Did ‘The Simpsons’ predict Ted Cruz’s Cancun debacle back in 1993?

At this point, The Simpsons are running rings around Nostradamus.

The 32-year-old animated comedy series has once again shocked fans and thrilled online meme makers because of a decades-old scene that accurately predicted a modern news event — this time, US Senator Ted Cruz’s embarrassing mid-disaster jaunt to Cancun.

A 1993 episode of the Fox show titled “Marge in Chains” featured a scene showing Springfield’s Mayor Joe Quimby broadcasting a press conference to inform his cartoon citizens about a pandemic ravaging the Simpson clan’s hometown.

As the Kennedy-sounding Quimby sends out his message to voters, however, it’s revealed that he’s actually standing on a beach in the Caribbean in a bathing suit, and only standing in front of an office set while wearing just the top half of his suit.

RELATED: ‘Obviously a mistake’: Senator’s holiday screw up

RELATED: Uncanny Simpsons inauguration prediction

Similarly, Cruz was prompted to issue a statement claiming that he had flown to Cancun, Mexico, this week to chaperone his family, but had every intention of returning immediately to Texas — where nearly 300,000 Texans have found themselves without power for multiple days during historic snow and ice storms this month.

So far, nearly 50 people have died from the severe winter weather.

Cruz later admitted the trip was “a mistake.”

“Surely this has been said, but not abandoning your constituents to take a tropical vacation is such a comically low bar that it’s literally a Simpsons gag,” wrote podcaster Jesse Brenneman.

“The Simpsons’ have done it again,” tweeted one fan alongside the episode clip in question.

This is hardly the first time the show has manifested an eerie ability to foreshadow future events.

There are perhaps dozens of bygone premonitions dreamt up by Simpsons animaters.

Most recently, it was Vice President Kamala Harris’ aubergine power suit, worn during the presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20, that reminded viewers of the time Lisa Simpson, while also wearing a purple three-piece, became the first female president of the US, in an episode that aired over 20 years ago.

The same episode also produced an early harbinger of the Donald Trump presidency, during which President Lisa Simpson complains that she’d “inherited quite the budget crunch from President Trump.”

This article was originally published on The New York Post and has been reproduced with permission

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Jessica Simpson’s Response to Subway’s Tuna Debacle Is Spot On – E! Online

Subway, the fast-food chain that’s synonymous with $5 foot-longs, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. For better or worse, however, they have an unlikely ally in Jessica Simpson.

According to NBC News, Subway is facing a class action lawsuit alleging their tuna isn’t actually tuna. The lawsuit claims that instead of serving actual fish, Subway makes an “entirely non-tuna based mixture that Defendants blended to resemble tuna and imitate its texture.”

Subway vehemently denied the allegation in a statement, telling NBC News in part that it “delivers 100% cooked tuna to its restaurants, which is mixed with mayonnaise and used in freshly made sandwiches, wraps.”

The controversial case became a topic of discussion on social media, earning the attention of Subway diners like Meghan McCain, who asked the question we all have on our minds: “WHAT EXACTLY HAVE I BEEN EATING AT SUBWAY!?!?!?”

Jessica Simpson, however, is less concerned about the contents of Subway’s mixture, as she’s famously always struggled with the concept of tuna. She sympathized with the fast food chain on Twitter, writing, “It’s OK @SUBWAY. It IS confusing.”

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Schwarzenegger sends message to Trump over Capitol Hill debacle — RT USA News

Iconic Hollywood actor and outspoken Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger has joined the chorus of condemnation against Donald Trump, blasting the president over the Capitol Hill violence and sending him a Terminator-esque message.

Speaking to Bild newspaper, Schwarzenegger expressed his frustration with ongoing events in the US, accusing Trump of stirring up the unrest with his actions. The actor joined the wave of anti-Trump statements that poured after the Capitol Hill incident earlier this week.

“It makes me sad. This is not our America, this is not my America,” Schwarzenegger stated. “It’s like a grand finale to four years of craziness! People say clearly: ‘Hasta la vista, Donald!’ That’s it, there is the door.”

His time in office has apparently changed Trump, Schwarzenegger suggested, adding that he’d never acted like that before. “I spent time with Donald. I have never seen him as he is now,” he said, before offering his trademark message to the president.

You are terminated, Mr President.

