Secret of the New Zealand volcano tragedy

This week: 1) Secret of the NZ volcano tragedy; 2) Killing Gauguin; 3) Murdoch and the alt-right; 4) Israel and electoral interference; 5) A Jewish counter-view; 6) CIA pulls strings against Corbyn; 7) Julian Assange becomes election issue; 8) Packer family vs wildlife; 9) News list for Murdoch media; and more

Secret of Kiwi volcano tragedy

Volcanic White Island in NZ’s Bay of Plenty is privately owned. It was bought by stockbroker George Buttle in 1936 for a pittance. It is now in the hands of the Buttle Family Trust.

Despite repeated warnings throughout 2018-19 that the island was extremely dangerous as a tourist attraction, it remained open for passengers from cruise ships and adventure seekers travelling in hired pleasure boats from the North Island mainland.

A quasi-royal commission will undertake a thorough investigation of the tragedy. Among its findings, I expect that the island will be closed permanently as a tourist attraction and Maori leaders are hoping it will be returned to them.

James Cook named White Island on 1 October 1769 during his first Pacific expedition. White Island’s Maori name is Whakaari and in 1997 its official name was changed to Whakaari/White Island.

Sulphur mine ruins on Whakaari

Tragedy has stalked the island’s history. In 1914 part of the volcano’s crater collapsed killing all 10 workers who were mining sulphur. They disappeared without trace and their bodies have never been recovered from their molten grave. Only a camp cat survived.

During the years of British colonialism, Maori title to the island was repeatedly undermined and eventually extinguished. Today it falls under the Reserves Act 1977 which, when introduced, had the effect of placing the island under the control of the all-white, all-male Wellington (National Party) Government. A safe prediction is that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Government will unravel the island’s tragedy, expose the National Party’s croney enterprise which has lived off government subsidies and restore ownership to Maori as a permanent memorial to the colonial past.

Law firms are currently trawling the tragedy looking for clients to launch a class action for damages. They will find that the proprietorial owners of the island have little or no money to finance a compensation claim. This will turn attention to the NZ Government where Jacinda Adern is torn between paying damages to legitimate survivors but not to the island’s private owners.

Killing Paul Gauguin

At major art galleries in London and New York the slaying of French artist Paul Gauguin is well underway. He may have been one of the great artists of the world, but he is being crucified as a paedophile.

At London’s National Gallery where a Gauguin exhibition is currently on show, visitors are warned that Gauguin had “sexual relationships” with young girls, including two with whom he fathered children.

Paul Gauguin self portrait 1893

A text stuck to the wall at the start of the exhibition states: “Gauguin undoubtedly exploited his position as a privileged Westerner (in Polynesia) to make the most of sexual freedoms available to him.”

An audio hammers home the message: “Is it time to stop looking at Gauguin altogether?”

Max Hollein, director of the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, has bowed to the Big Apple’s unhinged politically correct cavalry, by saying: “Art cannot solely be perceived in regards to its beauty and craftsmanship. You also have to evaluate it in light of its political message.”

The artist being “unfriended” as a “pedo” was also a sculptor, printmaker, ceramist and writer with ground-breaking interests in wood engraving, wood cuts and indigenous art forms.

He was leading voice in the cultivation of French Impressionism. His circle of close friends included Pissarro, Degas and Schellenecker. His Parisian critics changed their minds in the early 20th century when his paintings started to bring impressive prices and his Pacific art was welcomed in private and public collections. His friend George Daniel Monfried wrote to him in October 1902, saying: “At present you are a unique and legendary artist, sending to us from the remote South Seas disconcerting and inimitable works which are the definitive creations of a great man who, in a way, has gone from this world [the Paris art scene]. Your enemies – and like all who upset the mediocrities you have many enemies – are silent; but they dare not attack you, do not even think of it. You are so far away. You should not return. You are already as unassailable as all the great dead: you already belong to the history of art [his emphasis].”

