Friday, September 19, 2014


In today's offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG is lamenting the feeble response of the West to the barbarians of ISIS.  He also has a pictorial comment on the anti-terrorism raids in Australia.

An unsympathetic view of America

Last night Anne and I went to "The perfect American" by modern composer Philip Glass. It was a good opera, with lots going on, lots of drama and lots of dramatic music.  It even had a death scene.  So, except for Glass's unique music, it could have been a 19th century opera.  I went to it only for the music but it was a good show as well.  One's attention did not wander.

The whole point of the opera was to lampoon Walt Disney.  The intelligentsia will never forgive Disney for being anti-Communist but to my mind those who make excuses for Communism are the ethical cripples.

Disney was portrayed as a pathological egotist.  I am in no doubt that a hugely successful entrepreneur such as Disney had  to have a considerable ego but I am equally sure that a man who built up from scratch such a huge organization as the Disney organization had to be a very good people manager -- and no-one likes an egotist.  So whatever ego Disney had must have at least been kept in check most of the time.  So I very much doubt the accuracy of the Disney portrayal by Glass. But much in the opera was admittedly fictional so I suppose one should not take it as history

Another historical blooper was the portrayal of Abraham Lincoln as a champion of blacks and a believer in equality.  That is schoolboy history.  Lincoln was neither of those things.  In his famous letter to Horace Greeley Lincoln said that it was only the union he cared about, not blacks.  And after the war he wanted to send them all back to Africa, but was shot before he could implement that.  Let's have some words from the man himself, words spoken at the White House and addressed to a group of black community leaders on August 14th, 1862:

"You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on each side. If this be admitted, it affords a reason at least why we should be separated. It is better for both, therefore, to be separated."

Got that?

And Glass's history is equally shaky in portraying Disney as a racist.  His biographer Neal Gabler in his 2009 book 'Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination' concludes, "Walt Disney was no racist. He never, either publicly or privately, made disparaging remarks about blacks or asserted white superiority. Like most white Americans of his generation, however, he was racially insensitive."

And in describing Disney as the perfect American, Glass was largely disparaging America as a whole -- something Leftists such as Glass generally do.  The opera has yet to be performed in America.  I predict a very mixed reception to it when it is performed in America.

Why the opera first went to Madrid, then to London and then to Brisbane I do not know.  It was a very extravagant production in Brisbane with a far larger cast than needful and a huge (4-ton!) mechanical  contraption in the roof used to change scenes etc so maybe it was that only the Brisbane arts community felt able to afford it -- JR


Below is a picture of the front cover of the program notes for the opera.  It is supposed to be a blending of Walt's face with the face of Mickey mouse.  The effect, however, is to make Disney look insane, and certainly two-faced.  So it is all part of the demonization of him.  A most unpleasant and disturbing piece of Leftist art.

Leftists customarily envy other people's success and  Disney was VERY successful, so this attempt to pull his memory down might have been expected

Anti-terrorism raids across Sydney and Brisbane

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says a senior Australian Islamic State member had urged supporters in Australia to conduct "demonstration killings" here, according to intelligence reports.


5:44pm: In an analysis, Clarke Jones argues the discovery of a plot by alleged Islamic State supporter Omarjan Azari to behead an innocent citizen in Australia "comes as no surprise".

IS has made it clear that fear, brutality and demoralisation are crucial parts of its strategy to win support both domestically and internationally.

With its sophisticated media wing, IS has shown that its preferred strategy for gaining support and eliciting a military reaction from the West is to behead Westerners.

As barbaric as IS tactics are, they are not random, and its methods appear to be rooted in a calculated plan to entice and engage allied military forces.

Whether in Australia or the Middle East, it was only a matter of time before plans would be hatched for an Australian to join this unfortunate group of executed victims.

Judging from today's uncovered plot, we really should be more concerned about softer targets, such as transport networks, shopping  centres and even individual citizens.

5:33pm: A Brisbane man charged with terrorism-related offences will remain behind bars after his legal team failed to secure bail in the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Omar Succarieh, 31, did not appear in Brisbane's Supreme Court for the bail hearing, but barrister Peter Callaghan, for Mr Succarieh, described the prosecution's case as "spare, vague and ultimately unconvincing".

Mr Succarieh was charged last Wednesday with providing funds to terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra and planning to enter Syria to "engage in hostile activity".

5:29pm: The NSW Police Force has activated Operation Hammerhead.  It's a visibility policing operation with increased presence in public places and public transport hubs.

“Operation Hammerhead will also patrol iconic locations such as the Harbour and its surrounding foreshores as well as sporting fixtures and other large scale public events,” Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said.