At the same time, Schwarzenegger insisted that he still believes the US to be a “wonderful” country that will be able to cope with all the damage done and the divide that endures.

The remarks are in line with earlier statements from Schwarzenegger, who has repeatedly criticized Trump’s policies. Just ahead of the Capitol Hill turmoil, Schwarzenegger had penned a piece for The Economist, urging fellow Republicans to end the allegedly existing “stupid, crazy and evil” ploy by Trump to cling on power despite losing the election.

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Democrats ‘beginning to sound like ISIS’: Candace Owens hits out at calls for pro-Trump crowd to seek ‘redemption’

Trump has sent mixed signals over his electoral defeat. While he has repeatedly pledged to never accept the defeat, he also promised to ensure an orderly transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

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Boeing strikes $US2.5bn settlement with US over 737 Max debacle

“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candour by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception,” David Burns, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in a statement.

“This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.”

Family members of crash victims holding up photographs of their loved ones at a US Senate hearing last year.Credit:Bloomberg

As part of Thursday’s agreement, $US500 million will be set aside to compensate the families of those who died. Boeing will also pay the government a penalty of nearly $US244 million and pay $US1.77 billion in compensation to its airline customers who were unable to use or take deliveries of the Max, which remains grounded in some parts of the world. Flights aboard the plane in the United States resumed last week, after the FAA lifted its ban on the plane in November.

“I firmly believe that entering into this resolution is the right thing for us to do — a step that appropriately acknowledges how we fell short of our values and expectations,” David Calhoun, Boeing’s CEO, said in a note to employees. “This resolution is a serious reminder to all of us of how critical our obligation of transparency to regulators is, and the consequences that our company can face if any one of us falls short of those expectations.”

The settlement will not affect the criminal investigation into whether at least two Boeing employees broke the law in connection with knowingly misleading the FAA while the company was seeking approval for the Max, about changes made to software known as MCAS.

Their actions led the FAA to leave information about the software out of a final report, which in turn resulted in its omission from airplane and pilot training materials, according to the Justice Department. The software was implicated in both crashes.


That investigation appeared to have some momentum about a year ago as prosecutors had summoned several Boeing employees in front of a federal grand jury. But the speed of the investigation slowed in the months after the pandemic struck in March.

Prosecutors were examining whether a top pilot for the company, Mark Forkner, had intentionally lied to the regulator about the nature of new flight control software.

The software, which could push down the nose of the plane, played a role in the two deadly crashes.

Lawyers for Forkner have previously said that he did not mislead regulators and would never put the safety of pilots or passengers at risk.

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Security companies ‘vindicated’ as Andrews apologises for hotel quarantine debacle

Ignoring the opposition’s calls for him to resign and claims of political deflection from former health minister Jenny Mikakos, the Premier apologised on Monday to the families of the 801 Victorians who died in the state’s second wave. He conceded that the scheme’s biggest problem was not to initially employ guards, but rather the government’s failure to properly oversee their work.

The inquiry found that the decision to employ private security guards for the program was an “orphan”, that neither Mr Andrews nor any of his ministers took responsibility for, unable to be traced back to any individual.

The Premier on Monday said it was “my preference” to adopt all 81 recommendations made by the inquiry’s chief, retired judge Jennifer Coate, which included that the Public Sector Commissioner should examine evidence given to the inquiry about lines of accountability between ministers and senior public servants.

“This will be an incredibly difficult week. There will be people missing from the Christmas dinner table on Friday and I am deeply sorry and saddened by that,” Mr Andrews said.

Former health minister Jenny Mikakos, who resigned in September after the Premier said in his evidence that ultimate responsibility for the program lay with her, was scathing of the report.

She said it failed to answer key questions about why police or Defence Force personnel were not used in hotel quarantine instead of security guards.

“I believe Victorians deserve to know the truth about an event that has so profoundly impacted them,” she wrote.

“They do not need another masterclass in political deflection from the Premier”.

She called on the inquiry to release the entirety of Mr Andrews’ phone records from March 27, the day the system was set up, which were not published in the final report.

Former judge Jennifer Coate has delivered her final report into Victoria’s hotel quarantine program.Credit:Getty

Unified Security, one of three private security companies contracted by the government to monitor hotels, on Monday lashed the Andrews government and its “confused and ineffective government departmental structure that in turn led to inadequate infection-control protocols in the hotels”.

