Civil libertarians around the country have condemned my new anti-crime gang laws aimed at outlaw bikie gangs. Defence lawyers and pseudo-academics have lined up to tell the public that the bikie gangs are a harmless sub-culture comprised of grandparents who simply like a ride on big bikes.
Following the passing of our most recent law, we’ve seen demonstrations by hundreds of bikies from around the country converging on Adelaide in so-called “Freedom Rides”, an insulting reprise of the civil rights movement in the US.
But for outlaw motorcycle gangs, it’s a different kind of freedom.
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In 1991 I stood in a museum in Cambodia staring at a row of photos of people who’d been tortured and killed by the Khmer Rouge. I was a young journalist sent there to report on the United Nations arriving in Cambodia to set up democratic elections.
I dutifully took myself off to Tuol Sleng the former school where the Khmer Rouge tortured a bizarre array of people they thought were subverting their regime. No-one visits that museum without emerging horrified by the human capacity for irrational brutality. I wrote an article for the Sydney Morning Herald about my experience. Confident I’d broken new ground in feature writing, I asked a senior foreign correspondent what he thought of my effort. He told me: “Shallow and self indulgent.”
Moral outrage comes cheap.
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Coffee snobbery is getting out of control. The other night my request for a dash of milk in a post-meal espresso at a hip new eatery drew a firm shake of the head. “We do not have milk,” the French owner sniffed. She didn’t mean they’d run out - they simply don’t serve milk with coffee. Not a drop.
Much like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, eatery owner Catherine Chauchat sets high standards for her patrons. Her chalkboard menu vetoes soft drink, and a cup of any tea other than obscure herbal digestives is out of the question.
And you can bet if she ever puts steak on the peasant-style menu, eaters won’t have the option of it served well done.
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Cricket’s foremost nineteenth century moralist the Reverend James Pycroft published his famous treatise The Cricket Field in 1851. He recalled a shocking chapter in the game’s history – the presence of bookmakers at cricket matches:
“They had all sorts of tricks to make their betting safe. ‘One artifice,’ said Mr. Ward, ‘was to keep a player out of the way by a false report that his wife was dead.’”
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October last year was the beginning of a bikie war and my introduction to the characters of Sydney’s underworld. My assignment: the funeral of Notorious crime gang member and former Nomad bikie Todd O’Connor at St Mary’s Cathedral.
Along with a small media pack, I took up a close-in position for the arrivals, soon finding out that we were not welcome with a family member performing a one-finger salute. As the service began I managed to get some shots from the back of the cathedral of the coffin in place with O’Connor’s mother to the side, sitting wheelchair-bound.
After capturing a few frames, we waited outside till the coffin was carried out, usually the time of highest emotion. For this funeral, emotions lead to threats of violence. The Notorious foot soldiers formed a protective ring around the mourning family, facing up to the photographers, and hitting one snapper in the back. I repositioned to the other side of the road enabling a few frames of Kings Cross identity John Ibrahim surrounded by his men…
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To walk the Kokoda Trail is increasingly becoming one of life’s big ‘must do’ experiences. But if you’re thinking of taking it on as an extreme endurance sport or wilderness adventure, then think again.
While it is all of these things, it is not the reason to trek down to your wilderness store and max out your credit card. The Kokoda Trail is a memorial pilgrimage on sacred ground.
On Anzac Day this year, federal Labor MP Jason Clare and I crossed the political aisle to walk the trail. We called our six and half days of pain, the Kokoda Mateship Trek.
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Check her out. You know who I’m talking about! Blake Lively (the golden girl, far right) has taken over our small screens with one dramatic sweep of those blonde locks, a soft ka-boom of her hips, and now seems to be intent on taking over her cast members if that outfit is anything to go by.
The show, in case you’ve been living under a rock, is Gossip Girl. 2009’s answer for women experiencing Sex and the City withdrawals. Even though the majority of the cast are in high school and are impossibly beautiful, rich, impeccably dressed in designer duds, and not relatable whatsoever, it’s completely addictive viewing. What started out as an internet series is now a worldwide phenomenon and Blake Lively, who plays most popular girl in school, Serena van der Woodsen, rocketed to instant pin-up girl stardom.
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PIGS might fly. At least that’s what many Australians believe their chances are of being struck down by swine flu.
Epidemics have a habit of incubating fear and panic. But in cyberspace many people are just getting sick of what they perceive as excessive hype over the swine flu.
While health authorities have been issuing warnings about health and hygiene practices, quarantining suspected flu carriers and closing schools, the measures have been met with skepticism by bloggers to major Australian news forums.
There is a widely-held belief coming through online comments that Australian authorities are over-reacting to the seriousness of the influenza.
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ONE of the best columns of the year to date was this week’s hilarious, bang-on rant by former foreign minister Alexander Downer, who used his regular spot in Adelaide’s The Advertiser to get 11 years’ worth of fury off his chest about our more half-witted countrymen and women who get into scrapes overseas.
Under the pithy headline “Idiot Aussies: Grow up and take responsibility”, Downer condensed more than a decade’s worth of rage into a searing piece which dealt with everything from the taxpayer-funded exodus from Lebanon, to claims of Canberra’s neglect of convicted drug dealers such as the Bali Nine, and Schapelle Corby, who stars in the above YouTube video urging her release.
Downer used as his starting point Melbourne’s so-called “Beer Mat Mum” who, having been jailed for stealing a Singha-sodden terry-towelling mat from some Thai dive bar, is surely just as compelling a bogan pin-up as the chk-chk-boom girl.
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I like Cate’s economic thinking here:
She ... mentioned the loss of agricultural and tourism industry jobs, adding: “We have the ability to kick start the low carbon economies of the future right when we need to, and that’s now.”
Changing the traditional drivers of economic production is something that I reckon will be fundamental to bringing about serious reductions in carbon emissions across the economy. Agriculture and heavy industry cannot continue in their current form, but making anything happen is going to take enormous will from politicians and consumers, open-mindedness from workers on new opportunities from innovation, and also support from government for workers making a transition between jobs.
On the other hand, I can’t say I agree with Cate on this:
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