Police remove a sword as part of evidence found at a residential property in the suburb of Marsfield, in Sydney on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014. At least 10 people have been arrested with suspected links to the terror group Islamic State following pre-dawn raids across Sydney and Brisbane.

5:05pm: We've had one of our Arabic speaking colleagues translate the characters visible on the sword that police seized from a Sydney home during anti-terror raids this morning.

The script is only partly visible but we're told the best bet is that it says:

لا فتى إلا علي لا سيف إلا ذو الفقار

"There is no hero but Ali; there is no sword but Zulfiqar".

But this sword - Zulfiqar or Dhu al-Fiqar - is one of the major symbols of Shiite Islam.

It would be surprising if it was a Zulfiqar sword, as Islamic State is a Sunni jihadist group and vehemently anti-Shia.

There are various interpretations of the sword's name. It is thought to refer to the literal vertebrae of the spine- "the severer of the vertebrae; the spine-splitter"- or the stars of the belt of Orion.

4:55pm:  The government is benefiting from the threat of terrorism, says chief political correspondent Mark Kenny, but that doesn't mean it's orchestrating events.

4:45pm: NSW Police Minister Stuart Ayres just spoke on Sky News. He said the police were collecting as much evidence as they could today and investigations would continue.

"We are very vigilant here in NSW."  "We are endeavouring to stay one step ahead of these people who might want to attack our country."  "We are watching people of interest and if we feel like there’s a risk to the community we will take action like we did today."

4:37pm: Senior reporter Daniel Flitton has penned this measured analysis of today's raids saying the alleged plot "is a sign of weakness by those who would do Australians harm, not strength".

These arrests tell us something important. The police believe there are fanatics in Australia who hold malevolent intent, but the accused appear to lack the skills to match the desire for violence.

It takes specialised knowledge to build a homemade bomb, for example, like the one that destroyed nightclubs in Bali.

Or training and access to weapons to conduct an armed rampage in a shopping mall, as happened in Kenya.

Instead, the allegation in Australia is a plot of far more mundane violence but carried out in an intensely political fashion.

Security measures are only a stopgap to the harder and urgent task of tackling the vicious ideology and warped religiosity that spurs such violence.


NSW faces gas shortages due to onerous environmental requirements

The New South Wales government says "nothing is off the table" in its desperate bid to stave off potential shortages in gas supplies that could drive manufacturers from the state and push up household energy bills if coal seam gas projects by AGL Energy and Santos don't start up on time.

NSW deputy secretary for resources and energy Kylie Hargreaves said on Thursday that gas savings schemes were under study, as well as ways to help gas users switch to electricity, so additional gas could be made available instead to heavy users that rely on it.

But she said that the government was assuming that potential gas shortages would not arrive as early as some observers were warning, and that by the time it was assuming - 2018-19 - both AGL's Gloucester CSG project in the northern Hunter region and Santos's Pilliga CSG project should have come into production as long as they meet regulatory requirements for approval.

"We're looking at everything, nothing is off the table in all honesty because we just want to make sure we try and do whatever is reasonable to try and address the pressures in the industry," Ms Hargreaves told a conference in Sydney.

"The last thing we want is manufacturing going out the door."

NSW, which produces only 5 per cent of its own gas, has been slow to develop its plentiful CSG resources and projects such as Gloucester and Pilliga are running behind schedule.

Santos had been targeting mid-2014 to lodge an environmental impact statement for its controversial $2 billion Pilliga project but has yet to submit the document, putting its tentative schedule for production in 2017 in doubt. AGL has flagged a final investment decision for its Gloucester project in the December quarter this year. Those two projects could together supply 70 per cent of NSW's gas requirements by 2020, although production initiallly would be lower.

But industrial gas users at the conference, including petrochemicals producer Qenos, queried the NSW government's appreciation of the problems the lack of certainty on future gas supplies are having on their businesses, and signalled they were having difficulty sourcing gas from 2017 onwards.

Ms Hargreaves said the government was dealing with individual projects to try to facilitate gas supplies to customers that rely on them.

Western Power non-executive director Paul Underwood questioned whether the NSW government had considered the possibility of building an LNG import terminal to tackle the problem.

"We're open to be looking at any and all options," Ms Hargreaves said. "Our fundamental driver is security of supply, affordability of supply, and I'm happy to look at almost anything in that space."

The idea of a gas pipeline from the Northern Territory that could bring gas to NSW via South AUstralia or Queensland is also being supported by the NSW government, she added.

Ms Hargreaves said that the government also had a working group into how to help gas users to switch to electricity if necessary and possible, and making that gas available to heavy users that depend on it for their business. It is also studying the potential for a scheme that would create financial incentives for organisations to invest in projects to save gas, similar to the Energy Savings Scheme in electricity.


