Wednesday, August 30

Edited out on LGF

Several days back, in response to this post,
I posted a comment (#120) which so pissed off Charles Johnson that he deleted it (his blog, his rules).
I do try to stand by my public statements, so here is the comment, IIRC.........Edited out on LGF

Friday, August 25

A Blast From The Past

In the blink of an eye...

(Click on logo above to view Flash animation)

This Flash animation was created using Photoshop to overlay successive frames of the 1996 Reuters Television video filmed by Reuters reporter Najla Abu Jahjah purporting to show a Lebanese ambulance being struck by a missile from an Israeli helicopter gunship after it passes through the UNIFIL Amriyya checkpoint near the village of Hinniyeh in southern Lebanon on April 13, 1996. Each frame was extracted from the CNN Quicktime movie using MPEG Streamclip, and placed in its own layer in Photoshop, with images aligned using the Difference layer mode. They were nudged into alignment, and then animated in Adobe ImageReady. As shown, the position of the ambulance at the time of the explosion is mapped to a position considerably above the road level in the subsequent scene, indicating that editing has occurred between the time we last see the ambulance, and the explosion.

(As shown, the yellow tower, the guard shelter, and the red car depicted in the scene just prior to the explosion are much closer to the camera than the smoke from the explosion. The ambulance car in the prior scene was located between the red car and the yellow tower, and now a white car and some black and white barrels block the road. Click on the image at right for additional Flash animation demonstrating this. This frame from the CNN web video has been enlarged 250%, and the color saturation boosted +70 using Photoshop. For some reason, the color in CNN's video is quite desaturated, despite it having been a sunny day.)

The CNN video (and a substantially similar video aired by Hizballah's Al Manar TV apparently also derived from the Reuters Television footage) purports to show the explosion hitting the ambulance, but it undoubtedly took at least a few minutes for the black and white barrels and the white car we see in the subsequent scene to be positioned across the road in the spot that we've just seen the ambulance car drive through.

The CNN narration concerning the explosion says:

"In the confusion and panic of the civilian rush to escape the Israeli onslaught, an ambulance weaves its way through the chaos... his vehicle filled with passengers. In the blink of an eye, it vanishes in a cloud of dense smoke ...targeted by an Israeli helicopter gunship."


The explosion, we are lead to believe, has just occurred, and the men running from the white car are presumably fleeing in fear from the Israeli assault, yet where was their car in the previous scene? And how did it get from there to where it is now in the presumably mere seconds that it took the ambulance car to drive the short distance down the road to where it was presumably struck, and where the smoke now is?

Even if the white car was where we see it parked now, and either just out of frame or hidden by the red car in the earlier scene, the last place we see the ambulance car before the explosion is between the red car and the yellow tower, and the smoke from the explosion in this next scene is farther down the road. Even accounting for the effects of a zoom lens, which makes the red car and the yellow tower appear to be in the same depth of field with the ambulance car, the smoke is unmistakably in a different place.

Immediately following the explosion, two guys in the white car jump out and run to the left --and close the car doors behind them? As the camera zooms out for a wider shot, we see another figure to the right of the white car running between the white car and the yellow tower in the direction of the camera. He, too, it appears, has bailed out of the white car and shut his door behind him. At the end of this shot, someone (it looks like a woman in a dark pantsuit) who's been standing next to the red car opens that car's door to get in.


In the next scene, we see the family running towards the camera from down the road. As they approach, there are several things to notice. One, the smoke from the previous scene is completely dispelled, again showing that a significant number of minutes have been edited out. The white car that was parked near the tank trap and the black and white barrels is gone, again indicating that some time has elapsed.

In the background of this shot, particularly in the higher resolution still frame shown below (obtained from a jihadi site called, there appear to be two potholes or craters in the road that are in the approximate location where the smoke was seen originating from in the previous scene. And indeed in the previous scene, there appear what looks like two distinct plumes of smoke originating on the road. The craters in the road appear roughly in line with the overturned barrel in the foreground that is leaning against a post. We can see that this is the same post in the later scene because there is yet a third version of the Reuters Television video on the Web, which appears to contain much uncut footage, and which is downloadable in Real Video format from a jihadi site called (Saladin) here.

Click on image at right to view a Flash animation demonstrating these points.

I will be examining the Saladin version of the video in greater detail later, as it shows scenes not present in the CNN or Al Manar footage. On the Saladin site's homepage, this video is featured in a sidebar titled "CAUGHT ON TAPE Israeli Terrorism on Tape CHECK IT OUT".


Not many of the news accounts, not even the contemporaneous written account by Najla Abu Jahjah of Reuters, claim that there were two missiles fired in this incident, but in a July 1998 interview with Matthew Rothschild of The Progressive magazine, British journalist Robert Fisk elaborated on the story of what has come to be known as the "Mansouri massacre":

Q: You also have done a lot of reporting on an Israeli attack on a Lebanese ambulance full of people. What was that story?

Fisk: It was the thirteenth of April, 1996. Abbas Jiha was a farmer and a volunteer ambulance driver for the village of Mansouri in southern Lebanon. On this day, he'd taken two trips to Sidon--first with a wounded man, then with a wounded baby. When Abbas returned to Mansouri, there was panic, shells were failing all around. People were saying, "Take us to Sidon, take us to Sidon." He put four of his children in the vehicle, he put another family in, and another guy, a window cleaner--in all there were fourteen people in the ambulance. He'd gotten up to the U.N. Post 123 on the main coast road. He was one-third of the way to safety in Sidon. So he goes through the checkpoint, and Reuters photographer Najla Abujahjah is standing there and sees the car go through and sees two helicopters. One of them comes down and starts chasing the car up the road. When helicopters start flying at vehicles, you know you're in trouble. They're coming up behind to fire a missile into the back of the vehicle. That's the way they do it.

Q: There'd be no denying that the helicopter wanted to hit this ambulance?

