GOLFVeterans Golf Tournament

Thursday October 9 dawned fine and sunny and the top veteran golfers from all over the Western Districts turned up in force for the Annual WDVGA 3BBB Stableford Championships held on the Narromine course.
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A total of 58 players representing 12 clubs participated in the championships and associated events played in conjunction.

The Narromine course was in excellent condition considering the repairs to the course and also the lack of rain in recent months.

There was a lot of run on the course which no doubt attributed to the very good scores returned.

Championship winners were a team from Dunedoo/Gulgong, V Large, C Chapman and G Geerts who returned an amazing score of 59 stableford points.

Runners-up were the Narromine/Cobar combination of John Butcher, Brian Masling and C Eves on 52 taking second place on a count back from four other teams.

Speaking at the presentation of trophies after the event, club secretary Norm Lewis apologised for the absence of club president Jack Burgess who was ill.

Mr Lewis thanked the players for turning up in force saying he hoped they enjoyed their day in Narromine.

Before asking Geoff Smith, secretary of the WDVGA to present the trophies, Mr Lewis paid special tribute to those who helped make the day so successful.

He paid special thanks to the following for their help: To the lady golf club members who did a wonderful job catering for both the morning tea and luncheon, the lady members Tracey, Trish, Barbara and Robyn who handled the nominations, scoreboard and final cards, the barbecue cooks Bruce and Tom, the course workers Geoff Swane, Mike Gordon and Steve Ward and their helpers who had the course in great condition, the bar manager Dick who looked after the refreshments.

Mr Smith then made the presentations on behalf of the WDVGA to the winners on the day who were as follows: WDVGA 3BBB Stableford Champions V Large, and C Chapman (Dunedoo) and G Geerts(Gulgong) 59. Runners-up J Butcher and B Masling (Narromine) and C Eves (Cobar) 52 c/b. Men’s 18 Hole Stableford A Grade G Chase (Tott) 45 1st, B Dewey (Dubbo) 43 2nd. Men’s 18 Hole Stableford B Grade K Prendergast ( Dubbo) 44 C/b 1st, R Forrest ( Dubbo) 44 2nd Men’s NTP 0-18 S Bell (Peak Hill). Men’s NTP 19-36 T Wi Winners Bunyan(Coona) J Deeves (Tot) T Vincent (Tot) 52 points. 18 Hole Stableford G White (N’mine) 1st 41 points. Runner-up V Gainsford (N’mine) 39 points. Ladies NTP 0-23 T Vincent(Tot) NTP 24-45 G White (N’mine).

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‘Trema’ makes a move south of the border

Yeoval junior Chris Tremain, pictured bowling during his debut for Victoria, said his move south had been completely justified so far this season. Photo: GETTY IMAGESDESPITE only playing two matches for adopted state Victoria in the 2014-15 Matador BBQs One-Day Cup, and not taking a wicket, Yeoval junior Chris Tremain said his decision to move south was unequivocally paying off.
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After playing just a handful of games for home state NSW across two seasons the former Western Zone fast bowler chose to defect to Victoria for the 2014-15 season in a bid to get more opportunities at state level.

Tremain was a part of the Bushrangers side for both clashes with Queensland, in which he took 0-33 and 0-69 respectively, and in the latter game was the pick of a Victorian attack that was pummelled to all corners of North Sydney Oval, to the tune of 5-372.

“I haven’t really needed to reflect on the decision too much, I’m happy here, and I think it’s justified itself already,” Tremain said.

“For instance, when we played NSW Pat Cummins was 12th man. The most exciting young cricketer in the country was 12th man in a team I couldn’t get a run in. I doubt I’d have even been in the squad, but I’ve played a couple of games here already.

“I was disappointed I didn’t take a wicket, but that will come. I’ve learned to let it happen, rather than try to force it.”

Victoria’s campaign came to a disappointing end on Sunday against Western Australia, missing the semi-finals, and Tremain said his focus now moved to his Victorian Premier Cricket debut this weekend with Melbourne Cricket Club, with one eye on a Sheffield Shield debut.

“(Former Test batsman) Brad Hodge is playing for them, so I’m looking forward to it,” the 23-year-old said.

“After that we have a Futures League game and obviously I’ll continue training with the Vics. I don’t think you can ever do enough to be confident of a spot, you need to be doing more especially with the motivation and hunger in Victoria, it’s like no set-up I’ve ever seen.

“I’ll just keep trying to raise some eyebrows.”

After making the move to Orange to attend the Kinross Woloroi school, Tremain went on to represent Mitchell and Western and this season he will again turn out for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League (BBL04) competition this season, and said with signings like former South African, and one of the greatest ever all-rounders, Jacques Kallis, the lime greens have reason to be quietly confident.

