All posts by JHH/JYE

Quod duodecim diebus Nativitatis December 2017

THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

The Magi
THE MAGI, JOURNEY TO BETHLEHEM  ((alamy.com D86NA5)

THE DEATH  OF A STAR AND THE BIRTH OF THE SON OF GOD                                             There is a rational explanation for the Star of Bethlehem. Theories include an alignment of Jupiter, Saturn, Earth and Sun, possibly in the constellation of Pisces. The ‘star’ could also have been a comet observed by Chinese astronomers in 5BC or Halley’s Comet in 12BC – both might have had their tails pointing downward towards Bethlehem. The most plausible explanation comes from McMaster University, Ontario.  Far Eastern astronomers observed the death of a star or nova in the constellation of Aquila in 4BC. Unfortunately, astronomers in Western Europe were unable to see this heavenly event due to their geographical location. The Magi are thought to be Babylonian astronomers who, over the long period of their travel from Babylon to Judea, would have seen this ‘new’ star precess in the heavens until it was over Bethlehem. In a few months the star would have faded away. Authorities assert Jesus was born between 6BC and 4BC which coincides with the death of this star.

ADVENT                                                                                                                           This is an enlightening romp, divine and profane, across the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is a journey of Jewish faith, Roman idolatry, Anglo Saxon veneration, Medieval frivolity and  finally to 21st century enlightenment!  Our practice and perception of Christmas festivities is very different to that of 1,500 years ago but quirky customs still survive.

The period of Advent, popularised incorrectly on pre-Christmas  calendars, was originally a forty day period in the desert that ended on the 6th January with the Feast of Epiphany.

Advent
ADVENT, PREPARATION FOR BAPTISM   (orthodoxcatholicism.com)

In the 4th century, the early Christian church required converts to spend forty days and forty nights in the desert to purify their souls before baptism at the Feast of Epiphany. Initially there was no connection between Advent and Christmas.  By the 6th century, the Roman church had tied Advent to the Second Coming of Christ to judge mankind. By the Middle Ages, the Advent period was ordained to be the period of preparation for the birth of Christ. It is fortuitous that Advent and Epiphany straddle the Twelve Days of Christmas and thus brings the Festive Season to a close – but not quite. The Matthew Gospel written around 60 AD, at this early stage in church consolidation, considered the Feast of Epiphany to commemorate the Manifestation of Christ to the gentiles symbolised as the Magi or Three Wise Men.

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
Now for Christmas Day. In the 3rd century, a Roman bishop fixed the 25th December as Christ’s birth date. The decision was made to ween wavering Christians from the Roman festivals of Saturnalia  and the birthday of Mithra, Persian God of Light – 17th-24th December, and the Roman  Festival of Sol Invictus on the 25th December. The roots of the Christmas Festival derive from the Christos Maesse which was introduced in the 4th century.

Satunalia
SATURNALIA,  A ROMAN DEBAUCH    (orthodoxcatholicism.com)

And so it has come to pass that the Twelve Days of Christmas are defined by Christmas Day (26 December) and the Festival of Epiphany (6th January) – but again not quite. In early Christian Britain,  King Edwine of Deira and Northumbria (circa 630 AD), ordained that Christmas decorations should not be removed until the 6th January to honour his mother’s birthday thus, Twelfth Night was created on the whim of an Anglo Saxon king.

King Edwine
KING EDWINE & QUEEN MOTHER, ST NICHOLAS, CHURCH, NORFOLK  (alamy.com)

In early Christian times, the period between Christmas Eve and Twelfth Night contained several religious festivals lubricated by much merry-making and wenching. From the Dark Ages to Late Medieval Times, communities proclaimed “Lords of Misrule” to organise festivities for the illiterate masses. In Scotland this was the Abbott of Unreason and in France the Prince des Sots. The ‘Lord’ might be a ‘boy bishop’ or a peasant drawn from the crowd. The principal responsibility was to plan and preside over the Christmas season festivities, culminating in the Festival of Foules around the 1st January where the participation of junior clergy was encouraged.

Misrule
THE LORD OF MISRULE    (alamy.com D86NA5)

The current Boxing Day, 26th December, was formerly the Feast of St Stephen, to mark his martyrdom. Activities for the day included distributing the remains of feasts to the poor. History has it that King Wenceslas of Bohemia (907-935) initiated this custom and enshrined it in the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen’, to see an old man who subsequently dined and supped on flesh and wine brought by the page boy.

KING W
KING WENCESLAS & PAGE     (storynory)

The Feast of St John the Evangelist, 27th December, records the life of an apostle who was not martyred like many of his compatriots. In Medieval times, the Holy Church Fathers directed  St John to be painted with a ‘softened  face’ to endear him to women in order to encourage piety and chastity! This had minimal effect since women were still fitted with chastity belts when menfolk left for the Crusades.

St John
ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST   (National Library,Paris)

The Feast of the Holy Innocents, 28th December, commemorates the murder of Jewish infants by King Herod the Great, puppet to the Roman governor. Herod had heard rumours of the coming Messiah and so was determined to ensure that this prophecy did not come to pass. The Magi were instructed to inform on the where abouts of the Baby Jesus, but they left Judea without passing on the information. Myth surrounds the number of infants killed – estimates vary from hundreds to a few tens. There are no records.

