Bite-sized bulletins by ALEC SMART
Pell fell back to Hell
Disgraced Archbishop George Pell, who won’t be stripped of his titles by The Vatican until all his appeals are exhausted, has apparently decided he will appeal his sex abuse convictions in the High Court.
On August 21, Victoria’s Court of Appeal upheld Pell’s December 2018 conviction for the rape of a 13-year-old choirboy and sexual assault of another at St Patrick’s Cathedral when he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. Pell’s lawyers have until 18 September to file the appeal application.
Meanwhile, satirical news pranksters The Chaser decided to amend a plaque celebrating George Pell attached to the stone wall in front of St Mary’s Cathedral in the city.
The Chaser said: “[We] assumed .. St Mary’s Cathedral would do something about the plaque celebrating George Pell they have on display out the front of their church. We thought that at least it might be covered up. (After all, The Church has historically been very good at covering things up.)
“But when we dropped by on Wednesday afternoon, Pell’s plaque was still there on display. The Church hadn’t even updated the plaque to accurately note his current status.”
After Pell’s Appeal Court outcome, The Chaser filmed themselves updating the plaque by attaching an addendum, stating: “and convicted pedophile.”
St Mary’s removed the amendment and denied the prank took place.
“The next morning, we got a call from a journalist at AAP,” The Chaser revealed. “She told us .. the Church was denying that we had affixed anything to Pell’s plaque and that we must have faked the whole video. While momentarily flattered that they thought we had the skills to photoshop a whole video, we quickly became a little incensed. What is it with the Church and denying things in the face of overwhelming evidence?
“Anyway, we decided to come up with a more permanent solution to the problem, using superglue.
As of this morning, our update to the plaque has once again been removed. Which really is great news. Finally, the Catholic Church has realised it should act swiftly when it witnesses a crime. If only they’d been so swift to act on other crimes they’d witnessed in the church over the years.”
Milat’s grave secrets
It appears Australia’s most notorious serial killer Ivan Milat will take his secrets with him to the grave after he sent a letter to the Sun-Herald restating his innocence. Despite hundreds of pieces of evidence linking him to his 1990s killing spree, which resulted in his conviction for murdering seven hitchhikers, Milat still maintains that “the court judiciary conspired to obscure the miscarriages of justice.”
Milat was found guilty in 1996 of murdering seven backpackers, whose bodies were found in makeshift graves in Belanglo State Forest, near Mittagong, 100km south of Sydney. Milat also refuses to divulge his involvement in multiple other disappearances over a twenty-year period that bear the hallmarks of his method of picking up backpackers from the roadside and driving them into forested areas where he brutally tortured them to death.
Milat is now in Long Bay Jail hospital dying from stomach cancer. It appears likely there will be no deathbed confession and he’ll take his secrets to his own grave. Yet, at 74, he’s lived a long life, considerably longer than the young victims he dispatched to early graves.
Sniper ‘prevented’ from killing killer
NSW Police have privately settled a lawsuit brought by a police sniper involved in the 2014 Lindt Cafe siege.
The chief sniper, identified only as Sierra 3-1, alleged in a 30-page affidavit that he had suffered psychological trauma as a result of the decisions taken by his superiors during the siege.
On 15 December 2014, Man Haron Monis, an Iranian-born refugee and Australian citizen, took hostages – ten customers and eight employees – in a siege at the Lindt Chocolate Café at Martin Place, central Sydney, which lasted over 16 hours until just after 2am the following morning.
Police treated the event as a terrorist attack, worried that Monis had explosives in a blue sports bag he carried in, although it was discovered later that was a mistaken assumption.
The siege was ended after a gunshot was heard, and officers from the Tactical Operations Unit stormed the premises. After 38 seconds of gunfire, Monis was killed but, sadly, hostage Tori Johnson was killed by Monis and hostage Katrina Dawson was killed by a ricocheting police bullet fired during the raid.
Monis claimed he was an Islamic fundamentalist and announced “this is an attack on Australia by the Islamic State”, but a psychiatrist told the subsequent inquest he had a complex personality disorder and would have killed more hostages if police hadn’t intervened to end the siege. He had also been facing multiple charges relating to his work as a “spiritual healer”, including 14 counts of aggravated indecent assault and 22 counts of aggravated sexual assault.
Sierra 3-1, alleged he could have taken action to halt the siege earlier than its tragic outcome, but was ‘prevented’ from doing so by poor command decisions. Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has claimed that, in hindsight, NSW Police should have entered the Lindt Café much sooner.
