Jeff Corbett: The power play between men and women has entered a new theatre

THERE’S an interesting similarity in the Harvey Weinstein lynching in the US and the same-sex-marriage bludgeoning here: if you want a seat in the new ark you have to declare your allegiance to the lynching and bludgeoning mobs.It seems to me that every woman who’s ever had even a minor starring role in a movie made anywhere has announced her condemnation of the powerful Hollywood producer even if they’ve never had an untoward moment with him or, even, met him.
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Those female stars of the film world who’ve been slow to do so have been themselves condemned.

Down Under it seems to me that every bod who’s ever pretended to be anything other than a whooping boor with a cage of pig dogs in the ute is required to announce their support of same-sex marriage, their horror that anyone would disagree with them, and their disgust that those who disagree have been allowed to record that fact.

Those individuals and organisations that don’t are condemned and threatened with exclusion. That was succinctly illustrated recently in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra moving from announcing it did not believe it “has the right to take a position and commit our stakeholders to one side or the other” to taking an unequivocal position and committing its stakeholders to the “Yes”vote.

The Harvey Weinstein destruction is the same old play in a new theatre. It’s the power play between men and women, or I should say prospective sexual partners, and in the new theatre the balance of power has changed dramatically. The allegations against Weinstein range from rape and sexual assault to predatory sex, and while Weinstein denies he had non-consensual sex with anyone, the predatory sex allegations stand uncontested. The fact Weinstein has not been convicted or even charged with any sexual offence seems to be irrelevant to those in the baying mob.Predatory sex is about an imbalance of power, and I’d imagine that Weinstein had a great deal more power than all bar very few women in his industry. Is there an element of coercion in the predatory? If coercion is forcing then the sex is rape, and most of Weinstein’s many accusers have not made that allegation.Persuasion? Then almost all of us are guilty.

In the old theatre and for a very long time, perhaps all time, men have taken protection, influence, status, money and a good time to the negotiating table, and women have taken sex.That’s why men strive to drive flash cars and why those with the flashest car get the sexiest women.That’s why women at a negotiating age spend so much of their time and money trying to look as alluring, as enticing, as sexy as possible.

Watch a woman walking in high heels and tell me she’s doing so because it’s comfortable. Look at a woman’s painted face and tell me the lipstick and foundation is sun protection.

This negotiation applies in marriage as much as a nightclub encounter, and in the marriage market men offer financial security and protection and women offer sex. (Men seem to be held to their part of the deal for longer.) In short, men provide a house and women provide a home.Anyone who didn’t recognise that base position has an unrealistically cute view of the world.

Not even his supporters, if he has any, would argue that if Weinstein had sex with women in his industry he did not take his power and star-making capacities to the negotiation. Yes, improper, according to the proprieties of those with none of Weinstein’s power, but improper is not itself an offence.

In any event, all that is the old theatre. In the new theatre women have influence, status and money, and when they talk about the new independence of women what is meant is women being newly independent of men.

It used to be that men didn’t become irrelevant in marriage until they’d reached my age, until they’d provided the wife with the money, the house and the children, but now they’re irrelevant from the outset.Not only are men no longer required to provide the house, they are no longer required to father the children. That impregnating role can be and now often is an anonymous and medical process, effectively removing the male from the transaction.

Thiscould explain, by the way,the great increase in the number of lesbian couples. Perhaps, I accept, it’s an great increase in the visibility of the same number, but I believe the fact men are now optional has seen many embrace what has to be a nicer and neater arrangement.

Because men no longer take anything special to the negotiating table they are an unattractive prospect. In the past few weeks commentators and his accusers have taken to describing the destroyed Weinstein as ugly, and while he was always ugly, in the new theatre that’s all he is.

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Yueqiong Fu granted bail over botched breast procedure

A woman charged with manslaughter over a fatal breast procedure at a Sydney beauty clinic will be placed in an immigration detention centre after she is released on bail.
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Yueqiong Fu, 29, was in a treatment room at The Medi Beauty clinic in Chippendale on August 30 when manager Jean Huang went into cardiac arrest while having fillers injected into her breasts.

Ms Fu helped to deliver CPR to Ms Huang, 35, who was taken to hospital in a critical condition and later died.

