Friday 28 August 2009

The Age's History lessons

It is reassuring to notice that sometimes a reader manages to correct a few of The Age's errors, caused by the ignorance of the journalists in charge. Of course I do not accuse them of a biased film review, when it is sheer stupidity.

Middle Park resident Robert H.’s letter to the editor was published today:

History lesson
WHEN I go to see The Young Victoria I hope to find that the filmmakers have achieved better historical accuracy than is implied in Jim Schembri's review (The Age, 27/8). King William was not Victoria's ''father'' but her uncle.
Prince Albert was not ''Belgian'' but German. To say that Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent, tried ''thwarting her, if only for her own good'' sanitises a malodorous episode: the Duchess, bitter that her husband's death prevented her from becoming queen, set out, in league with the evil Sir John Conroy, to promote herself as the obvious choice for regent should William die before Victoria reached 18. There is some evidence that the Duchess' first move, as regent, would have been to have Victoria declared insane, a la George III.

One may wonder why the editor chose the headline "History lesson" when it is so obvious that none of the editorial staff either had any or are interested in receiving any history lessons.

If you want to read the rather shallow review by Jim Schembri, click here. The Age kept the faulty piece of journalism online and changed only the most obvious mistake (King William IV being Victoria's father instead of being her uncle, but Prince Albert remains “her long-distance Belgian suitor”).

The mistake was not corrected in today's edition of the Entertainment Guide, where on page 5 it is still claimed that Victoria took "over from her father, King William". Never trust anything you read in The Age.

Thursday 27 August 2009

Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka of Tonga has been visiting Australia

ADF reported on a Royal visit:
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Tupouto'a Lavaka of Tonga and his Chief of Defence Services visited the ARMY ABORIGINAL COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (AACAP) in Mapoon, Queensland today (27th August) to view the works being conducted by ten Tongan Defence Personnel who are attached as part of the AACAP Contingent.

Lieutenant Chris Thompson (right) shows His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Tonga Tupouto'a Lavaka (left) and Brigadier Jeff Sengelman (centre) around a vertical construction site at the AACAP in Mapoon, QLD.

His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Tonga Tupouto'a Lavaka and Chief of Tongan Defence Services Brigadier Tau'aika Uta'atu, with Engineering Trainees and their Australian Army Mentors at the AACAP in Mapoon, Queensland.

AACAP has offered the opportunity to strengthen the relationship between the Army and the Tongan Defence Service (TDS) through positive international engagement. The TDS has contributed 10 tradesmen (including carpenters, plumbers and electricians) to work alongside Army tradesman to complete the AACAP vertical construction task: involving the completion of three houses for community members.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Nelson quits politics

Yesterday Brendan Nelson announced he will quit politics at the end of the month. And with his departure from Parliament, the former leader of the opposition receives the nice media comments that were denied him, when he was doing a fine job: The Age: “Nelson too good a bloke for hard truths of politics”:

Dr Nelson, defence minister at the time, was to those soldiers and just about everyone who got to meet him in his numerous public roles, a good bloke.
"He was personable, intelligent and worked hard at getting on top of the detail required in a high-profile career

He never received such positive comments after he was elected against all odds in November 2007 as Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Australian Opposition. The media would have preferred the republican Malcolm Turnbull over the Monarchist Brendan Nelson and they were very upset that their forecast was proven wrong.

Nelson as the “darling of the [Liberal] party’s left” (The Age, 26th August 2009) was vehemently despised by the republican and Liberal politician (and "wannabe" MP) Greg Barns:

“Brendan Nelson on the other hand is shallow, has swung to the Right simply because it is opportune to do so, and is a leader of whom Minchin and Abbott approve. Nelson believes in only one thing – himself. His career is a testament to that fact. He is a Faustian character.

The leader of the opposition
When Nelson was elected leader of the opposition, the The Sydney Morning Herald wrote: "Dr Nelson defeated Mr Turnbull, the former environment minister, by 45 votes to 42 in the ballot.
"But the closeness of the result immediately raised speculation both inside and outside the party that the matter was far from settled and Mr Turnbull would bide his time before making another attempt."