“It is pleasing to see our position has been vindicated by the report … for the past six months it has been convenient for bureaucrats to blame and hide behind security guards and security companies,” a Unified spokesman said.

“While this was deeply disappointing, we always had faith that the inquiry would get to the bottom of the multiple structural inadequacies that led to the outbreaks.”

When Mr Andrews announced on June 30 that Justice Coate would lead an inquiry into the hotels program, he told a press conference that “there have been some breaches of well known and well understood infection control protocols” by private security guards. He gave the example that guards had spread COVID-19 by sharing cigarette lighters.

The next day Mr Andrews fronted ABC’s 7.30 to tell a national audience: “We have some very clear suspicions about what’s gone on here. There’s a number of staff who despite knowing about infection control protocols have decided to make a number of errors.”

The final report on Monday found “the overwhelming majority” of security guards worked in the program “honestly and with goodwill”.

It was not their fault they got sick and spread the disease, Justice Coate ruled: “None of those workers went to work to get infected with COVID-19. However, systemic governmental failings led to problems.”

There have been some breaches of well known and well understood infection control protocol.

Premier Daniel Andrews, June 30

She concluded that a series of factors contributed to the program’s inadequacy, including confused governance structures, the failure of ministers including Mr Andrews to consider the health risks of a hotel quarantine program and the Department of Health and Human Services’ refusal to accept responsibility despite being the lead agency.

“Just as DHHS did not see itself as the control agency responsible for the Program, it did not see itself as ‘in charge’ on-site,” Justice Coate found. “This left brewing the disaster that tragically came to be.”

Under the contracts given to Unified Security, Wilson Security and MSS by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions, the companies were asked to provide guards training on infection control and personal protective equipment. Justice Coate found in her report that DHHS should have managed the contracts and training for guards.

The Age revealed in July that Unified hastily recruited subcontractors to supply security guards, who were paid as little as $18 per hour in cash. Six subcontracted guards, along with a nurse and a hotel employee, caught COVID-19 while working at the Rydges on Swanston in late May.

Wilson Security chief executive Nick Frangoulis pointed to the final report’s conclusion that the company raised “valid safety concerns” as proof they went beyond the government’s infection-control standards.

“This also meant, at times, not performing some duties if it presented additional risk to our guards,” he said. “We’re confident Wilson Security demonstrated how private security could have been utilised appropriately for the program.”

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the report failed in its goal of discovering who decided to employ private security and called for a royal commission that he said would have greater powers to examine the decision-making on March 27, when the hotels program was devised.

“We see the Premier digging in, we see the Premier saying sorry but not showing that he’s sorry,” he said.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien demanded that Premier Daniel Andrews resign on Monday.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien demanded that Premier Daniel Andrews resign on Monday.Credit:Joe Armao

“Andrews has blamed Victorian families, security guards and thrown a minister under the bus, yet refuses to take any personal responsibility for the worst public policy failure in the state’s history. No political leader should be able to survive this type of failure.”

Former health minister Jenny Mikakos resigned over the hotel quarantine program in September.

Former health minister Jenny Mikakos resigned over the hotel quarantine program in September.Credit:Getty

The report found poor communication between ministers and department heads and Mr Andrews pledged to adopt a recommendation for a further inquiry into accountability of the public service and government.

Associate Professor Aaron Martin, a lecturer at the University of Melbourne’s School of Social Political Sciences, said there was a “signal and noise” problem where it may not have been apparent to department secretaries which pieces of information should have been relayed to the minister.

“In hindsight it’s easy to say what went wrong and right, but with time decisions made with very little info in an unprecedented health crisis. I have some sympathy for some mistakes, though not all are excusable,” he said.

Despite concluding the private security decision was reached by “acquiescence” at a meeting at the State Control Centre on March 27, Justice Coate sheeted home a large portion of the responsibility for the security guard decision to the then police chief commissioner, Graham Ashton.

“The then Chief Commissioner of Police was consulted and expressed a preference that private security perform that role and Victoria Police provide the ‘back up’ for that model,” she found.

Justice Coate said the Victorian government failed to assess the merits of using private security, police or the Australian Defence Force on the frontline of the hotels.

The assessment that the military was not needed was made “without any proper consideration of … what would be the best enforcement option”.

