Sunday, September 03, 2006
MISSILE STORY IX
The story so far, according to two pieces in the Australian and three in the Age:
* Concussion from the missile easily dispersed through the ambulance’s open doors. And caused the roof and windscreen to ... cave in.
* Florida-based blogger Zombie, who is based in San Francisco, devoted 28 pages to discredit the story by using limited and selective images. Zombie’s work led to a speech from the Australian foreign affairs minister but it is not clear how successful he has been at getting his message out.
FLIPPER FLIPS BOATS, FREAKS FRENCH
A vicious dolphin torments French fishermen:
For several weeks, an enraged dolphin has been terrorising the French Atlantic coast, attacking boats and knocking fishermen into the sea, French media reported on Wednesday.
"He’s like a mad dog,” complained Henri Le Lay, president of the association of fishermen and yachtsmen of the port of Brezellec, in Brittany.
The dolphin, who has been named Jean Floch, has destroyed rowboats, overturned open boats, flooded engines and twisted mooring lines.
Worse, two fishermen were knocked into the sea after the dolphin overturned their boat.
"I don’t want to see any widows or orphans,” Le Lay warned. “This could end badly."
Le Lay’s solution:
"We put mad animals to sleep”, he was reported as saying. “I like dolphins, but this one should be removed or locked up very quickly”.
(Via Andrew Landeryou, who also observes that Jeff Kennett is the new Malcolm Fraser.)
UPDATE. Consider, please, the root causes:
Experts say that the dolphin, which has been named Jean Floch, must have been excluded from its group recently to have turned so violent.
UPDATE II. Reader Geoff:
This is a load of crap. I routinely find myself swimming among a school of bottle-nosed dolphins around here. All they do is grin at you. It’s like a wet Mormon convention.
Mind you I’m not French.
Saturday, September 02, 2006
PERKY KATIE LATEST
Jim Treacher on the digitally slenderized Katie Couric:
Normally I’d say a woman shouldn’t have to look like she escaped from a hunger strike on Wisteria Lane just to do the news; I mean, it’s not like NBC ever pasted Brokaw’s head on some super-buff dude in a Speedo. (What an idea, though. Rrrrrowrr!) But this is Couric, so I figure she deserves whatever abuse she gets. How did they think they’d get away with this crap? What’s it called, fauxtography? Sheesh. Just look at the picture before and after.
Yes. Do look at the pictures.
RESTAURANTS OF PEACE
This story appeared more than a year prior to 2005’s London transport bombings:
Four young British Muslims in their twenties - a social worker, an IT specialist, a security guard and a financial adviser - occupy a table at a fast-food chicken restaurant in Luton. Perched on their plastic chairs, wolfing down their dinner, they seem just ordinary young men. Yet out of their mouths pour heated words of revolution.
"As far as I’m concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better,” says Abdul Haq, the social worker. “I know it’s going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."
Those “homegrown terrorist” attacks of July 7 weren’t quite as much of a surprise as many thought. And now we have this:
British police said last night they had arrested 16 men in two separate anti-terrorism operations just three weeks after uncovering a suspected plot to bring down US-bound airliners over the Atlantic.
Fourteen of the men were held in London in an operation that a police source said focused on suspected “training, recruitment and encouraging others to take part in terrorist activity”.
Twelve suspects were arrested at or near a Chinese restaurant. Osama fans enjoy eating out. Meanwhile, in Morocco:
The Moroccan police have arrested 56 suspected members of a terrorist network as part of a monthlong antiterror sweep, the country’s official news agency reported on Thursday.
The suspects, associated with a Muslim group calling itself Ansar al-Mahdi, are accused of plotting terrorist attacks in the North African kingdom, the official MAP news agency said. Moroccan officials could not be reached for comment on Friday.
The group was planning to “announce a holy war in the mountains of North Morocco, attack sensitive targets, foreign interests and well-known Moroccans because they represent the state or for moral reasons,” the news agency quoted the interior minister, Chakib Benmoussa, as saying.
If only Morocco hadn’t joined the invasion of Iraq. Then the nation would be safe. Just like Germany.
