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Thursday, August 31, 2006


A righteous tip o’ the hat to Bonjour Triteness, who suggests a complete picture of the Red Cross ambulance attack may only be achieved by combining Martin Chulov’s two reports:

* The “first ambulance”, no. 782, was speeding in a convoy AND stationary;

* The six people on board the convoy were all severely injured except Shalin the driver AND only two were severely injured;

* Shalin was protected by the driver’s canopy AND by the vehicle’s rear ramp;

* The ambulance/convoy was struck by a rocket/s AND missile/s fired by an Apache helicopter that was also a drone;

* The missile pierced the centre of the red cross on ambulance 782 AND “an explosion thundered” into the ambulance;

* Shalin “remembers nothing” after the flash-bang-crunch of the crash AND he remembers that “then there was a battle for the next hour” and “we hid in a building convinced we were going to die”.

The Australian’s readers aren’t impressed:

Chulov stands by his original story? Then why did he change all of his original details?

And from Tony Parkinson, now media advisor to Alexander Downer:

I’m sure I’m not the only reader of The Australian to have been mystified once confronted by the photographic evidence of these attacks: a single hole in a roof; the vehicle otherwise intact, and little sign in the vehicle’s interior of explosion or fire. As a former war correspondent with The Australian, I witnessed the scenes of devastation on the so-called Highway to Hell outside Kuwait City during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Hundreds of molten wreckages littering that battlefield had been struck by missiles fired by US Apache helicopters. If, indeed, this ambulance in Lebanon had taken a direct hit from an Apache assault helicopter, the outcome was like no other I had seen ...

I have no quarrel with Chulov wishing to stand by his story. I simply make the point that it has become a different story to that he reported on July 26.

Readers of this site are also sceptical. Dan Lewis:

It’s funny. I would have thought the lefties could use this as a rare chance to really lay the boot into Murdoch and News Ltd (owners of The Australian).

It seems, however, they may be too distracted laying the boot into Jews.


If you look at the hole in the roof of that ambulance it is quite obvious that those evil Zionists have developed the ultimate WMD - air to surface angle grinders. No muslim emergency services vehicle will be safe! Not even SPECTRE could come up with something so diabolical. God help us all.

Francis H.:

Could Chulov be so clueless not to notice that the story had changed so completely, and precisely in a way to explain the doubts raised by the blogs?

And Currency Lad:

The wider context for today’s embarrassing leader is the newspaper’s campaign to discredit Alexander Downer - whose resignation an unnamed editorialist for The Australian has called for over the AWB affair ... Their resentment boiled over today with this hilarious attempt to argue that the people who told Chulov a pack of lies must now be believed because he checked with the liars a second time.

Previous posts on this matter here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 02:01 PM
(61) CommentsPermalink


The Sydney Morning Herald’s Greg Hassall previews last night’s Australian broadcast of 9/11: The Falling Man:

Has the passing of time softened the impact?

Possibly not, especially for the falling man himself. Hassall’s next line is also ill-considered:

Shall we now more easily be able to watch images of that terrible day in New York when nearly 2800 people lost their lives in an unprecedented attack by two aircraft ... ?

I’ll say it’s unprecedented; aircraft generally exhibit an inability to compose—let alone carry out—plans to destroy humankind. Also in the SMH, Paul Kalina reveals that the director of the documentary may have been the source for Graeme Blundell’s observation that World Trade Center jumpers were viewed as cowardly:

The American-born filmmaker Henry Singer remembers seeing them as he watched coverage of the attacks from an office in London ...  many Americans, Singer feels, regard the jumpers as cowards.

Name one.

"People might see jumping as giving up, as opposed to, ‘Why not run through the flames, the smoke and try to make your way down?’ I may be wrong in how people see that, but I would absolutely disagree with that. I see that decision to jump as extraordinarily brave."

So why raise the unfounded cowardice slur? Then again, we are talking about someone whose sensitivity runs to this level:

“I thought this is going to be a very hard film but this is an unusual opportunity, so I decided to take the leap."

(Via Stephen M.)

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 12:54 PM
(80) CommentsPermalink


Reuters—who else?—celebrates the triumph of fakery.

