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Monday, March 31, 2008

Auckland City proposes takeover to Royal Commission

Auckland's answer to Judith Tizard's last career failure is three weeks away from public submission deadline. Auckland City's (C&R's) ideas are already out there:

Under the supercity proposal, a Greater Auckland Council would be made up of an elected Lord Mayor, four area mayors based on the Auckland City, North Shore, Manukau and Waitakere city councils and 21 neighbourhood councillors.

Neighbourhood my arse, these will be huge constituencies. Without Community Boards a more powerful unified Council could be easily captured by minority or sector interests (or major interests for that matter) and prove undemocratic in reality. What the plan really represents is a "Super-City" concept with the current council areas being the only community boards. It would be a breeze for thew bureaucrats - you could at least reduce the "Democracy" budget item - but local decisions based on local knowledge and grassroots contacts and street-level informal meetings with those concerned would be lost.

Bhatnagar has a go at the left opposition and reminds us this is the officers' report. I'm sure David Hay had nothing to do with it. But he too easily dismisses the criticism. If Councillors could ever be accused of being out of touch it would definitely be under the proposal. They want to use the Parliamentary boundaries and run an FPP single-member "democracy". Ha! In name only. Joh Beijelke Petersen would have been proud. Very simple for the bureaucrats once again - so maybe they did dream it up - or should that be calculated it out. Problem with Parliamentary boundaries is they have about 60,000 people in them and they are drawn (despite the intent of the law) in many cases without regard for the local communities. The suburb of Avondale for example is split between Mt Albert, New Lynn and Mt Roskill seats - and after every census they get moved around again. Undesirable.

Ending multi-member seats and having them cover large areas will kill off independents and promote the sort of one-party regime that the Council officers must find reassuring and comfortable given that is how the City of Auckland has been run for most of the 20th Century. But trying to impose their Tamaki Tammany on the whole region?

Alternative - more representation

I would have far more community boards than at present. If a suburb or district has its own name and has some history of being its own distinct community then they should be delineated and the people therein can decide if they wish to become a community or join with others to become one - rather than being carved up from on high. Maori especially will want this acknowledged as the Tangata Whenua. In Orakei and in Mangere and in South Auckland and on every piece of Maori land in the region their autonomy (Tino Rangatiratanga) and self-management of their territory ought to be confirmed within the governance framework.

I don't think Community Boards have to be responsible for most municipal activities, but the option should be retained. In practice they can delegate just about all functions to the City Councils of which they are constituent members. And an Uber City could be useful if it had the trust and confidence of the communities - that the relationship between the groups were complimentary and not in competition with one another. A single transit authority to manage construction and operation of a proper rail system would be progress. There will no doubt be endless case studies: Americans have City Commissioners, Ireland has quite large councillor numbers etc.

ACC plan recap:

21 Councillors + 4 Mayors + Uber Mayor.
Uber City divided into 4 areas with own Mayor.

21 Councillors for the whole of Auckland? People don't want to see someone's bloody staff lackey, they want to see the person accountable. The politician. You just can't get responsiveness to the community if you do that. They will end up having an even bigger Comms and Marketing staff than now because the politicians will rely on them to do the contact and meeting work that the entire community board used to do. OK, maybe it does sound a lot like the officers wrote it.

And being one city the ACC know all the office space and staff etc. will end up with them. Because there's only one city all major projects will end up being in the ACC area. It is the natural compromise of it being in the geographic centre - where people cannot get directly from North to South without going through them. Sounds real tidy. But the North Shore, Waitakere and Manukau better understand that nothing of any significance will ever be constructed in their "areas" if the ACC get their way.


Public split over China trade deal

Public split over China trade deal
New Zealanders are divided over whether the Government should be signing a free trade deal with China, a new Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals. Prime Minister Helen Clark flies out tonight on an overseas trip which will include the signing of the historic agreement in Beijing on April 7, but it appears many New Zealanders are yet to be convinced it is a good move. Asked if they supported New Zealand signing a free trade agreement with China, 44.7 per cent of those questioned in the DigiPoll survey said they did. Just about a third - 32.4 per cent - said no, while 22.9 per cent said they did not know. While the Government will be pleased that more people agree with the deal than disagree, it is clear there is still a large degree of uncertainty in voters' minds about the issue. That uncertainty is likely linked to the fact that details of the agreement are being kept secret until it is signed.

Oh and aren’t they being kept secret, interestingly the Bill will go to Parliament which means there have to be changes to our law for us to live up to what we’ve signed, of interest will be the enforced immigration element of the deal, add to this the large number against this, which could easily become the majority if the deal is perceived as one sided and if China commit another atrocity to put down any Tibet unrest, with these issues in the air (won’t Helen look yucky smiling with all those wax work Communist Party members for a free trade deal if they’ve shot a new bunch of monks) here’s how National win the election – Murry McCulley whispers in ears and John Key comes out and states that National won’t sign the deal until he sees a change in China’s human rights and that they have till he wins in November to sort their act out as we won’t sign for financial benefits over human rights as it ‘isn’t the NZ way’ – it makes National look moderate, steals from Labour’s core support and John Key touches that national identity of being ‘fair’. Of course John doesn’t need to mean it, but the electorate wouldn’t know and Labour would be left twitching in the gallows of public opinion.

Drug Foundation mouthpiece for Anderton’s morality

After years of being a progressive drug proponent with a harm minimization policy, the Drug Foundation is now the moralizing mouthpiece of Jim Anderton, watching Ross Bell on Breakfast this morning, the Executive Director of the NZ Drug Foundation bleated about new ingredients in party pills without BZP, he claimed that we don’t have any regulation over the industry, which is an understatement now because this prohibition has simply pushed the whole issue underground. It was here that I wrote that this was because he had backed the call to ban BZP's, that's not the case, the Drug Foundation did point out the pointlessness of this ban, my beef is more to do with the timid interview he did on Breakfast, because based on his interview where Ross didn't challenge the prohibition but was meekly taking it made the good work of the Drug Foundation in the past pale significantly, his almost apologetic response ended up making him look like just another nodding head from the 'something must do something brigade' which led me to conclude that The Drug Foundation should be called the Prohibition Foundation, they are the new Wellington based Temperance Union, and are as relevant to the drug debate as the Sensible Sentencing Trust is to the prison debate. Where once liberal ideas and thinking were espoused, there now reeks an acceptance that the conservative morality of the day blankets the mainstream debate, which seems to be a boat the Drug Foundation have given up rocking.

PLEASE NOTE: I've had an angry email from Ross Bell pointing out that they didn't support the BZP ban - this is a fair cop, I wrote that he did based on his very poor performance on Breakfast where Ross didn't fight the prohibition issue whatsoever and ended up looking like a nodding head to the 'something must be done' brigade. I've re-written the above to reflect my concern.

Courts 'fail child sex-abuse victims'

Courts 'fail child sex-abuse victims'
Child sex-abuse victims are being failed by the courts as lawyers bully young witnesses and jurors misunderstand abuse, ground-breaking research suggests. Juries are increasingly wanting corroborative evidence before convicting an accused even if they believe the child. Conviction rates for alleged assaults on adults and children remain low, with only 6 per cent of all cases reported to police resulting in a conviction. The research, done by forensic psychologist Suzanne Blackwell, shows the court process is particularly fraught for children, as many defence lawyers use aggressive, misleading cross-examination and play on myths about child abuse to get their clients off. Some lawyers also appear to engineer delays, knowing that juries are less likely to believe older children, especially teenagers. Critics say that, rather than seeking truth and justice, child sex-abuse trials are simply a fight to win. And it is the child victims who are losing out.

