Saturday, June 12, 2010

Agonised decision

Greg Rudd, the PM’s brother, has paid out on bro’ Kev, setting Andrew Bolt a vexing moral dilemma.

Sibling dynamics are so tricky and incendiary that I tend not to credit what one says of the other, especially when that one is much less famous than the other he’s criticising. But Greg Rudd has chosen to make this very public, so I pass it on, even though I do not give his opinion much weight, and am torn about even publishing it (which is why it’s taken me half the day to decide).

Priceless! — as if Doctor Easychair was never going to “pass it on” to his followers at Rudd Hate Central.

Yes, denial of schadenfreude can be so tricky sometimes.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, June 11, 2010

Transport Trivia Friday

Presenting milestones in Victoria’s transport landscape...

This week: 1979


Thousands turn out for a 125th anniversary re-enactment of the first train journey in Australia.


Victoria records an annual road toll of 941, down from 1,061 in 1970.

Next week: ...maybe something else for a change...

Labels: ,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Orchestral manoeuvres and national emergency

On ABC-TV’s Lateline last night, Tony Jones reported:

At a protest rally in Perth mining bosses, workers and Liberal MPs joined forces to denounce the [super profits] tax.

There was no suggestion this rally, which included billionaires and socialites, was anything other than a spontaneous uprising.

In contrast to the rally’s hostility to the Rudd Government, the Community Cabinet convened in Como by the PM seemed, though not uncritical, to be a rather thoughtful bunch. Reporter Dana Robertson was somehow moved to wonder “whether the audience was well vetted, or just very friendly.”

This just gets funnier by the day.

Only a day or so ago Clive Palmer “retreated” from his claims about scrapping mining projects because of the tax.

Fortescue Metals boss Andrew Forrest yesterday told the Perth rally:

“In China right now there’s a fierce debate about how to lower their resources tax to encourage the mining industry.”

Today we read:

Analysts in China were perplexed by Mr Forrest’s comments, as China is in fact taking steps towards imposing a resources tax, which Beijing sees as a means of conserving resources, slowing environmental destruction and rebalancing an economy that delivers bloated corporate profits at the expense of households.

These captains of industry couldn’t lie straight in bed. And naturally, unprincipled Liberal fronts and flakes go into bat for them without question. Andrew Forrest is ‘Twiggy’ to the basking sycophant, Doctor Easychair.

So maybe the Government’s hyperbole of ‘national emergency’, to describe the misinformation campaign being conducted by these people, isn’t so out there after all.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

That al-Hazmi dude again

The above image is another version of the image of Sheik Mohammed al-Hazmi I examined last weekend. This version was found on the Ha’aretz website (thanks to a commenter). The caption states the image was taken on 31 May, but doesn’t say it was taken during the storming of the Mavi Marmara.

Compare the above with the earlier image:

As can be seen, the Ha’aretz image is less tightly cropped than the offering from the One Stop Israeli Propaganda Shop. This would seem to prove my earlier conjecture that “the size and aspect of the image suggest it has been edited from a larger image.”

So the Ha’aretz image reveals, not only the Sheik “brandishing” his dagger, but also at least two fellow activists “brandishing” cameras. At least one of the others appears to be clapping hands. None of those pictured with the Sheik appear to be agitated, or in a defensive or offensive posture. Most appear to be smiling.

The dagger, by the way, is known as a ‘jambiya’, which is customarily worn by many males in Yemen. According to the wikipedia,

The jambiya should only come out of its sheath in extreme cases of conflict. It is also commonly used in traditional events such as dances.

It’s clear enough the images above do not depict a state of conflict, extreme or otherwise.

“To celebrate a marriage, men dance with jambiyas drawn.”