UPDATE. Peter Clarke, head of Metropolitan Police anti-terror efforts:
What we’ve learned since 9/11 is that the threat is not something that’s simply coming from overseas into the United Kingdom. What we’ve learned, and what we’ve seen all too graphically and all too murderously, is that we have a threat which is being generated here within the United Kingdom.
A complete blogger round-up here.
PANTS MAN PROFILED
John Hargrave wants to know if increased airport security is effective:
To find out, I decided to re-enact the classic scene from the 1974 movie This is Spinal Tap, where bassist Derek Smalls puts a foil-lined cucumber down his pants, which is picked up by the security wand. Only I decided to go one better, by putting a buzzing vibrator down my pants.
The film was released in 1984. That aside, please enjoy Hargrave’s buzzy airport adventure.
(Via Bob B. in Edmonton)
MISSILE STORY VIII
Tom Withers has views on superfast Lebanese rust. Images, too.
MOTOONS A NO-NO: YUDHOYONO
Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono—say his name out loud in the manner of a boxing announcer; it’s fun—detects double standards:
Western media apply double standards when reporting on Muslims and are often ignorant about sensitive issues for the religion, Indonesia’s president was quoted by the Antara state news agency as saying today ...
He singled out the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish and other Western media.
Or the non-publication of those cartoons. Barely anybody ran them. The ABC blocked their airing. In fact, they were published more widely in Muslim countries than in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
"The publication of the Prophet Mohammad’s caricature has come as a surprise to all of us. Even more surprisingly, a number of Western journalists said they did not know that it was forbidden,” Dr Yudhoyono said.
It isn’t forbidden to Western journalists. Though you wouldn’t guess.
UPDATE. In other Indon-cartoony developments, Tommy Thomdeanm is a chance to win Iran’s anti-Israel cartoon contest (for a work that “shows the statue of liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in its left hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the other"). An Indonesian online editor meanwhile faces five years in jail for Motoon publication.
UPDATE II. Motoons lead to German commuter murder plot:
The publication of caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed was the trigger for a failed attempt to bomb passenger trains in Germany, police have concluded.
One of the main suspects, Youssef Mohammed el Hajdib, who was arrested in Germany on August 16, “interpreted (the cartoons) as an insult to Islam by the western world,’’ Joerg Ziercke, the director of Germany’s federal police, told Focus magazine in an interview to be published on Monday.
He and the other main suspect in the failed plot, Jihad Hamad, who was arrested in Lebanon on August 24, were also influenced by the killing of the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, in June, the police chief said.
Centanni and Wiig are alive and back with their loved ones, out of the hands of an enemy who could have slaughtered them like sacrificial sheep. I don’t hold anything they’ve done or said against them. I don’t really care how cynical or desperate their actions were. They’ve been somewhere I never have been and hope to God I never will be. It would be nice to see the media and the Muslim world condemn of this kind of obscenity by Islamic terrorists, but apparently that is not going to happen.
Now, a sanctimonious Canadian, columnist David Warren of the Ottawa Citizen, has accused Centanni and Wiig of aiding the enemy through “conventional cowardice."
MISSILE STORY VII
The Australian’s Martin Chulov claims:
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.
Left leg? The San Francisco Chronicle’s Christopher Allbritton says right leg. The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg says right leg. Your own lyin’ eyes say right leg:
Chulov also believes Zombietime is based in Florida.
FINE PRINT UNREAD
Walter Jeremy Sear on coverage of the Red Cross bombing claims here and from Andrew Bolt:
I predict you’ll suddenly both get a little tired of the story.
In fact, it’s Wally who is cutting and running:
I think we’ve covered the matter enough here for now. Something else next.
Stand by for more cat pictures, which should allow slightly less chance for our boy to make an idiot of himself. Speaking of which, Walter lately became agitated by Bolt’s views on an apparent Fairfax policy to remove ethnic descriptions from crime reports:
Interesting that Bolt, who does have an editorial role at the Herald Sun himself, should direct his criticism at the way Fairfax does things. I wonder how they do it in Andrew’s own patch?
So here’s a sample of recent Herald Sun stories in which the race of the offender is also not given ...
Wally—a lawyer, as it happens—supplies links to five stories. None are by Herald Sun staff. In fact, four are from interstate. Every single article Wally identifies as “Herald Sun stories” is sourced from the Australian Associated Press.
