Ted McDonnell: Blog https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog en-us (C) Ted McDonnell ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) Fri, 14 Jul 2017 03:24:00 GMT Fri, 14 Jul 2017 03:24:00 GMT https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/img/s/v-5/u513288785-o693037020-50.jpg Ted McDonnell: Blog https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog 120 80 PM fires a legal bullet at journalist to shut down freedom of speech https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2016/4/pm-fires-a-legal-bullet-at-journalist-to-shut-down-freedom-of-speech East_Timor_mcdonnell_01AEast_Timor_mcdonnell_01AInvestigative journalist Jose Belo continues his fight against corruption and the Timor Leste government's new media laws.

Caption: Jose Belo fighting for freedom of speech was sued for defamation a number of years ago trying to reveal political corruption

 

COMMENT

Ted McDonnell

 

If ever you wondered whether Timor Leste PM Dr. Rui de ­Araujo was a "puppet" in a morally depraved regime trying to hide the alleged corruption of past Prime Ministers his defamation action against journalist Raimundos Oki is proof positive.

In my opinion the current Prime Minister of Timor Leste is representing one of the world's most dishonest regimes.

His action to sue a journalist for defamation is extraordinary and shows that his government (and his puppeteer form PM Xanana Gusmao) are dooming Timor Leste to a tag of one of the world’s most disfunctional nations.

The current government headed by Dr Rui is teetering on the brink of potential collapse.

And rightly, the current President Taur Matan Ruak has compared the regime running Timor Leste as very similar to the despot government of Indonesia's long dead President Suharto. As we all know the Suharto regime was both murderous and corrupt. Suharto was a despot of the first order.

History may show that TMR could well have understated the seriousness of Timor Leste's situation.

Gusmao learnt well from Suharto and he has mentored many Timor Leste politicians in the art of misleading his people; seeking scapegoats when a country squanders its oil funds; ensuring family is rewarded with hundreds of millions of dollars; and allegedly disposing of anyone who speaks out against your corrupt regime.

No wonder Gusmao sacked the foreign judiciary in November 2014. He has a lot to hide.

Now Dr. Rui has taken up the mantle of despot ruler and he is a fast learner. He wants to shutdown freedom of speech and one way to do that is sue journalists; or even better jail them. 

The legal action against Raimundos Oki is a legal warning shot above the heads of all people who want to reveal endemic corruption within Timor Leste’s political elite.

One might say a legal warning shot is better than the bullets Mauk Moruk received in August 2015 that permanently shut down the former commander from talking on the corruption of Xanana Gusmao.

As for Dr. Rui and his defamation action against Raimundos Oki it proves the current PM of Timor Leste is a questionable character taking orders from above. He is not a believer in freedom of speech nor does he care about the alleged past sins and crimes of his mentor Xanana Gusmao and many of his fellow parliamentarians.

In fact, Dr. Rui is a denier: A denier of fact. A denier of truth. A denier of freedom of speech. A denier of democracy!

Dr. Rui quickly betrayed his fellow Fretilin parliamentarians to drink from the silver goblet by taking over from your "mentor" Xanana Gusmao.

The western world well knows Timor Leste is a your puppet regime and the people of Timor Leste know they have been misled and poorly served by multiple governments.

Dr. Rui may well attempt to silence the media; and attempt to hide the alleged ill-gotten gains of the political elite, but that will not stop him from being thrown into the political dustbin in 2017. A just place for a man so badly conflicted and who has failed his people just like his mentor.

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) corruption east timor mauk moruk timor leste xanana gusmao https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2016/4/pm-fires-a-legal-bullet-at-journalist-to-shut-down-freedom-of-speech Thu, 14 Apr 2016 10:22:38 GMT
The Hidden Face of Australian Racism https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2016/1/the-hidden-face-of-australian-racism Melbourne, Australia: 

Australia as is America and parts of Europe the rise and rise of right wing racist politics has become a headline that is not going away anytime soon.

The volley of hate pushed by US politician's such as Donald Trump, who is putting his hand up for the American Presidency; UKips Nigel Farage and Australian right wingers such as George Christensen; Cory Bernadi and yes Pauline Hanson (she's back) all pushing the same thing. Hate speech and anti-anyone who does not confirm to their white persons protocol.

Protests against Muslims; the displaced; anyone from an Arab state; or anyone seeking refuge dominated the headlines throughout 2015; and even in the early days of 2016 masked protestors are running the streets calling for a white Australia. Their anti-islam; anti-muslim chant is repeated throughout the Western world.

Today, I present a small essay of images shot in late 2015 (several used worldwide; one featured in The Guardian) they show the hidden face of Australia's racism.

There's little doubt the hate for anyone who is not white will continue to dominate the political sphere in 2016 with the US elections this November; an Australian election to be announced very soon; and European elections also due. 

The measure of where the world is heading; or spiralling will continue to unfold in 2016 in a rapid manner.

In the meantime, have a look at these images which are truly the "hidden face" of Australia's racism.

