Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At Easter time we overheard a question: What do we call today, the day before Easter? Maundy Thursday is the day before the Good Old Czechoslovak Friday. Anyway over Easter I received the good, bad and the ugly news from old home. My sister Gitka has been travelling between Poprad and Prague to look after my eldest sister Eva and my brother in law Franto as both are recovering from operations. My youngest nephew, Tomas, has also been taken to hospital. Sadly, Tomas bore lots of crosses in his life as he came to this world profoundly blind and deaf. His mum, Magda, was pregnant during the Chernobyl fallout and his is one of the sad statistics of the nuclear disaster. Tomas, however, has given lotof joy to my family especially my late parents, Jozef and Maria, who found him very easy to look after as he was a real miracle in so many other ways ...

The balmy weather made sure that we invade the Blue Mountain on the Easter Saturday and have dinner with my old boss Dr Cope. On Easter Sunday June treated us to blessed lunch in a circle of 12 friends and family. On Sunday night Lidka repared authentic Central European meal which rivals my late mum's skills. On Monday, in a melting pot style, we celebrated to coming of Sikh new year Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi. It is an ancient harvest festival in Punjab, which also marks beginning of a new solar year, and new harvest season. Baisakhi also has religious significance for Hindus and Sikhs. It falls on the first day of the Vaisakh month in the solar Nanakshahi calendar, which corresponds to April 14 in the Gregorian calendar. The cooking at Dial's was again outside this world ;) A time for moral renewal as well

DURING THE 1970S AND EARLY 1980 S, AUSTRALIANS WERE SLOWLY being forced by a number of Royal Commissions into the uncomfortable realisation that organised crime had established itself quite firmly in their country. First, there was:
the Moffit Royal (commission into Licensed Clubs in NSW (1973-74) then:
the Woodward Royal Commission into Drugs (1977-79)
the Williams Australian Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drugs (1977-80)
the Costigan Royal Commission into the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union of Australia (1980-84); and
the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking (1980-
Each inquiry revealed complex webs of organised crime that none of the existing law enforcement agencies had the necessary powers, the national scope or the resources to effectively attack. Highly sophisticated criminal networks were identified spreading across State and Territory borders and, in some cases, into the international arena as well.
Over time, it became clear that these inquiries were not revealing isolated pockets of organised crime, but a culture of organised criminal activity that was steadily gaining hold in Australia. It was no longer a question of whether organised crime was operating here in Australia but what form the action against it should take … Crime Pays?

Enemy of the corrupt A royal commissioner does not make an allegation
Australia's fight against tax cheats owes much to Frank Costigan, who shone a torch on the grubby habits of the rich

Thirty years ago Frank Costigan, QC, took on three untouchables: the media mogul Kerry Packer, the criminal combine of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, and the tax evasion industry.
Bottom-of-the-harbour tax schemes had been revealed by this time. Indeed, it was in the early months of Costigan's work that Fraser and his young treasurer John Howard introduced - to uproar and disbelief - criminal penalties for those promoting or taking part in these scams. But then Costigan discovered two things: members of the crooked union he was investigating were the backbone of the bottom-of-the-harbour industry, and these frauds were being committed by even the most "respectable" families in the land on an unimagined scale.
Names were faked. Documents were junked. Suing was pointless because the signatories were broke. Prosecution was dangerous. The then commissioner of taxation admitted "he would not be prepared to have his officers exposed to the possible physical danger which might flow from close contact with painters and dockers".

To open the files of yellowing press clippings from the early 1980s is to return to a lost world where the rich took it for granted that they should pay little; [So rather than rely on the wisdom of even the best-intentioned Left, I went off and read the thinkers that many humanities academics opposed.Politics and truth; Google On Costigan ]
• · Bottom of the harbour schemes divulged a big drug smuggling ring; Speech by Dr Ken Henry, Chair - Australia's Future Tax System Review Panel How much inequity should we allow?
• · The Prime Minister would be better employed attending to the glaring tax haven immediately under his nose — at Westminster. It has been revealed that in addition to trousering vast sums of public money in bogus expenses claims; A Democratic Initiative for VICTORY OVER WANT (VOW) The first is freedom of speech and expression - everywhere in the world.
• · · You know, maybe I'm just a naive liberal. It is not for nothing that power does go to our heads. Then again, maybe I just have seen enough under totalitarian system and also under subjective democracy that largest animals do believe that they deserve to go through needle tiniest opening. It is easier for camel to pass through the eye of the needle than to find a public servant who is willing to serve the nation without first asking what is in it for me… Servant is greatest among you ; Going for the bankers is tempting for politicians—and dangerous for everybody else A time for correction and brown paper bags
• · · · THE rich are paying more tax; the rich aren’t paying enough. Depending on which statistics you use, you can make a convincing case either way. Heads-I-win-tails-you-lose capitalism; Figures released in Britain this week show that, much like in the United States, the savings rate tripled in the last quarter. Despite monetary and fiscal efforts to the contrary, people are relearning to live within their means Whistling in the dark ; Efforts by the United States government to interdict the supply of drugs coming into the country have failed. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mexican drug cartels operate in 230 cities in the United States How to Combat Mexican Drug Cartels ;
• · · · · There is at least one bit of good news out of the global recession: tax havens are on the run. Now the Group of 20 is threatening to apply the blowtorch. Send in the cavalry and watch the tax havens run for cover ; Why bother with the G20: The G20 discussions of tax havens, bonuses and regulation are distractions from the real issues facing the global economy
• · · · · · Has the G-20 Learned the Lesson? ; Big economies are leaning on offshore tax havens. But greater abuse may be taking place at home. Geneva bankers are insisting that Gordon Brown, the champion of deregulated markets in London and the British Isles, favors tax cheats at least as much as he says they do. The G20 and tax: Haven hypocrisy ; In yet another sign that financial centres are losing each other's confidence, Geneva bankers are insisting that Gordon Brown, the champion of deregulated markets in London and the British Isles, favors tax cheats at least as much as he says they do Geneva bankers have a word for Brown's tax attacks: hypocrisy; British Prime Minister speech on tax havens The beginning of the end of offshore tax havens and offshore centres