Wow conviction rates are only 6%? That seems like a lot of accused people walking free, the issue at hand is a call for a more inquisitorial sexual abuse court system rather than the punch up fight it is now, there is also something called the ‘CSI effect’ where Juries expect a huge amount of forensic evidence and without it won’t convict. This combines with our attitudes towards young people as a society, it’s something I’ve pointed out many times, that we as a society we really don’t like young people and that this dislike is created in part by the negative way young people are always portrayed in the mainstream media – this research shows that even when the Jury believe the kid, they won’t convict. Watching the moral ‘outrage’ so many NZers showed to legislation banning them from abusing their kids is a litmus test to how we internalize a lot of the angst of being a NZer and then project it onto a younger generation who are simply acting out all the self destructive behaviour they’ve watched from their elders.

How dumb are they?

Crackdown leads to a return to chaos
For once, George W. Bush's open-faced incomprehension - at Nouri Maliki's decision to set off a civil war inside Iraq's Shiite community - seems entirely appropriate. When the United States President admitted he did not know why the Iraqi Prime Minister had launched an offensive in Basra, saying "I'm not exactly sure what triggered the Prime Minister's response", he was not alone. Bush sought to bolster Maliki by saying his Government faces a "defining moment in the history of a free Iraq" and that the crackdown "is a necessary part of the development of a free society". But the consequences of Maliki's decision to send 15,000 Iraqi troops, and as many policemen, into Basra has been the destruction of a nine-month-old ceasefire from Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army. In just a few days it has swept back on to the streets in Kut, Hillah, Amara, Karbala, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniya, as well as into Sadr City in Baghdad, where militiamen have been raining rockets and mortars on the Green Zone. Iraqi officials said at least 220 people had been killed in southern Iraq and 550 injured. In Baghdad, the Health Directorate said the number raised to 90 killed and 480 injured in clashes and by US air strikes in Sadr City. The district's two hospitals, serving its 2 million people, are overflowing and understaffed.

It’s the bizarre pointlessness of this offensive that makes no sense, 15 000 troops up against Sadr’s entire army could only ever work out to be a stalemate, and if America steps up its bombing in the densely packed Sadr City, they risk really high civilian loss of life. Apart from what this says about Iraq’s ‘democracy’, it does question Maliki’s leadership, this is a pointless incursion that has evaporated all the minor gains made by the ‘surge’ – their incompetence is astounding.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Buchanan File

So the University didn’t have such a good case for dismissing Paul after all and it cost them sixty odd thousand which is a pretty cheap price for a career I’d hazard. Although they had to cough up, the University’s position is that because Paul spoke publicly of their lack of a case he couldn’t come back – this is an ethical position that Paul has to fight through an appeal – the University are saying it’s because he spoke out about their poor treatment of him he can’t work there again – for institutions built on freedom of speech this position is untenable – if one can not be critical on a campus, including being critical of that campus (especially when their case is as poor as this one) where can one be critical?

The Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club

On the Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club today at 11am, Sky Digital 65, with the best political news team on television, Mat McCarten Herald on Sunday columnist, Bomber from Alt, Ben Thomas from the NBR and the last man to be convicted of sedition in NZ, blogger Tim Selwyn.

News that caught my eye –
1: ACT handing out party pills to get students to sign up.

2: Clinton Sniper story

3: The US West is heating up at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the world and is likely to face more drought conditions in many of its fast-growing cities, an environmental group said Friday, which seems karma doesn’t it? This combined with the collapse of another Antarctic Ice Shelf which will speed up glacial melt which will have an impact on sea levels, reminded everyone that no matter how much it’s being ignored. Global warming is here.

4: Mugabe printing 9million ballots but there are only 5.9million people left alive, do the math. China and South Africa prop this evil little man up with aid, surely the pressure goes on them to make him stand down.

5: Thought Christchurch emptying the city to chase off Greenpeace protestors with water cannons was a bit rich when they allow boy racers to bring the entire city to a standstill, but one coal ship must NEVER be delayed.

STORY 1 – Turmoil puts Kiwi sports fans off Olympics - sst
KIWIS ARE shunning the Beijing Olympic Games, worried about China's human rights record, politics, pollution and the cost of travelling there. Travel agents say Kiwi sports fans are ignoring the August summer games like never before just as politicians and businesses eye the expected signing of a coveted but controversial free trade agreement in China next month.
It’s good to see NZers refusing to endorse this version of Berlin ’36, but what about the sports stars themselves, shouldn’t they agree to go only of they protest?

STORY 2 – Politicians jittery as China trade deal nears - sst
WITH ONLY a week to go before the scheduled signing of New Zealand's groundbreaking trade deal with China, a jittery government has gone into an information lockdown for fear of jeopardising the deal.
Here is how Murry McCully wins the election for National!

STORY 3 – Raids 'hurt' is regretted - hos
Police Commissioner Howard Broad has acknowledged and expressed regret over the hurt caused to Maori by last year's anti-terror raids. The frank admission was made during a speech at a Wainuiomata Marae hui in which Broad also spoke of differing opinions with his advisers over the raids. He did not rule out a future apology to Maori.
This is a positive move, the issue of why Police burst into land as steeped in grievance as Tuhoe land has never been answered, will these comments alter the course of the arms trial?

STORY 4 – Labour's revival slashes poll gap - Weekend Herald
Labour has almost halved National's lead in the Herald-DigiPoll survey. National has slipped by 4.6 percentage points in a month memorable for slip-ups and lacklustre performances by leader John Key. But the party is still ahead - it has the support of 49.9 per cent of decided voters, and could still govern alone with 63 MPs. Labour's fight-back has lifted it 2.8 points to 39.3 per cent in a month of carefully designed publicity hits for the Government, including a snap move to try to keep strategic assets such as Auckland Airport in New Zealand control.
The Greens are down, but 10% are undecided, and those are usually stoners, interesting to note that the Maori Party jumped up 2.2% to 3.7% - perhaps Maori are starting to tick both boxes? Only thing that compromises this poll is that Copeland registered at all – this could be a Rogue poll ‘The Copeland Effect’

STORY 5 - Violence flares again in Iraq - sst
US forces have been drawn deeper into Iraq's four day-old crackdown on Shi'ite militants, launching air strikes in Basra for the first time and battling militants in Baghad. The fighting has exposed a rift within the majority Shi'ite community and put pressure on Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose forces have failed to drive fighters loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr off the streets of Iraq's second-largest city.
This was a power move by Maliki to eliminate al-Sadr from the political equation which shows how the attempt for democracy has utterly failed, how is it acceptable for Maliki to launch military attacks against political foes, and now he’s botched the attack, the American’s have been drawn into the fight, this can now spiral out of control and the stage is set for an atrocity – a reminder how quickly things can deteriorate. With China killing monks, perhaps the Americans have calculated they can sneak in a couple of quick low blows while no one is looking?

FINAL WORD – Nandor on Lets be Frank replay 10pm tonight and Dr Michael Cullen on Let’s be Frank Tuesday 8.30pm – oh and I interview the Venezuelan Ambassador on Green Core, this Wednesday 8pm.

Friday, March 28, 2008

TVNZ 7 on Breakfast this morning

Jesus, watching the grilling Ellie gave Russell Brown and the new TVNZ 7 host of the 8pm news was jaw dropping, you could actually sense the disdain Breakfast (the ‘proper’ news) were radiating towards them both, I mean TVNZ 7 WILL be the most interesting current affairs on TV (aside form what we are doing on Alt with Lets be Frank, SNBC and Green Core of course), but the animosity on display this morning really highlighted how desperately in need we are to have TVNZ 7 if that’s how threatened the mainstream TVNZ feels towards having actual ideas and real debate in news rather than the dumb and dumber news spat out of the current network machine. Once we had to rely on Jeremy Wells to use a critical eye at TVNZ, it’s nice to see that TVNZ 7 and TVNZ 6 will be really pushing to create more.

China is lying, say monks

China is lying, say monks
Tibetan monks have stormed a news briefing at a temple in Lhasa, accusing Chinese authorities of lying about recent unrest and saying the Dalai Lama had nothing to do with the violence, foreign reporters said. The incident was an embarrassment to the Chinese government, which brought a select group of foreign reporters to Lhasa for a stage-managed tour of the city, where authorities say stability has been restored since violence broke out on March 14.