A forensic pathologist and toxicologist at Glebe Morgue judged the preliminary cause of death to be an overdose of the painkiller lidocaine, the NSW Supreme Court heard. However, police are investigating if the painkiller tramadol and the fillers themselves were also responsible.

Ms Fu has been charged with manslaughter, using poison to endanger life, and hindering a police investigation after she allegedly lied to police about her role in the cosmetic procedure.

Yueqiong Fu has been granted bail and will be released to the custody of the Border Force. Photo: Nine News

Her lawyer, Greg Smith, SC, told the court on Thursday his client was merely following the instructions of Jie Shao, who has also been charged with manslaughter over the death, and was “scared” when she first spoke to officers.

Ms Fu has been in on a student visa since 2013, and lives with her husband, whom she married in 2012.

Her visa was cancelled on October 14.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Mark Peebles, told the Supreme Court on Thursday that Ms Fu would be taken to Villawood Immigration Detention Centre upon her release.

“If she is granted bail she will be detained by the Border Force,” he said.

“I don’t know how her visa was cancelled. It certainly wasn’t at the request of me.”

Justice Geoffrey Bellew granted bail on strict conditions, including that Ms Fu live with her husband at Campsie, surrender her passport, report to police daily, abide by a curfew, and have no contact with any employee or former employee of The Medi Beauty.

A member of her family will also deposit $100,000 in cash and agree to forfeit it if Ms Fu fails to show up for court.

Justice Bellew said there was “little or no evidence” to suggest Ms Fu would endanger the community or commit a further offence if she was released.

“There is no suggestion that, since being allowed to enter this country, the applicant has acted criminally,” he said.

“The applicant has been living with her husband in Sydney for some time. She has, through her husband and father-in-law, significant community ties in this jurisdiction.

“Notwithstanding the serious allegation against her, it is my view the application should be granted.”

Lawyers for Ms Fu are applying through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have her visa reinstated.

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Caltex weighed name change as exploited workers wait

Simon BoschAs oil refiner and petrol station giant Caltex continues to battle widespread wage fraud scandal across its franchise network it has come to light that it considered changing its name.
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A name switch would have saved the company tens of millions of dollars a year in licence fees to multinational Chevron Texaco.

It is understood that Caltex came within a whisker of asking shareholders to approve the name change to CTX at the annual general meeting held in late March, but it got cold feet. It is understood that it got as far as including it in its notice to shareholders before pulling it after conducting further investigations that revealed it could hurt petrol sales in the short term.

Caltex is rumoured to pay Chevron Texaco – which recently settled a landmark case with the n Taxation Office in a deal estimated to be worth $1 billion – at least $100 million a year in licence fees as part of a trademark licensing agreement for the use of Caltex, Star Mart, Star Shop and Vortex, among other brands. Caltex refused to reveal the size of the fee but sources close to the company said it was well below $100 million.

Whatever the case, it is believed that Chevron has been in for the past week visiting Caltex branded petrol sites to keep tabs on how its brands are being used. It has prompted speculation that Chevron’s visit could result in a significant increase in fees.

Whether the licence fees cost Caltex $100 million or less, it must be tempting for a company battling reptutational damage from an underpayment scandal as well as paying a fortune to use the brand of a multi-national, to start afresh.

It must be doubly so when it is seeking to transform its business as it grapples with the longer term trend of declining income from fuel and the hole it has to fill in the wake of the loss of the Woolworths contract. (The ACCC will release its decision on a Woolworths sale to BP on November 30).

The wage fraud scandal isn’t about to go away either. Earlier this week, the Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James told parliament that the wage fraud investigation into Caltex was ongoing and likely to result in compliance outcomes.

James was critical of a $20 million compensation scheme Caltex set up for underpaid workers on the basis it had failed to engage with the regulator to develop the fund or report those individuals it had breached or terminated. She said the ombudsman had no oversight or visibility as to whether workers were being compensated appropriately.

Underpaid workers are also questioning the fund. Almost six months after Caltex set it up, only 131 workers have applied and of those 51 have been paid a total of $1.2 million. In sharp contrast, 7-Eleven has had an uncapped scheme going for two years and has paid out $150 million to more than 3000 workers.

