South African tactics against All Blacks were really puzzling

After South Africa lost to New Zealand in last weekend’s 100th rugby game between the two countries, there has been much criticism of the Springboks’ style of play.

Some have dubbed it boring, others have gone so far as to say it will end up driving crowds away, something that rugby can ill afford.

Given that rugby fans, like all sports fans, are a devoted lot, the Springboks’ supporters have been equally loud in defending their team and backing the way they play.

But it was a bit puzzling to hear the captain Siya Kolisi and coach Jacques Nienabar claim that the strategy they had followed succeeded. It didn’t, unless they were aiming to lose the game.

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When will 9/11 mastermind get his day in court?

Twenty years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the mastermind of the attack, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, has still not been put on trial despite having been arrested in March 2003.

KSM, as he is known, was picked up by the Pakistani authorities in Rawalpindi. Just prior to his arrest, the other main actor in the planning of the attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, was picked up, again in Pakistan, this time in Karachi.

A report says KSM, Ramzi and three others appeared in court on Tuesday, 7 September. KSM was reported to be confident, talking to his lawyers and defying the judge’s instruction to wear a mask.

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War on terror has nothing to do with the rise of Trump

As the US marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, a theory, that can only be classified as unadulterated BS, has been advanced: the event led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq which in turn led to the emergence of Donald Trump.

Such a narrative sits nicely with Democrats: the election of the worst US president, a Republican, was caused by the actions of another Republican president, George W. Bush.

Part of this logic — if you can call it that — is that Trump’s opposition to the wars launched by Bush put paid to the chances of his brother, Jeb, gaining the Republican nomination.

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Killing people remotely: the fallout of the US war on terror

National Bird is a disturbing documentary. It isn’t new, having been made in 2016, but it outlines in stark detail the issues that are part and parcel of the drone program which the US has used to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and a number of other countries.

The use of remote killing was even seen recently after a bomb went off at Kabul Airport following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. There were boasts that two people responsible for the blast had been killed by a drone – only for the truth to emerge later.

And that was that the people killed were in no way connected to the blast. Using faulty intelligence and an over-quick finger, America had pulled the trigger again and killed innocents.

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Australia is a vassal state of the US. That will never change

The craven manner in which Australia continues to bow before the US is borne of a deep-seated fear that Washington will again choose to interfere in Australian politics as it did in 1975.

That year, the late Gough Whitlam, who was prime minister, hinted that he might have second thoughts about renewing a lease for Pine Gap, a base in Australia’s northern parts which the Americans use for spying on other countries.

Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general John Kerr shortly thereafter. A full account of the affair is here; the CIA’s involvement has never been in doubt.

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Macdonald leaves Q+A with little comment from the media

The departure of Hamish Macdonald from the position of host of the ABC’s Q+A program should, logically, have occasioned some comment from the country’s media, given that the program in question is one of the taxpayer funded channel’s flagship offerings.

That it has gone mostly unremarked is due to one reason: Macdonald is perceived as being from the left and publications who tilt towards that side of politics have remained silent as a show of solidarity.

To date, nothing has appeared to analyse why he quite what is a high-profile role in Australia. Some said he had left the program because he had experienced a lot of trolling on social media — he shut down his Twitter account though a lot of interaction for Q+A takes place through this platform — while others studiously avoided speculating on why Macdonald may have decided to return to Channel 10’s The Project.

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Serena Williams has become an object of pity

In August, no doubt, Serena Williams will turn up at the US Open, the last tennis Grand Slam event for 2021, in the hope that she will be able to, at last, equal Australian Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.

The odds are stacked against Williams, given that she has been unable to win a Grand Slam event since January 2017. That year, she won the Australian Open.

After that, she has played in 18 Grand Slam events and been unable to win any of them. In some, she has even managed to make it to the final, but then stumbled at the last hurdle.

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The world has become the domain of liars

There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.

People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.

One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.

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All the news (apart from the Middle East issue) that’s fit to print

The Saturday Paper — as its name implies — is a weekend newspaper published from Melbourne, Australia. Given this, it rarely has any real news, but some of the features are well-written.

There is a column called Gadfly (again the name would indicate what it is about) which is extremely well-written and is one of the articles that I read every week. It was written for some years by one Richard Ackland, a lawyer with very good writing skills, and is now penned by one Sami Shah, an Indian, who is, again a good writer. Gadfly is funny and, like most of the opinion content in the paper, is left-oriented.

The same cannot be said of some of the other writers. Karen Middleton and Rick Morton fall into the category of poor writers, though the latter sometimes does provide a story that has not been run anywhere else. Middleton can only be described as a hack.

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Time for ABC to bite the bullet and bring Tony Jones back to Q+A

Finally, someone from the mainstream Australian media has called it: Q+A, once one of the more popular shows on the ABC, is really not worth watching any more.

Of course, being Australian, the manner in which this sentiment was expressed was oblique, more so given that it came from a critic who writes for the Nine newspapers, Craig Mathieson.

Hamish Macdonald: his immature approach to Q+A has led to the program going downhill. Courtesy YouTube

Newspapers from this company are generally classed as being from the left — they once were, when they were owned by Fairfax Media, but centrist or right of centre would be more accurate these days — and given that the ABC is also considered to be part of the left, criticism was generally absent.

A second critical review has appeared on April 5, this time in The Australian.

Mathieson did not come right out and call the program atrocious – which is what it is right now. The way the headline on Mathieson’s article put it was that Q+A was once an agenda setter, but was no longer essential viewing. He was right about the former, but to call it essential viewing at any stage of its existence is probably an exaggeration.

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