0

J is for jihad

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

IN MARCH this year, a group of Islamic radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.
Nanjing Night Net

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman, who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession, was the prisoners’ mosque functionary who came under the influence of Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with another Bali bomber, Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi” – Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia entirely with an Islamic caliphate under Islamic law.

Until the Bali bombings, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terror police, has had great success in cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists.”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500. For every 10 prosecuted, another one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terror, and many more who have gone unnoticed so far.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones which blew up by accident in the kitchen.

Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised. The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding and follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sunday Age that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the United States and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians not the three mujahideens,” he writes. ”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila” – ”crazy”. But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle and wise old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiah, Bashir’s former terror vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron, and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the latter-day plots that police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the Ngruki boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rohim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that the school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down, and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque being built and the separate sections for boys and girls, the Al-Mukmin school in suburban Ngruki is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terror police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning, or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, young English and Arabic teacher Abu Amar airily says the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Abu Bakar Bashir’s son Aburahman Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad, saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamic state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual, or its curriculum dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school,” he says angrily. ”It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking. For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

The fact is that not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terror raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahid can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy. They were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.”

Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade. He says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing, and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp, or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a de-radicalisation program. Vice-President Boediono himself ordered an anti-terror plan to be in place by next year, and said that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono said.

But Irfan Idris, the head of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter-Terrorism, says the entire agency has a budget of only $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of de-radicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

Professor Sarlito Wirawan, a psychologist working on this program and others, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical boarding school in Ngruki, Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector de-radicalisation programs. Noor Ismail Huda, a journalist and former student at Ngruki, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes, and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdurahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate. He says attacking the ideology head-on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said.

”Then we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terror. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … this is what people here call Reformasi,” he says.

”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Islamist teaching … cleric Abdul Rahim, a son of Abdul Bashir, is a teacher at al-Mukmin school. Students laugh during a break in classes at al-Mukmin school.
Nanjing Night Net

Students in an English class at al-Mukmin school.

In March, a group of Islamist radicals were scoping out new targets in Bali, hoping to enact their own murderous 10th anniversary of the 2002 attacks.

They had surveyed the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Kuta and the Australian-run La Vida Loca bar in Seminyak. They had chosen a suicide bomber and planned to fund the operation by robbing a money changer and a gold store.

What is not widely known is that three of the five plotters for ”Bali III” – including their leader, Hilman, aka Surya – were low-level drug pushers who were radicalised in Kerobokan prison when they were locked up with the original Bali bombers in the early 2000s.

According to research by the International Crisis Group, Hilman – who was serving a seven-year sentence for marijuana possession – was the mosque functionary who came under the influence of the Bali bomber Imam Samudra. On leaving prison, he became a full-time jihadist. Another plotter shared a cell with Amrozi.

The radicalisation of their cellmates was the Bali bombers’ slow-burn revenge. If an attack had overshadowed this week’s 10th anniversary commemoration, they would have their last, posthumous, laugh over their jailers. (Samudra and Amrozi were executed in 2008.)

Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But, despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling the issue.

After the authoritarian and secular regime of Suharto fell in 1998, many groups that were previously repressed thrived under ”Reformasi”, Indonesia’s flowering of freedom. Among them were those groups with a radical religious agenda who wanted to replace the state of Indonesia with a caliphate under Islamist law.

Until the Bali bombing, whose death toll of 202 woke it from its torpor, the newly democratic Indonesia knew little or nothing of the growing number of deadly men in its midst.

Ten years on, Indonesian law enforcement, spearheaded by Detachment 88, the anti-terrorism police, has had great success cracking down on religiously inspired radicalism. On his recent visit to Indonesia, the Australian Defence Minister, Stephen Smith, lavished praise, saying: ”There is no country in the world that is more successful in arresting and prosecuting terrorists [than Indonesia is].”

Since the first Bali attack, Indonesia has arrested 700 people for terrorism offences and prosecuted 500.

For every 10 prosecuted, one suspected terrorist – including some of Asia’s most dangerous men – has been killed by police on the streets.

That success story, though, contains the frightening truth that, in 10 years, Indonesia has produced 500 people with a proven link to terrorism and many more who have so far gone unnoticed.

Every few months a new plot, with a new set of plotters, is uncovered. Some, such as a recent group calling itself ”al-Qaeda Indonesia”, have progressed far enough to start making bombs – albeit ones that blew up by accident in the kitchen. Many now believe that law enforcement alone is not enough. They say the country’s jihad factories, which still pump out recruits, must be shut down and the radicals de-radicalised.

The effort so far, though, has been piecemeal and anaemic, marred by poor funding, little follow-through and an apparent lack of political will.

In Indonesian prisons, extremist preachers, terrorists and would-be jihadists are locked up with common criminals. Low-level terrorists – youngsters or those who have dabbled around the edges of a radical group – are housed with hardened jihadis, persuasive men with a seductive story to tell.