Former Test tweaker Nathan Hauritz has also signed on and the Thunder who also boast big name players like Mike Hussey, Dirk Nannes and Pat Cummins.

“I said last year we’d improve and we did,” Tremain said.

“The signings that have been announced are pretty incredible and it’s huge to see big name players wanting to come to the Thunder.

“I can’t come out and say we’re going to win it, but I’ll definitely back us all the way through.”

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Peat family grateful for support

Mick Peat fundraiser at the Bendigo Jockey Club, Micks children, Jack, Alice and Bill Peat. Picture: BILL CONROYJOHNPeat says his family has been overwhelmed with the support of his son, Mick, who is battling bowel cancer.
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Bendigo’s racing communityrallied behind the White Hills man, who has been a long time employee of the Bendigo Jockey Club.

About 250 people from across the region came together earlier this month to raise money for his ongoing treatment.

John said Mick’s children Jack, Bill and Alice were grateful for the community’s ongoing support, especially from the racing fraternity.

He said Mick’s spirits had been lifted by the support shown by the community, especially the racing fraternity.

The family thankedBernard Hopkins and all those who helped organise the fundraiser.

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The line’s broken: Malcolm Fraser mourns his friend Gough Whitlam

Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser during the latter’s 2010 book tour. Photo: Bruce PostleGough Whitlam deadGough Whitlam’s memorable quotesFull coverage
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“The line’s broken,” said Malcolm Fraser. “In this world, anyway, it’s broken forever.”

No longer, said Mr Fraser, would he be able to drop in on Gough Whitlam to pass the time of day, so valued by old men with a history … even, or perhaps especially, a history once scorched by loathing.

They met for the last time, these men who were decades ago the most bitter political rivals and who grew to become the unlikeliest of friends, early this year.

“As always, I remember that meeting with affection. I valued my friendship with him,” Mr Fraser said. “He always had an independent mind. He had his way of looking at things and he was a very important person in Australia’s life.”

Mr Whitlam, frail by then, was confined to a wheelchair and living in a nursing home, but he had come in to his office in William Street, Sydney, because Mr Fraser had called to tell him he was in town and felt like a natter.

It was this way regularly … had been for years.

They were bound together in shared agreement that their old parties had moved away from what they had once believed, and what they still believed.

“I see the [Liberal] party as having moved leagues to the right and I see the Labor Party having moved leagues to the right of Gough Whitlam’s period,” Mr Fraser said. “We both bemoaned a bit of this when we met. The whole political spectrum is entirely different from what it was in my time and in his time.”

They never talked about what had happened all those years ago in 1975, when Mr Whitlam had been dismissed by Governor-General Sir John Kerr and Mr Fraser had slipped in, installed to lead the country, and Mr Whitlam, his anger so colossal that his words still crackle through Australian history, laid his curse upon Mr Fraser as “Kerr’s cur”.

“In political life, you develop a pretty thick skin,” Mr Fraser said.

“Gough was very good with words, very quick-witted. I certainly didn’t resent [being called Kerr’s cur]. I knew what had happened. I think he knew what had happened. I just regarded that comment as just politics.”

Anyway, he had never believed Mr Whitlam held personal animosity towards him, whatever hard words might have been spoken.

They were men of the world, and it was out there in the world, as they ran into each other at conferences and international events, their parliamentary years behind them, that the ice cracked.

“It was mostly during the 1980s when I also was out of Parliament,” Mr Fraser recalled. “Bob Hawke had got me placed on the Commonwealth group to try and establish a negotiation between the government and the ANC in South Africa.

“We would meet from time to time. He [Mr Whitlam] appeared to me to be friendly enough. He didn’t carry animosity forward. He didn’t carry personal bitterness. He was a much bigger man than that.

“He took issues as they were: on issues of race, on issues of discrimination and issues of the integrity of the Australian media. I think on the idea of Australia’s place in the wider world, we had a pretty common view.”

Few knew of the growing relationship between the old foes, and when in 1991 Mr Fraser and Mr Whitlam stood together on the back of a truck in Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens, their hands clasped and their arms raised, many who remembered 1975, when Mr Whitlam had demanded that his supporters “maintain the rage”, were astounded.

Mr Whitlam and Mr Fraser were in solidarity over media diversity. They were protesting together against the prospect that the Fairfax Media empire could be sold to foreign interests.

The old rage was gone. And they remained friends to the end.

