Mark Philippoussis’ pointless $100k purchase, wild life


Mark Philippoussis was the odd man out of Australian tennis during the glory years of the late 1990s and early 2000s — embracing a lifestyle few Down Under could ever comprehend.

While Pat Rafter was spruiking Bonds undies and Lleyton Hewitt did his best impersonation of the quintessential Weet-Bix kid, Philippoussis was dating celebrities like Delta Goodrem and celebrating Davis Cup wins with shots of Patron rather than slabs of VB.

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The Scud was a serious talent on the court — making the US Open final in 1998 and the Wimbledon decider in 2003 — and a goldmine for the tabloids off it. And with stories like this, it’s not hard to see how he established a reputation as the wild child of Aussie sport who enjoyed all the trimmings that came with his fame.

Appearing on the latest edition of broadcaster Mark Howard’s podcast The Howie Games, Philippoussis provided an insight into the life of a tennis star who had it all.

An unashamed revhead, Philippoussis told Howard he would go through a new car as often as some people mow their lawn, owning everything from Mercedes to Bentleys, as well as “numerous Lamborghinis and a bunch of Ferraris”. Oh, not to mention about 15 motorbikes.

“I would get bored. I’m not exaggerating when I say I would easily go through one car a month and just change it,” Philippoussis said.

“I never kept it because it never made me happy, I was just bored.”

Living in Florida as a 20-year-old in the 1990s, training under revered American tennis coach Nick Bollettieri, Philippoussis decided it was time for a new toy. Chevrolet had just released a new Corvette and Dodge had a new Viper — so he wanted to drive the two hours to dealerships in Tampa with a friend to check them out.

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The Poo hit the road in an enormous Hummer convertible, but had trouble on slippery roads after a bit of rain. He slammed on the brakes after changing lanes when he found himself heading towards a broken down semi-trailer, and fishtailed out of control, crashing into a concrete divider and cracking it in half.

Philippoussis and his friend were both banged-up. Scud’s mate wanted to get in a taxi and head home, but the tennis star wasn’t having it.

“I go, ‘No man, screw that, I’m not going back home’,” Philippoussis told Howard. “I’m like, ‘Let’s go look at these cars, we’re just 30 minutes away’.

“So we got a taxi and looked at these cars. On one side of the street was Chevrolet and on the other side of the street was Dodge.

“I’m like, ‘Nup, I’m not taking a taxi home … I’m driving. We’re taking one of these cars home’.”

In a sign of just how confident Philippoussis was as a 20-year-old, he pitted Chevrolet and Dodge against each another, telling the dealers whichever one could have their car ready to drive off the lot first — the Corvette or the Viper — would get his money. He gave them an hour.

“You can laugh, because it’s ridiculous,” Philippoussis told Howard.

The Dodge Viper was ready in 45 minutes so Philippoussis whipped out his American Express card and shelled out $AUD100,000 for it. But here’s where you just have to shake your head and wonder what it must be like to be rich and famous.

“Long story short, the Dodge Viper was ready in 45 minutes. They detailed it and I bought the car on my American Express and I drove back home with the car but I didn’t fit in it properly, so the next day I sold it,” Philippoussis said.

“But I didn’t want to drive home in a taxi.”

At least Philippoussis can admit now paying $100,000 for a car only to sell it a day later all because he didn’t want to travel in a taxi is a “messed up story” and a “stupid thing”. Must be nice if you can get away with it though.

As Howard said: “It’s a great story because it’s given our listeners an understanding of what life is like when you can do what you want, when you want.”

SCARE THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING

Although the world’s top tennis players have money to burn, it’s tough to openly chase lavish lifestyles while focusing on collecting trophies. Philippoussis was a trailblazer in that respect — at least in Australia, a country where we like our athletes to choose modesty over excess.

His desire to enjoy himself off the court was the result of his father’s health battles. Diagnosed with cancer when Philippoussis was in his early teens, his dad Nick beat it once only for the disease to come around again after the tennis prodigy had turned 18.

Nick — who had child rape charges against him dropped in California in late 2018 after suffering a stroke — beat cancer a second time but Philippoussis’ perspective was changed forever.

