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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Gaza: Eminent legal minds scathing assessment of Israel's breaches of humanitarian law
Topic: world

This has been lifted from crikey.com.au ezine published earlier today, in the public interest, which we feel they will overlook as a breach of their copyright given it documents the shedding of the blood of so many children in Gaza:

12 . Richard Falk reports to the UN Human Rights Council

Stephen Keim SC writes:

United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, has presented a stinging report concerning Israeli behaviour to the Special Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations headed by South African lawyer, Navi Pillay.

Falk is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Princeton University and a former Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Professor Falk made headlines in mid-December last year when he was denied entry to Israel and detained for 15 hours in a holding cell at Ben Gurion Airport. Professor Falk had been attempting travel to Gaza to compile a report on the humanitarian situation in Gaza for a regular meeting of the Human Rights Council scheduled for March this year.

In the Statement presented to the special meeting last Friday, Professor Falk criticised Israel for denying foreign journalists access to report on Gaza. He contrasted this with Israel?s encouragement of international journalists to view any harmful effects of rocket attacks on civilians in Israel.

Professor Falk also criticises claims of Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. He stated that Israeli claims that they had allowed some shipments of food and medicine to cross the border must be weighed against the information from UN Officials on the ground that such shipments can have no impact on alleviating hunger and nutritional difficulties unless distribution is possible. The effect of the blockade prior to the latest outbreak of hostilities was that 45% of children in Gaza suffered from acute anaemia, said Professor Falk.

Professor Falk said that Israeli claims that the current military campaign is reasonable and necessary because of rocket attacks must be evaluated within the context of its occurrence. This context included the ceasefire by Hamas since June 2008.

It had been fully expected when that ceasefire went into effect, said Professor Falk, that Israel would lift its blockade of the Territory which had caused severe hardships on the entire population especially through restraints on the supply of food, medicine, medical equipment and fuel. Israel had failed to lift the blockade.

Professor Falk said that the blockade, which has persisted for more than 18 months, was a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention by Israel as occupying power of the Territory. Professor Falk noted that Hamas had been willing, in the event that the blockade was lifted, to extend the ceasefire by as much as 10 years.

Professor Falk noted the disproportionate nature of casualties in the dispute: over 800 killed and more than 3000 wounded with civilian casualties at 25%, of whom at least one third are children. He also criticised attacks on targets such as mosques, Islamic University, schools, medical facilities and ambulances as being in breach of international humanitarian law.

Professor Falk criticised, on the same grounds, use of weapons involving phosphorous gas (that burn flesh to the bone); dense inert metal explosives (which cut victims to pieces); and depleted uranium containing bunker busters.

Professor Falk called for the Human Rights Council to seek a General Assembly Resolution regarding the investigation of war crimes.

Professor Falk has been criticised in the past by United States Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, and Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Yitzhak Levanon, for lack of objectivity. At the time, he was defended by the National Lawyers? Guild, a progressive Bar Association in the United States.

It remains to be seen whether the receipt of this report and the discussion in the Special Session of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations will have any impact on the western reporting of the context in which the present Israeli offensive takes place.

Posted by editor at 8:33 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 January 2009 8:48 PM EADT
Network 9 follows the movie script with Mark Ferguson to reprise Howard Beale reality show?
Topic: big media

Australian actor Peter Finch won an Oscar from memory in the thrilling 1976 film called Network: A study of the television industry's impact on news reportage and inherent power as a medium.

Tracy Spicer digs into Network 9 in an opinion piece today in the Sydney Daily Telegraph and you can count on the vanity of the media for it to be well read. Mark Ferguson as news reader has been "boned" like the Finch character on the same 6pm news slot as aging washed up Howard Beale. According to the script something wild and outrageous happens on the way to the sacking whereby he becomes a top rating hit again and the 6 pm news becomes a circus act with Sybil the Soothsayer, Matahari gossip corner and so on.

theatrical poster

Ned Beatty puts in a stirling performance as the Corporate God, re inventing his screen persona after indignity of the 1971 classic Deliverance where he is the object of desire of a mountain man in all the wrong ways. A few pig squeals later and Ned is at great risk of being typecast.

Of course the real Mark Ferguson is alot younger and probably better looking than Howard Beale and ought not take such a rash course, nor is there reason for him to suffer such a nervous breakdown on screen even if it would get a 50 rating and bailout the 9 Network finances. But it would be great reality tv if it did happen.

Once the conceptual comparison of Ch9 to the famous Network movie is made, one thing is certain. The reptiles in the rest of the television and Big Media industry will pick up the thread. Sorry Mark. So let's just finish with ....good night and good luck.

Posted by editor at 1:23 PM EADT
Gaza coverage in Sydney: Splitting PR and defacto re-occupation in shadow of Obama talks with Iran
Topic: world

As if to echo our story yesterday on the real nature of Israeli society with 30% fanatical expansionists and apologist for assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, the broadsheet News Corporation press runs splitting stories about the Arabic people.

The Daily Telegraph has another subliminal effort with an example of harsh treatment of Australian Arabs in Kuwait airport on page 3.

The more serious broadsheet The Australian carries various more directly relevant stories about:

Exiled militant leader Khaled Meshaal aloof from Gaza Strip's ... 13 Jan 2009

Hamas leadership at odds over Gaza truce | The Australian 13 Jan 2009

They even run a splitting story about outgoing VP Cheney on torture advice to new Obama Presidency:

Dick Cheney warns of security risk if Barack Obama bans waterboarding... 13 Jan 2009

But what really matters in the Gaza "endgame" has been 3 major developments in geopolitics

1. Obama has said he will launch an organised expert policy team on the Palestinian massacre by Israel (our words) on day one 20th January 09 which doesn't sound like a blank cheque to Israel from here;

2. Following on from 1, serious talks with Iran as sponsors of Hamas: Barack Obama signals that door is open to talks with Iran | The ... 13 Jan 2009

3. Livni as Israeli candidate in the Feb elections and Foreign Minister announcing justifications for annexing the border between Eqypt and Gaza and (as we understand it) foreshadowing possibly thousands of homes destroyed in a 1 mile plus wide tunnel exclusion zone over some 9 km in the Philadelphi area.

This always complex and fraught regional political power struggle suggests some things to this writer:

A. Israel is running out of time to pursue unaccountable blockade and seige of Gaza and is loading up its bargaining chips for the poker game with Obama's negotiating team on day one 20th January;

B. The Friends of Israel and Livni as minister proper are running out of propaganda excuses for the expansionist aggression based on traditional reliance on western Holocaust guilt, or rose tinted moral superiority of their domestic population (given the real phenomenon of Yigal Amir, Rabin's assassin and his 30% approval rating there).

