Images from August 2012

Five years ago! How time has flown!

Train to Kiama and back – 15 – last look at Kiama

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Then homewards on the train, passing Bombo Beach again.

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The Brewery — 4 – looking from the outside deck – people watching

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Sydney terrorism raids — Surry Hills!

Right where I lived 1992-2010. From 2008:

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And here is the area:

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See Sydney terror raids ‘disrupted’ plot to bring down plane, Malcolm Turnbull says and Sydney terrorism raids believed to relate to ‘bomb plot involving aircraft’.

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Update

See Sydney terror raids: Bomb plotters may have already tried to smuggle device onto international flight.

Update 4 August

See Two men to appear in court over alleged jet plot.

The only place I have seen the following story on the arrested man who was eventually released is Sydney’s Daily Telegraph two days ago. The detail, based on my experience of 18 years living in “Little Lebanon,” rings true to me.

Khaled Merhi’s father, Omar Merhi, broke his ­silence yesterday to deny his son is a terrorist.

Khaled Merhi’s behaviour was said by friends to have been erratic in the days leading up to his arrest.

They said he lost his job as a van driver last week having racked up thousands of dollars in debt gambling on ­horses and failed to turn up to Botany Powder Coaters on Friday…

The Merhi family, originally from Beirut, bought their terraced Surry Hills home in 1974 and brought up their 14 children there.

Khaled was the only one who never married but he has a seven-year-old daughter after a volatile long-term relationship with a Lebanese-born woman from Canberra.

His father Omar, 76, said Khaled was christened at the Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral of St George in Redfern.

“He has never been to a mosque in his life,” Omar said yesterday.

“It’s bulls … that he wanted to blow up a plane, he works hard for his child and his girlfriend, who was always asking him for money, $150 here and there for jewellery and clothes, it was never enough, it felt like he was working to buy everything for her.

“In my 47 years in Australia, I’ve never had a problem with police and nor has any of my children.”

Hey, hang on! It appears the one who was released is Abdul Merhi, not Khaled. Latest:

Timeline of the alleged plot

April – Some of the men allegedly involved in the plot start communicating with a senior Islamic State figure in Syria who instructs them on how to make a bomb. The group allegedly order military-grade explosive components in the post from Turkey.

July 15 – Khaled Khayat, 49, allegedly escorts his unwitting brother to Sydney Airport to board an Etihad flight to Abu Dhabi with luggage containing a bomb. The bag is not checked in, possibly because it is too heavy, so Mr Khayat takes it home with him while his brother, who was unaware of the bomb, boards his flight as planned.

July 17 – Mr Khayat’s brother-in-law, Khaled Merhi, who remains in custody, sets up a business Khaleds Powder Coating Services. The men allegedly start working on a gas dispersion device.

July 26 – US and British agencies pass on intelligence picked up from Syria about the plot. Australian police start investigating immediately and put the men under surveillance.

July 27 – Security measures at Sydney Airport are enhanced on the advice of ASIO.

July 27-31 – Police create a mock IED like the one created on July 15 and test whether it would get through airport security. It doesn’t.

July 29 – Four men are arrested in five raids across Sydney.

July 30 – airport security is enhanced at all major Australian airports.

August 1 – Khaled Merhi’s brother Abdul Merhi released without charge.

August 3 – Charges laid against Khaled Khayat and Khaled Merhi

Junior HP had an outing yesterday

Junior HP likes the Illawarra Leagues Club.

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You see, the wi-fi internet there goes with NBN speed and they allow viewing of YouTube. So after lunch (silverside, yum!) at Diggers, just up the road, I called on the retired wharfie who now spends his time mostly at Leagues. I had introduced the wharfie to Junior HP last week, when we pursued quite a few old songs. This time though I brought headphones, as Junior HP’s own speakers are what you might term minimal.

The wharfie, among other things, had been a swimmer of note in his day. So on YouTube we followed that track through several Olympic Games starting of course with Beverley Whitfield.

Then music. As am I, the wharfie was particularly moved by the Hayley Westenra, Vera Lynn, Fron Choir version of “We’ll Meet Again” from the Royal Albert Hall, sung before The Queen, and Dame Vera herself, at The Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance 2009.

