Category: International

No doubt the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is an avid student of history. Wherever it was that he learned it, he certainly seems to know that, in a tense game of Cold War diplomacy, the minacious art of brinkmanship can often be absolutely everything.
On 20 February 2020, the historical drama, “The Professor and the Madman”, starring Hollywood heavyweights, Sean Penn and Mel Gibson, was rolled out to Australian cinemas. It is loosely based on the 1998 book ‘The Surgeon of Crowthorne’ written by Simon Winchester, which revolved around the life and work of Professor James Murray, who compiled the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary in the late 19th century.
In February 1692, in a secluded village in the isolated British American colony of Massachusetts, 9-year-old Betty Parris and her 11-year-old cousin Abigail Williams, began to behave very strangely indeed. It seems they had recently taken to screaming, ranting and raving, throwing objects hither and thither, making weird noises, and generally behaving in a way the local reverend described as “beyond the power of epileptic fits or natural disease to effect.” When other young females in the same village started to exhibit similarly disturbing symptoms, the good folk of Salem quickly concluded there was witchcraft at work in their town, and decided it was time to take action.
Last week, Australian man Jock Palfreeman was released from a Bulgarian prison after being incarcerated for 8 years and 11 months for the murder of a local law student in 2007. Palfreeman has consistently protested his innocence, his legal team unsuccessfully arguing at his trial that the fatal incident occurred after he ran to the assistance of a local man being attacked by more than 12 men, and that he subsequently acted in self-defence when the group turned on him. However, since being released on parole, he has remained in custody at a Busmantsi Detention Centre, awaiting authorisation to return to Australia. Now Bulgarian Prosecutors are reportedly seeking to have his parole revoked, meaning his ordeal may not be over.
We've all heard the news of protesters demonstrating in the streets of Hong Kong, decrying the proposed amendments to that city's extradition laws with China. We've seen the television news footage of university students, right here in Australia, pushing and shoving each other over whether Hong Kong citizens should be tried in the Communist mainland. But what's it all about? Doesn't Hong Kong belong to China? Well, yes and no.
They say confession is good for the soul. That may be so, but sometimes it seems there's a whole lot of things it's not nearly so good for. Just ask Liam Neeson.
A brand new Netflix documentary doing the rounds right now has sparked a maelstrom of controversy around the ethical and legal culpability of “social media influencers” in advertising and promoting business brands for profit. The disaster-doco “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” tells the sorry story of the exploits of Billy McFarland, the mastermind behind the failed 2017 “luxury music festival” FYRE.
The latest news about Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and Forbes Rich List’s wealthiest person in the world, could have a lot of people re-thinking whether a timely prenuptial agreement may just be a very good idea. Bezos, whose net worth is estimated to be, on last count, around $136.7 billion, announced earlier this month that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, are heading for the divorce courts. And guess what – they don't have a pre-nup in place. That means some judge is going to have to work out who gets what, and there's a whole big bunch of lollies on the table.
On 11 November 1918, at the French town of Compiegne, high-ranking officers of the Entente, the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during World War 1, signed an armistice with Germany, ceasing all hostilities on the Western Front. At eleven o’clock on that morning - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - the guns finally fell silent, after four long years of unprecedented slaughter. The first global war had left an estimated 40 million casualties, including over 200,000 young Australians killed or wounded in action. It became known as “The War to End All Wars.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
The Italians say Revenge is a meal that’s best eaten cold. I guess Jimmy Bulger would have agreed. James Joseph Bulger Junior grew up in abject poverty on the dirt-poor streets of South Boston in the 1930’s and 40’s, along with his two younger brothers, William, better known as “Billy,” and the baby, John, whom the Bulgers dubbed “Jackie.” Billy and Jackie were good boys who worked hard at school and excelled, but Jimmy was a tough street scrapper who succumbed to the lure of the streets. While Jackie went on to become a court magistrate, and Billy a lawyer and eventually Democratic Senator William Michael Bulger, the longest-serving President of the Massachusetts Senate, Jimmy was a career criminal, a ruthless gangster and organised crime boss, leader of Boston’s infamous Winter Hill Gang. The local cops nicknamed him “Whitey” because of his blond head of hair. Jimmy hated the name, but it was a tag that stuck to him all his life.
Like beauty itself, art is undoubtedly very much in the eye of the beholder. A couple of years back, a world-renowned Brisbane-born street artist, whose celebrated work is permanently exhibited in the Australian National Gallery and regularly sells for thousands of dollars in the swank art-houses of Sydney and Melbourne, was accused of painting graffiti at various sites around Brisbane. For his sins he was charged by Queensland police with wilful damage of property.
Anyone who has been following US domestic politics over the past 12 months will be aware of the fascinating legal storm clouds brewing over the Leader of the Free World, one Mr Donald J Trump.