Greetings Singaporeans You’ve likely arrived here because of the recent fuss after the airing of some inconvenient facts about the corporate history and possible conflicts of Foreign/Law Minister Shanmugam, that seemed to have stirred him (and his followers) Whenever one writes about Singapore, I  get many emails from Singaporeans … read more >>

Out Of The Haze, A Singapore Spring?

When you are Singapore’s Lee family, and your clan has exercised absolute and uninterrupted control over its swanky specklet of Asia for 54 years, fellows like Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam are handy to have within your power court. K. Shanmugam, as he’s less tongue-twistingly known, may have escaped the attention of those … read more >>

Wendi…back by popular demand…

“Cheers to Wendi! Gan bei! Drink the cup dry!” It’s 8 pm on a freezing night in Xuzhou, and we’re having a jolly time in the Overflowing Fragrance dining room of the Sea Sky Holiday Hotel, an oddly named establishment given that this grim industrial city of 10 million people … read more >>

In Spain, Running With The Bullshit

THE A369 road south from Spain’s literary retreat of Ronda, the mountain town that so inspired Hemingway, Welles and amigos, meanders photogenically through Andalucia’s famous pueblos blancos, whitewashed villages punctuating one of Europe’s more spectacular mountainscapes. With their architectural nod to Arabic neighbours, Andalucia’s charming white towns are daubed like … read more >>

The Triumph Of The Pissed Off

From Brussels to Rome, his political opponents dismiss him — at their peril — as a clown, but Beppe Grillo, the Italian comedian-turned-activist movement, is nothing if not a man of his word. When The Global Mail talked to him for a few hours last May, he told us his grassroots … read more >>

Fact-Checking The Geert Wilders Road Show

In the bewildering battle of ideas, ideology and spin, facts are important. But the ugly confrontations that have marked the Australian tour of the extravagantly coiffed Dutch politician Geert Wilders — the Islamophobe whom Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik cited as an inspiration — have seen truth fall by the wayside. Wilders’ … read more >>

Germany: Inside Der Spiegel’s Tent

BIG MEDIA is in crisis, this much we well know. The internet is the Fourth Estate’s enemy, or possibly its saviour, if once-eminent titles such as Newsweek, which killed its 80-year-old print edition last month, and companies such as Australia’s ailing Fairfax Media, can deliver to a readership wielding smartphones, … read more >>

Denmark: Inspiring Politics?

ADAM PRICE well remembers the moment one of modern television’s most celebrated series was conceived. It was October 24, 2007 and the polymath Price — he’s a celebrity chef as well as an accomplished Danish scriptwriter — was working out in his Copenhagen gym. As he sweated, the gym TV … read more >>

Conrad: The New New Black

Convicted fraudster Conrad Black, who once lorded over Australia’s Fairfax newspapers in another less-disgraced life, has been peddling around London, hyping his new book with the velocity of a Lance Armstrong EPO-ed to the eyeballs. And, like Lance, flogging The Big Lie that he’s innocent. Armstrong would have us believe … read more >>

Pyongyang Pastorale – Updated

Pedalling Propaganda by the paddy (see updated correspondence below text) October 14, 1994 It seemed an image of rural harmony in developing Asia – a woman riding a pushbike beside a paddy field where peasants were harvesting rice. But in communist North Korea, nothing is as it seems. This cyclist … read more >>

Dear Leader and The Golf War-Updated

Pyongyang, October 13, 1994 (see updated correspondence below text) THE first hole at the Pyongyang Golf Club is a 340-metre dogleg par four, a severe test of skill even for Normans and Nicklauses. But it was a mere cakewalk for North Korea’s “Dear Leader”, Kim Jong-il, when he gave “on-the-spot … read more >>

Calling a Scumbag a Scumbag: Rupert Murdoch’s Revealing Twitter Habit

Isn’t it just grand that older folk have embraced the Internet with such gusto? Why, Gramps and Granny can now Skype with the far-flung grandkids, and bitter octogenarian megalomanic billionaires can tweet about all the “toffs”, the “scumbags”, and the “lying” who’ve tried to bring their media empires down. Bitter … read more >>

Wikileaks: Jennifer Robinson

JENNIFER ROBINSON is baffled. And that’s not the natural state of this peppy jurist, defender of whistleblowers, daughter of tiny Berry on New South Wales’s south coast now ascending the rarified legal heights of Cavendish Square, London W1 and jurisdictions beyond. I’ve asked her to clarify what seems an elliptical … read more >>

My Life As A Mighta-Been Millionaire

REGRETS, I’ve had a few but, like Sinatra perhaps, too few to mention. But this week as Apple, the much-loved technology company, became history’s most valuable public corporation, I allowed myself a look back at what might have been. Some 15 years ago, almost to the day, I ruefully recall, … read more >>

Spain: Rhapsody in (Smurf) Blue

GLOBALISATION isn’t a topic that ever much exercised the good pueblo of Juzcar, population 221. Tucked anonymously into the southern Spanish sierra dividing Ronda — the stunning mountain town made famous by Hemingway and Welles — from the tacky towers of the Costa del Sol, discussions in this sleepy, whitewashed … read more >>