(Via Paul Bickford)

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 11:41 AM
(18) CommentsPermalink


Big local news from AAP:

A life-sized puppet of NSW Premier Morris Iemma will feature in a climate change protest by Greenpeace activists at parliament house today.

Protesters will tell politicians that Mr Iemma is nothing but a “coal industry puppet who is fuelling climate chaos” when they gather in Macquarie Street this morning.

Just in case you missed that crucial information in the first paragraph, here’s the third paragraph:

A puppeteer dressed in corporate clothes will be manipulating a life-sized puppet of the state leader.

(Via Alan R.M. Jones, who tomorrow will wear a suit and go to work)


Climate chaos; tell me about it! I was shoveling snow from around the saguaro cactus in front of my home in Richmond, VA, and as soon as I finished, a fissure opened in the earth and a steam geyser sprayed hot water all over the place. All that work for nothing! If it hadn’t been for the fact that torrential rains had created so much humidity that the doors to the gun cabinet had swollen shut, I probably would have shot myself. Instead, I just chilled a few beers in the frozen goldfish pond, grilled some burgers over the creek full of magma that flows by the back fence, and settled down to enjoy the bright green sunset.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 11:11 AM
(29) CommentsPermalink


Slowly, ever so slowly, we are taking over the planet.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 11:04 AM
(14) CommentsPermalink


Please observe the hideous cauldron of pain where, according to Martin Chulov, Ahmed Mohammed Fawaz had his lower left leg amputated “and whose severe burns ironically had saved his life by sealing blood vessels and arteries”:


Via reader Kaboom. Click here for a larger view; or here for Dan Reihl’s in-van image. Note all the ... er ... blood, and ... umm ... burnt stuff. Damning! Meanwhile, reader Rothman emails:

I note that Chulov in his summary of the “key planks of’s allegations” fails to mention that Lebanese ambulances have a circular air vent in the middle of the red cross, thereby omitting any non-violent explanation for the hole in the roof. I’d have thought that plank was kind of keyish.

And as a blogger of some renown, could you explain how a blog “devoted 28 pages” to the story? Twenty-eight pages? Is that a lot? How many pages do blogs usually have?

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 10:04 AM
(26) CommentsPermalink


Today’s editorial in the Australian:

In his report in the Media section today, Chulov stands by the original account.

No, he doesn’t. With thanks to readers, here follows a comparison of Martin Chulov’s two pieces on the Red Cross ambulance attack.

First Piece:

Two ambulances travelling in convoy were fired on by an Israeli Apache helicopter as they sped to the besieged port city of Tyre.

Second Piece:

The damage done was consistent with ruined cars and vans that I saw elsewhere in Lebanon and earlier in Gaza, which had been hit by a missile fired from a drone.

Question: How does Chulov know those ruined cars and vans had been hit by missiles fired from drones? And if he is so certain of the effects of such an attack, why did he write that the ambulances had been attacked by an Apache helicopter, even after inspecting them?

First Piece:

One of the Israeli rockets pierced the centre of the large red cross marked on the roof of one of the ambulances, as if it was used as a target.

Second Piece:

A large explosion thundered into Shalin’s ambulance.

The precise original claim becomes much fuzzier. A crucial matter, this. If the Israeli rocket – fired from a drone, or helicopter, or wherever—didn’t pierce the ambulance, it calls into question allegations of deliberate targeting. By the way, how does a “large explosion” thunder into anything?

First Piece:

The convoy was struck by two rockets fired from an Apache helicopter, just before midnight, severely injuring all six people on board.

Second Piece:

The Israeli-made drones have many types of missiles, but the most regularly used has a small warhead designed for use in urban areas. It aims not to kill anyone outside a small zone and rarely leaves a calling card outside its target.

An ambulance is considerably smaller than the small urban zones this weapon was presumably designed for. Yet this warhead was barely able to take someone’s leg off – in a direct hit. People standing nearby (if they were standing, and not driving; see next item) suffered no injuries at all.

First Piece:

Mr Shalin was spared more serious injuries by the armoured vest he was wearing and the driver’s canopy that protected him from a direct hit … he remembers nothing after the flash and bang of the missile then the crunch of the crash as his ambulance veered off road.

Second Piece:

Shalin was lifting the rear ramp of the ambulance when the missile hit. His colleague was stepping into the side door. The concussion wave from the missile easily dispersed through the open spaces. Shalin was protected as he fell under the ramp.

