Time for truth: how to face the end of a life lived well

Polglase Kylie Polglase with her mother Rosemary and her dog Toby. ”Everybody dies [yet] every time I talk about it, I am treated as if I am being negative.” Photo: Wolter Peeters
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Even as a six-year-old, Kylie Polglase was comfortable talking about her own death from cystic fibrosis, a terminal lung condition.

”If I don’t do all this treatment, I will get sick and die,” she wrote in a picture book more than 20 years ago.

Now a frail 26-year-old, Ms Polglase, of Cherrybrook, is using her limited breath to convince others that talking about death – and creating an advance-care directive on how we want to die – should be a normal part of life.

This week she spoke at the launch of a plan by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner to make discussions about the quality of our deaths as common as those about the quality of our lives.

Making an advance-care plan should be like making a will, or deciding to become an organ donor, Ms Skinner said.

It is something we should talk about in healthy midlife or early in an illness with our families, friends, legal advisors, carers and medical practitioners, she said.

Ms Skinner’s mother, a nurse, made her children promise there ”would be no heroic interventions”.

Yet the government’s action plan finds many decisions about end-of-life care are made in a crisis, often resulting in unwanted and often unwarranted life-sustaining measures. It will include an education campaign to encourage doctors, lawyers and aged-care providers to discuss and suggest advanced-care directives, changes to ensure that advanced-care plans are incorporated in all health care records, and the introduction of a standard form to replace the many different ones being used.

Currently, those who do feel comfortable talking about their own deaths, including the chronically ill like Ms Polglase, are often treated as if they are crazy or suicidal.

”Everybody dies. It is not like I am different,” Ms Polglase said. ”Yet it is very weird that every time I talk about it, I am treated as if I am being negative or depressive or people say ‘Have you thought about talking to somebody about it?”’

Although she is an advocate for advance-care plans, she doesn’t yet have one of her own.

”I’ve recently had discussions about the decision I want to make and that’s been met with, ‘Have you thought about seeing a psychiatrist?’ It’s just very odd.”

Doctors tell her that she doesn’t need an advanced-care plan yet, and that she has plenty of options.

Ms Polglase is relatively well now. But the lungs she received in a double lung transplant are failing, she has had a stroke and lost the sight in one eye, and she suffers from conditions such as osteoporosis and arthritis, conditions that are most commonly associated with advanced age.

She’s outlived most of her friends who received new lungs, and has seen many awful deaths. ”All the losses I have witnessed have influenced my thoughts. It seems very rare that we get what we want at the end.”

When Ms Polglase got her new lungs, she also got asthma. ”My worst fear is that I will end up in intensive care, or in an ambulance, or in an emergency department room, and they’re going to resuscitate me or artificially keep me alive, and it will be against everything I want.”

She is now concentrating on improving the quality of her life, instead of the quantity. Before the transplant, Ms Polglase had never eaten yum cha, owned a dog or caught a bus to the city. Now she has.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/03/2019

Comeback trail

Into the melting pot … Pauline Hanson at the Sydney home of her friend Bev Wallice. Photo: Jacky Ghossein Out there … Hanson on the campaign trail at Westfield Parramatta. Photo: Jacky Ghossein
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Pauline Hanson’s campaign slogan may be “The Redhead You Can Trust”, but another phrase she keeps bringing up would serve just as well: “I’ll be Tony Abbott’s worst nightmare.”

This coming federal election is personal for Hanson. After all, Abbott was instrumental in putting her in jail a decade ago on a conviction that was eventually overturned. If Hanson can score a Senate seat, she could be in the delicious position of being someone the prime ministerial hopeful Abbott has to call upon if he doesn’t want his party’s policies obstructed.

To help propel her into the upper house, Hanson has discovered unlikely supporters. “She’s huge among the ethnics,” says her campaign manager Brian Burston, an affable, white-haired former councillor turned political comeback strategist.

We’re at Westfield Parramatta, a shopping mall in Sydney’s greater west. Most Parramatta residents – 64 per cent – come from families where both parents were born overseas, mainly in China, India and Lebanon. Labor holds the surrounding federal seat of Parramatta by the slimmest of margins. Burston says the ALP will lose it at this election. “Good,” Pauline Hanson says. “Before they destroy the entire country.”

“HELLO!” an excited gnome-like man says, appearing out of nowhere. He shakes Hanson’s hand warmly. “I was from Sri Lanka!” he says. “I love you, because you love this country!”

Hosts of people swarm around Hanson to get photos. Women in hijabs shake Hanson’s hand; an Indian woman in a sari wishes Hanson the best. Lebanese men, Anglo teens, Chinese women, they all approach Hanson with smiles and smartphones. Someone offers her a free blow-dry.

Part of me suspects some of these shoppers are only posing with Hanson for the same reason they’d pose with Queensland’s Big Pineapple – it’s there – but it’s obvious many of them adore Hanson and her politics.

“So much for being racist, eh?” Burston says. What am I supposed to say to that?

When I leave Parramatta, my cab driver, a Lebanese Muslim, asks about my day. I say I’ve spent it with Pauline Hanson. Perplexed, he looks at me in the rear-view mirror, perhaps to double-check I am, in fact, an Asian-Australian.

“You have an opinion on Pauline Hanson?” I ask. He nods slowly. “She doesn’t like … us,” he says, probably wondering whether he needs to spell it out.

On the day I first meet Pauline Hanson, it doesn’t get off to a great start. We’re in Charlestown Square, a shopping centre in Newcastle, NSW. She addresses a small cluster of reporters outsider Myer wearing patent-leather alligator pumps, a black scoop top, a gold bow brooch and a skirt the colour of spilled blood. Flame-haired and feline, she hasn’t aged a dot.

Once we start walking – Hanson out the front, reporters trailing like bad sitcom spies – no shoppers seem interested in saying hello. People keep their distance. I catch murmurs as they walk past.

“The lady from …”

“… fish’n’chip shop …”

“… meant to be in Queensland?”

Irritated, Pauline Hanson turns to us. “See, this is what scares people off.” Part of me wants to roll my eyes – politicians can’t just call on media when it suits them – but I also sympathise. In the mid-1990s, when Hanson went door-knocking, residents would close their doors upon seeing the scrum of reporters behind her. Journalists then published sensational stories about how people kept slamming their doors in Hanson’s face.

Finally a bespectacled young man named Martin comes up and asks for a photo. Hanson immediately brightens. Martin says he’s not interested in politics and just wants a photo, really. But he somehow changes the chemistry. Now a steady tide of people approach Hanson. Middle-aged women feel especially comfortable in her orbit. In the food court, Joan Raper, 47, greets Hanson like an old friend. “What are you doing here?” she exclaims.

“She’s portrayed as this racist person,” Raper says, “but what she’s actually saying is, ‘If you want to live here freely and happily, and abide by our rules and culture and society, you’re more than welcome. But if you don’t – go away! Take your war back to the country you came from.’ ”

Another Hanson fan says she’ll vote for her, but begins by saying, “I’m not a racist, sweetheart.”