C. The real forces driving the massacre of innocent civillians by the IDF, given the 4 months of real truce with no Hamas rockets July to October 2008, is

(i) the very real fear and loathing within Israel over capacity for greater weaponry to be smuggled from Iran into Gaza seeking revenge for the displacement of 4.5 million Palestinian refugees, grown from some 700,000 since 1948, 1967 Arab wars with Israel;

(ii) electoral politics up to Feb 09 vote in Israel pandering to the 30% supporters of a Greater Israel annexing Gaza and the West Bank for 'The Chosen', based on a massive religious conceit. The truth is many Peoples have suffered great suffering not just the Jews and in comparable numbers. The 30 year Occupation and at times crippling blockade is an essential but insufficient condition for such ambitious annexation.

Of course Hamas could capitulate to Israel's demands under severe military pressure and 5000 civillian deaths and injuries, that is for renewed Occupation like the captured Fatah Govt in the West Bank. This would mean suffering all the indignities and corrosions of sovereignty that an effective occupation/blockade by Israel involves there - given suspension of civilised legal system with objective Constitution - via powermongering by the IDF and land grabs by illegal squatter towns, medical and food shortages causing premature deaths. But then that would just be in the eyes of Hamas a return to the slow suicide of the previous 30 year Israeli Occupation. And they were elected to break free of that Israeli oppression by the 1.5 million Gazan population, if they can.

We presume Israel will seek to finish it's military campaign by 20 January but that anything could happen before then though nothing good for the innocent civillians of Gaza.

Posted by editor at 12:29 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 January 2009 1:21 PM EADT
Monday, 12 January 2009
Gaza coverage: Spirit of Yigal Amir in Israeli 'Defence' Force as Sydney Telegraph junk Right to Know?
Topic: big media

Picture: Caption via New York Post 31 October 2008 "In this file photo dated Nov. 1, 2007, Yigal Amir, the convicted assassin of late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, is seen during a court hearing in Tel Aviv, Israel. Amir, in his first interviews since the 1995 killing, said he shot the Israeli prime minister because Ariel Sharon and other hawkish ex-generals warned Rabin's land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians would bring disaster. Amir fatally shot Rabin at the end of a peace rally in Tel Aviv on Nov. 4, 1995. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)"

As published Saturday last here on SAM the Jewish Israeli assassin of PM Yitzhak Rabin in late 1995 appears to be working it's evil through a large minority faction of the IDF and Israeli Society. Not so surprising when Haaretz reports that 30% of Israeli Jews support a pardon for the murderous criminal. Presumably some of that 30% supported the act of assassination too.

Yigal Amir arrested after the shooting

Assassin Yigal Amir was arrested immediately after the shooting (1995)

Yigal Amir, like the infamous Amrosi in this region of the world, is known as the smiling assassin - totally unrepentant. And he has lots of support in Israel.


Australian and USA readers of this micro news service might be surprised to know that the assassin courtesy of the famous Israeli 'democracy' - if one puts aside the aparthied land law and lack of written constitution - has allowed Yigal Amir to marry and enjoy conjugal rights around 2004 and he is now a proud father. Presumably his son can grow up to kill Israeli leaders who talk peace in the future too:

Sins of the father cast a shadow on son - World - smh.com.au

It seems the local Israeli loyalists here in Sydney are in denial about this evil strand of criminal warmongering in their own society as per this Haaretz report. Contrary to the local reportage of 1,500 Jewish worthies here in Sydney who call for 'peace in the Middle East and for Israel's right to defend herself' with a free pass to kill as many children as "necessary" one can logically conclude that 30% of the IDF are not moral in their support for Yigal Amir. The implications of that reality are great. This rabid sector do not seek peace with their Palestinian neighbours. Rather they support Greater Israel and expansion according to their aparthied land law system as per the last 30 years occupation.

(We take special note of that land law legal reality having a high distinction in the subject at Australian National University regarding the Australian land title system. Good laws bring stability. Bad laws don't. Just like agreed fences.)

Perhaps our local worthies ought to catch up with this Washington Post story of 1st November 2008:

From Prison, Rabin Assassin Cites Influences

By Samuel Sockol ,Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, November 1, 2008; Page A16

JERUSALEM, Oct. 31 -- The assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has said in telephone interviews from prison that he was influenced by Israeli military leaders who had criticized Rabin's land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians.

Two Israeli commercial networks aired portions of the interviews with Yigal Amir on Thursday but canceled plans to air longer versions Friday evening after a public uproar. Amir, a Jewish Israeli activist, shot Rabin at close range at a rally in 1995.

In one interview, Amir spoke about how he formed his plan to kill the prime minister. Amir said he attended a wedding at which Rabin was also a guest and realized that the prime minister was protected by only one bodyguard. "I wandered around with a pistol. I was just next to him. I saw that it was so easy -- if I were to shake his hand, I could have easily shot him," Amir said.

He said he was moved to kill Rabin by "all those who understand the military," naming Ariel Sharon, who would later become prime minister; Rafael Eitan, a former Israel Defense Forces chief; and Rehavam Zeevi, a former general who advocated the removal of Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied territories. Zeevi was killed by Palestinian assassins in 2001.

"All the military experts said that the Oslo accords were a disaster," Amir said, referring to the 1993 deal between Israel and the Palestinians that was signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin on the White House lawn.

Amir enjoys the support of a small group of Israeli hard-liners and has succeeded in improving his prison conditions by petitioning the courts. In 2003, he was moved to a prison whose location is more convenient for his family. He has won the removal of the cameras used to monitor him in his cell and was allowed to marry Larissa Trembovler. The two were granted a conjugal visit, and last year she gave birth to their son, who was circumcised in prison on Nov. 4, 2007, the anniversary of the assassination.

Prison Authority spokesman Yaron Zamir said such privileges are not accorded to Palestinian security prisoners. "All these rights have been given to him through the courts, and we have opposed them," Zamir said.

Amir also succeeded in a legal battle to have the right to speak over the phone. He conducted the interviews by calling his wife, who handed her phone to a journalist.

As punishment for the unauthorized interview, Amir was transferred Thursday night to another high-security prison in southern Israel, which houses hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. Zamir said the authority had revoked until further notice Amir's phone privileges and his right to have visitors.

Again perhaps our local worthies might like to inform themselves of the criminal radicals in their own society according to their own intelligence services as per this November 2008 story in USA Today:

Israel spy chief fears Jewish extremist plot, [2 November 2008] 11/02/2008 09:11 AM By Matti Friedman, Associated Press Writer

The head of Israel's internal security service said Sunday he is "very concerned" that Jewish extremists could assassinate an Israeli leader in an attempt to foil peace moves with the Palestinians.

Similarly Richard Carlton (RIP) then of Australian 60 Minutes aptly caught on camera an Israeli squatter/settler child confidently stating: 'the Arabs will leave. It will take a long time but they will leave'. A child is a faithful witness to the parent. The transcript is off their website but was probably here in 2002.