Fisk: Oh, absolutely not. They intended to hit it, they absolutely did. They fired two missiles. One didn't explode, the other did. It exploded through the back door, engulfing the vehicle in fire and smoke and hurling it twenty meters through the air. Abbas Jiha stood in the road beside one of his dead daughters, weeping and shrieking, "God is Great." He held up his fists to the sky and cried out, "My God, my God, my family has gone." He saw his two-month-old baby, Mariam, lying outside the ambulance, her body riddled with holes and her head full of metal. His five-year-old, Hanin, "was cut through with holes like a mosquito net," he told me. The Reuters photographer saw her collapse on the broken window frame, her blood running in streams down the outside of the vehicle. Abbas Jiha also lost his nine-year-old daughter, Zeinab, and his wife, Mona. "She was so terribly wounded, I couldn't recognize her face," he told me. Two other passengers died, a sixty-year-old woman and her eleven-year-old niece.

William Rivers Pitt of retold the story this way in a September 2004 web posting:

On April 13, an ambulance driver named Abbas Jiha was rushing patients to a hospital in Sidon. Civilians caught in the crossfire of 'Grapes of Wrath' begged him to take them to Sidon, and so he squeezed his wife, his four children and ten others into his ambulance. An Israeli helicopter targeted his ambulance and fired two missiles. The ambulance was blasted sixty feet into the air, and Jiha was thrown clear. When he made it back to the remains of his rig, he found his nine year old daughter, his wife, and four others dead within the flaming wreckage.

In her contemporaneous report on April 13, 1996, headlined "Six killed as Israeli rocket hits ambulance," reporter Najla Abu Jahjah, who filmed the incident for Reuters Television, described the scene she saw:

An Israeli helicopter rocketed an ambulance packed with refugees fleeing south Lebanon on Saturday, killing two women and four young girls.

The helicopter blasted the white Volvo stationwagon carrying people fleeing Israel's bombardment of the south in full view of Fijian troops of the U.N.'s UNIFIL peacekeeping force at this checkpoint in south Lebanon.

I saw the ambulance engulfed in a huge ball of fire about 20 metres (yards) from where I stood with a group of journalists at the checkpoint, followed by a powerful blast.

The rocket exploded beside the car, hurling it 20 metres off the road
, through a garden and into the front room of a house, destroying the room in an avalanche of falling stone and rubble.

Another report, also dated April 13, 1996 and headlined "Israeli rocket kills four children in ambulance," filed by Reuters reporter Andrew Tarnowski from Beirut gives a slightly different account, paraphrasing Jahjah:

"Four children were killed and six were wounded when an Israeli helicopter rocketed the ambulance they were travelling in to flee Israel's blitz of southern Lebanon on Saturday, witnesses said. Reuters reporter Najla Abu Jahjah, who witnessed the attack, saw the blood-covered bodies of four dead children being pulled out by rescuers from the ambulance which received a direct hit. She saw at least six wounded children. The attack took place near the village of Hinniyeh, eight km (five miles) south of the port of Tyre."

In addition to showing us the apparent craters in the road, the higher-resolution photos at the website allow us to identify the individuals running towards the camera in the "family running" scene. Based upon press accounts, we see self-described farmer and part-time ambulance driver Abbas Jiha (or Jihah, also called Abbas Mdeihli in one AP report by Doug Struck of the Baltimore Sun on April 14, and, inexplicably, called Khoder Ghazal, in a UPI report on April 13 that conflicts with most later written accounts and the Reuters Television video, see below), who is shown carrying both the body of his two-month old daughter Mariam (or Miriam), and his surviving son Mahdi (or Medhi), age 6. The other man shown running is either Abbas Jiha's cousin, Ali Ammar (or Amar), also reportedly a farmer, or, as identified in this report by the Hariri Foundation [PDF download], Mohamad Hisham, a window repairman. The girl running, unnamed despite being prominently featured in news reports, is probably 13-year-old Manar Fadi al-Khalid, based upon information in the Hariri report.

Click on the image at right for Flash animation identifying the family.

In her April 13 account, Reuters camerawoman Najla Abu Jahjah describes the scene:

We were taking pictures of villagers fleeing the village of Mansouri. They were among some 250,000 people forced to flee south Lebanon by Israel's three-day blitz of south Lebanon villages.

As the ambulance drove past the checkpoint, packed with refugees, an Israeli helicopter appeared in the sky. When it headed towards the checkpoint, journalists hid behind the checkpoint wall with the Fijian U.N. troops.

After the blast we looked for the ambulance but could not see it so we thought it had driven on. But moments later a man ran up, blood drenching his face and carrying a child in his arms.

He was followed by another man whose face was also covered in blood.
Then we saw the ambulance thrown into the house beside the road.


Do these men look wounded to you? Does anyone here look like they've just been in a serious automobile accident, much less escaped from the burning wreckage of an ambulance targeted by two (or even one) Israeli missiles?

Abbas Jiha has wounds or blood on his face in later scenes, but when he first appears, running up the road, the blood on his face is absent. Jiha may have blood on his face in the later scene as a result of embracing the bloody body he's carrying, but Jahjah's written account also says "blood poured from the men's faces". Where? Neither of the men look wounded.

On April 14, Doug Struck of the Baltimore Sun, reported for the Associated Press:

Earlier in the day, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired on an ambulance near the southern Lebanon city of Tyre, killing six civilians, including at least three children...

"It all happened in a second," said the ambulance driver, Abbas Mdeihli, who was treated for shoulder wounds. "I heard a wooshing sound. I was sucked out of the vehicle."

Abbas Mdehli, presumably the same individual as Abbas Jiha, is said to have been treated for shoulder wounds, yet there's no blood on his shirt in the later scene, and he seems to have no difficulty carrying bodies around, indeed he carried both his young son, and infant daughter for some considerable distance down the road. Anecdotal evidence suggests that people are certainly capable of extraordinarily feats of strength under stress, but one would expect that if he were wounded in the shoulder, there would at least be some blood.

Abbas Mdehli is at least a close name to Abbas Jiha, but an early UPI report on April 13 by Mohammed Darweesh, headlined "Lebanese ambulance driver tells horror" gives the ambulance driver's name as Khoder Ghazal, says he was interviewed not at the scene, but at a hospital in Tyre, and makes no mention of his being related any of those who were killed! This story also identifies the UNIFIL soldiers as Nepalese, rather than Fijian, and Ghazal claims they stood by and did nothing to help.