Nearly every One Nation voter seems to start with the same disclaimer: they support Hanson, but they’re not racist, sweetie. Whether Hanson likes it or not, her brand – and One Nation’s – is still synonymous with racial bigotry. Even her supporters recognise that.

When the other reporters leave, Hanson, Burston and I sit at a muffin shop to discuss the ins and outs of social media. Hanson may have only just discovered Facebook, but already she’s taken to it with the enthusiasm of a teenager, posting multiple times a day on her fan page. She suspects social media will be a game-changer for her in this election – finally, a way to communicate directly with supporters without the meddling media.

Emboldened, she has bought her first smartphone (Sony Xperia, running on Android), but is still getting used to the digital age vernacular. Several days ago on FM radio, she made a gaffe by referring to young people using tablet devices as “fingering a pad” (she laughs about it now). It has been a steep learning curve. After all, she’s campaigning with a skeleton crew, doesn’t have a background in journalism and …

“Do you want to come and work for me?” she says, interrupting herself. “I’m actually looking for someone who could put out press releases.” I chuckle, pointing out a possible conflict of interest. Hanson grins.

“As long as you’re on side with me,” she says. “If you’re not on side with me, don’t!”

God knows what my Chinese-Australian parents will make of this. Later, when I tell my dad I’ve been interviewing Hanson, he laughs darkly.

“This is a terrible woman,” he says.

Pauline Hanson has an appalling track record for getting elected. This will be her eighth stab at a parliamentary seat in 17 years. She has won only once: the Queensland lower house seat of Oxley in 1996, in the federal election that saw John Howard become prime minister. Hanson was 41 then; she’s 59 now. If John Howard was Lazarus with a triple bypass, Hanson is someone who can miraculously resurrect herself on a regular basis, without ever finding a way out of the tomb.

Still, to dismiss Hanson would be naive. At the height of One Nation’s popularity, it secured almost 23 per cent of the vote at Queensland’s 1998 state election, winning 11 seats on National Party preferences. When Hanson guns for parliamentary seats now, she often scores highly enough on primary votes to secure electoral funding from the Australian Electoral Commission. The only reason Hanson hasn’t secured any seats outright is because major parties are so loathe to preference her, they’ll preference each other first. It speaks volumes of their disregard for her.

On June 3, Hanson announced she would run for a NSW Senate seat in federal parliament under the One Nation banner, more than a decade after their political divorce. Election analysts say complex Senate preference deals – and the fact Hanson is back with One Nation, consolidating brand recognition – makes her first ever Senate seat a possibility.

To outsiders, her return to One Nation this year is surprising. From the start, the party was marred by mismanagement, savage infighting, highly publicised court cases and elected members turning their backs on the party. In 2002, One Nation forced Hanson out of her own party. “One Nation was destroyed from within,” she says. “That hurt. We could have been a major political party in this country. But it’s reinventing now I’m back. It’s going to be a lot of work.”

One week later, Pauline Hanson and Brian Burston drive to Sydney from northern NSW for a 48-hour itinerary of meet and greets. First, the Western Sydney Careers Expo at the former Olympic Games site in Homebush. Year 12 students arrive in uniform. Lebanese girls in hijabs lock arms; Asian nerds play video games with their Anglo counterparts; African and Asian girls play Uno together on the cement. Born in the mid-1990s, they’re not old enough to remember Hanson as a political force to be reckoned with. If they know her at all, it’s from Dancing with the Stars and Celebrity Apprentice.

When I was their age, in Queensland, schoolmates’ parents drove cars plastered with One Nation stickers. We’d tape Pauline Pantsdown’s devastating vocal mash-up Backdoor Man on to cassette, before a court injunction ruled ABC youth radio station Triple J couldn’t broadcast it any more. Sometimes it felt Hanson didn’t even need to be parodied, like the time she recorded a video that began, “Fellow Australians, if you are seeing me now, it means I have been murdered.”

It wasn’t all laughs. It was during this time that a Chinese-Australian relative of mine was bashed in a petrol station by angry white racists and hospitalised. Strangers drove past me calling out “chink”, “gook” and “f…ing Asian”. If you were on the receiving end of these attacks, you didn’t have to draw a line between them and the rise of One Nation. You just knew.

Hanson arrives at the expo in black and turquoise. Burston assures me this stopover isn’t about courting first-time voters, but about One Nation’s keen interest in apprenticeships. Hanson’s proposed policy – that the government pays 75 per cent of all apprenticeship costs in the first year, 50 per cent in the second and 25 per cent in the third – gets the thumbs up from Deb at the apprenticeships marquee. Validated, Hanson beams.

Burston, meanwhile, has been dealing with prank calls. Facebook may be a blessing for them but it’s also attracted trolling. Pauline Pantsdown, the drag queen responsible for Backdoor Man, has re-emerged on Facebook and has somehow gotten hold of Burston’s mobile number. He has bombed Facebook with it, encouraging everyone to pester and protest.

Out of nowhere, a solidly built 17-year-old named Jason confronts Hanson, arms crossed. “What’s the way you think about Asian immigration? Have your views changed?”

Hanson is gentle but firm. “Yes, they have, because that was 15, 16, 17 years ago. Have you read my maiden speech?”

“No, I haven’t,” Jason admits.

“I think you should read my maiden speech,” Hanson says. “When I made that comment in parliament, it was because we had a huge number of immigrants coming to Australia who were of a … ” She stops herself. “And we had to take control of it,” she finishes.

Unlike Jason, I’m familiar with Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech, a blistering bit of oration most Australians over 30 vividly remember. “We now have a situation where a type of reverse racism is applied to mainstream Australians,” Hanson said, “by those who promote political correctness, and those who control the various taxpayer-funded ‘industries’ that flourish in our society, servicing Aboriginals [sic], multiculturalists and a host of other minority groups.”

Horrified, my family watched on the evening news as Hanson said, “They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate.” She was talking about Asians.

Still, for every Australian who heard Hanson’s speech and felt a new dimension of bigotry entering the political discourse, there were just as many who found her arguments – that Aborigines receive more benefits than non-Aborigines; that multiculturalism should be abolished; that Australian youth undergo mandatory 12-month national service; that Australia was in danger of being “swamped by Asians” – refreshing and galvanising.

I remind Hanson of how she singled out Asians in her maiden speech. Surely it’s one reason why people still think she’s racist.

“Look, I think so,” she says, sighing, as if expecting this from me. “It’s the words that I used. But I had to have the impact to tell the government, ‘Have a look at the figures.’ Most of the figures we were getting, in people migrating to Australia, were actually … Asian. So there was going to be imbalance in years to come.”

Hanson is right when she says Australia’s migration patterns are changing. Australia’s last census, in 2011, will probably be the last to show that Europeans account for the majority of new arrivals. By the 2016 census, it is anticipated that most of Australia’s migrants will come from Asia. Does Hanson see that as a problem?