- Ted McDonnell

 

Hidden Face of Australia's racism

Hidden Face of Australia's racism

Hidden Face of Australia's racism Hidden Face of Australia's racism Hidden Face of Australia's racism Hidden Face of Australia's racism Hidden Face of Australia's racism Hidden Face of Australia's racism

 

 

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) australia immigration islam muslim racism https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2016/1/the-hidden-face-of-australian-racism Sat, 09 Jan 2016 12:15:00 GMT
Fledgling fails to launch https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2015/9/fledgling-fails-to-launch East_Timor_mcdonnell_01DEast_Timor_mcdonnell_01DA 'team' of Timorese children search rubbish for anything of value.

Reprinted with permission of The Australian 

Exclusive 

By Ted McDonnell

EAST Timor’s salad days are almost over. The young nation’s oil and gas fields are all but exhausted, and the resources bounty that once seemed so vast is rapidly shrinking. Revered as one of his nation’s independence heroes, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is stumbling as his nation closes in on itself. As poverty spreads, the pillars of democracy are shaky in East Timor — the media is muzzled, political foes are jailed and corruption flourishes.

The foothills of Dili are regularly scarred with the corpses of the nation’s young men, over-qualified but unemployed, who hang themselves from trees having given up on a future in the young nation.

They are part of a generation aged under 25 — many tertiary-educated in Dili’s myriad universities — that faces 70 per cent joblessness. If they do find jobs, they work for as little as $5 a day.

Just months out from Gusmao’s retirement, announced earlier this year, some believe the nation’s founding father is running away from his country’s greatest nemesis — the dreaded resources curse.

However, what ultimately may define Gusmao’s legacy as his country’s leader is a financial crisis that economists and non-government organisations warn is draining the fledgling nation’s $US15 billion ($15.8bn) Petroleum Fund, which could be depleted within a decade.

NGOs believe East Timor is fast heading down the path of Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Nigeria, whose governments plundered their fellow countrymen, women and children’s futures through mismanagement.

In the latest Global Hunger Index, East Timor ranked alongside Burundi, Eritrea, Sudan and Chad. Poverty alongside high unemployment, malnutrition and a deplorable healthcare system are seen as continual threats to East Timor’s stability and security.

The World Bank recently sounded the alarm with an independent review on the progress of the Timor-Leste Country Assistance program reporting frustration in many areas.

“The bank’s contribution to building civil service capacity and fighting corruption was limited and achievements modest, while the bank’s efforts at engagement in the national strategic planning process had little impact on the government’s strategies,” the review says.

So grave are the country’s fin­ances, reports East Timor’s economic watchdog La’o Hamutuk, that the nation could be broke within a decade.

The head of La’o Hamutuk, Charles Scheiner, says oil and gas revenues provide 95 per cent of East Timor’s state revenues and four-fifths of gross domestic product. East Timor’s budget this year is $US1.5bn for its 1.2 million population. Scheiner says many believe the petroleum fund will pay for state activities after the oil and gas fields are exhausted, which could be as early as 2020 if the Greater Sunrise project remains stalled.

With little other revenue available, the fund could be depleted within five years after that.

Scheiner says as one of the most petroleum export dependent countries, East Timor faces daunting choices. He believes it remains to be seen if its leaders will make the difficult decisions that will rescue their people from a “resource curse’’.

“Although political structures and pressures encourage short-term spending of the country’s limited non-renewable resource wealth, wise, longer-term policies would use these transient oil and gas revenues to invest in Timor-Leste’s people, rather than in large physical infrastructure projects with doubtful economic return,” he says.

Scheiner says investments in education and health, combined with improvements in rural roads, water and sanitation, would provide a foundation for a sustainable, equitable non-oil economy.

“Unfortunately, the current path — where most of the country’s non-renewable wealth goes abroad, with financial benefits accruing to a small elite while the impoverished rural majority grows even larger — repeats the common, disastrous pattern,” he warns. “How will East Timor sustain its current 50-to-1 trade deficit in a decade, when there is no oil money left to pay for imports?”

Enter Agio Pereira, East Timor’s Minister of State, a man who is not afraid of speaking his mind. Pereira, 58, tipped as a likely contender to replace Gusmao when he steps down, acknow­ledges the challenges ahead for his country.

“You can’t develop a country in just 12 years. Look at the massive destruction that occurred over the 24 years of Indonesian rule. How can we fix everything in such a short period of time?” he says.

The Australian-educated Pereira says the East Timorese struggle for their freedom has not ended. “Every day is a struggle. But you know, reality is man-made and we can change our reality and make East Timor strong for the future of all our people.

“Yes, poverty in our country is frightening, but we have a strong sense of family and solidarity. Families work together to overcome poverty.”

With the average monthly salary just $US80, Pereira says extended families use their meagre resources as a collective.

But he concludes: “People are too pessimistic.”

The man who led East Timor to peace, Nobel prize-winner and former president Jose Ramos-Horta, shares Pereira’s optimism and is hopeful his country will find the path to prosperity if treated fairly by its nearest neighbours.

