Father knows best… some men just aren’t good enough

FATHER Pat Connor, missionary, marital expert and the first priest ever to be quoted by Glamour magazine, says he would make a terrible husband.”After 40 or 50 years of living as a selfish bachelor, I would be a hopeless risk,” he says.He should know. The Australian-born Catholic priest, now based in New Jersey, has condensed his wisdom from 40-odd years of counselling engaged couples into one pithy manual of advice: Whom Not to Marry.The 80-year old’s plain sense warnings to women have turned him into something of a cult figure in the United States, which has been his home for three decades.The influential New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd gave him a glowing write-up, he appeared on the Today show, and, of course, made his unexpected debut in Glamour (”A whole new culture for me,” he says on reading the magazine).Since completing a Masters in counselling at Fordham University about 30 years ago, he has conducted premarital counselling and presided over more than 200 weddings. He also lectures high school girls on the pitfalls of marrying the wrong guy.He likes to catch women young, because once they have fallen in love they will be less likely to absorb his sensible and often unromantic advice. He believes there are no soulmates, only lovers to whom we commit.Father Connor’s central thesis is that you can be deeply in love with someone to whom you can’t be successfully married. He advises a year-long engagement to examine fully the values and character of your future spouse.Father Connor freely admits that a celibate priest writing about marriage is like putting a vegetarian in charge of a barbecue – slightly absurd and highly impractical.”That’s why I have always liked the quotation from Goethe, ‘Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action’,” he says.He has distilled his wisdom from diverse sources. The marriage of Dorothea and Casaubon in George Eliot’s Middlemarch is a cautionary tale, but Dr Samuel Johnson and the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond are also full of insight.But most of his models are real-life ones. Father Connor’s mother makes frequent appearances in his book, usually to puncture his ego. When the then-young priest was pontificating on the importance of frankness in marriage, she told him she had ”never heard such a load of rubbish”.”She said, ‘If I had practised perfect frankness with that man at the end of the table’, my father who was on his third beer, ‘we wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.’ ”When questioned on why she married his father, she said she had ”liked the shape of his neck”.WHOM NOT TO MARRY Mummy’s boysMen who are bad with moneyMen with no friendsMen who put you down in publicMen who are rude to waitering staffMen unable to laugh at themselvesMen unwilling to share authorityMen who never make demands countering yours
Nanjing Night Net

A blow-up to rival Eyjafjallajokull

It was Anzac weekend last year that Australians learned that the World Health Organisation was on high alert after a new influenza virus killed scores in Mexico raising concerns of a global epidemic.Weeks of near hysteria set in.Sales of face masks and flu shots soared; P&O’s Pacific Dawn became a modern-day fever ship, denied access to Queensland ports; 5000 passengers and crew on another of the company’s cruisers, Dawn Princess, were quarantined after arriving at Darling Harbour from Hawaii.Their subsequent release caused a Typhoid Mary-like tremor to course through Sydney. A paroxysm of blame ensued, state governments accused each other of inaction, medical experts offered different scenarios and confusion reigned until flu season passed.But when an Icelandic volcano grounded flights in and out of Europe 15 days ago, a feeling of powerless gripped more than those whose holidays and business trips had been interrupted, delayed or cancelled.Depending on your deity, volcano eruption is an act of God or Mother Nature, and neither divinity is in the business of accepting blame for things that go wrong.Julie Fitness, associate professor of psychology at Macquarie University, says in the era of the individual, people are driven to new heights of anger when there’s nobody to blame.”All around the world, particularly in richer nations, we’ve come to live cosseted lives with high levels of perceived control that ensure a sense of predictability and calmness not available to previous generations,” she says.”We are unused to being held up or prevented from doing what we have become expert at doing, indulging ourselves, so when a volcano interrupts us, our world view is suddenly shaken violently.”Nature has almost been banished from many people’s life experiences,” she says. ”Earlier Australians pragmatically accepted drought and flood with equanimity but they’ve become nearly irrelevant, particularly to city dwellers, so when a volcano stops them in their tracks it is a personal affront to the sense of individuality that modern society has enshrined.”Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland put much of the world’s international airline industry into gridlock as its ash cloud drifted east and shut down European airspace.Departure boards in international airports started posting ”Cancelled” for flights in and out of Europe, stranding 5 million passengers across the world.There were stories of travellers bored to near death at airports, airlines gorging ticket prices, riots on Spanish ferries, brawls on Eurorail and hugely expensive taxi rides across six borders.And while HMS Ark Royal was dispatched across the English Channel to rescue marooned holidaying Brits, wealth and power received the usual preferential treatment, with Rupert Murdoch’s daughter Elizabeth reportedly among the earliest to return to Britain, flying first class with British Airways from Los Angeles.There were mordant jokes about eruptions, interruptions and oral sex.Qantas and other carriers into Sydney bravely tried to assuage Australian horror of long-term detention in Europe on one hand. On the other hand, they also sought to calm European backpackers’ fears of being stuck in Bondi, issuing a stream of optimistic updates.Meanwhile, Eyjafjallajokull kept pumping ash into the atmosphere and a sense of powerlessness into society, and a desultory hunt started to find scapegoats.First, British meteorologists copped it for causing an overreaction to the ash cloud.An Icelandic vulcanologist told Reuters ice melts associated with global warming could effect magmatic systems. Somebody else noted the British television motoring show Top Gear had visited Eyjafjallajokull a week before it blew and the publicity-conscious program was happy to accept blame.After word leaked that American authorities routinely allowed jetliners to take off and land at Hilo International Airport in the middle of the volcano-rich island of Hawaii, Europeans sent up test flights to see if aircraft would tumble back to earth, engines choked with ash.None did.The first Qantas flight out of London arrived in Sydney eight days ago and most flights are returning to normal.But Eyjafjallajokull continues to spew forth ash and cast a pall of uncertainty over Australians wondering about travel to Europe for the northern hemisphere summer.
Nanjing Night Net

Accusations lost in translation

The voice from Turkey is scratchy but the message is clear: the Iranian sheikh facing deportation from Australia, Mansour Leghaei, is an extremist and a ”mastermind terrorist”.The accuser, an Iranian dissident who has fled the regime, has established contact with the Herald on an internet phone line to condemn Leghaei, the Sydney sheikh who ASIO has branded a threat to national security. This is the same moderate Shia preacher who Christian leaders have hailed for building bridges in the Australian community; who has won the unanimous support of Canterbury and Marrickville councils; and who the federal Attorney General, Robert McClelland – the man in charge of ASIO – once described as an asset to the nation.There is one big problem with the accuser hiding in Turkey. He can offer no proof. For the media, this has always been the frustration when reporting on Leghaei, whose eviction from Australia – after a 13-year battle – could be days away.ASIO does not have to tell Leghaei or the Australian people why it has deemed him a risk, so it is tempting to listen to people who might offer us some hints. The man on the phone recites a letter that he and the Iranian Refugees Collective, Turkey, have sent in recent days to Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, urging him to go ahead and deport Leghaei.”He used to give Islamic lectures in the Goohardasht Karj and Evin prison centres, the most notorious jails in the country, and interviewed the individuals imprisoned in its jails,” they claim in the letter.”Some of us we know him very well in Iran, as he used to patrol with bodyguards, passing by with security. We used to laugh and say to each other, ‘Here he comes! The Minister of Halal Meat (Haj-Agha gooshtey), the killer of Iranian people!’ We have his images and we recognise he is in Australia for 15 or 16 years.”There is nothing in the letter, however, Evans could consider as evidence. No images are attached. Most of its 680 words rail against the Iranian regime and its persecution and murder of dissidents. None of it establishes a link between 47-year-old Leghaei and the regime.If the minister – the sheikh’s last chance – is going to deport Leghaei, he is unlikely to give any weight to this letter. He will be relying on a case built by ASIO: the suspected ”acts of foreign interference” which it has never disclosed to the public, the stuff we are not allowed to know.When the Herald presents Leghaei with the allegations in the letter at the Imam Husain Islamic Centre at Earlwood, which he founded in 1997, he is at first calm but resolute: ”If I don’t doubt their integrity, they have mistaken me for someone else. Otherwise they are just lying.”He adds: ”They don’t know me. Simple. I have never visited any prison in Iran – never, ever any prison in Iran in my life. In fact, I have visited one prison and that was in Australia.”The Herald raises another unsubstantiated claim – this time from a source in Iran, via a Sydney-based Iranian – that Leghaei’s brother works for the secret police and his sister carries a walkie-talkie and informs on women who dress immodestly. Leghaei sighs, almost laughs: ”I don’t have any sister. Please report this one.” His four brothers, he says, have small businesses in a market in his home city, Isfahan.By now he is suspecting a network of ”malicious lies” – fabrications by people who have never met him, who must be desperately exploiting his plight to bolster their wider campaign against Iran’s rulers.”I am very happy you have access to such information because my sixth sense is that ASIO has made a big mistake by relying on such baseless allegations that are only politically motivated.”Leghaei’s bridging visa to stay in Australia expires on Monday. The latest of many since his battle began, it was extended for two weeks on April 19 to allow Evans more time to consider the sheikh’s request that he override ASIO’s adverse security assessments. If the minister refuses, Leghaei’s wife, Marzieh, and one of their four children, 20-year-old Ali – an accountancy student who describes himself as a ”complete Aussie” and who speaks almost no Farsi – also face deportation to Iran. If the minister wants more time, the bridging visa may be extended, yet again.So what does ASIO know, or believe? We can only grasp at snippets from Leghaei’s failed legal battle which went all the way to the High Court. The sheikh fills in some of the gaps.He arrived in Australia in February 1994 with his wife and three sons, then four-year-old Ali, and 10-year-old twins, Reza and Sadiq (now 26, they have secured citizenship). Fatima, now 14, was born in Sydney two years later. Leghaei came on a three-month business visa to act as an inspector of halal meat exported from Australia to Iran. He was sponsored by both an Australian export company and an Iranian import firm, but his position also required the endorsement of the Iranian government, which vouched for his authority as a sheikh and inspector.Leghaei had completed his PhD in theosophy – a combination of theology and philosophy – in Iran. Other than six months as a university lecturer before he left for Australia, he says he had only been a student. He never worked, he says, as a halal meat inspector or ”minister” in Iran, as asserted in the letter from Turkey.Leghaei says his business visa was extended for another three months. During that time, however, a drought in Australia made its meat too expensive for Iran, which turned instead to New Zealand.”I was about to pack up and leave. But some of the local members of the Al-Zahra mosque in Arncliffe … they came and saw me and said, ‘Since you are in Australia, why don’t you stay here for one year with a temporary visa as a religious worker?’ ” He was regarded as especially valuable because he was the only cleric in Australia who could speak English, Farsi and Arabic. ”I accepted the offer and applied for my visa as a religious worker for one year.”In July 1995 Leghaei returned to Iran for a brief holiday. On his return to Sydney Airport, officials searched his bag. His luggage included $10,000 in Australian currency. Leghaei says he did not realise that, at this time, amounts over $5000 had to be declared. He was taken to a room and body-searched. While there, he now realises, officers took an exercise book from his bag and copied about half of its 150 pages. The book contained his student notes, in which he quoted scholars on the subject of jihad. This book would become very significant. But it was not until 2002, when he launched legal action against ASIO, that Leghaei would learn it had obtained these notes – and an alarming translation that suggested he supported violent jihad.Leghaei was allowed to leave the airport with the $10,000. He says the officers appeared to accept his explanation. It was not his, he says. He was merely delivering a donation from the Islamic Propagation Organisation, a publisher of Islamic texts in Tehran, to the Great Prophet Islamic Centre in Melbourne.The next month, in September 1995, ASIO approached Leghaei for the first time. Its agent, identified only as Brian, had asked Leghaei if he was aware that Salman Rushdie was about to visit Australia. The novelist’s life was under the threat of a fatwa. Leghaei had said he was not aware of the visit.Brian also asked about the $10,000. ”Perhaps it was a point of suspicion,” Leghaei says, but the agent had appeared to accept his explanation.Brian did not ask about the exercise book, Leghaei says. He got the impression Brian was trying to cultivate him as an informant. Brian asked him to gather information on the Islamic Propagation Organisation – its objectives, hierarchy and constitution. Leghaei says he agreed to try but later found he was unable to help.This had been the first of eight meetings with ASIO, the last occurring in July 1999. He was questioned about an Iraqi group based in Auburn. He was asked about his role as a meat certifier. ”But they never asked me about the booklet,” Leghaei says.In November 1996, the sheikh applied for permanent residency and later submitted letters in support of his application. These included two from federal Labor MPs, Anthony Albanese and Robert McClelland.But Leghaei learnt in August 1997 that his application had been rejected on the basis of an adverse security assessment by ASIO. He was given no explanation. As a non-citizen, he was entitled to none.While he launched an appeals process, McClelland wrote a second letter of support in December 1997, saying he was ”most surprised” by the decision and that Leghaei was ”an asset to the Muslim community in particular and the Australian community at large”. Now that he is Attorney-General, McClelland’s office has pointed out that his reference was based on his knowledge as a local member, and that he ”was not privy to the content of security assessments made about Dr Leghaei at the time”.In May 1999, the then immigration minister, Philip Ruddock, officially opened Leghaei’s Islamic centre at Earlwood, remarking: ”I do note very much the inclusive nature of the centre that you have developed.”Around this time, Iran’s ambassador to Australia presented a $32,000 cheque to the centre. It was in appreciation for the same amount which the centre had raised for earthquake victims in Iran. For some Iranian refugees in Sydney, however, this alone is confirmation that Leghaei must be in the pay of the regime.ASIO conducted its last interview with Leghaei in July 1999. Two officers questioned him. ”It lasted three hours. They asked me about some overseas organisations, such as Ahlul Bayt in France.” He replied that he knew of no such group, but he explained that he had opened an education centre in Nigeria in 1992 called Ahlul Bayt – a commonly used term meaning ”house of the prophet”.Leghaei made a freedom of information request in 2001 and discovered that an anonymous letter, addressed to the immigration minister, had alleged he was funded by the Iranian government and was a threat to the security of Australia and its Iranian community.The next year, ASIO made a second adverse assessment. Only now, when he initiated Federal Court proceedings against ASIO, did the Australian government solicitors advise his lawyers about documents ASIO had held since 1995. They included the translation of Leghaei’s notebook.”It did not resemble my work,” Leghaei says. The translation, he says, added inflammatory material about the killing of infidels. It listed the ”enemies of Islam” and said: ”It is a Muslim’s basic duty to wipe out the above classes.” Leghaei cites this as an example of many offending lines that did not appear in his original notes. ”The word infidel doesn’t exist in my book.”In the end, ASIO accepted that its translation was flawed and was ordered to pay a third of Leghaei’s legal costs – about $30,000.But ASIO prevailed. An affidavit from its then director-general, Dennis Richardson, argued the information on Leghaei must remain confidential to protect ASIO’s sources and conceal its targets.The Inspector General for Intelligence and Security backed ASIO, saying it had ”sufficient ground” to make its finding.In November 2007 the High Court upheld findings that concerns about national security outweighed any rights Leghaei might have to procedural fairness.Cyrus Sarang is a Sydney Iranian who believes Leghaei deserves to be deported. An activist, Sarang is the head of the Iranian Action Collective and the Refugees Action Collective. He, too, has no proof against the sheikh. Rather, he claims Leghaei’s failure to join protests against the regime confirm his complicity. His mere wearing of the turban, Sarang claims, is confirmation.But Sarang is no fan of ASIO. His home was raided in 2003 and his computer and documents were seized. He denied raising funds for the Iranian regime’s rivals, the Mujahedin-e Khlaq, which Australia regards as a terrorist organisation. Even Sarang believes Leghaei is entitled to be told why he must leave Australia. ”They should have to explain.”But they don’t. Leghaei and his family expect the minister’s decision any day now. ”I am so confident that there is absolutely nothing sinister in my life,” he says.If there is, we will probably never know.