The hotel inquiry’s budget swelled from $3 million to $5.7 million and it is understood government departments spent at least $4 million on lawyers.

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Greens Leader, Adam Bandt, says the Australia Post debacle is symptomatic of corporatisation, a problem that would only be made worse by full privatisation, as the Greens call instead for executive salary caps and a winding-back of privatisation.

At the National Press Club this month, Bandt outlined plans for a major inquiry into the impact of privatisation. This inquiry would include the impact of corporatisation of the public service.

“When the corporate model is exposed to be corrupted and scandal-ridden, some who advocated for the failed experiment will double-down and push for the privatisation of Australia Post,” Bandt said.

“Our corporatised public services have been infected with neoliberal ideology and privatisation would only make the problem worse.”

“Essential services should be run for the public good. By treating Australia Post as just another business, the government has allowed a ‘greed is good’ culture to dominate.

“The Australia Post scandal, made iconic by Cartier watches, is a symptom of a long ideological campaign to corporatise the culture and operations of public services.

“We should be winding back the corporatisation of our public services. Our wide-ranging inquiry will reveal the full impact of privatisation and corporatisation in this country.

“The Greens would also work towards ending so-called ‘performance-based pay’ for executives. This is a failed experiment. It has not improved performance, but it has eroded a sense of teamwork and it is inconsistent with the role and culture of the public service.

The Public Governance Performance and Accountability Amendment Executive Remuneration Bill (2017), which the Greens have already tabled would tie executive pay across the public service, including Australia Post, to 5 times the Australia-wide average wage (approximately $420,000).

“We could have started a culture change years ago, but the bill didn’t get support. We’re looking to put the proposal to cap executive salaries back to Labor and the Crossbench again now,” Bandt said

New research from Ownership Matters, released today, showed a ‘directors club’ in Australia’s biggest corporations.

“Is this the club we want Australia Post to join? The corporate model is one of runaway executive salaries and the ‘game of mates’. It’s a broken model stemming from a trickle-down agenda and it’s one that the Greens aim to reign in,” Bandt said.

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Dally M debacle could force change to future votes as Raiders lash out at Wighton ‘disrespect’

That partly explains why the NRL was so angry when it learnt of The Daily Telegraph blunder. That anger was compounded by the fact the story that broke the embargo was critical of the voting system that saw Wighton knock off favourite Nathan Cleary for the game’s highest individual honour.

It’s the second time in as many years a News Corp publication has published the winner of the Dally M award before the announcement, with The Courier Mail releasing a story that referenced James Tedesco as the 2019 winner up to 30 minutes before the award was presented.

Deserved winner … Jack WightonCredit:Getty

Staff at The Daily Telegraph had to sign non-disclosure agreements so they could see results after midday to prepare a liftout for the next day’s newspaper. However, the NRL will not pursue legal action because the mistake was deemed to be the result of human error on behalf of a Telegraph staff member rather than an act of deliberate sabotage.

The mistake has overshadowed Wighton’s achievement, with coach Ricky Stuart telling the Herald on Tuesday: “I think it’s totally disrespectful to any award winner who has to put up with such negativity.

“This is a wonderful achievement and he’s done it through a lot of consistency and hard work. He’s a wonderful example of what happens when you commit and work hard. Winning a Dally M puts Jack into a very elite category.”


The NRL was so desperate for Wighton to attend the awards night, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo had phoned Raiders boss Don Furner multiple times last week to strongly encourage the Raiders five-eighth to travel to Sydney from the nation’s capital.

Abdo even called Furner the morning after Canberra’s season-ending loss to the Storm last weekend, with Wighton later agreeing to leave the team’s end-of-season celebrations to attend the Dally M broadcast event.

Penrith were reluctant for Ivan and Nathan Cleary to attend during grand final week, knocking back a request from the NRL for the pair to undergo a COVID test in Redfern before attending the event.

Instead the Clearys were tested by the team doctor after Saturday night’s win against the Rabbitohs. Abdo and ARLC chairman Peter V’landys also had tests before being granted permission to be in close proximity to the players.

Wighton, who isn’t one of the five finalists for the RLPA Players’ Champion award voted by his peers, even admitted he thought Cleary would be crowned the game’s best on Monday night.

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said the headlines surrounding Jack Wighton winning the Dally M ahead of Nathan Cleary were "disrespectful".