“You’ve got to have a balance, otherwise you have a dominating culture. I suppose I’m a proud Australian! I don’t want to see my culture gone. Does anyone? Would Asians like me to go over [there] with heaps of our people and take over?”

How does she propose “a balance” be enforced? Some form of racial capping?

“Look, it’s not about ca-,” she says, breaking off, as if that notion is preposterous. “Australians have never been asked. We’ve never had a discussion on immigration or multiculturalism.”

The next morning, Pauline Hanson waits for me on the driveway of a home in Sydney’s Sylvania Waters. It is the home of Bev Wallice, one of Hanson’s closest friends. The two met in 1999. Wallice’s husband had been diagnosed with cancer and they sought Hanson in Queensland to ask her to examine the inadequacies of private health insurance in covering cancer treatment. Since Bev’s husband died, Hanson often stays in Wallice’s home when she’s in town.

Bev Wallice is 76, sports jaffa-red fingernails and is full of fizz. She reminisces on how she and Hanson secured their friendship. “A couple of chardies and that was it,” she says. “She’s the nicest friend, and I have a lot.” Wallice cracks up at her own joke. “She’s not racist in any single way,” she adds reassuringly.

Wallice’s home bar is lined with framed photos. One is a signed portrait of Alan Jones. Next to it is the well-known photograph of Hanson draped in the Australian flag.

At the dining table, Hanson and I talk about her kids, all of them adults now – Tony, 42, Steven, 38, Adam, 32, and Lee, 29. Hanson is a grandmother now to Lee’s boy, Rielly. Her fish’n’chip days are long behind her and she now splits time with her partner Tony Nyquist – who works in real estate – between properties in Ipswich and the north coast of NSW.

I ask about money. It seems staggering that Hanson would keep putting herself forward after so many back-to-back defeats. Earlier, Hanson told me she puts her own money into campaigning, as One Nation has no backers, big donations or significant membership base. “In the last federal election, it cost me just over $100,000.”

Electoral funding helps. When Hanson ran as an independent for an upper house seat for Queensland in the 2004 federal election, she received $199,886 in electoral funding. In 2007, her Pauline’s United Australia Party received $213,095. This election, if One Nation obtains at least 4 per cent of first preference votes in NSW, the party will receive a fraction over $2.48 for every vote counted. Later, when I phone Hanson to confirm those figures, she is livid.

“Ben! That is garbage,” she shouts. “Do you ask Tony Abbott how much electoral funding he’s going to get? Do you ask Kevin Rudd? Wayne Swan? Barnaby Joyce? I am frickin’ sick and tired of this! I am not getting electoral funding. I stand with the party. Nothing goes directly to me.”

It’s a sore spot. In August 2003, Hanson and One Nation’s co-founder David Ettridge were sentenced to three years in prison after being found guilty of fraudulently registering One Nation in Queensland. In November that year, their convictions were overturned and the charges dismissed. But by then, Hanson had already served time in jail.

The person who established the trust fund to pursue court cases against One Nation was Tony Abbott. Hanson not only loathes discussing electoral funding, she loathes the existence of electoral funding itself. She has publicly campaigned to have it abolished. Still, it’s a system that has aided her political longevity. And her fury at journalists for asking her about it far outstrips her anger at the system itself.

ABC election analyst Antony Green has bad news for Hanson: she won’t win. “Oh, she gets a significant vote,” he says, in a don’t-get-me-wrong voice. “When she stood for the Senate [representing Queensland] on an independent’s ticket in 2004, she got a higher number of below-the-line votes than any other candidate in the history of the ticket voting system.” But preferences will work against her, he says.

When I tell Hanson this, she is angry. No one, she says, has insider knowledge that the Coalition parties won’t preference One Nation this year.

I point out they haven’t in the past. “They haven’t,” she says. “But Tony Abbott wants to consider who would be the best choice in the Senate. I’d like to know where he bloody well stands on this, because if he doesn’t flow [preferences] to me, he’s nothing but a bloody hypocrite. I’m against the carbon tax. I’m against the illegal boats.”

It’s true. Many of her platforms square up with the Coalition. It’s why Hanson doesn’t strike me as an extreme figure any more. Burston agrees: One Nation isn’t a fringe party, because Labor and Liberal have caught up to it. Hanson nods and says that has been validating.

But doesn’t that diminish One Nation’s appeal? Reshaping Australia’s politics might be Pauline Hanson’s legacy, but coming into an election, it is also her key strategic weakness. When the major parties blunt your competitive edge, why would anyone vote for Pauline Hanson now?

Lead-in photograph by Emma Phillips

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/03/2019

‘There’s no crisis, my job is done and now I’m gone’

Mike Quigley said on Friday he would step down from the company charged with building Australia’s largest infrastructure project. Photo: Louise KennerleyMalcolm Maiden: Quigley jumped – with a push
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Outgoing NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley has played down the difficulties of his role, saying he will hand over a company to his successor that is in good shape.

Mr Quigley said on Friday he would step down from the company charged with building Australia’s largest infrastructure project as soon as a replacement could be found. But he said the design and the architecture of the $37.4 billion national broadband network were now complete and his job was done.

He also dismissed claims by opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull that his retirement suggested the NBN project was in crisis.

”It’s certainly a tough project, we have our challenges,” Mr Quigley said. ”And by the way, when the vision of the company is a source of debate, it is a hard [job] to do. Having said that, the management team that reports to me is a very good group of people, that work well together and deal with the challenges.

”I believe – and what HR people tell me – is that our retention rate is considerably better than the national average. Our turnover is half of the national average … that doesn’t smack to me of a company in crisis.”

A global search by an executive recruitment agency will now begin for a replacement for Mr Quigley in a process expected to take several months. Mr Quigley said his replacement should cover two distinct roles: one overseeing operations and one overseeing construction. ”It needs someone with a background in a company that runs ‘stuff’ and that builds ‘stuff’.”

He likened the NBN Co’s construction role to that of a factory. ”We are running a big distributed factory. We are doing the same thing many times over: building 4000 FSANs [fibre serving access nodes] all around the country.”

But others say it will be hard to fill the vacancy and questioned Mr Quigley’s assessment of the skill set needed.

Barry Lyons, a partner with executive recruiter MFJ Partners, said the role would require an executive with experience in large infrastructure projects and he did not expect it to be filled from the ranks of current NBN Co executives. ”The major task is still to build the network and to build the organisation that can build the network. You need someone who has overseen a major infrastructure build, and there are few comparable projects in this size,” he said.

Tony Brown, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, questioned Mr Quigley’s assertion that the design and architecture of the NBN were complete, and predicted that the role of chief executive would be hard to fill.

”To say that the foundations have been laid would be a stretch, to say the least,” he said. ”The fibre network still only passes 1.7 per cent of the total homes and we still don’t know whether this is going to be a fibre-to-the-home or a fibre-to-the-node network.”

