Archive For 11/29/2018

Things that go bump

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THE toddler walked past as toddlers do -dragging her feet, bored, trailing a little bag.
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Her mum and dad were slightly ahead with what looked like the toddler’s older sister. They were walking slowly, also trailing bags.

Everyone was trailing bags that night a few weeks ago, or sitting besidebags, or on bags, or dozing with their heads on bags, becausewe were all stuck in an airport and most of the departure boards carried one depressing word -“Delayed.”

The message beside myflight was slightly different. It said“Delayed for 79 minutes but probably for heaps longer”, or something like that. I started taking notes during those hours of sitting around but I lost them, or ate them, or made paper planes out of boredom with them because I can’t find themanymore, so the exact detail comes from memory. But I remember the toddler.

She first came to my attention whiledoing the circuit. She and her little familywalked slowly past the cafes and food outletswith their cold, dry $13 sandwiches in crinkly plastic, or their giant fizzy confections for $12, or coffees–good, mind you–that set you back $7 or so.

They walked slowly past the shops with the koala souvenirs,Australian flag t-shirts and ugg boots. They walked past the toilets and the luxury cosmetics shops where the beautiful assistants leant languidly and elegantly against the shiny counters, because customers were thin on the ground.

People like me who’d already walked the circuit of the airport’s shops about 20 times, and checked out all the books and magazines in the newsagents, and tried on a few lipsticks, had settled with our bags by then. All except the people with kids who kept circling as a way to hold off tantrums.

So the toddler went past.

Her father trailed his carry-on bag with its little wheels slightly ahead of her.

As I watched from a stool at a cafe the toddler -bored and possibly tired -decided she’d hitch a ride on her dad’sbag but hedidn’t know.

She started to climb, he lost his grip, and toddler and bag fell down with a thump.

It took the toddlera second or two to respond but when she did it was wonderful.

She was tired and bored and three or four years of age and she’d just had a shock and a bump. The wail went up and even the sound fromthe overhead advertising big screenthat had been droning on about“Travel to Tahiti” for hours was suddenly drowned out by atoddler’s outraged howls.

And because I related to her tired, bored, I’m-stuck-here-in-an-airport-and-this-is-so-unfair-because-I-just-want-to-get-home mood, I shared her pain. If I could have got away with it I would have rolled around on the floor and thrown my arms around dramatically, too, out of the sheer injustice of having to wait for a plane to fly.

But I didn’t. I was wearing a frock.

Look at any travel brochures or advertisements and everything’s glossy and gorgeous. People are smiling. Every destination looks fantastic. Every experience is photographable.

And it’s true up to a point. I love travelling. I love the thrill of arriving at any place that’s a long way from where I live and a lot different. When the plane door opens and you get the first whiff of a new country, or the first feel of its weathereven before you step off the plane, it’s exciting.

And then there’s the reality of travel –the queues, the cost, the petty bureaucratic hassles, the delays and cancellations. But we keep doing it.

I love travel stories. This week a story popped up from China about the elderly passenger who tossed coins into her plane engine for “good luck”. True.

The airline even put out a statement to confirm the woman, 80, was seen tossing coins into the engine of the Airbus 320 before her flight from Pudong to Guangzhou to “wish a safe flight”.

Everyone had to get off. The engine was inspected. It took hours and hours. The airline helpfully stated that the woman had no known mental incapacity. She just hadn’t flown before and thought a positive gesture was called for.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau sends me regular bulletins about all the plane crashes and near misses it’s investigated in the previous few months.

On Thursday it sent me a report about the flight from America to Sydney in October that experienced abnormal vibrationand noise above the left wing after take-off, and what the crew and airline did in response.

It wasn’t until the plane touched down in Sydney that the source of the trouble –a birdstrike that “sheared a landing gear door strut resulting in the door not closing” –caused “turbulent airflow and in‑cabin vibration”. Good to know.

The ATSB seems to leave its regular reports about birdstrikes at Australian airports until I’m just about to get on a plane to fly a long way away.

Between 2006 and 2015there were 16,069 birdstrikes reported to the ATSB, most involving bigger passenger jets. And just so that you know, both the number and rate of birdstrikes per 10,000 movements of bigger capacity jets “have increased markedly in the past two years”, with Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, the Gold Coast and Sydney recording the biggest increases.

But have a nice trip anyway. And don’t read the book Sully,or watch the movie of the same name about the birdstrikes that put a passenger jet into New York’s Hudson River.

We eventually got onto the plane that night a few weeks ago, after Sydney airport was hit by a thunderstorm that knocked out a lot of its systems. We flew thousands of metres above the ground and safely down again and thought nothing of it, despite how wondrous that really is.