Some will say with his amount of talent and that missile-like serve, Philippoussis should have won more than he did. The truth is he worked hard but when it was time to switch off, he did that too.

“Watching someone that you love, you think they have a certain amount of time left to live, changed everything for me. And tennis seemed not so important anymore,” Philippoussis told Howard.

“It got to a stage where I realised I didn’t care about eating, sleeping, breathing tennis because my first priority in my life was always my family. I grew up that way but that took it to another level seeing someone, your father, who helped me become who I am, almost losing him to cancer. It changed everything.

“I didn’t give a crap about tennis anymore to be honest with you.”

Maybe that lack of a killer instinct is partly why Philippoussis made two major finals but never won a grand slam title. Whatever the impact, it certainly didn’t hamper him in the green and gold — famously winning deciding rubbers to claim the Davis Cup for Australia against France in 1999 and Spain in 2003.

He’s incredibly proud of those achievements, but there was more to life than tennis for Philippoussis. It’s why he could never be like Hewitt, for example, who even at 39 can’t give the sport away for good, trotting out to play doubles and passionately yelling encouragement after every point as Australia’s Davis Cup captain.

“When I was on the court, I played. When I trained, I trained hard. But as soon as that thing was over, I switched off and enjoyed my life,” Philippoussis said.

“The greats have almost no life, and that’s the reality of it. They’re obsessed, you need to be obsessed with everything about what you’re doing.

“The best example, and he’s still like that, is Lleyton Hewitt. Lleyton was obsessed with tennis, he’s still obsessed with tennis. He hasn’t switched off, everyone can see that. That’s him.

“That’s what needs to happen and that wasn’t me. It was at the start, but that wasn’t me, and I can just be honest and say that.

“When I went on court I wanted to win, I put everything in there, but I wasn’t obsessed. I switched off and I wanted to enjoy my life.”



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Perth players pour almost $100k into Di Bain’s campaign as Basil Zempilas declares solo $2000 gift


Ms Bain, whose ties to Perth’s rich, famous and powerful were revealed last month, received just over $94,000 in gifts from a long list of influential figures, including Crown executive Barry Felstead and businessman Malcolm Day.

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The largest gift, nearly $37,000 in pro-bono PR services, came from Labor lobbyist Daniel Smith’s firm CGM Communications.

Other donors included mining millionaire Charles Bass, Austal founder John Rothwell, developer Tim Willing, investor Harry Karelis, film producer Nelson Woss, and mining guru Tim Goyder.

“The way you manage conflicts is you are open and transparent and you declare them, the way you manage gifts is you are open and transparent and you declare them,” Ms Bain said.

“You trust the person that tells you what’s going on, the person that is open and transparent, the person that puts in processes and procedures to manage conflicts of interests.

“During the forums, I am the only candidate that has declared their conflicts of interest and has a transparency page.”

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Ms Bain said she would set up a conflicts committee in the City of Perth if elected Lord Mayor to manage conflicts of interest among elected members, and step outside the chambers if she had any conflicts on agenda items.

Mr Zempilas, who has run an energetic campaign in Perth which has seen election signs pop up in dozens of shopfronts, declared just below $2000 in video production services from Marketforce, the agency of journalist-turned-communications director to former premier Colin Barnett, Dixie Marshall.

Asked whether he had held any fundraisers or received any donations, the sports commentator said he had footed most of his campaign bill himself.

“I’ve had lots of family and friends volunteer their time to help the campaign but it is 100 per cent incorrect to say there has been a fundraiser or any funds raised from them,” he said.

“The only Greek money in my campaign is my money.”

Start-up guru Brodie McCulloch, who is also vying for the mayoral posting, declared $7500 of in-kind office, events, and meeting space at the St Georges Terrace headquarters of his co-working business, Spacecubed.

Opponents Sandy Anghie, Mark Gibson, Bruce Reynolds and Tim Schwass all told WAtoday they had funded their own campaigns and hadn’t received any gifts or donations.

Gift disclosure has been a hot topic for the City of Perth, after suspended former Lord Mayor Rita Saffioti failed to declare tens of thousands of dollars in trips.

