Thursday 9th of February 2023

the price of fish...


Nickel/cobalt refinery north of Townsville (Picture by Gus)


ONE of Australia's richest men, Clive Palmer, is buying nickel laterite ore for his Yabulu refinery from an Indonesian company that is defying a ban and mining in Raja Ampat, the world's most ecologically diverse marine environment.

An investigation by the Herald has discovered that as well as threatening the environment that is home to 75 per cent of the world's coral species, the supplier undercompensates landowners, has allegedly paid bribes for its licences and created deep rifts in the traditional communities of Raja Ampat.

Conservationists and activists have fought hard to have Raja Ampat, in West Papua province, protected but the mine on the island of Manuran where Queensland Nickel gets its nickel, PT Anugerah Surya Pratama, remains open.

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stealing other people's fish...

The transmigration program (Indonesian: Transmigrasi) was an initiative of the Indonesian government to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia to less populous areas of the country. This involved moving people permanently from the island of Java (moslem) but also to a lesser extent from Madura (moslem) to less densely populated non moslem areas including Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi.

 The stated purpose of this program was to reduce the considerable poverty and overpopulation on Java, to provide opportunities for hard-working poor people, and to provide a workforce to better utilize (pillage) the natural resources of the outer islands. 

 The program, however, has been controversial with critics accusing the Indonesian government of trying to use these migrants to reduce the proportion of native populations in receiving areas, thus weakening separatist movements. The program has often been cited as a major and ongoing factor in controversies and even conflict and violence between settlers and indigenous populations.

The policy was first initiated by the Dutch colonial government in the early nineteenth century to reduce crowding and to provide a workforce for plantations on Sumatra.

 The program diminished during the last years of the Dutch era, but was revived following Indonesian independence, in an attempt to alleviate the food shortages and weak economic performance during Sukarno's presidency in the two decades following WW2.

Since the 1990s, violent conflict has occurred between some transmigrant (Moslem) and indigenous populations(non moslem); in Kalimantan, hundreds were killed in fighting between Madurese (moslem) transmigrants and the indigenous Dayak people(non moslem).

Indonesia's transmigration program was the target of extensive opposition, particularly from within indigenous populations in the regions where transmigrants were settled. Some foreign and domestic observers have also criticized the program's intentions and implementation.

Many indigenous people saw the program as a part of an effort by the Java-based Indonesian Government to extend greater economic and political control over other regions, by moving in people with closer ties to Java and loyalty to the Indonesian state. This was particularly resented amongst some in areas such as Papua, which had an active secessionist movement. The government agencies responsible for administering transmigration were often accused of being insensitive to local customary or adat land rights.



SYDNEY City Council last night declared the arrival of white settlers to be an "invasion" and wiped the words "European arrival" from official documents.

During a long debate, councillor Marcelle Hoff lodged a petition for councillors to use the term "invasion or illegal colonisation" in policy documents and statements.

Ms Hoff read out dictionary definitions of invasion as "to take possession, to penetrate, to intrude upon, to overrun".

"They came in and they did not leave," she said.

When other councillors described the term as offensive, Ms Hoff said: "It's intellectually dishonest to not use words that offend some people."

Lord Mayor Clover Moore was more moderate in her approach, saying Aborigines were the original custodians of the land and the term was important to them.



This review is from: The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest (Norton Library) (Paperback)

Francis Jennings' first book, The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism and the Cant of Conquest was path breaking when released in 1975, a book of "angry, forceful prose [that] still touches readers a quarter century after its publication," according to his 2001 obituary in the newsletter of the American Organization of Historians. In fact, Jennings himself was known for his "irrepressible" devotion to debunking the myths of Native American history of the colonial period, particularly the works of Francis Parkman. As his eulogizer Frederick Hoxie notes, Jennings early on insisted that "America began not with "discovery" but invasion," a belief which set "himself apart from those who viewed the fate of the continent's indigenous people as somehow inevitable or natural." The polemical The Invasion of America was the first in what Jennings called his "Covenant Chain Trilogy," with The Ambiguous Iroquois Empire (1984) and Empire of Fortune (1988) finishing the set. As Hoxie states, The Invasion of America (and most of Jennings' other writings) was a "frontal attack on the generations of scholars who, he argued, had internalized the racist language of the seventeenth century and overlooked the violence and brutality of European settlement." As another reviewer writes, "this is a strong, angry book," the prose of which is characterized by "the author's controlled outrage at what happened and at the misconceptions, distortions, and even lies he sees in the treatment of the period by other historians."