Canberra coach Ricky Stuart said the headlines surrounding Jack Wighton winning the Dally M ahead of Nathan Cleary were “disrespectful”.Credit:NRL Photos

But the Raiders said the latest award capped a brilliant two years for Wighton who had turned his career around since narrowly avoiding jail for his well-publicised drunken attack on bystanders in the nation’s capital.

“It’s absolute just reward for Jack and it’s no surprise certain sections of the Sydney media could not accept it, but we’re used to it down here,” Furner said.

“Jack’s career could have gone one way or the other a couple of years ago. But the turnaround has been there for all to see. He’s a country boy at heart and has the wonderful support of his partner Monisha.”

“He didn’t pick the results on Monday night. I remember there was the same conjecture from some members of the Sydney media when a Roosters forward [Waerea-Hargreaves] missed out the Clive Churchill. We actually find it disrespectful to Jack. Good on him. He absolutely deserves it.”

Wighton held on by one vote to win the Dally M from Parramatta’s Clint Gutherson with Cleary a further point behind.

The five-eighth was rested from the final regular-season game and quipped he would have been filthy with Stuart had he lost.

The Dally M judges

  • Andrew Johns
  • Andrew Ryan
  • Anthony Minichiello
  • Ben Ikin
  • Ben Galea
  • Billy Moore
  • Brett Kimmorley
  • Corey Parker
  • Dallas Johnson
  • Darren Lockyer
  • Dene Halatau
  • Gary Belcher
  • Greg Alexander
  • Jimmy Smith
  • Johnathan Thurston
  • Justin Hodges
  • Luke Lewis
  • Mark Geyer
  • Matt Elliott
  • Nathan Hindmarsh
  • Paul Whatuira
  • Petero Civoniceva
  • Ryan Girdler
  • Sam Thaiday
  • Scott Sattler
  • Steve Menzies
  • Steve Roach
  • Tony Puletua
  • Wally Lewis

“Sticky would have been barred,” Wighton said. “Never did I dream I’d be in this position wearing the medal around my neck.”

Wighton will enjoy some down time with his family before entering the Blues bubble on Friday, something he was never going to pass up.

“I’ve missed enough opportunities in my life through being silly and sometimes making the wrong decision,” Wighton said. “It wasn’t an option. I’m taking every opportunity I get from now on and not let one slip again.”


Wighton could not pick the winner of the Grand Final, said Melbourne and Cameron Smith were last Friday “on as different level” while Nathan Cleary and the Panthers were in outstanding touch.

“Nathan is exceptional, and it’s only when you’re sitting in there [at the Dally Ms] you get reminded how old he is, he’s 22, and to be leading a bunch of young men around like he is at the Panthers, and to be doing it with so much class, it’s unreal,” Wighton said. “He’s a superstar of the game and he has a massive future.”

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Did production problems lead to Rio’s Juukan Gorge debacle?

When Rio lowered its production forecast by 20 million tonnes last year, it cited mine operational challenges in its Greater Brockman hub in the Pilbara, within which the caves lie.

The problem seemed to relate to the fact that Rio hadn’t invested enough to remove the overburden – clear the site of dirt and rocks lying above the ore – from the mine.

Brockman’s rich ore is a key to Rio’s famed “Pilbara Blend,” its benchmark 62 per cent FE product and the one which delivers it a price premium. Rio was forced by the problems at Brockman to sell higher volumes of lower-grade ore to avoid diluting the quality of its Pilbara Blend but was under pressure to maximise Brockman output.

The issues at Brockman not only meant lost volume and margin but higher costs, enabling the previously unthinkable – Rio’s cash costs, for the first time, were higher than arch-rival BHP’s.

Those eight million tonnes of rich ore in the Juukan Gorge must have looked appealing.

Different era

In a different era, with different management and a different board supervision, the production issues would never have influenced the decision to blow up the caves.

Rio has been proud of its relationships with its indigenous land owners. Former chief executive Leon Davis was, in 1995, the first of the miners to sign a land rights agreement under what had been the highly-contentious Native Title legislation enacted in the wake of the High Court’s Mabo decision.

Over time Rio rolled out agreements in its operations that ranged from its Hamersley iron ore business, to the Weipa bauxite business operated by Comalco in far north Queensland and the Argyle diamond mine in Western Australia. It built strong relationships with its communities and indigenous leaders.