Nelson was doomed when he announced on 1st December 2007 as a newspaper headline put it: I won't support republic: Nelson

Dr Nelson said today that like his predecessor as Liberal leader, John Howard, he did not support moving to a republic.

"’I think the current arrangements in Australia, as we've seen over the last week or so, serve our nation very well,’ he told ABC television.”

From then on he had no chance to win over the media, but I won’t bother you with too many quotations.

They had their field day in September 2008, when their republican darling Malcolm Turnbull finally managed to get Nelson's job.

The Daily Telegraph: "Mr Turnbull becomes the first republican to lead the Liberal Party but the appointment could create a split amongst conservatives.

"He said, after defeating incumbent
Brendan Nelson by a vote of 45 to 41, that he would not push the republican issue until the Queen, who is more popular in Australia than the monarchy itself, was gone from the throne.

Turnbull chaired the Australian Republican Movement from 1993 to 2000 and led the failed 1999 campaign to make Australia a republic in a referendum."

And as we now know, Turnbull tried to join the Australian Labor Party, after the failed attempt to bring down the Monarchy. A logical step, considering that the ALP has a fiercely republican platform. What a pity he didn’t make it into the ALP’s rank and file, because whatever Turnbull gets involved with is bound to fail. His republican stunt was rebutted by the Australian people and the cursed Liberal Party will be crushed with Malcolm as their candidate for prime ministership.

And there goes Brendan Nelson, a really nice chap, as everybody says today, oh well, may be excluding Greg Barns who seems to hate him with a passion.

Monday 24 August 2009

“Prince Harry should become King of Australia”

At least J Marc Schmidt has a new approach to the Monarchy in Australia. Where Monarchists and republicans struggle on either keeping or changing the status quo, he suggests “Prince Harry should become an Australian citizen and become our first king.
We don't want another dark-suited, distant bureaucrat who won't listen to us once elected. We have plenty of those. We want something else, but what? In 1999, many supported the idea of a popularly elected president, a leader chosen by and representing the people rather than the government.”

Marc is not in the least worried that so far His Royal Highness has been on Australian soil for a comparatively short period:
Our king must be Australian. It is a simple matter to give Prince Harry Australian citizenship. Of course he will have to acquaint himself with Australian culture and history. That should be no problem for an Eton-educated prince, who has also already spent some time living and working on a farm in Australia."
Proclaiming Prince Harry King of Australia would not be a big thing, Marc has a simple solution:
“We don't even need a referendum to make this change. Our constitution requires that our heads of state be the 'heirs and successors of Queen Victoria', and Prince Harry already is.”
People like Monarchies
“Republicans argue that the people alone should choose their head of state, that monarchies are unfair. I disagree. Choice is overrated. In America in 2004, for example, the choice was limited to George Bush and John Kerry, and in 2008 it was limited to Barack Obama and John McCain. Monarchies use a far older, wiser, and fairer arbitrator than any election: Fate.

Anyway, people like monarchies. We humans are drawn to certain ways of organising our society, and try as we might, we can't shake our biological heritage. Is there any other reason why the marriage of Mary Donaldson to a Danish prince, and their visit, made the front pages of newspapers and magazines all across the country?"

The idea of a resident Australian Monarch is not new and has some support, especially from Melbourne theologian David Schütz.

May be the republicans should add a question to their proposed plebiscite catalogue. At The Senate hearing on a (non-binding and unconstitutional) “plebiscite for an Australian Republic Bill 2008” Klass Woldring and others held the position "that at some point in the process, multiple questions were required to get more information from the public to then enable the referendum question to be specific:
It is particularly in a plebiscite that the public mood can be gauged reasonably accurately and comprehensively but the Government need to ask multiple questions. This is extremely important especially because Section 128 of the Constitution has proven to be such a major obstacle in the way of having constitutional referendums passed in Australia.This single question does not provide opportunity for making these points and yet they are important when it comes to formulating Referendum questions.

However, I doubt that republicans are broadminded enough to include the question: “Do you favour a resident Monarch?"