The most infamous of these men, Abu Bakar Bashir, is serving a 15-year sentence for helping set up a paramilitary training camp in Aceh in 2010. But inside, he is still surrounded by acolytes and young prisoners, and boasts in a written interview with The Sun-Herald that he is ”busy spreading the word of Allah to the people”.

His words remain unrepentantly full of violent jihad – ideas of noble martyrdom and the overthrow of the state of Indonesia so ”that people’s life may be managed by Allah’s law”. Bashir refers repeatedly to ”evil Indonesia” and offers up a contradictory mish-mash of arguments to explain and justify the Bali bombs.

First, he asserts that the massive bombs were set by three individuals, ”Mukhlas and his two friends”. He calls them ”mujahideen [holy warriors] who actively defended Islam” and were ”slaughtered by the Jews, the US and their allies”.

In the very next paragraph, he claims the bombs were part of a conspiracy, a ”micro-nuclear device” planted by the US to discredit Islam. ”So it was the US who essentially killed tens of Australians, not the three mujahideen,” he writes.

”God willing, Islam will win due to Allah’s help of jihad,” he writes, before exhorting Australian journalists to ”convert to Islam so you will be saved”.

Ask most ordinary Indonesians about Bashir and his ilk and they shake their heads and pronounce him ”gila”(crazy). But his carefully cultivated look of a gentle old scholar has made his loony rhetoric surprisingly resilient, despite the patent failure of the populace of Indonesia to rise up in support of holy war after the Bali bombings.

Jemaah Islamiyah, Bashir’s former terrorism vehicle, is now mistrusted in the radical community because a few of its high-profile members – notably Bali bomber Ali Imron and former senior member Nasir Abbas – ”turned” and offered information to police. But a whole slew of new followers have since emerged. Bashir’s new radical group, Jemaah Ansharut Tauhid, or JAT, has been involved in many of the more recent plots which police have uncovered.

As disturbing is the fact that the boarding school Bashir co-founded, and where his son (and leader of JAT) Abdul Rahim is a teacher, is still pumping out fresh-faced ”martyrs”. Bali bomber Idris, an old boy of Ngruki, said of his alma mater recently: ”That is where jihad was taught.” But suggest that al-Mukmin school in Ngruki, a suburb of Solo, might be closed down and Indonesians simply laugh.

All schools look something alike, and, apart from the enormous mosque now under construction and the separate sections for boys and girls, al-Mukmin is no exception. The classrooms have whiteboards and teachers at the front, and rowdy students in rows. In science the boys are learning about ”mikroba” – microbes. Graffiti and motivational posters adorn the walls.

But in the girls’ section, along with exhortations to pious (veiled) womanhood, is a noticeboard. Pinned to it is a graphic photograph of a dead man, blood fanning out from the back of his head. The man is Farhan, a young jihadist shot dead by anti-terrorist police on a Solo street two weeks before our visit.

Farhan was an alumnus of the Ngruki school and the pictures and two separate stories describing his death were downloaded from radical Islamist websites, printed out and pinned up, presumably for their educational value. Depending on how it was spoken about, the story might have been placed there in mourning or as an exhortation to righteous fury.

Asked about it, a young English and Arabic teacher, Abu Amar, airily says that the school teaches current events, just like any other. But this is not just any event. And there were no other posters on that board.

Rohim is a senior teacher at the Ngruki school his father founded. He defends the teaching of jihad saying: ”More than 60 verses of the teaching of jihad are in the Koran. Should we delete those verses?”

Not all the verses are about violence or war. Some are about the struggle to be a good Muslim; others about the desirability of an Islamist state. But alumni such as Idris recall a focus, particularly in extracurricular activities, on the warlike verses. Rohim bristles at any suggestion that this school is unusual or that its curriculum is dangerous.

”Yes, some alumni of Ngruki are involved [in holy war], but you cannot put the blame on the school. It’s so unfair. It’s so irresponsible. It’s a ridiculous way of thinking,” Rohim says angrily. ”For example, in your own country, if there’s a thief or a rapist, would you put the blame on their school?”

However, not just one, but many terrorists have been to Ngruki, including some of the linchpins of the Bali bombings – Mukhlas, Idris, Mubarok. In a recent series of terrorism raids in Indonesia, a number of the jihadis arrested or killed were also Ngruki alumni. Rohim says when such cases come to light, the current students are taught that ”it’s such a wrong action”.

But his words are ambivalent at best. He refuses to call the Bali bombers terrorists, saying they were, at worst, misguided ”mujahid” (holy warriors). ”Mujahideen can make mistakes. What they did will not reduce their status as mujahideen. They must be judged by what is their intention,” he says. ”I don’t want to even subtly claim that they were terrorists. It’s a word used by non-Muslims to corner Islam.”