I discovered this afternoon that Max Blumenthal apparently debunked this photo on his blog in the last day or so. I’ve been unable to view his post because the traffic to Blumenthal’s site has exceeded his bandwidth; but another blogger sums up:

... Blumenthal noticed something odd about the shot. The raid was conducted at night, but there’s sunlight streaming through the ship’s window. Turns out the fellow was a Yemini [sic] legislator, Mohammad al-Hazmi, who was showing journalists and fellow passengers his Jambiya, a ceremonial dagger carried by many Yemenis. ... al-Hazmi says he wasn’t even carrying the knife at the time of the raid, and with the Israeli troops so eager to shoot, it’s unlikely he would have escaped without a wound or two had he been threatening them.

At least my discussion here serves to show how it only takes a few minutes out of your day to do a bit of fact-checking — unless, of course, your aim is to willfully mislead.

Presumably those who instigated this fraud, and all the willing lickspittles who helped give it legs, believed they were acting in the national interest of Israel. Yet one can only wonder how much this reckless attempt to defame a prominent Yemeni figure may have further poisoned relations within an already fraught region.

UPDATE 2: Blumenthal’s post has been cached here.


And the Yemen Observer reports that a “Palestinian source” witnessed al Hazmi on an Israeli television channel “fighting with an Israeli soldier and vowing ‘Allahu Aakbar’ before he was arrested.”

Next there’ll be a guy whose second-cousin claims an undisclosed source told his hairdresser that al-Hazmi blew spitballs at the helicopters.

I can see a lucrative line of picture books for children of the paranoid, titled Where’s al-Hazmi?


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Lowlife on Saturn

Scientists have apparently found life on Saturn ! !

Which is to say, they’ve found evidence of life on one of Saturn’s moons, called Titan.

Which is an imprecise way of saying they’ve found evidence which may suggest the possibility of a form of life on Titan.

Oh, alright, it may even be only a ‘precursor’ of life.

This ‘life’, it is thought, will possibly be methane-based — which should immediately ring alarm bells about “us” being invaded by “them” for the growing stockpiles of methane we’ve horded in our atmosphere.

The existence of exotic forms of life in the outer reaches of our solar system is a possibility Arthur C. Clarke foresaw at least three decades ago. In his sequel to 2001 A Space Odyssey, Clarke told of how the Bowman Entity descended into Jupiter where he/it discovered life-forms based on the petrochemicals in the atmosphere of the gas giant.

Skirting the foothills of the drifting foam mountains were myriads of small, sharply-defined clouds, all about the same size and patterned with similar red and brown mottlings. They were small only as compared with the inhuman scale of their surroundings; the very least would have covered a fair-sized city.

They were clearly alive, for they were moving with slow deliberation along the flanks of the aerial mountains, browsing off their slopes like colossal sheep. And they were calling to each other in the metre band, their radio voices faint but clear against the cracklings and concussions of Jupiter itself.

Nothing less than living gasbags, they floated in the narrow zone between freezing heights and scorching depths. Narrow, yes — but a domain far larger than all the biosphere of Earth.

They were not alone. Moving swiftly among them were other creatures so small that they could easily have been overlooked. ... But they too were alive — perhaps predators, perhaps parasites, perhaps even herdsmen.

A whole new chapter of evolution ... was opening before him. ...

He was searching a world more than a hundred times the area of earth, and though he saw many wonders, nothing there hinted of intelligence. The radio voices of the great balloons carried only simple messages of warning or of fear. Even the hunters, who might have been expected to develop higher degrees of organisation, were like the sharks in Earth’s oceans — mindless automata.

And for all its breathtaking size and novelty, the biosphere of Jupiter was a fragile world, a place of mists and foam... Few of its constructs were more substantial than soap bubbles...

Jupiter was an evolutionary cul-de-sac. Consciousness would never emerge here; even if it did, it would be doomed to a stunted existence. ... In an environment where fire was impossible, and solids scarcely existed, it could never even reach the Stone Age.

  • Arthur C. Clarke — 2010 Odyssey Two

So... the Bowman Entity at the behest of his/its Masters nuked Jupiter, with all its living wonders. They had it coming.