Herod
HEROD AND THE HOLY INNOCENTS   (hema2325, wordpress.com)

The Feast of the Ass, 29th December. This was a 6th century custom derived from the pagan Celtic games of Cervulus. By Medieval times, the donkey had become part of the Nativity story. In church services on this day the congregation responded to prayers and psalms with the braying of an ass in place of AMEN.

Festival of the Ass
FESTIVAL OF THE ASS (Great St Mary,idol-snip)

The Feast of Christ’s Circumcision, 1st January, celebrated the Jewish custom of circumcision applied to all infants soon after birth. In the deserts of Judea this was necessary for health reasons – Church teachings hold this was the ‘first’ shedding of Christ’s Blood.

Christ's Circumcision
CHRIST”S CIRCUMCISION  (British Library}

The Feast of Foules, on the 31st December, was the  culmination of the Christo Maesse Festivals. The feast was originally organised for the junior clergy but soon included freemen and villeins. Ecclesiastical ritual was parodied as low and high clergy changed places for the day.

Feast
Twelfth FEAST OF FOOLS    (kmfletts blog.wordpress.com)

Twelfth Night falls on the 5th January if the First Day of Christmas is indeed Christmas Day. However, some branches of Christianity consider the Feast of Epiphany on the 6th January to be the 12th Day of Christmas, thus the Feast of Saint Stephen becomes the First Day of Christmas. King Edwine of Deira may be the final arbiter since decorations may only be taken down from the 6th January!!   In Elizabethan England, Twelfth Night was a festival celebrated with music, masked balls, misrule, revelry and debauchery. Shakespeare’s play, Twelfth Night, is an amusing moralistic farce on the hazards of dressing-up and the tension between alcoholic gluttony and puritanical lust epitomised by Sir Toby Belch and Malvolio. It is a play about hopeless love and other agues that afflicted “Merrie England” – and are still with us today.

Twelth Night
TWELTH  NIGHT FESTIVITY  (alamy.com)

The Feast of Epiphany  on the 6th January, was celebrated by the early church as the end of forty days and forty nights in the desert culminating in baptism. At a later date the Church decreed the Feast Day to be recognised as the Proclamation of the Gospel by Jesus.

Ephiphany
FEAST OF EPIPHANY  BAPTISM IN THE RIVER JORDAN   (askideas.com)

 

Ephiphany
FEAST OF EPIPHANY  PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL (dailyscripture.org)

TE DEUM LAUDAMUS
The Christian religion and associated belief and ritual derived from cultures and customs for over two thousand years that spoke Aramaic, Latin, Persian, Celtic, Chaucer’s English and Shakespeare’s English. Any religion is ultimately a construct where myth and fact merge into belief. The Christian West has give the the majority of mankind the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. For a substantial minority, the period commences with Christo Maesse and terminates with the Feast of Epiphany. However, for an increasing global majority, the festive season commences with the purchase of consumables and ends on the whim of King Edwine of Deira.

DAYDATEFEAST, FEASTIVAL, DEBAUCH
125Christmas Day - The Nativity. Lord of Misrule controls festivities.
226Feast of Saint Spephen - feeding the poor.
327Feast of Saint John the Evangelist - witness to the Incarnation.
428Feast of the Holy Innocents - King Herod's massacre.
529Feast of the Ass - commemoration of the Donkey.
630
731Festival of Foules - for the junior Clergy and the masses.
81Feast of Christ's Circumcision - first shedding of Blood by the Saviour.
92
103
114
125Twelth Night, baudy gatherings & the legacy of King Edwine.
136Feast of Ephiphany - celebrating Baptism and the Proclamation of the Gospel.

HERE ENDETH THE LESSON
As with all things spiritual and temporal, if we can understand our ancestors then we can more easily comprehend the present and ‘in our cups’ can venture plausible projections for our descendants. Early Christians wisely spread their gift-giving over the Twelve Days of Christmas thereby reducing the stress from a deluge of unwanted baubles. Throughout the ‘Season’ there appeared to be continuous spiritual and gastronomic stimulation. (Trinity Lutheran Church, December 2016, The Real Twelve Days of Christmas)

And so to all a Medieval  Festive Greeting –
By mine own troth! May tou has’t a pipus did bless Christmas and a v’ry m’rry and prosp’rous year to cometh.”

 

 

MARRIAGE DEBATE DENOUEMENT NOVEMBER 2017

A SENSE OF PERSPECTIVE
In mid-November the results of the Plebiscite will be released to the Australian public who will have little idea of the issues which will swirl around a yes vote. The Government has been derelict in its duty by not informing citizens of problems experienced in other countries which have voted for marriage equality.

Below are details of Anglo-Saxon, principally Judaeo-Christian, nations who have acceded to 21st century Enlightenment:

  • United Kingdom  Pop. 67m, 93.5% heterosexual, 1.5% LGBT. (Office of National Statisics, 2013)
  • Canada  Pop. 35.4m, 97% heterosexual, 3% LGBT,
    0.8% same-sex couples – 72,000. (Statistics Canada, 2017)
  • New Zealand  Pop. 4.7m, 85% heterosexual, 10 -15% LGBT,
    1% same-sex couples. (Statistics NZ, 2013)
  • Australia  Pop. 23.6m, 97% heterosexual, 3% LGBT,
    1% same-sex couples – 48,000. (ABS, 2015)

The relative trans-national support for the LGBT community far exceeds their number within a population. The long-standing Judeo-Christian culture may be an explanation with the guiding principle set down in Matthew 7 – 12:                                                                               “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,        do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

The rise of militant LGBT, has coincided with the devasting decline in Christian church attendance through the Anglo-Saxon world. Christianity is suffering from a rise of secularism and increasing exclusion of religion in public life. Thus, the verities that influence older Australians, are no longer relevant to younger generations. With the exception of South Africa and Taiwan, the Islamic world, Africa and Asia are not yet in the “fold”.  Religious discipline, primitive taboo and large rural societies have slowed 21st century ‘enlightenment’.