Asked about the recent crop of alumni involved in terrorist activities, Rohim, like his father, claims a conspiracy – they were turned to terrorism by the police to discredit Islam, he says, even though a police officer was killed in one of their attacks. ”Well, it’s a conspiracy. Sometimes they are willing to sacrifice their own friends for the conspiracy … It’s a pretty normal thing for an intelligence officer to kill his own friends to cover up their own activities.” Rohim boasts that the school has been continuously accredited, both by the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Education for more than a decade.

Depressingly, he says demand for places grew fast in the wake of the Bali bombing and the school is still expanding. Posters around the campus show plans for new dormitories in new locations.

Once radicals graduate from school or prison, the next stage is to be invited to join a training camp or a plot. After the recent spate of arrests, there was a push for the government to establish a deradicalisation program. The Vice President, Boediono, has ordered an anti-terrorist plan to be in place by next year, and says that the fight against radical ideas had been too sporadic. ”This de-radicalisation blueprint will be comprehensive and will really serve the purpose,” Boediono says.

However, the director of the de-radicalisation program at the National Agency for Counter Terrorism, Irfan Idris, says the entire agency only has a budget of $9.5 million, of which only a part is set aside for the ”soft approach” of deradicalisation (as distinct from hard law enforcement).

An existing program running in Indonesian prisons since 2010 applies three strategies, he says: culture (using traditional Wayang puppet shows); business (trying to establish an economic base for prisoners); and ideology (countering the radical brainwashing). But in the past two years, only 32 prisoners nationwide have completed the program and there has been no attempt to measure its success.

A psychologist working on this program and others, Professor Sarlito Wirawan, says it can take up to three years to convince someone not to act on their radical theology. At this rate, it would take decades to even talk to one year’s supply of recruits from the radical boarding schools and the prisons. Asked about the radical pesantren at Ngruki, and Irfan refers me to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which keeps accrediting the school.

There are also several private-sector deradicalisation programs. A journalist and former student at Ngruki, Noor Ismail Huda, says Indonesian authorities ”have been doing extremely well after the milk has been spilled”.

He runs a program of ”disengagement”, which involves having former radicals run cafes. Here they are forced to serve customers of all cultures and religions, and they can also make money, making his program self-sustaining. ”We fight terrorism with doughnuts and coffee,” he says.

So far, though, he has only three cafes and has helped perhaps a handful of radicals.

Another private program is the Afghan Alumni Forum, where former radicals, the hard-core who trained in Afghanistan, try to use their kudos in the jihadi community to put people on the right path.

It is led by Abu Wildan, a former senior teacher at Ngruki who was asked to join the Bali plot but refused. Abdul Rahman Ayub, Jemaah Islamiyah’s former deputy in Australia, is also a key member, as is one-time Bali plotter Maskur Abdul Kadir. It holds forums in suburban function rooms under a banner that reads: ”Indonesia, peace without violence, terrorism and radicalism in the name of religion”.

Psychologist Sarlito works with the forum and claims an 80 per cent success rate.

He says attacking the ideology head on simply did not work because the radical imams still hold such sway. ”I’m not replacing anything. I leave their beliefs, but I say don’t do this and this … don’t start hurting people,” he said. ”Then, we bring in the wives, families, and say, ‘How about helping each other?’ … It’s step by step and it takes three years. It’s not an easy job.”

As these well-meaning efforts continue, though, schools and prisons keep churning out radicals. Australia has proscribed organisations and passed laws against hate speech. People have been jailed for preaching terrorism. Indonesia has nothing similar.

And, according to Nasir Abbas, the highest-profile reformed member of Jemaah Islamiyah, it will not develop them. ”In Indonesia, it’s different. They let you build whatever ideology you want, set up a school, as long as you don’t do the crime … This is what people here call reformasi,” he says. ”We’ve got freedom of speech and expression. You can’t just shut down a school.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

0

Running with scissors

July 5th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

Nicy try … Peter Morrissey, Megan Gale, Alex Perry and Claudia Navone.Looking back, model, actor, swimwear designer and host of Project Runway Australia, Megan Gale, has a clear memory about the moment when for her, clothes became ”fashion”.
Nanjing Night Net

Several waiters at the Southbank restaurant where we meet gaze at her from a discreet distance while an oblivious Gale stirs her coffee. ”It was the night of the school disco and mum wouldn’t let me go, but I just hassled her until she said, ‘All right, you can go, but you’ve got to go now.’ I was so happy I just went in the clothes I was in, which was a pair of jeans and tracksuit top.

”It was the ’80s so all my friends were wearing ra-ra skirts and their hair was crimped. That was the first time where I felt like I didn’t fit in because of what I was wearing.”

While you probably won’t see a ra-ra skirt on the fourth season of Project Runway Australia, Gale says some of its designers have produced remarkably original garments. ”Some of them interpret fashion in interesting ways,” she says. ”That’s what makes this show feel different each season. Everyone remembers Matcho from season three … he made you wonder where his head was creatively. This year we have Christina – she’s got this amazing vision and she really thinks outside the square. That’s exciting.”

