Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Following the  death of  Fidel Castro of  Cuba, comes  news of a   New York auction of   author  Ernest  Hemingway memorabilia  including  the  blood stained  costume of the world's top Spanish  matador , Antonio Ordonez ,   above,  and  the  first aid  manual for soldiers   the  Nobel prize winning  writer   had  during   WWll.

The offering includes  The Old Man and the  Sea  , written by  Hemingway when he was living in Cuba, engaging in  big game  fishing  . 
There is a  six-page type-written manuscript, and a letter  concerning  Hemingway’s piece, Marlin Off the Morro: A Cuban Letter, published in the Autumn edition of Esquire in 1933. It followed the author on a marlin-fishing expedition off the coast of Cuba. The letter is from Hemingway’s editor, asking for him to approve the title and asking after the photos. Pre-auction estimate: $30,000–$50,000.  
 Expected to  attract  large bids  are X-rays of Hemingway's   right   foot ,  taken after  he was wounded at  the Italian Front  during  WWl . At the time he was  handing out chocolates to Italian soldiers when a  mortar  buried him in a dugout , shrapnel  tearing through his foot and  knee . He carried a wounded Italian  comrade to a medical centre  and was awarded the Croce  di Guerra .  The  episode  was  reflected  in  his  1919  novel , Farewell to Arms .
Other items  for sale ,  from the David Meeker  Collection , a book dealer  and collector ,   are  from  the author's   early life in America , two being letters  when he was  a schoolboy ,  some  of  which  appeared  in  the   book  by Nancy W. Sindelar   about the people   and places which  shaped his life and work  , a  copy   bought in an op shop in the North Queensland    town  of  Ingham, which  has  a  large Italian  community .  Could somebody  in  Ingham  have   been  related to the  man rescued  by  Hemingway  all  those  years  ago ?
The auction  will be held  on December  7  by  Bonham's, in Voices  of the  2Oth Century series .  There are  special   signed  first editions ,  a  custom leather  hunting vest , a 1923 collection of best short stories in which   Hemingway's name was  misspelled  in  the  dedication .


From a distance , it looked as if   the vessel tied up  at Townsville  was   named   the  African   Queen , bringing back memories of  tough guy  Humphrey  Bogart and sultry  Katharine Hepburn  . Then  , drawing closer,   it   became  clear that  it  was the African  Macaw , a  sturdy bulk carrier , not a  flimsy tramp steamer run by a  gin soaked  skipper. In   days when there were  people  called shipping reporters  who kept a close watch on the waterfront , hanging out  in  pubs  frequented  by  nautical  types and  femmes , the  arrival in  port  of  a  ship with a catchy name  like this  would  result  in  a  colourful newspaper story.
As pointed  out previously in this seasick blogNoah's Ark  could sail into Townsville and  the local media   would not  notice . Recently we  reported   the  arrival of a  ship named ROOK , which went unnoticed by the media  landlubbers .
Just a  wee bit of research  on the  African  Macaw   revealed that it is  part of  a large  fleet of   vessels , registered in the Bahamas,  all  named over birds (preceded by African )-Eagle, Baza , Blue Crane, Dove, Egret ,  Falcon ,  Gannet, Goshawk, Griffon, Grouse, Halcyon, Harrier, Hawk, Heron, Hornbill , Ibis , Jay , Kestrel, Kite , Lark, the above  name  vessel ,Merlin, Osprey, Owl, Pelican, Piper, Raptor, Raven , Robin , Rook (not related to the aforementioned Rook ) , Sanderling, Starling, Swan , Tern, Toucan , Raven, Wagtail and Weaver .
Now add  the Greek legend of the Argonauts , the band of seafarers   who went with  Jason in the good ship Argo  looking  for  the   Golden Fleece  (Merino?)   to this flighty yarn . All these  fine feathered   vessels , said to be  modern and environmentally friendly , are  owned by  Argonautica  Shipping Investments B. V. , Amsterdam.
On the same day as  the African Macaw was in port, this yacht was spotted on  its side in the Magnetic  Island  marina .Could be  a  story  here.