MISSILE STORY VI
The Age’s Jo Chandler investigates Zombie:
Who is the Zombie behind zombietime.com?
He claims to be a “photoblogger” who lives in San Francisco. For fun, he attends protests by people of opposite political inclinations to his own — the extreme left. He turns their placards against them, takes photographs and posts the images on his site.
He’s evil! At least Jo gets Zombie’s location right; Martin Chulov had him based in Florida.
In this vein, his happy snaps of the 2006 World Naked Bike Ride are well worth a look. But recently he has turned investigator, challenging photo agencies such as Reuters over the alleged manipulation of images and — infamously — arguing that the bombing of an ambulance in Lebanon was a hoax.
Last month, another right-wing blogger ("Blonde Sagacity, the conservative that liberals hate to love"), claimed a rare interview with the Zombie, in which he chatted about his anonymity, his tricks to obtain pictures (sometimes the camera is hidden, sometimes he plays tourist), and his motivations.
"The anti-war movement is really an anti-American movement,” he told Blonde.
Zombie is tricky and motivated by wrongness! Chandler—no relation to Raymond, evidently—next turns detective herself:
Just how successful the Zombie has been in spreading the message is not clear. The site technorati.com — which measures the connections and mentions that build credibility in the web — show it as a low-wattage player.
Yesterday it had 955 blog posts, while Melbourne conservative Andrew Bolt had 4260, and the influential US Drudge Report more than 41,000.
If Zombie is such a “low-wattage player”, why all the attention from the Age and the Australian? Including another report in the Age—an attempted debunker debunking by Sarah Smiles:
Ahmed Fawaz sits in a wheelchair in a sweat-stained hospital gown, smoking a cigarette in sweltering heat.
He was discharged from a Beirut hospital this week after losing his leg when a Lebanese Red Cross ambulance he was in with his family came under an Israeli air attack in south Lebanon on July 23.
Which leg, Sarah? His left, as claimed by Martin Chulov, or his right, as shown in an image here?
The attack on two ambulances ferrying mildly injured people from the village of Tibnin to Tyre was widely reported by international media, including The Age.
But Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has condemned press coverage of the incident, suggesting it was a hoax. He appears to have drawn his conclusions from right-wing US website zombietime.com that debunks all reporting on the incident using available press photos and television footage as “evidence”.
The scare quotes indicate that Zombie got everything wrong.
An Israeli army spokesman told The Age yesterday that the army had not yet established what happened and the incident was under investigation.
"We were in a war,” the spokesman said. “It takes time to find out exactly what happened and whose fault it was and why. We are not saying it was an accident or that we take responsibility. We only say that the incident in question occurred in an area used to fire hundreds of rockets into Israel … The army warned the population in the area to stay clear of rocket launching sites because we intended to operate there against activity by Hezbollah terrorists.” It is believed that the Israeli army’s investigation will rely on images and video footage taken by Israeli drones.
That investigation will make for interesting reading. Smiles continues:
While some reporters wrote that an Israeli missile ripped a hole in the roof of one ambulance that was directly hit, the zombietime.com site argues a missile would have caused much wider damage. It argues the hole appears to be where there was an existing circular vent, with rust on some of the exposed metal showing that damage to vehicle happened before the reported time of the attack.
Excuse me, but is there any doubt about this vent-hole location?
However, Red Cross volunteers manning the ambulances and Mr Fawaz insist the hit was caused by small weapons fired from unmanned drones that they heard circling above after the attack.
The Age’s original report mentions no drones, only “Israeli planes overhead”, and claims: “The roar and smash of the missiles shattered the night. Both ambulances were hit, directly and systematically, by Israeli bombs, the medics said.”
The Age visited the yard where the bombed out ambulances are now parked. This reporter saw the ambulance that Mr Fawaz was in. It appeared to have been hit by a weapon that punctured a huge hole through the back. The zombietime.com only shows the picture of the second ambulance that had a smaller puncture through the top where there was a pre-existing vent in the centre of the vehicle.