"Ambulance driver Khoder Ghazal thought he was doing a good turn by transporting villagers fleeing Israeli attacks in southern Lebanon. He never believed that Israeli helicopters would not even spare his ambulance. Ghazal, 35, was evacuating nine people from Mansouri, a village east of the southern port of Tyre, when an Israeli attack helicopter fired a missile at his vehicle. Ghazal, who was unharmed but shocked, said at a Tyre hospital that he only had time to dive out of the ambulance. His passengers were not so lucky. Six of them were killed and three were wounded. Among the dead were three sisters, aged 3, 5 to 10 years old. Since Israel began its offensive Thursday, it has repeatedly said its forces are trying to limit attacks to the Iran-backed Hezbollah guerrillas. But nearly all casualties have been inflicted on civilians, mainly women and children, Lebanese security sources said. Ghazal said the ambulance attack occurred near a post manned by Nepalese soldiers with the U.N. peacekeeping force. ''They did nothing,'' he said of the peacekeepers. ''There were at least two other people bleeding on the road and other dead people, but nobody sent an ambulance to rescue them.''"

The Saladin video shows UNIFIL soldiers helping to retrieve the bodies, and UN vehicles dispatched to the scene (not to mention the man identified in press reports as Abbas Jiha the ambulance driver and bereaved father helping alongside the UN troops to move the bodies), so one suspects at the very least whether Ghazal was at the scene at all. One wonders as well whether the hospital in Tyre where Ghazal was interviewed is the same one where, ten years later, a mysterious man named Abu Shadi would be showing off bodies to the press from his refrigerated truck...

What's more, on April 15th, Doug Struck of the Baltimore Sun filed a report from Samariye, Lebanon, headlined "Lebanese flee Israeli bombardment; 400,000 rush to Beirut on fourth day of assault," that includes this curious passage:

The Israeli effort seemed intended to minimize the public relations damage when a civilian-filled ambulance was hit by an Israeli missile Saturday. Graphic film broadcast internationally showed three dying children and three dead mothers, but Israel's unsupported claim was that the ambulance contained a Hezbollah guerrilla.

"Where is the Hezbollah in these children?" asked Dr. Jawad Najem, at a small hospital south of Tyre, as he pulled open the doors of the morgue where five of the victims lay yesterday. The bodies of the tiny children were entwined on one drawer shelf. No relatives remained uninjured to bury them.

Well, how about their father, ambulance-driving farmer Abbas Jiha, or Abbas Mdehli (or possibly even Khoder Ghazal) who was videotaped uninjured and carrying the bodies around only two days earlier, and whom you interviewed only yesterday, Mr. Struck?


As seen in the apparently unedited Saladin video, why does Abbas Jiha stop running when he gets to the roadblock while the other man and the girl continue on ahead? Is it just because Jiha is at last tired from carrying both the infant and his son all the way down the road? Or is it because he's reached his "mark" for the next scene, in which he hands the infant off to the men in the white car and they proceed back down the road in the direction the family has just come? The infant, Mariam Jiha, has no bleeding that is visible even in the enlarged higher-resolution images from Note also that, as shown in both the al-Manar and Saladin videos, baby Mariam inexplicably has the top of her coat pulled up over her face! From the way the baby's head is lolling, one might surmise that her neck is broken, but if it is, Abbas Jiha shows litle concern for cradling the baby in such a way as to protect her from further injury. Perhaps the baby is already dead and Abbas Jiha has covered her face for that reason, but if so, why the apparent rush to get her in the white car and presumably to a hospital?

See the Flash animation: Is this the way to treat a wounded baby?

Also, note that the white car that appears from nowhere in this handoff scene from the Saladin video is apparently the same one that was shown earlier with the men bailing out of it (see comparison at right). While they took care to close their cars doors behind them as they fled for their lives, they seem to have forgotten to close them completely this time, as the doors of the white car are already partially open when the car appears from out of frame on the right. If this is the same car as in the earlier scene, the car's appearance here at least explains its disappearance in the "family running" scene, and possibly the shutting of the car doors as well, as it apparently had to be turned around so that it could head back down the road.

And what of Abbas Jiha's son Mahdi, whom Jiha has carried for some reason down the road? A photo (from shows what could be blood on Mahdi's leg. Apparently, Mahdi couldn't walk the distance. But like his namesake, the hidden 12th imam of Shia Islam, Mahdi vanishes before our eyes in this handoff scene, never to be seen again.


Israeli military sources at the time said the vehicle was carrying a Hizballah terrorist. Chief of the Israeli Army's Northern Command, Major-General Amiram Levine, was quoted by Colleen Siegel of Reuters, in a report filed April 13 from the Israel-Lebanon border:

"The vehicle was sighted by the Israeli army and the terrorist was killed. According to reports by the other side there are children who were killed too. If children were killed I regret that but repeat and stress they were in an area from which the Hizbollah fires Katyushas and they were warned not to be there. We will continue hitting anyone who goes around in the places from which Hizbollah fires."

Colleen Siegel's story also contains this description of the video:

Reuters Television footage of the incident showed first a car clearly marked as an ambulance, then the vehicle engulfed in smoke, and finally the car wrecked and full of dead and dying women and children. The front seats were empty.

(More analysis forthcoming...)

Sunday, August 20

Faux Johnson ?

After seeing the lovely "Saturday Night Spheres" photograph/open thread post from Charles last night, I got a little suspicious, so as is my nature I dug a little deeper. Finding my way into the private LGF image bank I made a chilling discovery. Here is a animated gif I made to illustrate what I found:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friday, August 18

Summer's End

Well, today it's Friday, and it's the last day of summer for me--ignore the calendar that says that technically summer ends next month. Pre-service begins next week, and school begins on August 28. That sounds like the end to me!

This year I am, as I did last year, teaching all 9th grade general science, with one of the sections being special ed. It's a class I have taught so many times I can do it in my sleep--and I think last year when I was ailing I probably did teach it in my sleep. It is not the most interesting class for 9th graders, but they'll be tested on it at the end of the year, so we have to teach it.

So I have been going into my classroom since the end of summer school, getting ready to get ready for the first day of school. My colleagues who are teaching the same class want to totally revamp the curriculum, supposedly tieing it more closely to the standards and hopefully making it more 'fun'. We had a meeting about it in May, and they are full of great ideas. We were supposed to meet from time to time over summer break to plan. We never did.