Mr Brown said the NBN Co chief executive was an incredibly tough role, which would be a turnoff for potential candidates. ”You are squeezed between two political parties and the media. You would have to be very brave to take this role before the election without knowing who your bosses would be and what sort of the network you’d be rolling out. And it is going to need someone who is willing to go down to Canberra every three months and get their feet put in front of the fire and be publicly questioned [in parliamentary committee hearings].”

He questioned whether any overseas executive with suitable experience would ”be prepared to come down there and put up with the kind of stuff that Quigley has had to put up with”.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/03/2019

Trading hiatus ahead of results

Waiting for results: Directors have been largely absent from the market this week. Photo: Peter BraigDirectors’ trades fell substantially this week against a background of the soon-to-start company results season.
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The scorecard registered $1.6 million to $1.9 million in favour of directors doing some selling, compared with $2.8 million to $13 million last week.

There were few industrial counters on the buying side, with a host of resources companies making up the numbers.

One exception was Ecosave, a tightly held outfit that went public early this year and whose mission in life is to save businesses money by reducing energy consumption.

The group floated on the basis of estimated tax-paid earnings of $3 million for the year just finished.

The $1 shares gave stags a lovely little profit when they listed at $1.40 and such was the excitement they hit $1.80 in March.

But, come July, chief Marcelo Rouco announced that earnings, rather than $3 million, would weigh in at between $1.6 million and $2 million.

Those tidings had the effect of slicing the scrip from $1.61 to $1.24, but it’s since bounced as high as $1.61.

Mr Rouco said that ”none of the major opportunities which made up our initial public offering forecast have been lost” and there had been delays in closing sales, and resources had been allocated to a high number of contracting bids in the latter part of the 2013 financial year.

”We chose to enter those bids knowing it could draw resources away from fulfilment of existing contracts and therefore push some revenues into financial year 2014,” he said, adding that the strategy had paid off with contract wins.

Three directors bought shares this week.

Elsewhere, there was multi-director buying in algae to biofuels group Algae.Tec, in mining services concern Subzero Group and Santana Minerals.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/03/2019

Credit Suisse fined for ‘false order’ error

The corporate watchdog has put Credit Suisse on notice after hitting its equities arm with a $95,000 fine for failing to detect a false order placed on its automated trading system.
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The trade was placed for a client on November 7, 2011 at an incorrect price – altering the stock market’s open and low prices for that day.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s disciplinary panel said it was the second time the group had been fined over failures with its automated trading platform. The company has separately been sanctioned by the stock exchange’s disciplinary tribunal on six other occasions since 2003 – two of which related to automated trades.

The regulator said Credit Suisse had shown negligence over the misconduct, which had the potential to harm the reputation and integrity of the market.

”Credit Suisse did not self-report the breaches to ASIC and failed to inform both ASIC and the ASX in a timely manner,” it said.

”Any future, repeat contraventions in similar or comparable matters will not be viewed favourably.”

According to ASIC’s market integrity rules, which are enshrined in the Corporations Act, companies are required to have the technical resources in place to prevent any interference with the market. This includes making sure their automated systems, which use algorithms to generate trades, correctly pick up changes to share prices.

Credit Suisse’s false trade related to the sale of 2.9 million shares in failed global construction and engineering firm Hastie Group. Credit Suisse’s automated system failed to pick up changes to the company’s share price that occurred earlier in the day when Hastie performed a 10 to 1 share consolidation.

As a result, the false order was placed at 47¢ lower than it should have been, at 51¢.

ASIC noted that Credit Suisse had agreed not to contest the matter or dispute any material facts.

A Credit Suisse spokesman said: ”Credit Suisse responded promptly to this incident and has put in place necessary processes to help prevent a reoccurrence.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/02/2019

Bookmarks

Stalking the talk
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Kerry-Anne Walsh’s account of events leading up to the overthrow of Julia Gillard, The Stalking of Julia Gillard, attracted such a lot of interest before publication – newspaper serialisation does help in that regard – that even before Allen & Unwin publishing director Sue Hines received copies of the first print run on Tuesday of last week, she ordered a second. At first, 9500 copies were intended for the shops, but that second run and a further two since has increased the copies available to more than 15,000. There was one significant change. The subtitle originally read: How the Media and Team Rudd Contrived to Bring Down the Prime Minister. In the subsequent print run, the tense was changed to ”brought down”. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Hines has approached Gillard about giving her own account of events. ”We haven’t heard back,” she tells Bookmarks. ”I don’t imagine writing a book is uppermost in her mind.”

Political process

Melbourne University Press boss Louise Adler has made a point recently of publishing memoirs and analyses by politicians. She has new Treasurer Chris Bowen, reinstated cabinet member Kim Carr and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on her list. And she has two books set to appear after the election: Radio National broadcaster Jonathan Green’s The Year My Politics Broke, a personal view of politics and a consideration of whether it can still deal with big issues and the concerns of ordinary voters, and one by consultant Bruce Hawker, now the political director for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, about campaigning for him. MUP was due to publish Patrick Weller’s Kevin Rudd: The Making of a Prime Minister last year, but it was put on hold. The Griffith University professor is adding to the book, which Adler says is a ”serious assessment of the Rudd government[s]”. And what about a Rudd book? They haven’t discussed it, apparently. ”It was probably because he had unfinished business that we have never had a serious conversation about it.” Nor has she contacted Gillard. HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn – who is very happy with Aaron Patrick’s Downfall, about the state of the ALP, which is already into its third print run – says she has not been in touch with Gillard, as did Penguin publishing director Ben Ball. Penguin will publish a ”Penguin Special” by Jacqueline Kent, author of The Making of Julia Gillard, about her subject’s time as PM.

Second-hand lines

The Brotherhood of St Laurence has relaunched its online second-hand bookshop, a rather neat blending of the traditional book and newish technology. It’s at brotherhoodbooks上海夜生活m and offers about 100,000 titles in all categories, with a 10 per cent reduction on fiction until Friday. Categories range from biographies, humour, maths, performing arts, philosophy, Australiana and travel. No surprise to find favourites such as Bryce Courtenay, J.K. Rowling and Stephen King in the site’s top 10. The books are described in one of three conditions: fair (a bit of damage but intact), good (some signs of use but cared for) and great (like new).

Publisher shuffle

British publishing is in a slight state of turmoil after the Penguin Random House merger resulted in the end of Gail Rebuck’s reign as publishing supremo at Random House and the departure of HarperCollins’ British and international boss, Virginia Barnsley. The latter has been replaced in Britain by Charlie Redmayne. He’s not your conventional publisher by any means, and a few eyebrows were raised, apparently, in British publishing circles. Publishing Perspective quoted an agent harrumphing that Redmayne ”has probably never edited a book in his life”. But he has one fan. Bernard Cornwell, author of the Sharpe novels about the Napoleonic wars, likes that Redmayne served in the Irish Guards. They bonded over military matters at the traditional HarperCollins summer party.