Ramos-Horta says predictions of failure ignore many of the achievements during the past 12 years.

“I am in the positive camp and by habit look at the broader picture from a 10-year perspective; where we were in 1999-2000, and where we are today,” he says.

“I acknowledge the challenges, structural problems, policy wrongs, and I also look at the tremendous progress we have made under the governments of Mari Alkatiri and Xanana.”

However, East Timor’s best-known journalist, Jose Belo, says he finds government extrava­gances and corruption galling when most Timorese live on less than a few dollars a day.

And the corruption buster believes new media laws have been created to obstruct the reporting of the country’s deteriorating economy and the alleged corruption that has plagued East Timor during Gusmao’s two-term rule.

“The elites that govern East Timor are concerned that free speech will limit their ability to successfully control and abuse the petroleum fund for their personal benefit,” he declares.

“Despite anti-corruption programs being in place they have had little effect. While some offenders have been made an example of, this is mostly window-dressing. The vast majority remain unhindered in the pursuit of lining their pockets.”

Belo reports that several politicians are under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Commission, including Finance Minister Emilia Pires, who allegedly was involved in a decision to award a contract worth $US2.04m to her husband’s Melbourne-based business, Macs Metalcraft, for the supply of hospital equipment.

Pires’s name is on the investigation list of the Prosecutor General over the contract, but she repeatedly has denied being involved in awarding the contract.

Gusmao consistently has defended Pires, stating the contract was awarded fairly.

“Minister Emilia’s husband does not need a contract or project from the government. It was because these things needed to be acquired that we said, go and buy them from there,” Gusmao has said.

The Australian has attempted on numerous occasions to contact Pires for a response to the allegation. Each time she has offered no comment.

Pires’s husband, Warren Mac­Leod, denies his wife had a role in awarding his company the hospital supplies contract.

“I never dealt with the ministry of finance. I have only ever dealt with the ministry of health,” Mac­Leod says. “It’s very frustrating and downright annoying that these allegations against Emilia keep cropping up. Since she went into government she has been targeted and accused of all sorts of things and the reason she is targeted is that she is too honest.”

Belo believes the corruption investigation will go nowhere.

“The people in Dili know this will come to nothing. Countless other members of government as well as members of parliament, past and present, are under similar scrutiny. This scrutiny is due to media activity, and it’s for this reason that media and citizens are about to be muzzled.”

Gusmao also has constantly attacked the Anti-Corruption Commission in the East Timor media when defending his ministers against corruption allegations, stating the commission investigates “trifling matters”.

In 2010, former deputy prime minister Mario Carrascalao quit, alleging the government was protecting the finance ministry and endemic corruption involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

The only significant corruption scalp was the 2012 conviction of former justice minister Lucia Lobato. She is serving five years in prison.

Human-rights scrutiny has been placed on the Gusmao government following the recent arrests of outspoken former presidential candidate Angela Freitas and one of East Timor’s most revered former Red Brigade commanders and head of the Maubere Revolutionary Council, Paulino Gama, better known as Mauk Moruk.

Freitas has since been released but is under virtual house arrest awaiting trial.

Freitas tells The Australian she was arrested at Dili airport after returning from Indonesia following a medical operation. East Timor police held her for 72 hours.

“They accused me of abuse of power and gun running. They claim I wore a military uniform but at the time of the accusation I was in hospital in Indonesia,” she says.

“They also claim I brought into East Timor two containers of guns. They searched my house, they searched everywhere, but found nothing. Where are the two containers of guns? There are no guns.” Freitas, who also holds Australian citizenship, is facing a possible 10-year prison term.

The future of Moruk, a critic of Gusmao since the 1980s, is uncertain. Moruk was detained for “wearing a military uniform in public’’. He remains in Becora Prison without charge.

East Timor’s Prosecutor General has requested 12 months to prepare the state’s case against Moruk and his followers. Human-rights lawyers are concerned Moruk will not get a fair trial because of the government’s influence over the judiciary.

As the Prime Minister’s retirement draws closer, Belo and others remain sceptical about his official retirement motives. At the time of announcing his retirement late last year, Gusmao said it was “time to hand over the country to its younger leaders’’. At the same time he said he would set up a council of elders.

Belo says: “It could be another Xanana game.”

The council of elders will include past leaders including Gusmao, Ramos-Horta, former PM Alkatiri and Fretilin legend Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres.

However, younger politicians from within the government and opposition Fretilin believe Gusmao is keen to hand over the reins now because he wants a “fall guy” for East Timor’s mounting financial crisis and someone else to be blamed for the depletion of the Petroleum Fund.

“Once the disaster strikes, brother Xanana will try and come back a hero to save the country again,” one veteran Fretilin politician says.

Would-be PM Pereira rub­bishes the conspiracy theories and believes Gusmao’s legacy is safe: “He is the transformer of this country and a political weapon.”