Boris Bags Gold In London — But Beware The Curse Of Cameron

These Olympics have been stunning — stunning, that is, for the Brits and their much-lauded Team GB. So much so that last Saturday night, after Mo Farah streeted his 10,000-metre rivals and Jessica Ennis triumphed in the heptathlon — achievements which crowned four victories earlier that day, and capped off … read more >>

Laughing All The Way To Power

Italy’s most popular political figure has just told me to fuck off. At least that’s what Beppe Grillo’s hand gesture seems to say, emphatically “Vaffanculo!” as Italians like to curse. Or could his two-finger salute be more a Churchillian V-for-Victory gesture? Recent Italian events suggest as much — that his … read more >>

It’s Time, Rupert

IN THE blue corner, there’s ‘Dave Snooty’ as Private Eye depicts the British Prime Minister; a privileged old Etonian, an embodiment of the elite. He’s a royalist, the glorified PR schmoozer with little actual qualification except a profound sense of entitlement. In the other, more Thatcherite, corner, there’s Rupert Murdoch; … read more >>

Murdoch: All The Truth That Fits

AFTER swearing on the Bible to begin a two-day interrogation in Court 73 of London’s Royal Courts of Justice last Wednesday, an octogenarian once feared as the world’s most powerful media mogul began taking questions, the first few being perhaps the only ones he answered with clear and indisputable truth. … read more >>

What’s Rupert’s Game in Scotland?

  IT WAS a humble tweet, just 52 characters, one of around 300 million made on February 20 — initially little noticed in London but resonating across the bonny Caledonian highlands. “Let Scotland go and compete. Everyone would win,” tweeted one Rupert Murdoch last month. While that’s not how London … read more >>

The Anti Rupert Murdoch

ENGLAND can be confusing, and John Bird isn’t helping. Bird is the Anti-Rupert, a social entrepreneur who in 1991 founded – with Gordon Roddick, who also founded The Body Shop with his late wife, Anita – The Big Issue, that ubiquitous “street newspaper” distributed by homeless people from Brisbane to … read more >>

UK: The Bomb-Chucking Blogger

A DISCUSSION with Paul Staines develops not so much as conventional-journalist-interviews-gadfly-blogger-of-British-politics, as form dictates it should. Rather it mutates into an hour of grilling each other, as perhaps was destined to occur upon meeting the bomb-thrower better known as Guido Fawkes, named after the anarchist who plotted to blow up … read more >>

Why David Cameron is sounding a lot like Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO: David Cameron doesn’t look like Hosni Mubarak — hated scourge of Egyptians. That would be Robert De Niro. Nor does dapper Dave look like Tunisia’s ousted strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, or Syria’s aptly-onomatopoeaic Bashar al-Assad, or any other tyrant from Pyongyang to Minsk. But in making a … read more >>

TV hit blasts Kabul bumblers

KABUL: If, near a decade after 9/11, you’ve been wondering about the billions taxpayers have spent to build a shiny new Afghanistan, spend a few minutes YouTubing the trailer for The Ministry, a TV comic hit that’s sweeping Kabul. Among the first few results, it’s an excoriating little piece of … read more >>

Wendi Deng Murdoch: La Bella Ambiciosa Que Llegò de China

Wendi Deng Murdoch

LONDRES: Fue en marzo de 2007 en Pekín, adonde yo había ido a ver un hermoso siheyuan —el patio tradicional de las casas chinas— al lado de la Ciudad Prohibida, cuando por primera vez noté que algo extra- ño pasaba con mis comunicaciones. Podía enviar correos electrónicos, pero no llegaban … read more >>

Behind Wendi Deng’s billion-dollar spike

TIGER WIFE or Trophy wife? Slam-down Sister or caring partner doing a Tammy Wynette? New York socialite or about-to-be global media mogul? When Wendi Deng soared on Tuesday, 42 and pretty-in-pink, left across our TV screens to clobber the idiot cream-pieing her struggling octogenarian billionaire husband, my first thought was … read more >>

Murdoch: No profile

LAST WEEK, as the corruption eating at Rupert Murdoch’s British operation threatened gangrene over the rest of his global empire, I sent an email to Judith Whelan, editor of Good Weekend magazine. This was ‘the media’s Arab Spring,’ I wrote. ‘Nobody is scared any more… no more meetings in the … read more >>

Australia: Our Julian

FOR ONCE, Australia really is punching above its weight in the world My mother, Sage of Winchelsea, Skyped me from her rural Victorian hearth to ask what I was doing in Cairo. ‘Profiling Egypt’s richest man, and  writing about Australia’s relevance in the world,’ I told her as the Nile … read more >>

Media mogul makes his mark in a troubled land

Melbourne-raised Saad Mohseni is forging an empire in his homeland of Afghanistan SAAD Mohseni is the Australian media mogul you’ve probably never heard of. His writ runs wide and influentially in a country at the crossroads. At 44, his authority is sought by some of the world’s most powerful people: … read more >>

Afghanistan: Media mogul makes his mark in a troubled land

Melbourne-raised Saad Mohseni is forging an empire in his homeland of Afghanistan SAAD Mohseni is the Australian media mogul you’ve probably never heard of. His writ runs wide and influentially in a country at the crossroads. At 44, his authority is sought by some of the world’s most powerful people: … read more >>