And our local peace loving, good Australian worthies are quoted saying 'only Israel is condemned for the death of innocent child civillians when acting in self defence' and the like. What planet have they been living on? Their bias is easily demonstrated by reference to huge rallies against GW Bush's Iraq war. Australian condemnation of Indonesia in East Timor in 1999 and previous. Condemnation of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Of widespread horror at the regime in Zimbabwe. Obviously the worthies really think Israel's IDF should have a free pass to kill Palestinian civillians. Actually they should be prosecuted, as should Hamas, where evidence is available before the International Criminal Court. The problem for the worthies is the comparative body count of innocents.

The Friends of Israel as we refer collectively might say Julie Irwin MP - a strong supporter for Palestinians - is one eyed in yesterday's Fairfax SunHerald:

Getting away with murder - Opinion - smh.com.au Julia Irwin is Federal MP for the NSW seat of Fowler and a member of the ... The Sun-Herald 2009-01-11

But they ought to take note that she was "By invitation" for a reason. The public are disgusted with Israel's carnage in Gaza and they don't buy the excuses, and the editor knows it.


Interesting to note the right wing screamers at the Sydney Daily Telegraph, notably pseudo National Party Afrikaaner Piers Akerman, has written of the evils of Hamas, the elected government in Gaza. But when it comes to the very worthy and constructive Right to Know Coalition involving owner company News Corporation not a word from SDT or Akerman.

Seems the Right to Know freedom of information agenda stops at the door of the IDF and their censorship at the Gaza boarder. Contrary to an Israeli Supreme Court order no less. No wonder all the Arabic audiences are being shown pictures of evicerated children from Gaza as compensation for the censorship in the West. They have a right to know but we don't obviously.

Posted by editor at 9:25 AM EADT
Updated: Monday, 12 January 2009 1:13 PM EADT
Saturday, 10 January 2009
Gaza coverage: Friends of Israel roll out the Holocaust guilt trip after IDF slaughter of innocents?
Topic: world

Skibbereen 1847 by Cork artist James Mahony (1810-1879),commissioned by Illustrated London News 1847.

This writer's people are from Ireland/Eire (as well as 1/8 Italian apparently). We lost one million roughly in the potato 'famine', or 20 to 25% of the population. What is not well known is that during this catastrophe the British overlords were net food exporters from Eire for filthy profits. In short blood money. That's cruelty on a historic level 150 years ago. The bravest or luckiest fled to distant parts like Australia a bit like the Jewish Diaspora. Apparently by 1960 or so Ireland was the only country in the world whose population was back up to 1860 levels.

Then there is WW2 when wikipedia tells us about 72 million people perished, 5 to 6 million of those were Jewish according to the same source and expert opinion.

So now we ask pointedly why the flurry of Holocaust reminder stories today in Sydney after a week of horror PR for Israel with it's bombing and attack of UN facilities and ambulance and aid trucks, and condemnation by the International Red Cross for abuse of wounded Palestinians?

From Doogue on ABC RN earlier today about 8.30 am: A complex true story about a Hungarian Jew sacrificing many lives to save others on a train away from the Nazis (Kasztner's Train).

To a full pager in the SMH at page 22 with a picture of the ominous and evil Auschwitz. (We once had an opportunity to visit in 2002 near Munich but couldn't stomach the reality. That was the trip we donated our shirt to a homeless German Jewish guy who had his bag stolen at the summer camp for backpackers.):

Guaranteeing truth, and avoiding it - World - smh.com.auShould some subjects - such as the Holocaust - be off-limits to writers and filmmakers? The German author Bernhard Schlink looks at the rules for fiction ...

To the special pleading in relation to Gaza referring to Anne Frank in a full page long side column in The Australian broadsheet here:

Israel just wants to live in peace | The Australian 10 Jan 2009

Are these terrible sufferings fully 60 years ago and the defeat of Nazism the free pass for the Israeli Defence Force to kill as many civillian Palestinians as they like in Gaza, or to erect cruel endless economic blockades as collective punishment?

That's at least one implication of the Holocaust history paraded today. Which terrible history no doubt feeds into the neurosis and paranoia of the Israeli population, diaspora and decision makers today.

Trouble is for the special pleading Israel lobby - including home grown Sydney PR spinners for the IDF as reported on here today: Aussie mafia of spin doctors in Israel | The Australian 10 Jan 2009

, the trouble is, no matter how much Israel loyalists keep referring to their existential risk, the country keeps expanding physically, politically, militarily and economically. And in significant ways at the expense of the some 4.5 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, West Bank and diaspora through the world Arab and otherwise. There is no real excuse for the negligent carnage of mostly civillians in Gaza.

The most disturbing aspect of the repeated reports of firing on UN personnel, vehicles and equipment is the this report: Substantial support for the assassin of former Israeli PM peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin:

Protesters scuffle with supporters of Rabin's assassin outside jail, By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press 04/11/2007

We have read that one fifth to one third of Israelis, presumably of the Right and Far Right of the polity, support a pardon or perhaps even support the assassination of Rabin. Here's one Associated Press report:

"A survey by the Dahaf polling institute showed one-fifth of those questioned saying Amir should be pardoned now. It gave no margin of error." in Israel Marks 10 Years Since Rabin's Death 4 Nov 2005

We have read in this Haaretz report this is as high as 30% from 6/11/06 [see the bold highlighting below]

Let them move to Bulgaria. They're wanted there

November 06, 2006
By Gideon Alon

There is a huge gap between MK Benny Elon's pleasant personality and his extremist political views. Elon, the son of former of Supreme Court vice president Menahem Elon, is not belligerent, nor does he coarsely attack his political rivals. He speaks softly, even when he is spelling out his somewhat delusionary plan for the voluntary transfer of the Palestinians in the territories.

Elon, 52, is a politician of a different stripe. He does not pursue journalists, nor is he constantly distributing press releases. Although he heads the National Union-National Religious Party (NU-NRP) list, he does not feel like the leader of the party. "I don't feel that I received a mandate to lead the NU-NRP," he says. "Not like Avigdor Lieberman in Yisrael Beiteinu or Eli Yishai in Shas."

At the beginning of the year, a short time before the elections to the 17th Knesset, Elon fell ill with throat cancer. He successfully underwent an operation to remove the tumor in Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. For three months he had daily radiation treatments at the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. "I'm under supervision, but today I'm healthy, thank God," he says, thanking the "angels" who took care of him at Hadassah.

Lieberman, the populist

Were you surprised by Avigdor Lieberman's decision to join the government?

Elon: "No. Lieberman is moving toward the center. Lieberman is ready for the establishment of a Palestinian state. In my opinion, his proposal that the border be drawn at Karkur and that Umm al-Fahm be part of the Palestinian state is populist and irresponsible. But his moving toward the center is not ideological. In the past as well, on genuine issues, he did not demonstrate consistency. On the eve of the elections he said he was willing to leave his home in [the settlement] Nokdim."

