Wednesday, October 31, 2018


A Mafia hit man who is said to hate "rats" is under suspicion in the slaying of former Boston crime boss and longtime FBI informant James "Whitey" Bulger, who was found dead just hours after he was transferred to a West Virginia prison, a former investigator briefed on the matter said Wednesday.
The official said that Fotios "Freddy" Geas and at least one other inmate are believed to have been involved in Bulger's killing. The longtime investigator was not authorised to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

AFFECTING: Journalists around the world read Jamal Khashoggi’s last column in this video. The readers included CNN’s Jake Tapper, The Washington Post’s Karen Attiah, The NYT’s Nick Kristof, writer Mona Eltahawy, columnist Barkha Dutt and The Intercept’s Mehdi Hasan. (Here’s the text.)

IMPUNITY: The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 324 journalists "have been silenced through murder worldwide" in the past decade. In 14 countries, journalists have been slain with impunity, Poynter’s Kristen Hare reports

The mayor lives five blocks away. He said Fred Rogers, of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," had lived three blocks away. David Shribman, the executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, lives three blocks away.
Mayor Bill Peduto said his police had no idea there was a man with an AR-15 and three handguns with such hatred toward Jews and fear of immigrants that he would enter a synagogue and kill 11 people. Among the fallen: two developmentally disabled brothers, an 88-year-old retired accountant who showed up in case he was needed to lead services and a 97-year-old woman taken these days by her daughter, who escaped with a bullet wound in her arm.
A Holocaust survivor, who said saboteurs stopped his train to Auschwitz during World War II, missed Saturday's slaughter only because he pulled into his nearby handicapped parking spot four minutes late.
"Because this was our neighborhood, caught in the crossfire of the strains of the global village, and for once — sadly, so very sadly — the hurt was ours, and the victims were ours, and the need to heal is ours," wrote the Post-Gazette's Shribman. The spotlight shone here, he wrote, and "we know, given the tempo of tragedy in these times that are ours, that the title won’t be ours for long."
"Unless we see courageous action, the Squirrel Hill massacre will be just another on the list, albeit one with an asterisk for me," agreed David Michael Slater, who grew up across the street from the synagogue, in an first-person essay for the AP. "We’re a ruptured and bleeding nation in a cage of our own making. I only wish I had the magic key to unlock our hardening hearts."
Slater concluded with Mr. Rogers' words: "Won’t you be my neighbor?"
A look at the suspected gunman's social past found many clues to violent views and raised this question, asked by Amanda Carpenter on CNN: Why are hate-mongers allowed to spew and rile themselves up for violence on social media? In this case, she may have been referring to Gab, the social network preferred by neo-Nazis and the sort who get bounced from other social sites. (See more below.) 
There's a lot to process from the weekend attack in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood. Here are a few highlights:
— The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dove into Gab in the wake of the shooting, finding it "reeling, defiant."

— Snapshots of the fallen. The accused shooter faces 29 criminal counts, including hate crimes and 11 counts of murder.
— A survivor's tale: He thought it was falling furniture.
— White House: Don't link Pittsburgh killing to our rhetoric.
— Mayor Peduto: President Trump has the wrong idea with bolstering synagogue security as a response. "The approach that we need to be looking at is how we take the guns, which is the common denominator of every mass shooting in America, out of the hands of those who are looking to express hatred through murder,” Peduto said.
— Stronger Than Hate: After the synagogue slaughter, Tim Hindes came up with a new version of the Pittsburgh Steelers logo to show support. He shared it to Facebook. Soon, it circulated worldwide. Every share, he said, is a victory for tolerance.
— The Jewish resettlement agency slandered by the arrested gunman, Robert Bowers, has brought in families of many faiths over its 130-plus years, including those of novelist Gary Shteyngart, Google co-founder Sergey Brin and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum. "They bought our airline tickets," from the Soviet Union in 1980, said "CBS This Morning" co-host Bianna Golodryga, who was 18 months old at the time.