So did the Age’s initial report. We’re looking at another shift in the story here. As dipole observes: “It appears Smiles is advancing the ‘wrong ambulance’ theory, already addressed by zombietime. In particular she appears to be contradicting Chulov’s current story.” The Age doesn’t run an image of this more-damaged ambulance online—if anyone cares to scan a shot from the print edition, please forward it to me.
Based on photos of the ambulance’s exterior that do not reveal any blood, the site suggests that Mr Fawaz incurred his injury elsewhere and was “paraded before the cameras as a victim of an Israeli missile”.
Exterior? Try interior.
While the interior of the ambulance has been gutted, a Red Cross volunteer who was in the same ambulance as Mr Fawaz said he did bleed onto his stretcher, but not excessively as his leg had been cauterised.
Yes. By the huge fire.
At a speech on the Gold Coast this week, Mr Downer relied on the limited and selective images on zombietime.com to criticise journalists for poor reporting on the war in Lebanon.
Zombietime ran more pictures than the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Australian combined.
"After closer study of the images of the damage to the ambulance, it is beyond serious dispute that this episode has all the makings of a hoax,” he said.
For Mr Fawaz, 41, a mechanic from the village of Tibnin, life without his leg is no hoax.
Again I ask: which leg?
Mohammed Hassan, 35, a Red Cross Cross volunteer in the ambulance with Mr Fawaz when it was hit, said three volunteers fled to a nearby building after the attack.
Mr Fawaz’s elderly mother Jamila crawled out of the vehicle while the volunteers carried Mohammed, Ahmed’s son, who was unconscious. They could not reach Mr Fawaz with rockets from drones hitting around the ambulance and the building they were in.
"If (Alexander Downer) thinks it was a hoax, he should come and see the ambulances himself,” said Sami Yazbek, the head of the Lebanese Red Cross in Tyre.
Which ambulance? The one Fawaz used to be in, or the one he’s now claimed to have been in?
Mr Fawaz, who slipped in and out of consciousness after the blast, remembers hearing the sound of a drone whirring above him when he came to. “It sounds like a motorcycle."
Soon after, through the door of the ambulance that had been blasted open, he recalls seeing a second strike on the ground.
"It was a drone because if it was a warplane we wouldn’t be alive,” he said.
Initial story: it was a missile attack from Israeli planes. Blogger response: couldn’t be, because everyone would be dead. Subsequent story: it was a drone.
When he came to after the blast, he remembers reaching for his glasses that were knocked to the back of his head, adjusting them and then feeling a sense of malaise. “I put my hand on my leg and I couldn’t feel it,” he said. “I tried to take the cord of the IV drip to tie up my leg to stop it bleeding, but I couldn’t manage it."
Just as well the magical cauterising drone stepped in at that point to staunch his blood loss. Andrew Bolt has much more on this ever-changing saga.
UPDATE. And more from Dan Riehl, particularly on the left/right leg confusion.
Friday, September 01, 2006
MISSILE STORY V
Andrew Bolt checks with a military expert to discover if Israel “has any missile that would pop a neat hole in the roof of an ambulance and explode, causing no scorch marks, no shrapnel damage and no fatalities to the people inside.” You’ll be shocked—shocked!—at his findings.
UPDATE. Reader response at the Australian continues to be negative. Samples:
* “The Australian has to be among the very best newspapers in the country, but clearly got it wrong this time.”
* “Chulov was had. And all efforts by him, and the editor of The Australian since, have simply been an exercise in covering their collective rear ends.”
* “What does it matter whether the blog is ‘right wing’ or not? The photographic evidence on Zombietime was sourced both from blogs and from the mainstream media, and all of it points in the same direction: the ambulance strike story is as phoney as a three-dollar note.”
* “I followed the links and damned if it doesn’t look like the journalists were fed a line of propaganda, and swallowed it hook, line and sinker."
* “Just publish the photographs of the ambulance.”
UPDATE II. You’d think a blog-savvy fellow with legal training in matters of evidence and argument and a resentment of News Ltd would be all over a story like this, seeing as it plays to his (however negligible) strengths. Yet—faced with a News Ltd reporter whose story has completely changed, but who stands by his original reporting—the best Melbourne lawyer Walter Jeremy Sear can manage is this.
UPDATE III. The mystery weapon revealed!