Drug peddlers paddled
Johnson & Johnson, the multinational pharmaceuticals manufacturer and supplier, was convicted in an Oklahoma court on August 26 of ‘Public Nuisance’ and fined millions of dollars for over-supplying and encouraging drug dependency to fuel the USA’s opioid addiction crisis.
A Cleveland County Judge in the state of Oklahoma ruled that the medical products giant and its subsidiaries helped fuel the state’s crisis and ordered them to pay $US572 million ($AU844 million) to help redress the problem.
The Court asserted the company had contributed to the opioid epidemic by aggressively marketing its opioid products for years and by overstating their effectiveness whilst downplaying the risk of addiction.
That marketing encouraged doctors to overprescribe opioids to patients, which lead to rampant addiction and health issues as well as a spike in overdose deaths.
Opioids are a diverse class of painkillers, include oxycodone (sold under trade names OxyContin and Percocet), hydrocodone (retailed as Norco and Vicodin), and fentanyl, the latter a very strong painkiller often given to cancer patients, a substitute for opium-derived morphine and heroin.
Opioids are relatively inexpensive, and alternative treatments, such as physical therapy, are often unaffordable, so their ease of availability make them popular, especially among recreational users.
However, their assured potency presents a very high risk of addiction and overdose and this is what the USA Government has been tackling since 2010 when they identified opioid abuse was spiralling out of control. In July 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that opioid addiction had become the “FDA’s biggest crisis”, and in August 2017 President Trump declared it a “national emergency”.
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), whose Sydney offices include Ultimo and Macquarie Park, are facing another massive claim as lawsuits filed by almost 2,000 cities, counties, and tribal lands across the USA have been merged into a single federal case scheduled to be heard in the next few months.
Passas passes wind-up
Councillor Julie Passas, the Inner-West’s favourite former deputy mayor, is in hot water again after a provocative attempt at humour, intended as a wind-up. On the Inner West Council meeting agenda dated 27 August, Cr Passas announced a motion to deal with the problem of limited car parking in the area, including: “Contact President Trump for his wall building contractor (US/Mexico) to construct a wall around the Inner West; Passports required for non-Inner West citizens; and Businesses unable to find parking for their staff from outside the area to go broke in their own time, without community or Council support.”
However, considering the councillor’s past antics, such as earlier this year when she was ordered to pay $2,500 in compensation to her gay neighbour after she abused him for displaying a rainbow flag when the Same-Sex marriage plebiscite delivered a Yes outcome, her attempts at humour fall flat with her opponents
The councillor’s motion provoked a backlash on social media, including the Newtown 2042 Facebook page, where users posted comments such as “Innerwest councillor Julie Passas thinks Trump’s racism is a joke”, “this ‘joke’ motion reflects her character and lack of respect for her role as councillor”, “She is a nut”, and “OMG. she’s mentally unhinged. She should be booted from the council.”
Greens councillor Tom Kiat told SBS News that Passas’ motion was in ‘bad taste’ and that she should spend more time on important issues instead of ‘publicity stunts.’ “We shouldn’t make a joke about the migration crisis we’ve got across the world and the way the governments are treating refugees,” he added.
No Moore high-rise in Pyrmont
Lord Mayor Clover Moore, at the recent launch of the Pyrmont Festival at the Cherry Bar in the Star, used her speech to say she still strongly objected to The Star’s plans to build a high-rise residential tower with a hotel on top in Pyrmont.
A City of Sydney spokesperson told City Hub that the Lord Mayor “spoke off the cuff for a lot of the speech last night, so unfortunately there isn’t a written version.” However, “She did open by explaining she was conflicted about appearing at The Star given her opposition to the casino’s proposed residential and hotel tower, and that in the interests of the people of Pyrmont she would continue to speak out against the abuse of the planning system and the abuse of Pyrmont.”
In an address to the Independent Planning Commission on August 27, the Lord Mayor said, “The City supports the Department of Planning’s recommendation that you reject the proposal. This decision is not just about the future of Pyrmont, it is about the credibility of the planning system.
“The Department’s report notes that the tower’s built form would appear isolated and inconsistent in height and form with surrounding buildings; that it would inhibit views from public vantage points, adversely impact the character of Pyrmont; and overshadow public spaces such as Union Square, Pyrmont Bay Park and Pyrmont Bridge…
“But powerful vested interests are campaigning that the assessment of the Department and the community’s opposition be set aside… These misrepresentations must be corrected. With so much at stake, this panel must base its determination on facts, not the rhetoric of powerful interests in the media…
“Planning controls should be adopted through a democratic process, then reflected in the built environment. And these controls should apply to everyone, whether you are a local resident, a business, or a gambling magnate..”