Quick hits

GUN-STORE AD ATOP SYNAGOGUE SLAUGHTER STORY: The Providence Journal apologized for the placement of a gun-store ad atop its Pittsburgh mass shooting story. “The timing of the front page advertising stick-on is very unfortunate given the horrible news event," Janet Hasson, regional vice president and publisher of the paper, said in a statement. (h/t Jill Geisler)
TOO MANY MASS SHOOTINGS: The Houston Chronicle had intended to have a front page story Sunday marking nearly a year after a gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 in a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The Pittsburgh shooting took that spot, editor Nancy Barnes tweeted
FACEBOOK MISCHIEF: The social network deleted posts from readers who wanted to share a New York Times article on famine in Yemen, which threatens 13 million people. Why? Facebook initially said a photo of a severely malnourished girl violated its terms of service; after public outrage, the social network restored the posts.
WHY RUN THAT IMAGE ON YEMEN?: The NYT explained why it choose to run Tyler Hicks’ jarring photos from Yemen, which were more unsettling and jarring that it customarily allows. What is happening in Yemen is no natural disaster; the famine, disease and ruined lives are the decision of neighboring leaders waging war and enforcing an embargo against Yemen. Of the photos, the NYT wrote: “They are brutal. But they are also brutally honest. They reveal the horror that is Yemen today. You may choose not to look at them. But we thought you should be the ones to decide.”
SLAIN: A radio host and engineer in a news truck was fatally shot by gunmen in Mexico's Guerrero state. Gabriel Soriano was 40, wrote Teresa Mioli for the UT Knight Center’s Journalism in the Americas blog.
MILO: Instagram deleted a post from Milo Yiannopoulos praising the recent mail bombs sent to prominent Democratic officials and donors, The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer reported.
NO MORE: Caitlyn Jenner renounced President Trump after the administration’s consideration to remove legal protection for transgender people. “I must learn from my mistakes and move forward,” Jenner said.
HAHA: Czech president “joked” about inviting members of the press to a banquet — at the Saudi Embassy. The group Reporters Without Borders demanded an apology and added: “It is sickening to see him take his cynicism to this level.” Last year, the same president said journalists should be liquidated because there are too many of them. He also greeted journalists at a press conference with a dummy Kalashnikov.
LEAVING McCLATCHY: Tim Grieve, vice president of news for McClatchy, said he’ll step down after the midterm elections. Grieve said he’ll be starting a new venture in the media space. CEO Craig Forman will supervise the newspaper company’s four regional editors after Grieve’s departure, with the assistance of Andrew Pergam, vice president of video and new ventures. Pergam will head real-time news, the reinvention team and the news desks.
HIRED: Yara Bayoumy of Reuters is moving to become national security editor of The Atlantic. Bayoumy worked on the security team at Reuters after more than a decade for the news service, including a stint in Yemen.
TEEN POWER: A 14-year-old cartoonist from Manhattan may have prompted the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest to alter terms so winners could retain the copyright to their work. Sasha Matthews sent a tweet to the organization and decided to withhold her entry after seeing this restrictive wording. A reply said the tweet generated a lot of discussion — and now the terms have been changed. “I was hopeful that they would do something about it, I didn’t really think that they would but they did,” Matthews told the West Side Rag’s Lisa Kava. “And I’m very happy.”

Bruce Beresford - Political Expressions - “Don’t trust what you see, even salt looks like sugar.”

“A strong positive response to [Edward] Hopper’s paintings is by no means uncommon, in America and throughout the world. But I’ve come to believe that it’s singularly strong among readers and writers…those of us who care deeply for stories…It’s not because of the stories his paintings tell….[They] don’t tell stories…They suggest – powerfully, irresistibly – that there are stories within them, waiting to be told…It’s our task to find [them] for ourselves.” – Lawrence Block, editor/writer for this collection.

“I don’t trust words, I trust actions.”

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair ...
“Only trust someone who can see these three things in you: the sorrow behind your smile, the love behind your anger, and the reason behind your silence.”

Selena Gomez  “If you have three people in your life that you can trust, you can consider yourself the luckiest person in the whole world.”

Nan S Russell is partial to one of my favourite quotes 'wisdom is the daughter of experience' Nan has shared many stories on the topic of "Trust: The New Workplace Currency" 

Prison camps, dystopia, terrorism, intelligentsia: Russian history has been a godsend for literature. And for political language as well...  Da Da 

Film director Bruce Beresford on surly stars and Hollywood ratbags 

Bruce Beresford: "The worst lunch was with … you know ... the Star Wars guy."

Bruce Beresford is settled in at the table reading a newspaper, even though I have arrived for our lunch more than 15 minutes early. "I've just flown in from LA this morning, so excuse me if I talk nonsense," one of Australia's most accomplished film directors grins as he greets me.
I initially assume he has arrived early so he can get lunch over with and go home and sleep, but the 75-year-old is showing no signs of jetlag or of talking nonsense. We are in a cosy Chinese restaurant just a block from Oxford Street in Sydney's Surry Hills. Beresford, who is based in Sydney but is often at his flat in London or working in Hollywood, has agreed to meet here because we both have a personal connection to Mahjong Room. Attracted to the venue's '60s-style decor and traditional wooden mahjong tables, he shot a scene from his 2009 movieMao's Last Dancer here. My partner owns the restaurant.
It is 30-plus degrees outside and Beresford is dressed casually in a dark T-shirt and tan trousers. He is a big man with a youthful energy and he laughs easily, almost a high-pitched giggle, particularly when he is joking about himself or his movies. It feels more like lunch with a highly-entertaining uncle rather than someone with an Oscar under his belt who has spent the last week talking to Hollywood studios and Chinese financiers about directing a potential $US150 million movie.