Nanjing Night Net

How Murdoch won a newspaper

Rupert Murdoch was growing frustrated that he had heard nothing from the Bancroft family since their initial refusal of his $US5 billion takeover offer for Dow Jones, the owner of The Wall Street Journal. He couldn’t wait.Through their bumbling indecisiveness, the Bancrofts were turning out to be wily negotiators. Murdoch, impatient, began negotiating with himself.Murdoch sent the family unsolicited sweeteners: a News Corporation board seat for one of them, and the promise of a protective structure for the Journal ”exactly along the lines” of what was established when he took over The Times of London a quarter of a century ago.At that paper, Murdoch had agreed to a board of ”directors” with the right to review the hiring and firing of senior editors.Still, he received no answer from the Bancrofts.IT WAS June 4, 2007, when the family members and Murdoch’s group sat down for lunch. The two sides faced each other.Murdoch opened the meeting with a welcome to the Bancrofts and praise for The Wall Street Journal. Because of the size of the room and the width of the table, at least three metres across, his voice seemed faint to the Bancrofts on the other side. They leaned in closer to try to decipher what he was saying. He looked old, at least to the attorney and Dow Jones board member Mike Elefante, who was struck by how unassuming this giant of a businessman appeared in person.Murdoch knew the reputation he had with the family: a meddler in news coverage; someone who used his papers to further his business interests; an apologist for China’s repressive regime. He knew that to get to Dow Jones, he needed to woo the family. To woo them, he needed to rehabilitate his image.He gave a meandering introduction, praising the Bancroft family and everything they had protected over the years. His advisers had coached him on the importance of flattery. In an uncharacteristic moment of self-analysis, he ventured an acknowledgment of his past. ”I’ve made some mistakes,” he said quickly. After a brief pause, he recovered: ”But it’s worked out pretty well in the end.”With a boyish face and closely shorn dark hair, Murdoch’s son and heir apparent, James, arrived almost two hours late. He had delivered a speech that morning in London at a breakfast to benefit the charity Jewish Care.The Bancroft family member and Dow Jones director Leslie Hill felt an obligation to grill the mogul and, typically, broached the topic directly.”How do you deal with coverage of China, given your substantial business interests there?” she asked. She spoke glowingly of the Journal’s coverage of China. In praising Journal reporters’ dedication to their craft, she invoked the death of Daniel Pearl.Murdoch gave a rambling response and pointed out that The Times had done several stories critical of the Chinese government.James looked at his father and grew defensive of the old man.He was at a loss at what he was hearing. Here, the Bancrofts were acting like an august group on the other side of the table. ”He has more work experience in his pinky finger,” James thought of his father.James quickly jumped in, speaking in his staccato tone. ”Look, we were the only broadcaster in China to broadcast the September 11 attacks live,” he said. ”We were the only broadcaster to cover the Taiwanese election,” he added. ”We did it carefully, but we did it.”News Corp had journalists risking their lives all over the world, he thought to himself. He felt that American journalism smacked of self-importance.Instead, he went on to outline News Corp’s business strategy and his personal view about opportunities. ”If it doesn’t make money, we don’t do it,” he said.Then, perhaps to soothe fraying nerves across the table, the elder Murdoch reiterated his willingness to set up an editorial board, as he had done with The Times. He took a copy of the editorial agreement he had given The Times and pushed it across the table. In it, he proposed a board whose members were partly chosen by himself, a structure that had allowed him to force out The Times’s editor, Harold Evans, a year after Murdoch took over the paper.Elefante then handed over a copy of the family’s proposal. Murdoch perused the document as Elefante ran through its main points.The Bancroft proposal