You can lie about some of the Monks, some of the time, but not lie about all of the Monks all of the time. The question must be asked what is the threshold of Chinese action that would make the world recoil? We put that question to Michael Cullen on Let’s be Frank, next Tuesday, 8.30pm Alt Tv.

High rents force people into sheds

High rents force people into sheds
The cost of rent is causing chronic overcrowding in Christchurch, forcing people to pack themselves into houses, garages and even garden sheds. Latest figures from the Ministry of Social Development show the total number of people living in crowded conditions in the city increased more than 4000, to 22,000, between 2001 and 2006. The ministry says a house is counted as being crowded if it requires one or more extra bedrooms for those living there. There was also an increase in crowded housing in the Ashburton, Queenstown Lakes and Dunedin areas.

This news comes on the heels of a very arrogant Bob Parker, whom I‘m fast disliking, sneering at Council Tenants that they’ve had it good on the pigs back for too long and they now have to pay a 24% increased rent. These pig back riders average 75 years of age, most have chronic health issues and are alone, these are some of the most vulnerable and to see Bob sneering at them made me ill, as much as the middle classes are feeling consumer depression, there are a lot of NZers beneath their economic level whom have been struggling for some time, ask anyone running a foodbank. John Key discovered the underclass, but apparently after being swept under the carpet we’ve forgotten about them again, I’m guessing the next reminder of these lives of poverty will be the death of some innocent infant, but we’ll be too angry then to do anything more than scream for punishment.

Bush hails Iraq militia crackdown

Bush hails Iraq militia crackdown
US President George W Bush has praised Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki's "bold decision" in ordering Iraqi forces to crack down on Shia militias in the city of Basra. Heavy fighting continued in the city for a third day between militias and security forces, with violence in other parts of southern Iraq and Baghdad. The clashes have claimed more than 130 lives since Tuesday. Mr Maliki vowed that he would continue the fight against the militias for as long as was necessary.

The Mehdi Army has been calling for negotiations since Maliki breached the detante and decided to change the power structure in Baghdad, with the US and Britain sitting on the sidelines and Maliki keen to impress with all the new over kill hardware he’s been given, there is all the necessary ingredients for a major atrocity to occur here, which will be the exact sort of thing to renew and restock radicalism.

Mugabe warns of protest crackdown

Mugabe warns of protest crackdown
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has warned his opponents not to protest if they do not win elections on Saturday.
"Just dare try it," said the 84-year-old leader at one of his final campaign rallies. "We don't play around while you try to please your British allies."

This evil little petty dictator and the desperate measures he is going to by printing 9 million ballots when there are only 5.9million people left in Zimbabwe is offensive when you consider Mugabe is proxying the votes of the dead, including those who he has murdered. One final agony stolen from the grave to legitimize his democratic abortion.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


From the Treasury's Budget summary, and what appears to be a Labour political theme package of Vote: National Identity. These figures are for the next 4 years.

So they admit national identity has something to do with Maori, and then they label the entire thing "reconciliation." It's fine to admit that we need reconciliation, but to put the real amount at only $4m? And that's cosmetic applications such as "cultural redress" never, ever "economic redress" - which might be a contingent liability of the government imposed "fiscal envelope" of $1 billion for everything deemed "historic" ie. before the fiscal envelope (1992?). But the total quantifiable liabilities on the Crown's books are $5.2 billion - so if the fiscal envelope is included it still only represents under one-fifth of the total. Very small beer.

Note the Waitangi Tribunal bureaucracy gets more than redress.

If they were serious about "reconciliation" they would have budgeted a lot more than they have. This permanent relegation is why Labour is on course to lose the remaining Maori seats.

Clinton calls Bosnia sniper story a mistake

Clinton calls Bosnia sniper story a mistake
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has said she made a mistake when she claimed she had come under sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996 while she was first lady. In a speech in Washington and in several interviews last week Clinton described how she and her daughter, Chelsea, ran for cover under hostile fire shortly after her plane landed in Tuzla, Bosnia. Several news outlets disputed the claim and a video of the trip, showed Clinton walking from the plane, accompanied by her daughter. They were greeted by a young girl in a small ceremony on the tarmac and there was no sign of tension or any danger. "I did make a mistake in talking about it, you know, the last time and recently," Clinton told reporters in Pennsylvania where she was campaigning before the state's April 22 primary. She said she had a "different memory" about the landing. "So I made a mistake. That happens. It proves I'm human, which, you know, for some people, is a revelation."

It is said of the Clintons that they tell a big lie when a small lie would suffice and tell a small lie when telling the truth would be fine, this outright ‘sniper dodging’ and sprinting off the plane lie is in stark contrast to watching the actual footage from Bosnia where she strolls around, meeting little girls and groups of school children, shaking hands with all the soldiers and the only time she ducks is when entering the armored Humvee. That the reality is so different from the lie is actually very bloody damaging to Hillary, much more than Obama’s Pastor pointing out some righteous black anger aimed at white America – how many more mistakes does Hillary need to be caught out on before she looses all credibility? God I love this election.

Climate change shatters huge ice shelf

Climate change shatters huge ice shelf
A gigantic Antarctic ice shelf is collapsing and global warming is being blamed. An iceberg 41 kilometres long and 2.5km wide fell off the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula in late February. That triggered the disintegration of 405 square kilometres of ice. The entire ice shelf - the size of the Hawke's Bay region - is now in danger of disintegrating. The destruction was captured in satellite pictures from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in the United States.

Once these ice shelves go, it allows the glaciers that are connected to them to run completely to the sea, the great meltdown has begun and much more rapidly than has been predicted and it’s only getting faster, where are those climate deniers now? Are they still hanging with the remaining people who still argue Iraq can be won? As our Agricultural industry gets away scot free without paying for the pollution they cause and politicians pay lip service to change, it all reminds us how important that Greenpeace action this week to stop coal ships from leaving really is, and these protest actions are going to become more and more necessary.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Investors told funds 'as safe as a bank'

Investors told funds 'as safe as a bank'
Investors in ING funds paralysed by the credit crunch say they were told the products were "just like a term deposit". The Banking Ombudsman is alerting investors in the funds that they can complain to her office about the way the products were sold to them. Many investors in the ING Regular Income and Diversified Yield Funds bought in on the advice of their ANZ financial advisers. ING is 49 per cent owned by ANZ. Around 8000 investors with $521 million in the funds are now unable to access their money after investment manager ING indefinitely suspended withdrawals from the funds two weeks ago citing the effects of the international credit crisis. The funds, largely based on CDOs and CLOs - complex financial products which bundle various types of debt into a security - had lost significant value because of the severe lack of liquidity in the credit markets.

First of all, respects where respects are due, it was the NBR who broke this unbelievable story, and the Herald NEVER credits where a story is broken which is childish beyond belief – to the story, how outrageous is this? ING is half owned by ANZ and ANZ was promoting this highly questionable financial product to it’s customers as just like a bank account, except it was nothing like a bank account, it was in fact anchored to that albatross of the global financial world, sub-prime mortgages, how would you feel being told when you went to withdraw your money from what has been sold to you as a ‘bank account’ only to be told, oops, sorry, we invested it in all this questionable debt to security equation that very few people even understand, you can’t take out your money cause it ain’t there anymore. Oh and how about that toothless wonder Liz Brown, the so called Banking Ombudsman, who in reality is a mouthpiece for the banks and appointed by the industry to represent their interests, not the banking public, what’s her advice? “See your bank first and wait for three months”, great advice there Liz, did you break a sweat coming up with that honey? Where is the Serious Fraud Office when you need them, oh and the final irony, ING are still advertising on TV telling us how wonderful they are.