ABA Journal: “Lawyers have to safeguard client data and notify clients of a data breach, and the ABA Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility has issued a formal opinion that reaffirms that duty.

Clarke, Amanda and Piper, Benjamin, A Legal Framework to Govern Online Political Expression by Public Servants (May 14, 2018). Clarke, Amanda & Benjamin Piper. 2018. “A Legal Framework to Govern Online Political Expression by Public Servants”, Canadian Labour and Employment Law Journal, 21(1), 1-50. . Available at SSRN: A Legal Framework to Govern Online Political Expression by Public Servants -
“This paper considers the extent to which public servants should be allowed to engage in political activities in online fora such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The question of the appropriate balance between the principle of political neutrality binding public servants and their Charter-protected right to political expression has been extensively addressed in the case law.

However, the framework set out in the existing jurisprudence was developed in the context of more traditional forms of political engagement, and fails to provide clear guidance in an age when the political activities of public servants, like those of Canadians as a whole, have to a large degree migrated to social media and other platforms on the web. In an effort to remedy this deficiency, the authors lay the foundation for a revised framework for assessing the permissibility of online political activity by public servants, consisting of four analytical factors: the level and nature of a public servant’s position; the visibility of the online activity; the substance of the online activity; and the identifiability of the online actor as a public servant. Adopting this test, the authors contend, would enable adjudicators to strike a reasonable balance between freedom of expression and the principle of political neutrality, by recognizing that in today’s world both politics and life as a public servant play out online.”

Cumex Files: European Taxpayers Cheated out of €55 Billion
European financial elites have lifted 55 billion euros, about US$63 billion, out of state coffers by receiving tax reimbursements for taxes that had never been paid, a new crossborder investigation has revealed. The schemes are comprised of two mechanisms: one where traders try to collect tax reimbursements for non-existing tax payments and another where they are reimbursed twice for the same taxes.

ANTHONY PUN: A response to PM Morrison’s speech in Hurstville concerning Australia/China relations

This Saturday marks the tenth anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ announcement that it was filing for bankruptcy. On the ABC’s Rear Vision this Sunday a panel of financial and economic experts describe how the Global Financial Crisis developed, how the world’s governments responded (praise for Kevin Rudd), and why there has been such a sluggish recovery in the real economy.

Writing in Foreign Affairs (“The forgotten history of the financial crisis”) historian Adam Tooze of Columbia University attributes the recovery from the GFC to American leadership in ensuring that the US Federal Reserve responded by providing liquidity to other countries’ central banks. (Europeans, Chinese and Australians may have different perspectives.)

Also reflecting on the ten years since the GFC, Joseph Stiglitz writes in Social Europe“Unless and until the selfishness and myopia that define our politics – especially in the US under Trump and his Republican enablers – is overcome, an economy that serves the many, rather than the few, will remain an impossible dream”.

On the other issues commanding our attention there is a 2009 John Clarke and Brian Dawe interview. Plus ça change…

 Writer Anne Frank Never Became (And Whom The World Wouldn’t Have Liked As Much)

"Frank's diary was not the work of a naïf, but rather of a writer already planning future publication." (She made plenty of revisions, and they were obviously thought through.) "The problem is that the entire appeal of Anne Frank to the wider world — as opposed to those who knew and loved her — lies in her lack of a future." … [Read More]

cover block sunlight shadowIn a book that will delight lovers of stories and art, Lawrence Block, editor and writer, presents stories written by himself and sixteen other authors in response to seventeen paintings by American artist Edward Hopper (1882 – 1967). Most of Hopper’s paintings are quiet, with little, if any, action and few, if any, characters. The overall mood for most of Hopper’s paintings is bleak, and his characters appear to be lonely, immersed in their own thoughts, and alienated from society. Though Hopper specializes in the play of sunlight and shadow (hence, the title of the book), he does so with dramatic effect, and most of his major paintings show isolated characters dealing with the darkness, the light being just beyond them. All of the seventeen writers who have contributed a short story to illustrate a Hopper painting clearly catch the mood of depression and withdrawal which seems to characterize so many of these paintings, and anyone familiar with the work of these writers, most of whom are mystery writers, should also know what to expect: Only two writers create stories that can be said to have even slightly “happy” endings, and one of those occurs on a deathbed.