© The Australian & Ted McDonnell

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) corruption east timor emilia pires mauk moruk timor leste xanana gusmao https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2015/9/fledgling-fails-to-launch Mon, 14 Sep 2015 00:48:52 GMT
Leonard Cohen - Troubles of a Troubadour https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2015/9/leonard-cohen---troubles-of-a-troubadour _EGM6916_BW_EGM6916_BW

 

Reprinted from Issimo Magazine - www.issimomag.com

Exclusive

By Ted McDonnell

 

Two harrowing and life-defining moments propelled Leonard Cohen back on the stage and touring the world, writes Ted McDonnell.

Hasn’t anyone told legendary poet, songwriter and singer Leonard Cohen octogenarians aren’t supposed to be dancing around on stage day after day and performing for almost four hours? Obviously not.  

For a man who once quoted Truman Capote’s famous line about life and the inevitable: “life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act’’, it appears Cohen is now re-writing the so-called final act of his life.

The notoriously shy performer gave Issimo exclusive access to his ever-evolving world, plans for a new album and what propelled him back to the stage. A series of email exchanges took place over many months through his lawyers. 

For the past six decades, Cohen has known only two things: words and performance of those words. And, while most people approaching their 80th year are shuffling around nursing homes and looking for their slippers, Cohen’s spirit has been reinvigorated and his most recent past has oddly given him new meaning and a new beginning.

In June in Paris, Cohen opened his second European tour in as many years in front of 17,000 fans at Bercy Omnisport stadium. Omnisport is not an intimate venue, more a place suited to One Directioners or Beliebers. Cohen’s, sell-out audience, however, was left mesmerised by a three-and-a half-hour performance that most people half Cohen’s age would have struggled with.

Cohen, and his team including Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters sang nearly every number in their six-decade songbook and for the last half hour, and three encores, thousands danced in the aisles of France’s largest concert arena. Cohen’s sexy, blues-styled husky voice churned out the lyrics with a passion that enshrines him as one of the world’s master performers.

And fans downunder did not miss out either when his Old Ideas tour landed in  Australia and New Zealand a few months back.

Now approaching his 80th birthday in September, Cohen has worked non-stop since returning to the stage in 2008 after a 15-year ‘hiatus’ and is currently in the midst of a two-year world tour of his current album Old Ideas. In all, he has worked through more than 50 concerts in North America and Europe in 2012 and having just wrapped up another exhausting US sojourn, he has now embarked on his second European tour beginning in Paris.

According to Billboard, his concerts over the past 12 months have grossed just over $US50 million in front of audiences totalling more than 500,000 people. 

A member of Cohen’s close-knit coterie reveals his touring regime over the past five years has been simple: Sleep, exercise, rehearse, meditate, perform, sleep. “He is more focused than ever and just doesn’t want to let go of his passion for life and words,” she adds. 

But readily Cohen admits two remarkable incidents, decades apart, have helped twice redefine his life, career and in more recent times, his return to the stage. The first incident involved a madman with a gun, the second an ex-lover who became a thief.

The first life-defining moment harks back to the ’70s involving award-winning producer and latter day convicted murderer Phil Spector. Spector’s love of Cohen is the reason the Canadian-born troubadour is around today. It was Spector’s infamous gun antics that put Cohen’s life in peril when they were making Cohen’s much forgettable album Death of a Ladies Man. 

To this day, Cohen avoids long discussions about the album that proved the only flop of his long career and just refers to it as a ‘catastrophe’. 

However, he readily remembers the night in 1977 that Spector literally changed his outlook on life and his career. It was one booze-filled evening, in a year of booze and drug-filled evenings, when Spector, who Cohen says had previously threatened him with a crossbow, held a Colt .45 to Cohen’s neck. Cohen, who was in his early 40s at the time, sobered up very quickly as he saw his life instantaneously flash before his blurred vision.

As Cohen remembers, Spector leaned into him muttering: “Leonard, I love you.” To which Cohen slowly and cautiously answered, “I sure hope you do, Phil.”

Luckily, for Cohen and the music world, Spector did not pull the trigger. Death of a Ladies Mandid not become a miserable epitaph. After the dismal reaction to the Spector collaboration that almost curtailed his life, and put a temporary black spot on his early career, Cohen promptly ended the ‘one-album’ affair with Spector, and refocused his energies on his writing and the production of his own records.

Ironically, two decades later, in 2003 Spector, did pull the trigger with deadly consequences. The gun-happy record producer was convicted of second-degree murder of actress Lana Clarkson, who was found dead in Spector’s Los Angeles home with a single gunshot to the mouth. Spector testified Clarkson committed suicide. However, the jury in Spector’s second murder trial in 2009 did not believe the 70-year-old’s story. He was sentenced to 19 years to life. 

Having escaped Spector’s dysfunctional madness, Cohen for the next 20 years steeled himself to making a string of successful albums including I’m Your Man, The Future, Ten New Songs, and Dear Heather.