Wait for facts on Tibet - Peters

Wait for facts on Tibet - Peters
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has come out on the side of China over Tibet and says not enough facts are known to make a judgment over who is to blame for turmoil there. Speaking at a news conference in Auckland with Australian counterpart Stephen Smith, he discouraged any form of boycott, either of the whole Olympic Games or its opening ceremony.
Mr Peters took a different view from Prime Minister Helen Clark. Last week she told Parliament the Government was concerned over events in Tibet and called for restraint. Mr Peters said people should not "rush to judgment". "What's not fully known is how much of the events originated in the form of a riot and whether there was personal and physical destruction as the motivation. I prefer to wait and find out the facts."

Oh you are waiting for the facts are you Mr Peters? Funny cause you didn’t care much for the facts when you were railing against Chinese immigrants in Howick or refugees with AIDs, you were pretty keen to whip xenophobic foam up over that, yet when there are legitimate reasons to be angry with China – their enforced immigration clause forced into our Free Trade Deal and their repressive clamp down on Tibet – oh you want to wait for the facts. Okay, here are the facts, Tibetans perceive they are being colonized and breed out by a massive influx of Han Chinese helped in part by that bright flashy new direct train line set up recently and they rebelled from their cultural genocide leading to 130 of them being killed and hundreds more arrested, oh and can the Chinese please also release all the child Dalai Lama’s they kidnapped in an attempt to kill off the Tibetan religion, while we’re asking. Isn’t it funny how much discretion Mr Peters is prepared to give now he has all those baubles to play with.

Please protest when it is convenient for the man

Greenpeace protest drains police from city
A lone constable was attacked in a brawl in central Christchurch yesterday as 30 other officers spent hours dealing with a Greenpeace protest on Lyttelton Harbour, police said. "Why Greenpeace couldn't find a way of protesting that didn't tie up emergency services for so long is disappointing," said police area commander for Christchurch South Inspector Malcolm Johnston. The 30 officers were involved in controlling the Greenpeace action trying to stop a coal tanker leaving Lyttelton.

Yeah, why can’t Greenpeace check with the Police first to make sure it’s all okay, perhaps the Police shouldn’t have rushed to protect Solid Energy and their dirty fucking coal leaving the rest of the city undefended, but apparently we need to pollute the planet to the point of global warming on time these days, there are schedules that must be kept and the monster of capitalism needs it’s fix NOW! As Political Parties continue to pay lip service to environmentalism, protests like this need to occur more often and citizens need to start deciding if they will use mass civil disobedience to force politicians to act, if that doesn’t fit in with the cops, too bad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

National extends lead

National extends lead
National has extended its lead over Labour in the latest poll, which also shows a sharp drop in consumer confidence. The Morgan poll puts National on 51 per cent support (up 1.5 percentage points) and Labour on 34 per cent (down 1 point). It contradicts other recent polls which show Labour slightly closing the gap

I think we really need to see what the impact of Roger Douglas (brought back from a stasis chamber fuelled by the tears of solo mothers) announcement of joining ACT will be before we write the election off, oh and wasn’t it a laugh seeing ACT on campus having to hand out party pills to get members to join, they do realize they can’t bribe people on the actual election day right? Labour were able to spook the electorate last time with ‘Don Brash is the boogieman with a massive secret right wing agenda’, but that tactic has fallen completely flat with John Key, indeed it’s made Labour look very shrill in their claims of ‘Rich Prick’ – Roger Douglas on the other hand and his claim at the press conference last week that he would like a cabinet position - Finance Minister anyone? – is a completely different kettle of fish and seeing Key take a week to stamp the idea out shows how difficult juggling this relationship with ACT is going to be – especially as National has selected Sadist-look-a-like-of –the-year Steven Franks as their Wellington candidate – while Douglas will be great for ACT, all those Labour Voters who have recently gone to National can be and will be spooked back to Labour as a world under the Dark rule of Roger Douglas is enough of a boogieman to keep voters awake at night, Clark and Cullen would have been laughing with delight when Douglas announced he’s running again.

Pay 'priority' for Air NZ Chinese crew

Pay 'priority' for Air NZ Chinese crew
Air New Zealand's Shanghai manager has told his Chinese crew that their pay review will be given "top priority" and they will be given credit cards from this week to solve issues with their meal allowances. The assurance - in an internal staff memo obtained by the Herald - comes after the paper reported that crew based in Shanghai received a quarter of their New Zealand colleagues' pay and a third of their away-from-home allowances. Last year, 59 of the 64 Chinese crew wrote a letter to Air New Zealand complaining of inequitable work conditions and having their meal allowance restricted to the hotel they stayed in and one Chinese restaurant.

Good on the Herald for actually pursuing this story, as Air NZ has ducked and dived and attempted to bury the fact they are treating Chinese workers so much worse than their NZ counterparts and it has created the ill feeling of a sweat shop in the sky, Air NZs claim that it’s the company they hire to get Chinese staff who are at fault is just a farce, and it is unacceptable to pay people less for the same job based on their race or their desperate financial situation, that’s called exploitation Air NZ.

Clinton and Obama rest up for long-haul race

Clinton and Obama rest up for long-haul race
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took a much-needed rest from their US presidential campaigns on Easter Sunday as their tight race for the Democratic nomination looked set to drag on for months.

Hillary would need to win the remaining elections by 55%, she’s only done that 4 times so far, and that’s just to pull even, so the math is against her and to drag the fight out doesn’t help democrats, and as New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson who endorsed Obama said, "My affection and admiration for Hillary Clinton and President Bill Clinton will never waver, it is time, however, for Democrats to stop fighting amongst ourselves and to prepare for the tough fight we will face against John McCain in the fall." The really fascinating this has been the white mainstream media response to Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He had the gall to suggest that 9/11 was America’s chickens coming home to roost, that America’s malformed and dictator supporting, freedom suppressing foreign policy might have had anything at all to do with those people living under those oppressive regimes deciding to strike America – the mere suggestion apparently is on par with treason in America, which just shows how in denial most American’s are about why they were attacked on 9/11, that attitude itself speaks volumes about white America. Of course there are no excuses for killing 3000 people, and I’d never want to afford murderers that moral exit, but there are REASONS why people do this, address the reasons and you eliminate the drives to strike at you, that this simple truth can not be recognized and has been used to smear Obama shows how far white America still needs a wake up call, Fox News is hilarious on this issue, I've never seen Bill O'Reilly huff and puff so much in my life.

Protesters crash Olympic torch ceremony

Protesters crash Olympic torch ceremony
Pro-Tibet demonstrators have tried to hijack the Beijing Olympic torch lighting ceremony in ancient Olympia. In globally televised ceremony to mark the start of a five-month torch relay, the actress Maria Nafpliotou playing the high priestess used a break in the clouds to light the torch in front of the Temple of Hera. However, just before the torch-lighting ceremony inside the archaeological site that played host to the Olympics in ancient Greece, a few demonstrators tried to break a tight police cordon. One of them, unfurling a banner, managed to approach Beijing Games chief Liu Qi during his speech in front of hundreds of officials but was taken away without reaching him.

This is only going to grow and grow, the Chinese have completely underestimated the fury their occupation has created, and of course the fury their support of dictators around the world has created, it is going to be a long white hot summer as more and more pressure builds – what if the Chinese are caught on tape of butchering civilians in vicious clamp downs, can Helen really still sign up? Could John Key pull the rug out from under Helen Clark by declaring after such an incident that he will not sign a deal with a regime killing it’s own people, leaving Helen high and dry? Internal ramifications to one side, the Chinese have had this protest coming for a long time, watching them squirm through their wax work party member expressions as the rest of the world point out their crimes is immensely satisfying.

NZ’s dirty suicide rate

Promise to tackle the killer in our midst
New Zealand's suicide rate has fallen 19 per cent in a decade, but 500 Kiwis still end their own lives each year, and Mr Anderton said the new action plan would include details of every action to help curb the death toll, the timeline and the government department that would be held accountable. "It is a promise. It means someone can be made responsible and accountable."