“I felt sad [when the news came of Mr Whitlam’s death],” Mr Fraser said. “It’s a sad moment in the life of Australia. Whether one’s a great proponent of Gough or an opponent, he was a very great Australian who contributed enormously to this country. Whether it was in the arts or whether it was visiting China, he changed the way Australia started to look at itself.”

Indeed, the line is broken.

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HSC 2014: We all fell in love with Gough Whitlam

Inspired: the HSC modern history students from St Catherine’s, Katie Murphy, Amy Thomson de Zylva Francesca Earp and Brodie Clark. Photo: Dominic LorimerLike SMH Student on FacebookHSC Study GuideSMH Education: full coverage
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“Our whole class fell in love with Gough,” Katie Murphy, an HSC student at St Catherine’s School Waverley, gushed.

Just hours after news of the former prime minister Gough Whitlam’s death broke, thousands of HSC students opened their modern history exam booklet to a question about the Whitlam years.

The question was: The Fraser government completely overturned the social and economic changes implemented under the Whitlam government. To what extent is this statement accurate?

While not all students, including Katie, would have chosen to answer that question, the 18-year-old says she remains inspired by her studies of the former prime minister.

“I think the whole It’s Time campaign and all the reforms, particularly with university education, is particularly relevant now because of the discourse of how we are going to progress with the cost of uni in the future,” Katie said.

“I think his government was so focused on students that at a time when we are in late high school and about to go into uni, it is something that really resonates with us with the things we think about for our own futures.

“I know when we studied Gough Whitlam our whole class fell in love with him, we all thought he was such an interesting character.”

Another St Catherine’s student, Amy Thomson de Zylva. said her history lessons from year 10, when she studied Australian politics, were a pivotal time for her.

“Our class loved Gough, we loved him,” Amy, 17, said.

“I think it is really sad when someone dies, I guess that’s the first step for them, either they will continue to be talked about and be made eternal by studying them or they fade away but hopefully people are still going to study him with the interest they would have if he was still alive.”

Amy said regardless of political leanings, Whitlam was inspiring and her classmates even considered trying to visit him just so they could meet him.

“We were all empathetic and when [we learnt] Gough leapt in, he was not even going to wait for a cabinet and we were like “yeah, go Gough..he leapt right into action and everyone found that really good and really inspiring,” she said.

“And even if you didn’t fully agree with what he did or what he thought and felt, he had such strong views and I think anyone with such amazing conviction is inspirational.”

More than 10,400 students sat the modern history exam, which covered World War I, national studies (where students could discuss topics including Whitlam, the Cold War, China, Nazi Germany and apartheid in South Africa), personalities in the 20th century and international studies in peace and conflict.

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OPINION: Create a compassionate society

MILTON CAINEIF people do not compassionately care for the most vulnerable in society, then many of the disadvantaged will fall through the cracks, becoming a burden on all.
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Unfortunately, some governments choose to favour one group of people over others. This distorts much in a society, causing disadvantaged people to become disconnected and often a burden on all.

As a disabled person’s taxi driver, I daily care for the disabled community. I personally see the pain that the disabled community experience when community services are below standard or not accessible.

My robust, practical faith in God gives me the strong, compassionate foundation upon which I will develop effective programs that are beneficial to all people within the Newcastle region.

These programs will encourage a supportive and compassionate society, which is free from the corruption that has caused this byelection to be called.

Honesty, integrity and accountability are the strengths I will stand on as I deliver a much improved transport system to Newcastle. This upgraded system will include fully integrated rail, bus and ferry services that will service the local commuter’s needs. This will include retaining the line to Newcastle station on an open track format delivering both greater pedestrian and vehicle access across the track. My first symbolic act will be to have Newcastle buses stop at Broadmeadow Railway Station, a service I have requested since 1985.

I will seek to have the planned replacement trains manufactured in Australia with our local firms encouraged to submit tenders. We must intentionally choose to expand local jobs by choosing locally manufactured products to supply government resources.

I will vigorously fight the T4 as an oversupply of coal in the marketplace has caused a significant price drop. I will reduce the health risks by covering the coal wagons and having bottom seals well maintained. I will ensure increased coal train movements will not squeeze the rail services to the valley out. It is time that our passenger services once again became priority services.

Greater diversity in the harbour activities is the only way we can insure local jobs for the future. A rail-only connect to a container terminal on the harbour could increase potential employment growth. A container distribution and collection area needs to be established, potentially in the Beresfield area. This is within close proximity to the M1 and the previously promised rail bypass.

Newcastle needs revitalised leadership that engages with the community. The local community have been denied consultation, and over-development has been imposed upon Newcastle residents. The historical cityscape must be preserved. Facilities for the vulnerable need to be prioritised, so all residents can have access to their beautiful city.