Will he remain in the government for only a short period of time?

"Lieberman joined the government under the assumption that by the force of his personality, he will be able to effect change. He mistakenly thinks that the job the government offered him is an executive one. He will soon discover his mistake, because he will not be able to operate in the strategic arena. His membership in the government will not last long."

Do you support his proposal to copy the Cyprus model in Israel and separate between Jews and Arabs living in Israel?

"The proposal is populist and unrealistic. It was designed to placate the Jewish public, who according to surveys are more annoyed by the Israeli Arabs than by the Arabs in the territories. I don't think that the Israeli Arabs are the root of the problem. They're only a minority, after all. During the first stage, we have to solve the relations between us and the Palestinians, and only afterward to deal with relations with the Israeli Arabs."

Why have people who in the past were out-and-out rightists, such as Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Lieberman and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, moderated their positions?

"My sad conclusion is that the secular right, which does not have a backbone based on faith, has apparently become bankrupt. The Tehiya movement did not pass the threshold for a Knesset seat, Tzomet fell apart, Arik Sharon and the hard core of the Likud moved toward the center, and now Lieberman as well. Gandhi [Rehavam Ze'evi] was maybe the last of the giants among the secular rightists. Where is the non-skullcap-wearing public at demonstrations of the right? Where is their dedication? There are some like MK Aryeh Eldad, but I don't know if they have even one Knesset seat today among the public."

At the Knesset session marking the fifth anniversary of the assassination of minister Rehavam Ze'evi, you said, "The demographic problem will not solve itself. It's not too late to study the Gandhi legacy." Do you still believe in the idea of transfer?

"Yes. Gandhi never spoke of transfer by coercion, only voluntary transfer. We can eliminate the Palestinian refugee camps in the territories by giving $100,000 to each family that agrees to emigrate to another country. If 1 million Palestinian families accept the proposal, which costs about $100 billion, we will solve the demographic problem."

Where will you find $100 billion?

"Every year Israel receives foreign aid from the United States totaling $3 billion. If we take the aid money and put it aside for 20 years, we will have $60 billion. If we add to that money from American and European foundations, which streams in to us, we can reach $100 billion."

Do you really believe that for $100,000 you will succeed in convincing Palestinian families to leave their homes?

"Definitely. I've checked it out. There are many countries, such as Bulgaria and Bosnia, that are willing to take them in. When a family with $100,000 arrives there, it is wanted, and will be really wealthy. Today in Gaza, families are living in hell. They have to be encouraged to leave."

How will you encourage them? They will justly claim that this is their home. Their connection to the land is stronger than ours.

"We put that into our own heads and brainwashed ourselves. I have a list of dozens of Arab families from East Jerusalem from whom we bought houses and who emigrated to South America, to Honduras and other countries. Do you know how many Arabs live in America and in Europe?"

How will you behave toward Palestinians who don't want to leave?

"With great respect. All those who are not refugees and who have homes of their own will be Jordanian citizens. They will live here, but they will vote for the Parliament in Amman. We won't interfere in religious matters, education and culture, and they will be the bridge to peace. The Palestinian Authority will be dismantled and no Palestinian state will be established between Israel and Jordan, because such a state without territorial contiguity between Gaza and Judea and Samaria will not be able to exist."

What about the Israeli Arabs?

"The Israeli Arabs who want to be Israeli citizens, with all the rights and obligations, will be required to perform national service. They will be able to remain here, but they will also have an option of being Jordanian citizens."

Many will claim that that is a racist proposal.

"In what way is it racist? Why do they want to perpetuate bloodshed? Why don't they understand that we don't have another Jewish state, while on the other hand, there are many Arab countries. The Palestinians don't want only the establishment of a Palestinian state, they don't want Israel to exist. My political plan is a means of carrying out my war of survival."

A critical year

According to a survey, 30 percent of the public believes that Yitzhak Rabin's assassin Yigal Amir should be pardoned. What is your opinion?

"Those findings are shocking. They point to a huge educational failure. I also get around to schools and hear such statements by students. When the left did not allow the right to join in internalizing the significance of this murder, it led foolish people on the right to think it's the left's problem. Murder is not the left's problem. The assassination of Rabin was a watershed, red with blood, for the State of Israel, which almost destroyed it."

Aren't you afraid that a few years from now a president here will pardon Amir?

"I'm against a pardon for Yigal Amir, and I believe that no president would do such a thing. The talk of a pardon is dangerous, because it shows the young people on the right that it's not a terrible deed. In my meetings with young people in the schools I tell them: "We hate this murderer and we will make sure that he remains in prison. If there is anyone among you who is considering doing such deeds, he should know that he will be hated by all of us.

"It worries me that there are children growing up today who think that the problem may be one between the left and the right. I am calling on people on the left: Be careful of what you say. The legacy that you want to perpetuate is not the legacy of Rabin, which is no more important than the legacy of [second prime minister] Moshe Sharett. To me the legacy of the Rabin assassination is more important."

How should Israel deal with the threat by the Iranian president to destroy Israel?

"The coming year is critical, and therefore Ehud Olmert should have formed a national emergency government, but he preferred to bring only Lieberman into his government. Olmert will be afraid to carry out daring actions against Iran to prevent the completion of the nuclear reactor, unless there is a broad consensus as to the necessity of doing so."

Israel's policy was not to position itself at the head of the struggle against Iran. Are you proposing that we be the leader in this struggle?

"The moment that the Iranian president declared that his goal was to wipe Israel off the map, it would have been irresponsible to ignore the new Hitler and say he was joking. We have the moral obligation to be the first to warn the world and to tell everyone: You cannot agree to allow the head of a country, which is a member of the UN, to threaten to destroy another country. If there is any chance of preventing the creation of the atom bomb by diplomatic means, it is preferable that empires such as the U.S. do so. The question is what happens if the U.S. does not succeed in preventing the creation of the nuclear bomb by diplomatic means?

Should we treat Ahmadinejad's threats will complete seriousness?

"Certainly. We must understand that hatred for Israel changes form. The greatest danger is to think it will once again assume the same form as in the past. This time it will appear without Wagnerian music or a Christian background; it will have a Muslim background. The public in Israel does not understand that there are millions who are raised from infancy on 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion' and on hatred for the Jews. That makes the issue of land for peace pathetic and turns the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a dark and unimportant alley."

Given national service in the IDF is compulsory that suggests 1/3 of Israelis have little problem with murder of their own peace seeking PM Rabin in 1995 to pursue their religious belief in a Greater Israel. The implications are deeply disturbing: If these fanatics support an assassination of their own PM seeking to recognise Palestinian land rights, will such fraction of same in the IDF on the trigger in Gaza have any restraint in firing on UN bodies seeking to protect Palestinian right to life and land? They will shoot the civillians to drive them out of 'their land given by the Tora'.

