Saturday, January 02, 2016

Kleptocracies: Sydney Filled with Slum Lords

Ex-JPMorgan Chase Bankers Charged With Forging ATM Cards to Steal From Accounts International Business Times. The reason these guys were busted is this was penny-ante stealing, by bank standards
Corruption in Ukraine is so bad, a Nigerian prince would be embarrassedReuters. Translation: the people the US bribed are not staying bribed

Shining a light on corruption 

*Light Rail company (NSW) has bribery background

Among the flies, past the gas stove plastered in burnt fat, beside the empty window panes replaced with cardboard and a plastic bag is an emergency order, taped to the door of a western Sydney property owned by Khadijeh Mehajer.
It instructs the sister of Salim Mehajer, Sydney’s colourful property developer-turned-politician, to “cease using the subject premises as a place of shared accommodation” as to do so will “constitute an emergency or a serious risk to safety”.
Issued by Fire & Rescue NSW after a recent blaze that police are now treating as suspicious, the order effectively spells the end of the building’s use as a boarding house for refugees, who used it to sell drugs.
Picking through the fire damage, one neighbour who asked not to be identified says: “No one should live like this. You can’t breathe in there. There’s no way to breathe.”
The boarding house, its walls and doors built from plyboard over a cheap wooden frame, is a world away from the gilded life enjoyed by the Mehajers. Salim lives in a $4.1 million home just minutes away, across the nearby railway tracks.
As Deputy Mayor of Auburn City Council, it was his officials who received the complaints from neighbours worrying that the boarding house accommo­dation was illegal (it is not) and syringes would find their way over the fence, to where their children play.
It was Auburn council staff who inspected the property last year, insisting smoke alarms be fitted in each of the four single rooms, at least two of whose occupants fled Iran to arrive in Australia by boat.
One of those alarms now sits, unplugged, on top of a wardrobe, the only piece of furniture in the smoke-stained room other than a bare single bed and another mattress propped against the wall...
Safar, who fled Iraq, pays his weekly rent to Hussein, who in turn pays his rent in advance to a real estate agent in Ashfield, in the city’s more well-heeled inner west.
Not that everything has gone smoothly with this arrangement. Recently, Hussein says he lost patience with the other men staying in the boarding house.
“I kicked them out because they were not paying rent, and they’re all drug dealers, they take drugs,” he says.
The men left two days before the fire began. That night, shortly after midnight on December 27, Safar was playing dominoes with friends beneath the single light bulb he rigged up by cutting into next door’s electricity supply, when the smoke alarm went off  Inside Mehajer’s world of mansions and squalor

It’s lights out time for Sydney’s slum lords: State government plans to cut off their power to run them out of business

Business owners were left in ruins. Foreign students and workers were homeless and lucky to be alive.
However, the owner of an industrial property in Alexandria that caught fire last year, destroying four small business and an illegal shanty set-up housing 15 Japanese and Korean nationals, has walked away from the disaster with almost $4 million. Masaaki Imaeda, 55, has not been fined nor prosecuted by the City of Sydney council almost a year after his industrial property on Burrows Road caught fire in the early hours of July 2. Reality of Sydney Rental Market 

Landlords 'demanded sex' from students

But former a NSW Treasury official, Betty Con Walker, and her husband, an accounting professor at The University of Sydney, Bob Walker, told the Herald in a joint interview that the current sell-off, like the electricity privatisation, was a ​triumph of "ideology" and warned taxpayers would foot a higher bill for rent, while missing out on future capital gains.
"It's simply an ideology of small government; let's just get rid of all these physical assets," Ms Walker said. Family Silver: Mike Baird's $3 Billion selloff of public buildings

Political Dark Money Just Got Darker

Mentally ill man walks into San Diego county recorder’s office, submits properly filled-out deed transferring major sports stadium to his name, chaos ensues [San Diego Union Tribune]

There is something to be said for how straightforward open kleptocracies are Down Under as well  Russia
By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears
Putin’s Supper for the Oligarchs – Who’s in the Family, Who’s Out? 

The Opium Wars, Neoliberalism, and the Anthropocene LA Review of Books

The keyboard and the spade New Statesman Subhead: “In the overdeveloped West, technology is making us forget what it truly means to be human.”

“Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2015”. Their winner is the monkey-selfie case, and it, like five of the others, has been covered here before: aunt sues nephew for careless hug, cop spills free coffee on lap and sues, thrown roll at Missouri restaurant, California woman allegedly used fake medical records and pictures “from the Internet” to bolster McDonald’s coffee-spill case, and Washington bank robber injured while fleeing scene.
The four others:
4. Pennsylvania Nursing Student Fails a Course Twice and Sues the School for Not Helping With Anxiety
5. Two New York Women File $40 Million Lawsuit Over ‘Like, Five or Six Scratches’ They Received From a Gas Explosion Blocks Away
6. Colorado Inmate is Suing the NFL for $88 Billion Over the 2015 Cowboys’ Playoff Loss
7. Florida Woman is Suing FedEx for Tripping Over a Package Left at Her Doorstep