Saturday, July 09, 2011

The new Premier has barely had time to pause for breath, writes Sean Nicholls. Barry O'Farrell looks exhausted. In shirtsleeves, having rushed from a flying morning visit to the Blue Mountains to inspect damage wrought overnight by gale-force winds, the Premier apologises for being late but cannot suppress his irritation when told he is to be photographed. Releasing a sharply delivered expletive, he calls for a jacket, which a minder indicates is on its way.
O'Farrell runs a quick hundred: ; Sympathy for shooters tops O'Farrell '100 days of failure - Time to started to focus on the problems that affect people in this city and across this state, instead of these cheap tricks ; Barry O'Farrell has promised to stop the flow of donations from corporations and trade unions, but there has been no sign of the legislation during the Coalition's first 100 days in power Roll Out the Centennial Barrel

A spectre is haunting Australia—the spectre of Russian Dragonfia The Sale, Like Love, Had to be Unconditional
The truth is emerging about the mysterious Currawong sale Eduard LITVER ranks as one of the big wheeler dealers in this city's property circles , not that he would welcome the attention which comes with being named in this week's Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings over the controversial sale of the Currawong holiday retreat to the former NSW Labor government. Litver and his business partner Allen Linz pocketed more than $2 million profit courtesy of the taxpayer, but that's not Russian-born Litver's only deal which has raised eyebrows. Litver has been renting out one of three Darling Point harbourside mansions he and wife Adriana own on Eastbourne Road to the producers of MasterChef to house the show's contestants, and for a very pretty penny. The Litvers have been charging $6500 a week on top of a $39,000 bond for around six months during the show's filming schedule.

n early 2007, the Herald broke the story that Currawong had been sold to developers Allen Linz and Eduard Litver. The executive committee of Unions NSW then met to unanimously endorse the sale. This was a token gesture as land title searches show that Linz and Litver's company, Eco Villages, had lodged a caveat on the title just before Christmas in 2006. At the time, Michael McGurk, who was representing developer Ron Medich, the man later accused of masterminding his murder, began creating a fuss. He had offered twice the $15 million amount that Linz and Litver had offered.
Replying to McGurk's criticism, John Robertson, who as unions boss had handled the sale, said crankily: ''We wanted a sale but he kept saying he wanted this changed and that changed. But we were adamant - the sale had to be unconditional.''

• Allen Linz and Eduard Litver and their Labor Party mates are fast becoming the loneliest people in NSW The Specter of Scotsman McGurk is Haunting Bearpit; The late standover man, Michael McGurk, and the property developer who is now accused of his associate's murder, Ron Medich, had offered $30 million. Macquarie Bank had offered $25 million Noble intent lost in a deal that cost public millions [Allen Linz and Eduard Litver oversee a tangle of companies ; Twisted plot of a Labor obsession; ACTOR Shane Withington was, until last year's state election, a True Believer . Italian Australian, Frank Sartor, also nicknamed as Mayor for a Russian Harry Tribugoff, has removed development approval from Pittwater Council and declared Currawong a major project, placing it under his sole authority Pirates turn a paradise into Labor's Skull Island ; Michael McGurk's final hours in Kings Cross ]
• · It's not exactly new to see Russia as a rentier economy in which government officials, oligarchs, regional strongmen and criminal bosses fight over the spoils of the oil, gas and metals industries. Back suppliers of domestic goods and services, or, as Citigroup says ‘stick with oligarchs who are successful at accessing rental flows’. Choose Russia's oligarchs with care ; Freed from the shackles of communism in the 1990s, Russia seemed to be entering an era of rebirth. But as is often the case in that country, history unfolded harshly. For the majority of Russians, the transition to a market system was painful and chaotic - and anything but democratic. Amid the confusion, a few shrewd and ruthless businessmen exploited the loopholes in the Soviet economy; Is this a pattern? Here are a series of similiar photos of Tony Abbott and Vladimir Putin. They like going bare-chested… Spot the difference: Mad monk or Russian oligarch
• · · The approval to explore for gas allows Shell Australia to drill an exploration well 50km west of the boundary of the marine park. Approval for drilling off Ningaloo Reef ; Ningaloo Reef is considered a natural wonder, sprawling some 260km along Australia's west coast and teeming with hundreds of tropical fish and coral species Ningaloo Reef: Playing Russian Roulette ; For giant oil companies like BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell, an eventual shift away from petroleum will have massive economic consequences Casualties of the energy wars ; The punishing effects of the global financial crisis, political instability, natural disasters and growing poverty in many countries create a fertile ground for corruption Gifts or bribes: UK act means companies need to make decisions fast
• · · · Good news amid the gloom: Some people sponsor a tree, others pull up weeds but when Chris Turnbull and Len Gervay wanted to do something for endangered plants they decided to run 900 kilometres. The two men set off from Sydney a week ago, following the Hume Highway to Melbourne, raising thousands of dollars for the NSW Seedbank on the way. The seedbank is part of the Millennium Seed Bank, a global effort to protect the world's plants from extinction by collecting and studying their seeds Marathon men sow seeds of history ; Today I want to get out of the gloom and focus on three pieces of good news. Australia isn't renowned for having a thriving home-grown electronics sector ... Good news amid the gloom
• · · · · Humpback whales breaching off Dover Heights Tall tails and true as season kicks off ;A new record was set yesterday with 103 whales recorded by volunteers sitting on the cliffs of Cape Solander at Botany Bay. Survey shmurvey, we say! Migrating whales set a massive record
• · · · · · New World Heritage: Kenyan Lakes, Australian Coast, Japanese Islands‎ Extraordinary natural areas in Kenya, Australia, Japan and Germany that deserve the highest level of protection have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List by an international panel of government representatives at its annual meeting in Paris. A World Heritage forest site in Eastern Europe was expanded to include Germany Extraordinary natural areas ; Swim with whale sharks: Ningaloo Reef