Rio staffers at the time say the decision to take the lead in the industry related to Rio’s history and its leadership at the time.

Rio was scarred by its experiences with the Panguna copper mine at Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. From the moment it gained access to the deposit in the early 1960s there was friction with local villagers. By the time it began operations in 1972 that had escalated into conflict and demands for secession by the locals, and ultimately into an armed conflict and civil war that persisted into the early 1990s.


The conflict forced the mine to stop operating in 1989. In 2016 Rio transferred its majority stake in the mine to the local government authorities and the PNG government.

That experience informed both the local Rio management and the London head office at St James Square.

Davis – who had some experience at Bougainville — and Rio’s executive chairman, Bob Wilson, who had dealt with communities in Asia and Africa, decided there were no good reasons to exclude Australian Indigenous communities from the types of arrangements Rio had struck elsewhere.

Under Davis and his successors, who until American Tom Albanese was appointed CEO to succeed Leigh Clifford came out of the old Australian-centred CRA, Rio’s community relations and the organisational support for them continued to build.

Age-old tensions

The appointment of Albanese reflected age-old tensions within Rio. Rio’s history dates back to the forming of an investment consortium to acquire a base metals mine on the Rio Tinto river in Spain in the late 1800s.

It continued to operate that mine until the 1950s while diversifying, mainly into Africa and, in 1962, acquiring a majority stake in Consolidated Zinc, which became Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia – CRA.

In 1996, with CRA wanting to expand more aggressively offshore and Rio rekindling ambitions of being an operator of mines rather than an investor, the potential conflicts were resolved by merging/subsuming CRA into Rio via a dual-listed entity structure.

There have always been some tensions between the London-dominated board of Rio and the Australians who actually managed the operations that generated the overwhelming bulk of the group’s earnings.

While there have always been Australians on the Rio main board – there are three today, albeit only one with any mining industry experience — the UK directors, and the London “City” have always been mindful of the threat that too much of an Australian influence within the management and board might lead to pressure to shift Rio’s head office from London to where its main operations are.

Walsh’s rescue mission

The $US38 billion Alcan acquisition just ahead of the financial crisis, which almost drove Rio into the clutches of China Inc, and a subsequent acquisition of a coal project in Mozambique, were disasters. Rio wrote more than $US30 billion off the Alcan investment and almost the entire $US4 billion it spent in Mozambique.

Albanese lost his job and Pilbara veteran Sam Walsh and his chief financial officer, Chris Lynch, were brought in to restore Rio’s finances and its reputation for operational excellence, which they did.

When Walsh retired in 2016, Frenchman Jean-Sébastien Jacques, who had been running Rio’s copper and coal businesses, succeeded him.

A host of former senior managers exited/were exited, there was heavy cost-cutting, a spate of asset sales and the community relations function and other Australian support functions were pared to the bone and responsibility centred within the corporate relations department in London. It is as tight and centralised a control as London has ever exerted over the Australian business.


The losses of the on-the-job-executives and staffers who had written the land rights agreements and managed the relationships with local communities appears an obvious ingredient in the combustible mess Rio now finds itself in, as well as a thinning of the ranks of the senior executives with hands-on experience in the WA iron ore business.

Rio’s history over the past decade points to a gradual loss of management depth, organisational execution capacity and cultural awareness – and the proximity of those with ultimate responsibility — to the operations that are responsible for almost all Rio’s profitability and value, relatively briefly interrupted during Sam Walsh and Chris Lynch’s rescue job.

In the circumstances, is it all that surprising that a Juukan Gorge event could occur?

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AFL narrowly dodges all-time low-scoring debacle in Cats win over Dockers

The Geelong Cats and the Fremantle Dockers have played out one of the lowest scoring games in AFL history as the Cats won 6.12 (48) to 2.4 (16) in horrendous conditions at Optus Stadium.

At a rain drenched Optus Stadium, the match started brilliantly for debutant Brad Close, who took just 23 seconds to take his first mark before kicking his first AFL goal.

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It was an amazing start but it quickly became a slog as the rain got heavier and heavier throughout the opening half.

And as the rain pelted down, it only got harder with handling and kicking becoming increasingly difficult.

Just before the first quarter break, the Cats’ Jed Bews took a terrible shot at goal, shanking it across the field after completely miskicking it.

