Monthly Archive for January, 2010

China’s empty city

this beggars belief …..

“The Guardian” links anti-Western terrorism to the West’s support of dictators

Writing in the The Guardian last Thursday, Seamus Milne explicitly linked the rise of anti-Western terrorism to US policy in South-West Asia:

Decades of oil-hungry backing for despots, from Iran to Oman, Egypt to Saudi Arabia, along with the failure of Arab nationalism to complete the decolonisation of the region, fuelled first the rise of Islamism and then the eruption of al-Qaida-style terror more than a decade ago.

The article was based on the Egyptian Government’s continued co-operation with Israel to keep the people of the Gaza strip oppressed.

From the wider international perspective, it is precisely this western embrace of repressive and unrepresentative regimes such as Egypt’s, along with unwavering backing for Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, that is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East and Muslim world.

Of course, The Guardian can’t break away from its oppostion to the overthrow of the fascist dictator Sadaam Hussein, even though that overthrow has led to a representative democracy being set up in Iraq:

the disastrous US-led response was to expand the western presence still further, with new and yet more destructive invasions and occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

However, this might not be important. Milne immediately goes on to say:

the Bush administration’s brief flirtation with democratisation in client states such as Egypt was quickly abandoned once it became clear who was likely to be elected.

The fact that plenty of pseudo-left liberals adopted Kissingerite language and attitudes, claiming that Bush’s destabilisation of Iraq was a shameful failure of US policy, means that it’s not just Bush who’s to blame here. However, if liberals are now going to start demanding democracy in places like Egypt, there’s a chance to agitate for democratic revolutions again. If the liberals can get over the fact that this means – as Milne points out – that the Islamic Brotherhood would almost certainly win a free election in Egypt, then maybe some progress can be made in getting Westerners to support democracy again.

Does being anti-whaling mean you’re an imperialist?

Australian Trotskiyist blogger John Passant thinks so. In an article published today on his blog, “Should the left oppose whaling?“, he argues “There is nothing about whales that means humanity shouldn’t eat them.”

Passant argues that the actions of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society are elitist reformism:

There is one truth and that is that killing even one whale is evil and the Sea Shepherd will do anything to prevent that.

Well not quite anything. Their activity does not extend to agitating among Japanese or Australian workers as workers, in particular those in the ports and on the boats. They have contempt for workers.

Their approach involves substituting themselves for the mass of people.  This is reformism on a grand scale. Leave it to us; we know better than you; we’ll solve the situation by harassing, attacking and even sinking boats.

Passant also argues that the Australian Government’s opposition to whaling appears to be linked to Australia’s imperialist claims over the Australian Antarctic Territory and its adjacent sea waters. I’m not so sure about that (although the imperialism seems clear). It seems to me that the Government’s anti-whaling stand is more opportunistic pandering to majority opinion than it is a scheme to reinforce its Antarctic claims.

Sea Shepherd boat NOT sunk – ABC covers up its wrong reportDIT

EDIT: Since this report was written, there are new reports that the Sea Shepherd boat has in fact sunk. These reports are as yet uncomfirmed, and if they turn out to be true they still come two days after the ABC reported unconfirmed facts as if they were confirmed, and after Sea Shepherd attempted to salvage the still-afloat boat.


Yesterday, the Australian ABC reported that the Sea Shepherd boat Adi Gil was “sunk” by a Japanese whaling vessel.

Today, it emerges that the Adi Gil has not in fact been sunk, but seems likely to be salvaged. Did they ABC note on its report that the facts had changed, that they had got the story wrong by accepting Sea Shepherd’s word at face value, and apologise?

Hell no! They just changed the headline on their report!

Here’s a screenshot I took yesterday afternoon of the ABC report showing the headline reporting, as fact, that the Sea Shepherd boat had been sunk. The headline reads “Whalers sink Sea Shepherd boat”.

And here’s a link to the same ABC News report as it currently stands. As you can see, the headline now reads “Whalers hit Sea Shepherd boat”. Here’s a screenshot of the story as it stands at 1215 AEST. No acknowlegement that they got it wrong or that the story has been changed.

This confirms the bias of the ABC towards the Sea Shepherd and the unwillingness of their reporter and/or editorial team to give the Australian public the full facts of this story

BREAKING: Video of collision between Sea Shepherd’s Adi Gil and Japanese whaling boat

The Australian ABC has reported, as fact, allegations by the anti-whaling organisation Sea Shepherd that a Japanese whaling boat, the Shonan Maru 2, today deliberately sunk the Sea Shepherd vessel the Adi Gil.

The headline of the story reads “Whalers sink Sea Shepherd boat”, and a caption of a file picture of the Adi Gil in the story reads “The Ady Gil was at a standstill in Australian waters when the Japanese whaling ship rammed into it”.

The article contains five quotes or assertions attributed to Sea Shepherd, including this statement from Sea Shepherd spokesman Chris Aultman:

“The vessel was dead in the water. It was completely and absolutely a wilful act,” he said.

and one statement from the Japanese Fisheries Agency. The article contains not a single word of the statement made by the Institute of Cetacean Research (pdf file), a pro-whaling organisation, which claims that the Adi Gil attacked the Japanese whaling vessel the Nisshin Maru for two hours today:

In a manner similar to their 23 December attack on the Shonan Maru No. 2, at about 0300JST [Japanese Standard Time, 2 hours behind Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time and 9 hours ahead of Universal Time] the Ady Gil came to collision distance directly in front of the Nisshin Maru bow repeatedly deploying and towing a rope from its stern with the intent to entangle the Japanese vessel’s rudder and propeller. Further, the activists onboard the Ady Gil recurrently shoot a green laser device aiming at the Nisshin Maru crew and fired butyric acid-containing ball-like projectiles with a launching device. One of these projectiles landed in the Nisshin Maru’s deck.

Links to the Institute of Cetacean Research’s videos and media releases about alleged attacks on it by Sea Shepherd vessels can be seen here.

A far more balanced report is on the SBS News website, although it still appears to report the sinking of the Adi Gil as fact without independent verification.

A statement on the Sea Shepherd website claims that the Japanese boat’s attack on them was unprovoked and captured on film. As of the time of writing no video substantiating this claim was present on the Sea Shepherd site’s main video page, or on the video page documenting their current operations against Japanese whaling vessels in 2009-10. Such video will be posted here or linked to if it is later posted on the Sea Shepherd site.

UPDATE: This video, provided by Sea Shepherd and shot from the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker, shows the collision:


The next two videos were released by the Institute of Cetacean Research. The first video shows the Adi Gil trailing a rope:

The second video shows a collision between a whaling ship and the Adi Gil:

EDIT – You can read the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea here. The rules have come up in comments on this video. – END EDIT

The Sea Shepherd statement says the alleged sinking took place at 64 degrees 3 minutes South and 143 degrees 9 Minutes East – click here for a Google Map.

This video, also released by the Institute for Cetacean Research, shows the Sea Shepherd ship Steve Irwin colliding with a Japanese whaling vessel in February 2009:

It’s clear that the ABC has failed to report both sides of this story and is acting in this case as Sea Shepherd’s propaganda arm, rather than seeking out the statements presented in this post and giving people the information they need to start making their own conclusions.

UPDATE: The Ambit Gambit blog also criticises the media coverage of the story, while anti-whaler Andrew Bartlett blogs about the history of Australian public and government attitudes towards whaling.


A screenshot of the ABC story, taken at 1747 hrs, Australian Eastern Standard Time on January 6 2010 can be seen here.