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Cleverman returns to our screens

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Koen (Hunter Page-Lochard) and Uncle Jimmy (Jack Charles) in the series Cleverman, season 2. Airs on ABC TV. The poster for the second season of Ryan Griffen’s extraordinary seriesClevermanmakes plain its hero’s intentions. Crouching like a stealthy predator over a stormy cityscape, glaring down the lens from under his hoodie, his face marked with white warrior paint, Hunter Page-Lochard as Koen West, the one charged with saving his people, cuts a righteously menacing figure. The tagline, “Take a stand”, writ large across the ominous night sky, promises bloody rebellion.
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Since it premiered in the United States last year on Sundance TV, a day before it hit local screens, this dystopian supernatural drama, invoking Dreamtime mythology in a story with parallels to contemporary themes of racism, the treatment of asylum-seekers, corporate and political thuggery and the age-old fear of the Other, has basked in international acclaim. The 2016 Berlinale screened episodes from season one. The launch of season two spreads across Sundance TV, the ABC and the Sydney Film Festival.

The opening episode of this next chapter in the plight of the Hairypeople, an 80,000-year-old “subhuman” species ostracised to the “Zone”, wastes no time in reinforcing the horrors of a world in which prejudice has festered to the point where acts of genocide are routine. There are scenes reminiscent of the Holocaust. There is desperation, degradation and senseless death. Some of it is hard to watch, but it’s impossible to look away.

Cleverman: Waruu (Rob Collins) and Koen (Hunter Page-Lochard). Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

As Koen West, the nephew of the late Cleverman, Uncle Jimmy (Jack Charles), locked in battle with his nefarious half-brother, Waruu (Rob Collins), who is in league with the Containment Authority (CA) and politician Geoff Matthews (Iain Glen), Hunter Page-Lochard radiates a potent mix of fury and his inherited superpowers. His is a rage that steadily burns. Six months on from the explosive finale of season one, there is a sense that Koen is moving beyond atoning for his sins as an informer to the CA as he embraces the heavy mantle of his new role as saviour.

The star-studded returning cast includes Deborah Mailman, Taylor Ferguson, Miranda Tapsell, Kamil Ellis, Robyn Nevin, Tasma Walton, Clarence Ryan and Frances O’Connor. Again filmed in Sydney’s Redfern and surrounding locations including Parramatta, Coogee, The Rocks, North Ryde and the Southern Highlands, the new season emanates a familiar dark, sinister feel in the dimly lit hideouts of the Hairypeople. By contrast, the humans, joined by the terrifying new Minister for Human Safety, Marion Frith (Rachael Blake), glide through clinical, fluorescent-lit offices and corridors of power, and their stark, minimalist homes.

While the shameful real-world inspiration for this divide is blaringly obvious, it would be oversimplifying what is a multi-layered epic odyssey to deduce thatClevermanis merely an elaborate comment on the inequality between white and Indigenous Australians. Certainly the drama is an effective platform for race relations and an Orwellian warning of how far south the situation can slide in the right conditions and the wrong hands. ButCleverman, with its dangerously twisting plot and its fearless creativity, rivals the large-scale theatre of such barbarism fantasies asGame of ThronesandVikings. The costumes, courtesy of the New Zealand-based Weta Workshop, responsible for theLord of the Ringswardrobe, are nothing short of brilliant. And while the Hairypeople are persecuted, they are empowered by their culture, which draws on Dreamtime stories from across Australia. They speak the Kumbainggar language from Northern NSW. And they have a lifespan thrice that of their oppressors. Those who refuse to become “shavers” and assimilate, must wait in the shadows for their time.

As an entertainment,Clevermanstands alone. As a piece of political and social commentary, it is searing.


Series return★★★★★

Thursday9.30pm, ABC

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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Tony Butterfield: Time for Knights to dig deep

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“Yeah,nah.” An irritating though handy neo-Aussie expression that well suits the Newcastle Knights this season. “Yeah” they go well in patches, but “nah”no chocolates. Nada!
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Quickly reviewing last week’s capitulation against the Dragons, like, who scores fivetries in 14 minutes? A team who have faced down all that adversity cared to rain down on them, season after frustrating season, and yet they find that nugget of ultra high performance? Where did that come from? I mean, “Yeah, yeah.”

Andthis is not a one-off. At the other end of the tactical spectrum, against premiership heavyweights the Storm in Melbourne this month, our Knights gave a 25-minute defensive exhibition for the ages. So desperately dogged, it’s yet to be topped this season. By any club. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

The big picture, regrettably, is that a game lasts 80 minutes. So“nah”, our team of rookies will continue to experience growing pains evolving neither smoothly nor symmetrically. But credit where it’s due. Small steps, you might say.