Contrary to the IDF spin doctors transplanted from Sydney, there is a serious question about the moral corruption within a very substantial segment of the IDF resulting in the humanitarian carnage in Gaza. Of deliberate fire on UN aid workers. On buildings full of civillians reportedly seeking refuge as directed by the same IDF. In effect of criminal murder of civillians and UN staff under cover of war - like Blackwater in Iraq. That's the problem for the moderate friends of Israel believing their own side's spin rather than looking objectively at the facts.


Nor is this the only media trickery in the last week regarding the war by Israel on Gaza and the Hamas government. The Sydney Daily Telegraph earlier this week have been keen to implicitly portray the death of a 15 year old local Jewish girl in a car accident tragedy as the result of getting mixed up with an Arabic Romeo. Not in so many words. More by pictures on the front page. Even the Herald eulogy had the Rabbi at the funeral gently pointing out she had run off the rails. The subtext is clear - you get mixed up with mixing with Arabs and you die. It's crude. It's subliminal but it's also how they like to wield their power via the high circulation front page at the Telegraph.

They were at it again this week with the picture of a kid at a western Sydney trouble spot (called 3M in Rosemeadow) over neighbour disputes dressed like a Palestinian rock thrower with face mask. Totally unrelated crime story.  But somehow echoing the real international drama in Palestine. If you think this is imaginative interpretation by SAM's editor as to the subliminal subtext then consider also the same visual interpretation by the News Corp Sydney Sunday Telegraph of 11th Jan 2009 (below). The house bias by way of  implication that criminals causing chaos in 3M estate are 'just like Gaza':



Posted by editor at 5:53 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 13 January 2009 9:22 PM EADT
Friday, 9 January 2009
The Google Adsense experience ... so far at non profit SAM micro news

Well call us slow but after 2 years and a month dithering we finally managed to take the plunge and subscribe to Google Adsense.

On the upside, it wasn't really that difficult to work out where to place the html code they allocate to you. It wasn't that frustrating reading carefully for several hours (in aggregate over several weeks break in between, sometimes refreshing) over the terms, policies, how to, extra mysteries to track down later etc. They are very user friendly it seems.

The biggest advantage was realising early that the "source view" for the html code to insert in SAM articles are easy enough to access and add to via a blog tool. I had noticed the existence of these programmes way back 2 years ago subscribing to our host web server, a big US company. Indeed we have learned that 70% of our readers are US based. So we are actually a 'US blogger' in Sydney Australia. Given there is a Sydney USA somewhere over there, it might be confusion.

There are 'blog tool' programmes for just about every web host server apparently. So the entry page has WYSIWIG which is jargon for What You See Is What You Get - not just the name as I recall of a downtown photo laboratory in the 1990ies here in Sydney for getting colour slides copied. The entry page has also switch button for source code for the article just written.

Inserting adverts around the general infrastructure of the SAM website, not just within article entries is a much bigger ask. This means really going into the html source code - which we are just starting to sniff around now. Especially the big white blank streak at bottom left of the screen that would take a skyscraper ad unit no worries.

We are allowed 3 'link ad units' and '3 text/image based ad units' per web page. Given our SAM front page was running at 10 articles of roughly a screen length long each (or 10 screen length scrolls per page) we soon realised we needed to limit our front page to 5 articles. Our web host server allows 1 or 5 or 10 front page articles so we stayed with 5 which is reasonable spacing of 5 often text based articles and 3 picture adverts and 3 link based adverts. We have also copied the crikey.com.au technique of setting a divider in place to avoid any editorial confusion between content and mucky money. And given we are not permitted to click on the links ourselves without a preview tool (at risk of being banned) so far we have no idea who is behind many of these advertised services/products.

So now the first shaky steps in the world of html proceeds in order to copy and paste the code provided by Google Adsense. They are very efficient too filling the advert spaces within a very short time sometimes paying, often charity slots. But who are they paying? Not SAM content provider would be our view. That's how Google is rich and we just a little micro news blogger.

But their "complex algorithms" as a "technology company" are impressive. Not least because they have bot crawlers that appear to match up the content of the articles and origin of the readers - which is information SAM doesn't really have even as the webpage creator. We presume anyway that the adverts for Arabic and Hebrew language courses, for local Holden cars, for foreign diplomacy education, teaching in the UK etc all reflect the segments of the 25,000 readers per month from those places.

These adverts are quite informative of services out there in the world which is something the advertising industry claims for their product in the uplifting sense. So yes they are quite compatible with the look and goals of the SAM non profit ethos. Who is actually behind those adverts and services we have no idea.

There is a micro managing tool called "channels" which we have little clue about so far. And we have realised over night that with about 1000 stories already on the site, that's 6 x 200 html advert scripts we could be adding onto the site. That feels like a fair bit of drudgery for probably scant income. But who really knows.

We would welcome comments or advice on experience of non profits or community based blogs as to either income, presentation or know how.

Posted by editor at 11:04 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:17 PM EADT
SAM editor probably first to reveal ID of Katherine Wilson expert hoaxer of Keith Windschuttle
Topic: independent media

Rabble rouser on the roof ? Quadrant bete noire Katherine Wilson in her days with Green Roofs Australia.

Rabble rouser on the roof ? Quadrant bete noire Katherine Wilson in her days with Green Roofs Australia.
Photo: Rodger Cummins

This hoax prank was discussed by Marg Simons on Crikey.com.au yesterday, both in the main ezine on Thursday:

Outing 'Sharon Gould': the hoaxer's identity revealed 8 Jan 2008

where we comment as follows:

Tom McLoughlin
Thursday, 8 January 2009 4:00:05 PM
Katherine possibly misunderstands the capacity for campaigner analysis [in thinking she could stay covert]. She hadn't written for a while so a good prospect of going under cover. She had the record on very good stories on the politics of genetically modified organisms which appeal to greenies like moi.

As I was saying on Marg's blog I can demonstrate I had it by 4.32 pm on Tuesday under my "Mmm" comment, but earlier actually as I read it early arvo at the local job agency instead of doing my job applications. Ha ha. Which is where I ought to be right now, and God bless Barry Cohen for being symapthetic in a piece in The Oz in mid December being an ex Federal ALP minister when unemployment was stalking the land.

I was thinking as I read the lead story - who wrote those strong GMO stories for crikey in the last year. Then I was trying to remember is it Murphy, is it Kate. As it was I googled the right name first time and when I saw "co-editor of Overland" on the face of the search it was doh. Motive being a rival journal. Skills being an editor. Skills having written on the topic. Motive being of the progressive side of things. And also Modus Operandi. KW's articles showed depth of research, which was a plank of the hoax too.

But you never can be sure. I thought about blogging it for myself but hey I thought the traffic should go to those that did the project so I put it in a comment. To be honest I was also thinking, if I'm wrong, or it's denied I could be sued for defamation so I left it as speculation. Bit lawyerly coward there but yeah it's true [I was cautious].