Monday, November 28, 2016


A contact  in  the New Zealand  capital , Wellington , sent  details  about  the  effect of  the  recent    earthquake on  the  city. Of  particular  note   was  the fact that she had  worked  for  12 years in  a  large building , near  the  distinctive  beehive  parliament house  and  cathedral ,  which  has  been abandoned and condemned  because  of  damage caused  by  the  quake .  Torrential rain and  a  high  tide had added to  the  chaos on  the waterfront and  roads .  An unusual  event  involved an  overwound  grandfather  clock , which  had  not worked for  10  years,  jolted  into  action ,  three  minutes  slow , but not corrected in case it  stops .

Sunday, November 27, 2016


From Townsville to  Cairns ,  there has been  an explosion  in advertising  signs  , unnoticed  by the media but for the  episode  of  the  proposed   large  sign near the  Good Shepherd  retirement   village  in Townsville  which caused  a  kerfuffle .  Huge   billboards  are  being  installed all  over the country   , automated signs are  now  all  the rage at  major intersections. There was a  time  when  the sainted   Mother  Mary  McKillop , who  got  the run  around  from  the  grumpy   wine  swilling  Catholic hierarchy in Adelaide and  Rome  , seemed  to   dominate the  advertising streetscape  in Townsville.  Not anymore . She  may have  even  inspired  the merchants of  Mammon   to  king size  billboards , go electronic , digital .
Entire  buildings are  being turned into huge , brightly painted  advertisements, especially in  the pharmacy trade , also  by  vendors  and  services in other  fields.  Large  signs  are  visible    along the railway line  from   Townsville  to  Cairns , one  far from Townsville  claiming  it  is  Cowboys  rugby league  territory , fueling  the hysteria that if Townsville does not get a  super duper  stadium , them  thar  Northerners will  purloin  the  team .
The Herbert  Hotel  in  Townsville , where  controversial  comedian Louis Beers , who posed as   Aboriginal  King Billy Cokebottle , banned from  appearing at  the Crown Casino in Melbourne ,  is said to  have imbibed,  opposite Woolworths in the CBD ,  is  a  favoured   advertising spot , even  used  by  the Townsville   Bulletin  some time back  , along  with legal   firms  and  other    businesses . As  this  heavenly positioned  Paradise  Signs  sign  over  the pub states , big  signs  mean  big  business.
Banners are also causing  a  flap in the advertising    world , as the  snap  below of the venerable Cairns Post  newspaper  shows .
On  Magnetic  Island  there has been an outbreak of advertising signs - at the terminal  shopping centre  and   those  at Nelly Bay . The  terminal itself is being offered up  for advertising opportunities .  Soon  there will be more  dazzling signs  and  multi  coloured  umbrellas  than  cane  toads   in  Queensland ... must go , tapping at the  back  door is a clear sign  that  the Curlews have come back for seconds .  


The  late  Cec  Holmes  is mentioned in this interesting book , Fighting Films,  a history of the Waterside Workers' Federation Film Unit , by Lisa Milner , an   academic  specialising in  film history  and cultural studies, who contributed to the  Oxford Companion   to  Australian  Film . At one  time Cec  was  editor of the  Murdoch  journal ,  The Territorian , produced  by the Northern Territory  News .  He and Sandra Le Brun Holmes were a dynamic  team   of  campaigners for Aborigines  and  underdogs . Together they made   films in  Australia and  New Guinea .  Cec  had  a close relationship with Communist  author Frank  Hardy and   NT News  crusading editor  Jim Bowditch. Despite having an eye injured   during naval service  in WWll, it did not  stop Cec  from making  first class  movies , shown  in various parts of the world . One was  on the life of bushranger Captain Thunderbolt . He was in Darwin  at the  time of   Cyclone  Tracy  ,  having  done   preliminary  shooting in the Territory for a possible Hollywood backed movie starring  Peter   Finch , based on a famous Territory murder  ,  which did  not  eventuate .  Cec  it  was  who made a black and white  TV  film of Doug Lockwood's award  winning book,  I, The Aboriginal .   ( See  previous blogs : LITTLE DARWIN: Cec and Sandra Holmes-Continuing biography of Crusading Editor Big Jim Bowditch  and  LITTLE DARWIN  :  Jim Bowditch and the Unlucky  Australians . ) 