Legal Equality
COUNTRIES WITH LEGAL MARRIAGE EQUALITY (Geoworld.biz)


THE  AFTERMATH
Negative fallout from marriage equality legislation is now becoming alarmingly obvious in the United Kingdom and Canada. Based on this painful social history, it should have been obvious to the Australian parliament that proper debate and protective legislation should have preceded this uninformed and contentious vote on marriage equality.

Set down below, is a summary of festering national sores and much ill-will between the LGBT minority and those still holding to traditional family and faith-based principles. The overarching situation in the United Kingdom and Canada is the increasing pressure on religious institutions, voluntary aid agencies, schools and parents, to embrace and materially support marriage equality legislation. Employment security of independent-minded employees is being threatened. Below is a potpourri of evolving issues:

  • CANADA
  • 52% of Canadians complain the Government is supporting laws restricting freedom of expression.
    (The Conservative,  August 2017)
  • Bill 89, Ontario – ’Supporting Children, Youth and Families’ . This legislates that “unless parents’ and foster parents’ attitude to gender expression, identity and sexual orientation outlook are acceptable, their right to bring up children will be reviewed”. (Blaze, 2017)
  • Children will not be permitted to be raised under the umbrella of a parent’s faith.
  • Bill 13, Ontario – Church leaders must accept the new orthodoxy of the 21st century.
  • In Ontario Province, marriage commissioners can no longer decide who they can marry, pastoral letters of Clergy are vetted by Local Authorities and pressure is being applied to schools to embrace 21st century orthodoxy.
    (Speak Up for Marriage,  August, 2017)
  • UNITED KINGDOM – a litany of evolving disruption.
  • The Equalities Minister, Rt Hon Justine Greening, has announced ‘Churches must keep up with modern attitudes’.
  • Religious parents may face interrogation if homosexuality is not accepted.
  • The High Court recently ruled that a Pentecostal couple were considered ineligible as adoption parents since their attitude on sexual orientation was not appropriate despite their being good parents.
  • Jews, Moslems and Sikhs are no longer considered fit to adopt children.
  • There is a move to bypass medical consultation before a gender change – an official application will be sufficient.
  • Court decisions now stipulate that business owners will be compelled to promote the LGBT cause, irrespective of personal conviction.
  • Employees in Government Departments have been threatened with dismissal for suggesting there are better child outcomes with heterosexual parents.
  • All 62,000 National Trust volunteers must now wear the same sex rainbow badge; those who resist are confined to the ‘back office’.
  • Children three years and above must attend classes on ‘gender fluidity’.
  • OFSTED – National School Regulatory Department  – is codemning successful schools for inadequate promotion of homosexuality and gender orientation.
    (The Spectator 7th September, 2017)
  • In conclusion, the Bow Group Conservative Think Tank, London, has stated that ‘same-sex marriage was promoted by Government as a process of tolerance and equity – it has become a most unequal and intolerant “hydra”, the worst outcome of any political issue in recent history’.
  • NEW ZEALAND
  • Both the Minister for Education and the former Prime Minister have indicated that, after four years of marriage equality, nothing has changed and the process is working well for New Zealand.. (Buzz Feed News & skynews.com,  September, 2017)
  • Since New Zealand has a Bill of Rights, perhaps cultural and religious norms are protected. By contrast, in the United Kingdom and Canada, the rights of the majority are being trampled underfoot by the 2% minority.

THE CRACK OF DOOM
The Australian Government is incompetent and irresponsible by enforcing a Plebisicite without enacting legislation to protect civil and religious interests. It is certain many voters will have no concept of the ramifications of a YES vote and the problems that could eventuate because the Government has failed in its duty of care. Unfortunately, there will be no Heracles to slay this hydra so it is probable that the social disruption in Australia will mirror that of Canada and the United Kingdom.

Hydra
HERACLES SLAYING THE HYDRA (theoi.com, Z26.1B)


The fundamental question is ‘Will marriage equality create a unified Australia – a nation-building ethos that strengthens the moral and social fabric of the Commonwealth?’

May the legislation, yet to be debated truly ‘Advance Australia’.

 

JOHN H HILL
lurgashall@westnet.com.au
Current Affairs Flashpoints
towardsthefinalhour.com

 

THE ROHINGYA – IMPEDIMENT TO DEVELOPMENT November 2017

DOWNSIDE OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT

Gas & Oil
FIG. 1   GAS & OIL PIPELINES FROM RAKHINE TO SW CHINA                               (Shwe Gas. The Conversation)

Much has been written on crimes against the Rohingya people in Rakhine state, Myanmar, but muted are the issues swirling round the genocidal activity of the Myanmar military.                                        Much has been written on the Rohingya refugee camps around Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh, but there has barely been mention of refugee concentration camps ringing the oil and gas installations owned by the China National Petroleum Company some 250 km to the south.