Simons also writes on her crikey sponsored blog The Content Makers here:

Who Killed "Sharon Gould"? , by Margaret Simons

SAM's editor here Tom McLoughlin was one of the first, and probably the first, to publicly state that Katherine Wilson, freelancer and researcher into the politics and science of genetically engineered organisms, was the newly famous hoaxer. Here are the relevant comment posts dated variously from Tuesday 6th January when the story ran, with ours in bold below being the crucial one naming the hoaxer Ms Wilson:

* at 'Sharon Gould' speaks: the difference between hoax and fraud crikey ezine 8th Jan 09, comment:

Tom McLoughlin
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 1:20:34 PM
I feel like writing my guess of who Shane, err sorry Sharon Gould, is on a piece of paper and giving it to a friend to keep in their wallet. But methinks the hoaxer whoever s/he may be will declare sooner or later, especially after the silly season front page prominence in the big media has got made it's mark. The clues are there without even looking at the bogus Quadrant article. But if I mentioned the lines of inquiry it might cramp their style. One google and I got my suspect. Anyway I might be totally off track. We shall see.


* at Gould and Windschuttle: The fallout crikey ezine Wed 8th Jan 09, comment:
Tom McLoughlin
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 2:16:31 PM
As said I suspect it's one for the literati, and fair enough, given they make a crust from getting this stuff right or not. True to say it's confection to displace Gaza and Israel nukes and possible Iran nukes and the who[ole] damn mess Cheney and GW have left us in. And thank heaven for little sanity breaks from that too.

And I am quite sure .... s/he the hoaxer is not thee, Margaret Simons. I reckon I know. But here's the thing - it's totally not the same as the Helen Dale fraudster case. That was genuinely fraud. This was a test because it was self declared a hoax soon after publication.

I've a good mind to call Bob Phelps of Genethics and ask him if my guess is right, and no I don't think it was him. Enjoy your fame Hoaxer you really worked hard for it.


Tom McLoughlin
Wednesday, 7 January 2009 4:17:14 PM
Damn it, I just can't sit on this, it's like I'm busting:

Katherine Wilson (and Bernard Keane, subbing?) meet Sharon Gould? Sharon Gould meet Katherine Wilson?

Exhibit 1, 21 July 2008

"CSIRO scientist's GM letter campaign 'backfires' "


Tom McLoughlin

Wednesday, 7 January 2009 4:22:30 PM
Exhibit 2?

Google Australia: Katherine Wilson Overland

Result: "Voices from the edge - Books - www.theage.com.au
Nathan Hollier and Katherine Wilson, the joint editors of Overland, the left- wing literary and cultural magazine,"

3rd entry from top etc etc. She's got the skills, the history on GMO, the wit and flair. She's my candidate until I'm told otherwise.

The comment above analysis by SAM's editor was alluded to indirectly by the SMH in today's press. Notice their use of "candidate" from SAM's "She's my candidate until I'm told otherwise.". SMH write:

"Bloggers "outed" Wilson as a likely candidate for the hoax " in The blogs of war: how Quadrant hoaxer was outed 9th January 2009

The hoax was to get a well written but bogus article into Quadrant past 'footnotes Nazi' and ABC Board member Keith Windschuttle.

We feel we may well have been the first to ID the hoaxer which we can verify by indirect means: For instance we also published on a crikey comment string a day earlier under a pseudonym "Mmm" with the words "we have a name in mind" timed at 4.32 pm Tuesday 6th January. This was the same day that the story was published - around midday:

In How Windschuttle swallowed a hoax to publish a fake story in Quadrant By Margaret Simons 6th January 2009, comment:


Tuesday, 6 January 2009 4:32:32 PM
I already have a name in mind. It looks like a royally executed prank. Whether it really has deeper political consequences I'm really not sure. One for the literati perhaps. By all means enjoy. Something to console oneself as Howard gets his medal of freedom.

Notice how the Toad, to quote a veteran wonk, wraps himself in the flag even at this dreadful time. A bit like Henderson airbrushing perhaps a million deaths and saying history still has to judge. Like yeah we did in the street in Sydney 2003 with 250,000 -500,000 rally unprecedented in my time saying No War in Iraq.

As if the Australian people agreed with him and he still says it's a medal in our name. What a nerve the guy has. Is Windshuttle the Toad's toadlet as it were still on the ABC Board?


Purely by coincidence we explained our use of "Mmm" handle (on rare occasions) the day before 5th January 2008 waiting for crikey ezine to resume after the summer break:

In 2008: Dashed dreams and mouldy political compromise, 19 December 2008, comment,

Tom McLoughlin
Monday, 5 January 2009 1:23:20 PM
Mmm. There's a clue for you Venise. If you go back to some of the Crikey comments by Mmm that will be my alter ego. It's when personal security overcomes transparency of authorship. Otherwise I try to own what I say. .....

[That pseudonym "Mmm" was lifted off a nickname for a geek here in Sydney by the name of Kenaar then at Friends of the Earth Sydney 1995-2001. The nickname was in turn given to Kenaar probably by the now dearly departed (and somewhat famous) super geek Pred, aka Predator, aka Cave Clan member Mike Carlton, may he rest in peace.)]

We don't use "Mmm" as a handle very much. Only when we feel too insecure physically and sometimes legally which is not very often at all. In this case we

1. didn't want our identity to lead to clues who it really was, at least not for another 24 hour news cycle, and

2. a possibly misplaced sense of chivalry that if we blogged the identity which was virtually certain given the rival journal Overland connection, then we would get traffic that really belonged with the hoaxer and the chosen outlet for that reportage being crikey.com.au.

Then after the big splash in the press last Wednesday by that afternoon we sort of decided it was a race to name the hoaxer so we jumped in on a comment string late Wednesday. Even then being a little careful in case it became an issue of defamation blowback, genuinely or falsely denied ID. By Thursday the hoaxer outed herself as indeed Katherine Wilson, soon to be proud mum apparently.

It's all there via the crikey newsletter and Marg Simons blog The Content Makers. Meanwhile we press on with Google Adsense of which we will be writing about soon too.

[As an update, late Friday 9th January 2009] The SMH (above) was very flattering to Katherine Wilson with nice big picture story promoting Green Roof Australia. A great initiative by the way. We've been meaning to write on it via clips etc. The Australian quoting her father alot was also a nice touch in keeping with their patriarchical Murdoch leanings. But The Oz were putting an angle on it with their headline about her being a cultural/gmo "warrior":

Quadrant hoaxer an anti-GM warrior | The Australian9 Jan 2009

That is, to portray as an axe grinder and so be read down accordingly, and that she didn't have 'real' points of principle to make.