Off the back of his enduring success, Cohen, in the early 1990s, decided to stop touring and devote himself to his teacher – the Za-Zen master Old Roshi. Cohen would spend more than a decade at the Buddhist retreat of his master on Mount Baldy, not far from his LA home. The drugs, both illegal and medicinal, were ditched and Cohen finally found his true self by “not thinking about myself every given minute” as he had done in the previous 40 odd years.

He revealed at the time: “When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you. It happened to me by imperceptible degrees and I could not really believe it; I could not really claim it for some time. I thought there must be something wrong. It’s like taking a drink of cold water when you are thirsty. Every taste bud on your tongue, every molecule in your body says thank you.”

However, in 2005 Cohen’s second life-defining moment came at a very inopportune time in the midst of semi-retirement as he sat on Mount Baldy meditating. 

At the age of 70, Cohen suddenly found himself virtually penniless. He was forced to come down from his mountain retreat and face the shattering reality that his manager of 17 years and one-time lover Kelley Lynch had stolen almost every cent from his bank accounts. Over a number of years, Lynch drew down on Cohen’s savings accounts. In all, more than $5 million had been stolen. A broken and broke Cohen sued Lynch, who was ordered to pay him $9.5 million. Lynch’s lawyers claimed she was “unreachable”. She failed to repay a single cent and never faced criminal fraud charges.

For Lynch, stealing Cohen’s money was not enough. For more than six years, starting in 2005, on a virtual daily basis, Lynch phoned and emailed Cohen in a campaign of hate. One of the many thousands of emails in court documents stated that Cohen “needed to be taken down and shot”.

He says he truly feared for his and his family’s lives such was Lynch’s crusade of fear and loathing. “It started with just a few now and then, but it eventually accelerated to 20 or 30 a day,” Cohen said of the barrage of vile voice messages and emails he, family and friends received. 

“Some were 50 pages long,” he recalls. In one she wrote: “You are a sick man … You are a thief … You are a common thief.” The words could easily be lyrics from a Cohen song.

Just over 12 months ago, Cohen finally gained some closure to this most ugly episode with Lynch being sentenced to 18 months jail  in a Californian prison and five years probation after being found guilty of harassing the singer.

Cohen sums up Lynch’s conviction as only a poet could: “It is my prayer that Ms Lynch will take refuge in the wisdom of her religion, that a spirit of understanding will convert her heart from hatred to remorse, from anger to kindness, from deadly intoxication of revenge to the lowly practices of self reform.”

Lynch is now out of jail and the Cohen clan is mindful of the need for her to “stay away”.

Cohen is a family man through and through. His love for his son Adam, an accomplished performer himself, and daughter Lorca, named after famed Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who he says to this day ‘inspired his being’, has now extended to his grandchildren. Adam has a two-year-old son, Cassius, and Lorca with singer Rufus Wainwright only last year brought a “beautiful girl” into the world named Viva Katherine Wainwright Cohen.

The impact of Lynch’s betrayal has changed Cohen much like the near-death experience with Spector, says one close friend. “He’s more guarded and not as open to new friendships. He’s just far more suspicious of people of business and their intentions.But he continues to adore his fans as he has always done.”

Cohen now surrounds himself with a bevy of minders headed by brilliant Los Angeles lawyer Robert Kory. By the end of the six years of legal wrangling with Lynch the few pennies Cohen had left were gone. So, in 2008, 15 years after he stopped touring, Cohen and his close-knit musical entourage, including long-time collaborator Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters, climbed aboard the bus again, and have not stopped touring averaging 50 concerts a year. 

His first album in almost a decade, Old Ideas released last year was borne out of harrowing experiences of recent years and as one friend puts it Cohen’s need to “deal with his past in the only way he knows, through words”.

After a series of negotiations with his management, Cohen agreed to answer some questions through his lawyers. When asked about Old Ideas he typically avoids the discussion treating his album as a close friend, who is not in the room to defend himself, a friend he has put long hours into by mentoring and nurturing its being. He says it’s not a good idea to do an “autopsy on a living thing” when questioned on Old Ideas, which has reached number one on the charts in 11 countries, from Belgium to Poland to Canada. Fair enough, but this new collection strings together words so poetic that he could have very well have written them 50 odd years when he was considered more a poet than a  singer and songwriter. 

The lead track of Old Ideas – Going Home appears to encapsulate what he has endured in recent years and his return to touring:

 

Going home with my sorrow; 

Going home sometime tomorrow; 

Going home to where it’s better than before; 

Going home without my burden; going home behind the curtain; 

Going home without the costume that I wore…

 

Cohen is quick to point out Old Ideas is by no means an epitaph. This has been reinforced by the plaudits to Old Ideas by his fans and the critics. Last year he pipped fellow Canadian Justin Bieber for Album and Songwriter of the Year in Canada’s top music awards, the Juno. It was his fifth Juno. Amusingly, Twitter immediately went into meltdown as Beliebers asked “Who is Leonard Cohen?”

A typical tweet of confusion: “I’m afraid to ask what you’re RTing. It appears Justin Bieber lost something to Leonard ‘Who’s that?’ Cohen?”