The international community has been well informed by vested interests, that military action in northern Rakhine state was due to the attacks on police posts last year by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army who were  fighting to improve the condition of the Rohingya people.  The bottom line of this discussion (mentioned in advance) is that the Rakhine-Yunnan oil & gas pipe lines are indispensable to the Chinese economy. The oil pipe line transfers oil from the Middle East to the east coast industrial regions of China. (The Truth Seeker, UK)

Pipelines
FIG. 2   OIL & GAS PIPELINES FROM RAKHINE TO YUNNAN, CHINA (thetruthseeker.co.uk)

Vindication for this infrastructure is China’s concern for the security of oil supplies from the Middle East through the Malacca Strait choke point. Also, there was concern over the long haul through the Indonesian archipelago and the South China Sea. Recently, Indian submarine activity has been detected in the Malacca Strait approaches. Considering the fraught situation between India and China in the Himalayas, China’s program seems justified.

Placing the violence in Rakhine state into context, it must be recognised that there are vested powerful economic interests involved.  Land-grabbing in Rakhine and globally is endemic when major infrastructure projects are planned. In 2011, Myanmar enacted political and economic reforms to encourage foreign investment in the country. Shortly afterwards, in 2012, violent attacks against the Rohingya commenced concurrent with Chinese and Korean interests acquiring timber, mineral and agricultural assets in the region.

The recently commissioned oil & gas pipe lines by CNPC will benefit Myanmar through transit fees, energy revenues and  satellite industries springing up around this energy hub, serviced by a deep water port and eventually, a rail link into China. There will be little benefit for locals. The construction and commissioning has involved forced land acquisition, unsatisfactory compensation, environmental degradation and an influx of foreign workers. The importance and vulnerability of the project is illustrated by the concentration of military depots deployed along the pipelines. (Figure 1)  The concentration of refugee camps, distant from the violence in the north, around the oil and gas coastal infrastructure    is indicative of corralling and a subsequent relocation program. (Figure 3)

Refugee Camps
FIG. 3   RAKHINE REFUGEE CAMPS.   KYANKPYU (KYAUKPYU) CLOSE TO OIL/GAS TERMINAL  (Rohingya-American Society)

 

In 2015, the Myanmar government revoked the citizenship of many Rohingya ensuring forced removal could be facilitated.
(The Conversation, September 2017)

Such has been domestic outrage at the exploitation of Burmese resources and increasing Chinese influence during and following the completion of the energy installations, that a long-planned $20 billion Chinese rail link between Kunmin and the port of Kyankpyu (Kyaukpyu ) has been delayed. In this regard, the Chinese ambassador recently made two interesting announcements: “unrest in Rakhine is an internal affair and the work of the security forces is justified” and “the Myanmar government assistance to the displaced people is welcome and China will donate $147 million toward this work”. (Reuters & Hindustan Times 17 September) This donation could well be an encouragement to the Myanmar government to expedite approval for the rail link. Compounding the violence against the Rohingya, the coastal region of Rakhine is increasing in strategic and commercial importance with both India and China seeking to exploit the economic potential of the region. To this end the Myanmar government has a vested interest in clearing the land (depopulation plus scorched earth) in order to encourage foreign investment. (The Conversation, 12 September 2017)


SILENCE IS GOLDEN
Myanmar.
The silence of Aung San Suu Kyi is understandable. The current violence in Rakhine is not simply due to ethnic or religious animosity. This ethnic cleansing is generated by a desire for economic and industrial development. In previous decades all industrialised countries have forcibly ‘relocated’ or killed indigenous people to further their own economic or strategic imperatives. Unfortunately Myanmar is in the 21st century’s spotlight. Developing nations in the 19th and 20th centuries, however, have been able to develop their economies prior to the instant news cycle.  This problem cannot be solved by Aung San Suu Kyi or General Min Aung Haiang, Chief of Armed Forces. There are about 1.1 million Rohingya – nearly half must be in Bangladesh or Myanmar refugee concentration camps. If the International Community will not provide relocation then the situation might subside into silent exhausted hatred, with the rump of the Rohingya moved away from valuable coastal areas.

Australia.
At a ‘working’ lunch in New York on the 18th September 2017, the Australian Foreign Minister spoke on the violence in Rakhine. (Parliament of Australia Briefs)  Condemned in equal amounts were the ARSA attacks on police posts and the military for their attacks on the Rohingya. The Minister noted “something was wrong and called for a cessation of hostilities”. (Naive in the extreme!!!).
The Minister further noted that Australia had donated $65 million to alleviate suffering. (Little is solved by only throwing money at a problem!!!) All good motherhood stuff, but it was a speech of no moment. There was no mention of unrest due to foreign investment, dispossession or environmental damage. There was no suggested solution; a capitulation to an inevitable.  Unfortunately our ‘national’ hands are tied. Australia can say nothing to jeopadise our coal, iron ore and tourism exports but Australia must, perforce, inevitably permit a perceptible colonisation of Australia’s higher education instituions.

As Napoleon Bonaparte famously noted: “China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she awakes she will move the world”.

Current Affairs Flash Points   towardsthefinalhour.com                          John Hill      Email: lurgashall@westnet.com.au

 

MARRIAGE DEBATE DEBACLE October 2017

To be, or not to be – that is the question                                                  Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer                                                          The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune                                                  Or take up arms against a sea of troubles                                                      And by opposing them – to die. (Hamlet, Act 111)

As the arbiter of good taste and of Australian culture the ABC has constantantly referred to ‘partner’ rather than husband and wife despite some 60% of those eligible being married, not partnered. By logic the term partner or partnership has thus become acceptable and the term ‘partnership equality’ can become legally equivalent but not interchangeable with ‘marriage equality’ since there is no gender equivalence. The term ‘partnership equality’ for same sex couples should be supported, since the vocabulary used by the ABC is already in place. Biologically and legally a wife can only be a woman and a husband can only be a man and by universal convention their union is one of marriage.