Based on the long-running US version hosted by Heidi Klum, Project Runway Australia is a reality show about 12 fashion designers who must create a garment within the short time frame. Each week there’s an elimination – the last contestant standing wins.

The first challenge in episode one begins at midnight; pressure, exhaustion and creative temperaments are a compelling combination. Then there are the challenges. Gale says there are plenty of fresh tasks that force designers to use materials out of their comfort zones.

This year’s judges include Australian fashion designer Peter Morrissey and professional stylist and former fashion director of Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Claudia Navone. ”Peter’s very playful,” Gale says. ”He takes it all seriously, but sometimes he’s like a six-year-old on red cordial. But I’m the wrangler when it comes to the judges, designers and guest judges [including Miranda Kerr and Dannii Minogue], so that’s a lot of fun, too.”

As a judge herself, Gale doesn’t hold back and has developed an uncanny knack when it comes to spotting the designers’ attempts to hide wayward pins. ”It’s true. I have an evil eye when it comes to pins but constructive criticism is important – but not all the designers like to hear it. Some of them stand there and just give you excuses and that just brings out my ‘mum’ tone.”

Designer Alex Perry (if he had a more substantial moustache, he’d twirl it) returns as mentor, dishing out his signature advice, which ranges from supportive and astute to delightfully acerbic. ”A lot of people may not believe this,” Gale says, ”but Alex has one of the biggest hearts. He has this persona that works on the show but he’s very down to earth. He rarely goes out to functions – he’d prefer to be at home, in his jammies, having a cup of tea with his wife and his dog.”

At the suggestion that maybe the decision-making process featured on the show is the result of scripting, Gale stresses that every result is hard-won.

”We all have a different perspective. We don’t always agree – Claudia might focus on how the garment photographs, Peter’s looking at how it’s crafted, and I’m thinking, ‘Would I wear that on the red carpet and do I want my underwear hanging out the back?’ We nut it out until we have a result.”

Gale is reluctant to reveal any specifics about the new season, but says there was one challenge that almost ended in disaster.

”All I’ll say is that the designers were asked to make an entire outfit and someone decided they’d knock out a pair of jeans, but they ended up looking like something circa 1980 and not in a good way.”

It could be said, though, that the mishaps – say, the model teetering down the catwalk praying her ill-fitting garment doesn’t cause a wardrobe malfunction – are a large part of the show’s appeal.

”Coming up with new challenges that are good for both the designers and viewers at home is a challenge in itself,” Gale says with a laugh, ”but this year we’ve definitely managed to come up with some great ones.”

Project Runway Australia premieres on Monday, October 8, at 8.30pm on Arena.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bullying claims: Glendal Foods workers (from left) Hiep Nguyen, Nuong Nguyen, Quyen Le, Lieu Phan and Huong Vu.ALMOST half the staff at an inner-city gourmet food manufacturer – which makes food for Ikea, Qantas, Costco and other high-profile clients – have spoken out about alleged extreme bullying in their workplace.
Nanjing Night Net

Eighteen staff out of 38 at Glendal Foods in Brunswick have accused their employer of allowing bullying to go unchecked, despite numerous complaints and the involvement of a trade union.

The alleged bullying among the staff, most of whom speak little English, is said to be so intense that one worker harmed herself two weeks ago. She was admitted to the Western Hospital, where doctors later asked WorkSafe to become involved. The authority is now conducting an investigation.

Another staff member alleged a heavy trolley was pushed into her belly while she was pregnant.

The 18 staff took the unusual step of speaking publicly about the alleged bullying, which they said had gone on for at least six years, because they hoped doing so would help their situation. The workers said management at the plant had, among other things, allowed a senior staff member to:

■Regularly scream at them and make sexual and personal comments.

■Tell workers they needed to give 48 hours’ notice if they wanted to take sick days.

■Demand staff work overtime on any day, without any notice.

■Tell any casual worker who became full time they must ”celebrate” by buying lunch for the entire workplace, or buying a supervisor a gift.

■Ban any contact with the company’s owner.

■Keep the wages of some employees for up to eight weeks.

Qantas and Ikea confirmed on Friday that Glendal Foods was among their suppliers but declined to comment further. Costco could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Glendal Foods makes items such as samosas, filo pastries, soups, curries and casseroles for its many clients.

It is owned by Chandra Kanodia, a chef who opened the Phantom India restaurant in Swanston Street, Carlton, in the 1970s.

Most of the bullying complaints centre on one supervisor, Van Phan.

In the most serious case, staff alleged Ms Phan had succeeded in pressuring most to pay her – in cash – 10 per cent of a backpay payment made to them in July after they signed a new workplace agreement.

Ms Phan declined to discuss the allegations on Friday, although she said employees who gave her a cut of their backpay had given it as a gift. ”They were happy to do that,” she said.

