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Saturday, June 20, 2009

The week that was!

On Thursday Australian political debate came to a grinding halt as Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's two-year-old child Kora was carried screaming from the Senate chamber after she was ordered out during a division vote. The Senate a child-care centre? Why not? It may lift the level of debate! More here...

And while our Prime Minister squanders the wealth of this nation, it seems he might be driven out of office in a beat-up 13-year old rusty ute, also known as the "Ruddmobile" - more on "Utegate." Of course, we all know what a 1996 Mazda ute looks like whereas none of us has ever seen a $300 BILLION debt! Can we now get on with governing this country, please?

While all this was going on in Canberra, just across the border in Goulburn, Clint Elford complained that $30,000 he had donated to his beloved Cronulla Sharks NRL club had not been properly accounted for. This has since proven to be a headache for the club after it was revealed that their (now) former Sharks chief Tony Zappia failed to reveal the cash injection to board members. However, it also turned the spotlight on the charitable 27-year old donor who, it is now alleged, defrauded an insurance company out of $525,000 by claiming to be terminally ill and dying from the rare neurological disorder Shy Drager Syndrome. Which didn't quite make him shy enough to claim an additional $1.5 million from another insurer. He proved to be a good son, though, as he gave some of the money to his parents who have since been charged with money laundering and recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime. Read more...

All this pales into insignificance when compared to billionaire Allen Stanford (sorry, Sir Allen, as he now sports the clipped mustache and Saville Row style of English aristocracy following a 2006 knighthood by the Caribbean island of Antigua; he also claimed to be related to the founder of California's Stanford University until the institution filed a trademark infringement suit) who is alleged to have bilked investors of $12.5 BILLION. Depositors flogged to his Bank of Antigua despite, in the hierarchy of offshore banking havens, Antigua being one of the world's least-regulated and least-transparent. As David Marchant, an offshore banking analyst based in Miami, comments, "Antigua was the wild west and Stanford was the chief cowboy. In their greedy desire to avoid paying a 15 to 20 percent tax, they put their money with an offshore crook who ultimately taxed them 100 percent." A 50-page indictment showed the scam dated back to September 1999 and continued until about February 17 this year. In Antigua they're already calling him Sir Allen SCAM-ford!More details .... Perhaps Madoff and Stanford could form a partnership?

Closer to home, a New South Wales man has successfully sued the state's Education Department for the bullying he suffered as a schoolboy in the 1990s. David Gregory, 30, from Mollymook, south of Sydney, suffers obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia and has blamed his condition on bullying he was subject to while at the Farrer Agricultural High School in Tamworth. He was seeking more than $2 million in lost earnings, but Justice Elizabeth Fullerton has awarded him almost $470,000 for losses connected to his inability to work. The court heard Mr Gregory was subjected to six years of bullying at the school in the NSW's north-west. He was called a "poof" and a "Nazi" and he was hit and publicly humiliated. He alleged that teachers had done nothing to deal with complaints and had not intervened to stop him being socially ostracised. Mr Gregory will also be paid for future medical costs relating to his mental illnesses, but the amount of damages has not been set. More ...

Good on you, David! By the way, this will be my last blog for a while as I'm off to Germany to sue my old school! These last fifty years since leaving it have been hell!