To decide on how to deal with Palestine the UN appointed a committee, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). In July 1947 the UNSCOP visited Palestine and met with Jewish and Zionist delegations. The Arab Higher Committee boycotted the meetings. At this time, there was further controversy when the British Foreign Secretary Bevin ordered an illegal immigrant ship, the Exodus 1947, to be sent back to Europe. The migrants on the ship were forcibly removed by British troops at Hamburg after a long period in prison ships.

The principal non-Zionist Orthodox Jewish (or haredi) party, Agudat Israel, recommended to UNSCOP that a Jewish state be set up after reaching a religious status quo agreement with Ben-Gurion regarding the future Jewish state. The agreement granted future exemption of yeshiva (religious seminary) students and orthodox women from military service, made the Sabbath the national weekend, promised Kosher food in government institutions and allowed them to maintain a separate education system.[42]

In September 1947, one month after the Partition of India, UNSCOP recommended the partition in Palestine, a suggestion ratified by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947.[43] The UN resolution stipulated the establishment of two separate states, one Arab and one Jewish, with the city of Jerusalem to be under the direct administration of the United Nations. The date for the proposed British withdrawal was to be 1 October 1948.

The UN resolution called upon Britain to evacuate a seaport and sufficient hinterland to support substantial Jewish migration, by February 1, 1948. Neither Britain nor the UN Security Council acted to implement the resolution and Britain continued detaining Jews attempting to enter Palestine. Concerned that partition would severely damage Anglo-Arab relations, Britain refused to cooperate with the UN, denying the UN access to Palestine during the interim period (a requirement of the partition decision). The British withdrawal was finally completed in May 1948. However, Britain continued to hold Jews of "fighting age" and their families on Cyprus until March 1949.

... and its going to be gone forever...

Indigenous community leaders from the Limmen area of the Gulf of Carpentaria say they are dismayed that two mining companies want to pipe iron ore across their land.

Western Desert Resources and Sherwin Iron have told the Northern Territory Government they want to pipe ore from proposed mines in the area to Maria Island.

Marra elder Samuel Evans says if the mines go ahead the ore should be trucked out of the area, not piped to a proposed port on the island.

"This area has got a lot of significance, sacred sites and important areas to the Marra people," he said.

"It's one of the last frontiers in the Northern Territory in the Gulf of Carpentaria, one of the untouched lands. It's good fishing, good crabbing, good hunting, bush tucker.

"If this development goes ahead, the pipeline to Maria Island [is] going to be damaged and its going to be gone forever."

Western Desert Resources and Sherwin Iron say they want to pipe the ore to Maria Island because Darwin's port is too small and overland transport would be too costly.

the price of wood...

A campaign to protect Australia's native forests has Harvey Norman in its sights, accusing the furniture giant of profiteering from the destruction of Australia's declining forests.

In its latest bid to stop the logging and processing of native timber, a group calling itself Markets for Change is pursuing Harvey Norman and other big furniture retailers.

In a 60-second ad, the group accuses Harvey Norman of driving the clearance of Australia's native forests and puts pressure on the retailer to play a more responsible role.

"We want to clearly communicate to Harvey Norman that this kind of business operation simply isn't acceptable, so actually they have to play their part in actually helping solve this problem and actually become part of the solution," Markets for Change CEO Tim Birch said.

Markets for Change has spent the past year following what it calls the "chain of custody".

It has tracked timber that has been logged from native forests in Australia to China where it was processed into furniture and shipped back to Australia for its final sale.

Mr Birch admits Harvey Norman is not doing anything illegal, but he says the campaign is about getting Harvey Norman to look at another alternative of sourcing timber from elsewhere, like plantation.

"I think we really have to [look at] the situation where ongoing destruction of native forests simply has to be ruled out," he said.

But the businessman behind the furniture giant, Gerry Harvey, says the campaign is unfair.

should we trust this man .....

Yes Gus, should we trust this man or his ilk?


Incredibly, Get-Up’s new TV ad that shows what Harvey Norman are doing to our environment has just been banned from commercial TV by the industry body that classifies ads - because they're scared of what Harvey Norman might do next.


They might block our video on TV -- but they can't stop us reaching millions of Australians by sending it to our friends and family online! Check out the footage they don't want you to see and share it with everyone you can:

a nickel is not worth what it used to...


The Palaszczuk Government and one of Clive Palmer's key businesses, Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd, were in discussions about a potential $25 million loan to help the company, the ABC can reveal.