Saturday, November 26, 2016


When you have been trotting   after  your  parents all  night , and  what a noisy one it was  , you feel like some shut-eye  when  the  sun  comes up , so you snuggle into  mum  and  pull  down  the  blind/feathers .  Vallis   photograph .

Friday, November 25, 2016


Territory bid for  cattle  empire

At  a  public meeting  in  Townsville ,  Bill Shorten , Leader of the Opposition in the House of  Representatives, during discussion on foreign investment in  Australia,   said  he  had liked  the  all-Australian  proposed  takeover  headed by   Sterling  Buntine, son of Territory  transport   pioneer  , Noel Buntine,   for  the  10.1 million hectare  Kidman  pastoral   estate , subsequently  outbid  by  the  Gina  Rinehart  / Shanghai CRED  $386 million  offer. Rinehart  has said that  she will  wholly acquire Kidman  if  the   FIRB and  PRC  do not approve .

Burning Political Issues

With the Michael Gunner ALP  Government still  settling  in  after its massive election victory over the chaotic  CLP  regime  , it  will be   interesting  to  see  how long it takes  to rectify  glaring  shortcomings  in  some  key departments  where  the  petty  actions  and   attitudes  of   some  in   high  places  is  incredible.

Lease of  Darwin  Port  to  Chinese "stupid " 
The Chinese consular official who sought asylum in Australia has  said that there are more than   a  thousand  Chinese  spies  in Australia  and  , shaking his  head , that  leasing the Port of Darwin  to the Chinese was  stupid . The Yanks , justifiably ,  used   stronger   language . It seems the   gobsmacked  Pentagon still cannot believe  that the federal government allowed the  NT  banana  republic  CLP  regime  to  sign the  port  over  to  the   Chinese .  There is a long  list of Aussies  in  high places  who  should  have  their  "ass  in a  sling ," a quaint American  expression .   


After shedding all its leaves, the Illawarra Flame Tree has burst into flower, attracting Lorikeets  in numbers , the ground covered  in red  blossoms .

Thursday, November 24, 2016


CANBERRA : Astonished  Revenue and  Financial Services Minister  Kelly O'Dwyer  , above , recently   caught informing  a  slack media pack   that  the  Australian Labor Party has  more positions than the Kama Sutra. This  sensational  revelation  caused major world  publishing  houses  to  rush in and  make   fabulous  offers to the  ALP    for  the right to produce  a  highly illustrated  book   on  the subject for  the Christmas   market . There are  predictions  sales of  the  book will   be  astronomical , bigger   even than   the   total  income from   all   the  Harry  Potter novels  and  movies .
This  stunning  information about the  raunchy  ALP comes  at a time  when there has been a   furious  and concerted   campaign  by  the Coalition, caught short on so many issues,  to  belittle Leader of  the Opposition  Bill Shorten . Now  there  are predictions that after the  ALP  Kama  Sutra  whopper   is  published  and  slipped into  many  Chrissy stockings throughout the globe , hairy chested Shorten  will  change his  name  to   Longfellow ,  after  the   romantic  Yank   poet .
Thumbs up 
With his intimate  knowledge of the innovative positions held by the ALP  over the decades, former PM  Bob Hawke will contribute a breathtaking  introduction , complete  with  many  footnotes,  to  the  1000 page  glossy coffee  table  book .
It is understood Rupert  Murdoch , with vast book publishing interests ,  put a  lucrative  proposition to  the  ALP   in  which  his  pensioned off  P3 girls , masked,  would  be rehired  for  guest  appearances  throughout  a  3D  encyclopedia , bound  in  tooled  leather , with  a   green  and  gold  of  Oz   cover sheet .  Right now  there  is  a feeling  of  good  vibrations  in  the  ALP  while the Coalition obviously has  a  flat  battery  with  badly  corroded terminals.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