suggested that the initial members of Dow Jones’s editorial board be chosen by the Bancroft family, who would choose their own successors in perpetuity. It was their way of cementing control.Murdoch furrowed his brow. Clearly, he didn’t like the agreement in front of him. Under the current configuration of The Times’s board, he explained, he could appoint the paper’s editor but the editor would need to be approved by the independent board. Similarly, he could not remove the editor without the concurrence of the board.When Murdoch left the building that day, photographers and television cameras greeted him. He told them blandly that after more than four hours in the conference room together, ”we had a very long, constructive meeting, and we’ve both gone away to consider both sides”. He and his cohorts went to a cigar bar around the corner afterward to celebrate.The meeting would turn Leslie Hill completely against Murdoch.She felt he had dodged her questions about China. She didn’t trust him. She would spend the rest of the summer scouring the East Coast trying to find alternatives to Murdoch.She didn’t trust Murdoch, she told the Journal’s managing editor, Marcus Brauchli. He hadn’t done much to win her over, and what charm he attempted she found false.Brauchli told her Murdoch was like an escape artist. ”We’re all trying to put Murdoch in a straitjacket, wrap him in chains, put him inside a lead box, padlock it shut, and drop it into the East River,” Brauchli said. ”And five minutes later he will be standing on the bank, smiling.”Three weeks after they met Murdoch that rainy June afternoon, the family just gave up. Exhausted from the to-ing and fro-ing over the structure of the editorial independence agreement, the Bancroft directors handed their negotiating power over to Dow Jones’s board.After 105 years of ownership, the Bancroft stewardship of Dow Jones was over. All that remained was the signing of the papers.It took just three days for the Dow Jones board, eager to see these proceedings come to a close, to send the agreement to News Corp.Over the next several weeks, the Bancrofts suffered a final ignominy.After the deal was signed, they attempted to choose their representative to the News Corp board, the family member who was to preserve their legacy. Fractious as always, the Bancrofts missed their deadline. Murdoch made the choice for them, vetoing the family’s first selection and instead picking a 27-year-old opera singer, Natalie Bancroft, whose greatest qualification for Murdoch was that, unlike some of her Hill and Goth cousins, she held the right surname and wouldn’t raise a fuss in the boardroom.ON AUGUST 3, Brauchli arrived in one of the small executive dining rooms on News Corp’s third floor for his appointed breakfast with Murdoch. He saw the scalps of former conquests hanging on the walls around him: dustjackets of HarperCollins books and corporate paraphernalia were the decor.The two chatted about the economy, and Murdoch grilled Brauchli on his opinions. It was clear to Brauchli that Murdoch was testing him, seeing how much or how little he enjoyed his new editor’s company.Then he laid out for Brauchli his vision for the paper, one he had shared broadly during the deal negotiations: ”The New York Times sets the national agenda, and we should,” Murdoch said, already slipping easily into the role of owner. Brauchli smiled imperceptibly at Murdoch’s mention of ”we”. He wasn’t used to the concept of himself and Murdoch being on the same side.Brauchli wasn’t surprised that Murdoch wanted to attack The New York Times; he had received ample warning of that desire. But the Journal’s sensibility was more subdued, and strategic. Journal editors picked their shots; Murdoch wanted all-out war.Traditionally, the paper had been a newsroom of midwesterners in the centre of New York, a group happy to exist outside the glamour of the city. The Journal was well read in flyover country and in the investment banking corridors of Wall Street, but among the literati and the culture set of Manhattan, it was viewed with a certain disdain, almost as if it were a trade paper. The reporters and editors often thought that was part of the beauty of the place.The Journal told its readers stories they never knew they wanted to hear. The