Previously implemented road programs need to be completed to a high standard. Highway 123, Adamstown rail crossing, the dual carriageway to Nelson Bay – including the additional Tourle Street Bridge and connection of the M1 to Raymond Terrace bypass – are just a few that need to be completed.

Better management of the Teralba to Munmorah coal train must be implemented.

Our hospital casualty rooms are not working and must be addressed urgently. Patients are returning home without treatment due to long wait lists. Our health services need to be delivered in a timely manner.

The Newcastle and Hunter community needs and deserves more. As I travel throughout the community transporting my disabled clients, I see and hear issues affecting the locals. I have the courage to cut through and deliver the best outcomes for all people in Newcastle and the Hunter.

Milton Caine is a panel beater by trade who now drives taxis for the disabled. He is educated in economics and theology and is a married father of four. He is the Christian Democrats candidate for the Newcastle byelection

Read more about the byelections and candidates here


Iraqi militias explain why they fight ISIL: it’s not to please the West

‘We have enough manpower’: Sheikh Adnan al-Shahmani, MP and militia leader, at his home in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty
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‘We have a creed’: Imam Ali Brigade fighters take their evening meal together. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Defending Iraq: A fighter with the Shiite Imam Ali Brigade guards its headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Volunteer fighter Ismail Abdul Hassan, 17, recovers in Baghdad’s al-Wasiti hospital after being wounded by an improvised explosive device while patrolling Baghdad’s hinterland. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Don’t call them militias: Haji Jaafar al-Bindawi (centre) with his men at the Imam Ali Brigade’s headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

‘We have enough manpower’: Sheikh Adnan al-Shahmani, MP and militia leader, at his home in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

‘We have a creed’: Imam Ali Brigade fighters take their evening meal together. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Defending Iraq: A fighter with the Shiite Imam Ali Brigade guards its headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Defending Iraq: A fighter with the Shiite Imam Ali Brigade guards its headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

‘We have a creed’: Imam Ali Brigade fighters take their evening meal together. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Don’t call them militias: Haji Jaafar al-Bindawi (centre) with his men at the Imam Ali Brigade’s headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

‘We have enough manpower’: Sheikh Adnan al-Shahmani, MP and militia leader, at his home in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Volunteer fighter Ismail Abdul Hassan, 17, recovers in Baghdad’s al-Wasiti hospital after being wounded by an improvised explosive device while patrolling Baghdad’s hinterland. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Volunteer fighter Ismail Abdul Hassan, 17, recovers in Baghdad’s al-Wasiti hospital after being wounded by an improvised explosive device while patrolling Baghdad’s hinterland. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Don’t call them militias: Haji Jaafar al-Bindawi (centre) with his men at the Imam Ali Brigade’s headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

‘We have enough manpower’: Sheikh Adnan al-Shahmani, MP and militia leader, at his home in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

‘We have a creed’: Imam Ali Brigade fighters take their evening meal together. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Defending Iraq: A fighter with the Shiite Imam Ali Brigade guards its headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Volunteer fighter Ismail Abdul Hassan, 17, recovers in Baghdad’s al-Wasiti hospital after being wounded by an improvised explosive device while patrolling Baghdad’s hinterland. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Don’t call them militias: Haji Jaafar al-Bindawi (centre) with his men at the Imam Ali Brigade’s headquarters in Baghdad. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Uneasy partners: Ahmad Hatif (left) and Fadil al-Shairawi, spokesmen for the Imam Ali Brigade, view the United States with suspicion. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Baghdad: In a city awash with blood and gore, it borders on precious for the perpetrators of some of the brutality to demand that we slice and dice words in depicting their actions for a foreign audience.

But at a succession of meetings in Baghdad’s Shiite districts – in the cinder-block drabness of the Sadr City slums; the effete cafe society of inner Karrada; and in the commandeered mansions that comprise a new Shiite political enclave on the banks of the Tigris River – I found that “militia” had become the dirtiest word in the English dictionary.

At a city cafe I was introduced to men from the Imam Ali Brigade, a splinter movement from the Mahdi Army, which fought ferociously against the Americans and their coalition colleagues after the US-led invasion of 2003. Fadil al-Shairawi, an actor and poet, was one of the so-called “marsh warriors” who fought running battles against Saddam Hussein in the vast southern marshlands – he wore Ray-Ban glasses. Ahmad Hatif, a television and film scriptwriter, arrived in a dapper white sports coat.

“We are under formal military command and we work within the framework of government institutions,” the 52-year-old Shairawi said. “Before the US-led invasion it was different, because we did oppose the regime. And for a time after 2003, some of us fought the state.