The scandal in 2016 prompted an overhaul of disclosure rules, requiring councillors to declare gifts and travel contributions online within 10 days.

You can visit the City of Perth’s electoral gift register online here.

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Glenorchy farmer loses $100k worth of canola after water supply contaminated



Victoria Police are on the hunt for an offender who contaminated a farmer’s boom spray water supply with a chemical, causing an estimated $100,000 in damage.

The farmer at Glenorchy, near the Grampians in western Victoria, unknowingly used the contaminated water to spray a large area of canola, killing it off in the process.

While the act appears to be deliberate and malicious, the farmer whose crop was destroyed may not have even been the target, because the water tank is shared by several landowners.

Chemical damage in crops does occur from time to time, but usually it happens when the wrong chemical has been used by mistake, or when the variety’s chemical tolerance is wrongly estimated.

But Inspector Brendan Broadbent from Victoria Police said testing had confirmed the water had been contaminated.

“They’ve backtracked and eliminated a number of possibilities as to why the crop was dying, and basically established that the water that was used had been tampered with,” he said.

Inspector Broadbent said there was “no specific identified enemy”, and police were appealing for assistance from the public.

“Police are trying to establish if there is any malicious intent that might have been brought about by someone who was arguing with one of the farmers,” he said.

Inspector Broadbent said both criminal charges and civil action were possible if an offender was caught.

“Criminal damage is a charge we would be looking at,” he said.

“The farmer may need to pursue civil action if we identify that there has been an offence occur and if we identify an offender for that crime.”

The charge of criminal damage in Victoria carries a 10-year maximum sentence.



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COVID-19 death toll passes 100K, total recoveries approach 500K in U.S.


County map of the U.S. shows the number of reported coronavirus related COVID-19 deaths as the total number has now officially reached 100,000 (AP Photo).

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UPDATED 1:20 PM PT — Thursday, May 28, 2020

In just four months, the coronavirus has led to over 100,000 deaths in the U.S. The number was reported by Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, with the first virus related fatality in the U.S. occurring in early February.

Though several coronavirus measures to limit the virus’ spread, like mask wearing and lockdowns, have turned partisan since they were introduced, the grief brought on by the so-called “invisible enemy” has been felt across party lines.

On Wednesday, the president extended his sympathies to those affected by COVID fatalities.

Presumed Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden also relayed his grief.

“There are moments in our history so grim, so heartrending, that they’re forever fixed in each of our hearts,” he said.

A woman waves an American Flag from Fort Monroe as the USNS Comfort returns to Norfolk from New York Friday, May 1, 2020. (Jonathon Gruenke/The Daily Press via AP)

The latest report on COVID deaths reflected only a small part of the loss that has impacted millions. Families and friends continue to grieve lost loved ones during these times.

“I kept texting her, wanting to believe that it wasn’t true that she had passed away,” said the daughter of one health care worker.

Meanwhile, workers on the front lines have been witnessing these losses firsthand.

“One of the hardest moments was having to see a family member of a COVID patient say goodbye over an iPad rooms away,” explained one medical worker.

Funeral home officials have worked tirelessly to keep up with the increase in demand.

“I don’t want to apologize, because I am doing the absolute best I can,” said one funeral director. “But if it’s not good enough, I am sorry, deeply sorry.”

In this May 22, 2020 photo, people walk past American flags flying at half-staff at the Washington Monument in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The knowledge of these lost lives has been felt across our nation, especially over Memorial Day weekend when flags were lowered to half-staff by the president.

However, there is cause for hope and optimism in the U.S. According to the CDC, nearly 500,000 Americans have recovered from the virus.

“I’m a man of faith,” stated one survivor. “As much as possible, I try to put things in God’s hands, and I got healed.”

In addition, critics have noted the current death toll may be inflated, since it counts all people who died with COVID-19 instead of counting only those who died as a direct result of the virus.

MORE NEWS: Long Island Reopens, Leaving New York City On Pause





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UK claims victory in race to 100k coronavirus tests per day – POLITICO


LONDON — The U.K. government declared Friday it had met its target to carry out 100,000 tests a day by the end of April.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock made this target a key focus of the government’s response to the pandemic after sustained criticism that the U.K. lagged behind other countries in testing capacity.