Shortlisted biographies

The shortlist for this year’s National Biography Award is: Speechless: A Year in My Father’s Business, James Button; Montebello: A Memoir, Robert Drewe; The Two Frank Thrings, Peter Fitzpatrick; Gough Whitlam: His Time, Jenny Hocking; Reaching One Thousand, Rachel Robertson. The winner, who receives $25,000, will be revealed on August 5.

Bestselling e-books

Last year, both print and e-book bestseller lists in the US were dominated by Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games, but the lists for the first six months of this year show some divergence, albeit that both are topped by Dan Brown’s Inferno, known to some as ”The Dante Code”. If proof of the power of film were needed, it comes in the form of The Great Gatsby at No.6 on the print list and No.4 on the Kindle list. Here are the top 10s. Print: 1. Inferno, Dan Brown; 2. Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander; 3. The Third Wheel, Jeff Kinney; 4. Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg; 5. Jesus Calling, Sarah Young; 6. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald; 7. Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, Dr. Seuss; 8. Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James; 9. And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini; 10. Happy, Happy, Happy, Phil Robertson. Kindle: 1. Inferno, Dan Brown; 2. Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks; 3. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn; 4. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald; 5. Hopeless, Colleen Hoover; 6. The Hit, David Baldacci; 7. Wait for Me, Elisabeth Naughton; 8. Alex Cross, Run, James Patterson; 9. Entwined with You, Sylvia Day; 10. Damaged, H.M. Ward. According to US website Publishers Weekly, the books by Hoover, Naughton and Ward are self-published.

Join the collection

The Paradise Antholgy wants submissions for this year’s edition. Organiser Michael Crane is after poems of up to 30 lines, lyrics to songs of 40 lines, and short stories up to 1500 words. Send three poems, songs or two stories to [email protected]上海夜生活m by the end of August. See the conditions at michaelfcrane.wordpress上海夜生活m.

POETRYThe City of Lost Animals   

The harsh wood has retracted its budslike claws. Everything is a bunch of sticks.Lost animals speak to passers byfrom paper images of themselveson wooden telephone posts.The rain is kneading their faces.

Eye-high, they plead domesticity;owners know how unlovelyother people’s mess can seem.They are eloquent through lost eyes;the dog curling like a smile on a leash,the cat with a smile that endsbefore the photograph.

In spring, when birds come backto perch on the chatting wiresthe old cat will be there stillas if an anaesthetic hasn’t worked,mute when new dogs go by.The city gives itself to strangers;it’s what cities do best

Tric O’Heare

Events

TOMORROWDanny Katz and Mitch Vane talk books and drawing. 11am. The Avenue Bookstore, 434 Glen Huntly Road, Elsternwick. [email protected]上海夜生活m.au; 95236405.

Jim Chalmers in conversation with George Megalogenis. 6.30pm. Readings Hawthorn, 701 Glenferrie Road. Bookings: [email protected]上海夜生活m.au; 98191917.

WEDNESDAYAaron Patrick discusses Downfall: How the Labor Party Ripped Itself Apart. 6.30pm. Readings Carlton, 309 Lygon Street. Bookings: [email protected]上海夜生活m.au; 93476633.

Hanifa Deen details her book on dissident writer Taslima Nasreen. 6.30pm. Readings Hawthorn.

THURSDAYOpening of Rare Book Week. W.H.Chong, Des Cowley and Virginia Murdoch consider what makes a book beautiful. The Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street, city. Info: wheelercentre上海夜生活m.

FRIDAYLeigh Redhead grills Angela Savage, Melanie Casey and Annie Hauxwell about their crime fiction. 8pm. The Rising Sun Hotel, corner Raglan Street and Eastern Road, South Melbourne. Info: sistersincrime上海夜生活.au; 0412 569 356.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/02/2019

Worth a thousand words

What does the e-book offer? It’s cheap and convenient to download and use. But it isn’t pretty, you can’t feel it and you can’t treasure it.
Shanghai night field

One way for the traditional print book to compete with the e-book is to play up its own virtues. ”Printed books will have to become more beautiful, more durable and more tactile,” Melbourne author and artist Antoni Jach says.

When you push such virtues to an extreme, you get a small but growing phenomenon: the contemporary rare book. We think of rare books as antiques, but they are being made today in luxury limited editions. You might not see them in your local bookshop because they sell to libraries and dedicated collectors.

These booklovers will need deep pockets, but they are buying real treasures. Taschen has just published a wondrous book, Genesis, a collection of work by Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, conceived, edited and designed by his wife, Lelia Wanick Salgado. It’s the result of an eight-year expedition to discover landscapes, animals and people untouched by modern society, and it coincides with exhibitions around the world.

Taschen has even commissioned an architect, Tadao Ando, to create a custom-built book stand for this huge volume. There’s a print run of 3000 signed and numbered copies and one can be yours for just £2500 ($4098).

We’re making rare books in Australia, too. Antoni Jach has created Faded World, a book of images and text inspired by one of the great books of history, the 21-volume Description de l’Egypte. Published in 1829, it was a record of engravings celebrating Napoleon’s encounter with the remains of an ancient civilisation.

The State Library of Victoria has two editions of this book, and Jach used a library fellowship to copy some of the engravings and then reproduce them as works of art, employing a solvent transfer drawing process inspired by American artist Robert Rauschenberg.

Jach was interested not so much in the drawings that Napoleon’s team of artist-savants made of the great Egyptian temples, as in the little figures they put in the foreground. These were characters with mysterious stories of their own, such as ancient Egyptians and Arabs, dancing girls, the artists’ heroic self-portraits and naked men running with goats. His enlarged images have an eerie, dreamlike quality (Napoleon said, ”In Egypt, I felt that I could abandon myself to the most brilliant dreams”).

Jach has also written a 10,000-word lyrical essay to accompany the images, laid out on the page like a long poem. It’s bound in linen and feral goatskin, the page edges are gold and red ochre; you can buy a limited-edition copy for $1995.

These are not projects that are going to make their creators rich; they are very much labours of love. The State Library fellowships have helped other makers of rare books, including artist Peter Lyssiotis, a specialist in ”book arts”. He produced his book A Gardener at Midnight in 2004, inspired by another 19th-century book in the library collection, David Roberts’ The Holy Land. Lyssiotis produced images and text based on contemporary Iraq and Brian Castro contributed an essay about Yabez al-Kitab, a fictional companion of Roberts on his travels.

According to the University of Queensland library, only 10 copies of this extraordinary volume are in existence, but they will endure as works of art and literature. Let’s hope we can create more forms of patronage that will make more rare books bloom.

[email protected]上海夜生活m

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/02/2019

Unrest grows over large asylum seeker numbers

The many faces of asylum seekers in Indonesia. Photo: Alex EllinghausenTHE towns in Indonesia where most asylum seekers hide out as they wait for passage to Australia have rebelled against their unwelcome guests and are trying to evict them.
Shanghai night field

The move by the cities of Cisarua and Bogor, which neighbour each other about 70 kilometres south of Jakarta, is a sign of the growing unrest among Indonesians at the thousands of refugees living in their midst.