While eating cereal on the back  veranda at the Little Darwin  ranch early in the morning a variety of  bird  calls can be heard , the resident  Curlew  family position to be  fed , a mosquito  or two is swatted  and  now  wasps  are  out  and about looking for  odd   items to  cement into a  nest , one being a piece of quartz, below ,  picked up on  the beach and placed  with seashells and  odds and ends on a  side table. Care has  to be taken entering the den as another wasp is building a  nest on  the  step . 

 A few days ago , shortly after  5am ,  a   fluttering , black ball  suddenly landed on the  veranda - a  Scrub Turkey  chick ,  which  bounced up  against its reflection in the  kitchen  glass  door, continued  along  the way chased by   a hissing   adult  Curlew , had another  peek at itself in the den glass door, then  flew over the  fence . The  Curlew  family is shown below with early morning sun  shining through   the  fence palings  onto  them.

One of  the  Curlew  chicks  was  snapped , below ,  having a splash and several sips in  a  baking  dish.


Cairns, North Queensland . Photo by Abra.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


First published in  1895, this  battered    1921  seventeenth   edition ,   found  in  a  book and  oddities  search  in    North  Queensland , came  complete with  a  pressed  and  very  desiccated  spider  within  its  foxed pages. Born in Birmingham  , George Jacob   Holyoake  (1817-1906)   , who at  eight years of age had started work in  the foundry where  his father toiled, became a newspaper  editor ,  coined the terms  secularism and  jingoism and  was the last person convicted  for public  blasphemy in answering a question  at  an  1842  lecture , taken away in chains .  His autobiography was  entitled    Sixty Years  Of  An Agitator's  Life.
Wikipedia states he was an ancestor of  the  New Zealand  Prime Minister , Sir  Keith Holyoake . Another point of interest is that he  was the uncle of  the independent  MP and  convicted  fraudster  Horatio  Bottomley  who manipulated the share market with  glowing reports about  his  dodgy mining ventures in the Northern  Territory  and   Western  Australia.

In the introduction he points out that many years ago he had printed  an outline book on  the   subject of  public speaking  and debate  for   persons  who found learned  treatises on  oratory uninteresting  or too  profound. It had been  reprinted  in America  and in  1853 the  New York Times  had described it as unpretentious  and  practical . 

In 1862, the Reverend  Mr Vickers of  Boston ,  visiting England , had  informed   him that  in a  New York bookshop  he had bought a copy of a  work entitled Public  Speaking and Debate,  by  John Bower.  However, upon opening the  book , it  was   found to  be  an American edition  of  Public Speaking  and Debate by  G. J. Holyoake  ..."This, I hope, may be taken as proof that the book was  thought  useful  by  the  new  author ."

In a  chapter on  parliamentary oratory , Holyoake  comments on the  debating  style of  many leading British politicians - John Stuart Mill, Lord John Russell , Disraeli , Lord Beaconsfield , Shiel , O'Connor and other prominent   figures of the day including  poets, authors and  leading preachers .   He   mentions  the  platform  artifice of  Lord Palmerston , after   whom   Darwin  in the Northern Territory was  first named , when  answering  a  question .