After the union became involved, the company asked Ms Van to voluntarily pay back this money.

One employee, Hiep Nguyen, said she had been instructed, when given a full-time job with the company, to shout the entire factory lunch, because ”it was the rules”.

Ms Nguyen said she was threatened with the sack if she did not do so.

”I am a new arrival. I came to Australia legally. I work, and pay tax and try to be a good citizen. But because I have really limited English, I don’t know a lot of rules. And for someone who has been here a bit longer than me to make my life really difficult is not fair for me,” she said through an interpreter.

Few Glendal Foods employees had been members of the National Union of Workers (which covers some food manufacturing) until August, when a complaint was made to the union by Ms Nguyen, who also contacted the federal government’s Fair Work Ombudsman, which in turn referred her to WorkSafe.

Another employee, Quyen Le, said she had been regularly yelled at by Ms Phan, who had also pushed a heavy trolley into her belly while she was pregnant, so forcefully she thought her baby had been harmed.

All of the employees alleged Mr Kanodia knew the bullying was happening but ignored it.

Mr Kanodia declined to discuss the allegations, although he said WorkSafe was investigating. ”WorkSafe will take care of this; the allegations are going to be sorted out by them,” he said.

Asked why so many of his staff had complained of bullying, he said: ”They are all union members, are they? That says something, don’t you think?”

Later, he issued a brief statement saying his company was concerned about the matter and taking it very seriously.

National Union of Workers organiser Monique Segan has regularly met staff at Glendal Foods since August.

She said the bullying was among the most extreme the union had seen, and that raising it with Glendal Foods had exacerbated problems. After this, the workers had decided to tell their story publicly.

The case will throw a spotlight on laws passed last year by the Baillieu government that were aimed at tackling workplace bullying but that the state opposition says are doing little to help protect the most vulnerable.

Opposition spokesman on WorkCover Robin Scott said the community had made it clear there was no tolerance for bullying in workplaces, but that the Baillieu government’s anti-bullying laws had failed to result in any prosecutions.

Government spokeswoman Fiona Telford said the legislation introduced last year gave police more powers to investigate and had made clear that threats and abuse could now be prosecuted. Labor had failed to introduce any laws like it, she said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Mental health month: Hunter events
Nanjing Night Net

ZORICA Ciganovic has been through a great deal in her life, but one of her biggest battles has been anxiety.

Ms Ciganovic, of Newcastle, was a Serbian living in Croatia when the war in Yugoslavia broke out in the 1990s.

She was seven months’ pregnant when she and her family were forced to flee to Serbia at a moment’s notice to escape genocide.

Her husband needed dialysis three times a week and they had to find him treatment throughout the war.

She lost friends and close family during that time.

Her husband died 15 years ago and Ms Ciganovic and her family came to Australia as refugees in 2004.

Once here she had to learn the language and brave the cultural barriers, while caring for a family member with a mental illness.

She said being a carer was one of her biggest challenges and it was only once she came to Australia she developed anxiety.

“You don’t have any friends, you don’t know where to go, what to do,” Ms Ciganovic said.

“Your heart starts beating a lot, your hand trembles and you get that choking feeling.”

She said she would not have recovered without the help of the mental health support group Arafmi Hunter.

Now she is in her fourth year of a social work degree.

Ms Ciganovic has spoken of her challenges to highlight living with anxiety during Mental Health Month.

Mental health issues affect one in five Australians and anxiety is the most common problem.

“It’s important to know how much people can survive and still be functional,” Ms Ciganovic said.

“You can function if you find the right help.”

She said that while anxiety was a normal response to stress, it was not normal to feel anxious all the time.

“Anxiety is a fear of fear,” Ms Ciganovic said.

“If a person is isolated it just increases it”, and it “is not predictable”.

CALMER WATERS: Zorica Ciganovic knows a lot about being anxious. Picture: Peter Stoop

Ms Ciganovic encouraged carers who were struggling to get help.

■ARAFMI Hunter: 49616717

■Lifeline:131114

The 14,868 fans at Hunter Stadium wanted a goal, or at least a sterling performance, from English marquee man Emile Heskey.
Nanjing Night Net

But after their first look at the former English Premier League star, many would have left Turton Road dissatisfied.

Heskey played at the point of the Newcastle Jets attack and during the first half struggled to get involved as his teammates provided him with little quality service. The veteran striker looked strong and reasonably fit, occasionally muscling away defenders to get the ball and lasting 25 minutes longer on the pitch than coach Gary van Egmond had intended.

Van Egmond said it would take time for the other players to learn how to best use the former Liverpool man.

‘‘I thought his contribution was great,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘He’s a real target man up front. You see a number of times where people can look to play the ball in and look to run off him, and we need to get better at that.

‘‘Not only in a position of where the ball is going into him and the same person is getting the ball back, but the third man running, and the next person running into space as well.’’