In another recent incident, several dozen residents of a south Jakarta housing complex, Kalibata City, signed a petition complaining about the nocturnal behaviour of the large number of young single Iranians living there.

The head of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Denis Nihill, confirmed that the local governments in the Bogor region wanted to clear out asylum seekers – most of them Afghans and Iranians – because “large concentrations have aroused community concerns”.

“We’ve been asked by the Indonesian government to move the IOM accommodated refugees … That process is continuing, and all people have been found alternative accommodation – we’re not throwing them out on the streets.”

However, the IOM only houses about 300 people in the area, mostly families waiting the three years or more in the “queue” for official United Nations resettlement to other countries including Australia. Even for those people it was proving difficult to find enough alternative housing, Mr Nihill said.

United Nations figures suggest that perhaps another 5000 people, many of them young single men, live in private accommodation in Cisarua and Bogor, many waiting to board boats to Australia. The area is cheap and close to both the UN office in Jakarta and the West Java beaches where many embark on boats to Christmas Island.

One prospective refugee, Mirza Hussain, said a local government representative had told his Cisarua landlord about a month ago to evict the Afghan Hazara tenants from his 14-room boarding house. “But the owner said, ‘These are good boys, they should live here, they are good persons’,” Hussain said.

Up to six asylum seekers live in each room, sharing expenses and reducing their food and accommodation costs to about $US100 a month each.

If the governments decided to enforce their orders with police “sweeps”, it is unclear where the asylum seekers would go.

Though instances of crime in the Bogor area are low, the concentration of young men has begun worrying local authorities. Yanyan Hendayana, the chief of security and order at Cisarua’s government, said Middle-Eastern people were being evicted because they had “different cultures and habits” from Indonesians.

“For example, these people walk on the streets in big groups, even when cars are passing, and they sit outside their houses and chat out loudly at nights, disturbing the locals.”

A confusing factor is another cohort in the area of richer Middle-Eastern men who are sex tourists, not refugees. They come to Indonesia to visit brothels or enter short-term “contract marriages” with local women under a loophole in Islamic law. They use this thinly veiled form of prostitution for a number of months before “divorcing” the girls and returning home.

It is understood that the pressure to reduce the concentration of Middle-Eastern men in the area started among local politicians. But it found a willing ear among the politically connected in Jakarta, many of whom own weekenders in the picturesque mountainside towns.

Indonesia has until now been relatively untroubled by the 10,000 or more asylum seekers in its midst. But the social problem with asylum seekers is growing. Its immigration detention centres are well over capacity, and are growing more crowded as police step up their attempts to arrest illegal migrants.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/02/2019

From patriot to pariah

Edward SnowdenDeep Throat would meet journalist Bob Woodward in an underground car park at 2am, their meetings arranged through the signal of a red flag in an old flower pot or codes circled in the newspaper. Four decades later, Bradley Manning lip-synced to Lady Gaga while downloading hundreds of thousands of classified documents from military servers.
Shanghai night field

The diminutive, low-ranking army private, now on trial for “aiding the enemy”, is in many ways the antithesis of the well-connected Watergate whistleblower, chain-smoking while spilling state secrets. Hell, Manning doesn’t even look old enough to smoke.

Classmates recalled the intelligence analyst as a “funny little character”, often teased for being a geek. He joined the army in 2007 after drifting through low-paid jobs, yet three years later casually carried out what he called “possibly the largest data spillage in American history”, all while singing along to Telephone.

The appearance of 30-year-old Edward Snowden – lean, bespectacled and pale, with a fuzz of facial hair – is similarly disarming. The fugitive former intelligence contractor was a high school dropout whose first job at America’s National Security Agency was as a security guard, before moving up the ranks. As online magazine Slate noted, the man accused of being a traitor for leaking details of pervasive snooping by the US is not a seasoned FBI or CIA investigator. He’s the IT guy.

The Obama administration has accused him of threatening US national security. But its grip on control seems to be slipping, particularly in relation to data in the digital age.

Whistleblowing is faster and easier than ever. Today, potential leakers do not need a dark car park so much as a good grasp of digital technology.

Former FBI deputy director Mark Felt was lionised by many Democrats, in 2005, when he outed himself as Deep Throat. Former Bill Clinton adviser Dick Morris said Felt should have been awarded the Medal of Honour for helping Washington Post reporters uncover the Watergate scandal that brought down President Nixon.

In 2008, presidential nominee Barack Obama was lip-syncing from the same song book, hailing the “courage and patriotism” of whistleblowers. Yet since taking office, Obama has presided over an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers and leakers.

Five years after saying whistleblowing “should be encouraged rather than stifled”, the Obama administration has the dubious record of having prosecuted more leakers under the World War I-era Espionage Act as all other administrations combined.

Sections of the US media have been lately complicit in this crackdown. In 2002, Time Magazine applauded three whistleblowers as its “people of the year”. Just over a decade later, self-described whistleblower Snowden is instead gutless, a coward and traitor, according to Fox News. No surprises there, perhaps.

More telling is the capitulation of The Washington Post, which ironically scored a major scoop based on Snowden’s documents. In June the paper that led perhaps the most significant leak-based investigation in US political history declared in an editorial that “the first US priority should be to prevent Mr Snowden from leaking information”.

As online publication Salon wrote, it was the equivalent of the newspaper in 1972 insisting the Nixon administration’s first priority should be to prevent Deep Throat from leaking more information.

Snowden, who has been stripped of his passport, reportedly remains stranded inside the transit zone of a Russian airport. His likely final destination is the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, which is “the world’s murder capital”.

Snowden never expected to be met by US authorities with open arms. But his case is an insight into the way whistleblowers have gone from patriots to pariahs under Obama. The fugitive former security contractor has been charged with espionage for leaking details of America’s extensive surveillance network, which extends to four facilities in Australia.

Former NSA executive Thomas Drake was charged similarly under the Espionage Act in 2010 for leaking information about financial waste and bureaucratic dysfunction within the NSA. His charges were later downgraded to a single misdemeanour for “exceeding the authorised use of a computer”.

“I actually had hopes for Obama,” Drake told The New Yorker in 2011. “But power is incredibly destructive. It’s a weird, pathological thing. I think the intelligence community co-opted Obama because he’s rather naive about national security. He’s accepted the fear and secrecy.”

Drake’s first full day at work happened to be on September 11 – the legacy of which remains strong today. The fear and secrecy that spilled from the US terrorist attacks has seen the emergence of a vast security bureaucracy. The extent of such snooping is extraordinary. Snowden’s documents include revelations the US bugged the European Union headquarters. Brazil’s government, meanwhile, has said it might contact Snowden over allegations the US monitored phone calls and emails there.

“You can’t have 100 per cent security and also then have 100 per cent privacy and zero inconvenience,” Obama told a Californian crowd last month.

The growing ease of whistleblowing, in part, has prompted this punitive response from authorities, desperate to stay in control. Within the whistleblowing community such crackdowns are called ”mobbings”: the whistleblower is surrounded like a foreign virus in the body and attacked and isolated until expelled.