Well it’s a start I suppose, something our friends on the right hate mentioning is how our suicide rates trebled during the Roger Douglas right wing revolution where economic policy replaced social policy and it’s continuation under National – when you look at the massive resources spent on lowering the road toll, it’s embarrassing to see that the social fallout of suicide is not given the same amount of money to reduce a suicide death toll that is larger than our national road toll. Pushing teenagers onto pills – most of which seem to have less placebo effect than a lolly, and have a tendency of actually creating suicidal thoughts in teenagers, is not a solution, and the time taken to get this policy up and running is another indictment on the way we treat mental illness in this country.

US war dead toll in Iraq hits 4,000

US war dead toll in Iraq hits 4,000
The death toll of US soldiers in Iraq has reached 4,000, days after the fifth anniversary of a war that President George W Bush says the United States is on track to win. The deaths came on a day when the US-protected "Green Zone", the government and diplomatic compound in central Baghdad, was hit by repeated rocket and mortar fire, part of an upsurge in violence in the capital and elsewhere.

We know exactly how many Americans die, but we have no idea of how many we’ve killed, weird isn’t it, the figures for ‘them’ range from 80 000 to over a million, isn’t that a large discrepancy? Isn’t it manners for us to at least keep a credible tally of how many human beings we in the West are murdering since invading Iraq on a bunch of lies? Isn’t it churlish of us? Those who die for the Empire are heralded as Heroes, those who die because of the Empire are always forgotten and only remembered in the radicalized fury of those faceless millions living under occupation, oh we are sowing a bitter harvest.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

My United States of Whatever

It's an early Easter this year. The weather is great - hot and sunny. And in this West Auckland internet cafe children and teenagers are packed in playing stupid fucking war games. "Fire in the hole!" Tweuhh, ea, ea, ea, ea, ea, ea, chick-chick, pweechhh! Go outside.

I took a walk through Heron Park yesterday - on God's day, Jesus' execution day. It's between Waterview and Avondale and has been saved from dissection by the decision to run the SH20 motorway to the Pt Chev junction. The weather was even better then, and when the three picnickers left it was just me there. A big parkland with wide paths and views and only used by one person. Where is everyone? Where are the kids? I even found an eel in the stream. In olden days, before mindlessly violent networked computer games, Sky TV, molly-coddling parents with 4WDs, obesity etc. the kids would be harassing these eels and climbing the trees and exploring the mangroves and throwing rocks at each other. Playing soldier meant physically doing it - physicaly recreating combat scenarios on the ground, not staring at a monitor tapping buttons and clicking at a mouse. Then again we had dirty quarries, council depots and abandoned war installations instead of sanitised exercise areas, OSH-approved recreational facilities and ultra-padded certified play equipment. Enjoying your youth seems to be an old man's game these days.

My suggestions for a new holiday format for a republic, I am reminded, would have Easter replaced by Autumn Festival which is on the last Friday of March and would also be the start of daylight savings, ie. this coming Friday. I stand by that. It's still to summery. As for Daylight Savings - has Peter Dunne moved it to June?

Memo to Ben Thomas:

Re: Bet - Will Taiwan compete at the Beijing Olympics?

Yes. They have their own Olympic committee:
In the Olympic Games opening ceremony, when each country normally proceeds in alphabetical order, Chinese Taipei do not follow China, but instead take a place in the procession as if their name were Taipei...

Me and the Diplomat

I’m interviewing Nelson Davila, the Venezuelan Diplomat for our region today for Alt Tv’s Environmental and Human Rights show, Green Core – 8pm Wednesdays Sky digital 65 – anyone want me to ask a question of him?

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Just heard an interview on National Radio with Josie Bullock, the Corrections employee dismissed over going to the media about a sex discrimination issue. She was very antagonistic and confrontational during the discussion with a the host, and from her personality I can understand why she acted the way she did. Putting aside the "whistle-blower" aspect of her dismissal, the crux of the matter for her and the ruling the Human Rights (tribunal?) made was that the way in which she was treated at a Maori ceremony/meeting was sexist. But I'm not so sure.

I've been at Maori ceremonies/meetings where the men have to stand at the back, and I didn't feel it was sexist or that I was being discriminated against because I was a male. Gender roles are assigned in these matters, but I don't think anyone there felt it was a problem. Then again Bullock is the type of person to have her hackles raised easily, while most people do not.

Her issues seemed to be that she had to sit where she didn't want to AND that she could not speak because she was a woman. Only the latter complaint is important as far as I'm concerned. On that score the department should (and I beleive may have) change its policy. Mixing the official procedures of government with Maori tikanga needn't be a hassle, but if you want authenticity then it becomes problematic. Surely there's a type of protocol that can work for everyone?

5 years later - Bush speech hails Iraq 'victory'

Bush speech hails Iraq 'victory'
President George W Bush has delivered a speech to mark the fifth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Speaking at the Pentagon, Mr Bush said "removing Saddam Hussein from power was the right decision". And he went on to say that the recent "surge" of US troops to Iraq has brought about "a major strategic victory in the broader war on terror".

Can you fucking believe this American? 6 weeks after invading, Bush declared that the mission was accomplished and here we are 5 years later with anywhere between 50 000-million Iraqi civilians dead, we aren’t sure because we don’t count them when they die, millions have been made refugees in their own homeland, I remember being told it would cost $50 Billion where as it is now being costed at $3Trillion, I remember voices right here in NZ braying from the right from Paul Henry to Leighton Smith, Michael Laws, ACT and National, every Talklback hosts whining that we should hump America’s leg and join in this war of terror to depose a Dictator that the Americans themselves had built, I remember those Weapons of Mass deception, the fake uranium claims, the mushroom cloud imagery that Rumsfeld would always evoke to terrify the American population everytime he opened his evil little beak, I watched lies being twisted to connect Saddam to Bin Laden when both movements hated eachother, I watched the madness of an American administration with no plan whatsofucking ever to rebuild the country they had just bombed flat, I watched smart bombs kill innocent kids, I watched abu ghraib and vomited, I have watched for 5 years the utter madness of the enlightened West radicalizing an entire religion against us and I have never been so ashamed of my own civilization, I have watched the justification of torture and erosion of our civil liberties, I have heard the new words, rendition, Gitmo, enemy combatant, have heard about secret CIA torture prisons, I have seen the corporate death merchants and military industrial complex post larger and lager profits while Dick Cheney war profiteers from Haliburton contracts and I have heard all this murder and death and destruction and greed and profits all justified by Freedom and Democracy.

Fuck Bush and fuck everyone of his followers, may you all rot in Hell for the misery and suffering you have your wrought – you and what you have unleashed is the new benchmark for civilised evil. This mindless war should never have been waged and our collective honour in the West has been forever stained.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Judy who?

Of all the comments made in Parliament yesterday about Labour’s softly, softly approach to China on the eve of our much vaunted ‘free’ trade and immigration deal with Beijing, it was Judy Turner from United (I know, I’m as surprised as anyone), who threw knock out punch after knock out punch, as John Armstrong wrote...

Chorus of disapproval from Clark's allies
Turner suggested that pending event was the reason why the Government's initial response to the crackdown by the Chinese was to stall.

"Hopefully it will blow over _ they are thinking _ maybe if the People's Liberation Army can crush the dissension quickly enough we might be able to sneak over to Beijing, sign on the dotted line and still gain the plaudits for being the first country to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with China."

Ouch. But Turner had barely started.

The least she had expected was that the Prime Minister would call in the Chinese Ambassador and give him a formal dressing-down. "Or are we so subservient in this relationship that we cannot even do that?" Ouch, ouch.

But Turner wasn't finished. Earlier, Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples had pondered whether it was worth selling New Zealand's soul for a supposedly lucrative trade deal.

