Mat Ward

Good politicians are few and far between, but British health secretary Andrew Lansley is among the worst.

In 2008, he was forced to apologise after saying recessions brought "good things" such as people being able to spend more time with their families.

In Britain’s parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, he was accused of claiming for the renovation of a rural cottage, selling it, then “flipping” his second home designation to a London flat and claiming thousands of pounds for furniture. He said his claims were "within the rules".

Desert Pea Media
www.desertpeamedia.com.au
PI Boyz
www.smugglersoflight.com/AboriginalJustice.htm

Aboriginal man Mulrunji Doomadgee died in custody at Palm Island police station on November 19, 2004. His liver had been cleaved almost in two.

Nearly three years later, senior police sergeant Chris Hurley told Townsville Supreme Court he had come to terms with the fact that he caused the death.

But more than six years after it happened, no one has been convicted of Doomadgee's death.

A History of Now
Asian Dub Foundation
www.asiandubfoundation.com

The artwork for A History of Now, the new album from Asian Dub Foundation (ADF), is a set of iPhone apps.

But instead of Apple’s tame applications, the band of British-born Indian genre benders have invented their own parodies.

A typical one, named “Instigator”, features a burning bottle and the instruction: “Stuck for a weapon while protesting against government cuts? Let ‘Instigator’ turn your phone into an instant Molotov cocktail!”

When a Billion Chinese Jump — How China Will Save the World, or Destroy It
By Jonathan Watts
Faber & Faber, 2010
485 pages, $32.95
http://site.whenabillionchinesejump.com/

When Jonathan Watts was a child growing up in England, he used to pray that all the people in China would not jump at once, lest they send the earth spinning off its axis.

About 250 protesters gathered outside Redfern Community Centre on January 26 to listen to Aboriginal leaders speak out against the Northern Territory intervention and ongoing attacks on Aboriginal self-determination.

The event was organised by the Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS).

Speakers included Valerie Martin Napaljarra, based in Kalkaringi in the Northern Territory; Greens councillor Irene Doutney; and Graham Merritt of STICS.

The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement
By Derek Wall
Pluto Press, 190 pages, paperback
www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745330365&

Review by Mat Ward

As the threat of climate catastrophe looms ever larger, Derek Wall has written what he calls "an explicit call to non-violent arms".

King Brown Country: The Betrayal of Papunya
by Russell Skelton
260 pages
Allen & Unwin

$35

REVIEW BY MAT WARD

The Northern Territory community of Papunya is known worldwide for its Aboriginal art. But this book by Melbourne Age reporter Russell Skelton paints a very different picture of it.

Papunya, says Skelton, is "a metaphor for all that has gone wrong with Indigenous policy since the 1970s". He says former prime minister Gough Whitlam's policy of self-determination for Aboriginal communities in the 1970s was "unworkable and unsustainable".

Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam
By Mark Curtis
352 pages (pb), Serpent's Tail, 2010.

In Tony Blair's new memoir, A Journey, the former British prime minister says one of his biggest regrets is introducing the Freedom of Information Act, because journalists have used it “as a weapon”.

When US director Danny Schechter’s 2006 film In Debt We Trust predicted a huge financial crisis was coming, he was laughed at. It turned out he was right.

His latest film, Plunder: The Crime of Our Time shows how the crisis was created by Wall Street bankers breaking the law to manipulate the markets — and suggests a bigger crisis is on the way.

Whoops! Why Everyone Owes Everyone & No One Can Pay
By John Lanchester
224 pages
Penguin, Allen Lane

Review by Mat Ward

If you don't know the difference between a credit default swap (CDS), a collateralised debt obligation (CDO) and a cheese sandwich, this highly readable book could help you in a painless, entertaining way.

Its author, John Lanchester, grew up in 1960s Hong Kong. He says the contrasts of obscene wealth and crushing poverty were “like a lab test in free-market capitalism”.

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