The “intensity and extremity” of this punitive pursuit reflects the times we live in, says Griffiths University’s Professor A.J. Brown, an expert on whistleblowers. “It’s almost as if it reveals the desperation of institutionalised national security interests to try to keep control over information in an era where that is inherently becoming more and more difficult.”

Drake has described the attacks on Snowden as a distraction from a greater concern. “The government is desperate to not deal with the actual exposures, the content of the disclosures. Because they do reveal a vast, systemic, institutionalised, industrial-scale Leviathan surveillance that has clearly gone far beyond the original mandate to deal with terrorism – far beyond.”

The new documentary War on Whistleblowers catalogues the casualties of this pursuit of perceived enemies from within. Marine Corps senior science adviser Franz Gayl lost his security clearance and work prospects after exposing the Pentagon’s delays in getting armoured vehicles to US troops in Iraq. Michael DeKort lost his job at Lockheed Martin for exposing flaws in the ships the contractor was building for the US Coast Guard.

In both cases, the nature of what they revealed offered no respite from prosecution. Gayl’s actions saved the lives of many US soldiers. DeKort exposed the sheer absurdity of fitting Coast Guard boats with non-waterproof radios.

Mainstream media can be bypassed in this process. DeKort posted a video on YouTube revealing his concerns. Snowden, meanwhile, is being assisted in his flight by WikiLeaks.

Melbourne University’s Dr Suelette Dreyfus, the author of Underground, a book about a group of hackers including a young Julian Assange, says technology has changed the game for every player.

While digital tools – such as encryption programs – have made whistleblowing easier, authorities are turning the same technology inward to spy on employees and to plug leaks. Some investigative journalists complain fewer whistleblowers are coming forward for fear of being tracked down.

Snowden, ever the idealist, reckons “draconian responses simply build better whistleblowers”. “Citizens with a conscience are not going to ignore wrongdoings simply because they’ll be destroyed for it: the conscience forbids it.”

But inadequate whistleblower laws across the globe are a disincentive, says Dreyfus. ”One whistleblower I interviewed said: ‘Sometimes I see these guys and it’s like all they have left in their lives are the boxes of documents they have taken with them. They end up living in a caravan, isolated, left without spouse or house, and hiding from people wanting to harm them. All they have left are these boxes.”’

What might we call Snowden? A whistleblower is someone who reveals inside information or the internal workings about serious wrongdoing within an organisation.

Manning faces a possible life sentence for allegedly ”aiding the enemy”, by providing secret material to WikiLeaks. Yet that included video of a US air strike in Afghanistan that killed dozens of civilians – a brutal case of serious wrongdoing.

Snowden, meanwhile, has revealed details of a secret surveillance system operating in the US and abroad without any of the apparent checks and balances essential in a democracy. A new poll in the US has found more Americans believe he is a whistleblower than a traitor – and the public mood might win the day.

The term whistleblower originally meant to stop foul play, as on the sports field. In the 1930s in the US the term took a negative turn – becoming the equivalent of a “snitch” – before growing in public esteem over subsequent decades.

In Australia, whistleblowers have rarely found favour with the public or authorities. Federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie quit his job with the Office of National Assessments, in 2003, to publicly question the government’s justifications for the Iraq War. He says whistleblowers here are and have always been treated appallingly. “Maybe whistleblowers are seen to be dobbing on their mates or letting the team down.”

An online survey in 2012, commissioned by Griffith and Melbourne universities, found 81 per cent of those surveyed consider it more important to support whistleblowers for revealing serious wrongdoing in organisations than to punish them. Yet only 53 per cent of respondents saw it as “generally acceptable” for people to speak up about serious wrongdoing if it meant revealing inside information.

The dogged pursuit of Allan Kessing reflects such a culture, in part. The former customs officer was convicted under the Crimes Act in 2007 for leaking two damning reports on lax security at Sydney Airport.

Kessing, who maintains he did not leak the reports to The Australian, was given a nine-month suspended sentence. That his revelations prompted an inquiry and a $200 million upgrade in airport security has not convinced the Labor government to pardon him, despite speaking in his favour while in opposition.

It is hoped the passage of new whistleblower protection laws by the Federal Parliament, in June will offer greater security to future whistleblowers. But the exclusion of intelligence agencies and some politicians from its ambit means the fate awaiting many whistleblowers here remains up in the air.

Meanwhile Snowden sits somewhere in a 1.6-kilometre airport transit corridor, wondering when his flight will end. He has not been seen in many days. That Sheremetyevo Airport boasts a new counselling service for passengers suffering pre-flight jitters is little consolation. For now, at least, he is going nowhere.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/02/2019

On with the show as ABC dramas hit global screens

The international TV market has become hungry for more distinct and ambitious content.Selling Australian TV to the world. Could it be as easy as ABC?
Shanghai night field

The commercial sector’s historical dominance of the global program sales market has been overshadowed by an almost unprecedented run of program and format sales by Australia’s national broadcaster.

Following deals for The Doctor Blake Mysteries and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, both of which have been sold to channels in Britain, comes news that another ABC series, Please Like Me, has been sold to the US this week. Those deals follow others for the critically acclaimed drama Rake, which is being remade by the US network Fox, as well as deals for Dance Academy, Review with Myles Barlow and another acclaimed drama, The Slap.

The deal for Please Like Me, the ABC2 comedy starring Josh Thomas, was only finalised in the past few days. It will be aired in the US on a new cable channel, Pivot. The channel’s president, Evan Shapiro, said the concept resonated because it was ”unique and authentic”.

It caps off an extraordinary year in program and format sales for the ABC, notably including US remakes of Review with Myles Barlow and Rake. Other ABC comedies, such as Laid and The Strange Calls, were bought by US studios and while they have not yet progressed past the development stage they are still a powerful measure of international interest in Australian scripted content.

What makes the new trend interesting is that it defies the historic dominance of the program sales market by commercial broadcasters, who have built their global businesses on program volume and high price tags.

America’s commercial networks, for example, have historically controlled blue-chip programming such as Desperate Housewives and Lost. But in the past decade edgy cable dramas, such as Breaking Bad, Damages, Boardwalk Empire and the new, critically acclaimed series Ray Donovan, have come to dominate the TV sales business.

In striking contrast, Australia’s commercial networks continue to play inside safe boundaries, particularly when it comes to scripted drama and comedy.

The latter, in particular, has been a long-standing challenge for commercial broadcasters.

In contrast, the international TV market, shaped by the US model and also the success of Danish dramas such as The Killing, The Bridge and Borgen, has become hungry for more distinct and ambitious content.

With an increase in drama funding, a raft of new ABC commissions – notably dramas like The Dr Blake Mysteries and The Slap – have won international attention.

Australian cable dramas, such as Tangle and Wentworth, are also attractive international offerings. Wentworth has been sold to New Zealand, Germany and Britain since its debut two months ago.