paper revered surprise, running a quirky, often hilarious story every day down the middle of the front page, internally called the ”A-Hed”. The Journal’s investigative reporters often remarked how welcomed they were by corporate executives, who thought that the paper was a friendly outlet. One of the paper’s great specialties was the ”tick-tock,” often riveting reconstructions of significant events that had occurred months earlier. Almost to a fault, the Journal avoided using the influence of its news pages to full effect.Murdoch wanted to wipe all that away. He wanted the Journal to lead the media pack.”If there’s something everyone is talking about, that should be on the front page of The Wall Street Journal,” Murdoch told his aides.He continued his list of priorities for Brauchli. ”We should break more news,” he said. Already Murdoch had planned to add four pages to the paper to accommodate the expanded political and general news he wanted to see in it.As he stepped out of the nondescript News Corp tower onto Sixth Avenue and into the August morning sun, Brauchli felt encouraged. He thought that there was plenty of overlap between his vision and the baron’s.IN A MARCH 2008 meeting, Murdoch dropped by to listen to the paper’s plans to promote yet another redesign, due to launch April 21 with some of Brauchli’s proposed changes. When told he should listen to the paper’s public relations plan, Murdoch said it wasn’t necessary.”We don’t need to talk about this,” he said. Public relations was something Murdoch had never fully trusted. He thought it was a waste of time and, worse, a way to tip your hand to a competitor.”You really should hear what Bob has to say,” urged Kelly Leach, who worked on strategy for Dow Jones, referring to the ever affable vice-president of communications, Robert Christie. Earlier in the week, The New York Times had run a lukewarm story on the paper’s overhaul of its ”Marketplace” section.”Usually my philosophy is we get ahead of the story,” Christie ventured, ”so we’re not in a reactionary mode.””F— The New York Times,” Murdoch growled, suddenly surly. ”I don’t care what the media says.””But Rupert,” Leach ventured, ”we know our advertisers aren’t committed on incremental advertising spend …””We’re going to do this our way and not give them a road map,” Murdoch replied, beginning what became a longer-than-expected rant. ”We’re going to build a fantastic newspaper. I don’t give a f— what the media says.”Finally, Leach edged back into the conversation. ”We’ve been doing market research of our readers and their opinion of the Journal has diminished since News Corp announced it was going to acquire Dow Jones.”Then Murdoch, who had been simmering under the surface, exploded. ”We’re going to build a f—ing great paper and I do not give a f— what New York or the media has to say about it! We’ll build the world’s best paper!” This must be what truly energised him.He didn’t want these nervous midlevel people around him, questioning every move. He wanted them to be aggressive and have fun and be a little more like one of the team.Several weeks later, Brauchli sat in the dingy ninth-floor conference room of Dow Jones’s headquarters in Battery Park City. He had arranged for the chiefs of domestic and foreign bureaus to call in that morning to hear a discussion of the paper’s proposed direction.Toward the end of the meeting, Brauchli checked his BlackBerry and saw that he had a message from the Dow Jones publisher, Robert Thomson. He told the group he had to excuse himself and go to another meeting. Brauchli returned the call.”We have to go and talk to Les,” Thomson said, referring to the chief executive, Leslie Hinton. The two men walked to Hinton’s office; he had just returned from a trip to China. ”Ni hao,” Brauchli said, Mandarin for ”hello.” Hinton didn’t smile.”There’s no easy way to put this but we want you to step down as managing editor. We don’t think things are working out. We’d like to make a change.” Neither Hinton nor Thomson went into detail or explained why. Brauchli knew they were merely handing down a verdict arrived at by their boss.This is an edited extract from War at The Wall Street Journal. How Rupert Murdoch bought an American icon (Text Publishing, $34.95) by Sarah Ellison. Published on Monday.