So I don't know what I am supposed to be doing in my classroom on the 28th. If I have my druthers, I'd just keep teaching what I have been teaching, as it has always worked fairly well for me. But I know that during the first couple of weeks of school I am going to have to sit down with the principal and tell him what my goals for the year are...I thnk this year's 'theme' is literacy (we have a new one every year). I always want to tell him that I just want to continue to be the great teacher I am, but that never flies--he always wants some kind of pseudo-humility, and I'm not good at that. Real humility I can handle, but that pretend stuff is garbage as far as I am concerned.

So I am asking you. If you have children in high school, or if you can imagine you have children in high school, what would you want their teachers' goals to be for the year? Put your thoughts in comments and maybe I can use some of 'em to wow my principal.

Extra credit for suggestions that include literacy. :)

Wednesday, August 16

The Art Of Human Spirit

He lost his arms in Iraq, now he paints with his heart and wants to help others...

Injured soldier Peter Damon works on one of his pastel paintings... Photo courtesy of Brockton Enterprise

Peter Damon, a former Sergeant in the National Guard, had a less than pleasant experience while serving in Iraq. While working on a Blackhawk Helicopter in 2003, the former electrician lost both his arms, and saw his military buddy from Alabama, Paul Bueche killed, after a tire on the helicopter exploded.

The explosion created a world of hurt for Damon, necessitating his removal from Iraq and a lengthy rehabilitation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland, where he was fitted with a prothesis on his left arm and the process of healing mind and body began for him.

Peter was having a difficult time while recuperating at Walter Reed, coping with the loss of his arms and the limitations he suddenly faced. As he told Alice C. Elwell of the Brockton Enterprise, I was bummed out, I couldn't do anything I liked to do...

Even in the most trying of circumstances, the ingenuity endowed with the human spirit, the drive to overcome can shine through, and Peter found himself with an inspiration, One day I practiced writing... I thought, If I can write, why can't I draw?

And draw he did, though his first efforts were shaky. Peter had to relearn to draw and eventually paint with his prosthesis, a slow going process, but progress was made and he produced his first picture, a pencil drawing of a stuffed bear.

Peter Damon's "County Crossing" depicts a railroad crossing in Middleboro's Rock Village - Photo courtesy of Brockton Enterprise

His wife Jenn almost cried when she saw the drawing, and it became one of her most precious possessions. For her, it symbolized that her husband was getting better. As she said in a recent interview, He doesn't want to be known as the guy with no arms...

After his rehabilitation was completed at Walter Reed, Peter and Jen, and their two children Allura and Danny moved from their native Brockton to a house in South Middleboro, Massachusetts, which was given to them by Homes for our Troops, a group that provides houses for injured Iraq war veterans.

The Damons also benefitted from his government pension, an insurance policy he took out before the war and cashed in, and legislation approved by Congress that provided a lump sum payment to service people injured in Iraq or Afghanistan.

With his family and finances secure, there was no need for Peter Damon to work another day in his life. Still at age 33, he was restless. As his wife Jen asks, Where's the satisfaction in sitting back and watching the world go by? As Peter notes, I didn't have to go back to work, but I wanted to...I couldn't see sitting around, but I knew I had to work for myself. Certain times of the day I have to sit. I get tired easy, and that would make it hard working for someone else.

Clearly hungry for something more in life, and with a burgeoning interest in drawing and painting, old Architecture, and his wife's background in retail business, Peter and his family purchased the former Prescription Pharmacy on Center Street in Middleboro, a historic building originially constructed in 1880, with the goal of transforming it in to an art gallery by the Fall of 2006.

As Peter told the Middleboro Gazette, We want to create an outlet for area artists to display and sell their work...We hope to get a lot of up and comers here, people who weren't sure they were good enough to offer their work for sale or exhibit...

And there is the added pride for Peter, whose artistic muse is Ray Ellis, a painter from Martha's Vineyard, of owning his own gallery, allowing him to showcase his own works,There's a huge sense of 'Now I can still do something.' A sense of worth and the extra drive to get better...

Photo of Peter Damon & Family in front of
Middleborough Art Gallery building - Appears courtesy of Jane Lopes, Middleboro Gazette

Anyone interested in submitting artwork for an exhibition at the gallery can visit the Middleborough Art Gallery website here or email Peter Damon at: for more information.


Boston Herald: Artistic touch keeps disabled vet inspired

Brockton (MA) Enterprise: Injured National Guardsman plans to open art gallery By Alice C. Elwell, Enterprise correspondent

Middleboro (MA) Gazette, 8-3-2006: Art and Restoration: Town gets an art gallery, the Damons a new career by Jane Lopes

Tuesday, August 15

The Myth of Hisballah Charity

The establishment media has a nice lazy spin on the biggest terrorist organization in the world: Charity Wins Deep Loyalty for Hezbollah. Reporters eagerly collect anecdotes about Hisballah’s gifts to the adoring Lebanese people. Olive oil, small business loans, rebuilt homes, medical treatment, and cash hand-outs. Hisballah’s penchant for terrorism, assassination, war-mongering, subversion, kidnapping, and anti-democratic fascism? Small price to pay, apparently.

What about the billions in Western aid to Lebanon, from both public and private sources, which dwarfs Hisballah’s expenditures by several orders of magnitude? All this is in vain, the old theory goes, because Western nations are only interested in imperialism and colonialism and Jews. Hisballah showers largesse on people because their hearts are just bursting with love.

The media spends little time wondering about where the money in Hisballah’s free-flowing coffers comes from. Whose stuff are they giving away? Charitable organizations have to get their money from earnings, donations, or taxes. The source of an organization’s funds is definitely relevant to their status as a charity. Mafia crews who generously spread their stolen loot all over the neighborhood are not considered charities, though they might be very popular with people who don’t get in their way.

Unlike most terrorist organizations, Hisballah has legitimate bank accounts. Like most criminal organizations, they also have legitimate investments and income from legal businesses. Like most terrorist and criminal organizations, though, one of their foremost sources of income is drugs. They own the brisk drug trade in Lebanon, much of which is supplied by poppy fields in the Beqaa Valley. Hisballah spies and operatives are often paid with opium or heroin. There is no love like the love of a heroin junkie for his connection, if you consider that sort of thing love.