Heskey had only one sight of goal, a half-chance in the 49th minute when right back Scott Neville dinked a cross into the box and the Englishman could not get enough on a glancing header to trouble the keeper.

Heskey arrived only 10 days ago and was always going to lack match fitness.

He was replaced in the 70th minute by Newcastle product James Virgili, who immediately fired two shots at goal.

‘‘He was wanting to stay out there for 95 minutes, but we have to be a little bit careful with him and we probably went over a bit today,’’ van Egmond said.

‘‘He’ll have recovery now, a massage and a day off and back on the training paddock.

‘‘I was looking for half a game, to be honest with you, but he has such a will to play.’’ Van Egmond worked hard in the pre-season overhauling his squad and bringing in a host of younger, faster players to play a high-tempo, possession-based game.

He said he had not changed his philosophy after the arrival of 34-year-old Heskey, a traditional target man.

‘‘He’s enhanced our game plan, if anything,’’ van Egmond said.

Adelaide coach John Kosmina was impressed with Heskey and said his potency was minimised his central defenders Antony Golec and Newcastle-bred Nigel Boogaard.

‘‘I thought Antony Golec, in particular, did a real good job on Heskey,’’ Kosmina said.

‘‘Boogs did well and competed physically and didn’t give him too much room.’’

Emile Heskey. Picture Darren Pateman

0

Carbon tax could still cause damage

September 28th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

The carbon tax has likely peaked as an issue but Labor will wear the cost of its political damage.THE carbon tax likely peaked as an issue before the price actually started – indeed, its first three months have been an anti-climax.
Nanjing Night Net

But Labor will continue to struggle with the political damage it has done since Prime Minister Julia Gillard started dancing with the Greens after the election.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, on the other hand, having had the best of times with the debate, faces harder work from now on. He still seeks to keep the tax as centre of his campaigning, a strategy that might need to change in coming months, especially if Labor continues its modest poll recovery.

Abbott also has to explain precisely how a Coalition government would scrap the tax, with all the messy consequences of having, in effect, to ”compensate” voters for the withdrawal of their present compensation. Those questions will become sharper as the election approaches.

And remember, Abbott is committed to the enormous step of a double dissolution if he can’t get the tax repealed – an undertaking that may look rash if voters and businesses seem less concerned about the tax’s impact.

The climate issue, which helped Kevin Rudd surf into power in 2007, turned first against him, contributing to his downfall, and then against his successor.

In the Age/Nielsen poll, support for an ”emissions trading scheme” was consistently high in 2008-09 – about two-thirds of voters favoured one. But then support fell in 2010. The ”carbon tax” has never had majority backing.

Nielsen pollster John Stirton identifies two ”tipping points”: ”the apparent failure to reach agreement at the Copenhagen climate change conference, which made it easier for opponents of action on climate change to portray Australia as going it alone, and the emissions trading scheme morphing into carbon pricing – the carbon tax.”

After Copenhagen, support for an ETS dropped 10 points to 56 per cent (in February 2010).

Backing for ”a price on carbon” began at 46 per cent in October 2010 but crashed after becoming closely associated with Gillard’s pre-election statement that there would be no carbon tax. It fell to 35 per cent in March 2011, and was 37 per cent in last month’s poll.

What’s happened, in the broad, over the last few years is that climate change has turned from an emotional rallying cry to a practical policy challenge with all the accompanying difficulties.

Even more important, at the micro level the debate became somewhat less about carbon pricing and somewhat more about ”trust”.

Once the tax started on July 1, things changed again, as people focused on how they personally are affected.

Beforehand, 51 per cent feared they would be worse off, but after a short period of the ”lived experience” (Gillard’s phrase) 38 per cent say they are worse off and a majority, 54 per cent, say the carbon tax is making no difference.

Nationals NSW senator John Williams insists the carbon tax issue is still potent, with higher costs disadvantaging businesses such as a big exporting abattoir at Inverell, and ”more bad medicine to come” when in 2014 the diesel fuel rebate is reduced.

But West Australian Liberal Mal Washer says: ”We beat the drum too hard on the carbon tax – everyone has stopped listening to the sound of it. The marrow has gone out of it – we need to move on to other issues.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

A crane driver killed in an industrial accident at Rutherford was an ‘‘easy-going, kind-hearted man’’ who leaves behind a pregnant wife and two children.
Nanjing Night Net

Aberdeen man Warren Black, 37, was loading drill rods on to his truck on Friday afternoon when one of the rods fell from a forklift, knocked him to the ground and fell on top of him.

He died instantly.

Mr Black, a contractor for Boom Logistics, was remembered as a popular colleague by workmates yesterday.

Boom Logistics chief executive officer Brenden Mitchell said the company and its employees were ‘‘deeply saddened’’ by the accident.

‘‘Warren was well-liked by everyone at Boom and this comes as a great shock to everyone,’’ Mr Mitchell said.

‘‘Boom’s priority is to support Warren’s family and colleagues.’’

