip?

The holiday group, accompanied by three chaperones, began a cross-country adventure on Tuesday, skiing for about 6km before setting up camp in a hut 5km from Mt Stirling. One chaperone said the prisoners camped metres from a group of unsuspecting female holidayers.

Malmsbury’s annual ski jaunt was part of a reward scheme that has provided inmates with perks, prison officers said.

Inmates have been given leave from jail to go deep-sea fishing, horse-riding and sailing, as well as on regular cinema and ten-pin bowling excursions, the officers said.

Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote, “A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals.” I ever plan on committing a violent crime, I’ll be sure to do it in Australia.  I haven’t been skiing in years.

Posted by Lee on 08/21/05 at 03:34 PM in Down Under  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Thus Spake Howie
by Lee

Once again I must restate my unwavering admiration for Aussie PM John Howard.

PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don’t want to add to what the prime minister has said. It’s a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it’s given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia’s involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn’t have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq—a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations—when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don’t know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can’t put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I’ve cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. (Laughter.)

What a great response.  And the only thing the anti-war left can come up with is “It’s all about the oil,” “No War,” or “Bush = Hitler.”

Posted by Lee on 07/21/05 at 06:07 PM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Help On the Way
by Lee

He may look like a dork, like our president, and he may sound like a dork, like our president, but just like our president, John Howard’s got some fucking balls.

Australia is to send 150 special forces troops to Afghanistan by September to help counter increasing rebel attacks.

Prime Minister John Howard said the deployment would begin in the run-up to Afghanistan’s parliamentary elections and would last 12 months. … The decision to send soldiers back followed requests for support from the Afghan government, Britain and the US.

“It’s fair to say that the progress that’s been made in the establishment of a legitimate government in Afghanistan has come under increasing attack and pressure from the Taleban in particular and some elements of al-Qaeda,” Mr Howard told reporters.

He said Canberra would also consider dispatching to Afghanistan up to 200 soldiers as part of a reconstruction team early in 2006.

About one of the most unpopular things any leader in the world can do right now is appear to be on the same side as George Bush.  So the fact that Howard is willing to send some bad-ass ASAS guys up to fight side-by-side with our toughest nail-eating bastards shows that he’s got the stones to do what he thinks is right, just like Blair and Bush.

Posted by Lee on 07/13/05 at 03:01 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Wooden Objects
by Lee

It’s time for another ban in Australia.

A TEENAGER and two men have been seriously assaulted by gatecrashers at a birthday party in Sydney’s northwest overnight.

Police said they were called to a house in Maroota at 11.15pm (AEST).

Several uninvited men with wooden objects had turned up and allegedly assaulted party guests before leaving.

A 20-year-old man was airlifted to Westmead Hospital with suspected spinal injuries. He was understood to be in a serious condition today.

Police said a 21-year-old man, with head injuries, two broken hands and possibly a broken leg, was in a stable condition in Penrith hospital.

They said ambulance officers treated a 17-year-old woman at the scene for a badly sprained ankle.

Local politicians and civic leaders immediately called for a nationwide ban on wooden objects.  “Too many times we have seen our young people fall victim to the scourge of wooden objects,” said Sydney Police Chief Arthur Pong.  “Only when Australia is free of these implements of death and violence will we truly be safe.  Do we want to end up like America, where tens of thousands of people die every year from attacks by wooden objects?  The Yanks might love to live in a society awash with the blood of the innocent victims of wooden objects, but I think we can do better in Australia.”

Posted by Lee on 06/25/05 at 05:00 PM in Down Under  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, May 27, 2005

Indonesian Railroad
by Lee

Following up on this post, an Indonesian court has found Schapelle Corby guilty of drug smuggling and sentenced her to 20 years.

An Indonesian court sentenced a young Australian beauty therapist to 20 years in jail on Friday for smuggling 4.1 kg (9 lb) of marijuana into the holiday island of Bali in a case that has transfixed Australia.

Lawyers for Schapelle Corby, 27, said they would appeal the verdict, which triggered outrage from her family and thrust Bali under the spotlight with Indonesia’s police chief labelling it a hub for international drug trafficking syndicates.

“The panel of judges declares the defendant legally and convincingly guilty of the crime of illegal importation of narcotics,” chief judge Linton Sirait told a hearing that was watched live in Australia.

As soon as Sirait read the verdict, Corby’s mother, Rosleigh Rose, shouted at the three judges on the panel: “Liar, liar. Honey, we are going to take you home.”