Dr Blake producer and writer George Adams said the sale of his series was ”a tremendous validation of the hard work put in by our entire cast and crew”.

”We hope that the domestic, and now international, recognition of the show goes some way to repaying the commitment shown by [its financiers] ABC TV, Screen Australia and Film Victoria.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

杭州桑拿 22/01/2019

Crossing over

Once ground zero for bad decisions, Tijuana is transforming, writes Ben Stubbs.
Shanghai night field

‘The Toothbrush”, or El Cepillo as he’s called in Spanish, adjusts his high-riding black underpants and climbs the corner post of the ring as AC/DC blasts from the stadium speakers. He spreads his arms and leaps on the crumpled wrestler lying on the concrete floor below the ring. Lucha libre (the Mexican term for wrestling) might be entertainment, but as we watch the Toothbrush slam a chair on his opponent’s back, I realise it’s certainly not faked.

I have crossed the border from San Diego into Tijuana with Turista Libre tours to experience the realities of life on the Mexican frontier in a city that was once, not so long ago, known mainly to the outside world as a place for drugs, murders and donkey shows.

Our guide is expat Derrik Chin, who grew up in Ohio, moved to Tijuana for love, and stayed. As we cross over, the formalities are as low-key as I’ve seen crossing from one country to another: there is a single-file turnstile and an uninterested guard on the other side, then we’re in Mexico.

Our transport for the evening is a recommissioned yellow school bus, and as our group is given activity bags with stickers and figurines, I momentarily think that this could be a socks and sandals-style tour. For his next move, though, Derrik hands out mezcal and jelly shots to the passengers and cranks up the music. Through the windows, I see Tijuana for the first time: a farmacia here, an open-air market there, and the twinkling lights of the city above us.

Our first stop is taco restaurant El Franc. It is jammed with locals sitting and standing while the chefs carve meat and dollop avocado onto plates. I hoover down three tacos for only $US4 ($4.40).

With full bellies, we head to the wrestling and get our third-row seats among the locals. We drink Micheladas (spiced beer) and watch a show that becomes more engaging the later the night gets. By the time Dr Wagner jnr, El Cepillo and El Hijo del Santo arrive, the wrestling is fast and brutal. At one stage, the audience showers the wrestlers with corn cobs and plastic cups after El Cepillo somehow manages to get a ’90s-era printer into the ring, which he promptly smashes over his opponent’s head.

The next day, Derrik and I leave the bus behind and take his car along the highway that skirts the edge of the border to Playas, where the Tijuana beach butts against the fence that separates Mexico from the US and continues into the water. We walk along the border and read the graffiti on the fence that stretches 50 metres into the choppy Pacific Ocean.

Fine cuisine is one of the prominent motifs of “new” Tijuana, so Derrik takes me to a taqueria on the edge of a main road. Inside Kokopelli, we sit at the retro bar and watch the chefs make imaginative seafood tacos for the crowd. Over glasses of hibiscus flower tea, we make requests as the chefs slice, grate and grill a selection of octopus, tuna ceviche and gourmet prawn tacos.

Our next destination is a little unusual. Derrik takes me to the Puerta Blanca Cemetery, which is next to the border fence. We walk among the tombstones and along the cobbled lanes to a crypt at the back. It is the resting place of Juan Soldado, a man who was framed for the rape and murder of a girl and shot by firing squad in 1938.

Years later, a local lady insisted Soldado was innocent and took a stone from beside his grave and asked for his help crossing the border. She succeeded, eventually returning the stone and declaring the event a miracle. I notice the inscriptions around Soldado’s crypt thanking him for his help. He has become the unofficial patron saint of border runners. I see the cobbled lane around the crypt is missing hundreds of stones that have been taken by hopeful locals.

Back in the car, we drive past the red-light district. The streets are full of ladies of the night and visitors who have crossed over to get lost. During the day it’s an urban market, and regular people walk and talk as if it is any other street in the city.

Outside Hotel Nelson, we see mariachis for hire and Hotel Caesars, where the Caesar salad was invented.

Next, Derrik drives me through the city to one of the less-reputable districts in the hills. We pull the car over and all of a sudden I’m greeted by a naked lady in the slums. Her name is La Mona and she’s 15 metres tall. Local artist Armando Munoz Garcia wanted to give a gift to the city, a statue of La Mona, and when the city wouldn’t help him with costs, he decided to build it in his front yard. Armando’s house sits behind the statue – his bedroom is inside her chest and his bathroom is, appropriately, somewhere below the belly button.

“You find out all sorts of things living in this city,” Derrik says.

Our last stop for the evening is in what seems like an industrial alley. Behind a tin facade is the Baja Craft Beers brewery. It is tapping into the San Diego craft beer boom by providing options over the border. The lights inside are converted beer kegs and the walls are lined with rocks in cages. We watch the soccer- the local team, the Xolos, who recently won the Mexican championship, play – and we sample a local Nocturna black beer and a hoppy Border Psycho.

Just like the pub, Tijuana is inconspicuous, even a little intimidating when it is viewed from the US side, though once you get up close, eat a taco or two and immerse yourself, it’s easy to see what has kept Derrik here so long.

FIVE MORE THINGS TO DO IN BAJA CALIFORNIA

BEACH CHILL

The beach town of Ensenada is 100 kilometres south of Tijuana and it’s a great place to see whale migrations, surf or relax. See ensenada上海夜生活m.

TASTE A DROP

A little more than 100 kilometres from Tijuana is the Valle de Guadalupe wine region. Turista Libre runs regular weekend tours. See turistalibre上海夜生活m.

SPLASH OUT

Rosarito is only 20 kilometres from Tijuana. There are numerous dining options, a golf course, bars and tours of the region. See rosarito上海夜生活.

BIG SPRAY

Only 30 kilometres south of Ensenada, legend has it a whale became stuck in the rocks — the result is the La Bufadora marine geyser that shoots up to 20 metres into the air. Grey whale sightings are common during their migrations. See visitmexico上海夜生活m.

BEV HEAVEN

Tecate is a city 50 kilometres east of Tijuana and it is a great place to enjoy the mountains around La Rumorosa or take a Tecate brewery tour. See discoverbajacalifornia上海夜生活m.

TRIP NOTES

GETTING THERE

Delta Airlines has a fare to San Diego for about $1700 low-season return from Sydney and Melbourne including taxes, see delta上海夜生活m. From San Diego, take the trolley to the San Ysidro stop, where it is easy to cross into Tijuana.

STAYING THERE

The Marriott in Tijuana has comfortable rooms with everything you would expect from a five-star hotel. There are numerous restaurants a short taxi ride away. See marriott上海夜生活m for booking details.

TOURING THERE

Turista Libre run a variety of lucha libre, wine-tasting and city tours. Derrik will also run private tours if you’d like to tailor a specific itinerary. Tours start from the San Diego side of the border. See turista-libre.blogspot上海夜生活m for booking and tour details.

MORE INFORMATION

visitmexico上海夜生活m

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.