A total of 122,347 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 9 a.m. on Friday, an increase from 10,000 daily tests when Hancock set the target at the start of the month.

“I knew it was an audacious goal but we needed an audacious goal because testing is so important to get us back on our feet,” Hancock said at Friday’s Downing Street press conference. “Testing is crucial to fight the virus.”

Hancock faced criticism at the press conference because the total number of tests included 27,000 test kits sent out to people’s homes but not yet processed and also 12,000 sent out to satellite testing centers which are located as places such as hospitals.

Although the U.K. isn’t carrying out the most number of tests in Europe — that title goes to Germany, which is carrying out about half a million tests per week for free, with a target of 200,000 tests per day — it has delivered a substantial increase in testing capacity in a very short period of time. By contrast, France’s testing target aims to boost daily tests from 30,000 at the start of April to 100,000 by June.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock

The target had heaped political pressure on the health secretary, with one anonymous No.10 staffer briefing the Telegraph that it may “come back and bite” Hancock.

However, experts warn that the U.K.’s increased testing capacity is not sustainable in its current form and will need to be coupled with a robust expansion of contact-tracing capability if it is to provide the country with a route out of lockdown.

The U.K.’s testing capacity has been boosted by a combination of mobile testing sites, drive-through sites, public and commercial labs, home testing kits and help from research institutes and universities. Hancock has previously said that the ultimate goal of the government is “that anyone who needs a test should have one.”

An even more ambitious U.K. target of carrying out 250,000 tests per day, announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in March, still has no deadline. The U.K. will continue expanding its testing capacity, with another testing lab put together by pharmaceutical companies AstroZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline launching in Cambridge soon, Hancock said.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said Friday that the 250,000 target would also include the antibody tests the U.K. hopes to be able to use as soon as a reliable test becomes available. He added Hancock’s target “has been very effective in driving up the capacity in the system.”

But experts have rejected the use of targets as PR campaigns and insisted the emphasis should be on sustainability and strategy.

“Whether they meet the target or not doesn’t really matter,” said Karol Sikora, chief medical officer at the Rutherford Cancer Centres. “The most important thing is the sustainability of the program and getting it to industrial scale.”

Research institutes and universities have played a crucial role in helping the government meet the target, but after the initial three months, they will probably want to return to scientific research, Sikora warned. At that point, Public Health England must have industrial-scale laboratories able to handle thousands of samples a day in centers around the country, he added.

“Public Health England set up some mega laboratories, but they are not fully robotic, they are not using modern technology that allows very rapid screening,” he said. “We need industrial-type approaches, the sort the pharmaceutical industry is good at. We need to have industry joining in and it has to be permanent: We are going to be doing testing for at least a year.”

Next goal: Contact tracing

Pressure will now shift toward the government’s contact-tracing program and the timeline for its rollout. Hancock has said the scheme will start on May 11, but media reports Friday suggest the launch has been postponed to the end of the month.

The National Health Service has drawn up plans to trial its test-and-trace scheme on the Isle of Wight first, including a new contact-tracing smartphone app produced by NHS developers. Recruitment for 18,000 tracers is also underway, but the government has not yet disclosed how many of them have already been hired.

David Nabarro, the World Health Organization’s special envoy on COVID-19, said Friday that it would be “perfectly reasonable” for the U.K. to start lifting the lockdown restrictions before a full contact-tracing program is up and running.

“You don’t need to have 100 percent contact tracing in order to get the R-number down,” he told the BBC Radio 4’s “Today” program. “The contact tracing is an absolutely essential part of reducing transmission, and getting that capacity as widely spread as possible is key to getting the transmission as low as you can. But you certainly can release the lockdown while you’re building up the case finding and contact-tracing capacity — that’s what most other countries are doing.”

The article has been updated with additional information.

This article is part of POLITICO’s premium policy service: Pro Health Care. From drug pricing, EMA, vaccines, pharma and more, our specialized journalists keep you on top of the topics driving the health care policy agenda. Email pro@politico.eu for a complimentary trial.





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