While the low scoring could still be blamed on the 16 minute quarters two of the three lowest scoring games of the AFL era have been this season. It comes after the Richmond Tigers win over the Sydney Swans in round six where only 60 points were scored between the teams, the second lowest scoring of the AFL era.

The Dockers were particularly hapless, taking until 12 minutes into the third quarter for the home side to get on the board.

It was a close one with the goal umpire seemingly calling a behind before it was reviewed and checked plenty of times before awarding the goal to Matt Taberner.

In an incredible performance in such a low scoring game in such difficult conditions, Cats forward Tom Hawkins kicked three goals as a constant menace for the Dockers.

The teams only equalled the lowest scoring game of the AFL era with 2:26 remaining in the game, which was 58 between the Brisbane Bears’ win over Footscray in 1996.

The Dockers only just passed their lowest ever score with a Jacob Serong goal with 1:02 left on the clock, only just dodging disaster.

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1918 HMAT Boonah flu tragedy echoes cruise ship COVID-19 debacle

The refusal to allow cruise liner Artania to dock in Fremantle echoes the quarantining of HMAT Boonah in Fremantle for “Spanish flu” in late 1918, writes history editor Dr Glenn Davies.

THE SAGAS OF cruise liners and COVID-19 infections are occurring around the world. This is an issue of pressing interest for Australia. At the forefront of the minds of Australians is the recent quarantining of Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan, the current Ruby Princess cruise liner infection debacle, the hundreds of Australian’s trapped on cruise liners anchored off the North and South American coasts, and the direction of six foreign cruise liners along the NSW coast to leave Australian waters and return to their home ports.

Just over one hundred years ago, HMAT Boonah arrived in Fremantle, WA, arrived with over 300 Australian soldiers infected with “Spanish flu”.

The 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, or “Spanish flu” remains among the greatest natural disasters of recorded history. Emerging in Europe in the final months of the Great War, in little over a year the pandemic swept around the world, killing at least 50 million people, at least four times more than the deaths caused by the First World War. Few families or communities escaped its effects.

While its exact origins are still debated, it’s understood that the “Spanish Flu” did not come from Spain. The name seems to have arisen as reporting about influenza cases in war-affected countries was censored. However, as Spain was neutral, frequent stories appeared about the deadly flu in Spain.

It’s unlikely that the “Spanish Flu” changed the outcome of World War I because combatants on both sides of the battlefield were relatively equally affected. However, there is little doubt that the war profoundly influenced the course of the pandemic. Concentrating millions of troops created ideal circumstances for the development of more aggressive strains of the virus and its spread around the globe.

During 1919 the “Spanish Flu” in about a third of all Australians becoming infected and nearly 15,000 people dying in under a year. These figures match the average annual death rate for the Australian Imperial Force throughout 1914-18. More than 5,000 marriages were affected by the loss of a partner and over 5000 children lost one or both parents. In 1919, almost 40 per cent of Sydney’s population had influenza, more than 4,000 people died and in some parts of Sydney, influenza deaths comprised up to 50 per cent of all deaths.

It wasn’t just the influenza pandemic victims who were affected. Across Australia, regulations intended to reduce the spread and impact of the pandemic caused profound disruption. The nation’s quarantine system held back “Spanish Flu” for several months, meaning that a less deadly version came ashore in 1919. But it caused delay and resentment for the 180,000 soldiers, nurses and partners who returned home by sea that year.

The 1,200 troops on-board HMAT Boonah was the last Australian troopship to leave Fremantle, WA bound for the trenches of the Western Front in World War I. But it wasn’t the battlefields of Europe that claimed dozens of their young lives, instead meeting their fate with Spanish influenza in Perth’s southern suburbs.

As the last troopship to leave Australia sailed towards Europe, the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918. Three days the HMAT Boonah docked in Durban, South Africa to re-coal before heading back to Australia. Although the Aussie troops weren’t allowed to go to shore in Durban, they mingled with local men re-coaling the ship to buy ostrich feathers as souvenirs. This encounter proved a deadly mistake for dozens on-board infected by the “Spanish flu”.

As the disappointed soldiers sailed back across the Indian Ocean, they referred to themselves in the Boonah Buzzer, an onboard publication produced by the soldiers, as part of the “too blooming late brigade”. The Boonah Boomerang, or The Log of the Lucky Ship, another onboard publication, recorded that one man had already been lost at sea after becoming delirious and jumping overboard in the night. By the time the troopship reached the shores of Fremantle, Western Australia on 11 December 1918, more than 300 of the men on board were infected.