Nor will the Australian Monarchists raise the question, because they are not interested in splitting the Monarchist vote.

But does this stop us contemplating King Henry I of Australia?

Saturday 22 August 2009

If you want a reply, write to our Royal Family

This week ACM’s Convenor David Flint pointed out that it was easier and quicker to receive a reply to a letter sent to a member of our Royal Family than to get a response from an Australian politician.

That reflects my own experience. On 25th June I wrote to Her Majesty’s Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, to ask him for the transcript of a speech he held. I received an automated reply:
Contact your Prime Minister
Thank you for your message to the Prime Minister.

Below is a copy of your comments to the Prime Minister for your records.

If you have supplied a postal address, a reply may be sent to you via Australia Post. Your message may also be forwarded to other Federal Ministers for their consideration.

This is an automatically generated email. Please do not reply to this email as this address is not monitored.
I am still waiting for the requested manuscript.

But Mr. Rudd is probably far too much engaged in giving new speeches or his ghost writers are too busy formulating new heartbreaking appeals to “the working families” of Australia to hand out one that he held in June. We are all looking forward to the collection of Rudd’s first term in office speeches. That will certainly be a big volume.

Australian Landcare to receive no reply from Aussie pollies
But then look what happened to Rob Youl. You may not have heard from him, but he is one of those Australians who cares about the environment. He chairs a small community group centred in Melbourne and dedicated to helping spread the Australian Landcare philosophy. From his experience he can confirm Royalty’s rapid response to correspondence.

Rob told the RadicalRoyalist: “We have just released a book called Landcare: Local action, global progress. I have sent copies accompanied by considered letters to numerous Australian politicians, ambassadors and senior public servants. I can’t recall any acknowledgements, not even a quick thanks. Knowing Prince Charles’ interest in practical programs involving people I also sent him a copy. I included notes on the excellent Landcare groups around Timbertop (Mansfield, Victoria), where he spent several months as a Geelong Grammar student in 1966. His secretary replied immediately, making it obvious the Prince was well aware of my cause and background.

Benet Northcote’s letter.

It is clear that the problem is that if you want something from an Australian “public figure” it is better to address your letter to The Queen of Australia or Prince Charles, Australia’s future King, and then you will get a reply in your letter box in no time.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Saving (for) Australia

Poor Australia! The country's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan must have cost billions of dollars! And what's worse, the federal government is on a shopping tour to get new ships, submarines and fighter jets (hopefully not made in the USA, but that’s a different topic), which will cost $20 billion.

With all these expenditures on the horizon, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) must save money. How? The answer the ADF found is as simple as it is ridiculous: By cancelling the traditional beating the retreat ceremony at the Royal Military College in Duntroon:
"Defence wishes to advise this year’s Beating the Retreat Ceremonies at the Royal Military College has been cancelled. These ceremonies were scheduled to be conducted on the evenings of Thursday 24 September and Friday 25 September 2009 at the Royal Military College, Duntroon."
That will save the extraodinary sum of $0.000083 billion, which brings the necessary sum down to $ 19,999,917,000. The ADF claims the Queen's Birthday parade could cost about $24,500 (or to remain in the billion region: $0.0000245 billion. But every time you read fresh articles, the figure seems to go up. Spin doctors must work overtime to calculate the cost to calm down the public's anger.

However, the Queen's Birthday parade was cancelled this year anyway because of a swine flu outbreak, but it will be back on again next year, assured the ADF. The retreat is an adaptation of military tradition going back to the 16th century and is the festive parade for the cadets the Royal Military College in Duntroon, something they show pride in. The retreat ceremony could be revived next year, depending on the budget, a press release promised. Past retreat ceremonies have involved 200 cadets, bands, field guns and firework, and were watched by many thousands of spectators.

Monday 17 August 2009

Monarchists replace republican flag in Lisbon

The Portugal News online reported that a Monarchist action group climbed to the town hall’s veranda and replaced the municipal flag with the Royal flag.

‘Armada 31 Movement’ did this at midnight, but what would such an action be without a video on YouTube?