Given Caltex’s own figures show that 49 franchisees who owned 113 sites have been terminated due to wage related issues and another 9 franchisees representing 21 sites have also left the system due to their having competitive interests or the franchise agreement expired, and others have settled rather than participate in a company wide audit, the worker figures are disturbingly low and raise serious questions.

Professor Allan Fels previously described the fund as bogus and a “public relations stunt” requiring regulatory scrutiny. One worker described it as a “hoax”, while others said it makes low ball offers and uses the information to terminate franchisees. Abused and threatened

Zafar Aziz is one of a number of workers who has contacted me in recent weeks about the Caltex fund.

He feels Caltex used him.

“Caltex used me and tore me up like I was a piece of tissue paper,” he said. “I gave them documents, signed a statutory declaration and gave evidence about my boss, then they refused to pay me.”

Aziz worked for four different Caltex stores including a store in Hamilton in Victoria from 2012. When he called Caltex to report the underpayment, he was told to lodge a claim. He was then called and followed up with interviews that required him to give details about the franchisee.

He says he was shocked when he then received a call from the franchisee. “He abused me and threatened me,” he said.

He says Caltex had used his testimony to terminate the franchisee’s rights to a store.

Then on October 20 Aziz received an email saying: “I wish to advise that as your time at Hamilton was before the start date of the Fund of 1 January 2015, unfortunately it is not eligible.”

Aziz said he was disgusted. “They used me.”

The email suggested he lodge claims for two other sites he had worked at, including Islington and Caltex Woolworths at New Lambton.

“What am I to do?” he said.

Caltex is facing allegations it is exploiting the chain’s wage fraud scandal to seize control of hundreds of service stations run by franchisees at fill a hole caused by the loss of the Woolworths deal. Franchisees can pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a single service station franchise site.

Caltex illustration by Simon Bosch Photo: Simon Bosch

Caltex is allegedly doing this by conducting mandatory audits across its network.

Through those audits, Caltex can seize hundreds of stores. Stores which franchisees have paid a fortune to buy can have their agreements torn up with little or no compensation if workplace laws are violated at any level. Some sites sell on the resale market for up to $1 million.

For franchisees, termination can mean financial devastation as many lose the store, receive no compensation and are left with a big bank debt they have to repay.

On top of the audit process, franchisees whose five to 10-year franchise agreements are due to expire are either not being renewed or put on short-term contracts while the retail operating model review is in progress.

In a statement Caltex said 292 sites had been audited to date, of which 126 were still ongoing. Of the sites terminated, Caltex has converted a number to corporate stores. It said in a statement it now runs 229 corporate stores, or Calstores, compared with 138 in the first half of 2016.

Caltex has a market capitalisation of almost $9 billion but it has an image problem. It has created a toxic relationship with its franchisees and workers believe the compensation scheme is a sham.

It only goes back two years and workers have a short window to lodge a claim. Successful claims receive an ex gratia payment instead of the full amount and workers aren’t protected from franchisees. It is little wonder so few have applied.

Caltex has decided to stick with its name – for now,. Chevron might be the one taking a closer look at what Caltex is doing to one of its key brand names. It might find it isn’t pretty.

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How a miniature Daschund took down a brown snake and won

BRAVE: Priya Hartigan, 11, of Stockton with her dog Slinky. The five-kilogram dachshund fought a one-metre eastern brown snake to the death in the family’s backyard this week. Picture: Simone De PeakSHE might be small in stature, but this Stockton dog is now known as Slinky the brown snake slayer.
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Named after the toy dachshund with the stretchy bodyfrom the movie Toy Story, Slinky weighs in at just five kilograms, and this week she took on a deadly eastern brownand won.

The one metre snake entered the backyard of Slinky’s Newcastle Street home on Wednesday afternoon.

Tracey Hartigan was inside when she heard seven-year-old Slinky barking.

When she went to investigate withher 11-year-old daughterPriya, theyfound the miniature Daschund running around the yard with the snake in her mouth.

“She was fighting the snake, she had it in her mouth and was shaking it like crazy,” Mrs Hartigansaid. “We were calling her, but she just kept going until the snake was dead. It went on for about five minutes all around the yard andI could see the snake striking at her.”