“But in this war, we are defending the state, not our sect.”

The prism through which most of the half-dozen or more brigades – call them militias at your peril – view the world, the region and this conflict is that the West created al-Qaeda as a tool to defeat the Soviet Union in Afghanistan; and that the so-called Islamic State, which now controls swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria, is a US-Israeli invention to contain Iran – “to clip Tehran’s fingernails”, I was told.

“The governments of the US, Britain and Australia are hypocritical, selectively blind,” a dentist turned fighter in the service of Iraq’s Hezbollah Brigades argued. “They created IS to serve as a bogyman to scare the countries of this region – they want to pressure Iran; and to return to Iraq, but this time they want to control the country without sending ground forces.

“They want us all to need the US as a superpower saviour.”

Shairawi told me: “The sum of all our fears is that the American agenda is not to protect the Iraqi people so much as to protect what it perceives to be its strategic interests in the country.”

Claiming he had approached a United Nations official for emergency supplies for civilians in Amerli, 175 kilometres north of Baghdad, while it was besieged by IS, the Hezbollah dentist, who goes by the name “Dr Thafer”, said: “I was told no, because Amerli was a hotspot, too dangerous; then I watch TV and I see the coalition dropping supplies to people under IS attack in the Sinjar Mountains.”

If Washington and its allies were genuine in their pursuit of IS, so the logic goes, they would work with the brigades – arm them and increase the intensity of their air strikes on IS. “It’s a very simple equation,” Sheikh Adnan al-Shahmani, an MP who takes time away from the national parliament to lead his own fighters in battle, told me. “All the US needs to do is to supply us and cut the IS supply lines. We have enough manpower to defeat IS.”

Hisham al-Hashimi, a Baghdad analyst, said that more than 100,000 militiamen had been put on the government payroll – being paid $US400 to $US600 a month. They were issued uniforms and small-calibre weapons; they had access to government-owned vehicles and most of their leadership was hooked into the country’s military and intelligence apparatus.

Tens of thousands more in the Salam Brigade, previously known as the Mahdi Army, refused to accept a government salary, believing they had a religious duty to fight.

But Hashimi said: “The militias run their own race – refusing to obey orders if they disagree; their loyalty is to their political leadership, not the military command.”

Last Saturday, the militias seemed to get even loftier access to the levers of Iraqi power when new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appointed Mohammed Ghabban to run the sensitive Interior Ministry. Ghabban represents the Badr Organisation, for many years the military wing of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq.

There are fears this appointment could lead to a repeat of a 2005-06 surge in sectarian killings, when the Supreme Council’s control of the same ministry opened the way for  death squads to masquerade as policemen – with the preferred methods of killing allegedly including a power drill to the skull, according to a  leaked US State Department cable.

The Badr Organisation and ISCI both have strong ties to Iran. In a recent interview, Badr’s leader, Hadi al-Amiri, told The Washington Post: “If it wasn’t for Iran, Baghdad would have fallen [in the face of the IS surge into Iraq in June].

“They gave us weapons, they gave us ammunition, they gave us their military experience. We are not ashamed of it – when our country is in danger, we’ll go to any country that will help us. Do you want us to wait for the Americans?”

Hashimi described the militias as “harsh and cruel” but effective in battle. They had stopped or slowed IS advances on Baghdad’s southern perimeter and their key role as a ground force in evicting IS forces from Amerli, in the first week of September, was celebrated as the first successful repulsion of IS forces when it seemed they were capable of closing on Baghdad.

Hashimi added: “It is they who call the shots and influence political planning and military decision-making. Why? Because they can wage urban guerilla war and the Iraqi Army can’t.”

By his account, the Iraqi Army moved in slow, heavy columns and could not challenge the swift IS forces – “the army is like a circus in the desert”.

Implied more than stated by some in the militias was a view that the Iraqi Army also failed because as an American creation, it was a godless entity.

Explaining why he had opted to join one of the militias over the army, a fighter told me: “We have a will to die; we are dogmatic – we have a creed, an ideology; and we are honoured to serve our nation.”

But it’s a bit more complicated than that. In this conflict the atrocities of IS are well documented, less so the serial murderous abuses attributed to the Shiite brigades.

There is evidence that they run their own brutal regime of extrajudicial killings in Baghdad and other centres, rounding up dozens of Sunnis and hauling them away for mass executions or snatching them in ones and twos – for their bodies to be recovered from wasteland days later, invariably with a bullet in the head. Most often the culprit, according to witnesses interviewed by the New York-based Human Rights Watch, was a Shiite militia called Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous.