So everybody can watch the Monarchist guerilla action in the centre of Lisbon:

The swap took place under the veil of night, in the early hours of Monday morning, 10th August, and was only detected when the first town hall employees arrived. Meanwhile the municipal flag, which bears the city’s coat of arms, has disappeared.

Armada 31 Movement has already admitted to being responsible for the swap and said it was “much simpler than anyone could imagine”, entailing a handful of people, a three-metre ladder, and “some caution”, due to the amount of policing in the area.

The group described the incident as an “act of ideological guerrilla warfare” that intended to “reinstate monarchic legality”. They also claimed it was the first celebration of the 100th anniversary of the creation of the republic, which will occur on October 5th, 2010.

A friend wrote me that that the employees refused to take down the flag. Good people!

The Portuguese republicans are heading for disrupted centenary celebrations, it seems.

Sunday 16 August 2009

"Viva la revolution"

The headline “Viva la revolution” is not mine, heaven forbid, but The Sunday Age chose this title (without an exclamation mark) for a letter to the editor. It is possible that The Sunday Age just wanted to show their wide range of tolerance, when they printed a letter sent in by “Joseph Toscano, spokesperson, Anarchist Media Institute”. And although anarchist Jo swaggered about the “revolutionary impact” of the World Wide Web and “the throes of a revolution that will lead to the democratisation of every aspect of our lives”, I cannot find "Viva la revolution" in his letter, and I doubt he had chosen the headline.

I am afraid I must blame the editor of The Sunday Age for the mistaken headline. It is wrong for various reasons, but first of all, because it is a mix of several languages. “Viva” is Spanish, but “la revolution” is French. Or you could say “la” is Spanish and French, but “revolution" could be English. A clever combination of three world languages? Oh no, you overestimate the subtlety of The Sunday Age.

It is more likely that it is pure ignorance that led to this headline. Like in the republic question the media don’t know, where they want us to got to. They could have chosen “Vive la revolution!” (with an exclamation mark), which would have been the French grammatical form of the Subjonctif, which is used, when a wish should be expressed, like: ”We wish that the revolution lives!”. The Sunday Age may very well think that, I can’t possibly comment.

The French Subjonctif has an equivalent in Spanish, the subjuntivo, which also expresses wishful thinking, but the English/French word “revolution” has a different spelling in Spanish: "revolución".

The Sunday Age did not bother about these minor language problems. Which poses the question, why The Sunday Age wishes to have a revolution/revolución? Certainly, the anarchist spokesperson would not mind having one, neither a French nor a Spanish/Cuban/Venezuelan etc., but the owners of a weekly publication that is interested in generating money (among other things by charging for access to online content) would be appalled should the profit decline. Republican or revolutionary rhetoric aside, journalists, editors and shareholders want cash first, a republic second.

We could put the language tawdriness aside and just say: God save the Queen! That is easy and simple and cannot be confused with other languages. And it is in a language that even journalists of The Sunday Age should master.

Sunday 9 August 2009

Show Trials in Iran against Monarchists

The mullah regime in Iran hits back at its opponents. Among them are the Iranian Monarchists who are put on trial. At least some media report on the prosecution of Monarchists.

The Christian Science Monitor:
Inside the wood-paneled court, haggard-looking defendants – some of whom have been kept for nearly two months – sat on leather-backed armchairs listening to the charges read out. One of them, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani, was described as a member of an exiled monarchist group and recounted, according to a government-owned channel that broadcast only images of the defendants, how he was “taught to make bombs” and identify bases of the ideological Basiji militia for targeting. According to the commentary on Press TV, he admitted to receiving funding and training from Israel and the US in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan province.

Sympathizers and relatives protested outside the court before security forces violently dispersed them. Three family members of defendant
Ali Tajer-Nia, a member of the reformist Mosharekat party, were arrested, according to eyewitnesses.

Iran has executed 115 people in the past two months according to Amnesty International in what the human rights group called an
“alarming spike.”