There is one joke in King of Thieves, and it’s that the thieves are old. That’s it – that’s the whole movie. Jokes about diabetes, diarrhoea and how, at their age, these retirees deserve a bungalow abound. References to unpeeled bananas and a scene set to Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy add a swirl of gentle homophobia into the mix.
Based on the true story of the Hatton Garden heist in 2015, James Marsh’s film tells of a group of aged ex-cons, played by Michael Caine, Jim Broadbent, Tom Courtenay and Ray Winstone, who team up with a youngish tech whiz (Charlie Cox) to steal £100m in cash and jewels from a series of safety deposit boxes. The gang also recruitMichael Gambon’s beer-guzzling Billy the Fish as their fence.
There are a few rascally moments, such as Jim Broadbent setting off roman candles in his back garden, but mostly it’s a staid affair, laden with dragged-outscenes of the gang doing thejob. Not even Benjamin Wallfisch’s jaunty score can keep things moving.

The Virtual Memories Show

“What if you could be employed just sitting in a pub telling stories? I think that’s where it began for me.
Episode 292 – Eddie Campbell – The Virtual Memories Show

Commissioners sack City of Perth CEO
"The City of Perth’s chief executive Martin Mileham has been sacked by the commissioners running the council." (The West Australian)

Justin Gatto is dead son-of-mick-gatto

Soaking up Australia's drought
"Is Natural Sequence Farming the secret to restoring our water-starved continent? For more than a decade, two farmers have shown that parched landscapes can be revived. And finally Canberra's listening." (ABC)

Work was once the way to a better life. Not any more
"A job that provides rising living standards is a thing of the past." (The Guardian)

Why remote meetings are still so painful
"Video calling at work suffers from a mix of technology hurdles, people problems, and the workflow complexities of meetings." (Quartz)


  • “Using TinEye, you can search by image or perform what we call a reverse image search. You can do that by uploading an image or searching by URL. You can also simply drag and drop your images to start your search.
  • TinEye constantly crawls the web and adds images to its index. Today, the TinEye index is over 32.1 billion images.
  • When you search with TinEye, your image is never saved or indexed. TinEye adds millions of new images from the web every day—but your images belong to you. Searching with TinEye is private, secure, and always improving…”

Dear bosses, spare us the feedback sandwich, we're onto it

Australians owe more debt than ever to the ATO

Massive loophole Labor is promising to end

GRAHAM FREUDENBERG. 80 years after Munich

BOB CARR. Chinese Australians are the silent minority on foreign policy

BOB CARR. Australians have no interest in joining U.S. cold war against China

On ABC’s Saturday Extra of weekend fame  (in case you missed it):

  • Andrew West discusses the second round of Brazil’s Presidential elections. How much of Brazil’s past is in the vote for Bolsonaro? Guest Sarah Maslin, The Economist Brazil correspondent.
  • Following the swing in the Wentworth by-election, is there room for another political party? Guests: Chris Wallace from the school of history at the ANU.
  • A Foreign Affair this month looks at an agreed referendum for Bougainville’s independence next year; Macedonia’s controversial move to change its name and the US mid-term elections and voter suppression with Simon Jackman (US Studies Centre). Melissa Conley Tyler (AIIA) and Jonathan Pearlman (AFA magazine).
  • Nicholas Wolpe, son of Harold Wolpe, one of the men arrested in Rivonia in 1963, talks about remembering the anti-apartheid struggle and what’s happening with the ANC?
  • Princess Margaret, the original “it” girl long before Meagan or Kate or Dianna. A new biography called Ma’am Darling has been written by British satirist Craig Brow.

Other commentary

Australia’s Coalition isn’t the only conservative government facing headwinds of its own making. In the UK more that 700 000 people have marched through London demanding a “people’s vote” on Brexit. Phillip Adams interviews Ian Dunt, editor of on Britain’s political fault lines, some of which run through the border between Northern Island and the Republic.

While climate change is our main environmental concern, it is easy to lose sight of other environmental needs. Writing in the Guardian — Look after the soil, save the Earth: farming in Australia’s unrelenting climate — former governor general Michael Jeffery reminds us of the concept of ‘soil security’ which also underpins what he lists as the world’s six existential challenges: food, water and energy security, climate change abatement, biodiversity protection and human health”.

The idea of shifting embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem goes beyond the idea of shoring up the Jewish vote. Although comparatively minor in Australia, there is a strong “Christian Zionist” movement in the USA, whose four million members have thrown their political weight behind Donald Trump. On the ABC’s Religion and Ethics program, Andrew Westtalks with Sean Durbin, the author of the forthcoming book, Righteous Gentiles: Religion, Identity and Myth in John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel.

“As much as our world hurtles toward digitized information, physical books remain popular, useful, and revered items.”  That’s Alan Taylor’s short introduction to hiscollection of 35 photographs of libraries around the world published in The Atlanticonline.