Holyoake   said  no member   of  Parliament  in his time  won  in so short a  time  the reputation  of  an orator as  Joseph Cowen in  the House  of Commons  on a Bill  to give the  title   of  Empress   to  the  Queen . While the house was  impatient    to  quickly  vote  on   the  motion:

" His argument was historical,  compact, brief , in which three things were said never before or since  heard in  that  House . He spoke to the Prince  Napoleon as 'the  son  of a usurper '; he said 'the divine right of kings was killed on the scaffold  with Charles  l '; and declared  that the ' superstition of  royalty  had never taken deep hold on  the people of this country '. All this was  unusual and bold ."  

There  is a fascinating chapter ,WRITING FOR THE PRESS  , saying every public speaker  or debater is  likely , sooner or later, to come in contact with the press , to assist in making known  his view , or in vindicating himself against adverse  criticism  of  opponents , or  in correcting erroneous reports  of what was  said .

 Even  PM Gladstone, the most circumambient  speaker of  all -that is, he travels  all round his main idea , and not only explains it,  but illustrates  its purport - has had to write to the press , from time  to time , in vindication of  his meaning.

Tips on how to communicate with the press would result in fewer disappointments  ascribed to  editorial malevolence  or neglect of rising genius , when  the  fault  is  in  the writer.  In  sending a letter to an editor ,  dark black ink should be used  and  be  written  in a  bold , clear hand .    On the other  hand , if   you scribble , know the editor  and  are  rich , you can send  the  printers  " a  guinea" for  deciphering your letter , enabling  you  to  scrawl  like  a  gentleman .

Speaking in defence of  the art  and character  of  agitation, Holyoake  wrote that he hoped the book would lead to an increase in wise , reasoning  voices  being heard  in  the land , as  sure-footed  democracy  advances.

However, it seemed the  Archbishop of Canterbury , apparently only acquainted with the  bad meaning of the  term , had spoken  contemptuously of 'agitators'. This had prompted  Reverend Stewart Headlam  to justly ask if not Paul and  the Lord  Himself were agitators . Surely it depended upon what you agitate for , and how you agitate , as to whether an "agitator " is to be condemned  or praised....Just minded agitation prevented  the  putrefaction of opinion,  which is as fatal  to  States  as  to  Truth .
It  is interesting to speculate  about  the  identity of  the person  who first had this book, sold through Barker's Brisbane Bookstores and  unearthed  in Tully , which receives so  much precipitation  it is an ideal place in which to curl up with a library  and  listen  to  the  rain drumming on the roof  for a week or more . Could  it  have  been  an  early  politician  , an  activist , or an agitator  ?


Sunday, November 20, 2016


 Newsagents  driven  to  drink ?  
While  staying in  Townsville  for  any length   of  time , this blogger oft slips into the  Kokoda  Memorial  Pool  to  splash about  in the  water  like a  duckbill platypus  and  , importantly, buy the Townsville  Bulletin  from  the  office/kiosk  early in   the morning .  Imagine  my  dismay  when   two  weeks  ago  I was   told  that  the  paper  has  not  been sold   there  for  some considerable  time because it  was  not  financially  worth   the  trouble.

Another sign of  shrinking  newspaper  outlets in Townsville  is the  disappearance  or   downsizing  of  newsagencies . One  outlet, below, with the  catchy  name   Victory  Newsagency , in Charters Towers Road , attracted  my  attention  some months  go  .  Why  Victory ? Could it have been started  up at  the  end of World War ll ? If  so , could  be  a  story here . Took a  photo and  put  it on the mile long  list  of  potential yarns  to be followed up .
Without warning , the newsagency just disappeared ... apparently swallowed  up  by  an  extension  to  the  Hermit  Park   Hotel .