Wearing pink trousers and a black blouse, an emotional Corby turned to her mother and pleaded with her to calm down. “Mum, stop, it’s okay,” she cried, holding her hand up in a motion for her mother to stop yelling.

Standing for the verdict and occasionally slapping her forehead with her palm in grief, Corby kept mouthing the word “20” in Indonesian, clearly stunned by the sentence. She shook off the arm of a court official who appeared to want to calm her as she was on the verge of breaking down.

Then there was this.

The trial has gripped Australia, which enjoyed a period of warm relations with its giant neighbour after years of rockiness.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said he did not believe the case would damage ties.

Horeshit.  If there is anything that should damage ties it is something like this.  If I was John Howard I’d send a team of Australian SAS commandos in to break her out of prison.

Posted by Lee on 05/27/05 at 02:24 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, April 25, 2005

Gallipoli
by Lee

As a dual-citizen Australian American, I am aware of certain holidays and events of which my Northern Hemisphere countrymen might not be familiar.  This is one of them.  Today is ANZAC Day, Australia’s version of Veteran’s Day.  If you’re not familiar with the story behind the event, Tim Blair has a great wrap-up.  If you want a story of courage and honor in the face of certain death, this one is hard to beat. 

Australia is the only country that has fought with the United States in every major conflict since WWII.  Take a moment, read about the incident of the Diggers storming the beaches at Gallipoli, and honor their sacrifice.

Posted by Lee on 04/25/05 at 01:37 AM in Down Under  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Living Death
by Lee

My mom called me from Australia a little while ago, and during the conversation she asked me if I had heard the news about the kids who were caught smuggling heroin.  I told her I hadn’t heard a peep, and since it’s front page news down there she filled me in on the details.

Before we begin, here’s a little background.  For those of you who have never been to that part of the world, drug smuggling in much of Asia is punishable by death.  When you land in Indonesia or Malaysia, for example, your customs declaration form tells you, in big red letters, that drug smuggling is a capital offense.  They also have signs in the airport, in case you didn’t get the message the first time.  It would be virtually impossible for you to make it through the airport and out into the city without having been warned.

Indonesia is a popular holiday spot for Austsralians.  It’s cheap and there are a lot of beaches, sort of what going to Mexico is to the US.  A girl named Schapelle Corby went there for a holiday, taking her boogie board with her.  When she got to customs in Indonesia she discovered that the bag her board was in was full of marijuana.  Now, taking marijuana to Indonesia would be as stupid as taking it to Mexico.  You might take in a joint or two, but nobody would smuggle pounds of drugs into Indonesia, there’s just no reason.  So, she was arrested, and is currently on trial.  The prosecutors have decided that, if she is found guilty, she will not be executed, but will spend the rest of her life in prison.  I honestly can’t say which I would choose, death or spending the rest of my life in an Indonesian prison.

Mom believes that Schapelle is innocent.  The problem is that she doesn’t have anything in the way of a defense, except to say, “It’s not mine.” As you can imagine this has been huge news, especially since Australia has no death penalty.  Now, in light of the fact that the Corby case has been so prominent in the public eye, it makes these nine idiots all the more gobsmackingly stupid.  They were caught in Indonesia with heroin taped to their bodies, Midnight Express-style.  They were trying to smuggle it out of Indonesia back to Australia.  Knowing that the Indonesian government can, will, and has executed people for drug smuggling, is there any amount of money in the world that would warrant taking that kind of risk?

Schapelle Corby might be innocent, but these other nine morons are screwed.  They literally had their death sentences taped to their bodies.  Unbelievable.

Posted by Lee on 04/21/05 at 02:20 AM in Down Under  • (2) TrackbacksPermalink

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

MC Hammer
by Lee

Stop… Hammer Time!

A BRISBANE man faces a charge of attempted murder after allegedly hitting another man with a hammer.
Police said the 62-year-old man went into a house in West Cleveland and struck the 69-year-male occupant several times with a hammer about 5.30am (AEST) yesterday.

The Greenslopes man was charged with attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, intent to cause grievous bodily arm and entering a dwelling with intent.

He will appear in Cleveland Magistrates Court this morning.

Considering Australia’s knee-jerk propensity to immediately ban anything that is ever used as a weapon by anyone ever under any circumstances, I expect the Hammer Control and Violence Prevention Act to be introduced in parliament sometime tomorrow morning.

Posted by Lee on 04/06/05 at 04:39 PM in Down Under  • (1) TrackbacksPermalink
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