Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lies and misrepresentations in Australia's most Leftist major newspaper

There's nothing like hatred of Israel to bring out the dishonest reporting

Last weekend, the Good Weekend magazine from the Age published a six page spread entitled ‘Project: Gaza’ by Paul McGeough. The article focused on six activists involved in the Free Gaza Movement, how they came to be involved and their involvement with the flotillas, in particular, the fleet that was involved in clashes with the IDF in late May.

Journalist Paul McGeough was on one of the ships involved in the flotilla, and has spent a large amount of his time since then obsessively covering the events that happened on Mavi Marmara. McGeough and a photographer were ostensibly placed by their employer on the flotilla to observe its mission from an objective viewpoint. They were not supposed to be there as supporters of its aims but rather to report the events as they occurred. Well, that was what was supposed to be the case.

Moreover, although he was on the flotilla, McGeough was not on the Mavi Marmara, the ship where the violence occurred. Yet, he has constantly painted a one-sided picture that could only come from one with partisan views closely aligned to those of the flotilla organisers and indeed, to many impartial observers, he has served as an apologist for the actions of those on the Mavi Marmara who were involved in the violence that took place on board. Despite a substantial body of evidence in the form of photographs, videos and oral and written statements that have contradicted most of his claims, McGeough has ploughed on relentlessly with his one-sided narrative.

McGeough’s past form can be found here, here, here and here.

It came as quite a surprise to me at least, that despite the considerably high volume of material already produced and regurgitated on the subject by McGeough, that the Age would devote another six pages dedicated to the dramatic lies that some of passengers of questionable integrity passed on to McGeough. What is more of a surprise is that his publishers, Fairfax, believe that their “papers endeavour to be balanced, and to put both sides of the question”. That quote comes from a transcript of yesterday’s Fairfax AGM. The speaker was its chairman, Mr. Roger Corbett.

Despite Corbett’s extraordinary claim, the contrary view to that which has been repeated ad nauseum by McGeough, has barely seen the light of day in his publications.

Balanced? You must be joking, Mr. Corbett but we would accept a six page lift out on the subject of terrorism and incitement to violence against Israel and its citizens any time.

To understand the one sided nature of the reporting from the Age, one needs to understand the great lengths that McGeough goes to in order to downplay the role of the violent elements from the IHH. His article made sly references to the “sleek and black” Zodiacs with their “bullet-shaped hulls” followed by the declaration: “As the helicopters moved in, activists on the upper deck rushed to the top level of the ship. By sunrise, nine activists were dead and 50 injured.”

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, he yada yada’d over the best part. (* Video of the cache of weapons including knives, slingshots, rocks, smoke bombs, metal rods, improvised sharp metal objects, sticks and clubs, 5kg hammers and firebombs, * Close up video of “peace activists” attacking the metal batons, *Video taken by the IDF showing passengers of the Mavi Marmara violently attacking IDF officers trying to board the ship, *Video of the radio exchange between the soldiers on their way to the bridge and the IDF ship. The soldiers are reporting their encounter with live fire and serious violence., *Video of Israeli Navy officer describing the violent mob aboard the Mavi Marmara, *Video of the Mavi Marmara passengers attacking the IDF before the soldiers boarded the ship, *Video of the flotilla rioters as they prepared rods, slingshots, broken bottles and metal objects to attack IDF soldiers, *Video of Israeli naval officers addressing the ship )

All of the evidence that exists is in complete contradiction to McGeough’s claims, particularly given the weight of visual evidence showing the IHH preparing for a violent confrontation taken directly from interviews with passengers aboard the ship (see more here, here and here). Perhaps McGeough also missed that!

He certainly missed the photographs published in the Turkish media taken by IHH operatives in order to embarrass Israel of injured Israeli soldiers, and the removal of a knife and blood by Reuters of these pictures. He missed the actual video of a soldier being stabbed. He missed the footage of the soldier being thrown overboard. All of this has been airbrushed totally out of existence by McGeough.

And of course, there was no mention by McGeough that the IHH is a militant Islamist movement with a record of supporting terror, or that several of the flotilla passengers were active terror operatives with links to al-Qaeda, Hamas and other organisations or that the IHH has been banned elsewhere in the world, such as in Germany for having links to Hamas. Perhaps it is because neither McGeough nor the Age believe that these matters are relevant to the story? In the meantime, McGeough obviously saw some bogus footage of “what appears to be Israeli commandos shooting an activist near point blank range” because all other interpretations of the said footage seem to make it clear, even to non-military experts such as myself, that the gun was a paintball gun. But then again, McGeough also talked about supposed CCTV footage of assassins entering Mahmoud al-Mabhouh’s hotel room in Dubai in January, another lie which was later exposed.