No doubt, Cohen would have quietly enjoyed the moment of beating someone a quarter of his years, and if he knew how to tweet he probably would have said: “Is that the future of humanity?”

Cohen’s number one worldwide fan and aficionado, Allan Showalter, who runswww.1heckofaguy.com, a site devoted to everything Cohen, says Cohen’s dedication to his words and music are a true reflection of one of the world’s great artists.

“Leonard Cohen offers us the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt and malevolent.”

And as for that third act, Cohen has already begun to pen its first words. He confirmed exclusively to Issimo Magazine he is working on a new album, in between travelling the world. Life for Cohen is endless world tours once his newest yet to be named album is released some time next year.

And what of the constant rumours of retirement?

“Retirement?” Cohen wryly queries. “What’s that?”

To quote Leonard Cohen’s own words back to him – “ Mr. Cohen, If it be your will”.

 

© Ted McDonnell Words & Pictures 2013

Reprinted from Issimo Magazine October 2013 - www.issimomag.com

 

 

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) leonard cohen https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2015/9/leonard-cohen---troubles-of-a-troubadour Sun, 13 Sep 2015 03:15:00 GMT
A Win for Timor Leste in International Photo Awards https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/12/a-win-for-timor-leste-in-international-photo-awards By Ted McDonnell

ONE of my more poignant photographs ‘Boy with a Gun & UN’ taken in Culuhun, Timor Leste, has this week been awarded 1st prize in the 2014 International Loupe Awards for Photojournalism

The Loupe Awards (formerly the Aperture Awards) are judged by leading international  photographers and photo editors.

First prize in the Photojournalism category for ‘Boy with Gun & UN’ is particularly pleasing because it is also prize for Timor Leste and brings worldwide attention to a magnificent country and its people. It's a somewhat poignant photograph. The UN brought peace, food, shelter and contributed to the stability to Timor Leste; and in this image we have a young boy racing across the street with a gun (read - toy) towards the UN vehicle. It probably should be called 'Future, Past'...

My photograph of Jose Belo ‘Fighting for Press Freedom’ finished 18th and another image from my Timor series at the chook fighting in Bidau finished 30th. 

In all, three images finished in the top 50 of the 2014 International Loupe Awards for Photojournalism for the second year in a row. In 2013, my Paris series featured amongst the awards. 

I am currently working on a book on Timor Leste that I hope to have finished in 2015. Obviously, given my style of work it won’t be a tourist guide, but I hope it will mirror the resilience and tenacity of the Timorese people. 

The Timorese are the soul of a great nation that struggled and won against the murderous rule of Indonesia and to this day they continue to fight for their freedom against poverty, corruption and nepotism - despite their struggles they are a happy, caring and loving people.

Prizemoney will be donated to several charities in Timor Leste.

 

Ist - 'Boy with Gun' 2014 International Loupe Awards - Photojournalism

East_Timor_mcdonnell_01B ***Winner 2014 International Loupe Award for Photojournalism***East_Timor_mcdonnell_01B ***Winner 2014 International Loupe Award for Photojournalism***A boy with a toy gun runs towards a UN vehicle in Culuhun, a suburb of Dili

*This image won the 2014 International Loupe Awards for Photojournalism

 

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) east timor international loupe awards timor leste https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/12/a-win-for-timor-leste-in-international-photo-awards Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:01:37 GMT
No justice for Moruk and Freitas? https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/9/and-justice-for-all---east-timor-style

Caption: Angela Freitas during the lead up to the 2012 Presidential campaign

Exclusive

By Ted McDonnell

Just over a week ago, East Timor's President Taur Matan Ruak freed former justice minister and convicted criminal Lucia Lobato less than two years into her five year sentence for corruption; a week later one-time presidential hopeful Angela Freitas and former commander Mauk Moruk have fronted the nation's prosecutor still wondering what charges they will face when they go to trial in the coming months.

The decision by TMR has left justice advocates and many in East Timor bewildered. It is rumoured TMR was pressured to release Lobato. Yet the case involving Freitas and Moruk, justice advocates say, borders on the farcical.

Supporters of Freitas and Moruk believe initial charges of 'wearing military uniforms', and in Freitas cause, 'gun running' despite the absence of evidence, have been trumped up by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

The 'fight' between Moruk and Gusmao is almost East Timor folklore. The outspoken Moruk, one of East Timor's most feared commanders has been a harsh critic of Gusmao believing his former comrade has betrayed his people through bad government, financial mismanagement and turning a blind eye to systemic corruption in his government.

The bad blood between the Gusmao and Moruk harks back to "incidents" in the 1980s involving other commanders. Neither Moruk nor Gusmao are willing to talk publicly about the "incidents". 

This blog can be reveal for the first time that a number of East Timor commanders mysteriously went 'missing' in the East Timorese jungles during the 1980s. 

For many years, it was not known what happened to the FALINTIL commanders and whether they were killed fighting the Indonesians occupation forces or murdered "persons unknown”. 