Gauguin spent long hours in discussion with most of France’s great Impressionist painters. What if some of his alleged “pedo” interests rubbed off on them? Should we encourage today’s moralists to pursue them too? When Gauguin rushed to his friend Vincent Van Gogh’s country retreat to comfort him during his battle with depression, drug and alcohol addiction did he “groom” Van Gogh in paedophilia? Should Van Gogh’s paintings be removed from sight as well? Australia’s foremost exponents of the “new morality” should tell us what they think.

In fact, it is difficult to name any painter throughout history who would pass today’s “purity” test. Certainly not the early Greeks, Egyptians or Italians or any of the modernists and post-modernists of the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. Should we start banishing the sexually explicit art works of the Holy Roman Empire or the stirring work of the anti-Papist Reformation?

Maybe you think I’m being alarmist, but hang on a minute. Did you know that the same cretins wanting to ban Gauguin are also trying to ban the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” saying it is a lead-up to rape?

American culture critic Steve Cuozzo lamented: “We’ll soon be left with empty bookshelves and bare-wall galleries.”

If people don’t like the views or lifestyle of a particular painter, musician or performer, they can make a choice not to buy his or her work and stop attending their exhibitions or performances. It’s their choice to make. But imposing their view on everyone else smacks of authoritarianism. How can it be right to trash the life of a cultural icon and ban his or her work thereby impoverishing the cultural experience of everyone else? It is nasty, reactionary and degrading. It’s the pathway to book-burning.

Murdoch’s dalliance with alt-right groups

Rupert Murdoch’s favourite newspaper, The Sun, has been a gushing supporter of Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson to win this week’s General Election. He dumped the Labour Party and then former Tory Prime Minister Theresa May in favour of Boris Johnson, a Hooray Henry from Eton. (At the time of writing polls are yet to open on election day.)

Even by Murdoch’s gutter standards, the “exclusive” article linking Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn with terrorism, Russia and “Marxist Intellectuals” set a new low. (“HIJACKED LABOUR”, Saturday, 7 December 2019).

It was accompanied by a map connecting Corbyn and Labour to a network of terror groups compiled by “ex-military veterans in their spare time”. The unnamed veterans claimed the Labour Party was “now firmly in the grip of a hardline cabal”.

The story quickly became the source of media comment in Britain and around the world wherever Murdoch has a presence.

However, some enterprising journalists started to investigate The Sun story only to find the map, originally called Traitor’s Chart, had links to neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic websites. The Traitor’s Chart first appeared in August 2019 on a website called Country Squire Magazine. The website also produced a pro-Brexit rant describing Ireland as a “land of puppy farmers, rain-soaked holidays, dingy bars, drugs mule celebs, verbal diarrhoea and squeaky fiddles”. Both postings have been taken down and disappeared off the net.

Murdoch’s henchmen renamed Traitor’s Chart as Hijacked Labour and went to town trashing Corbyn’s reputation just days before voting.

Investigative reporter Daniel Trilling named the network’s new front man as Mark Bles, a former SAS officer. Trilling came to the conclusion that Traitor’s Chart was “a global online ecosystem” designed to “bridge the gap between the far right and the mainstream”. Trilling wrote in The Guardian: “In the UK, there has been a concerted effort from mainstream conservatives to depict Corbyn, and by extension the whole Labour Party, as a deadly threat to the nation.”

The Sun’s “EXCLUSIVE” was so discredited by other media that it was taken off the net as well. No explanation was given or apology made to readers. The story’s author was Tom Newton Dunn, the paper’s political editor who is a regular TV commentator used by the BBC as well as pay TV. Before he was elevated to political editor, Newton Dunn was defence correspondent with close connections to senior figures in Britain’s military establishment guiding the “war on terror” in Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Palestine and Yemen. The Sun and Newton Dunn both declined to answer any questions about the election “scoop” that suddenly disappeared. The only thing left behind was a revolting smell: someone had shat in their underpants.

Israel shows how electoral interference works

With the world focused on China’s alleged interference in US presidential elections, it is disappointing that overt foreign interference in Britain’s General Election has gone almost unnoticed.

Here are the facts.