HETEROSEXUALHOMOSEXUAL
To MarryTo Partner
HusbandPartner
WifePartner
MarriagePartnership

The heat and rhetoric created by the postal vote is rational since it impacts on a core value of global society, but for Australia it is irrational due to the numbers involved. Based on the 2011 Census, there were 33,700 homosexual couples in Australia, i.e. 67,400 citizens – about 0.3% in a population of 24 million. Same sex couples represent about 1% of all couples in Australia. (Australian Social Trends 4102.0, July 2013, ABS) The most recent census would show an increase.

For the ‘No’ vote, this is a Hamlet problem as younger generations arise and established verities are cast aside. It matters not that present day well-being and freedoms are the product of strife and discipline of yesteryear. In this brave new world it is natural to construct new words or new definitions: the danger for society is where will this stop, particularly in a less democratic order. At the national level, will a ‘Yes’ vote for ‘partnership equality’ improve or will there be an indefineable weakening of our culture? In view of the ABC’s persistent use of ‘partner’, it is reasonable to assume that, under law, partnership and marriage should be treated equally but are not the same and never will be.

 

Burlesque
BURLESQUE or DEBATE in the HOUSE (lionsroar.com)

The Australian Government has polarised the nation, fostered bad blood, divided families, abrogated its responsibility and wasted more than $100 million. The Government has created a burlesque of a serious Parliamentary Debate.

Current Affairs Flash Points
towardsthefinalhour.com
John Hill   lurgashall@westnet.com.au

TIMELINES & FAULTLINES, An Autobiography

 

Book Cover
TANAMI DESERT, CENTRAL AUSTRALIA. SUNSET, 1988

TIMELINES & FAULTLINES comprises a panorama of Colonial history, painful politics and resultant social issues across a swath of the 20th century. The author, a mining geologist, has recorded unusual events and stories from sub-Arctic gulag country to Antarctic whaling waters, from coral atolls of the Pacific to the fleshspots of South East Asia, from European mining might to the the uncertain life of Brazilian garimpeiros.

 

Garimpeiro
GARIMPEIRO ON MINESITE (Pinterest, Sebastio Salgado)

Working in the Amazon Basin, Minas Geras, in 1973 I witnessed first hand the dreadful working conditions of the garimpeiros (illegal miners) eeking out a tin scratchers living on the Sierra Branca cassiterite deposit. Their lot is one of heat, dust, dirt, mud and violence.

PIRHANA
PIRHANA (Getty Images 92121157)

The Sierra Branca deposit is located adjacent ro the Rio das Mortes, a waterway infested with pirhañas, carnivores that will strip cattle or a humans to the bone in moments. The only way to reach the deposit is by an unstable punt. The operator was on the way to becoming a millionaire, no charge one way, a kilogram of cassiterite for the return trip.

TIMELINES & FAULTLINES An Autobiography

Book Cover. Time Lines and Fault Lines
TANAMI DESERT, CENTRAL AUSTRALIA SUNSET IN GOLD COUNTRY.

This autobiography records issues prior to the ‘low dishonest decade’ of the 1930s when Europe sleepwalked its way to war. It covers a small boy’s WWII, the loss of Empire, the rise of failing states, halcyon days of global growth and the implosion of the Soviet Union.
It has been a fortunate life, often living in communities freed from the yoke of Colonialism and resenting the need for foreign investment.

Canoes
NEW GEORGIAN WAR CANOES (alamy.com – ER98P7)

The Soloman Islands’ history was bloody, dominated by inter-island warfare. New Georgian war canoes raided islands seeking ‘mana’ from skulls of their enemies. Early in the 20th century, missionaries requested the British navy to destroy the great canoe houses.

Skulls
SKULL MOUNDS, NEW GEORGIA, SOLOMON ISLANDS. (traveladventures.org)

High on a misty jungle-covered mountain top on Vella Lavella, I came across mounds of skulls, most with holes in the back of their heads. The Melanesian porters fled in terror.

AUSTRALIAN CYCLONES September 2017

MONSOONS – HURRICANES – CYCLONES

Sea Temperatures
RISING OCEANIC SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE (sst.weekly, NOAA}

PREAMBLE                                                                                                                                     In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, Hurricanes hardly ever happen. (Pygmalion)

Perhaps not any more – this was the prevailing belief in 1913 when Mother Earth was not given to tantrums. One hundred years later, Ghia, that ocean in the sky, and Posieden have decided to give Homo sapiens stultus a very stern warning which should be well heeded by those of our species on the north-east coastal regions of Australia.                                                                                                                           Two August weather disasters and four other major weather events are currently occurring round the globe.  The root cause of these problems is the warming of the oceans due to the blanketing affect of greenhouse gas. These events have morphed into catastrophes. Hurricane Irma, roaring out of the Atlantic, is about to add to the woes of the southern United States. In early September, three hurricanes are now high-tailing across the Atlantic Ocean through the Carribean islands towards southern United States.                          The two disasterous weather events are the monsoon in the north-east of the Indian sub-continent and hurricane Harvey that has devastated the Houston region adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico.. The strange situation is that we have heard loud and clear that ‘Houston has a problem’ but very little about the far more terrible event on the Indian sub-continent.

