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A brand new Netflix documentary doing the rounds right now has sparked a maelstrom of controversy around the ethical and legal culpability of “social media influencers” in advertising and promoting business brands for profit. The disaster-doco “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened” tells the sorry story of the exploits of Billy McFarland, the mastermind behind the failed 2017 “luxury music festival” FYRE.
The wheels of Justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine. One of the biggest movies of 1967 was Franco Zeffirelli’s rollicking cinematic rom-com treatment of William Shakespeare’s comedy Taming of the Shrew, written and first performed four centuries earlier in the late 1500’s. The 1967 movie of the same name starred Hollywood’s then hottest couple, the Brangelina of their day, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, as the strong-willed couple Katherina and Petruchio, who are pitched together in a head-long battle of the sexes.For those who need to brush up on their Shakespeare, the Shrew plot follows the efforts of embattled dad Baptista Minola to marry off his two daughters, Bianca and Katherina.
The latest news about Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon and Forbes Rich List’s wealthiest person in the world, could have a lot of people re-thinking whether a timely prenuptial agreement may just be a very good idea. Bezos, whose net worth is estimated to be, on last count, around $136.7 billion, announced earlier this month that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, are heading for the divorce courts. And guess what – they don't have a pre-nup in place. That means some judge is going to have to work out who gets what, and there's a whole big bunch of lollies on the table.
The concept of an impartial jury is central to the operation of our criminal justice system. For hundreds of years we have put our faith in those twelve ordinarily citizens, unbiased and unswayed by extraneous and irrelevant considerations, to stand as the fail-safe system and last line of defence between citizen and state. But of course the key part of that concept is impartiality. For any accused person to have a fair trial, the jury that deliberates on their guilt or innocence must be entirely unbiased and undistracted by any influence beyond the evidence adduced in court.
Before you can become a plumber or a carpenter you have to undertake years of technical training, work under close and exacting supervision, sit for exams, and earn your ticket. No one gets to be a doctor, lawyer or accountant unless they first qualify for university, then study day and night for years, sit regular and sometimes arduous examinations, and pass with flying colours. But to become a parent, all you have to do is find a partner, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.
The late great Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for his opposition to the apartheid system of racial segregation in South Africa. When he was finally released from custody in 1990, he famously said "To deny a person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity."
On 11 November 1918, at the French town of Compiegne, high-ranking officers of the Entente, the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austro-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during World War 1, signed an armistice with Germany, ceasing all hostilities on the Western Front. At eleven o’clock on that morning - the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month - the guns finally fell silent, after four long years of unprecedented slaughter. The first global war had left an estimated 40 million casualties, including over 200,000 young Australians killed or wounded in action. It became known as “The War to End All Wars.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
The Italians say Revenge is a meal that’s best eaten cold. I guess Jimmy Bulger would have agreed. James Joseph Bulger Junior grew up in abject poverty on the dirt-poor streets of South Boston in the 1930’s and 40’s, along with his two younger brothers, William, better known as “Billy,” and the baby, John, whom the Bulgers dubbed “Jackie.” Billy and Jackie were good boys who worked hard at school and excelled, but Jimmy was a tough street scrapper who succumbed to the lure of the streets. While Jackie went on to become a court magistrate, and Billy a lawyer and eventually Democratic Senator William Michael Bulger, the longest-serving President of the Massachusetts Senate, Jimmy was a career criminal, a ruthless gangster and organised crime boss, leader of Boston’s infamous Winter Hill Gang. The local cops nicknamed him “Whitey” because of his blond head of hair. Jimmy hated the name, but it was a tag that stuck to him all his life.
They say youth is wasted on the young. But it may not always be so. Around one hundred years ago, a young, little-known American writer by the name of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, who later would be posthumously celebrated under the name F. Scott Fitzgerald as one of the greatest American authors of the twentieth century, submitted to Collier’s Magazine an odd little story entitled “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” It recounted the strange tale of a baby born in Baltimore in 1860, with all the wizened appearance of a seventy-year-old. Real-life stories of rare medical conditions that caused babies to be born looking like septuagenarians were not unknown even then, but Fitzgerald gave that profoundly sad truth a whimsical tweak.
Like beauty itself, art is undoubtedly very much in the eye of the beholder. A couple of years back, a world-renowned Brisbane-born street artist, whose celebrated work is permanently exhibited in the Australian National Gallery and regularly sells for thousands of dollars in the swank art-houses of Sydney and Melbourne, was accused of painting graffiti at various sites around Brisbane. For his sins he was charged by Queensland police with wilful damage of property.
Recent legislative changes in New Zealand introducing 10 days paid leave for victims of domestic violence, are likely to throw up some thorny issues on both sides of ‘The Ditch.”
Those more cynical than I have been sometimes known to quip that "Justice favours the well-heeled". It is undoubtedly true. Whilst money may not buy happiness, it can certainly deliver lots of lawyering, and in the cutthroat world of commercial litigation, he with the deepest pockets is often very likely to be at a distinct advantage. Of course, in the modern world, that's true of any competitive environment, from sport to industry to military conflict. The bigger the bucks, the bigger the bang.

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