Which brings us into the bottom-of-the-table clash on Sunday against a Tigers club with only marginally more to growl about these past years. But, I expect, so important is this clashplayers will be at their best on both sides.

Desperately disappointed if I’m wrong, but I also anticipate the fight to avoid the ignominy of last placeto ignite a fire in both forward packs. This Brawl in the Basementof the ISC on Sunday will be compulsive viewing for sports fans of all persuasions.

As for the Knights, like last week, I think they’re specials. And they better play that way. Cause in front of thousands of the region’s hard-working miners and their families, anything less than total commitment and working your guts out for your mate will not be acceptable.

Soa chance to atone for last week,a chance to take on the Australian and NSW prop forwardand acrack at climbing out of the basement towards the lightthat must be there. If that doesn’t get at least the forwards primed, then we may as well pack up now.

See ya out there.


The news Shaun Kenny-Dowell had signed with the Knights was welcome relief for a club struggling to divine its future. This appointment gets them a little closer to it.

The circumstances around his sacking and the legal question hanging over his head appear now to be consigned to SKD’s back story after the courts confirmedhim free to move on with his life.

How he got here may continue to be an irritation to some, but hot on the heels of Roosters teammateAidan Guerra, it’s pretty heady stuff for hope-starved Novocastrians.

Both are experienced campaigners at club and national level, with the bonus of SKD saddling up in a week or two. So I’m excited.

So much so, and with Knights fans eager to hear of more signings, I thought I’d have a crack at next year’s team as it might look, so far. I know it’s a bit like opening your presents before Xmas day, but I can’t wait to see how things will stack up.

The list below represents current players that I think pick themselves,new signingsanda wish list*.

Now that’s a team!


The Blues players will simmer for a couple of weeks before they regroup at Lang Park on July 12.

Nothing compared to failure in two weeks, but seared into their mindswill be the pain on full-timein Sydney.

So what do they need to do between now and then to ensure the agony doesn’t revisit?My view is:not much.

Sure, it’s a grand finale, and the Queensland cauldron will be no place for the faint of heart. But it’s equally correct they’veheaded their rivals for 158 of the 160 minutes of play so far. Anddid they not successfully deflect the boisterous attentions of the hordes from the north in game one?

So it’s not impossible.

For me, if anything, concentration and mental toughness occupy the margins of victory here, and that is where they must be better to win:in their heads.

It wouldn’t hurt, either, if the refs held a decent 10 metres in defence this time. If they don’t, you can be sure the Blues won’t cop the same shabby treatment as last week.

I’ll be on.


In a similar vein, the best joke I heard this week was from Storm master tacticianCraig Bellamy.

Sharing a moment with compliant media hacks, Bellyachebemoaned the raw deal his players were getting from referees this year. Talk about lol. It’s a side-splitter.

For mine, to be honest, they deliberately cause most penalties they give awayand should wear a heap more. But let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good yarn.

Bellamy is nothing if not competitive, and I bet his backroom tactical gurus would have sat around the heater rubbing their hands when the chance came to comment on the record.

At the very least, is it not subliminal pressure on the refs to cut them some slack?

At the other end of the spectrum is it mild intimidation? Or perhaps, more innocently, he simply feels his players are good boys, misunderstood and unfairly targeted.

Whatever it is, it will put pressure on referees when presiding over Storm games.

And that, I think, is the point. No wonder he’s the best. Ya gotta laugh!

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Heat meets the harbour at Honeysuckle

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WINTER HEATis returning toNewcastle’s Foreshore on Saturday, July 1, from 5pm to 9pm.
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Moving into its 11th year, Winter Heat is one of the most attended and successful events held within the pristine Honeysuckle Precinct. Aimed at the entire community, the event provides visual wonder, interactive displays and a food festival with something for the whole family.

Heat meets the harbour at Honeysuckle TweetFacebookWINTER HEATHoneysuckle PromenadeSaturday, July 1, 5pm-9pmEIGHT DISTINCT AREAS including:KIDS ZONE/INFLATABLE WORLD located between the Crown Plaza Hotel and Landing Bar & Kitchen // KIDS ZONE featuring a series of HUGE inflatable obstacle courses, managed by Revolution Sports Park with a small entry fee. Unlimited access to the obstacle courses will be $10 per child. Nestled among select child friendly market stalls and chilled busker style music.

WATER STAGE located on the Eastern side of Honeysuckle Hotel // This is the main stage where Honeysuckle Boardwalk plays host to Music, Markets and Warming Winter festivities. Fire sculptures interweave with a multitude of hand selected markets and an array of top shelf local musical magic. On water entertainment features giant Zorb balls and tug boat ballet. Latin dancing + additional entertainment through Southern Deadly Sins. Childrens dance workshop at the start of the night for an interactive family affair.