Seeking a  newspaper at  the  large  Stockland  shopping centre , I  went to the  usual  newsagent's site  only  to  be confronted by  huge  signs announcing it is being  converted into a  Commonwealth  Bank office .  Across  the  way , in a much smaller  shop , was  the newsagency, called  Lucky Charm   ,  highlighting  lottery  tickets  and   scratchies,   newspapers  tucked  away  at  the  rear  of  the  premises  on  a  small  stand .  In  2014  the  large newsagency   got  a  big write up in the Townsville  Bulletin  over  the  fact that it had  sold so  many winning tickets.  
At  another  smaller suburban  centre the  newsagent  had apparently folded  his paper tent  and  departed . Long ago , this  blog pointed  out  that  the  local paper was no longer sold  at  the Townsville  ferry  terminal where  many  thousands of people  transit  and  that  the Townsville  Bulletin appeared to have  a  circulation problem .  
The Townsville Bulletin has been running a  massive advertising  campaign , offering  a range of inducements( other Murdoch papers, magazines , access to Fox Sport, an e-book , rewards , and  digital access galore ) , to sign up. The more people who go  digital  means  the  demand  for    hard   copies  drops  in   newsagencies . 
When  it  comes to  newspaper  circulation   figures,  the  global decline in newspaper   readership   has  resulted in  a  new term: lies, damned lies and rubbery readership statistics. Newspapers periodically issue  baffling , smarmy- like statements about  the  latest  circulation figures  in which  they   have a   formula  which  basically  says    we love yuz all   because    readership  ( miraculously )   has  jumped  so  high  that  it  hit  the   first  dog  on  the  moon.Often  as  not, the  actual figures are not included ,  just claimed  percentage  increases.

The Townsville  Bully  recently  ran  a  startling circulation  report    headed BULLETIN GROWTH  TOPS NATION ,  which featured " stars "  of  The Block , Caro  and  Kingi Tahan , described  as  news  hounds.  Caro  was  actually  reading   a  hard  copy   of  the   paper  and  Kingi   was    doing  something with a  digit.
As it is always  the  dangerous  nesting  season  as  far as the Townsville Bulletin is  concerned , the Townsville   Magpie, aka Malcolm Weatherup, a  former  Bulletin  top reporter  , immediately  swooped   into attack  in  his blog  and  pecked the  eyes   out  of  the  circulation  story , in  the process  giving  the  editor  another  working  over . 

YE  OLDE STOP PRESS : Nationwide News Pty Ltd , publisher of The Australian , has been ordered  to pay Townsville journalist  Malcolm Weatherup  $100,000   for defamation  in its Media section  in 2014.The Townsville Bulletin carried a  small P10 report  on  the Supreme Court   ruling .  See previous related   post this blog April 26 NEW  QUEENSLAND MEDIA MOGUL  LIKELY AFTER  COURT  FINDING ?  

Saturday, November 19, 2016




As the old saying goes, where  there  is smoke , there is  fire. In  the case of  Cathy O'Toole  ( ALP )  who  won the  House  of   Representatives  seat of   Herbert  the  official  opening of   her  electorate office in  Townsville  , North Queensland , gave  the  impression  the  building was  on  fire .  This was  due  to  the   Indigenous   smoking  ceremony  performed on the  premises  which  involved  thick   clouds  of  smoke , chanting   and   speeches .

A   party supporter, just back from the  happy  Himalayan   kingdom of  Bhutan , quipped   that  the smoking  ceremony , acting  like  an exorcism , guaranteed  the non return  of  an  LNP  member  on  the  premises , referring to the ousted  Ewen Jones .
For  this   jest, he deserved a  slice or two of  O'Toole's  special cake , below, thanking her  electorate ,  which included   iced in  panels depicting  her  activities on  the campaign trail which saw  her not only win  the  seat   for  the  ALP after 20 years  but  smash  the  glass  ceiling  in  the  process.
Since moving in , Ms O'Toole  has  set a  cracking  pace. In  Brisbane , at the  state  ALP  conference , she  impressed    the  gathering  with   her  straight  talking , no nonsense   comments  in  moving   that there  be a North Queensland  Senate seat.  She  colourfully informed the  conference that  residents  in the  North  were  fed up  with what are referred  to as  "Cockatoo visits "  from  politicians , where  they  fly in ,  do what Cockatoos  do naturally all over the place ,  and  then  fly  out . When captured on TV   explaining   exactly what Cockatoos  do all over the place, she laughed and  said   she normally did not swear  in  public .  