New York Times:
As in last weekend’s session, prosecutors began Saturday by reading a long, wide-ranging list of accusations that seemed to implicate any Western organization with an interest in Iran — including media organizations, rights groups and research institutes — in a vast, seditious plot.

The other defendants on trial Saturday included two prominent political analysts,
Ahmad Zeidabadi and Bijan Khajehpour, as well as people the government said were members of a monarchist group and a terrorist group and who were accused of planning bombings.

One defendant accused of planning bombings at the time of the elections,
Muhammad-Reza Ali-Zamani, testified that he had met a number of foreigners. They included an American intelligence official in Iraqi Kurdistan known as “Frank” who he said had given him money, a phone and other assistance.

Khaleej Times:
At a mass trial last Saturday more than 100 reformists, including a former vice-president and several other prominent figures, were charged with offences that included acting against national security by fomenting post-election unrest.

Among those charged, IRNA said, were also supporters of Iran’s toppled former royalty who were charged with being ‘mohareb’ or someone who wages war against God, a crime punishable by death in Iran.

‘Monarchist Mohammadreza Alizamani admitted to the charge and said he acted against the system,’ IRNA reported.
Greedy Fairfax Media

Here we go again. Fairfax Media will try to follow Murdoch's example: Fairfax, News to charge for online

Why pay for propaganda?

Saturday 8 August 2009

More Money for Murdoch

According to the BBC, Rupert Murdoch claimed to be dissatisfied with the revenues from the sale of digital delivery of newspaper content.

Therefore he intends to charge for all his news websites.

The reaction in the www-community was nearly an unanimous: "No, no, never!"

I think, Rupert Murdoch's demand for more money should be considered with more sympathy. Let all those who are interested in his republican propaganda pay for it. Those who are not interested in being indoctrinated will avoid his websites.

There are plenty of opportunities to get free information on the internet - free of charge and free of republican ideology.

Sunday 2 August 2009

German firm threatens to sack workers involved in Iran demonstrations

Old ghosts haunt the Germans: Civil unrest is verboten. And business dealings take the preference and should not be disturbed. There's nothing particular German in this attitude, other countries follow the same rules, but in this case, a German company was caught red handed.

A German company in Iran threatened its employees with the sack, should they participate in demonstrations against the mullah’s regime in Tehran. According to a Deutsche Welle report, on 21st July the German company Knauf sent out a letter to its three subsidiaries operating in Iran. The document is addressed "to all employees of Knauf Iran, Knauf Gatch and Iran Gatch," threatening that if anyone from the company "gets caught demonstrating against the current government, he or she will be immediately dismissed".

The letter is signed by Isabel Knauf, a member of the founding family of the Bavaria-based construction materials company. She's on the supervisory board of Knauf's operations in Iran.

Iranians living in Germany have bombarded the company with threatening calls and e-mails, company spokesman Jörg Schanow said last Friday. Schanow confirmed the letter was sent but he called the wording of the document very "unfortunate."

Knauf "strictly apolitical"?
In the letter, Isabel Knauf justified the threat to dismiss staff by saying that Knauf was "strictly apolitical" and reminded "all employees that they are not only representing their private opinion when being politically active, but that their actions could fall back negatively on our Knauf companies in Iran."

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, however, there may be concrete reason behind Knauf's decision to send out the controversial letter. The newspaper says that a senior German-Iranian employee of the company had been arrested during earlier demonstrations. It says the Tehran authorities told Knauf that their executive would only be released if it forced its employees to refrain from any involvement in the pro-opposition protests.

Strange as it may look, the policy of Knauf resembles very much to the behaviour of German companies during the late Shahanshah’s reign.

In Januar 1973 Deutsche Bank, Daimler-Benz, Telefunken, Hoechst, Bayer, BASF and other companies had joined hands for a congratulating message to His Imperial Majesty. They all praised “His Majesty Shahanshah Aryamehr” for having intiated the White Revolution on 26th January 1963.

This full page advertisment was published in the Tehran based German language weekly “Die Post” on 22nd January 1973. Der Iranian-German weekly has long gone as has the devotion of German companies for the Monarchy.