In a report released in July, Human Rights Watch documents the death of 61 Sunni men between June 1 and July 9, and the killing of at least 48 Sunni men in March and April in villages and towns around Baghdad.

Last week, Amnesty International released a harrowing 28-page document, Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq, in which it chronicles murders and abductions which often included ransom demands for tens of thousands of dollars that even when paid still saw the victim executed.

It reads: “Since Iraqi central government forces lost control of much of northern Iraq to the Sunni Islamist armed group … IS last June, sectarian attacks have spiralled to a level not seen since 2006-2007, the worst period of civil strife in the country’s recent history.”

As the killings escalated in the weeks after the IS capture of the northern city of Mosul on June 10, a Health Ministry doctor told HRW: “Sunnis are a minority in Baghdad, but they’re the majority in our morgue.”

Hashimi agreed that some in the brigades acted outside the law. But he opted to explain away these murders as traditional revenge for the loss of  comrades in battle.

Hatif, the 50-year-old scriptwriter, said: “OK – the Shiite warriors are not angels – mistakes happen.”

But he then sought refuge in an argument of equivalence: “Let’s get back to the notion of the bullet in the head – for years that’s what al-Qaeda in Iraq did; that’s how they executed people. Now people are out there wearing the uniforms of the brigades and doing these killings to destroy our image. How else do you explain that we have not executed the families of the al-Qaeda fighters who are still among us? And when we take an area, we don’t force women to wear hijab or make men grow beards – but IS gets its nose into everything.”

At a safe house in Baghdad’s Karrada district, Hatif and Shairawi introduced me to Haji Jaafar al-Bindawi, a founder of Asaib Ahl al-Haq. Bindawi was a military commander in AAH before splitting off with his Imam Ali Brigade, which reputedly has several thousand fighters.

With a SIG Sauer pistol on his desk and a US-issue M4 rifle propped against an airconditioning duct, Bindawi accused HRW and Amnesty of taking the side of “terrorists” by investigating the deaths and he suggested the killings were a good outcome because the custodial and judicial processing of those murdered would have cost about $US1500 each had they been formally charged.

Did they deserve to die? “Dead bodies in civilian areas, they belong to terrorists. But I’m not saying we’re killing civilians in cities.”

Were other militias eliminating these people? “I can’t answer on behalf of others.”

The mayhem was acknowledged at prayers last Friday in the Shiite shrine city of Najaf, when the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in a sermon read out on his behalf, rebuked the militias for what was translated as “the activity of undisciplined individuals in their ranks”.

‘We had more courage’

The brigades do not disclose their battle losses, but Baghdad is decked in banners celebrating the lives of hundreds of “martyrs” – many of which incorporate an image of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. I asked why the Iranian leader, and the response came from a local suggesting even an idiot should know: “Father of the revolution,” he snorted.

Seventeen-year-old Ismail Abdul Hassan was lucky not to be adorning one of the street banners. From Maysan province in the south, he was driven to sign up by a fatwa, issued by Ayatollah Sistani, urging fit young men to fight the Sunni extremists. But he had to try five recruiting centres – three run by militias and two by government forces – before the Badr Organisation signed him up, gave him rudimentary training and sent him off to battle.

On October 16, his unit was patrolling with the Iraqi Army near al-Karma, on Baghdad’s western fringe.

Ismail detected a poorly concealed IED [improvised explosive device] under some rocks. He thought he could skirt the device, but inadvertently activated a  concealed trigger. “I felt nothing,” he said on Monday, as he was being prepared for surgery to severe shrapnel wounds over most of his body at Baghdad’s al-Wasiti hospital. “But my face and eyes were bleeding. My guys dragged me by the shoulders for two hours before they could put me on a stretcher.”

Again I hear an account of reluctance by the Iraqi Army to throw itself into this fight. “They wouldn’t advance – it was just us volunteers,” he said. “We had more courage – the army should have joined us, but they refused. We always have to take the lead; they always follow at a distance.”

Ironically, many in the militias’ ranks cheerfully acknowledge cutting their teeth while opposing coalition forces in Iraq for nearly a decade after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

“I used to plant IEDs to get the American troops when they were in Iraq. I think we did about $US3 billion in damage to one of the US bases that we blasted with about nine tonnes of rockets. The land we launched the rockets from is now a camp for IDPs [internally displaced people],” the Iraqi Hezbollah dentist Thafer bragged.

The poet and actor Shairawi confessed that he too fought against the Americans, adding: “The training the Americans ‘gave’ us as we fought their occupation was more genuine than the training and resourcing they provided when they claimed to be rebuilding the Iraqi Army – they deliberately made it weak as part of their US-Israeli strategy to keep Iraq weak.”