The HMAT Boonah wasn’t allowed to dock in Fremantle and initially, the soldiers were refused permission to disembark and were left anchored in Gage Roads. The disease had not yet affected Western Australia, and the authorities were hesitant to allow the troops to disembark.

The conditions aboard were very poor and overcrowded. The food was of very poor quality, the potatoes so bad that the doctors ordered them to be thrown overboard. It would have been heartbreaking for the Perth soldiers to come so close to home soil, to actually see the lights of Fremantle, and to know their family was waiting for them and they couldn’t leave the ship. The contingent of WA soldiers was on the verge of revolt.

After a few days anchored in Gage Roads, after much public outcry, approval was granted for 300 of the most unwell soldiers to be ferried to the nearby Woodman’s Point Quarantine Station. It took three days for the sick men to be off-loaded but the next problem was a lack of medical staff to tend to them.     

With no medical staff to care for the soldiers, authorities desperately turned to a ship of military nurses on board SS Wyreema, also on its way back to Australia. The SS Wyreema from Sydney included a group of forty Australian army nursing sisters bound for Thessalonica (Salonika). The SS Wyreema turned around at Cape Town, South Africa, when the Armistice was declared and arrived back at Fremantle on 10 December 1918.

The small station was soon overrun with sick troops, who were set up in tents outside. Meanwhile, Woodman Point was becoming seriously over-crowded. Built to take 30 patients at most, it was now housing 600. Then people started dying.

Sister Rosa O’Kane was selected as one of the 20 volunteers to tend the infected soldiers at the Woodman’s Point Quarantine Station Hospital. It was at the Quarantine Station that she contracted “Spanish flu” and was the first of the hospital staff to die on 21 December 1918.

Her death was deeply felt and served as a tragic omen to her hard-pressed colleagues. Of the 20 nurses from the SS Wyreema who volunteered to care for the infected soldiers, 15 contracted the flu and four made the supreme sacrifice: Army staff nurses Rosa O’Kane, Doris Ridgway and Ada Thompson, and civilian nurse Hilda Williams.

The tragedy also claimed the lives of 26 soldiers.

The HMAT Boonah was quarantined in Gage Roads for nine days. Cases of influenza continued to break out on the ship and the number of men sent into quarantine rose to 381 and the death toll had already reached eight. The men still in quarantine aboard the ship tried to make the best of things. However, the Boonah was an iron vessel and little shade was provided for the large contingent still on board. Some started fishing and caught a number of sharks and large fish some of which were deposited in the ship’s pool to keep them fresh.

The press soon took up the case of the men stuck on the ship. The WA Government wanted to take the troops to Rottnest but the Commonwealth insisted they stay at sea until the ship had been clean of new infections for 24 hours.

To be a clean ship, it had to be clean of infection for 24 hours. However, every day fresh cases were discovered. The Returned Servicemen’s Association threatened that if the men weren’t brought to shore on Rottnest Island, they would go out in boats and take the men themselves. Then, all of a sudden, on 20 December 1918, because of the political furore that was taking place, the ship was declared clean. This was completely untrue because when the HMAT Boonah cleared Fremantle Harbour, but before it reached Port Adelaide, where the men disembarked, another 20 cases were discovered.

Most of the dead were buried at Woodman Point, south of Perth. In the 1980s they were moved to Hollywood War Cemetery in Nedlands. However, the graves of nurses Rosa O’Kane and HG Williams still remain. In the century since, the surroundings are overgrown with bushland, but the graves are maintained by the Friends of Woodman Point Recreation Camp.

There are few commemorations to remember the devastating pandemic. However, the restoration of Woodman Point Quarantine Station serves as a reminder of Australian soldiers and nurses who died of “Spanish flu”.

In Perth, the combination of the city’s relative isolation and effective state border quarantine control ensured that “Spanish flu” didn’t appear significantly there until June 1919. Perth experienced a spike in infections after crowds gathered to celebrate Peace Day on 19 July 1919.

It seems to be for a country surrounded by water, the management of nautical entry would have been better developed since the Boonah Tragedy of 1918.

You can follow history editor Dr Glenn Davies Glenn on Twitter @DrGlennDavies.

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