Keep in mind WindThrottle (!) is on the ABC Board our premier cultural institution. He wants this to go away desperately. THAT is the political dimension. He should resign for lack of credibility. His mates are keen to protect him. Earlier this evening we vented out spleen at one of his supporters, which was not much better than a flame on our part and duly moderated off the board, but gee it felt good:

In Who killed "Sharon Gould"? 8 Jan 2009, comment:

Tom McLoughlin, Posted January 9, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

Your comment is awaiting moderation.

What alot of pompous hogwash Andy George. Simons had a cracking story.

Windschuttle is a public figure. He's made a crust and reputation as Mr Fine Tooth Comb aka Footnote Nazi. He's a big tough debater. He can defend himself ... or not.

Get off your house paint white Shetland Pony you dope.

We will be lucky if we get 20 more stories like this one. Let's just repeat, the guy is arguably a creation of the Howard regime and then PMC office, a PM who was not only thrown out of government but out of his own seat. We've since had the widely celebrated Sorry Ceremony. A new high court judge who want to further improve Native Title processes. A leading business man who until the GFC got all the big players to agree to a 50K job drive for the First Australians.

And we have apologists for ruthless, murderous squattocracy, many of whom are close to white supremacists in love with mother England in the Antipodes. Well F... You. If you believe all that hogwash - then go and live there and give us Fenians, yellow, coffee and other mongel races, a bit of space to get on with the business of adaptation to the land we're in, including respect for the Originals.

It's so obvious you are [a] semi retired boomer. God I?m sick of them hogging everything. Bunch of fat arses.

The conservatives at The Oz want the story to fizzle, especially the fact WindThrottle demands but can?t meet his own academic standards. People forget the Howard Years hurt alot of people. Alot. And Windthrottle was part of that machine. That?s why they hid it away on page 4 far margin today. SMH went the even pages too, but still big summery size and picture. That says alot: Like goodbye John Howard, ousted from Bennelong for good measure.

Let the fangs of the left have their prey, it's the Darwinism The Oz itself would approve, as per big Rupert's 'be prepared for global competition' mantra.

Posted by editor at 9:38 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:19 PM EADT
Regev mispeaks on tv 3 times for Israeli 'PM' while 7.30 fails to ask the blockade, occupation question
Topic: world

Yesterday was another day in hell for Gaza. Today is another again.

As we wrote on December 31 cynical politicians Israeli and Arabic are using Palestinians as cannon fodder, as per ABC tv news again tonight [post on their website this morning about an hour after this SAM article was first posted]

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:51:00 +1100 | Duration 1m 17s

A UN aid worker is dead after a convoy transporting aid to Palestinians was attacked by the Israeli army.

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 10:05:00 +1100 | Duration 1m 48s

The UN suspends operations in Gaza after the Israeli military fires on an aid convoy as the Red Cross claims it is being prevented from helping the injured.

Just like that UN observer post on the Lebenon Israel boder in 2006, the UN have been scathing of Israel over the carnage of 40 innocents in one neutral UN school.

Today the International Red Cross similarly accused the Israeli Defence Force of breaches of international humanitarian law regarding rescue of little orphan children stranded by cross fire for 4 days until they too almost perished.

We make some simple observations - we have read that up to 30% of Israelis think the assassin of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin should be pardoned. We know that whoever forms a Coalition majority in the Feb 2009 Israel election will need to negotiate with the Greater Israel expansionist fanatics in their own Parliament. It is blatantly obvious this war is a pre-emptive attempt at coalition building by all rival major parties. With the Palestinians in Gaza as cannon fodder.

Who indeed trusts Israel or the IDF to not fire on the UN, if 30% of society already support a pardon for the killer of their own Prime Minister? This is a society with a substantial element of criminal rogues and one can predict about 30% of the IDF are in this category.

No wonder the USA via Secretary of State Rice has buckled to world wide pressure and abstained from blocking a UN Security Council resolution late today (ABC Australia news story follows again]:

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 15:49:00 +1100 | Duration 5m 15s

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, with 14 countries voting in favour and only the United States abstaining.

In our view this mediocre and cowardly administration in the USA has acted 12 days too late for 500 or more dead civillians in Gaza, and probably more to die yet at the hands of rogue IDF. All part of a cynical strategy to first starve out then bomb the Hamas Govt, before the Obama administration takes office on 20th January 2008.

So we heard Mark Regev twice yesterday here direct to Australians as spokesperson for the ostensibly corrupt Israeli PM Olmert - who is only acting PM with his resignation submitted and accepted. No doubt Olmert's job is to take the approbrium of Gaza with him on exit, which is cute choreography by Israeli Big Politics. Regev was on early with the Breakfast ABC Radio National Programme our time Thursday 8th of January about 7.35am. Regev was fresh and conciliatory and sounded even hopeful of ceasefire talks with Hamas via France and Egypt provided the rockets and tunnels stop.

The interviewer Steve Kinane asked (Israel truce 8 Jan 2009):

'and will that mean lifting (and one presumes complete lifting) of the blockade on food and medical supplies unlike the last 6 month truce?'

Regev fully admitted that Israel constrained supplies during the truce as an "economic sanction" for sporadic rocket fire. We understand for those first 4 months the rocket fire was minimal but the crippling blockade hardly altered at all. That we suspect is the truth - of Israeli bastardry and effective breach of the truce terms leading to more rockets and the cycle continuing. That Israel had a deliberate strategy for months of starving the Hamas Govt. More on the nature of the Hamas Govt from Kinane's show (actually stand in for Fran Kelly) today: Inside Hamas thinking 9 Jan 2009

This same critical question regarding the occupation and blockade was not put by the holiday stand in compere on 7.30 Report last night to a harried and defiant Mark Regev 12 hours later on Australian TV last night 8th of January. Even so Regeve mispoke 3 times, which is unforgiveable of a professional media performer, referring to Hamas as Hezbolah to the point of clamping his lips in frustration at his own errors and conceding "I'm confused". Quite. His till now supreme poise was cracking: His own IDF were caught red handed brutally killing 40 innocents at a UN school the Gazan civillians were encouraged to attend as a refuge.

Regev must now be asking himself at some level whether this is the same kind of indiscriminate killing the Jews fled from after WW2, that they are now guilty of, becoming what they most hated. Certainly the Australian journalist on 7.30 did press him very hard on how the IDF could have attacked a UN facility on a false basis and change it's story so quickly. That is Hamas the enemy were not in, but now 'near' the UN school. The propaganda machine and the enforced censorship of western media against the order of the IDF's own Israeli Supreme Court tells the story. Regev can't afford transparency. Not with the world against this slaughter.