Nanjing Night Net

God help us: Bali Nine pray

AS ANDREW CHAN belts out another song of praise, head swaying as he fairly hollers in devotion beneath a mural of Jesus Christ, his death-row colleague Scott Rush slips quietly into the back of the prison’s small chapel.It is the monthly English-language Christian service at Kerobokan jail and five of the Bali Nine heroin-smuggling ring have turned up. Three of them – Chan, Rush and Myuran Sukumaran – have the death penalty hanging over them. Their final appeals are due to be heard this year.The sermon is delivered by Reverend Thompson Manafe, a priest from West Timor. ”Trust in God will bring you peace,” he implores. ”Those who believe in God will no longer be guilty because Jesus lives in your heart and he died on the cross. You cannot be killed in any way.”Rush missed the sermon, a message tailored especially for the death-row inmates and one meant to bring them strength and hope.But he was in time for the service’s final act, in which the Bali Nine members locked arms in a circle, prayed for one another and received a blessing. Each of them – in their own way – has found religion since coming to Kerobokan.Chan says he had a profound encounter with God days after his arrest. Sukumaran renewed his faith some time later. Both are busy around the jail, counselling inmates and running training programs.For Rush though, only 19 and on his first overseas trip when he was caught with heroin strapped to his body at Denpasar airport, his spiritual journey has been more complex.Christianity and its central concept of redemption for sinners does not always sit easily with him.Rush has confessed, before God and the courts. He has acknowledged the dreadful consequences of bringing kilograms of heroin to the streets of Australia. But he finds it hard to absolve himself.”It’s been a problem for me,” he says after the service has finished. ”I’m still looking for forgiveness. I just feel so bad about everything, especially for what I’ve done to my parents and family.”Rush says he prays almost every night, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and saying his Hail Marys. Many pray for him, too. His priest in Brisbane, Father Tim Harris, and his parishioners do so every Sunday. Father Frank Brennan, the Jesuit priest, and Bishop Silvester of Denpasar have been visitors.But he is afflicted by a stubborn melancholy. Rush cannot stop blaming himself and hates being locked up. Even after five years, he can’t get used to the place.”It feels abnormal here. I feel disconnected. It’s a big struggle,” he says. ”But I’ve f—ed up and I’m inside.”Rush describes Kerobokan as ”pretty laid back” compared with others Asian prisons. He appreciates the emphasis on rehabilitation under the new governor, Siswanto, who introduced the English-language church services a few months ago.”It’s just hard to find people, other prisoners, to trust … and that’s what makes it worse.”While Rush frets, Chan is boisterous about his spirituality. He beams when relating his favourite analogy of faith, relayed in a broad ocker accent..”You know how you can go into those shopping malls and you see them sliding doors. The ones that just open automatically,” he says.”Now, let’s say there’s a door over there. If I stood here, would it open? Nah. I can scream at it, I can yell at it, I can do whatever I want.”[But] if I walk towards it, it will open … We have to walk in our faith and that means praying and spending time with the Lord.”By doing that, you know, doors start to open.”Chan is studying theology with an Australian Bible college. He was baptised in Kerobokan and, inspired by his faith, spends much of his time writing letters to inmates around the world and ”friends of friends” who are in difficulty.He has corresponded with David Berkowitz, better known as the Son of Sam, the US serial killer who became a born-again Christian and refused to attend parole hearings because he believed he ”deserved to be in prison”.”It’s just prayer support and that. I ask if he can pray for certain things in here or whatever, and I do the same for him,” Chan says, adding it has been 12 months since they had contact.While Rush continues to battle his demons, Chan appears more content. ”I trust that this isn’t God’s divine plan for me, and he has a better hope and plan for my life,” he says.”I look towards that and I strive for what’s ahead and what’s better, rather than what may linger over my head.”Rush keeps his hopes in check about his coming appeal. On the face of it, he has a good case. He was the most junior member of the syndicate and others with more senior roles have got life imprisonment or less.”I don’t want to sound not positive, but I don’t expect anything,” he says. ”I’m not in a position to expect anything.”
Nanjing Night Net