Where’s the dope?
Friday September 15th 2006, 8:03 am

image: The AgeImagine for a moment that you’re an auto mechanic. If you got fault diagnoses wrong 74% of the time, how long would it take any reasonable garage owner to sack you?

What if your salary was $435,000 per year– and you completed repairs successfully in just 19 out of 10,211 assignments in five years? That’s $114,473.68 per successful repair and $2,060,526.32 in costs which did not contribute to a successful, billable repair.

Would you be sacked any faster?

Not if you’re a NSW Police drug sniffer dog.

According to the NSW Ombudsman, these figures in boldface reflect the track record of drug-sniffer dogs which have been used to search patrons of clubs and restaurants and users of public transport in Sydney since 2001.

Good news: The autocratic future of FOI in Australia
Wednesday September 13th 2006, 4:57 pm

I bet you thought Smirky Pete was a RepublicanThe purpose of the Australian Freedom of Information Act is to put government documents into the hands of the governed. FOI serves the public interest by making information about government decisions available to voters, some of which the government would clearly prefer the people did not know.

The High Court’s recent decision to permit politicians to use ‘conclusive certificates’ to ignore FOI works much to the public detriment. ‘Conclusive certificates‘ allow government to quash FOI requests on whim and will- without judicial review- wholly defeating the purpose.

Journalist for The Australian, Michael McKinnon, lodged FOI requests for information about the income levels of claimants of the ‘first time homebuyer grant’ scheme and figures on how much tax revenue the government was making from ‘bracket creep.’

McKinnon’s requests were denied via Treasurer Peter Costello’s ‘conclusive certificate’ in which Costello maintained that release of this information was not in the public interest. This is a key example of a politically motivated, whimsical abuse of power by the government of the day, the very sort of abuse that checks and balances in mature democratic systems are designed to halt.

The High Court’s decision to permit ‘conclusive certificates’ facilitates autocratic government and allows bad government to carry on in secret, shielded from unflattering press coverage.

Australian FOI must be reformed, or the only news we’ll get is ‘good’ news… fit for a queen.

Good government have no need to hide.


Seven withdraws ‘exactly what happened’ claim from ‘Path To 9/11’
Monday September 11th 2006, 3:56 pm

While it’s hardly sufficient to alert viewers to the significant material falsehoods in Path To 9/11, Seven have changed the banner on their website.

Here’s the original:

version 'A'...

As of around 3:45pm AEST on 11 September 2006, the banner now makes a different claim about the show:

Thrilling? That's not the superlative I'm thinking of...

‘Dramatised investigation’ is accurate, but ‘thrilling’ definitely isn’t the description being used in most reviews.

Tom Shales at the Washington Post says in his review, ABC’s Twisted ‘Path to 9/11‘:

“Factually shaky, politically inflammatory and photographically a mess”

Seven should do more than stop claiming this program is ‘exactly what happened.’ A responsible broadcaster would pull it.


Misleading version of ‘Path to 9/11’ aired in NZ, Aus
Monday September 11th 2006, 12:18 pm


As covered in my last two posts, last minute edits were required to The Path To 9/11 before it could air in the USA. However, the unedited version appears to be the one which aired last night in Australia and New Zealand.

WebWeaver did a live blog of the program as it aired in NZ. From this description, it appears that this is also the version which aired on the Seven Network in Australia. Seven also ran a disclaimer at the beginning of the Sydney broadcast:

Due to subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.

The following movie is a dramatization that is drawn from a variety of sources including the 9/11 Commission Report and other published materials, and from personal interviews. The movie is not a documentary.

For dramatic and narrative purposes, the movie contains fictionalized scenes, composite and representative characters and dialogue, as well as time compression.

The Path To 9/11 was written by Cyrus Nowrasteh and directed by David L. Cunningham, both right-wing political activists. Cunningham is associated with the ‘Untitled History Project‘ of The Film Institute, an organised attempt to insert conservative revisionism into ‘Hollywood.’ Looks like they’ve succeeded in this case, certainly in broadcast markets outside of the USA.

American Airlines will be very nonplussed with the fictionalised scene showing a AA counter agent allowing hijacker Mohammad Atta to board, despite a security warning from a American Airlines computer system. The problem is it didn’t happen. This is only one of numerous defamatory fictionalisations of events contained in the program as aired in Sydney. Somehow, I don’t think the disclaimer run at the beginning of the Sydney presentation on Seven is going to satisfy American Airlines’ lawyers.

Seven says Path To 9/11 “exactly what happened”
Sunday September 10th 2006, 2:50 pm

This is a screenshot of the lead promotional banner on Seven’s website as of 2:45pm, 10 September 2006:


“…exactly what happened”?

Seven is quite aware of the controversy surrounding the misinformation, outright falsehood and conservative propaganda in the version of Path To 9/11 as it was released to right-wing media for review. A number of people in Australia have contacted Seven regarding the problems with the program, myself included, yet the above banner remains on the Seven website, claiming that the story told in Path is “The story of exactly what happened.”

Disinfo-tainment: The Path To 9/11
Friday September 08th 2006, 11:20 pm

image: Lalo Alcaraz

The Seven Network is scheduled to air the ABC (America) ‘docudrama,’ The Path to 9/11 in Australia, without commercial interruption (see edit below), in two segments, on Sunday, 10 September, at 8:30pm and on Monday, 11 September at 9:30pm AEST.

The program is highly controversial with regard to depictions of history. The program tries to blame the 9/11 attacks on Bill Clinton, attempts to assert that Iraq indeed had WMD, claims that there was a connection between the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein and implies that ‘media are hindering the war on terror.’

Vale Steve Irwin
Monday September 04th 2006, 5:48 pm

Hooroo, mate.


MORE: LP, TPAF tributes. Video shows Irwin wasn’t playing ‘Croc Hunter’ with the ray– it just up and whacked him while he was swimming past.

Monday September 04th 2006, 9:05 am

image: Kudelka for 101usesforajohnhoward.com

Howard and Costello are (again) blowing the racism dog-whistle in the lead-in to the 2007 federal elections, but it seems they’re using a 300 horsepower air compressor this time around.

And why not? It worked with Tampa… and AWB.

image: Alan Moir

Today’s most patently absurd quote comes from Downer:

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, when asked about Mr Costello’s comments, said that “if people choose not to denounce terrorism … that draws attention to them and people wonder why would somebody not renounce terrorism”.

Downer must at once renounce frolicking in the kiddies’ wading pool in fishnets.

To not do so must surely draw attention to him.


Video blogger freed!
Saturday September 02nd 2006, 8:33 am

Videoblogger freed!After spending a month in a federal prison, videoblogger Josh Wolf has been released on bail, after a hearing before the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. See the video clip on San Francisco’s KGO-TV website.

Support from the community has been overwhelming, with the Society of Professional Journalists both passing the hat and approving a $US30,000 grant for Wolf’s defence, the largest ever approved by SPJ to defend jailed journalists.

Thanks to all the bloggers who, along with me, ponied up donations for Wolf’s legal defence fund.

Welcome home, Josh!

Keep those cameras rolling!