The press in Sydney have led today 12 hours behind the news cycle now. They refer to 4 rockets from Lebanon which are already convincingly disowned as not from Hezbolah according to latest report, accepted by both sides, rather by another Lebanese splinter group. This press in Sydney is already being crowded out by the electronic news regarding the UN and Red Cross scathing assessments of the rogue IDF. Even lucid Jewish writers like Sara Dowse are in the mainstram press yesterday in the generally pro Israel Sydney Morning Herald that Israel 'can't be trusted':

8th Jan 2008 Shocking cynicism of a poisoned homeland - Opinion - smh.com.au

This was juxtaposed against an opinion piece by Israel's loyalist here Vic Alhadeff who also avoided like 7.30 the ostensible 4 months breach of the truce by Israel by failing to completely remove the blockade on food and medical supplies. How weak and cynical to avoid responsibility for that?

Vic your article read as hollow compared to the images of dead children out of Gaza [ABC Australia tv/web coverage here]:

News Video | Fri, 09 Jan 2009 18:53:00 +1100 | Duration 2m 35s

Israel is continuing its offensive in the Gaza Strip, despite a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire to the 14-day-old conflict.

Posted by editor at 8:54 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:20 PM EADT
Sydney Daily Telegraph drives booze advertising then feeds off the results at Rosemeadow?
Topic: big media

We've written in the last year several times about the amazing number of pubs around Holt St base of News Corporation in Sydney, publishers of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. They used to be quite cocky about their alcoholic escapades in the past. We even did a photo gallery of the pub circuit getting up to about 12 hotels within one city block, not including brothels or restuarants. This was last year sometime during the big 'binge drinking' controversy before the Rudd federal govt regarding the so called alcopops tax, given those drinks are for recruiting children into a lifelong habit. Good tax that.

We made collages of the full page daily adverts for booze indicating high revenue dependence of Sydney's highest circulation newspaper. And now again above are 3 full pagers from 7th January, 1 from 8th January, and 3 from today close to full page adverts. Drink up boys. It's your 'Australian culture' of binge drinking. Hence the befuddled highly violent internecine arguments at a western suburb? Hence angry people in poverty lashing out at the press and law? How much better if there was no booze in this equation?

Hot weather up to 40 celsius for 3 days is bound to create irritable suburbs, and probably drives excessive beer drinking. Every year in summer there is a set formula 'riot' story with a few variations around say race, or Bondi Beach or whatever. But why the social approval for that excessive lifestyle in the bastion of moral rectitude that is the 4th estate? Could it be it's simply a case of money talks?

Over at the Sydney Morning Herald they have probably been taking the booze adverts too, but less so? And they have been running a series of stories exposing a cynical 'grassroots' campaign by hotels to free up drinking laws again. Keep going, teetotal Police Comissioner Scipione, keep going! We do approve. Like cigarettes and gambling it's a woeful waste of money and opportunity for a better life.

Posted by editor at 8:37 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:21 PM EADT
Tuesday, 6 January 2009
Quest for the perfect gear change on a bicycle rebuild
Topic: culture

Careful what you wish for when it comes to bicycle rebuild projects. Over the break we marshalled a bunch of old bikes and parts - maybe 5 different wrecks - and other spares to make a nice fast safe bike in city traffic.

Most people these days seem to settle for a mountain bike with knobbly tyres. But this weighs alot. We have one of these already which is nice and robust for towing our bike trailer on slow trips. But on scenic or fast trips you want light racer/hybrid wheels, skinny frame and 'slick' treads. And gears that work smooth in the clinch like Samuel L Jackson smooth. Like Denzel Washington. And with explosive power like Daniel Craig. All those fantasies.

We had some rusty hybrid wheels with good aluminium rims potentially savable via wire brush on power drill and oil to protect from new rust. Also suitable chain wheel/ring - drives the chain off the right pedal via 3 front cogs for more gear combos. As long as there is clearance on the axle of the 'bottom bracket' (see BB below) for the modern chain ring.

Then gears. These can be a real beast. Are the front and back derailers worn out or modern enough to take the extra cogs? Mine were both too small and too worn. Damn. Keep looking.

What about the sprockets/cogs on the rear/free wheel. Is it a "cassette" or single piece asked the bloke at the medium trendy shop. Ans: The former for a hybrid. Is the casette worn out so that the chain skips? Yes. There goes the cheap 2nd hand part via The Bower. A new casette cog assembly comes in at a cool $50 which is no longer a cheapie rebuild. New casette means new chain at $25 because the two match by wearing out together. And chain tool. Add two new tyres at $30 and $35 because the real trendy shop only had those sizes when the tyre blew.

We were already at $140 plus for the perfect gear change on the "cheap". We will be going back to our low rent untrendy suburban bike shop for the gentle prices.

Not forgeting to clean/re-grease the wheel and BB bearings and axles: The BB is that mysterious closed mechanism between the pedals. You need a neat tool to painlessly remove pedals and it helps to have customised spanners to get in there. We had the first but only standard spanners/grippers for the latter .... and suffered accordingly.

Then brakes: Mountain bikes have 'off the forks or old style' but neither fit hybrid/racing wheels. But here scavenging paid off, as did the hard core goose neck on the straight handlebars. Many, many instructive hours later, and too many fiddly detours and hand washes with degreaser and vitamin E cream to mention, we have arrived. Complete with new $10 water bottle cage on clips because there are no bolt holes on the old fashioned chrome frame. Sigh.

Then close to the bell (geddit?) of this 16 round bout the gear switch to the rear derailer started slipping out of position. Not only annoying but also dangerous in those acceleration moments at crossings. Maybe we could just hold it in place? Nah, f*ck that for a joke.We took a day's rest in despair. This has delivered solutions at least 3 times already. We took a second day off for good measure. Sure enough we re-assembled the switch lever slightly wrong. All is forgiven. The perfect gear change for a slightly dodgy left hip.

That's our third bike since the break. Cool. Look out clunky knobby wheels ....

Some lessons for the future: The web, like for most other subjects, is amazingly helpful in learning the ropes about various technical aspects and diagnosis - like skipping chain. People are really glad to record their lessons if you google the right keywords and read patiently. Also get to know your local bike shop when they are not too busy serving customers. Vitamin E cream before getting greasy is very wise for an easier washup. Then use again when clean to rescue the hands a bit more. One might even try gloves? Don't force the tools or threads on nuts and bolts etc. It works or fits or it doesn't. And remember riding a well constructed bike is a joy. And a bad one a misery.

And if all else fails stop being so cheap and buy a new one.

And very lastly, at all costs resist 'stealing' parts off the abandoned racer chained to the fence in front of Marrickville railway for 2 weeks with increasingly bigger signs of vandal abuse - buckled back wheel, bent front forks where the steal cap boots jumped on it with violent purpose. It could lead to awkward moments with lads and lasses in blue, at the early morning cafe nearby, spanner in hand with no key in sight. And we did so resist. The day we finished our sleek mongrel bike the object of our temptation had gone - no doubt to the landfill in the sky via the council workers back from holidays. And it had such nice shiny alloy pedals too. So sad.

Posted by editor at 6:52 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 12:14 PM EADT

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