After the snake was dead, Slinky collapsed on the back deck and was rushed to the nearest veterinary clinic where shewas given a half-dose of anti-venom. Three hours later, herface started to swell and she was given the other half of the serum that costs about $700 per vial.

Nathan Hartigan and snake.

The eastern brownis the second most venomous snake in the world

Mayfield Veterinary Hospital also treated a cat that was bitten by a brown snake at Stockton this week and survived.

Slinky’s battleis the latest in a run of snake encounters on the peninsula in the past few months.

In September, the Johnson familywas trappedinside after a large brown snake took up residency at their front door. Earlier this month, customers at Lexies on the Beach found a 1.5 metre eastern brown coiled up in a pot plant.

Judith Martin, of Reptile Rescue, said there were “heaps and heaps” of brown snakes living inthe rock wall alongthe Hunter River in Stockton.

“They eat the water rats,” she said. “We’re in breeding season at the moment so they’re all out looking for mates, it will settle down in the next few weeks.”

Mrs Martin said it waslikelySlinky suffered“dry bites”, where the snake does not inject venom when it strikes. There is, however, a small amount of venom on thefangs.

She said new subdivision works at Fern Bay might also have seen a migration of snakes to Stockton.

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Weinstein sues for emails he says may exonerate him

Harvey Weinstein says he can help the film studio he co-founded clear itself of alleged wrongdoing if he can just get a hold of his own personnel file and emails he wrote on the job.
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The beleaguered movie producer sued the Weinstein Co. on Thursday to force it to turn over records that it refused this month to provide to his lawyers.

Weinstein, 65, was fired from his post as chief executive officer of the company three weeks ago after the New York Times and the New Yorker published accounts in which several women accused him of sexual harassment and rape. He has denied any non-consensual sexual activity.

His lawyers want to review his corporate email account and other records to determine whether there is “any exculpatory information” that would help the company defend against any claims filed against it — and also to investigate whether he was wrongfully terminated or whether company insiders leaked contents of his personnel file.

“Mr. Weinstein believes that his email account — which is the primary, if not only, account he used during the term of his employment by the company — will contain information exonerating him, and therefore the company, from claims that may be asserted against him or the company,” Weinstein said in the complaint in Delaware state court.

Weinstein said he’s in a “unique position to offer insight and further explain and contextualise his emails” and can help the company defend itself in lawsuits and a probe launched by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He noted that his younger brother Robert, the studio’s co-founder, is also accused of misconduct

A producer who worked on the Weinstein Co. television drama “The Mist” accused Robert Weinstein of sexual harassment while she was working on the show, Variety reported this month. Robert Weinstein’s lawyer, Bert Fields, told Variety the producer’s claims are “false and misleading” and that he has the “emails to prove it.”

Harvey Weinstein said he wanted the same information as his brother and said his emails contained “exonerating or exculpatory information,” according to the complaint.

Harvey Weinstein said it’s in his interest to help the company as he holds the largest individual stake in the studio along with his brother. His interest will suffer should the company “be forced to pay out unjustified settlements or judgments” or sell itself “for less than it would be worth because of the threat of unsubstantiated or false allegations,” according to the complaint.

The Weinstein Co. is close to obtaining a crucial loan of about $US35 million from Fortress Investment Group, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The funds could be available as soon as this week, buying time for the New York-based film company to weigh options including a possible sale and avert job cuts, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Billionaire Tom Barrack’s Colony Capital backed out of plans to help the company this week.

The Weinstein brothers started their namesake company in 2005 after leaving Miramax Films, which they started in 1979 and named after their parents. The company has produced television shows such as “Project Runway” and movies like Oscar winner “The King’s Speech.”

Harvey Weinstein also thinks some information in recent press reports came from his personnel file and is seeking to confirm its source to pursue potential claims against the company and its representatives and officers for leaking confidential information, according to the complaint.

Ron Hofmann, a spokesman for Weinstein Co., didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the suit. Fields also didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

The case is Harvey Weinstein v. Weinstein Company Holdings LLC, 2017-0765, Delaware Court of Chancery.


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