Bite-sized bulletins by ALEC SMART
Fake Aboriginal Art Replaced
The British production company of actor-writer Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras, Night at the Museum) is to pay an Aboriginal artist compensation for using an unauthorised copy of his painting, which featured in Gervais’ latest TV drama series on Netflix, After Life.
The critically-acclaimed series features Gervais as a depressed newspaper journalist in mourning after the death of his wife from cancer, who reports trivial news events with the zeal of a flat car battery.
In March 2019, when the first episodes of the six-part black comedy were broadcast, the loungeroom wall of Gervais’ character was decorated with a large dot painting by Aboriginal artist Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, titled Tingarri Dreaming. However, it wasn’t created by Tjapaltjarri, but instead copied illegally by British artist Timna Woollard, who confessed the work was among several indigenous paintings she duplicated in 1999 to fulfil a commission for a UK television company.
Women of the Papunya Aboriginal community of artists, who consider Tingarri Dreaming of the Papunya style, believe the painting depicts ‘men’s business’ and should not have been re-painted by a woman.
When the painting was first spotted – by a National Indigenous TV employee – a furore erupted, but Gervais’s company, Derek Productions, agreed on compensation and negotiated a deal with the Australian Copyright Agency, which helps protect the licensing and display of Australian artists’ creations.
The National Gallery of Victoria, keepers of the real Tingarri Dreaming, has since supplied After Life with a legitimate copy of the painting, which will appear in season two of the black comedy.
Dingo Puppy Falls from Sky
A puppy found cowering in a suburban backyard in Wandiligong near Bright, north-eastern Victoria, and subsequently named ‘Wandi’, apparently fell from the sky. Residents of the household, who found the puppy crying and alone, suspect it was dropped by an eagle, because of what resembled claw marks on its back.
The puppy, thought to be around nine weeks of age, has since been rehomed to the Dingo Discovery Research Centre sanctuary near Sunbury, where it was discovered to be a pure-bred alpine dingo. One of the sanctuary’s main focuses is on conserving the gene pool of the alpine dingo, which often cross-breed with feral dogs. The alpine dingo, one of three breeds of Australian dingos, is listed endangered due to its inhabiting Australia’s east coast, where 80% of Australia’s human population live and routinely persecute them.
Squatted House Sold for a Fortune
A Sydney property developer, who found an empty property in Ashbury, near Canterbury, and leased it out to tenants for two decades, has advertised it for sale for $1.425 million. Bill Gertos was granted ownership of the detached house by the New South Wales Supreme Court in October 2018 under “adverse possession”, also known as squatting laws.
Gertos told the court he originally found the house open in 1998 whilst visiting a client on the same street as “the rear door was off its hinges and placed to the side”. The previous tenant died earlier that year. Gertos spent around $35,000 on renovation and repairs and began renting it out.
When Gertos applied to the Registrar-General to be named the owner of the land under the Real Property Act in 2017, police informed the next of kin of the property’s former owner, Henry Thompson Downie, who died in 1947. They in turn appealed to the Supreme Court for recognition as the beneficial owners of the property. Downie’s descendants, his daughter and two grandchildren, claimed the family moved out after World War II because of a termite problem, but were unaware they were entitled to inherit the property until contacted by police.
However, the Supreme Court found Mr Gertos provided sufficient evidence he’d invested money in improving and maintaining the home, paid taxes on it and leased it legally to rental tenants.
The 3-bedroom house at 6 Malleny Street is being sold through Mint Property Agents, who describe it as: “A fusion of historical charm and contemporary sophistication.. Set in a tree-lined whisper quiet Cul De Sac, this classic Federation façade, this single level character home offers refurbished interiors, with further scope to extend… moments from Parks and sort after [sic] School district.” Realty experts expect it will sell nearer $1.6 million.
Another Emergency Declared
More than 11,000 scientists around the world, including many in Australia, added their names to an international declaration that the world is in the midst of a climate emergency. The statement, issued on 5 November in the journal Bioscience, a monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, warns that the climate crisis is already upon us and “is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
Contributors from 153 countries agreed “Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat.”
The warning adds: “greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth’s climate… Three abundant atmospheric GHGs (CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide) continue to increase, as does global surface temperature.”
The statement continues: “Climate change is predicted to greatly affect marine, freshwater, and terrestrial life, from plankton and corals to fishes and forests.. Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic “hothouse Earth,” well beyond the control of humans.”
The warning concludes: “The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle… Profoundly troubling signs from human activities include sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product, global tree cover loss, fossil fuel consumption, the number of air passengers carried, [and] carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.”
Despite this warning of impending catastrophe if change isn’t implemented, it is unlikely Australia’s political leaders will respond. In September the Federal Government rejected a call to declare a climate emergency, and even the Emissions Reduction Minister, Angus Taylor, dismissed it as ‘symbolic’.
No Surprise: Jeffrey Epstein ‘Murdered’
A forensic pathologist has revealed what most of the world suspect: that millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein probably didn’t commit suicide and was likely murdered while on remand at the New York Metropolitan Correctional facility.
The 66-year-old former financier and procurer of underage girls for wealthy clients – allegedly including UK Royal Prince Andrew – was discovered dead in his cell on August 10 with a sheet twisted as a ligature around his neck. The convicted sex offender was on federal charges of sex trafficking.
Former New York City medical examiner Dr Michael Baden, who has presided over the examination of more than 20,000 bodies during his career, was present at the autopsy of Epstein. Baden, who is employed by Epstein’s brother to investigate the strangulation death, believes the victim was murdered, suggesting a conspiracy preventing Epstein from revealing powerful clients.
After Epstein’s death, President Trump retweeted a conspiracy theory that former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, were linked to or perhaps responsible for it.
In 2005 Epstein was convicted of two crimes of Procuring an Underage Girl for Prostitution, for which he pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal, although federal officials identified 36 girls, some as young as 14, whom Epstein had sexually abused.
On the night of his death, Baden revealed two cameras monitoring the entrance to Epstein’s cell malfunctioned and the two guards employed to check on him fell asleep.
Baden stated from his personal observation of the autopsy that Epstein’s death was suspicious, revealing: “There were findings that were unusual for suicidal hanging and more consistent with ligature homicidal strangulation.” Referring to fractures on the left and right sides of Epstein’s larynx, Baden said “’Those three fractures are extremely unusual in suicidal hangings and could occur much more commonly in homicidal strangulation.”