Three  people at the conference received a standing ovation- federal Leader of  the Opposition ,  Bill  Shorten , Queensland Premier , Annastacia  Palaszuk , and Cathy O'Toole. On top of this , the Townsville Bulletin named her the  11th most influential  person  in  town  in  a list of  50, Cowboys rugby league co-captain Johnathan Thurston  numero  uno.

In Canberra  she has been  appointed  to  important   Caucus Committees  dealing with  North Australia .  Wasting  no  time  in Canberra, she  called on the  Singapore  High  Commissioner  for  a one on one  discussion  about the  Singapore  Government's  $2billion  military  plans  for  Queensland ,one billion of which  will be  spent in  the Townsville area ,   and  was well received , discussing  various  aspects  of   the   proposal .
In a recent  report  to  an ALP  branch  in Townsville ,  O'Toole   impressed with  a  summary of  issues   covering  the electorate and her observations of the Turnbull  government   in Canberra.   Because  of  her  personal experience    running  mental health organisations , one which operated across north and west  Queensland , from Palm Island  to Mount Isa , with head office in Townsville ,  she is well aware of  the many  pressing  social and economic  issues in  regional communities and   problems  confronting   ADF veterans and  other members of  the   community , the   ice  scourge   as  well . 

Much of this  colour  and  insight into the  history making  Member for Herbert  seems  to  have escaped  the  local  media .  As  far as is known , no member  of  the Townsville  press gang  has  ventured  inside  her  smoked  office, had a  slice of  cake ,  and looked at  her  etchings . An unkempt  member of  the   Little  Darwin  staff  has  been  inside the  office   and   was   bowled over  by  what  he  saw and heard .  UPCOMING : The  interesting  O'Toole  art collection  which   captures  and  represents  the  North and the  national art treasures which will  grace  her  Canberra   office.    


With so many massacres   going on  in various parts of the  world , ceremonies  marking  the 25th  anniversary of the November 12 , 1991    Santa Cruz Cemetery   massacre of    270   pro-independence   marchers   by  Indonesian  troops held in the Timor Leste  capital of  Dili and  in the Northern Territory  capital , Darwin ,  received   little coverage  by  the  Australian  media.

At  the  Dili  ceremony   was   American  journalist  Allan  Nairn  who with fellow American reporter  Amy Goodman were  at the cemetery the day of the massacre . Nairn  received  a  fractured   skull when  he threw  himself  over the top  of   Goodman to  prevent her  being  beaten  about the  head  by  the  rifle butts  of   the   Indonesians .

In a live  cross to Nairn  by  Amy Goodman who hosts  Democracy  Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour heard across more than 900 stations in North America ,   this is part of what he  had to  say  about  the  slaughter re-enactment  :

"...These  were young people, many of whom were not born at the time of the massacre, or they were little kids. They played the part, the soldiers and the marchers, and they had studied their history. At the end of this pageant, it looked like it did on that day. That street, the actual street in front of the cemetery, was covered with   bodies.

" But these bodies rose up.  They started singing. People who were playing the soldiers came forward, they broke their guns. And the spirit was not solemn. It wasn’t mourning. There was crying, but it was like a celebration of power. People often make the mistake of underestimating their own power. That was not the atmosphere here. People were celebrating it, because what the Timorese actually did after the real Dili massacre was they sparked an  international  movement.

" In the U.S., we were able, through grassroots pressure, to get the Congress to cut off U.S. military aid to the Indonesian military one step at a time, and eventually ended the  occupation  of  Timor. They won their independence.