To add to McGeough’s tour de force of balanced journalism, he interviewed six people who he believed were the “movers & shakers” of the Free Gaza Movement. Two of the women stated that they became involved in this line of activism after the death of Mohammed al-Dura in 2000. McGeough adds his own commentary in parenthesis: “The 12 year-old-boy died at Netzarim Junction, Gaza, in his father’s arms after being shot by the Israel Defence Forces”.

Right, Mr. McGeough, you’ve researched your subject well except for that some simple fact checking would reveal this story to be not quite accurate (at this stage I would submit that accuracy is no longer relevant in the context of the picture being painted).

At the beginning of the Second Intifada, it was alleged that the IDF was responsible for killing the young child. The images, taken from footage by Charles Enderlin from France 2 Television Network and his Palestinian cameraman, Talal Abu-Rahma, were dispatched worldwide, spurring international outrage directed at the IDF. Over time, various stories came out about the veracity of the reports, including claims that given all of the evidence and the positioning of al-Dura in relation to the IDF soldiers, the fatal shot could not have come from the IDF (see more).

Abu-Rahma’s footage was around 55 seconds but there was another 27 minutes of footage that was never publically released and was only viewed in a French Court after France2 was order to produce the original tapes. Those who were at the hearing and have seen the footage state that none of the frames support the claim that the Israelis were even involved in the particular incident. This is all due to the courageous work of Phillipe Karsenty, who has been dragged through the courts in order to bring this case to a close. Please read this recent interview with Danny Seaman, the former director of the Israeli Government Press Office for more on the al-Dura case.

More HERE (See the original for links)

Crooks forced to pay victims for crimes

A surprisingly good idea from a Leftist government. Anybody would think that they were about to get tossed out on their ears in the forthcoming election

New South Wales criminals will be forced to pay into a compensation fund to cover everything from the trauma suffered by victims to damaged property. Making criminals pay and other changes will add up to $20 million to the beleaguered Victims Compensation Fund, which is bleeding money while more than 13,000 victims wait for aid.

A levy of $64 or $148, depending on the severity of the offence, currently applies to offenders facing jail terms. Under NSW Government reforms to occur by the end of the year, it will be extended to a further 65,000 offences. Criminals will pay the levy regardless of how serious their offence is or what they are sentenced to.

Attorney-General John Hatzistergos said it was right that the state's criminals literally paid for their crimes. "It's only fair that people who engage in criminal behaviour contribute to a fund that helps victims rebuild their lives," he said. "The change now means, for example, that a person charged with low-range drink driving will now have to pay the levy if convicted."

Summary offences will attract a $64 levy and indictable offences $148. Criminals convicted of multiple offences will pay for each crime.

Victims of violent crimes can claim up to $50,000 as compensation for injury or trauma, with the family of murder, rape and domestic violence victims can claim the full amount.

The fund has only $60 million but in the 2008-09 financial year it paid $62.9 million to 8212 victims; 13,328 victims were left waiting. Offenders paid just $3.63 million into the fund but the new levy system and changes to unexplained wealth laws are expected to boost the fund by up to $20 million a year.

The unexplained wealth laws introduced earlier this year will see 50 per cent of money confiscated from those involved in criminal activity placed in the fund.

Criminals will also have to cover the damage they cause, with $1500 payments for "any expense incurred" as a result of an injury. Previously the payments, made to those who fall below the threshold for the $50,000 compensation scheme, had been restricted to items such as broken glasses and medical or dental bills.

The levy will help pay for the expanded Victim Assistance Scheme, which begins today. Many claims will now be able to be made online. The only exemptions will be people who have offences dealt with by penalty notice.

South Australia and the Northern Territory currently charge $60 for the most serious offences.


Will the Greens kill NBN?

They're in a strong position to do so

THE Greens will try to force the Gillard government this week to produce the business plan for its $43 billion National Broadband Network. The 400-page plan was delivered to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week and the government has vowed to release the document only after it has been considered by cabinet and commercial-in-confidence information has been removed.