Turner had details of the price of that deal. The cost of buying New Zealand's moral conscience was about $2 billion in GDP over 20 years.

"Maybe now we are truly seeing which side of the fence this Labour Government sits on," she declared, adding the Government had abdicated responsibility.

Not even the Greens hit them this hard, it is a reminder of how difficult Helen will have to walk the line of economic growth and human rights, the question becomes at what cost Helen, at what cost?

US High Court considers landmark gun-rights case

US High Court considers landmark gun-rights case
The US Supreme Court is considering a landmark legal battle over gun rights, taking up for the first time in nearly 70 years whether Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. The case has split the Bush administration. Solicitor General Paul Clement, the administration's chief advocate before the Supreme Court, has adopted the position that individuals have a right to own a gun, but it is subject to reasonable government regulation. Clement, who is arguing before the justices, seeks to preserve all of the current federal restrictions, including a ban on new machine gun sales, a ban on felons owning guns and required background checks for new buyers of handguns. But Vice President Dick Cheney joined a group of US House of Representatives and Senate members in urging the court to adopt a stronger stand in favour of gun rights.

How fucking evil is Cheney? That crazy son of a bitch shot a mate of his in the face, I remember the guy groveling pitifully on TV, thanking the Vice President for shooting him in the face, and how sorry he was that the incident caused Cheney any embarrassment - Americans and their love of guns is a bewildering cultural mutation based on a complete misunderstanding of their own second amendment, nurtured by the arms industry to create a domestic market and fuelled by the fear that black people will want to kill them for all that slavery business, there is almost a semi-sexual response most American’s get to having a gun, the absolute insanity of their position is highlighted by Cheney’s rejection of what the rest of the planet (not including China, Russia, Zimbabwe and Sudan) would consider very reasonable, Cheney is against all restrictions on guns including the sale of machine guns to civilians, the sale of guns to felons and any background checks on anyone wanting to buy a handgun – HOW any of that should be up for dispute shows how deeply neurotic America and their gun fetish has sunk to.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The R word

Large numbers of immigrants + Local population + Recession = Racism.

That's usually how it works. Everything's fine - on the surface - until an economic slump occurs whereby competition intensifies over scarce resources (esp. jobs, govt. assistance and housing) resulting in animosity between competing groups, viz: the local born (or well-integrated non-identifiably immigrant/foreign) population and the foreign-born (or more readily identifiably immigrant/foreign) population.

NZ since the recession of '91-'92, has had rapid immigration growth esp. of people not Maori or European. That time has been marked by modest economic growth. I have argued in the past that it was the immigration itself that has largely contributed to that growth. My question is what happens if that stops? Do the recent immigrants without deep roots here go to Australia (as they have been doing in increasing numbers already)? Or do they return to their country of origin (as some of the more wealthy may have done as they have good connexions and family)? Or do they stay on in NZ?

I would say any decrease - substantial decrease - in immigration rates will flow through to lower housing prices very quickly, then after that will come an economic slow-down as consumption drops. If we are hit by a world-wide recession as well we could be in more trouble than soaring diary prices can solve. My concern is that these financial aspects will have repercussions at the social level. We are in uncharted territory here. Having had contact with many different walks of life while imprisoned I was struck by the virrulent racism of many provincial people and that affect could come through into the cities if the situation became acute.

China trade deal excellent say Nats

China trade deal excellent say Nats
The free trade agreement with China, due to be signed next month, is an excellent deal, says National Party trade spokesman Tim Groser. Mr Groser, a former senior trade negotiator, is among those who have been briefed confidentially on the agreement.

I saw Murry McCully on TV last night endorsing the free trade deal with China and complimenting Labour for it – I’m sorry, but when the Dark Lord of the Sith is out supporting Helen Clark, I can’t help but gag. Why are we signing a deal that China insists MUST include us taking their immigrants when they are committing a ‘cultural genocide’ in Tibet? Tibetans are fighting the enforced immigration from Han Chinese being sent en masse into Tibet, where as we are signing deals to allow that very thing to occur.

$35,000 to groom a hero

$35,000 to groom a hero
The Defence Force spent almost $35,000 on public relations advice - including news media training - for SAS soldier Willie Apiata to maximise coverage of him receiving the Victoria Cross, new figures reveal.
The spending included "between five and 20 hours of media training" for him with a public relations firm, figures obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act show.

So it costs $35 000 to make a hero does it? See I had doubts about awarding medals to people in a war that is highly questionable in the first place (sorry – what are we doing in Afghanistan again? Hunting Bin Laden? Fighting terrorism for Women’s rights? Building schools with semi-automatic weapons? – pick your bullshit excuse) and now we find out it cost us $35 000 to groom this hero, which is funny, cause as Mark Todd showed with his announcement today that he would protest what China is doing in Tibet if he is chosen to go to the Olympics – his announcement shows us you don’t need to spend $35 000 or get involved in a questionable war to make a hero.

Market meltdown

Markets rattled by bank worries
Markets from New York to Tokyo have recorded heavy losses in reaction to the emergency bailout of US investment bank Bear Stearns over the weekend. In New York the Dow Jones Industrials tumbled in early trading before recovering some ground. London's FTSE 100 index ended down 3.9%, in Paris the Cac 40 slumped 3.5% and Frankfurt's Dax fell 4.1%.

And those numbers are good compared to the Asian markets which are right now hemorrhaging and as I write the Dow is down 160 points which is pretty calm seeing that the bank Bear Stearns was just sold for 100th of its price ($2 a share) – this was one of the biggest corporate banks in America who in 24 hours has just collapsed – all of this is not good news, perhaps the mind boggling greed shown by so many American banks to lend as much money as can be printed to people who could never pay it back, all the while back slapping each other with obscene bonuses may all come home to roost for American capitalism.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Foreign born residents over one-third of population in all 16 urban Auckland electorates

Parliamentary Services have put up the electorate stats (Hat tip: Kiwiblog).


They have some maps too. I was shocked to learn that Pt Chevalier has gone from Auckland Central (where it has been for all of my memory) to Mt Albert's Clarkistan.

Annoyingly they don't count citizens and non-citizens because citizenship means very little in this country, but they do count where people are born though. The number of foreign born people in Auckland is immense.

Birthplace of Usually Resident New Zealand Population:

NZ: 47.9%, Overseas: 49.0%, Not specified: 3.1%
Mt Roskill
NZ: 46.1%, Overseas: 48.2%, Not specified: 5.7%
East Coast Bays:
NZ: 52.2%, Overseas: 45.6%, Not specified: 2.2%
NZ: 53.4%, Overseas: 44.1%, Not specified: 2.5%
Manukau East
NZ: 51.9%, Overseas: 40.3%, Not specified: 7.8%
NZ: 58.3%, Overseas: 37.9%, Not specified: 3.8%
Mt Albert:
NZ: 57.6%, Overseas: 37.6%, Not specified: 4.7%
NZ: 53.5%, Overseas: 37.4%, Not specified: 9.1%
New Lynn
NZ: 57.5%, Overseas: 36.8%, Not specified: 5.7%
NZ: 59.5%, Overseas: 36.0%, Not specified: 4.5%
North Shore
NZ: 61.0%, Overseas: 36.0%, Not specified: 2.9%
NZ: 60.5%, Overseas: 35.5%, Not specified: 4.4%
Auckland Central
NZ: 55.8%, Overseas: 33.5%, Not specified: 10.7%
NZ: 62.7%, Overseas: 33.0%, Not specified: 4.2%
NZ: 61.2%, Overseas: 31.0%*, Not specified: 7.8%
NZ: 63.3%, Overseas: 30.0%*, Not specified: 6.6%

The outer districts:

NZ: 73.6%, Overseas: 20.6%, Not specified: 5.7%
NZ: 70.9%, Overseas: 25.1%, Not specified: 4.0%
NZ: 67.2%, Overseas: 28.2%, Not specified: 4.6%
NZ: 75.5%, Overseas: 18.8%, Not specified: 5.7%

The poorer areas have a higher rate of "Not specified". Overstayers? Esp. Auckland Central and all the overseas students.
* Because the "Not specified" is higher than average the overseas born must be at least 33%.
I understand that the Maori electorate stats cannot be separated out and so everyone is included in the above population stats.