The Lebanese traffic is probably only a small part of Hisballah’s drug earnings. The DEA has traced methamphetamine smuggling in the United States and Canada to Hisballah bank accounts. Methamphetamine abuse has reached such proportions that Native American health services are struggling with huge numbers of addicted newborns, and even larger numbers who are born with traces of crystal meth in their systems. Hisballah’s contribution is the supply of the pseudoephedrine ingredient, which is increasingly difficult to obtain legally.

That’s a pretty steep price to pay for an olive oil giveaway in Beirut.

Hisballah is also hip-deep in the extremely nasty illicit trade in diamonds and black-market gold. But like the Mafia, their biggest cash cow is probably ordinary theft. Hisballah has been connected to car theft rings in Canada and cigarette smuggling in the United States. Hisballah operatives in Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina have made millions from pirated intellectual property alone. Hijacking, insurance fraud, Nigeria scams, extortion, loan-sharking, money laundering, and burglary keep Hisballah’s cash register ringing. So does money from illegal immigrant smuggling rings, which are not operated by kind-hearted people.

Like other criminal organizations, Hisballah shears the sheep closest to home. Arabs and Muslims are high on the list of their victims. The Mafia got its start shaking down other Italians, while posing as a social service organization that supposedly protected its own kind. Critics were accused of ethnic prejudice. Hisballah’s “charity” is in that dismal vein.

Hisballah steals or soaks millions every year, often from the poorest and most wretched people on earth. (The meth-poisoned inhabitants of some Indian reservations might well envy the lifestyle of the average Lebanese, bombs and all.) They hand out a small fraction of it to dupe people into kissing Don Corleone’s ring. This is above and beyond their naked acts of terrorism and murder, which is their main occupation.

The difference between the Mafia and Hisballah is that the Mafia bribes politicians, authorities, and reporters to protect itself. Hisballah’s deluded fans are giving it away for free.

Collateral Damage: The Associated Press Defends "Green Helmet"

The Associated Press (AP), and its foreign correspondent Kathy Gannon, are standing by their man, and more importantly to them, standing by Gannon's reporting from Qana, Lebanon, where last month, Lebanese "veteran civil defense worker" Salam Daher and his crew shamelessly exploited dead bodies for the press in the hours following an Israeli airstrike. Gannon and the AP are now on the defensive, with Gannon recently writing a profile of Daher, known to the blogosphere as "Green Helmet." Gannon's profile of Green Helmet was later adapted by the AP as a Flash slideshow with narration by AP reporter Lauren Froyer.

Both Gannon and AP have reason to be concerned by the possibility of collateral damage to their own reputations as a result of the intensive bombardment the legacy media reporting on the Israel-Hizballah war has recently been subjected to in the blogosphere.

As first reported on Little Green Footballs, the revelation that a Lebanese photographer, Adnan Hajj, working for AP's rival news agency, Reuters, had improperly (read ineptly) "enhanced" a couple of his photos with Adobe Photoshop software prompted Reuters to recall over 900 of the photographer's photos, and got Hajj his pinkslip. Reuters had little invested in Hajj, and so could cut him loose without much fuss, but the LGF lizards that helped bring down CBS's Dan Rather and his phony Texas National Guard memos have caught the scent of another, wider, scandal.

Much has been learned concerning the events at Qana since August 2nd when I first noted my suspicions on LGF, and now the role of Salam Daher, the green helmeted man at the center of the coverage, is becoming apparent. Yet AP continues to avoid answering the difficult questions about Kathy Gannon's reporting, and why she apparently chose to overlook Daher's behavior, in favor of reporting his message.

Once again, here are some questions unanswered (and avoided thus far) by AP:

1.) AP's Kathy Gannon, the same reporter whose recent profile of Salam Daher forms the basis for this Flash slideshow narrated by AP's Lauren Frayer, filed a contemporaneous report from Qana in which she reported quotes from someone Gannon described as a "veteran civil defense worker" from Tyre named "Abu Shadi Jradi," who, based upon what we know about Salam Daher, sounds very much like the same individual.

Is Green Helmet, now called Salam Daher, the same person as "Abu Shadi Jradi"?

(Identifying "Abu Shadi Jradi" as Green Helmet is important because...)

2.) Mark MacKinnon, correspondent in Lebanon for the Toronto Globe and Mail, filed a story from Tyre that was published online on July 26 (link requires registration) in which he quoted extensively from a man identified as "Abu Shadi" who was described as "a mortician at the government hospital in the city" of Tyre, who told MacKinnon that

[h]e's processed 100 bodies -- many of them grotesquely mangled and burned -- and on his pickup runs has been forced to leave behind many more that he can't recover from cars and destroyed buildings.

"It's much more [than the official count]," he says. "There are many trapped under the rubble. The death toll will reach 1,000."

Abu Shadi showed MacKinnon a refrigerated truck of decaying corpses described thus:

Mr. Shadi was standing in front of a refrigeration truck that was packed with 20 bodies, days after he helped bury 74 bodies in a mass grave. When he opened the door to show the black body bags haphazardly piled on top of each other, a staggering stench came out, despite the refrigeration.

Abu Shadi went on to make such inflammatory statements as this:

"The last two days have been the worst. Yesterday and the day before, the bodies that came in were completely burned. Charred. It was a shipment of burned bodies."

and this

Of the dead he's seen, Mr. Shadi says, "maybe 3 per cent" were men. The rest were women and children. "They're [the Israelis are] not targeting fighters."

Is MacKinnon's "Abu Shadi" the mortician from Tyre, the same individual AP's Kathy Gannon interviewed as a "veteran civil defense worker" named "Abu Shadi Jradi"?