Shairawi explained the militias’ parallel existence with the national security apparatus thus: “The Iraqi Army is corrupted and ineffective, but we have experience in guerilla and urban combat. The danger to our country was so imminent that if we had attempted to place our volunteers into the structures of the Iraqi Army, IS would have been in Baghdad by the time we had figured it all out – the enemy was at the door.

“We needed radical decisions and the [Ayatollah] Sistani fatwa provided the religious framework for our operations, and now that we are being formalised alongside the Iraqi Army, we have a legal framework.”

A helpful local resorted to the idea of Russian dolls in an effort to make sense of it all: “There’s a government inside a government inside a government. And there’s a military inside a military inside a military.”

Shairawi refused to disclose the Imam Ali Brigade’s fighting numbers, but boasted: “We’re an effective ground force and we have cleared a lot of cities – wherever we are, people are being liberated. And now we have the initiative – but if the US continues to ignore us and refuses to co-operate, then bad things will happen.”

His commander, Haji Jaafar Abu Kawthar, was more explicit in a video response to local reports that US military advisers would be based at two bases north of Baghdad. Claiming that he had lost many fighters repulsing IS efforts to take the bases, he said: “We don’t need foreign forces. We will see them the same as IS … and we’ll treat them like that … we shall fight any project that aims to split or divide Iraq under any cover, national or international, until the last drop of blood.”

Abu Kawthar signed off: “Today we have warned and tomorrow we’ll act.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Springvale sites set to spark flurry of interest from wide range of buyers

Melbourne investor Brendan Sullivan has paid $8.65 million for two Mulgrave office buildings, one of which has stood partly-vacant since it was built in 1990.
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If fully leased, the deal would reflect a 14 per cent yield.

Mr Sullivan said the fully leased West Building at 327-329 Police Road was a straightforward passive investment.

“The other is a real challenge. Seventy-five per cent of the buildings are fully leased but the remaining space is virgin territory. The carpet is 22 years old but has never been walked on,” Mr Sullivan said.

The transaction was negotiated by Colliers International agents Peter Bremner and Jeremy Gruzewski, who explained how a building could remain vacant for nearly 25 years.

“At the time Mulgrave was a pioneering office location and there wasn’t much around,” Mr Gruzewski said. “It also wasn’t a very significant part of the vendor’s property portfolio.”

The 2228-square metre West Building is leased to BNR Partners and Elgas on four-year terms. The 2351-square metre East Building at 331-333 Police Road is only half-leased. They return just over $900,000 a year in rent but could earn up to $1.21 million.

“A strata subdivision may well be the most appropriate option,” Mr Sullivan said.

Mr Sullivan has recently refurbished and strata-subdivided the former Katherine Square complex at 517-535 Flinders Lane in the city.

He paid the Smorgon family $16.35 million for the two buildings, which are now worth $45 million.

The vendor of the Mulgrave buildings, which are opposite the Waverley Gardens shopping centre, was the Trust Company Fidiciary Services.

Mr Gruzewski, along with Dawkins Occhiuto, is also marketing a 21,165-square metre super site in nearby Springvale which stretches between Princes Highway and Centre Road.

The site, owned by the Langer family’s GLG Investments for about 30 years, is made up of three separate properties which are for sale individually or as one site.

They are located between Bunnings and the Springvale Homemaker Centre at 867-879 Princes Highway and 1671-1673 Centre Road. The 8069-square metre Centre Road parcel is triangular with a narrow frontage. The remaining two rectangular sites face the Princes Highway.

They are rented to a variety of tenants and return a total $254,209 a year in rent.

Mr Gruzewski said there are demolition clauses in the leases which would enable a new owner to continue earning income but move quickly on any development opportunities.

“It’s part of that Monash precinct which is moving from heavy industrial to retail and office. It could suit a big box retail development, a staged office-warehouse development or a showroom,” he said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


CUB Abbotsford HQ likely to fetch $15m

The Carlton & United Breweries headquarters in Abbotsford, adjoining the brewery, is on the market and expected to fetch more than $15 million.
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The curved, five-storey building, originally built for Kodak in 1928, is leased until 2017 to the brewer, which pays $2.2 million a year.

However, most CUB staff have moved out of the Abbotsford office at 2-6 Southampton Crescent to a building the company owns at 77 Southbank Boulevard, Southbank.

There was intense speculation the nine-hectare riverside brewery would close in 2011 after foreign brewer SABMiller took over CUB, then listed as Foster’s. However, a CUB spokesman said there were no changes proposed for the Abbotsford brewery.