I can get teary listening to that. The wharfie and I are both “war babies”.  My father came home from Papua, his did not.

On Indigenous Australians…

Tonight I will be watching Warwick Thornton’s new film We Don’t Need A Map on SBS. Promises to be controversial and interesting.

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In the past week there has been a major story on Indigenous history in Australia: Aboriginal archaeological discovery in Kakadu rewrites the history of Australia.

 Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, a team of archaeologists has established – 18,000 years longer than had been proved previously and at least 5000 years longer than had been speculated by the most optimistic researchers.

The world-first finding, which follows years of archaeological digging in an ancient camp-site beneath a sandstone rock shelter within the Jabiluka mining lease in Kakadu, Northern Territory, drastically alters the known history of the trek out of Africa by modern humans, according to the leader of the international team of archaeologists, associate professor Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland.

A follow-up in The Sydney Morning Herald intrigued me. The following image gives the idea, but you must visit If Aboriginal culture were 24 hours old, white people have been in Australia five minutes to get the full effect.

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I was reminded of my 2013 post Consider….

2. Where I now sit there were people living, breathing and walking about 20,000 years ago and more. According to a family tradition I had ancestors among them.

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3. All of which makes it very difficult to treat the following with the awe and wonder it may have attracted in the past, or indeed in my own past. How do you reconcile the fact that in light of the above the grand cosmic narrative of the Abrahamic religions looks decidedly less impressive?

4004 B.C.
Creation of Adam and Eve – [Very few accept this “date” as having any connection whatever with anything that really happened in the history of this planet. — NW]


2348 B.C.
Noah’s Flood – [never happened — NW]


1996 to 1690 B.C.
The Biblical Patriarchs lived during this time – from Abraham to Jacob – [totally myth and legend, reflecting certain rather mundane developments in the movements of people and cultures, but having no resemblance to actual history. — NW]


1491 B.C.
The Exodus


1451 B.C.
Joshua leads the children of Israel into the Promised Land


1410 – 1050 B.C.
Time of Israel’s Judges


1050 – 930
First Kings of Israel – King Saul, King David and King Solomon


960 B.C.
Building of the first temple in Jerusalem


930 B.C.
Division of the Kingdom of Israel


930 – 723
The period of the Kings of Israel from Jeroboam I to Hoshea


930 – 586 B.C.
The period of the Kings of Judah from Rehoboam to Zedekiah


840 – 400 B.C.
Period of the Minor Prophets


723 B.C.
The fall of Israel


586 B.C.
Destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple


515 B.C.
Temple at Jerusalem Rebuilt


63 B.C.
The Romans occupy Palestine


37 B.C.
Herod the Great is appointed ruler of Judea by Rome


Jesus was born either before 4 BC (when Herod the Great died) or in 6 AD (when the historical Census of Quirinius was undertaken).

If you want to see idiots at work tying themselves in knots trying to justify the above timeline as “history” — most of it is not, some from around the last six entries is — look at (without laughing if possible) the egregious Ken Ham:

We can say in summary that:

All people of the world today have their ancestry in a man called Noah, and further back to Adam, whether they be the Australian Aborigines, the American Indians, or the Eskimos.

The differing cultures separated by different languages have only arisen since the time of the Tower of Babel. The physical differences between the races (e.g. skin colour, eye shape) are only minor.

In the mythology and legends from cultures around the world, you would expect to find their ancestry in Noah reflected in their stories about a world flood, or how man was created, etc.

The above account is totally different to that told normally through the media or school textbooks….

Compare Bill Nye, Ken Ham, and Aborigines (2014) from Conservative News and Views.