A manager and a close workmate from Boom Logistics visited Mr Black’s wife, Alethia, and his two young boys on Friday evening.

Mr Black’s sister, Diana Black-Straker, was one of many family members and friends to post messages on Facebook after the accident.

‘‘We are all in shock at the tragic death of my brother Warren yesterday,’’ Ms Black-Straker said.

‘‘Thoughts especially to his pregnant wife Alethia and their children Liam and Bailey.

‘‘Rest in peace little brother, you are greatly missed already xxxx.’’

A number of colleagues also posted about Mr Black.

‘‘The world has lost one of its best today,’’ wrote former colleague Sara Barlow.

‘‘I am devastated that we have lost such an easy going, kind-hearted man.’’

WorkCover and detectives from the Central Hunter police command have examined the accident site, J & S Engineering in Racecourse Road, and will continue investigations into the accident.

Warren Black.

ONE of the Hunter’s most significant heritage homes, Anambah House near Maitland, faces residential development on a scale its owner says is far too dense and will threaten its character.
Nanjing Night Net

Tomorrow Maitland City Council will consider a proposal to allow 80 lots to be developed in the Anambah urban release area.

The development would bring houses to about 650 metres from the state-listed heritage house, owned by Jann Zappacosta.

Mrs Zappacosta bought the JWPender-designed house in 2011 from well-known heritage consultant Stephen Berry, who long-campaigned to protect the Anambah Lagoon, which the house overlooks, from development.

Mrs Zappacosta said under the plan the lagoon would be ‘‘lost’’ because of the closeness of the new houses.

A report to the council says the land will be developed as low density.

It says flooding and changes to the visual amenity are the two biggest constraints to the site. Plans show landscaping is intended to soften the impact on the house.

Mrs Zappacosta said 50 houses would have been suitable but 80 was too many.

The council report said the proposal supported the provision of housing for Maitland’s growing population.

Mrs Zappacosta is restoring the house for accommodation, weddings and other events.

Anambah House was built by grazier John KMackay for his son William.

Construction began in 1889 and ended in 1906.

Opera diva Dame Nellie Melba sang Home Sweet Home on the staircase in 1908, and Australian performers of the 1950s, such as Roy (Mo) Rene and Jack Davey were guests of the then-owners, radio star Hal Lashwood and his wife, a member of the Mackay family.

In 1993 it was the setting for the movie Country Life, starring Greta Scacchi and Sam Neill.

Mrs Zappacosta said another bigger proposed development to the west was also putting pressure on the house.

CLOSE UP: Anambah House.

As fans sat down in their seats at Hunter Stadium yesterday afternoon they could have been forgiven for holding lofty expectations.
Nanjing Night Net

The Newcastle Jets kicked off their Hyundai A-League campaign at home against a travel-weary Adelaide United side who had just returned from Uzbekistan.

Yet hopes were dashed in the first minute when Dario Vidosic poked home an easy goal to stun the home crowd into silence and from then on the Jets never looked like getting in the game.

The crowd stuck with their team though, and although most would have gone home frustrated, the healthy attendance of 14,868 bodes well for growth of the game.

Large sections of the crowd were dominated by blue and red merchandise and membership caps were out in force under the hot sun.

All eyes were on star signing Emile Heskey and many fans donned their number nine jerseys in a show of support.

One keen fan even sported ‘‘Del Heskey’’ on his back, perhaps hoping the former Liverpool front man could merge his skills with Sydney FC’s marquee signing Alessandro Del Piero.

Debutant goalkeeper Mark Birighitti added to the crowd’s woes midway through the second half when he was sent off for handball after a rash foray out of his box and Iain Ramsay soon finished off the match to send the home crowd off in a sombre mood.

Brian Loxley and his family bought memberships for the first time this season but he wasn’t too deflated by the result.

‘‘I don’t think they played too badly,’’ he said.

‘‘Even when they went down to 10 men the players were still pushing and the crowd tried to lift them.

‘‘But I guess it was just one of those days.’’

Brian and Kelda Loxley with sons Kade, 7, Hunter, 3, and Eli, 9, who were cheering on the the Jets from the stands. Pictures: Peter Stoop

Jets fans at the opening match of the A-League season at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Peter Stoop

Jets fans at the opening match of the A-League season at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Peter Stoop

Jets fans at the opening match of the A-League season at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Peter Stoop

Jets fans at the opening match of the A-League season at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Peter Stoop

Jets fans at the opening match of the A-League season at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Peter Stoop

Jets fans at the opening match of the A-League season at Hunter Stadium. Picture: Peter Stoop

0

Before they sit down to address the issues of the city, Newcastle’s new councillors have had to solve a disagreement about where they will sit.
Nanjing Night Net

At a ‘‘mock’’ council meeting last week, councillors stood divided on whether the chamber’s seats should be arranged according to the city’s ward representatives, or based on political groupings.