3.) Qatar's Al Jazeera television aired an interview in Arabic with Green Helmet, whom they identified as "Abdel Qader". In that footage, Green Helmet's interview is interrupted when a stretcher carrying another corpse rounds the corner of a building at the bottom of the hill. Both Green Helmet and the al Jazeera correspondent jerk their heads around to look, and almost simultaneously, the al Jazeera cameraman does a "panic zoom" past them to get a closeup of the stretcher. Two press photographers are shown hovering around the stretcher as it's being carried uphill. The stretcher bearers then stop briefly, and set the stretcher down on the ground so the body can be more easily photographed, before resuming their climb. This footage established, among other things, that Green Helmet uses at least one other name in talking to the press, and that the scene in Qana was set for the benefit of the press getting pictures of the dead bodies.

Journalists who were on the scene that day, like AP's Kathy Gannon, had to know that corpses were being displayed and exploited for the benefit of the press, yet in her earlier article she only briefly alludes to this staging

The arm of a child slipped from beneath the dirty gray blanket that covered him. On the same stretcher, toes painted with bright red polish peeked out. A rescue worker lifted the blanket to show two shattered children who were curled up looking asleep except for the thick dried blood at their noses.

and in her profile of Salam Daher she tries to defend the practice:

To many in the West, such photographs are surprising; but they are not unusual in the Middle East, where grief and drama are often intertwined, and that can include displaying of bodies.

Bloggers have accused rescue workers and volunteers of showing off victims for the media. The Lebanese make no apologies for wanting the world to see the civilian suffering in the Israeli onslaught aimed at uprooting Hezbollah.

If posing with the corpses doesn't seem like a big deal to Gannon, and, as the longtime AP foreign correspondent writes, it's "not unusual in the Middle East," perhaps it's because Gannon's original story from Qana is unreservedly the message of Green Helmet himself, with passages like this from her lede paragraph

Abu Shadi Jradi pulled bodies out of wreckage for hours _ two toddler girls wearing tiny gold earrings, a small boy whose pale blue pacifier still hung from his neck. Somewhere in the middle, Jradi slumped beneath a tree and wept.

"There are so many children, so many children," the veteran civil defense worker said Sunday, barely able to get out the words.

(More later about the blue pacifier that figured so poignantly in images from Qana and Gannon's report...)

and this

One body was wrapped in a child's bed sheet covered with Raggedy Ann and Andy figures.

and this

On Sunday, rescue workers dripped with sweat in the blistering heat as they pored through the wreckage, tossing out a baby carriage and moving hunks of concrete and brick.

and this

From his hospital bed in Tyre, Mohammed Ali Shalhoub said that from their graves, his wife and children "were all saying God bless Sheik Hassan Nasrallah," the Hezbollah leader.

In Qana, resident Mohammed Ismail waved at seven dead lined up on the ground, saying President Bush "laughs when they ask him about the dead bodies."

Gannon's article sounds like the message of MacKinnon's "Abu Shadi," doesn't it? "They're not targeting fighters," says Abu Shadi. Here, look at these bodies!

(This becomes even more clear and grotesque in view of the next question...)

4.) The German television network Nordeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) aired video of "veteran civil defense worker" Green Helmet directing the "rescue effort" at Qana in an even more literal sense. In the video, Green Helmet is shown instructing the cameras to keep rolling, and later the body of a boy is shown being removed from the ambulance that it had earlier been placed in and the head propped up so that the cameras can get a better look. Green Helmet is clearly interested in more than just getting the bodies out of the rubble, and his role is more than just as a "veteran civil defense worker." Like the stretcherbearers in the Al Jazeera video (who were presumably under his direction), Green Helmet has no problem exploiting the bodies of the dead for the benefit of an eager press. It's his job, and as the photos from 1996 show, he's been doing it for years.

5.) Disgraced Reuters photographer Adnan Hajj took one of the most poignant shots from Qana, that of the dust-caked body of an infant, held aloft for display to the press by none other than Salam "Green Helmet" Daher. This is the child Kathy Gannon described as "a small boy whose pale blue pacifier still hung from his neck." But the curious thing about that pacifier is, it was not dirty at all, despite being clipped to the dusty body. The reason? It was apparently added later, as earlier photos from the scene allegedly show. Nor were the clothes of the "rescue workers" including Salam "Green Helmet" Daher himself noticably dirty, despite their reportedly digging through the rubble for hours. This poor baby boy, reportedly named Abbas Hashem, whose body was exhibited for the media by Daher, is about the only person shown at Qana that looked to have any dirt on them at all. Kathy Gannon was there to see the pale blue pacifier on this child's body, but evidently missed the part where someone clipped it on him for added pathos. Gannon described the veteran civil defense worker from Tyre, "Abu Shadi Jradi," as having been digging in the rubble for hours, but if Abu Shadi Jradi was covered with dust from his excavation efforts, we certainly haven't seen it in the photographs from Qana.

6.) Suppose it didn't require hours of digging to uncover these corpses in Qana, then where did they come from? Did the mortician from Tyre, Abu Shadi, who Toronto Globe and Mail reporter Mark MacKinnon spoke to beside his refrigerated truck piled high with decaying bodies supply some or all of them? MacKinnon's interview with Tyre mortician Abu Shadi was published July 26th, a few days before Kathy Gannon's July 30th report filed from Qana, in which she talked with "veteran civil defense worker" from Tyre, Abu Shadi Jradi. One photojournalist in Lebanon, Bryan Denton, has even publicly alleged that bodies are being dug up for propaganda photos in some instances. We don't know yet whether Abu Shadi is Abu Shadi Jradi, or whether Abu Shadi Jradi is Salam Daher, who also goes by the name Abdel Qader when speaking to Al Jazeera reporters. We do know that AP's Kathy Gannon was on the scene, with an opportunity to report on the truth of Salam "Green Helmet" Daher's choreography of the news from Qana, but she evidently didn't notice, or didn't want to notice, anything out of the ordinary.

Monday, August 14

"What Are You Going To Do -- Shoot Me?"

A 32 year old woman, Ashwak Saleh, sat on the curb in front of the White House this past Sunday, took out a 13-inch machete and began to sharpen it. Minutes before this, the President returned to the White house from his stay at his ranch in Crawford, TX. Passersby reported her to the Secret Service who did their job -- drew their firearm, pointed it at her and asked her repeatedly to drop the weapon. Her response... "What are you going to do -- shoot me?"

They did not shoot her, but did take her into custody when she wouldn't comply.