The “open letter” to Bill Nye comes from the Secular Coalition of Australia (SECOA). In its platform or “10-point plan,” this group calls for a frontal assault on religious liberty in Australia. (The headlines of the “ten points” look harmless enough. Slight shadings of the meanings of worlds show the real goal. How, for instance, does SECOA judge the “harm” that “religious practices” do? Would an “anti-discrimination law” force a church to hire, say, a homosexual minister?) SECOA published its “open letter” on February 2…

…those who assert that aborigines have lived in Australia for 40,000 to 65,000 years, have no continuous historical records to prove it. The “Australian History” site does not even try to prove that; they merely assert it. The Wikipedia article shows what anthropologists rely on: dating methods that assume an old earth. They include radiometric dating (chiefly carbon-14 dating) and thermoluminescence. No one has yet asked Bill Nye what he really thinks about this. But carbon-14 dating is not supposed to be reliable beyond 10,000 years. Or so the critics of Andrew Snelling said, when he published his report about radiometric dating in conflict. How, the critics asked, dared Snelling cite a radiocarbon date of 37,000 years as a good example of the craft? Yet such is the evidence in favor of an aboriginal presence on Australia lasting for 40,000 years at least. Where are the annals to show how long the aborigines really have lived in Australia? No one disputes they “got there first.” The dispute is how many thousands of years passed before the first “transports” arrived. The aborigines themselves do not know. Scientists think they know. But their evidence assumes an old earth. No one claims to have family or village or other annals showing a continuous cultural presence for 40,000 years or longer. No one, in short, claims to have the Australian aboriginal equivalent of the Assyrian Eponym Canon or of Egyptian, Babylonian, Hebrew, or other king lists. (As an aside, SECOA fails to mention that 75 percent of Australian aborigines today adhere to Christianity.) …

There is another view too, a minority one, that Aboriginal Australians have always been in Australia. Some Aboriginal people affirm that, as in these comments on a 2013 post Homo sapien sapiens originated in Australia, not ‘out-of-Africa’ – DNA evidence.

That is what the elders have been saying all along…..delighted I can say I am related to the original Australians…

As aboriginal people have told me for years, that we all come from here is in there stories, it now comes to pass with science backing this up. Their stories go right back to creation and beyond. Perhaps now we may start listening to a people that have wisdom that dates back to the very dawn of time…..perhaps not and will continue their extinction through our jails, our placement of them at the bottom of our class bases system and continue to kill them through starvation or keep the stolen generation alive as it is today through D.O.C.S.

Yet another view comes from professional Odd Bod Senator David Leyonhjelm. This one is examined and refuted at FactCheck: might there have been people in Australia prior to Aboriginal people?

As previously discussed on The Conversation, there is a strong research case for the biological continuity between pre-European and modern Aboriginal populations of Australia.

It is true that there has been, historically, a small number of claims that there were people in Australia before Australian Aborigines, but these claims have all been refuted and are no longer widely debated. The overwhelming weight of evidence supports the idea that Aboriginal people were the first Australians.

The disagreements that can be found in the literature are normal in the accumulation of knowledge but do not undermine the strength of the modern consensus that the first people to live in Australia were ancestors of the Aboriginal people who lived here when Europeans first arrived and colonised.

Although there is a small amount of truth in the Senator’s claims about what is in the literature, the claims do not stack up against modern knowledge of the evidence.

Finally, I refer you to recent genomic studies: World-first genome study reveals rich history of Aboriginal Australians. Jim Belshaw’s New England History blog has some related material.

Related: 22 myths you might believe about Aboriginal Australia.

Voyage to Surry Hills!

It has been a while, but M invited me up for lunch — which turned out to be Thai at GT’s Hotel in Devonshire Street, revised version of the Gaelic Club. And oh my, the tramline! Tracks appearing now, but the entire project opens for use in 2019 apparently. What a mess right now though!  Some businesses have been badly affected: The Book Kitchen has closed, for example.

The owners lay the blame squarely on disruption from the building of Sydney’s $2.1 billion light rail line, which resulted in high barricades being erected directly outside their doors…

But here is what the finished project will look like, the tram in this artist’s impression crossing Elizabeth Street close to where M and I had lunch yesterday. By the way, M said in China, where he hails from, the project would have been up and running in maybe three months rather than several years.

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Further up Devonshire Street at Bourke Street the line necessitated the demolition of the unit block Olivia Gardens, and the relocation of Wimbo Park. See also my 2009 post and James O’Brien’s 2013 post Wimbo Park Revisited.

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Demolition of Olivia Gardens

Here are some more artists’ impressions of the tram line from 2019 on.

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There’s the Dental Hospital in Chalmers Street near Central Station. Now two shots around Moore Park and South Dowling Street, with Sydney Boys High in the background of one:

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