This really is one of Australia's darkest weeks as an independent nation. Parts of Sydney including the Opera House, Botanic Gardens and Circular Quay have been fenced off for the APEC gabfests. It's been called the biggest security operation in Australia since the 2000 Olympics. But at least with the Olympic Games, it was a celebratory occasion for all to join in. This is just a paranoid exercise in keeping Them (in upper case) away from us (in lower case).
This year is Australia's turn to host the APEC forums. Well and good. But why are the major conferences all being held in the Sydney central business district?
Grist, that marvellous online environmental news magazine, has released its list of the world's fifteen greenest cities.
Reykjavik at number one is interesting, as is Curitiba at three even if only because I hadn't previously heard of it (likewise Bahía de Caráquez at nine). But Sydney at 10? The reasons they give are unconvincing, though to be fair Sydney is not that bad in the post-Olympic era.
With memories of Dick Cheney's Excellent Sydney Adventure still fresh in our minds, and with the clock counting down to the Avagoodweegend Brought To You By APEC, comes today's arrival in Sydney of the USS Kitty Hawk.
Together with the exclusion zone in several harbourside suburbs and the resultant towing away of cars belonging to miscreant owners who dare to park them outside their houses.
The CEO of White House Halliburton has finally left our shores. Richard Bruce Cheney, 66, wild game hunter of Casper, Wyoming, flew out of Mascot Airport this morning after two and a half days of what could be best described as a blatant violation of Australian sovereignty.
Laws bent so that his Secret Servicemen could carry loaded guns, large slabs of the Sydney CBD closed down whenever he was driven anywhere - even the Sydney Harbour Bridge was closed down at short notice when he took a totally unnecessary trip to John Howard's party house at Kirribilli. Not to mention some of the most bewildering doublespeak over that masterpiece of public-private partnership, the US war "effort" in Iraq.
The transcripts of Dick Cheney's public speeches in Sydney yesterday are available on the vice-presidential website:
- A brief, but enormously insightful comment at a breakfast for the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue at his private fortress called the Shangri-La Hotel, 7.59am Friday 23.2.07 (transcript)
"...you know have to accept that in our country we have our laws and we just administer our laws and Australia is traditionally a very egalitarian county. Therefore our laws apply to all people. We don't have exemptions from our laws for different categories of people. That's just the way we work in this country, that's just the way our country is and it will probably always be like that."
Of course he does. What's the problem?
Outreach Media, a subsidiary of the non-denominational FEVA Ministries, produces a monthly series of colourful signs with attention-grabbing Christian messages, which it syndicates to churches around the country (mostly in Sydney, though I saw one in Newcastle recently).
Some examples of their handiwork, including a very clever Telstra parody, can be seen on their website. Last month, the theme, timed to coincide with the Ashes, was "Would you worship Jesus if he scored 10,000 Test runs?"