Not Saussure

February 9, 2007

Helping al-Qa’eda?

Filed under: Australia, Iraq, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 9:15 pm

Running a temperature probably doesn’t help, but I’ve been trying all day to get my aching head round this, without much success:

Anti-American feeling in Europe is playing into the hands of al-Qa’eda and unwittingly encouraging terrorism, Australia’s foreign minister said today.

Mr Downer gave warning that criticism of America’s conduct in Iraq could – inadvertently – provide an incentive for terrorist attacks.

“People in the West, and not only in Europe, blame America for a suicide bomber in a market in Baghdad,” he said.

“That only encourages more horrific behaviour. Every time there is an atrocity committed, it is implicitly America’s fault, so why not commit some more atrocities and put even more pressure on America?”

Mr Downer added: “The al-Qa’eda leadership has said on many occasions that more than 50 per cent of the battle is a battle in the media. The more you can get media denigration of America, the more that the war against terrorism is seen to be an indictment of America, the better for those who started this war.”

The article’s accompanied by a picture, captioned France’s Jacques Chirac and Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder both opposed the US-led war in Iraq in 2003, which shows both men laughing like drains about something or other, though we’re not actually told whether it’s the news of the latest bombing in Baghdad that’s causing them so much much merriment, or the news that Margaret Beckett was to be our Foreign Secretary or Tony’s little problems with the Old Bill, or what. (more…)


September 16, 2006

Language Problems

Filed under: Australia, civil liberties, Islam, Politics, Russia/USSR, War on Terror — notsaussure @ 3:25 pm

I learn from the Australian blog, Democracy Frontline, that

AUSTRALIA’S Islamic clerics have been told they must draw on the teachings of Islam to condemn terrorism, and preach in English.The federal Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Andrew Robb today called on more than 100 Australian imams and Muslim leaders attending a government-sponsored conference to denounce extremist misrepresentations of Islam.

Hmm. Does this mean they are only to be prevented from speaking to members of their congregations in the language of their choice while they’re preaching, or is the prohibition to be more wide-ranging?

I foresee problems; one can easily imagine circumstances in which several of the congregation, after the homily, explain to the Imam that they’re dreadfully sorry that their English isn’t better — no criticism of him whatsoever, they’re sure that he speaks perfect English — but, while they could understand he was condemning terrorism, they rather lost the detail of his argument, which they were sure was excellent, so we he mind summarising it in their mutual mother tongue. What’s the poor chap to do? Can he so do after the service in whatever a mosque’s equivalent of a vestry is, or do they have to go over the road to Starbuck’s? Or is he supposed to speak English at all times and in all circumstances?

That might be safest, and something similar’s been done before with some success, albeit temporary; a friend of mine from Barcelona recalls getting into great trouble as a child for speaking Catalan to his parents anywhere outside the house, since General Franco really didn’t like it and it could get his parents into all sorts of trouble if the wrong person heard.

Reminds me, for some reason, of a story I once heard from the landlord of a pub in Clerkenwell (I think it was The Green), the top room of which used to be hired by various shady foreign anarchist characters, including a Mr Trotsky, back in the early 1900s for their meetings and to edit their paper, Iskra. Special Branch got wind of this, particularly since they’d heard that some particularly important big-wig in this subversive movement, one Mr Lenin, was coming over from the Continent to see them. Accordingly, Special Branch arranged with the pub to conceal one of their finest in a cupboard in the room where the meeting was to take place, to take notes.

Unfortunately, they’d neglected to send an officer who understood Russian.

September 9, 2006

Stripper storm at climate meeting –

Filed under: Australia — notsaussure @ 6:37 pm

Strange; I had thought Sir Les Patterson was the Australian governent spokesman for the Yarts, but maybe he’s changed departments.

Stripper storm at climate meeting – National –
” Outraged scientists stormed out of a government-sponsored climate change conference dinner in Canberra last night, after female entertainers stripped down to their underwear as part of a burlesque show.

And one of the performers, who was covered in balloons, walked around the venue inviting scientists to burst parts of her costume….

The dinner was the social highlight of the 17th Australia New Zealand Climate Change Forum.

The three-day event at the Australian National University was sponsored by the Bureau of Rural Sciences at the federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Australian Greenhouse Office, an arm of the federal Department of the Environment and Heritage.

The Australian Research Council Research Network for Earth System Science (an education and government networking organisation) and the Managing Climate Variability R&D Program also sponsored the event.

“This is … supposed to be a gathering of scientists at a government-sponsored event in an already male-dominated industry where it is hard enough for a woman to make inroads,” the attendee told

“If this is the Australian Government and male-dominated scientific community’s idea of conference entertainment, God help us all.”


Representatives from the Australian Greenhouse Office were among those who walked out.

Department withdraws sponsorship

The deputy secretary of the Department of the Environment and Heritage, Howard Bamsey, said the department was withdrawing its sponsorship.

“The Department … considers the nature of the ‘entertainment’ to be highly inappropriate and we made our very strong concerns known to the conference organisers,” Mr Bamsey said.

Hat tip: Boing Boing

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