THE INDIAN MONSOON                                                                                      North-west India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh, covering an area of 720,000 sq. km. (NSW 809,000 sq. km.), has been devastated. An arc of the sub-continent some 1800 km in length  has been flooded and rendered virtually uninhabitable. The monsoon has affected more than 50 million people, deaths exceed 2000, more than 90,000 homes have been destroyed in Nepal and tens of thousands are affected by cholera and other water-born diseases. About 50% of Uttar Pradesh and 40% of Bangladesh (44,000 sq. km.) are flooded. Onto this devastated country have been forced around 270,000 Rohingya refugees while Myanmar maintains its genocide of this Muslim group. The monsoon originated in the warmed waters of the Bay of Bengal. Simultaneously the Mumbai region has been devastated by floods caused by 468 mm of rain in twelve hours which originated from the warmed waters of the Arabian Sea. This has been the heaviest rainfall event in over twenty years.

 

Indian Floodind
N E INDIAN MONSOON, FLOODED AREA.. (Relief Web. 29 August)

HURRICANE HARVEY                                                                                                By contrast, hurricane Harvey originated in the warmed waters of the Gulf of Mexico and exploded onto the Houston region where it  dumped 127 mm of rain. Comparative rainfall figures with the disastrous Hurricane Katrina (2006) are instructive; Katrina only unleashed 30 trillion litres while Harvey dumped 121 trillion litres on the regional swamp land. The hurricane flooded about 30,000 sq km along 800 km of country. It has significantly been classified as ‘one in a thousand year flood’.  30,000 to 40,000 homes have been destroyed and around 50,000 people are in shelters. (CNN, VOX, 3 September) In terms of comparative numbers, hurricane Harvey barely rates when compared to the social and material devastation generated by the Indian monsoon.                                                                     The economic significance of hurricane Harvey is that it has shut down roughly 11% of US refining capacity and 25% of US oil production which will put temporary upward pressure on global energy prices. These economic ramifications for the fragile Saudi economy and the stressed Russian economy are important and could lead to unwanted assertiveness. (Geopolitical Futures 30 August)

Cyclone Harvey
PATH OF HURRICANE HARVEY> (GEOPOLITICAL FUTURES)

ATLANTIC HURRICANES                                                                                           In early September, three hurricanes, Katia, Jose and Irma, gestated in the North Atlantic equatorial waters. Hurricane Irma (Category 5) has already established records as the most powerful storm ever recorded with wind speeds around 300 km/hr and it is now causing devastation in Florida. It is also an unusual omen that it has roared out of the Atlantic, not the Gulf of Mexico. This is troubling since it suggests the ocean waters are heating up as fast as the shallow gulf waters. Carribean islands, over a path 200 km wide, have been devasted. The significance of Irma, Jose and Katia are their frequency and intensity so soon after hurricane Harvey. This fact has serious implications for north-eastern Australia’s coastal communities and infrastructure. (VOX  7 September)

Hurricanes
ATLANTIC HURRICANES< KATIA, IRMA AND JOSE (NOAA)

CHINA                                                                                                                                Two typhoons have have hit the Chinese  mainland contemporaneously with the weather events in the north-eastern Indian region and the southern United States.  Hong Kong has been lashed by typhoon Hato and Macau by typhoon Pakar. The significance for all these events is they are occurring at the end of a warming northern hemisphere summer.

CLIMATE SCIENCE                                                                                                      The message coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is that hurricanes, typhoons and monsoons will increase in intensity and frequency because ocean waters are rising above historic averages due to atmospheric green house gases blanketing the planet and thus not permitting heat loss from the oceans. A feature of recent events is for the low preasure systems to remain stationary rather than moving inland and becoming rain depressions, which means flooding will become more catastrophic. (The Atlantic Magasine – Science)
It is concerning to note that even if carbon dioxide input into the atmosphere ceased today, upward trends would continue for over one hundred years. “After stabilisation of the carbon dioxide and other green house gases, surface air temperature will rise by a few tenths of a degree per century for a century or more. Sea level will rise over many centuries – it has already risen 20cm since the early 1900s due to volume increase from warming and contribution from Antarctic and Greenland ice melt. The slow transfer of heat to the ocean will continue over generations before stabilisation will commence.” (Climate Change, Synthesis Report, International Panel on Climate Change, 2001)

Air Temp
RISING GLOBAL AIR TEMPERATURE< CRITICAL SINCE 1980. (NOAA)

CYCLONE DEBBIE – A PORTENT                                                                  What has all this to do with cyclone Debbie in March 2017? A great deal, in fact; in the long run, the social and economic viability of coastal Australia will be seriously affected by summer cyclone activity.           Cyclone Debbie, at the end of the 2017 southern summer, has been branded as the deadliest event since cyclone Tracy in 1974, 43 years ago. Significantly, as with the preceding weather events overseas, cyclone Debbie has been described as unusually ferocious and was associated with heavier than usual rainfall. It cut a swathe of destruction over an area approximating to 450,000 sq km (1400 x 300 km). Rainfall records for north-eastern New South Wales were broken – 900 mm. in 48 hours was unprecedented. (The Conversation, Huffington Post, 31 March}                                                                     Psychologists have warned on the emotional impact among the affected population: people have been identified who have had to rebuild homes or business at least twice in the last few years due to cyclone activity. In the Tweed Heads-Lismore region, more than 11,000 have been made homeless, thousands of homes have been destroyed and there have been several deaths. Twenty-two Queensland coal mines curtailed production involving a $1.5 billion loss. The national economic impact is estimated to exceed $2 billion and will be a drag on first-half economic growth; it will add to inflation. (Daily Telegraph, The Australian, 3 April)
This is not intended as a rehash of destruction: this is a warning that. on current trends, future cyclones will become more destructive.