However, we can now reveal that they disappeared during a bloody power struggle with fellow commanders.

Interviews with a number of veterans have revealed that by prominent commander ordered the murder of ‘dissenting’ fellow commanders.

People close to President TMR, PM Gusmao and Moruk say the jailing of Moruk for months without charge has more to do with shutting up the outspoken former commander than their public spat over 'political ideologies'.

A number of attempts to interview the  incarcerated Moruk, the  Prime Minister or for that matter the President, who was also a fellow commander of both Gusmao and Moruk, on these intriguing matters have failed. Both Gusmao and TMR have repeated refused interviews.

As for the gun running charges against one-time presidential hopeful Angela Freitas, many believe the charges are also 'trumped up' by East Timor's political elite to silence Freitas, who is also a long time critic of the two term government of Gusmao.

Several months ago, Freitas was arrested at Dili Airport after returning from overseas following an operation. It has been alleged she imported container loads of guns for a supposed 'revolution' against the government. Interestingly, no guns have ever been found despite by Police.

Freitas, a dual East Timor and Australian citizen, has little doubt the "false allegations and charges" against her have been raised by East Timor's political elite and led by the Prime Minister keen on shutting up dissidents.

"They accused me of abuse of power and gun running. They claim I wore a military uniform but at the time of the accusation I was in hospital in Indonesia," she added.

"They also claim I brought into East Timor two container loads of guns. They searched my house, they search everywhere and found nothing. Where are the two containers of guns?

"There are no guns.”

Legal insiders believe the government has arranged for "hundreds" of witnesses to come forward from the districts to speak out against both Freitas and Moruk.

Both Freitas and Moruk await formal charges by East Timor's Prosecutor General. For six months Moruk has languished in Becora prison without charge.

Human rights experts are appalled at the detention of Moruk without charge.

Later this year, Finance Minister Emilia Pires, a close confidante of Prime Minister Gusmao, will face the courts along with former Vice Health Minster Ms Madalene Hanjam on charges of corruption over a contract awarded to Ms Pires' husband's Melbourne business. Both maintain their innocence.

Prime Minister Gusmao, who recently confirmed he will stay on as PM until at least 2017, continues to fully support Ms Pires, who he personally appointed as Finance Minister, against corruption allegations stating his close ally is innocent of any charges.

Recent decisions, like the one involving the President and the former justice Minister; the proposed media laws to silence freedom of speech; and the Prime Minister’s continued verbal attacks on the Corruption Commission has left people wondering whether East Timor is fast becoming an autocracy.

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) Angela Freitas East Timor Emilia Pires Mauk Moruk Taur Matan Ruak Xanana Gusmao https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/9/and-justice-for-all---east-timor-style Sat, 06 Sep 2014 06:41:11 GMT
East Timor's media law unconstitutional - Court https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/8/east-timors-media-law-unconstitutional---court East_Timor_mcdonnell_01AEast_Timor_mcdonnell_01AInvestigative journalist Jose Belo continues his fight against corruption and the Timor Leste government's new media laws.

Caption: Jose Belo

By Ted McDonnell

EAST Timor’s controversial media law has been declared unconstitutional by the country’s Court of Appeal.

The fledgling nation’s President Taur Matan Ruak refused to promulgate the restrictive laws last month and sent the media bill to the Court of Appeal questioning whether they were unconstitutional.

The Court of Appeal yesterday found that a number of articles within the media law were contrary to East Timor’s Constitution. The law will now return to the National Parliament to be revised or abandoned.

East Timor’s leading investigative journalist Jose Belo applauded the Courts decision.

"The Courts today have upheld our constitution, which we fought so hard for. This is a  victory for the East Timorese people," an elated Belo said today. "The government is trying to stop freedom of the media and freedom of expression."

Belo said that the decision by the Court of Appeal is no surprise.

“From day one we said the media laws were unconstitutional. It would now seem our politicians need help from the lawmakers to understand what the constitution means,” he added. 

"It will now go back to the National Parliament, so we have won the battle but we are still to win the war."

Belo has no doubt the media law was created to restrict local and foreign journalist reporting on East Timor’s plague of corruption, nepotism and financial mismanagement. The law would also restrict who could be called a journalist in East Timor and potentially prevent foreign journalists reporting within East Timor.

East Timor, an island 600 kilometres of the northern tip of Australia, gained its freedom from 24 years of Indonesian rule in 1999 and its full independence in 2002. The country suffers from high unemployment, poverty and malnutrition.

One leading East Timor lawyer said the President could still promulgate the law, if the necessary changes were made by the Parliament.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who has been a key promoter of the media bill, is believed to be furious that the law has not been approved by the Courts. 

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) east timor jose belo media law xanana gusmao https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/8/east-timors-media-law-unconstitutional---court Wed, 20 Aug 2014 05:48:19 GMT
Gusmao bows to party pressure not to retire https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/8/gusmao-bows-to-party-pressure-not-to-retire Reprinted - The Australian Tuesday 05 August 2014

 

By Ted McDonnell 

 

EAST Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has backflipped on retirement plans, declaring he will stay on and could sack up to 20 ministers in his ­coalition government.