It is understood the Queensland Cabinet debated the issue during its weekly meeting on Monday, after a series of correspondence between Treasury and Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd about a possible loan and a Government guarantee for banking facilities.

The office of Treasurer Curtis Pitt has confirmed the Government held discussions with Queensland Nickel about the impact of the slumping world nickel price.

The company operates a nickel refinery at Yabulu, about 25 kilometres north of Townsville.

The plant was once owned by disgraced corporate high-flier Alan Bond. At its peak the refinery employed 900 staff.

But a slump in the nickel price from just over $US13 a pound in early 2011 to $US4.77 a pound now is likely to have put pressure on the business.


 See on top...


nickel not worth a dime...


Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill has demanded that Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel (QNI) "come clean with government" and open its books as she begged the state Treasurer to save the town's struggling nickel refinery.

The West Australian Supreme Court has heard QNI is in a dire financial position and could face unspecified consequences if Mr Palmer's bid for a $48 million payment from one of his Chinese business partners is not met this week.

Mr Palmer's company Mineralogy is locked in a long-running legal battle with the CITIC Group over disputed royalties at the Sino Iron magnetite project in WA's Pilbara.

Mineralogy is demanding CITIC pay the $48 million immediately or face closure of the project and is seeking an urgent injunction in the matter.

On Monday, the court will determine whether an interim payment will be made to Mineralogy, who says it will pass the money onto QNI.

Councillor Hill will fly to Brisbane on Thursday seeking "an urgent meeting with the Treasurer to see what can be done for QNI".

"QNI pay payroll tax, it pays GST, it has port charges. There may be many, many opportunities to support QNI to ensure that it stays open," she said.

But she warned the company "needs to come clean with government in terms of its books and transparency of its operations".

The plant directly employs about 800 workers in Townsville and is believed to support another 2,000 north Queensland jobs indirectly.

"You can't pull over a billion dollars out of this local economy and not feel it. But I still think there's hope for us and there's hope to ensure those doors remain open," Cr Hill said.

"I've got to be down there and banging on those doors of government. We've got to fight for this."

Cr Hill received a confidential briefing from QNI in October but said she was only speaking publicly after being named in court on Tuesday.

But she said she had not spoken to Mr Palmer "in quite some time".

Asked if she had phoned Mr Palmer she said, "I will be taking this fight to the Government in the first instance".


See picture and article at top.


the books stayed closed...

Managing director Clive Mensink said in a statement it was a "sad state of affairs" that only industry in the south-east corner of Queensland received help from the State Government.

"The Queensland Government has made it clear despite the nickel price being the lowest in 15 years, it has no interest in assisting Queensland Nickel in providing continued employment for over 800 families in Townsville," he said.

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) said it was disappointed by the decision to shed jobs.

External Link: Steve Lovell outside Queensland Nickel


It said it believed about 550 employees would remain with the business.

Just months before Mr Palmer asked the State Government for help, documents showed that some of his businesses, including Queensland Nickel, donated about $9.5 million to his Palmer United Party (PUP).

During the 2014–2015 financial year, Queensland Nickel had enough money to donate $5,947,720 to the PUP.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the State Government tried to work with Queensland Nickel but the company would not disclose all details about its financial position.

Ms Trad said it would have been irresponsible to give taxpayers' money without first seeing the company's books.

"Unfortunately the Government's request for access to the full financial statements of Mr Palmer's businesses was not responded to, and we could not, in all good conscience, hand over money to a private company without full financial due diligence," she said.

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill questioned whether the company should have donated millions of dollars to Clive Palmer's federal election campaign.

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the congolese cobalt...


How the U.S. Lost Ground to China in the Contest for Clean Energy

Americans failed to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo, where the world’s largest supply of cobalt is controlled by Chinese companies backed by Beijing.


By Eric Lipton and Dionne Searcey


WASHINGTON — Tom Perriello saw it coming but could do nothing to stop it. André Kapanga too. Despite urgent emails, phone calls and personal pleas, they watched helplessly as a company backed by the Chinese government took ownership from the Americans of one of the world’s largest cobalt mines.

It was 2016, and a deal had been struck by the Arizona-based mining giant Freeport-McMoRan to sell the site, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which now figures prominently in China’s grip on the global cobalt supply. The metal has been among several essential raw materials needed for the production of electric car batteries — and is now critical to retiring the combustion engine and weaning the world off climate-changing fossil fuels.

Mr. Perriello, a top U.S. diplomat in Africa at the time, sounded alarms in the State Department. Mr. Kapanga, then the mine’s Congolese general manager, all but begged the American ambassador in Congo to intercede.