Cyclone Debbie
CYCLONE DEBBIE – RAINFALL. (BOM, 29 March 2017)

POSTAMBLE                                                                                                                  This offering highlights the relevance of current trends and weather disasters to the social stability and economic viability of the north-eastern Australian region. Proof, not anecdotal evidence, confirms storms, globally, are becoming more violent and destructive. Hurricane Harvey, the Indian monsoon, hurricane Irma and cyclone Debbie have all been described as the worst events in decades. All have occurred at the end of a long hot summer. Mention has been made several times of one in one hundred year events during this period but hurricane Harvey has been classified as one in a thousand year event. ((Washington Post)  What is significant is not the raw numbers but the trends. At these intensities and frequencies this global situation is becoming an enervating battle between an enraged Ghia and Homo sapiens stultus.                                                                                                    For Australian planners, the nation’s principal exports of coal in the east and iron-ore and gas in the west will face increasing production delays. It is not rational to expect that Australia can avoid increasingly destructive cyclones. The only practical precaution will be meticulous disaster planning and ensuring the Bureau of Meteorology is sufficiently resourced to provide accurate cyclone warning.

Sea Temperature
RISING SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE. (NOAA 2016)

With a final look at the warming oceans, it should be noted that the North Atlantic is cooling due to ice-melt from Greenland – a very bad sign.                                                                                                                              The Govenor of Florida has requested his citizens not to fire their weapons at cyclone Irma as it will not reduce her vitality – Homo sapiens stultus!

John Hill                                                                                                                        Current Affairs Flash Points                                                                 towawdsthefinalhour.com                                       lurgashall@westnet.com.au

READER COMMENT                                                                                                                        1  I remain unconvinced and am disappointed to see you confuse weather and climate. I dispute the contention that storms and floods of this magnetude have never happened before and that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming. The events you refer to are not unique whenever planet Earth was warm enough and had an atmosphere and oceans.. Yes, the effects have been devastating but this is the result of increased populations in vunerable locations and continuing failure (or ability) of Governments or Communities to undertake serious mitigation.                                                                                       I do not regard CNN, Washington Post or IPCC as anything but fake news. I will stick with Benny Peiser, Joane Nova, Jenifer Marohasy and Geof Derrick. You are welcome to attach yourself to Al Gore, Tim Flannery, John Cook, Will Stephan, the Labor Party, Malcolm Turnbull  and other Green and Lefty frauds perpetrating  the huge, costly and destructive  scam on a gullible public.

2  It always amuses me how often we have once in a hundred years’ events. Personnally without wanting to appear too gloomy I think we are only seeing the  beginning of the effects of global warming. Even if efforts to reduce greenhouse gases are implemented – by no means certain – it could be all to late.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated recently – current data bases indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century. The trend in numbers of major hurricanes making United States landfall has been slightly downward over the past century. The catagory 5/4 hurricanes Harvey and Irma have ended an unprecedented 12 year hurricane drought.

TIMELINES & FAULTLINES. An Autobiography

 

Book Cover
TANAMI DESERT, CENTRAL AUSTRALIA. SUNSET, 1988

This autobiography records a kalaidoscope of historical and political anecdotes and  maverick occupations that are now no longer widely supported in this ‘brave new world’. This is an unusual life story of a mining geologist who, by good fortune, found himself in strange places well off the beaten track. This autobiography is published by Austin Macauley, London and is available from bookshops and on line

Whales
WHALE CATCHER COMING ALONG SIDE THE FACTORY SHIP ‘ABRAHAM LARSEN’, ANTARCTIC,1956.

These sei whales were harpooned far from the factory ship, partially inflated with a preservative gas and set adrift with radio beacon attached, buoy boats would collect them and deliver them to the factory ship.

 

WHALE
HUMPBACK WHALE ON THE FLENSING DECK.

Flensers cutting the blubber from the carcass which will be rendered down to whale oil. The remainder will be boiled down to meat meal and bone meal. The pots below deck have been opened releasing clouds of steam. In less than an hour the whale will have been processed and the next whale would be on the flensing deck.

John Hill.  lurgashall@westnet.com.au —————————————–Current Affairs Flash Points.  towardsthefinalhour.com

AUSTRALIA – HYPOCRISY on MARRIAGE EQUALITY. August 2017

 

HIPOCRACY
HYPOCRISY – IS THERE A HIDDEN AGENDA? (equussantafe.com)

PERCEPTION IS ALL
Revealed is the hypocrisy, cant and calumny of the Coalition towards its bête noire, marriage equality. Over many months, our parliamentarians specious comment on “their undertaking, their promise, their reluctance to break faith, their wish for the people to decide” and similar cant has lost all ring of sincerity. If these sentiments were based on respect for the Australian people they might be taken seriously. Unfortunately this is not so. For members of the Coalition, incredibly, it is not the destination but the journey that is important. Behind this facade of verbal rectitude lies a trail of dishonoured pledges, broken promises and dissimulation by senior politicians and their acolytes. Why is this promise to the Australian people so important? To implement a plebiscite runs the risk of fueling sectarian discord among the Australian people.