Labor councillors wanted to sit together and argued that being separated would potentially require recesses to allow them to discuss unexpected motions or amendments.

Lord mayor Jeff McCloy and his supporters argued for a City Hall seating arrangement based on the four wards.

After a few rounds of musical chairs, the Labor councillors conceded.

Cr McCloy said he was positive about the prospects of the new council and that the seating issue ‘‘was solved in a nice and humorous way’’.

‘‘It’s important that we all work together,’’ he said.

The seating arrangements were apparently discussed at an informal meeting of councillors last month that most Labor councillors were unable to attend.

Cr Nuatali Nelmes said her colleagues had spent too much time ‘‘worrying about where the Labor Party is going to sit, to the point of holding secret meetings’’.

After two terms where perceived dysfunction and indecision overshadowed other aspects of the city’s government, the working relationship between the councillors will be in the spotlight.

The first meeting tomorrow night will include an election for deputy mayor, with Labor and the Liberals expected to provide viable candidates.

It will debate the gifting of childcare centres to community operators.

Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy.

Stella Potts is just two days old, but her father Luke already has a riveting tale to tell on her 21st birthday.
Nanjing Night Net

Baby Stella was born in the car park of a Lambton service station, on the front seat of her parents’ car, just minutes from the hospital.

Mother Danielle Potts went into labour about 3am on Saturday morning.

Two hours later, Mr Potts was rushing his wife towards Newcastle Private Hospital.

‘‘The contractions were pretty close together as we were in the car,’’ Mr Potts said.

‘‘Danielle said to me, ‘you’re going to have to stop’.’’

The nearest place was the 7 Eleven service station on Croudace Street at Lambton. Mr Potts said he parked the car, called 000 and was given advice on how to deliver the baby.

Just nine minutes later, at 5.41am and moments before ambulance paramedics arrived, Stella was born.

‘‘I didn’t do much, I just caught her as she popped out,’’ Mr Potts said.

‘‘I made sure the cord wasn’t wrapped around her neck, wrapped her in a blanket at put her on her mother’s chest and then the ambulance turned up.’’

Baby Stella is the couple’s second child. Charlie, 2, was born when they were living in rural Victoria and had to travel a considerable distance to hospital.

Friends had advised the family, who live at Maitland, to be packed and ready.

But neither Mr or Mrs Potts, who was in labour for eight hours with Charlie, expected their daughter to be so eager to enter the world.

‘‘She’s doing fine, which is the main thing,’’ Mr Potts said. ‘‘It will make a great story for her 21st.’’

Stella with parents Luke and Danielle Potts and brother Charlie. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

0

EDITORIAL: Air pollution comes back

July 27th, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网419 /

WHEN the BHP steelworks closed, one of the most common predictions was of a Mayfield renaissance.
Nanjing Night Net

Relieved of the burden of air pollution from the smoking giant next door, the suburb would bloom as newcomers rediscovered its vibrant shopping strip and modest but character-filled residential streets, some pundits tipped. That prediction has been only partially fulfilled.

The suburb has a great deal more residential amenity than many of the new brick-veneer satellite settlements on the fringes of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.

But if Mayfield hasn’t experienced the great rebirth many had expected, one explanation might be that one big source of pollution appears to have been replaced by a number of smaller ones.

According to the authoritative government website, the National Pollutant Inventory, the 2304 postcode that includes Mayfield, Warabrook, Sandgate and Kooragang Island has experienced a surge in some pollutants over the past decade.

Inventory statistics indicate that the number of pollution-generating industries in the area increased from nine to 16 between 2001 and 2011. The number of officially reported pollutants from those sites increased from 35 to 38.

Ammonia emissions grew 188 per cent, benzene 600 per cent, sulphur dioxide 312 per cent and carbon monoxide 6 per cent, with most of this increase attributed to industries on Kooragang Island.

After last year’s highly publicised malfunctions of the Orica fertiliser plant on Kooragang, the state government introduced tough new pollution control measures and there is evidence that these will soon result in lower emissions of some pollutants.

That’s good news, but residents of the affected suburbs are rightly calling for a smarter approach to applications by companies to build new industrial plants in the area. Instead of considering each application in isolation, it is argued, approval authorities should examine every proposal against a backdrop of the existing environment.

It’s a similar argument to that mounted by Upper Hunter residents who have long wished for the cumulative effects of coalmines to be considered when new mining proposals are received.

So far the idea appears to have been too hard for the government to embrace, but that’s no reason for residents to stop demanding a smarter approach to industry regulation.

Bali anniversary

IT seems hardly possible that the Bali terrorist bombing that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians, could have been 10 years ago.

The memory seems too raw and painful to already have aged a decade.

But while the pain remains, much healing has been done. Many people who were caught up in the tragedy have worked with great determination to ensure that those who perished are remembered and that the terror of the day is balanced by compassion and kindness.

That’s the best answer, in the end, to those who sow hatred and violence.