Shalin has moved from driving the ambulance to lifting a ramp – which may or may not exist. It’s sweet that the concussive blast from this mini-missile carefully drapes a protective metal covering over potential victims. In light of all these changes – remember, Chulov interviewed the same source for both pieces – this line from the driver is compelling:

"Everything I said happened that night did happen,” he said.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/31/2006 at 01:58 AM
(68) CommentsPermalink

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


The Australian’s Martin Chulov, who covered the Red Cross ambulance story, rejects claims that it was a hoax:

I was in Tyre on the night of the attack and investigated the incident closely the next day. On July 24, with photographer Stewart Innes, we spoke to Qassem Shalin, who was recovering from a minor wound to his chin that nurses had bandaged to stop it from turning septic. We also visited Ahmed Mohammed Fawaz, whose lower left leg had been amputated and whose severe burns ironically had saved his life by sealing blood vessels and arteries. His son writhed in pain nearby, his stomach riddled with shrapnel and the rear of his scalp opened up.

We inspected both ambulances, whose mangled roofs were not rusting at the time. By the time the photos [shown at] were taken, rust had appeared. But this is entirely normal in Lebanon’s sultry summer climate, where humidity on the coast does not drop below 70per cent.

[Foreign minister Alexander] Downer’s spokesman, Tony Parkinson, said on Tuesday: “Those (website) pictures do not show an ambulance that has been struck by a missile nor do they sustain the argument the ambulance was struck by a missile."

He is wrong. The damage done was consistent with ruined cars and vans that I saw elsewhere in Lebanon and earlier in Gaza, which had been hit by a missile fired from a drone. The Israeli-made drones have many types of missiles, but the most regularly used has a small warhead designed for use in urban areas. It aims not to kill anyone outside a small zone and rarely leaves a calling card outside its target.

Downer and Parkinson should know this. The Australian Government last year signed a deal to buy drones from Israel. They would surely have come with a buyer’s guide.

The small warhead partly explains the driver’s lack of serious wounds. But more telling is the fact that Shalin was lifting the rear ramp of the ambulance when the missile hit. His colleague was stepping into the side door. The concussion wave from the missile easily dispersed through the open spaces. Shalin was protected as he fell under the ramp. The other driver was blown out the side door.

Working in the Lebanese Red Cross operations room in Beirut the night the ambulances were hit was field manager George Kettaneh. “Every ambulance that moved in Lebanon I had to know about,” he said. “I received phone calls from the ambulance drivers and it took us one hour to negotiate a ceasefire through the ICRC.” ...

I returned to Tyre on Saturday to speak again to Qassem Shalin and inspect the damaged ambulances. “Everything I said happened that night did happen,” he said. “There was not a sound in the sky before the explosions. And after that there was a battle for the next hour. We hid in a building nearby convinced we were going to die. It was only when George (Kettaneh) called me that we could leave safely."

The events of July 23 and the reporting that followed was newsworthy and important. The ICRC has documented two other occasions when Lebanese ambulances were hit during the war and to report the incidents does not reflect anti-Israeli bias. The blog site’s attempts to create a smokescreen around a shameful truth fail on tests of scrutiny that Downer was happy to overlook.
Beyond serious dispute? Only if you want to believe it, Minister.

Chulov fails to address a point central to the hoax allegations. Here’s his original report:

The latest attack occurred on Sunday night near the small village of Quna, where two ambulances travelling in convoy were fired on by an Israeli Apache helicopter as they sped to the besieged port city of Tyre.

One of the Israeli rockets pierced the centre of the large red cross marked on the roof of one of the ambulances, as if it was used as a target.

In Chulov’s latest piece, the ambulance is simply “hit”. Where, precisely?

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 08:07 PM
(140) CommentsPermalink


Some Marxist site reports:

The Dixie Chicks were right. They felt their fan base would not desert them; and, they haven’t.

In fact, the trio appeared on the cover of the May 29, 2006 issue of Time Magazine.

Too bad their Time fan base doesn’t buy concert tickets.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 01:38 PM
(31) CommentsPermalink


What was Robert Fisk on about the other day? Some kind of theory that most of the suspects in the London aircraft bombing plot would be released?