“This is a mistake,” Mr. Kapanga recalled warning him, suggesting the Americans were squandering generations of relationship building in Congo, the source of more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt.
Presidents starting with Dwight D. Eisenhower had sent hundreds of millions of dollars in aid, including transport planes and other military equipment, to the mineral-rich nation. Richard Nixon intervened, as did the State Department under Hillary Clinton, to sustain the relationship. And Freeport-McMoRan had invested billions of its own — before it sold the mine to a Chinese company.

Not only did the Chinese purchase of the mine, known as Tenke Fungurume, go through uninterrupted during the final months of the Obama administration, but four years later, during the twilight of the Trump presidency, so did the purchase of an even more impressive cobalt reserve that Freeport-McMoRan put on the market. The buyer was the same company, China Molybdenum.
China’s pursuit of Congo’s cobalt wealth is part of a disciplined playbook that has given it an enormous head start over the United States in the race to dominate the electrification of the auto industry, long a key driver of the global economy.

But an investigation by The New York Times revealed a hidden history of the cobalt acquisitions in which the United States essentially surrendered the resources to China, failing to safeguard decades of diplomatic and financial investments in Congo. The sale of the two mines, also flush with copper, highlights the shifting geography and politics of the clean energy revolution, with countries rich in cobalt, lithium and other raw materials needed for batteries suddenly playing the role of oil giants.
The loss of the mines happened under the watch of President Barack Obama, consumed with Afghanistan and the Islamic State, and President Donald J. Trump, a climate-change skeptic committed to fossil fuels and the electoral forces behind them. More broadly, it had roots in the end of the Cold War, according to previously classified documents and interviews with senior officials in the Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and Biden administrations.


For decades, the United States worried that the Soviet Union would gain control of Congo’s copper, cobalt, uranium and other materials used in defense manufacturing. Securing U.S. interests there was a topic of presidential-level concern and involved extensive interventions by the Central Intelligence Agency.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, both Democratic and Republican administrations shifted attention away from containing Communism and slashed generous financial aid that had helped American companies do business in Congo, the documents and interviews show.

In Africa, in particular, the United States pivoted toward human rights and good-governance issues. And globally, after 2001, the War on Terror became an all-consuming preoccupation.


Mr. Perriello, who has since left government, said he learned of the plan in 2016 to sell Tenke Fungurume not long after touring the mine. The owner had a tarnished reputation for its operations in other countries, and Mr. Perriello had counted himself a skeptic.


Still, he was convinced that American ownership was good not only for the United States but for the people of Congo. Freeport-McMoRan got largely favorable reviews on the ground, was employing thousands of Congolese and had built schools and health care clinics and provided fresh drinking water.

“What can we do?” Mr. Perriello recalled asking Linda Thomas-Greenfield — who was then an assistant secretary of state with responsibility for Africa and is now President Biden’s ambassador to the United Nations — about keeping the mine under American control. Mr. Perriello said he raised the issue with the National Security Council as well. (A spokeswoman for Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said she remembered the sale of the mine but not the conversation with Mr. Perriello, and several members of the N.S.C. also said they could not recall such a conversation.)

The only serious bidders were Chinese companies, leaving no doubt about the consequences of standing by. “They were able to move swiftly and quicker than anybody else could,” Kathleen L. Quirk, Freeport-McMoRan’s president, said in an interview. “So we got the deal done.”

Freeport-McMoRan had been determined to sell. The company, one of the world’s largest copper-mining outfits, had made a catastrophically bad bet on the oil and gas industry just before oil prices tanked and the world began to shift to renewable energy. With debt piling up, the company saw no option but to unload its Congo operations.




Freeport-McMoRan still owned an undeveloped site deep in the forest that contains one of the world’s most important untapped sources of cobalt, a fact highlighted in the Trump administration’s document listing the element as a critical resource.

When the company indicated late last year that it intended to sell the site, known as Kisanfu, there was next to no reaction from the U. S. government.

State Department and Commerce officials said in interviews that there was no high-level discussion about it.


“Nobody even talked about this,” said Nazak Nikakhtar, who until January served as the Commerce Department assistant secretary in charge of tracking critical mineral supplies. “It is horrible. I mean, this is really unfortunate.”

The sale, to China Molybdenum for $550 million, went ahead as announced, a month before Mr. Trump left office. With it, the last major U.S. investment in Congo’s cobalt and copper mines evaporated.


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Read from top. Image at top by Gus Leonisky.


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