There are about 15 news hits on this story when you search Google. What I want to know is:

  1. Who is this woman?
  2. Why has no major new feed other than CNN picked up on it?
  3. Is she Muslim? Why did no one bother to find out?
  4. Is she Palestinian?
  5. Is she a leftist, anti-American Bush-hater?
  6. What delusional thought process made this woman think she could brandish a banned weapon in front of the White House and sharpen it without reprecussions? Especially after the recent terror busts in England?
  7. Was she trying to get the Secret Service to shoot her? Why?


  8. Why didn't anyone else think of these questions, or care enough to get the answers to them?

Personally, I believe there is more to this story than just some woman's defianant attitude. Guess our media doesn't really care. What a surprise.... NOT!

Sunday, August 13

Voice from Israel part III

Tuesday, August 8

Charles vs. Assorted Ankle-biters and Bed-wetters, Part 137

This USA Today article is mostly okay, though any writer that contacts Glenn Greenwald for a comment is either blog-illiterate or a twisted Nazi freak who makes snuff films in his basement. Anyway, this sentence caught my jaundiced eye:
Critics, however, say he has an agenda of his own — one that's anti-Muslim, pro-Israel, and full of hate.
This is the sort of sentence that MSM drones pound out of their goofy-looking ergonomic keyboards every day, of course. "Pro-Israel" is ranked alongside "anti-Muslim" and "full of hate", as if these were comparable characteristics. Note that "critics" accuse Charles of being pro-Israel. Of course, so do his best friends. Anybody with the reading comprehension skills of a blind hamster knows that Charles is pro-Israel. Even a professor of journalism, after much excruciating effort, might manage to squeeze out this insight. He might have to call Glenn Greenwald for hints, but eventually he would discover this to be a brazen fact, not a shameful secret.


Monday, August 7

LGF in a "Quagmire' (again)

Talk amongst yourselfs..
(fake but cat-urate)

(I have no idea who this kid is or who owns the site the picture appears on)

Friday, August 4

Our Friends from the north

Did you ever wonder what it is like living in a war zone ? I received an email from a friend describing it.

I'll post and run in case "PJ" thinks I am going to post an anti Israel piece.

Don't just read this post, read the link also.

Living in northern Israel is completely intolerable. Can anyone imagine what it's like having 144 katyusha rockets a day targeted at civilian centers? The hospital in Nahariya was targeted (how do you target a hospital????). It took a direct hit, but the patients had been moved into the makeshift underground clinic. The same hospital had a near miss the next day.

Imagine Al Qaida setting up camp near Tijuana, Mexico, firing katyusha rockets at La Jolla and, at the same time, crossing the border and kidnapping 2 U.S. soldiers. So the United States would send planes to bomb the areas from which the rockets were fired. Then Al Qaida would unleash a barrage of katyushas - over a hundred a day - on Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs. How would America respond?

Almost one third of our population is currently paralyzed. There are almost a million citizens who have spent the past 3 weeks in bomb shelters. Some of these shelters are accommodating up to 30 people with a single toilet and in appalling conditions. Toddlers and young children can't understand why they can't go outside. The government is too involved in funding the war in Lebanon, so volunteers and some non profit organizations have taken it upon themselves to send food to these people in shelters.

Israel's celebrities (and Knesset members) are going around the shelters to visit with and to entertain people. Those who could leave to go south have left. I just read in today's Ha'aretz newspaper that the Reform Movement took many of the disabled people from up north and paid for them to stay down south in Mitzpe Ramon. Jerusalem is full of northerners. We decided to open our home to a needy family. We were supposed to get a family from Nahariya - a blind father, a mother and 2 children. The day before they were due to come to us, there were 56 katyushas fired (all in one day) on Nahariya. While running down the stairs to their private shelter, the father fell and broke his leg, so he was hospitalized and now needs a place without steps.

This past Sunday we began hosting our "new northern family". They will be with us for the duration of the war. The family is: Elinor, the mother, Lotam (aged 3) and Lidar (aged 1 1/2). Elinor's husband, Shlomi Mansura, was killed in the Haifa train station when a katyusha rocket landed on it 2 weeks ago. Elinor's mother, Yaffa Alfon, is also staying with us.

The day the rockets started, the Mansuras quickly left their home in Nahariya and went to Jerusalem for the day and night. But Shlomi's work required that he return so the family came back to live with Elinor's parents in their home in Kiryat Ata. The next day the rocket fell and Shlomi was killed. The shiva was in Shlomi's mother's home in Kiryat Yam (also in the Haifa area).

The story is even more tragic. Shlomi's father had died of cancer just about one year ago and he was still saying kaddish. The shiva finished for Shlomi the day of the yartzeit for his father. When the family got up from shiva and went to the cemetery to say kaddish for Shlomi's father, there was a rocket that hit that very home where they were sitting shiva and, though it didn't explode, it ruined the home. So, the fact that the family actually went to the cemetery to say kaddish probably saved their lives.

After the shiva, Elinor and her kids, together with her parents, came to Jerusalem and were put up at Ramat Rachel guest house by the government for a few days. We had notified our Reform Movement that we wanted to host a family from the north. The Movement opened a "hotline" and had several applicants. The Mansura family heard about the opportunity and requested a place and we are happy to have them. We have an area in our home which is very private where they can feel safe away from the katyushas in Nahariya.

Our friends (and total strangers) have helped with a high chair, portacrib, dishes, pots, toys, clothes, everything. Some people even gave us money to give them because they wanted to do something to help - the family will need food, taxi money and all the regular facets of life.

The girls are having a hard time and are crying for their father. A social worker was here yesterday to help them explain to the girls what happened. They don't sleep well and every loud noise scares the kids. Elinor is going to a psychologist tomorrow to help her to deal with the girls.

Last night's news showed a report of a 20 year old soldier who was seriously injured in last week's clash with Hizbollah. He lost both of his legs. He said that if what he did in Lebanon will make it just a little bit safer for the citizens of northern Israel, then it was worth losing his legs for. The country is almost unaminous in wanting this war to continue until the citizens of northern Israel can safely return to their homes. Even the people living in bomb shelters in unspeakable conditions are patiently waiting for the army to get the job done.