Israel Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz remarked last week: “I personally hope that [Labor Party leader] Jeremy Corbyn won’t be elected. I hope the other side wins.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz with PM Netanyahu

Katz is a senior Likud Cabinet Minister with three portfolios – Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Transport. He favours increased settler land seizures on the Palestinian West Bank and giving Gaza, another part of Israeli-occupied land, to Egypt.

In March 2016, he recommended Israel should employ “targeted civil eliminations”, i.e. assassinations, against leaders of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Has the Likud regime adopted his advice and assassinated anyone? Just asking …

Katz’s direct interference in Britain’s election was accompanied by an anti-Corbyn media campaign on whether to ban the Labour leader, if he became PM, from visiting Israel.

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, which comes under Katz’s authority, is periodically quoted as wishing to ban any visit by Corbyn because of his well-documented support for a boycott of Israel.

Katz’s remarks were the signal for UK Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, to write to Rupert Murdoch’s Times saying the “soul of the nation” was at stake. (“What will become of Jews in Britain if Labour forms the next government?” by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, The Times). Mirvis made no mention whatsoever of Israel’s “soul” or whether it even had one. In his opinion, Corbyn was not fit to be Prime Minister, though he appeared to have no problem with “Bibi” Netanyahu who is now facing three corruption charges and possibly jail. South African-born Mirvis, a high priest very familiar with the sins of apartheid, called on British Jews not to vote Labour.

Jewish columnist gives counter-view

According to Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy: “The Jewish establishment in Britain and the Israeli propaganda machine have taken out a contract on the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The contract was taken out a long time ago, and it was clear that the closer Corbyn came to being elected Prime Minister, the harsher the conflict would get. The Jews of Britain want a Prime Minister who supports Israel, that is, one who supports the occupation. A Prime Minister who is critical of Israel is, to them, an exemplar of the new anti-Semitism. Corbyn is not an anti-Semite. He never was. His real sin is his staunch position against injustice in the world, including the version Israel perpetrates.

“The new and efficient strategy of Israel and the Zionist establishment brands every seeker of justice as an anti-Semite, and any criticism of Israel as hatred of Jews. Jeremy Corbyn is a victim of this strategy, which threatens to paralyse and silence Europe [and Australia!] with regard to Israel.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn: targeted

The Jewish commentator concluded: “The future of all British Jews is much more secure than that of any Arab living in Israel. Jews are persecuted and are victims of discrimination and racism less so than the Palestinians in the Israel they hold dear. Moreover, Islamophobia in Europe is more common than anti-Semitism, but people talk about it less.

“Everyone should be clear about what is going on. The persecution and hounding of Corbyn is a coordinated right-wing political destabilisation operation aimed at preventing his election and facilitating his subsequent removal as Labour leader. It is politically led by right-wing Blairites in Corbyn’s own party, the Lib Dems, the Conservative Government and a pliant and corrupt pro-business media.”

CIA pulls anti-Corbyn strings too

When US Secretary of State and former CIA director Mike Pompeo was asked whether he could work with Corbyn if he was elected PM, Pompeo replied: “It could be that Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected. It’s possible. You should know, we won’t wait for him to do those things to begin to push back. We will do our level best … It’s too risky and too important and too hard once it’s already happened.”

America’s (and Israel’s) “push back” against Corbyn and Labour has been a glaring feature of the brief campaign. Foreign interference in a foreign election? Perish the thought!

Tory “celebrities” decided to join the anti-Labour chorus. They wrote to The Guardian to say they would not be voting Labour because the party had become anti-Semitic. Signatories included author Frederick Forsyth, columnist Tony Parsons and “Bolly” actress Joanna Lumley. In their rush to sign-up the usual right-wing they overlooked the evidence compiled by Al Jazeera which showed how London’s Israeli Embassy funded a campaign by Labour Friends of Israel to undermine Jeremy Corbyn because of his long-standing support for Palestinian national rights.

Julian Assange becomes election topic

Julian Assange supporters made a late but effective intervention in the election campaign during its closing days.