Immigration is at colonial levels. How can anyone doubt that from the figures.

When people in Auckland ask "where are you from?" and I say I was born in Auckland and my parents lived here and so did/do my grandparents they immediately remark about how rare that is. Most people who are NZ born Auckland residents, I know, were not born in Auckland. The actual Auckland born population of Auckland is probably well under 50%, perhaps around 25-35%. What sense of history and community do people have if the original population is a minority? Who's "Robbie"?

One of the more disturbing parts of having such high levels of immigration is that according to their figures 91.2% of people can speak English in New Zealand. Which means 8.8% can't speak English.

War of words on eve of health report

War of words on eve of health report
A bitter row over conflicts of interest at Hawke's Bay District Health Board has stepped up as the director-general of health prepares to deliver the results of an inquiry after weeks of legal manoeuvring.

So to recap, King appoints Peter Hausmann to Hawkes Bay DHB, a DHB her husband, Ray Lind, works for, Hausmann runs a private company that pitches for Hawkes Bay contracts worth $50million which he wins, he then hires Ray Lind for his own company…………if it was National caught up in this there would be bloody murder to pay, the audacity of this stunt and what it suggests, reeks and the report better be water tight, the only reason pundits aren’t calling for a lynching is because Hausmann is well known for suing anyone who suggests so much as a fart against his name.

Happy Birthday Iraq

As we reach the 5th birthday of the Iraq war, an illegal war based on lies, let’s also remember the 40th anniversary of the My Lai massacre, as the BBC reports, the true horror of what happened at My Lai hasn’t really been explored, the fact that two companies were involved, 30 senior officers were involved and that the American Army specifically planned to murder every last man woman and child in three villages, My Lai, Binh Tay and My Khe. The planned nature of the massacre, not a rogue company acting in a moment of madness, is a quiet truth that America hasn’t learnt from, as is shown with them being balls deep in yet another immoral war.

Anti-China protest shadows trade deal

Anti-China protest shadows trade deal
The Government is distancing the bloody crackdown on Tibetan protesters from a historic free-trade agreement set to be signed with China within weeks by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark. Trade Minister Phil Goff yesterday said he was "concerned" about the worst riots in the Tibetan region in almost 20 years and by at least 10 deaths in the protests during the weekend.
However, he divorced the events from ongoing trade negotiations with China. "The Government is concerned about events in Tibet and the level of violence being reported. That issue is being dealt with separately from trade negotiations with China."

Do we really want a free trade deal with a communist totalitarian repressive state currently committing a cultural genocide inside a country they invaded? A free trade deal that forces us to accept Chinese immigration as part of the deal – who inserts that into trade negotiations? Ironically it is enforced Chinese immigration that is the major conflict in Tibet, aren’t we just lining up to agree to do something voluntarily that took armed invasion in Tibet?

Refugees with HIV to cost NZ $1m a year

Refugees with HIV to cost NZ $1m a year
Taxpayers are to fork out nearly $1 million a year for HIV drugs and treatment for 50 Zimbabwean refugees who have been granted residency. The refugees include more than a dozen who have been allowed to stay in New Zealand after they came forward during an amnesty. The Government conceded in August 2006 that it erred in allowing Zimbabweans into the country without conducting HIV tests - despite knowing the country's deadly infection rates. Immigration figures obtained by The Dominion Post show 939 Zimbabweans were granted residency as at the start of this month under a policy to help them flee the humanitarian crisis caused by Robert Mugabe's regime between 2000 and 2004. Of these, 345 had their residency approved after coming forward under the amnesty - offered when it became clear that refugees were avoiding authorities - and 17 of this group had tested HIV-positive.

And good on us, if we take in refugees from places of pain and hurt from around the World, we have a responsibility to do all in our power to help those refugees into some semblance of normality, and that includes helping those with AIDS, we’ve all been disgusted by Mugabe and what he is doing in Zimbabwe and the extra cost of medicine for these people shouldn’t diminish our thirst for human rights from compassion. I blogged last week on my anger when I see immigrants who have suffered much less than these refugees who break the law and who don’t get deported and who use up scarce resources and who use the fact they’ve fathered sick children who need their sexual abusing/machete chasing fathers to stay in the country, because the real need and real compassion should be focused on those who deserve it, not those who abuse our good grace.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club

On the Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club today at 11am, Sky Digital 65, with the best political news team on television, Bomber from Alt, Ben Thomas from the NBR and last man to be convicted of sedition in NZ, blogger Tim Selwyn.

News that caught my eye –
1: The long and painful wait till Pensylvania is driving the news media to invent issues after a deluge of elections and caucuses have held an enthralled electorate boosting ratings like never before, so the slap fest between Barack and Hillary is being magnified to blinding levels, but if you really want to see interparty knife fights – look at George W and McCain when in the final weeks the Bush camp leaked concerns that McCains torture at the hands of the Vietcong could cause flashback episodes while McCain was in the Whitehouse with his finger on the nuclear button.

2: Bush vetos bill that bans water boarding AND turned down the UN inspector on torture to visit Iraq prisons.

3: EFA ‘silent protest’, it was bloody well near invisable – 150 people, not 500 the Herald claimed

4: Prison BBQs, dog whistle politics at its best, the prison ‘explanation’ was they had to have the BBQs because the prisoners felt expectation when it wasn’t explained how the structure creates expectation.

5: Violence in Iraq – the surge slowed the butchery from the highs of 70 a day, but its only dropped to about 30 a day now – the country is still writhing in agony.

6: When so many researchers are screaming out for research dollars, $700 million to Agriculture industry rather than green energy – Farmer man wins again.

7: John Key’s claims on capping public service pork sounded hollow when he’s allowing two of his MPs off on a junket.

8: Party pill ban – oh the idiocy.

STORY 1 – Roger is running - hos
A political veteran has returned to the fray and agreed to stand again for the party he co-founded nearly 20 years ago. Sir Roger Douglas branded the current Labour government "growthbusters" at the Act Party's annual conference in Auckland yesterday before revealing plans to run for parliamentthis year. Douglas would not confirm his chosen electorate but hinted it could be a South Auckland constituency, perhaps Hunua, where he lives. He refused to comment on whether he would seek a cabinet position if he returned to parliament.

As predicted from Oliver Driver’s interview with Rodney Hide on Let’s be Frank last Tuesday – Guess whose back, back again, Roger back, tell a friend – he’s been thawed out from specially built stasis chamber which is fuelled from the tears of solo mothers, it’s the resurrection of all that is evil to Labour, one of the greats steps back into the political wrestlemania ring and what will happen next?

STORY 2 – King expects to be cleared of district health board cronyism - sst
FORMER HEALTH Minister Annette King expects she and her husband Ray Lind will be cleared of wrongdoing by a long-awaited report due tomorrow into the bitter conflict of interest row at the Hawke's Bay District Health Board. King said Lind had been told by the independent panel reporting to the director general of health that "there are no issues that they are investigating in relation to Ray". And she expected her decision as health minister to appoint Healthcare New Zealand managing director Peter Hausmann to the Hawke's Bay DHB in 2005 would not be covered by the report.

(cue open mouthed shock look now) WHAT?

STORY 3 – Lhasa protest fires kill 10 - hos
At least 10 people burned to death, China said, in riots in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, in the fiercest pro-independence protests to have rocked the region in two decades, scarring China's image months before the Olympics.

Can we seriously play sports with these people?

STORY 4 – Bush tries to boost faith in US economy - hos
President George W Bush, seeking to bolster faith in the economy amid recession fears, acknowledged yesterday the United States was going through hard times but said growth would resume over the long run because economic fundamentals were sound. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said much of the country was already in a recession.