"It also brought down the dictator, Suharto, of Indonesia, because when the Indonesians themselves rose in rebellion against him in Jakarta in '98, he looked into the faces of those Indonesian protesters, and he imagined he saw the eyes of the Timorese. He  was afraid, if he opened fire on the—on his own protesters, his remaining U.S. aid would be cut off.

"His security man told me later they specifically feared it would be another Santa Cruz, that they'd pay too heavy of a price, because the Timorese had already made them pay a price. So Suharto trembled, he hesitated, and he fell, because the people in Jakarta were emboldened. They kept coming out in the streets in waves, and they ended that dictatorship.

"And all this radiated from the actions of the East Timorese, who on that morning seemed like they were crushed..."

 (Footage of  the 1991  massacre was   smuggled  out  through Darwin  and  shocked the world , resulting in  the  US  cutting  off  military aid  to Indonesia  and eventually independence .)

Amy  Goodman  has  been  in  Dakota recently   covering  the   protest by the Sioux  about  the pipeline  being   run across their  territory  and officials there  have charged her in what is seen as  an attempt to  stop reporters  doing  their   job .

Participating in  the   Darwin anniversary , part of  which was held at the cemetery and attended by  members of the   large  Timorese  community , was   agronomist   Robert Wesley-Smith, a  longtime  activist  for  East Timor   from   1975 .

Thursday, November 17, 2016


The huge vehicle  carrier , Aphrodite Leader , registered in Panama , owned by the   Japanese  NYK  line, in Townsville this week , as usual , received no media coverage. Recently the Australian Competition  and  Consumer  Commission in the Federal Court filed  a  criminal indictment  against  NYK ( Nippon Yusen Kabushiki  Kaisha)  for  cartel  behaviour.

These same powers were used  in 2009 in the case which exposed collusion in the Australian packaging   industry  between  Visy  and  Amcor.Found guilty, corporations can be  fined  up to $10 million, 10 per cent of their annual turnover  or three times  their ill gotten gains . Individuals can also be put in the  slammer  for   10 years .

In March , the US  Department of Justice  jailed   an  executive of the NYK  company for 15 months for  his  role in  a  price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy over   international  shipping of  roll-on, roll-off cargo such as cars and trucks.

This followed NYK paying a $US59.4m fine in December after pleading guilty to its involvement in the same conspiracy from 1997 until 2012. An indication of the extent of the international price fixing racket is that the Department of Justice reported that four companies, including NYK, had pleaded guilty to participating in the RO-RO cartel and had been fined a total of US230m.

The  Norwegian line Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics pleaded guilty to price fixing and agreed to pay a $US98.9m ($130m) fine.The  US District Court in Baltimore, Maryland, was told that  cartel participants held meetings at which  they discussed and exchanged prices for certain customer tenders so as not to undercut each other’s prices.
In March  2014  , NYK,  listed on the Tokyo exchange, was ordered  by  Japan’s Fair Trade Commission to pay ¥13 billion (about $160m) for being part of a group that “agreed to mutually refrain from contending for customers by not offering  lower  freight  rates and  to  raise  or  maintain  freight rates”.It was reported by the FTC that routes on which NYK  conspired to fix prices included those  between  Japan   and Australia .
 NYK is the fourth-biggest listed marine shipping group in the world and has the dominant market share  among  car carriers.  

Townsville is a major  distribution point   for  cars  and  trucks shipped in from overseas   for  a  large  part  of  North Australia. As a  consequence RO-RO vessels  regularly visit   the port, but  are rarely  mentioned by the media when  they  do .  Basic  questions that should be asked  when they  dock :  how many  vehicles ,  what   kind ,  who   for,  also a list of cities  and towns where the  vehicles will  be  despatched ,  by what  means ,   how many for the  Northern Territory  ? 

 So have  Australian  motorists , mining companies, small outback communities  in  North Australia  been  forced to  pay higher  prices for  vehicles  because of  shipping  cartels?     Reporters  might  like to  ask  the  car agencies  for   comment .  Is   there  room  for  a  class  action ?