Friday, June 04, 2010

The view from Salem

Just a few years ago in a suburb not too far away, we were chatting with friends when somehow the subject of the Chamberlain case came up.

Our female host, quite a decent woman really, suddenly became tense, finally declaring, “I still reckon she did it.”

A beat of awkward silence, then: “I just don’t believe her.”

I guess I made some faltering noises of dismay, until her spouse then offered, “I don’t give a shit!”

I was under the, apparently mistaken, impression that most people did give a shit, given that, just for one thing, an innocent family was torn apart by the witch hunt that engulfed the nation.

Some of us will have had the maddening experience of arguing with someone who still believes Lindy Chamberlain was guilty.

And some of us will have had sporadic episodes of madness in which we still believe Lindy Chamberlain was guilty.

Former barrister, prosecutor and Supreme Court judge Ken Crispin is one of the former, with wide experience of the latter. He this week told Phillip Adams:

... I wrote a book and I was interviewed about it by a senior Melbourne journalist, who began the interview by saying, “Ken, I just want to let you know there’s a ground rule for this interview. As far as I’m concerned that bitch is guilty and I don’t want to know I’m wrong.” ...

You couldn’t persuade people by facts. I was on talkback radio and I had a fellow ring up and say, “Now look, I’m an old bushie, you can’t tell me a dingo could go in and out of a tent without leaving tracks.”

I said, “I don’t want to tell you that. It did leave tracks.”

“Oh yeah, who saw them?”

I said, “Well, there were the two police stationed at Ayers Rock, the Chief Ranger, the Deputy Chief Ranger, a queen’s scout named Murray Haby, several other searchers; the tracks were still there next morning when they were seen by the Detective Inspector and Detective Sergeant from Darwin, and from that day to this, the Crown has never disputed their existence.”

“Yeah well, you’ll never persuade me,” he said.

(No transcript, listen here — quoted audio from 11m 45s.)


Transport Trivia Friday

Presenting milestones in Victoria’s transport landscape...

This week: 1978


The History of Transport Mural, painted by Harold Freeman, is unveiled at Spencer Street Station.


Melbourne’s first permanent pedestrian mall, in Bourke Street, is officially opened.


The West Gate Bridge is officially opened. A 60c toll applies for cars.

Next week: 1979 ! !

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Floundering in flotilla facts and furphies

Tobias Ziegler at Pure Poison notes that media pundits who excuse Israel for the Gaza flotilla violence have tended to “look at the event as starting when the ship was boarded — the reasoning and tactics behind doing so, not to mention the legality of doing so, aren’t discussed, as though there were no Israeli decisions that could have changed the events or their consequences.”

It’s true enough that Israel’s apologists want to portray her forces as well-meaning innocents who walked into a trap cunningly devised by the evil Islamists. Notably Greg Sheridan observed that the confrontation with Israeli forces was planned by the activists as “a kind of grotesque theatre, which is what all terrorism is really about, in this case to carry out enough violence to ensure a violent Israeli reaction.”

Meanwhile Andrew Bolt, our Dr Easychair, took much the same line, while further ‘reporting’:

Arab television showed one woman on board [the Mavi Marmara, a vessel among the flotilla] exulting: “We await one of two good things — to achieve martyrdom or reach the shore of Gaza.”

Added another passenger, Yemeni professor Abd al-Fatah Nu’man: “These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option is more desirable to them.”

What our Doctor neglected to mention in his ‘scoop’ was that Arab television aired the footage last Friday, before the flotilla set out for Gaza. Those inflammatory statements by the flotilla activists had apparently escaped Bolt’s attention until he began googling yesterday for material to illustrate his narrative.

But the material surely wouldn’t have escaped the notice of Israeli intelligence. The Israeli forces, therefore, must have had some idea they could meet with some stiff resistance if they attempted to storm the ship. There are more than enough questions around Israeli intentions and actions to suggest that the activists weren’t the only party in this tragedy who might have been planning “a kind of grotesque theatre”.

Interestingly, Dr Easychair also omitted to inform his readers that the same “Yemeni professor” quoted above had further remarked that “the current fleet does not bear weapons or carry armies, but it carries ... believing men, armed with faith.” An inconvenient detail, hence the omission.

UPDATE 3 JUNE: A very troubling read from Craig Murray:

NATO HQ in Brussels is today a very unhappy place. There is a strong understanding among the various national militaries that an attack by Israel on a NATO member flagged ship in international waters is an event to which NATO is obliged — legally obliged, as a matter of treaty — to react.

Meanwhile, Mark Steel takes the Israeli government to task on it’s statement — “We made every possible effort to avoid this incident” — noting that...

the one tiny thing they forgot to do to avoid this incident was not send in armed militia from helicopters in the middle of the night and shoot people. I must be a natural at this sort of technique because I often go all day without climbing off a helicopter and shooting people, and I’m not even making every possible effort.

(via Antony Loewenstein)

An example of how Greg Sheridan has earned himself the title of ‘Doctor Pussyfoot’:

Any police operation that results in the tragedy of nine deaths is in some sense a failure.

And in another startling development, see the leaked BP’s Note To Israeli Prime Minister About Steps For Good Disaster PR.

Speaking of BP’s little PR disaster, by the way, I’m not sure if I mentioned before how Dr Easychair recently lamented that “a month after the great Gulf of Mexico spill, the wildlife toll is pathetically small.”

Now that BP’s top-kill operation has failed, and the oil seems set to gush forth for months to come, our Doctor may find the wildlife toll much more to his satisfaction.


Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Doctor Easychair, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying...

“What courage has he, Doctor Easychair, the basking sycophant?”

Andrew Bolt — our own Doctor Easychair — decided last week that AusAID’s giving $5.5m to a Kenya-based NGO was “Rudd giving aid to Mugabe.”

This week Dr Easychair has decided that a bloodbath perpetrated in international waters by heavily-armed Israeli commandos is “the lynching of Israel.”

Now that Rudd has expressed qualified condemnation of the killings, it’s better than even money we’ll be reading tomorrow in Bolt’s column of how Rudd gives aid and succour to Hamas.

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Skewed priorities

“Understand the extraordinary power of various Federal and State Government departments and agencies and be under no misapprehension that their focus is on the provision of appropriate care and their only interest in respect of the viability of an individual facility is as it impacts on the quality of care being provided.”

  • Residential aged care – dealing with a business in crisis. KordaMentha, May 2010, p. 11. (PDF)

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