When will Michael Hayden explain why the NSA did not predict 9/11?

As America marks the 19th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centre towers by terrorists, it is a good time to ask when General Michael Hayden, head of the NSA at the time of 9/11, will come forward and explain why the agency was unable to detect the chatter among those who had banded together to wreak havoc in the US.

Before I continue, let me point out that nothing of what appears below is new; it was all reported some four years ago, but mainstream media have conspicuously avoided pursuing the topic because it would probably trouble some people in power.

The tale of how Hayden came to throw out a system known as ThinThread, devised by probably the most brilliant metadata analyst, William Binney, at that time the technical director of the NSA, has been told in a searing documentary titled A Good American.

Continue reading “When will Michael Hayden explain why the NSA did not predict 9/11?”

Serena Williams, please go before people start complaining

The US Open 2020 represented the best chance for an aging Serena Williams to win that elusive 24th Grand Slam title and equal the record of Australian Margaret Court. Seeds Bianca Andreescu (6), Ashleigh Barty (1), Simona Halep (2), Kiki Bertens (7) and Elina Svitolina (5) are all not taking part.

But Williams, now 39, could not get past Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals, losing 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Prior to this, Williams had lost four Grand Slam finals in pursuit of Court’s record: Andreescu defeated her at the US Open in 2019, Angelique Kerber beat her at Wimbledon in 2018, Naomi Osaka took care of her in the 2018 US Open and Halep accounted for Williams at Wimbledon in 2019. In all those finals, Williams was unable to win more than four games in any set.
Continue reading “Serena Williams, please go before people start complaining”

A small step for Australian women, a giant leap for Tracey Spicer

A year and nine months after she founded NOW Australia claiming it was meant to focus on the problem of women being sexually harassed in the workplace, former TV newsreader Tracey Spicer is once again avoiding public appearances in order, she claims, to focus on her own mental health.

Spicer has retreated like this on earlier occasions too: she disappeared after actor John Jarratt was cleared of harassment charges and also when actor Geoffrey Rush won a case against the Daily Telegraph that had accused him of sexual harassment.

After a series of incidents that can only lead to one conclusion – Spicer’s embrace of the #MeToo movement was meant more to embellish her own image than anything else – the women’s movement in Australia has been put on the back foot and left wondering how it will recover from the Spicer show.
Continue reading “A small step for Australian women, a giant leap for Tracey Spicer”

Saudis want US to fight another war for them

On 3 August 1990, the morning after Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Saudi Arabian government was more than a bit jittery, fearing that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein would make Riyadh his next target. The Saudis had been some of the bigger buyers of American and British arms, but they found that they had a big problem.

And that was the fact that all the princes who were pilots of F-16 jets, considered one of the glamour jobs, had gone missing. Empty jets were of no use. How would the Saudis defend their country if Baghdad decided to march into the country’s Eastern Region? If Hussein decided to do so, he would be in control of a sizeable portion of the world’s oil resources and many countries would be royally screwed.
Continue reading “Saudis want US to fight another war for them”

Serena Williams loses another Grand Slam final

Serena Williams has fallen flat on her face again in her bid to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles. This time Williams’ loss was to Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu – and what makes it better is that she lost in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.

Andreescu, 19, is a raw hand at the game; she has never played in the main draw of the US Open before. Last year, ranked 208, she was beaten in the first round by Olga Danilovic.
Continue reading “Serena Williams loses another Grand Slam final”

Twenty-five years after Oslo, there is nothing to show for it

Thursday, September 13, marked 25 years since Israel took the (then) radical step of recognising the Palestine Liberation Organisation in a Norway-brokered deal that many thought would ultimately lead to a two-state solution in the Middle East and bring an end to one of the most bitter feuds between nations.

Alas, it was not to be. Twenty-five years on, what remains of land that could have been a Palestinian homeland is bantustans, and things seem to be going from bad to worse. With the US recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it is now inconceivable that Tel Aviv will ever countenance giving up part of the city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.

It brings back memories for me, as it was the biggest news event that I have managed in nearly 40 years as a journalist in three countries. In 1993, I was deputy chief sub-editor at the Khaleej Times in Dubai, and that September I was producing the daily editions as the chief sub-editor, my good mate T.K. Achuthan, was on leave.
Continue reading “Twenty-five years after Oslo, there is nothing to show for it”

Time to rejoice: Serena Williams loses another Grand Slam final

Sunday morning brought glorious news. Serena Williams had been soundly beaten in the final of the US Open women’s final by an unknown Japanese player, Naomi Osaka.

What’s more Williams blew a fuse — as she has often done in the past — when she was penalised for code violations. This is the third time she has behaved in this ugly manner, but it is unlikely to be the last because she has been fined a pathetic sum yet again.

For an outburst in 2009, she was fined a pathetic $US10,500. In 2011, she was asked to pay $US2000. And this time, she was again fined a small amount by her earnings – US$24,000. To her, that is chump change.
Continue reading “Time to rejoice: Serena Williams loses another Grand Slam final”

Recycling Trump: Old news passed off as investigative reporting

Over the last three weeks, viewers of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners program have been treated to what is the ultimate waste of time: a recapping of all that has gone on in the United States during the investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 presidential campaign.

There was nothing new in the nearly three hours of programming on what is the ABC’s prime investigative program. It only served as a vanity outlet for Sarah Ferguson, rated as one of the network’s better reporters, but after this, and her unnecessary Hillary Clinton interview, she appears to be someone who is interested only in big-noting herself.

Exactly why Ferguson and a crew spent what must be between four to six weeks in the US, London and Moscow to put to air material that has been beaten to death by the US and other Western media is a mystery. Had Ferguson managed to unearth one nugget of information that has gone unnoticed so far, one would not be inclined to complain.
Continue reading “Recycling Trump: Old news passed off as investigative reporting”

The worst airport in the world? Easy, it’s Los Angeles

The worst airport in the world is in Los Angeles. This is the opinion of one who has passed through airports in Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Dallas, Orlando, Washington DC, Singapore, Bangkok, Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg, Cancun, Colombo, Dubai and London (Heathrow and Gatwick).

I have passed through LA in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Why does LA qualify as the worst? The buildings and facilities are alright but the staff are both incredibly inefficient and rude. They do not seem to give a damn about doing their jobs – which is to ensure that passengers get through the airport as fast as possible and catch their connecting flights or leave for their homes.

It is common to find airport staff — and there are legions of them — lounging around while crowds of passengers try desperately to get through the maze-like rigmarole that passes for immigration. There is no thought given to the fact that there may be passengers who have little time to catch a connection – anyone who wants to seek assistance has to go searching for some majordomo who is in charge, some tinpot dictator who is located at a considerable distance away from the milling crowd.
Continue reading “The worst airport in the world? Easy, it’s Los Angeles”

All your gods have feet of clay: Sarah Ferguson’s fall from grace

The year that ends today was remarkable for one thing on the media front that has gone largely unnoticed: the fall from grace of one of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s brightest stars who has long been a standard-setter at the country’s national broadcaster.

Sarah Ferguson was the journalist’s journalist, seemingly a woman of fierce integrity, and one who pandered to neither left nor right. When she sat in for Leigh Sales, the host of 7.30, the main current affairs programme, for six months while Sales was on a maternity leave break, the programme seemed to come to life as she attacked politicians with vigour and fearlessness.

There was bite in her speech, there was knowledge, there was surprise aplenty. Apart from the stint on 7.30, she brought depth and understanding to a long programme on the way the Labor Party tore itself to bits while in government for six years from 2007, a memorable TV saga.
Continue reading “All your gods have feet of clay: Sarah Ferguson’s fall from grace”