Monday, June 07, 2010

Lies, damned lies, and corrections

While the Sheik has now returned to Yemen to a predictable hero’s welcome, the propaganda battle continues...

The Israel Defense Force has admitted it doctored an audio recording of radio communications between the Israeli navy and vessels in the Gaza Aid Flotilla, in which activists are alleged to have hurled anti-Semitic abuse. The IDF has now released what they say is an un-doctored and completely faithful recording of the exchange in its entirety. Honest!

Meanwhile, one of the activist groups behind the Flotilla, FreeGaza, has denied the nasty statements attributed to Flotilla activists ever took place. Honest!

Today John Lyons in The Australian tries to untangle the facts, if any, from officially sanctioned IDF accounts of the incident.

Noting Lyons’ article, Dr Easychair tries valiantly and successfully to avoid the ‘L’ word, but concedes there have been “gaps and mistakes — or falsehoods.”

But he “can’t see anything in this so far that isn’t explained by rush, adrenalin, a lack of TV cameramen right on the spot of the worst fighting, and an unwillingness to show the IDF shooting people, no matter how justified.”

Needless to say the excuse of ‘rush’ and ‘adrenalin’ (to say nothing of mortal fear) is apparently forbidden the Flotilla activists for their alleged actions.


Sunday, June 06, 2010

Know your enemy

The above image has been put about as depicting Sheik Mohammed al-Hazmi, a Yemeni MP and delegate to the Gaza Aid Flotilla, wielding a dagger with intent to do harm to allegedly well-meaning Israeli commandos as they stormed the Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Flotilla.

Presented as a poster boy for your worst nightmare about the Islamist bogeyman, the image has been posted on various sites such as here, here and here. At all of these sites the image is invariably accompanied with the following text:

Prominent activists in the Yemeni flotilla delegation were three MPs from the Al-Islah party, an Islamist party that is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. One, Sheikh Muhammad al-Hazmi, was photographed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara brandishing his large curved dagger.

The image and text have almost certainly all been sourced from this page at the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). It seems to be a quick cut’n’paste from your one-stop shop for all your pro-Israel propaganda needs.

MEMRI itself sources the image from this page of an online Arabic news source. Unfortunately the page is in Arabic and MEMRI unhelpfully does not provide a translation.

Those such as myself who don’t have Arabic may try running the url through google’s online translation engine. Although the output yields a somewhat mangled rendering, it seems to say something about the image having been published by Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper, suggesting their use of it to be “defamatory.”

Well sure, they probably would say that, wouldn’t they? But at any rate, a quick search of the Ha’aretz site yielded nothing on al-Hazmi. It could be that the Arabic news source was mistaken; or that Ha’aretz indeed did publish the image, then took it down for some reason.

In any event, the ultimate source of the image, and the circumstances in which it was photographed, have not been satisfactorily established by anyone. Even the size and aspect of the image suggest it has been edited from a larger image, thus removing any further detail or context which may illumine its meaning.

And its meaning has, of course, been readily construed by hawkers of pro-Israel propaganda according to their own purposes.

You can read more about al-Hazmi in this puff-piece from The Yemen Times, and in this more critical piece from The Los Angeles Times, both dated in April. The latter article includes an image of the Sheik in repose, taken presumably at time of interview with the writer, in which he is wearing what appears to be the same dagger sheathed at his belt.

Notwithstanding the weapon could well be used to lethal effect, the ubiquity of the dagger around the Sheik’s person might suggest it has some ‘ceremonial’ significance.

Whatever, in my humble opinion it has not been established whether the Sheik’s dagger was “brandished” by him at, or even used against, IDF commandos during the storming of the Mavi Marmara. Or if he did, whether or not it was without mitigating factors such as provocation.

If, however, the image of al-Hazmi “brandishing” his blade is indeed such damning evidence of the Sheik’s murderous evildoing, one can only wonder why Israeli authorities so readily deported him back to Turkey. Surely an attempted murder charge or similar would have been in order?