THE UGLY TRUTH                                                                                                       The Australian government purports to be non-sectarian. It would be instructive to ascertain which decision-makers are prepared  to incur an expense  of $160 million rather than reveal a faith based prejudice on the floor of the House during debate and subsequent ‘Lock the Doors’. Verily, some parliamentarians, stunted by dogma, would fear the third cock crow. Parliamentarians are elected to govern, not hide behind the the dictates of their own faith.  Australia is non-sectarian!   In recent years, the dishonoured pledges and backdowns perpetrated by the Coalition government (and Labor) is astonishing; there are dozens of separate issues. (see references) Just three examples of broken promises and an exposure of dissimulation represent less than 5% of these records:

  • Paid parental leave, a signature policy, later abandoned.
  • Hospital funding cuts, changes were to be implemented in three years time, they were immediately applied.
  • Superannuation changes, adverse changes would not be made – this was not so.
  • An example of dissimulation – the much vaunted South Australian submarine project was touted as a benefit to the state. Currently there is no construction tender, only a design contract in France. A  decision on a construction contract may only eventuate around 2019.

In his article, Gottliebsen states “Trust in politicians is further eroded. The political class in Australia needs to take a good look at itself.”

THE LAST REFRAIN                                                                                                 With respect to Marriage Equality the media needs to lift its game; reporters and interviewers verge on the supine in their questions to politicians. There is no vigorous probing as to why a plebiscite is  essential and why there is the objection to a parliamentary debate. Since so many promises have been broken, what is the objection to breaking this one particularly as it will immediately benefit people and save $160 million. Is it possible some wish to save themselves the embarrassment of standing up for their principles or risk being accused  of apostasy? The public deserve answers since,perhaps, only half-a-dozen people are delaying a democratic process.                                           It is a matter for despair that our politicians are less by and more large purveyors of platitudes and soothing words. By hiding the bad news they tend to be wolves in sheep’s clothing. The true situation on any matter is either obtained from investigative journalists, experts or those au fait with current events.

The Wolf
WOLF IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING. REAL INFORMATION NOT THE PUBLIC STATEMENT (rapid.net.com)

The Honorable Michael Kirby, AC. CMG. has has added the firm voice of leadership to this sorry saga by stating he will not support a postal vote proposed by this Government that has clearly abrogated its responsibility to govern for the people of Australia.

REFERENCES:
Austin,  A. 18 May 2015. Budget backflips bring broken promises. Indepentent Australia.
Gottliebsen, R. 8 May 2016. Coalition and Labor’s broken promises have shattered voter trust. The Australian.

JOHN HUGH HILL, lurgashall@westnet.com.au                                                                          Current Affairs Flash Points, towardsthefinalhour.com

 

 

DARWIN – A CHINESE PORT & CHOKE POINTS July 2017

 

 

Sea Power
PROTECTING CHOKE POINTS (thediplomat.com)

DARWIN – A CHINESE PORT                                                                          China has expressed concern over the Strait of Malacca as a vunerable choke point for its energy supplies from the Middle East oilfields. In the near future two strategic straits may enter maritime discussions, the Torres Strait and the Bering Strait.                                The 99 year lease of Darwin port to  Landbridge, a Chinese company, by the Northern Territory government has now acquired an added significance. Darwin is well placed for Chinese authorities to monitor and provide services to commercial and other shipping using the choke points of the Lombok and Torres Straits and the developing oil fields in the Timor Sea. Both these straits are used by the West Australian iron ore trade to China and the by vessels bound for east Asian ports and North America.                                    Darwin could well become a valuable strategic pendant hanging of the ‘string of pearls’ within the One Belt One Road Chinese expansion policy

 

Lombok-Torres}
MALACCA, LOMBOK & TORRES STRAITS (csba-airsea- battle.jpg)

CHOKE POINTS & MARITIME TRADE                                                    Choke points are critical to the protection of maritime trade routes. With  China expressing concern on Indian navy surveillance of its military vessels in the Malacca Strait the increasing importance of the Lombok and Torres Straits are becoming apparent. The Torres Strait is the only direct route between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and is nominally under the control of the United Nations Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the navigable channel for commercial shipping is 800m wide and 13m deep. This constitutes a navigational and stategic choke point. Control of choke points in times of international tension or hostilities is vital for the preservation of national interests. Examples of srategic choke points are: the Danish Strait into the Baltic Sea, the Straits of Dover into the North Sea, the Strait of Gibralter into the Mediterranean , the Gulf of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf, the Malacca Strait into the South China Sea. The Lombok and Torres Straits are now becoming increasingly important as safe maritime passages, as a consequence military build up will follow. Those with vested interests  are Australia, Indonesia and China.

 

China
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO CHINA. ARCTIC TRADE ROUTES  (Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration)

As an extension to this scenario the Bering Strait between the United States and Russia is looming as a choke point with China very much ‘The Third Man’. Commercial shipping has doubled over the past five years and will steadily increase as the Arctic ice cap melts to create wider, safer seaways. China is developing trade routes west to Europe and east to Canada and the United States. Unfortunately Australia is situated far to the east distant from the trading hubs, but could become a way point for oil imports to China from the Persian Gulf.

John Hill,  lurgashall@westnet.com.au                                                       Current Affairs Flash Points,   towardsthefinalhour.com