The building’s owner, Perth-based investor, the Wyllie Group, is also selling a warehouse complex which industry sources suggest could sell for about $5 million. The properties are for sale separately or as a package.

Lot one on Southampton Crescent, which is now sublet, includes a warehouse at 36 Bond Street, which is being sold with vacant possession. The site covers 8199 square metres on two titles.

Lot two includes several interconnected warehouses covering 2839 square metres on a 2404-square metre site. It returns $516,286 a year.

The buildings were part of a portfolio sale and leaseback deal that was executed in 2007. Charter Hall and the Wyllie Group paid $41 million for 10 properties on two hectares surrounding the Abbotsford brewery.

The Wyllie Group, originally a joint venture partner in the purchase, paid $18.3 million to take control over the portfolio in 2009.

It is understood that some properties in the original portfolio have already been sold and these two buildings are the remaining assets.

The properties are being marketed by agents Dawkins Occhiuto and Vinci Carbone.

Dawkins Occhiuto agent Andrew Dawkins refused to be drawn on the estimated price the properties could fetch.

Mr Dawkins said the buildings are both zoned Industrial 1, a situation which could change if CUB shut the brewery.

Vinci Carbone agent Joseph Carbone said the area had been identified as a major activity centre which had delivered high-quality developments to Abbotsford.

The site is close to residential apartment developments built by Mario Salvo and Salta.

Abbotsford’s gentrification from a gritty industrial suburb is well advanced and there are numerous apartment projects in the area.

The office building, fully sprinklered and with high ceilings and concrete floors, could be transformed by a developer into shells sold to small businesses and as studios. The warehouses could be strata-subdivided and sold to individual users.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


Famous Flyer: Joe Camilleri

On the road: Joe Camilleri says a perfect holiday now is to just get lost and end up somewhere like Mexico. Photo: Supplied
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On the road: Joe Camilleri says a perfect holiday now is to just get lost and end up somewhere like Mexico. Photo: Supplied

On the road: Joe Camilleri says a perfect holiday now is to just get lost and end up somewhere like Mexico. Photo: Supplied

WHICH WAS YOUR BEST HOLIDAY?

It was a working trip. I was touring with Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons, it was our first time in the United States and we were all beside ourselves.    The streets of New York were very enticing and, despite being told to get some sleep before performing the next day, we ended up sneaking out on our first night and had the time of our lives.  AND THE BEST HOTEL YOU’VE STAYED IN?

I’ve stayed in so many. For something exotic and romantic, the Ritz-Carlton in Cannes springs to mind. But really the hotels I like most are the ones that come with a struggle, such as the two-bit flop house I stayed at in Montmartre, in Paris. You had to step into the hallway to pull the bed down! WHAT DO YOU ALWAYS TAKE WITH YOU?

I’m always losing phone chargers or losing charge on the road in the middle of nowhere.  This can be catastrophic, so now I have a gadget that gives me three charges for emergencies.  WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR A PERFECT HOLIDAY?

A perfect holiday now is to just get lost and end up somewhere like Mexico. I’ve been to many parts of the globe as a babysitter. Children equal resorts, ankle pools, water slides, chicken nuggets and chips. A holiday without kids? Now what would that be like? WHAT’S YOUR BEST PIECE OF TRAVEL ADVICE?

I travel on a Maltese passport and this comes with its own difficulties. Not having the right re-entry visa can nobble you. My best advice is: don’t keep all your cards together and keep some money in your sock, get the lay of the land beforehand and local currency is a must. AND YOUR WORST EXPERIENCE ON HOLIDAY

Going to Bali for the first time way back in the 70s.  I was told the Blue Lagoon was the killer place to be and cheap. Full security lockdown at Pentridge had more appeal.  This was truly barnyard living – we checked in to a four-star resort the next day. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PACKING MISTAKE YOU’VE MADE?

Just recently I played a gig in the Simpson Desert and – thinking that it was going to be hot – packed  lightweight stuff. Yes, it’s sunny but boy when night falls it is freezing.  I froze my arse off and had to buy a jumper, which I burned as a sacrifice in respect to the Simpson Desert before I left.  WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO NEXT?

All roads are leading to Spain soon then perhaps back to Prague. I love trains, especially in Europe where I can read, relax and savour the scenery.

Joe Camilleri and The Black Sorrows are on a national tour to support their new album Certified Blue. They will appear at Jazz In The Vines Pokolbin Hunter Valley on Saturday October 25, and Sunday, October 26, at the Sydney Blues and Roots Festival Windsor.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.