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Suharto 1921-2008

"It is true that I liked him and valued his friendship"

- Paul Keating on Suharto, "Engagement" (2000)

Is there anything nice to say about a man who was responsible for the deaths of more than a million people, crushed at least three national independence movements, and embezzled billions of dollars? And to whom a succession of Australian Prime Ministers acquiesced most shamefully? (As, famously, did Gerald Ford and Henry Kissinger.)

Stock obituary from Associated Press just out. Read this 1998 press release from Transparency International about the Suharto family wealth published shortly after his resignation.

A couple of weeks ago, Al Jazeera English hosted a discussion of Suharto's legacy. Video (in two parts) on Youtube below. And check out, in particular, Suharto's former economic adviser as he defends his former boss.

Frank Hyde 1916-2007

I've just learned of the passing this morning of one of my real heroes. The voice of Frank Hyde calling the rugby league on Saturday and Sunday afternoons was an integral part of my life for about two decades. His career as a broadcaster stretched back far before that, and even earlier came his playing career with Newtown, North Sydney and Balmain. Everyone loved him, he was such a charming man.


Molly Ivins 1944-2007

Molly Ivins, that wonderful, savage but witty writer about Texan culture and American politics, died on Wednesday of breast cancer at the age of 62. I've quoted her on one occasion in my blogs, and I really enjoyed reading "Shrub", her account (co-authored with Lou Dubose) of GW Bush's career prior to the 2000 Presidential election (which he lost, but was awarded anyway).

Art Buchwald 1925-2007

I can't remember the first time I read any of the work of the great American satirist Art Buchwald who died Wednesday. I think that I probably read some of his stuff at the height of Watergate. I do have an early recollection of seeing his work in a rather unlikely context.

For whatever reason, I was looking at a copy of the daily Hansard for the House of Representatives in the school library, probably around 1974 when I was in Year 10. I can't recall now who it was, but the MP in question was quoting a passage from Buchwald in one of his speeches, one which used biblical phraseology, but alas I can't remember any further.

Saddam Hussein 1937-2006

Saddam Hussein was killed today. He was put to death by hanging at the direction of the Iraqi Government following a trial for one of his lesser alleged crimes against humanity. His death means that other, even more serious, charges against him will never be brought to account - notably the use of chemical weapons against Kurds in 1988. Likewise, the complicity of governments friendly to Iraq prior to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait will be more difficult to explore.

I can never understand how, if the taking of human life is such a heinous crime, the punishment can be the taking of human life. I have no sympathy for Saddam Hussein over his actions across the past forty years. But he should have been locked away for the term of his natural life.

A great American died this week. So did Gerald Ford.

"Tune Into FOX News Channel for Live Coverage of President Ford's Death"

- home page, 27.12.06

James Brown emulated WC Fields on Monday by expiring on Christmas Day. Gerald Ford emulated Harry Truman by expiring on Boxing Day.

James Brown was a legendary R&B performer who spent time in jail for crimes of violence. Gerald Ford was an unelected president who complicity in Indonesia's invasion of East Timor - among other episodes - has gone unchecked.

Wikipedia's bio of President Ford is currently in a state of flux, as one would imagine. It does include a 1975 photo of Ford having a chat with his Chief of Staff Richard B.Cheney, and his Secretary of Defense, Donald H.Rumsfeld. (This at a time when Nobel Peace Laureate Henry A.Kissinger was Secretary of State, and George W.Bush was National Guardsman In Absentia.)

Graham Roope 1946-2006

Sad news this morning of the death of Graham Roope on Sunday while on holiday in Grenada. He didn't tour Australia but I remember him well from the 1977 series when England regained the Ashes from a WSC-shaken Australian side.

An outstanding slip fielder and a stalwart for Surrey for nearly twenty seasons, Roope played 21 Tests for England, scoring 860 runs at 30.71. In all first-class cricket between 1964 and 1986, he scored 19116 runs at 36.90.

Here's the announcement of Roope's passing on the

Jack Palance 1919-2006

With the passing of Jack Palance at the age of 87 on Friday, I thought it might be worthwhile to compile a list of my favourite Jack Palance performances on film (with the help of IMDb to jog my memory):

  • Shane (1953) memorable western villain
  • I Died A Thousand Times (1955) Great villain from that sub-genre of film noir called "Shelley Winters gets murdered again"
  • I Mongoli (1962) Hamming it to the hilt as a warlord of Genghis Khan, dubbed into Italian and subtitled back into English

Peter Norman 1942-2006

Peter Norman died in Melbourne yesterday at the age of 64. He should be regarded as one of Australia's greatest sporting legends. He probably won't be.

At a time when Australia's prowess on the athletics track was in decline, Norman's crowning achievement was to win the silver medal in the 200 metres at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. The gold medallist in that event was Tommie Smith, the bronze medallist John Carlos.


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