Wednesday, August 2

The In T View: Israeli Bloggers On The Israeli - Hezb'allah/Lebanon Conflict: Eliesheva from Lizrael Update

Pure and Simple Water Color Collage by Stebbi - Flickr

Millions of words have been written by bloggers on the conflict between Israel and Hezb'allah/Lebanon. But what do people really know? Those in the United States, protected by the geographical barriers of two great oceans, lack from the immediacy of this war. To know a conflict is to truly grasp its immediacy and intimacy.

Thus we sought out, through a series of varying questions, the opinions of those affected by this war, the Israeli bloggers, their homeland subjected to uncontrolled missile attacks and barrages, damage and destruction, lives lost, innocents dead, and a Israeli response to the Hezb'allah threat by bombings and incursions into Lebanon to seek out the purveyors of this latest round of Mideast hostilities..

In this In T View we present a young Israeli blogger Eliesheva from Merkaz, Israel who does a fine job at Lizrael Update, and is just about to get married. We wish Eliesheva the best of luck on her upcoming nuptials.

MG: How does your routine or perception change during a crisis like this? Do you become a news junky, call frequently to check on your family members and friends, worry a lot, spend more time with your loved ones?

Eliesheva: I became a news junky. I craved family time. I thought about it consistantly and it interfered with my focus at work and at playtime. At least at first I did. I think Israelis know they need to fight for their survival, they need to protect their lives, and they need life to go on.

It's a cliche but it's true. In the beginning when I lived here, everytime I got on a bus I thought about where the safest seat was. I watched who was getting on. I stayed away from the big crowds pushing to get on at once.

I don't do that anymore either. You live your life, you go to work, you have family dinners, you dance at clubs, you pray at the Kotel. You do what you have to do because that's half the battle of surviving here.

You always keep things conscious, they are always in your head because you have no choice. You also try to help in ways that you can.

MG: When or where do you think this current conflict will end?

Eliesheva: Sigh. I don't know. I was wrong in some of what I originally thought of the Iraq war and I know I'm no political analyst.

I think it's the next step in a process that's been developing for a while. Unfortunately, the 'Western world' tends towards the luxuries of laziness, ignorance, and being blinded by 'shtuyot' (nonsense). But the process is moving along whether everybody's aware or not.

Iran has finally gotten it's hands directly into the attacking Israel business. The Islamist movement is moving. It's growing, and it's only getting bigger. I think things will only move deeper and deeper into trouble, and it may not be tomorrow or next month, but we are definitely getting there.

People need to realize that not everyone in the world has the same values as they do - not everyone has money, not everyone is comfortable, not everyone has things - or even their lives - at stake. For a large part of the world the bigger picture matters - collectivism vs. idealism. It's about total belief.

It's about ancient belief. Not everyone views themselves as an 'indivdual' with 'humanitarian values'. It's time to take different cultures seriously and realize that they are different cultures to ours - and act accordingly.

Maybe we've (Westerners) woken up to it, but it's time to wake up before we're stabbed in our drowsy, yawning awareness.

MG: Does it take a special quality to be an Israeli? You seem to be surrounded by groups that want to drive you into the sea, subjected to bombings and rocket attacks, participate frequently in wars - Does it ever get to the point where you say, I've had enough, get me out of here? In other words, what keeps you in Israel?

Eliesheva: I think being 'Israeli' is a continuation of lifetimes, generations, centuries of being pursued as a Jewish nation. Now we're called Israelis, then we were Juden, before that Children of Israel and Hebrews. Whatever the name, we've been running this race to get to the finish line of freedom before 'they' catch up and destroy us forever. I'm not so sure there is even a finish line at all; this is an ultimate test of spiritual stamina for this tiny nation of historic people.

And I don't really get why we've always been targeted; why we can never be left alone. But that's how it is.

And why would a small people return to their biblical land in the conditions they find themselves in?

What keeps me in Israel is knowing that I'm a part of what needs to be done, surviving. I'm safer admitting that I'm Jewish and hope for a better Jewish life in Israel than hiding out abroad. Living in the States was great and very comfortable, but I didn't want to be comfortable somewhere else. I'm hoping one day, I'll be absolutely comfortable here, along with the rest of the Jews who are living here. For now, though, I need to help us hold our place.

MG: The Iranian government and the Mullahs and the religious junta that rule Iran have basically stated that they want to obliterate Israel, nuke Israel - When you hear about another country wanting to destroy you, what goes through your mind?

Eliesheva: When I lived in the States, I'd get horrified, angry, frustrated, sure.Now, it's different. I didn't think it could be, but it is. My heart burns. My head pounds. I can't see past myself and Israel for a few seconds, and just get ridiculously frustrated and hurt and angry. Then I come back to the 'real' world and realize, a lot of people think this all the time and don't say it.

I know that, and hearing it out loud just makes it worse but I should always remember that this is the case for a good chunk of the world. The other element of this is, with the Iranian president, it seems more of a reality and call for action. On some level, I see him pursuing this. He's behind Hezbullah. He's getting behind Hamas. There's the nuclear angle. This is reality.

And that is absolutely terrifying.

MG: Has Ehud Omert been a strong leader during this crisis? Do you have confidence in him or do you think Benjamin Netanyahu would have been a better choice to lead Israel during this period of war?

Eliesheva: I definitely don't think Bibi would have been a better choice. I don't think he's a good frontman where diplomacy and leadership are concerned. He's better at doing what he's good at.

As far as Olmert; look, I think we all miss Sharon. We'd all prefer him right now over anyone. And since that isn't an option, Olmert's there, and that's it.

I have no choice but to have confidence in him, otherwise, what can I believe? I think he's doing an alright job. At first I was definitely more worried with Peretz in the picture. Now, Olmert is growing into it. I hope he doesn't become jaded, though.

I think Olmert is a peacetime socio-economic prime minister. He wasn't meant for war. But this is Israel, the Middle East, and you don't always get to choose your future or your role or your fate here.

MG: Americans, other than when natural disasters strike, have no concept of what a shelter/bomb shelter is and living in one of them - if you've spent time in a shelter, could you describe the experience for us?

Eliesheva: Don't have this experience first hand...


MG says: Our thanks go out to Eliesheva.

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