Gold at $1000, Oil at $110 – US dollar plumbing new depths, the war has cost $3 Trillion and Bear Sterns gets stung by the mortgage clusterfuck – meltdown or just a John Adam’s hiccup.

STORY 5 - NCEA battered by secret report - sst
THE FIRST major analysis of schools' NCEA marking shows many teachers are awarding better grades than examiners do with high-profile schools among the dozens suspected of marking too high. This means students who shouldn't have passed NCEA may have. Others might have missed out on university entrance because their school marked tougher than others.
The release of the secret analysis to the Sunday Star-Times under the Official Information Act sent the Qualifications Authority into damage control last week when it was forced to warn schools about the results. Many principals say they didn't know about the study or the findings. NZQA is now scrambling to refine its figures, work out the size of the problem, and bring school marking into line.

Haven’t they sorted this out by now? You can’t have a system so open to abuse and with a vested interest in scoring highly without any external checks.

FINAL WORD – The Burger King advert featuring Osama Bin Laden

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jazz Razz Rāhoroi : Franco-o-rama

Jazz Rāhoroi | The Saturday Jazz show


If you love France, the French language, turtleneck sweaters, smoking everywhere and sexually-tinged chortling - and you also love the 60s and 70s - then this show is *shrug* errrr, *shrug* je ne sais pas:


France Gall

Ginette Sage

Serge Gainsbourg

Bimbo Jet

Jacques Brel

Nana Mouskouri

Eddy Mitchell


Yves Montand

Christian Delagrange

Au revoir

And now for something completely different...

Friday, March 14, 2008


Auckland City Council's rates discount:
Advantages of paying in full
If you pay the full amount of your rates by the first instalment date:
you will get a 2.83 per cent discount

Rodney District Council:
Discount for payment of full year rates
Customers wishing to pay their annual rates in full by the last day for payment of the first instalment will be eligible for a 5% discount.

So, people wealthy enough to have the cash available to pay the whole year's rates at once get a discount, while those struggling to pay have to pay the full amount. And in Rodney:
Customers will be charged a 10 percent penalty on any part of the current instalment that is not paid on the due date.

Is it fair that wealthy people - the people the least in need of a discount - receive a discount because of their superior financial position? Or is the "opportunity cost" and interest value forgone by paying immediately (and convenience created by the early cashflow to the Council) supposed to make it fair? Would you treat your customers like that? Is the penalty regime fair? Customers? Rates? They mean taxpayers and taxes. And then they chuck on GST to boot.

... still no clocks at all on Auckland's new railway platforms.

Party pills go in fortnight

Party pills go in fortnight
Sellers of party pills have two weeks to clear their stocks before benzylpiperazine (BZP) is outlawed. Parliament passed a bill last night banning the active ingredient from April 1 and classifying BZP as a class C drug - the same as cannabis. Opposition parties branded the bill's sponsor, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton, a "killjoy" and a "Muldoon Mini Me" for not allowing enough time to adjust.

This is insane – how many people have died from this? Are we really going to throw kids into our brutal, corrupt and racist prisons for Party Pills? Prohibition DOESN’T WORK and all this will do is push party pills underground and make money for gangs, it’s just so stupidly idiotic and very disappointing that ‘adults’ have come up with this. Jim Anderton and the loss of his daughter has more to answer for bad drug policy than any other factor.

China admits Tibet monk protests

China admits Tibet monk protests
Chinese officials have acknowledged that Buddhist monks were protesting in the Tibetan city of Lhasa this week. Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the authorities had "stabilised" the situation. Unconfirmed reports earlier this week said as many as 600 monks had taken part in rallies, and that police used tear gas to disperse them.

The Chinese censored the CNN news report as it was broadcast when they cut to this story and showed shots of the protest, it’s 5 months to go and the Chinese seem to have underestimated by some margin that the world is watching them and what they are doing and not the sport.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

nz blogocracy | FAQ: "the ranking system is a mess"

Re: Kiwiblogblog query.

(I must respond here because I simply will not register to make comments on someone's blog I'm afraid - we don't force people to register on this site in order to be able to participate, and personally I think the practice should be discouraged.)

Q. For no apparent reason, the blogs are scored on:
the number of unique visitors they get each day from people with the Alexa Toolbar installed, or unique visitors according to the site’s meter if available.
+ the number of posts a week (not a day?, not a month? Not a fortnight?)
+ the incoming links (number of blogs linking to your blog in the last 6 months) by Technorati
+incoming links as scored by Truth Laid Bear (many blogs, like us, are not signed up with them, so score = 0)

I can’t for the life of me figure out why an incoming link every 6 months should be worth 2 posts a week or two unique visitors a day. I don’t know what an appropriate conversion rate would be, indeed it’s impossible to determine an objective one, but this rate is just arbitrary.

A. The reason is to rate blogs on how good they are. The ratios are necessarily arbitrary as it is an artificial formula based on our nevertheless considered opinion of what constitutes a good blog. The formula combines and quantifies different measurements of blog performance to create a total score that can be used to rank the set. "Objective" is an unhelpful word to employ in understanding this formula.

We are trying to assess a blog's popularity and quality. In order to do this in a way that does not involve personal judgements being made of each blog's editorial content or other aspect only assessable by professional opinion we confined our evaluation to:
  • public support (ie. traffic)
  • peer support (ie. links incoming from other blogs)
  • editorial frequency (ie. posts per week)
    so we may discover their value amongst one another in terms of the nz blogosphere.

    We want this to be done with:
  • transparency (ie. the data must be publicly available)
  • verifiability (ie. every bit of data will be linked to where available)
  • simplicity (eg. an easily understood equation; comments are too difficult to count, but posts can often be counted simply so posts are used and comments are not)

    "An appropriate conversion rate" or weighting is problematic. Some acknowledgment of editorial output seems reasonable, but peer support through incoming links seem and even better prospect, but by far the most important measure must ultimately be traffic.

    Newspapers are rated via readership surveys or sales figures, TV uses electronic sets for rating, and radio use diaries to measure ratings, and so the nz blogosphere being on the internet should be measured in ways appropriate to, and available on, the internet.

    Q. Furthermore, what is a unique visitor? An IP address, yet many organistions share one IP address between many internet users, while many individuals go through several IP addresses a day (at work, at home, Bluetooth, and more if they have dial-up). Simply counting up the number of IP addresses a day does not tell you how many people are visiting a site.

    The major problem I think, however, is relying on Alexa’s ranking of sites for the bulk of the points in each blog’s ‘score’.

    The Alexa system works by recording the sites visited and page-views from everybody who has an Alexa toolbar running and tabulating them to make a rough guide to who’s going where on the internet. But there’s something weird when you look at the stats Alexa produces. The numbers jag about hugely between days

    A. Alexa stats reliability have been dealt with empirically. The Alexa score used is relatively stable as it is not a snapshot but an average. Over a short period of polling day-to-day variance is normal, and remembering weekends have significantly less traffic than weekdays. Alexa is also a very good predictor at the higher end as I have discovered. No alternative method has yet been found.

    Q. Nzblogosphere should give away the Alexa toolbar as a measure of blogs’ performance. A far more accurate and fair solution would be to ask those blogs who wish to be ranked to sign up to a program like google analytics and make the results available.

    A. And the comprehensive nature of the list and what constitutes the nz blogosphere would be destroyed. We include a blog's stats where available. Some bloggers have sent me screen grabs of their stats or the stats they have published themselves and I have used that data. Many bloggers are reluctant to produce the goods, inter alia Public Address and The Standard, and the fact they haven't might *maybe, possibly* indicate that they are being over-counted. The one thing we would never want to do is discount any blogs existence - which means we must include as many as possible. The original base for the list was my own searching and the exploration of the blog rolls of the top 50.