Australia to contribute planes for anti-ISIS campaign

 Terrorists will use Australia's deployment of troops and war planes to the Middle East as an excuse to target Australians, Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned on Monday.

Australia is preparing to contribute 600 troops and up to 10 military aircraft to the increasingly aggressive campaign against the Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq, the government announced on Sunday.

While Abbott expected extremists to react to Australia's military deployment to the United Arab Emirates, he noted that 88 Australians were among 202 people killed by bombers on the Indonesian island of Bali in 2002 before Australia went to war in Iraq.

"There is no doubt that those who wish us harm will cite things like this as an excuse, but it's not the reason," Abbott told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television.

"The reason why we are targeted is not because of anything that we've done, but because of who we are and how we live," he said.

"This death cult targets everyone and anyone who does not conform to its particular ideology," he added, referring to the Islamic State movement.

Taufik Andrie, a terrorism researcher at Jakarta's Institute for International Peace Building, told ABC that Indonesian extremists were again talking about targeting Westerners in response to recent U.S. air strikes in Iraq. There have been no major attacks on Westerns in Indonesia since July 17, 2009, when the JW Marriot and Ritz-Carlton hotels were bombed, killing eight and injuring 53.

Australia's military deployment is in response to a formal request from the United States for specific contributions to the international coalition.

President Barack Obama announced the more aggressive military campaign last week. Scores of U.S. airstrikes have been launched at select targets in Iraq, and U.S. planes and drones will be gathering intelligence on targets before launching airstrikes in Syria.

Abbott drew a distinction between the current Iraq campaign and 2003 when Australia sent 2,000 troops to back the U.S. and British forces in the Iraq invasion.

"It's not President George W. Bush, it is President Obama, a very different president ... who is rightly and properly slow to reach for the gun and he has put together an extensive coalition including about 10 Middle Eastern countries," Abbott told Nine Network television.

Australia will prepare up to eight F/A18 combat aircraft, an E-7A Wedgetail Early Warning and Control aircraft and a KC-30A Tanker and Transport aircraft to be deployed to the United Arab Emirates.

The 400 air force personnel and 200 others in the contingent could be deployed this week, Abbott said on Sunday.

The statement said special operations personnel who could assist Iraq's security forces were being prepared also, but combat troops were not being deployed.


Lakemba money transfer firm Bisotel Rieh has licence revoked for alleged links to funding terrorist organisation
A SYDNEY firm suspected of financing terrorism in the Middle East has had its lic-ence suspended amid claims it hid $9 million in fund transfers from authorities.

Lakemba-based Bisotel Rieh, a popular one-stop shop for money transfers, travel bookings and immigration advice, is being investigated by the nation’s financial intelligence unit, Austrac, which is seeking to cancel the firm’s registration permanently.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre has claimed the family-run firm transferred $21.3 million overseas, but only ­reported $12.3 million in international transactions to the federal government.

The firm, whose name means Magic Carpet in Arabic, is also accused of arranging for bulk cash to be smuggled over the Turkish border into Lebanon while Lebanon is the subject of Australian sanctions.

It is also accused of not providing details of who received money sent to Lebanon and Malaysia, with a suspect $38,000 payment made to a Malaysian individual.

Lakemba locals realised something was wrong when they turned up on Monday to send money overseas and were told it could no longer be done.

The company’s founder and director, Syrian-born Ahmed Alwash, 47, yesterday declined to answer questions at the company’s shopfront office in Gillies St, Lakemba, next door to a barber and the Australians for Syria Association. Two women were working inside the agency.  “I have to speak to my sister,” Mr Alwash said.

AUSTRAC acting chief executive John Schmidt said the government regulator had “serious concerns” about what the funds were being used for: “We are satisfied that the continued registration of Bisotel Rieh, an independent remittance provider, may involve a significant ­financing of terrorism risk.

“AUSTRAC take seriously the risks face by the Australian community in relation to terrorism. We look closely at companies which are wittingly or unwittingly used to finance terrorism.’’

The remittance sector has been identified globally as the most frequently used way to funnel money to terrorist ­organisations. During the past three years, Austrac has refused the registration of six entities, cancelled the registration of two others and put conditions on another 15

Bisotel Rieh has a deadline of 5pm tomorrow to provide documentation to refute the allegations. The government regulator will decide before then whether it suspends their licence for a further 40 days pending a plan to cancel their registration.

The move on the company comes just a week after the government announced a $20 million boost to its tracking of terror finance.


1 comment:

Rubyred said...

I wonder if they launder the Halal blackmail money.