19 October 2000.

It is like watching a horrifying chess game, with lives the pieces.  The rules seem to be that points are awarded by world acclaim.  The Palestinians (through their Arab heritage) hold very strong pieces: control of about 25% of world oil production.  The Israelis also have powerful pieces, they have the most modern army in the area, probably atomics, and they have as colleagues the diaspora, many of whom hold pivotal positions in the world's media, commercial and governing institutions.

Perhaps the matter will be solved after the US presidential election.   Arabs are likely to have more respect for Governor Bush, who might appear to them to be a strong leader because of his stance on capital punishment.  They would be less impressed by Gore's Jewish Vice President.  Newspaper inspired qualms about Bush's lack of intelligence will be dismissed - the Press cried that "wolf" about Reagan, who took power from the "intelligent" peacenik Carter and promptly solved the Iranian embassy problem.

Arab leaders may well be concerned that Bush's "simple solution" would be that the US Marines should manage Arab oil wells.

World peace parties are distraught.  They now realize the (was it Mao's?) dictum may well be an accurate assessment of humanity:



For the past few years Australians have been regaled with tales of public servants, from clerical up to ambassadorial rank, who have been sacked for acts as trivial as borrowing $10.00 from a petty cash box over the weekend (leaving an IOU) to purchasing personal items on a government issued credit card, or using a government limousine to chauffeur family members.

More than one year ago a Telecom employee looking over parliamentary phone accounts (In Australia, details of telephone accounts are normally sent at the time of billing, but that is another story) noticed that one account, supposedly only used only by Executive Minister Reith, was being used (virtually) simultaneously in London, Singapore, Hong Kong & Sydney.  About $50,000 had been run up on that account in about 5 years.  He thought there might be fraud, so advised his superiors.  (Let us hope that this alert & diligent worker does not suffer for his alertness.)

When advised of the use of his card, Minister Reith claims that he had the matter investigated before advising the Prime Minister of the fraud, and tendered $950 of the $50,000 account as acknowledged expenditure of his son.

Minister Reith claimed that he gave the account and PIN details of his government issued telephone card to his son, but excused that breach by claiming that he told him he could use it only "in an emergency".  The son claimed that he though it was the pater's account, and used it on that (non emergency) basis.   The balance of $49,050 was apparently spent by people who fraudulently used the card, although there must be some ambiguity, because the solicitor general has recommended that no charges be laid.  This could have happened if, for instance, the people who made the calls had claimed that Reith's son had given them the account, and said that they could use it.  (Undoubtedly they could be located because the calls must have gone to somewhere.)

Does this mean that I can commit a criminal offense if the only purpose is to benefit from that offense in an hypothetical "emergency".

For instance, can I illegally purchase and illegally keep a handgun at home if I state the Reith defense that: "I do not intend to use it except in an emergency": (e.g. the defense of the lives of myself and children in the event of a home invasion.).

If Minister Reith was worried that his children were going into danger, then he should have done what a normal Australian would have to do, i.e. he should have provided his son with his personal phone account and PIN, not the taxpayer funded account.

Minister Reith's initial actions are dishonest and are not appropriate for a member of parliament.  Minister Reith should be sacked.  He should face criminal charges, as provided by law.

In a Democracy, even ministers of the crown are not above the law.

(Or did Australia get Clintonized?:)


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