Mr Gusmao has on numerous occasions stated he would retire two years into his second term — which would be next month. However, pressure from fellow CNRT parliamentarians at last weekend’s party conference forced him to declare yesterday that he may now see out his term until the next election, in 2017.

With many CNRT ministers fearful the party would collapse without Mr Gusmao in charge, they intensively lobbied the 68-year-old to stay on.

CNRT put two resolutions to members, one declaring the Prime Minister would stay for the foreseeable future and the second giving him a mandate to “remodel” the government, allowing him to replace up to 20 cabinet ministers. Both resolutions were passed late on Sunday.

“It is at the Prime Minister’s discretion to carry out both resolutions. Mr Gusmao will decide the time required for political transition and power to the next generation,” one senior coalition member told The Australian yesterday.

“Xanana is the boss. He has total authority in this country and now he is changing things on a day-to-day basis. Who knows what he will do tomorrow? He may well quit again.”

Observers said sacking up to 20 of the 55 ministers would create significant tension within the coalition government made up of CNRT, PD (Democratic Party) and Frente Mudansa. It was unclear which ministers face the axe, with the future of Finance Minister Emilia Pires hanging in the balance. Yesterday in Dili, Mr Gusmao presented 2014 budget executions alongside Ms Pires.

Last week, Ms Pires, one of Mr Gusmao’s closest allies, was indicted for alleged abuse of power and corruption by East Timor’s Prosecutor-General.

Former vice-minister for health Madalena Hanjam was also indicted for similar offences over a contract awarded to Ms Pires’s husband’s Melbourne-based business for the supply of hospital beds. Ms Pires and Ms Hanjam say the contract was awarded legally.

 

© Ted McDonnell © The Australian 2014

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) East Timor Emilia Pires Xanana Gusmao corruption https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/8/gusmao-bows-to-party-pressure-not-to-retire Tue, 05 Aug 2014 03:12:36 GMT
Graft case rocks East Timor’s Prime Minister ­Xanana Gusmao https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/8/graft-case-rocks-east-timor-s-prime-minister-xanana-gusmao

The Australian

By Ted McDonnell

East_Timor_mcdonnell_01FEast_Timor_mcdonnell_01FChook fighting is the national sport in Timor Leste.

Caption: Political fighting like chook fighting in Timor Leste is ever present. © Ted McDonnell

EAST  Timor’s two-year-old ­coalition government is in crisis with speculation Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao could resign this weekend following the indictment of the country’s Finance Minister Emilia Pires for alleged abuse of power and corruption.

Sources close to Mr Gusmao told The Australian that he cleaned out his office yesterday and is expected to announce his decision to step down at his CNRT Party’s congress today or tomorrow. He had been expected to quit next month, half-way through his term.

Mr Gusmao’s support has collapsed in recent years after repeated scandals and allegations of corruption and nepotism against his senior ministers.

But the final blow for many came yesterday when Ms Pires, along with former vice-minister for health Madalene Hanjam, was accused by the Prosecutor General under East Timor’s Code of Criminal Procedure of abuse of power and corruption. Ms Hanjam was a member of Mr Gusmao’s first-term government.

MPs in East Timor have ­“immunity from prosecution” which must be removed by parliament before the courts can proceed with a trial. The two will appear in the Dili District Court at a date to be announced.

As reported in The Australian last month, Ms Pires has been under investigation by the Prosecutor-General and Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) for awarding her husband Warren Macleod’s Melbourne-based business Mac’s Metalcraft the $2.04 million contract to supply beds to Guido Valadares National Hospital. She has consistently ­denied she was involved in the deal, but she signed off on the contract on behalf of Mr Gusmao.

Ms Pires’s husband told The Weekend Australian his wife ­“absolutely” denied any wrongdoing. “I never dealt with the Ministry of Finance. I have only ever dealt with the Ministry of Health,” Mr Macleod said.

Last month, President Taur Matan Ruak called on Mr Gusmao to sack Ms Pires. But Mr Gusmao has ignored the demand and consistently defended his minister, whom he personally ­appointed to the post. Ms Pires was not an elected minister.

Referring to the allegations, Mr Gusmao has told the East Timorese people that Ms Pires’s husband “did not need contracts with the government’’.

He recently ­attacked the anti-corruption commission, saying : “I warn KAK, you prepare for that. You are just looking for cigarette money.”

Both Ms Pires and Mr Gusmao have been under fire for mismanagement of East Timor’s finances, a situation that could result in the country’s $15 billion Petroleum Fund being empty within a ­decade.

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ted@tedmcdonnell.com (Ted McDonnell) corruption east timor emilia pires xanana gusmao https://www.tedmcdonnell.com/blog/2014/8/graft-case-rocks-east-timor-s-prime-minister-xanana-gusmao Sat, 02 Aug 2014 05:13:21 GMT