But Greens communications spokesman Scott Ludlam said he would use a mechanism in the Senate to try to force the minister to produce the plan by the end of the week. “The minister has effectively made every Australian a shareholder in a $43 billion broadband network and I think they have an obligation to put that information into the public domain while parliament is sitting,” Senator Ludlam told ABC radio

He also said the Greens would use an instrument called an “order for a production of documents” to try to compel the government to produce its response to an earlier implementation study. “We will be demanding that the minister table both of those documents by the end of the week.”

Senator Ludlam warned that while Senator Conroy could ignore the demand, it meant he could be found in contempt of the Senate, which is a “pretty serious thing to do”.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull also hit the airwaves this morning to accuse the government of being hypocritical for using the Productivity Commission to examine the case for carbon pricing, but rejecting opposition requests the commission also conduct a cost benefit analysis of the NBN.

“Look, it's completely hypocritical, the government believes that the Productivity Commission will say that a market-based approach to reducing emissions is the most cost-effective and so that is why they want the Productivity Commission to look at it,” he told ABC radio.

“The reason why they don't want the NBN to go to the Productivity Commission is because they are concerned that the Productivity Commission will say that this is not the most cost-effective way to achieve universal affordable broadband,” he said.

The government is also expecting a vote today on its competition and consumer safeguards bill, which would fundamentally restructure Telstra ahead of the rollout of the NBN.

While the opposition supports structural separation in principle, Mr Turnbull has proposed amendments to the legislation to ensure greater scrutiny of the deal between Telstra and the NBN. “The Coalition amendments would ensure that the normal operation of the Competition and Consumer Act, the key legislation in this country protecting the interests of consumers and promoting competition, applies to the NBN-Telstra deal,” he told parliament yesterday.

“In other words, our amendments would ensure that this, the biggest merger in the telecommunications sector in our history and the establishment of a government monopoly is not excluded from consideration by the ACCC.”

The amendments would also ensure that the parliament could disallow actions by the minister to try to deny Telstra from bidding for access to wireless spectrum or to force it to divest its share in Foxtel. “We would remove the gun at the head provisions which threaten Telstra with losing access to the next generation 4G wireless spectrum,” Mr Turnbull said.

“We would remove the gun at the head provisions of the bill which threaten Telstra with being forced to dispose of its pay television cable and/or 50 per cent interest in Foxtel if it does not structurally separate in a way acceptable to the government.”


Geography syllabus is under heavy fire

Leftists are even managing to inject propaganda into geography!

THE proposed national geography curriculum lacks clarity and quality. NSW geographers are concerned it contains an inadequate focus on physical geography or the study of "capes and bays", which underpins the study of the discipline.

The NSW Board of Studies argues the proposed curriculum will overemphasise social and economic geography at the expense of the study of the physical world. The sample structure for the course suggests students in Years 7-10 take a "cultural/social constructivist" approach.

The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority said yesterday the geography paper proposed that students become familiar with the various ways geographers approach their study. By year 10 this would include various "locational, spatial, temporal and cultural approaches".

A spokesman said it was not about cultural relativism, "but simply an acknowledgement that in the real world and throughout history, different people might look at problems of geography in different ways".

In its response to the shape paper of the geography curriculum, which curriculum writers use as the basis for the syllabus, the NSW Board of Studies argues the proposed outline is flawed and fails to provide a sound basis for the development of a quality national course.

The board suggests the various approaches be dropped and says the proposed curriculum "will not match the current quality of the NSW geography curriculum and that geography education in NSW will be compromised and diminished". NSW is the only state that has taught geography as a stand-alone subject in high school over the past 20 or 30 years.

Other states and territories teach geography as part of an integrated social studies course with subjects such as history and economics.

The Board of Studies response notes the status of geography in NSW schools, which is compulsory from Years 7 to 10, is not matched in the other states and territories, implying the existing NSW curriculum is superior. "NSW students will have less geographical understanding at the end of their Year 10 education under the proposed curriculum," it says. "The draft shape paper does not yet have a curriculum structure that provides the basis for a high-quality curriculum for geography."

The geography fraternity in NSW is also concerned about the status of geography in the national curriculum, with the time devoted to the course not stated and suggestions that it will be mandatory only until Year 8.

Kevin Dunn, professor of geography and urban studies at the University of Western Sydney, said yesterday the NSW curriculum was a benchmark other states should reach. "Only with the appropriate amount of mandatory hours can we expect the teaching of geography, at the depth necessary, to ensure that students have a satisfactory level of understanding of environmental sustainability, conservation, population, indigenous cultures and land management," he said. "We need citizens who understand their world, and how the world will be in the future."


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