WINTERBEATS SILENT DISCO located on the Western side of the Maritime Museum // You won’t believe your eyes or your ears. This area features a GIANT neon boom box, 1000 silent disco headsets and 3 channels of old Skool Hits, Indie and Live Electro. Cost: $10 per person for headset hire (+$10 refundable deposit). Also hand-picked markets by the Winter Heat Team, projections and a bunch of fire pits and sculptures.

ASIAN RUSTIC STREET FAIR located behind Dockyard, Nagisa, Thai square and Silo // Asia meets Australia. Spring rolls, dumplings, octopus balls and all the Asian declacies that you could want. There will be Asian entertainment and decorations.

POP UP BAR located next to Hogs Breath Café // An area for lounging, relaxing and the excitement of watching the water stage. The best seat in the house to take in the tug boat ballet, lit up silos and entertainment that’s on offer.

THE WATER PIT located on the Eastern side of the Maritime Museum // Amazing display of local Newcastle entertainers entertaining the area with water top performances. FIRE STAGE located on the Eastern Side of Honeysuckle Hotel // Fire cannons and amazing fire performances alongside epic drum shows and an all-in percussion workshop explosion. (Earthern Rhythms), Zackari Watt – King (of Singing) + Special Guests, Samba Frog + Capoeira. Bordered by a bevy of street foods with pop-up rustic food truck vibes. Dancers, fire, acrobatics and fire sculptures.

LEAP OF FAITH located on the Western side of the Honeysuckle Hotel // 9m drop into an inflatable air mattress. This is not for the light-hearted.

AROUND THE EVENT // Crazy Old Maurice’s Bike Powered Mobile Disco: 2 performers, 1 keyboard, 1 PA, 1 drum kit, 1 bicycle and trailer.

For more information visit

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Charges move Pell case into unknown territory

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Police charge Pell withsex assault offencesThe string of historicalchild sexual abuse charges laid againstCardinal George Pell has plungedthecaseintounknownlegal territory.
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In the case of Cardinal Pell, leading Australian extradition expert Professor Donald Rothwell has previouslyoutlined three possible scenarios.

He saidCardinalPell couldrefuseto step outside the Vatican walls to avoid prosecution, as there is noextradition treaty with Australia.

However,Professor Rothwell believedthat was highly unlikely.

He saidCardinal Pell hadso far co-operated with police,sought to engage in legal proceedings and vehemently denied any allegations of misconduct.

If the Cardinal did notagree to return, Professor Rothwell said it would be difficult for Victoria Police to force him.

Australia could appeal to Italyto make the extradition request on its behalf.

Under this scenario, clergy wanted on chargesin Australia could bearrested by Italian authorities if they left the holy city.

“Themere fact there is no extradition treatydoes not create an impossible barrier to extradition because Australia has diplomatic relations with the [Vatican],”Professor Rothwell told Fairfax Media last month.

“There are legal relations between the two countries [Australia and Italy], so theoretically, an extradition request could be made.”

Under another scenario, Pope Francis could orderCardinal Pell to return to Australia.

Under the church’s international code of canon law, the Pope is the supreme legislatorand is in charge of the church legally.

He has also previouslybacked Cardinal Pell and endorsed him for hishigh-ranking role of Secretariat for the Economy, commonly described as the Vatican’s financial boss.

Traditionally, the decision to lay charges is based on whether it is “more likely than not” they would result in a successful prosecution.

In historic sex crime investigations, police must consider the severity of the allegations, the credibility of witnesses, potentially corroborating evidence, and a lack of forensic evidence.

Cardinal Pell, Australia’s highest ranking Catholic official, was interviewed by three members of Victoria Police in Rome last October.

The 75-year-old took part voluntarily.

Cardinal Pell has always vehemently denied sex abuse allegations made against him.

There has been only one other known case inhistory where a senior Vaticanofficial was charged withsexually abusingchildren.

Polish formerarchbishopJozefWesolowskiwould have been thefirsthigh-rankingchurchofficialto go on trial forpaedophile charges but hedied awaiting trial in August 2015.

The 67-year-old was found deadin hisVatican City residenceafter he was placed under house arrest in September for 2014followingallegations he sexually abusedboys while serving in the Dominican Republic.

TheWesolowskicase sparked globalcontroversy afterit was widely reported theVatican had learnt of theallegations andhelped himto leave thecountry before he could be investigated.

The Vatican then invoked diplomatic immunity, protectingWesolowskifromfacingtrial in the Dominican Republic.

Wesolowskilost his diplomatic immunity after he wasdefrocked in late 2014.

The Vatican decided to tryhim at homebutsubsequently said he could face charges elsewhereafter the Vatican’s case against himconcluded.

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