What remained is the odd wish to please the present dictatorial regime and prevent their employees from seeking a freer regime. No hope for the Germans to support Monarchists at this stage. Only after the return onto the peacock throne will the German be pleased to serve His Imperial Majesty Shahanshah Reza II.
The Windsor Hotel, Melbourne

In the 1880s, the top end of Collins and Spring streets formed an elegant and fashionable residential part of Melbourne.

It does not happen very often that I agree with Guy Rundle, but in his latest opinion piece in The Sunday Age he hit the right tone: “… Melbourne is still recognisably a historic city, with layers and textures, laneways and lifeways that give it a global brand, and a source of future value. It does not reside in any one building, but in the mix.” He is worried about the latest plans to demolish Lonsdale House, “one of the city’s best remaining 1930’s art deco buildings” and plans of a “makeover” of the Windsor Hotel that would ruin the whole ensemble opposite Parliament House.

Present view of The Windsor Hotel.

The plans that were published last week include a 25-storey glass tower for additional guest and meeting rooms plus health and leisure facilities. The Windsor tower would be 92 metres high, despite a height control of 23 metres under the existing planning overlay for the area. A new corner building will replace the 1960s north wing addition. This corner building is certainly not a beauty, but by far better than the proposed concrete glass box (see photos) described by one commentator as "a block of swiss cheese".

The existing corner building was erected in the 1960s.

The planned 25-storey glass tower would be 92 metres high with the proposed "block of swiss cheese" concrete and glass box to the right of The Windsor Hotel.

Architect Bill Corker, of Denton Corker Marshall, represents the company that is responsible for the Melbourne Museum (... complete with its own ski jump in yellow) and the Westin and Adelphi hotels.

The Westin Hotel in particular reveals that Denton Corker Marshall have no history of sympathetic development, blocking (very controversially) the vista between the Town Hall and St Paul's Cathederal.

The developers are confident their plans will be approved and have been discussing the project with Planning Minister Justin Madden’s department since November. Bill Corker said department officials had shown good body language in meetings and he had a good “vibe” about its success. Corker said the height of the tower was irrelevant in light of its good design.

It does not come as a surprise that architect guru Norman Day defended the planned monstrosity in an Age article. He threatened: “Architects Denton Corker Marshall’s plans for the Windsor provide a measure of the way the hotel should develop, but they got further, suggesting a prototype for developing any part of Melbourne where significant heritage issues apply.” Isn't is scary to think this might be the prototype for Melbourne's future?

The original Windsor building could be “recovered, re-instated to its original role as a major piece of urban stage scenery” (Norman Day), but there is less and less left of the original Melbourne flair. The new glass boxes may be to the united architects guild’s delight, but ordinary Melburnians or tourists will hardly rejoice of what is to be seen. Melbourne’s distinctive look disappears and is replaced by what planners all over the world approve. The new buildings will neither add something to the city’s appeal not will the stand for very long. The demolition men will be delighted to knock them down in a couple of decades.

We are in urgent need of the greatest critic of modern architecture, Australia’s future King. Prince Charles told Royal Institute of British Architects as recently as on 12th May 2009: "Few people dare to speak out ... for the very good reason that if they do they find themselves abused and insulted, accused of being old-fashioned, out of touch, reactionary, anti-progress, even anti-science - as if it was some kind of unholy blasphemy to question the state of our surroundings, of our natural environment, our food security, our climate and our own human identity and meaning. Little wonder, then, that most people shy away from pointing out that the Emperor isn't actually wearing very many clothes any more."

I wonder what Guy Rundle would make of an ally like Prince Charles. At least the marxist could not claim that the Prince of Wales of being a non-resident and therefore having no right to speak up. After all according to The Age, "Guy Rundle is an Australian writer living in England.” He may be close to Prince Charles in more than one way.

The proposed changes are just ugly and would bring no improvement to the city. These plans, especially the glass box next to the Windsor, are totally unacceptable. We should call in the Prince of Wales as the White Knight who rescues Melbourne City from the devastating grip of the united front of politicians, planners and architects.