Cultural figures from the world of TV, film, theatre and music bustled into print with a letter backing Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party for prioritising “people and planet before profit”.

The signatories, including actors Steve Coogan, Julie Christie, Mark Rylance and more than 40 more, said the Conservatives would create a more unequal and divided society.

Kano, Steve Coogan and Naomi Klein: backing Labour

“We are shamed by extreme levels of inequality, neglect and environmental impoverishment resulting from decades of neo-liberalism in Britain and across the world. We are inspired by growing movements from Chile to Lebanon and beyond calling for dignity, accountability and economic justice. In the UK, Labour’s election manifesto under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, offers a transformative plan that prioritises the needs of people and planet over private profit and the vested interests of a few.”

In personal statement accompanying the letter Julie Christie said that the voting records of Corbyn and shadow Chancellor John McDonnell had “always been honourable: in favour of the disadvantaged and minorities and against war and exploitation”.

Writer Naomi Klein said: “The next government will hold power during fateful years on our planet’s time clock. There is only one leader who possesses both a path to victory and a bold plan on the scale of the crisis. That leader is Jeremy Corbyn.”

Michael Rosen, the poet and broadcaster, wrote: “’We’ve got the economy back on track’ means the Tories have balanced the spread sheet. As ‘the economy’ doesn’t mean real people, the phrase ‘back on track’ can mean the NHS being cut to pieces, people on poverty wages, children hungry, schools cut and disabled people pushed to work.”

Packer family strikes again

Overseas high-rollers are being attracted to Melbourne’s Crown Casino with the offer of a visit to a country lodge to shoot deer, ducks, hares, foxes and protected species such as wombats.

James Packer
A wombat

Anti-shooters and animal lovers have been incensed by revelations that James Packer’s Crown Casino is promoting animal slaughter to attract billionaire punters. It’s another own-goal by the Sydney media family with its laughable pretensions to be philanthropically and culturally motivated.

The shooting lodge in the Victorian bushland at Murrindindi is known as Yujul or JiuJiu.

A government review of Crown’s conduct has been completed but it is being kept under wraps for the time being, said Victoria’s Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.  An anonymous Government spokeswoman told AAP the report would not be released until the Government decided how to the act on its recommendations early next year.

Victorian Greens MP Sam Hibbins said: “Despite community outrage at the killing of wombats in Victoria, the Government is burying the review. The Government should immediately release the review and act to ensure wombats are protected across the entire State.”

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked incredulously: “Does the Government really think it is appropriate to fast-track gambling billionaires through our border protection processes to shoot wombats?”

In Singapore the daily English language Straits Times said advertisements posted on the WeChat platform promoting the hunting lodge said: “It’s the ultimate dream for military fans. Wild rabbits, foxes, wombats, wood ducks, red deers, sambar deers are all waiting to spend a wonderful holiday with you.”

Guests paying $1,000 a night at the hunting lodge were offered “all kinds of hunting weapons, including shotguns, small calibre rifles and large calibre sniper rifles. Guides with hunting licences will explain how to use the guns and share all necessary knowledge, so even without any hunting experiences you become the best shooters.”

After all hell broke loose in Victoria, the website was shut down.

Will anyone be charged with breaches of native species or gaming legislation? We shall have to wait and see …

News list for Murdoch media

In the run-up to Xmas and Australia Day 2020, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire will publish the following items:

The $20 oyster has arrived; School bans nativity play; Teacher removes Bible from classroom; Bushfires cause prawn shortage; Headmaster lowers Union Jack and hoists Aboriginal flag; Retailers facing worst Xmas spending in 100 years; Teacher bans singing of “sexist” Waltzing Matilda; It’s nuts! Macadamia supply killed off by bushfires; Prawns to hit $70 a kilo; Parents complain as African refugee cast as Jesus Christ in school play; Rebel priest replaces nativity play with Bananas in Pyjamas romp; Retailers report record spending on Xmas sales; Bishop warns commercialism is corrupting Christmas message; Cats and dogs are favourite Xmas presents; Prawn price falls to $40 a kilo as glut worsens; Cherries galore from USA; Growers report record sale of Macadamia nuts; Scott Morrison warns: China flooding market with cheap lychees; RSPCA warns: Don’t buy a horse for Xmas; Vroom! Vroom! Start 2020 with a new car; Buy a barbecue – the best family gift for New Year; Save our Farmers: Buy Aussie beef, Aussie beer and Aussie wine; Don’t be a vegan nutter – be a proud Aussie; EXCLUSIVE: Start Our Super Diet to take off those Xmas kilos; ASIO chief Mike Burgess warns against China’s lychee subversion; Lose Kilos for Australia! Try our Special Anorexia Nervosa diet. Approved by ASIO experts and Homeland Security. MEMO to sub-editors and check subs: Remove any references to so-called “climate change” or coal. Failure to do so is a sackable offence.

Havin’ a larf

My idea of a writers’ festival nightmare: Australia’s leading feminist writer and permanent Vera-like grump Helen Garner discusses her latest book Helen Garner’s Diaries with Don Watson, the brilliant but misanthropic writer. Garner will reveal the best autopsies she has ever attended as well as staring into the eyes – and souls – of some of Australia’s most violent serial killers. Watson will practise his long silences. They will either bore the audience rigid or send it into deep melancholia. Before making a booking, contact Lifeline or Beyond Blue to discuss your symptoms.

The buffoonery of Boris

In 2015 Tory political columnist Boris Johnson described the Balfour Declaration of 1917 which provided Zionists with the promise of a “home for the Jews” as “bizarre” and “tragi-comically incoherent”. It was “an exquisite piece of Foreign Office fudgerama.” But travelling to Israel as London Lord Mayor a couple of years ago, Johnson changed his mind and stated the opposite. The Balfour Declaration suddenly became “a great thing” which “reflected a great tide of history”.

Johnson’s about-face on the bloodstained Balfour document is typical. His opinions change according to his audience. He is the ultimate chameleon: a lightweight who should actually be in the flyweight division and performing in a circus tent. Instead he’s on the world stage and feted as a statesman in the manner of Winston Churchill. Has the world gone crazy or what?

Boris Johnson emerges from a fridge where he hid to avoid reporters on last day of election campaign


  1. It’s right what you say about Boris Johnson although I think you are wrong. Featherweight at best even when clutching a duster. Given his intellectual power you can’t blame him for avoiding an interview with Andrew Neill, that super heavyweight inquisitorial master of interviews. Although you have to admit at least Bojo (or someone close to him) knows his own limitations.

  2. Your remarks re the strategy of Israel to brand critics of the government as anti semetic are precious indeed. It has damaged
    the campaign for Labour and we only now read “that the Jewish community will no longer support Labour not just because of the anti semitism but because of the turn to the left ‘“ the fact that many of the criticisms of Corbyn comefrom Jewish Tories is not widely
    Known or commented on……..
    Nor are the years of work and collaboratin with The Jewish Community that Corbyn has carried out. Thank you Alex , Kika Markham

  3. How tragic for Gauguin, one of the most fiercely intelligent visual artists of the modern era; now a ‘pedo’. But why stop there? The moral extremists should now storm the Louvre in Paris and call for the removal of Leonardo’s ‘Mona Lisa’ immediately and forever. And why stop there? They should demand the murals of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel be spray-painted, and Caravaggio’s name be stricken from all art history books. Hey let’s dig deep and have complete purist clean out, like Henry VIII, who almost anninhilated the entire visual genius of Britain through his hatred of the Catholic Church !

  4. As always I am spellbound by the information you share Alex; from NZ history of White Island, Packer now offering the landed gentry “sports” (and $$$$$$$ to his Empire) by killing native wildlife, the ongoing tragedies afflicting the Arts and the awful brutality of the war-mongers supported by the draconian Murdoch Press . These non-reflecting species continue to influence the Planet’s tragic path to extinction. Just keep writing Alex …..your gift and wit are much appreciated.

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