I’m sure Independent readers will join me in watching how many of the suspects ... are still in custody in a couple of weeks’ time.

Three more have now been charged.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 01:33 PM
(8) CommentsPermalink


It’s Laynette!

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 12:56 PM
(15) CommentsPermalink


The Age’s Lindsay Murdoch reports:

The UN establishment in New York was shocked when it received an internal report last month exposing a culture that covered up behaviour that enraged many UN staff, several of whom resigned in disgust.

The report revealed that peacekeepers left behind at least 20 babies they had fathered to Timorese women who are now stigmatised and in some cases ostracised by their communities.

It revealed that one UN peacekeeper from an unnamed country sexually abused two boys and two girls in the enclave of Oecussi, and in 2001, two Jordanian soldiers were evacuated home with injured penises after attempting sexual intercourse with goats.

(Via Tony T.)

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 12:33 PM
(46) CommentsPermalink


Katie Couric gets the reverse Reuters treatment, whereby an image is made to look better.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 11:47 AM
(30) CommentsPermalink


For 1,001 days—or 1,000, depending on your timezone—George W. Bush’s plastic turkey has ruled the global mediascape, from the Guardian to Pravda and the ABC, from the Sydney Morning Herald to the New York Times. This mighty bird, feasting on rich crops of gullibility and ignorance, may outlive the Bush administration. For as long as there are those who believe, the plastic turkey will remain forever real! To celebrate our turkey’s grim milestone, here’s a list of the Eternal Turkey Faithful:

image Al Franken

image Nick Grimm

image Ted Rall

image Naomi Klein

image Frank Rich

image Charles P. Pierce

image Linda S. Heard

image Pyotr Romanov

image Mick Youther

image Richard L. Berke

image Ward Reilly

image Michael Organ

image Ben Tripp

image Evelyn Pringle

image Suzanne Malveaux

image Mark Engler

image Phillip Adams

image Michael Hopping

image Washington Dispatch

image Mary Potratz

image Robert Dreyfuss

image Wonkette

image Moderate Independent

image Ghali Hassan

image Neil Mitchell

image Michael Moore

image Thomas Hauser

image AFP

image Margaret Carlson

image Kathleen Ferris

image Scott Horton

image David Rossie

image Eric Alterman

image David Lindorff

image Max Brantley

image Joey Luna

image Howard Dean

image Saul Landau

image Tom Barberi

image Cindy Sheehan

image Matt Taibbi

image Mike Whitney

image Kevin Zeese

image Mark Morford

image Howard Kurtz

image A.L. Kennedy

image Jeff Alworth

image Irving Wesley Hall

image Colleen Redman

image Heather Wokusch

image An unnamed Bay Area editorialist

image Linwood Barclay

image Daniel Patrick Welch

image Antonio Yegles

image Yamin Zakaria

image Joel Stein

image Collins Ezeanyim

image Ian McNamara

image William Rivers Pitt

image Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed

image Gregg Easterbrook

image Alan Ramsey

image Mark Lawson

image Alec Russell

image Buddy Grizzard

image Jon Bon Jovi

image John Kerry

image David Sirota

image Ernest Dumas

image Marc Perkel

image Patricia Ernest

image Kevin Dawson

The list of corrections isn’t quite as long. By the way, unexpected work complications ate into plans for a more substantial turkey celebration; we may have to time something for the third anniversary, on December 6.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 11:24 AM
(47) CommentsPermalink


Webdiary’s Hamish Alcorn abandons Webdiary:

I’ve been painted reflexively as “gone to the other side” because I dare to break solidarity with the peaceniks in my analysis. I do give up. Webdiary can fuck off. My despair is complete. The bottle, death, I don’t give a fuck. Islamofascism is a real political threat to the World, the Neocons have no answers except war and stupid bluster, and the Left are as blinded by their own propaganda as they were in the 50s. Nuance is dead. Independent thought is dead. My spirit is dead. I have no place here.

This followed an earlier moment of clarity:

At the moment I see people supporting their enemies - literally at times the very forces who would liquidate those with our values.

Well said.

(Via Leigh Cartwright)

Posted by Tim B. on 08/30/2006 at 09:06 AM
(72) CommentsPermalink
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