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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Israeli settlers add insult to injury

Attacks by settler extremists create headache for Govt
YITZHAR - A new dynamic has emerged in the West Bank: Jewish settlers block roads, burn tyres or set fire to Palestinian fields when troops try to dismantle unauthorised settlements. Activists call the tactic "price tag." They say they're creating havoc to try to deter the Israeli security forces from future attempts to remove any of the dozens of squatter camps, or outposts, dotting West Bank hills. Coupled with recent settler reprisal raids in Palestinian villages and a pipe bomb attack that wounded a prominent settler critic, the outpost battle revived debate about the dangers posed by ultra-nationalists.

Incredible isn’t it, not only do Israeli settlers have the audacity to steal and settle land that is not theirs, once forced off from their illegal settlements by the IDF, these Israeli settlers then turn on the Palestinian locals to attack them and make their life in the largest open air prison under a brutal 40 year occupation an even less pleasant experience. Those whacky Israelis.

Frozen Methane megatons threaten mass release

Frozen Methane megatons threaten mass release
Preliminary results from measuring melting methane in the arctic suggests that the thousands of megatonnes of frozen methane may be melting much quicker than previously suspected. A Russian research ship from Stockholm University has recorded chimneys of bubbling methane gas churning up the ocean surface leading to the possibility of a massive jump in temperatures because methane is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a warming agent, leading to run away catastrophic climate change - and yet politicians in NZ still refuse to take the matter seriously.

Olmert: land for peace

NY Times reporting an extraordinary interview with the out-going Israeli PM:

“What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me,” Mr. Olmert told Yediot Aharonot newspaper in the interview to mark the Jewish new year that runs from Monday night till Wednesday night. “The time has come to say these things.”

He said traditional Israeli defense strategists had learned nothing from past experiences and seemed stuck in the considerations of the 1948 Independence War.

“With them, it is all about tanks and land and controlling territories and controlled territories and this hilltop and that hilltop,” he said. “All these things are worthless.”

He added, “Who thinks seriously that if we sit on another hilltop, on another hundred meters, that this is what will make the difference for the State of Israel’s basic security?”

This is a radical change and much closer to what the Palestinians would accept (excl. right-of-return).

Israel must withdraw from nearly all the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to attain peace with the Palestinians and that any occupied land it held onto would have to be exchanged for the same quantity of Israeli territory.
On peace with the Palestinians, Mr. Olmert said in the interview: “We face the need to decide but are not willing to tell ourselves, yes, this is what we have to do. We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories. We will leave a percentage of these territories in our hands, but will have to give the Palestinians a similar percentage, because without that there will be no peace.”
He also dismissed as “megalomania” any thought that Israel would or should attack Iran on its own to stop it from developing nuclear weapons, saying the international community and not Israel alone was charged with handling the issue.

In an unusually frank and soul-searching interview granted after he resigned to fight corruption charges — he remains interim prime minister until a new government is sworn in — Mr. Olmert discarded longstanding Israeli defense doctrine and called for radical new thinking in words that are sure to stir controversy as his expected successor, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, tries to build a coalition.

Pity they only have the courage to say these things once their time is over.

Nats say one thing in public and another in private

Sharples says Nats "privately" lukewarm on abolishing Maori seats
Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says his party receives signals “privately” that the National Party is not too committed on its position of abolishing the Maori electorate seats.

The comments were made during an interview for Alt TV's Let's Be Frank programme, which will screen tonight.

The Maori Party are increasingly seen as potential support partners for a possible National government. However one possible flashpoint on policy is National’s intention to abolish the Maori seats, which provide the Maori Party its Parliamentary representation.

Its policy announced on Sunday is to “begin a constitutional process to abolish the Maori seats once all historic Treaty claims have been settled, which we anticipate will be in 2014.”

Host Martyn Bradbury put to Dr Sharples right wing commentator Matthew Hooton's view that "the desire to dump the Maori seats was simply window dressing for the more meat-eating National fringe than genuine policy," and asked whether the announced policy suggested National were more serious about abolishing the seats.

Mr Sharples replied: “No, I think Mr Hooton is pretty close. That’s the same message we’ve been getting privately, that in fact it’s well off.”

Asked if National leader John Key had consulted the Maori Party over the policy announced on Sunday, Dr Sharples said “He’s told us that is his policy, yes.”

Mr Sharples says the declared policy of abolishing the Maori seats after Treaty claims are settled doesn’t make sense, because the two issues are not related, and are “two different kaupapa.”

Mr Sharples says that the issue of abolishing Maori seats is a “deep structure” issue.

“We’d fight that to death. But the reality is that’s not going to happen in the next three years and we need to fight for the things to benefit Maori and New Zealand today over the next three years – I’m talking about education, I’m talking about health, I’m talking about family strength, I’m talking about community development.”

The interview is scheduled to screen on Alt TV’s Let’s Be Frank at 8.30 pm tonight.

Stock Market Crash

Wall St bailout plan blocked
LATEST: US lawmakers have rejected a US$700 billion bailout plan for the financial industry in a shock vote that sent global markets sliding as the world credit crisis claimed more banks. By a vote of 228-to-205 the House of Representatives rejected a compromise plan that would have allowed the Treasury Department to buy up toxic debt from struggling banks.
The plan's defeat sent US stocks down sharply, with the Dow Jones industrial average briefly falling more than 700 points, its biggest intraday drop ever.

Who would have thought a bloated self interested bailout for the corporate greedy by an Administration that allowed the super unregulated environment in the first place could have caused so much financial blood on the floor. The Dow was down as low as 722 points - OUCH that's a bad day at the office.

Got better work stories yet?

Video from police cell released
A videotape that police opposed being seen by the general public has been released, with the judge saying people should have the right to make up their own minds about what they view. The three-hour silent video shows a prisoner's seven hour stint in a police cell where he was allegedly assaulted by police officers. In October 2006, Rawiri Falwasser had been arrested for unlawfully taking a vehicle. Police say he posed a danger to them and they wanted to assist him medically. But when Falwasser was imprisoned, video footage from the cell shows an officer pepper spraying the 20-year-old through the sliding door of the cell. Falwasser is seen holding up his arms in defence. The video also shows a 15-minute period where police sporadically squirt spray through the vents in the cell wall. At times there were up to seven uniformed officers watching. In the video, police with batons and shields then try to calm down Falwasser and he is hit on the head with a baton, leaving the cell floor covered in his blood.

Hey, there are our boys in blue acting out a bit of cell justice on dear old Rawiri Falwasser, note to all people with mental health problems DON’T get caught by the cops, if this is what our boys in blue do when they are being filmed, goodness knows what they get up to when they aren’t. Notice the continued pepper spraying, the nonchalance of the other cops who turn up for a bit of a perv, and then the baton beatings – can you believe that these cops were let off?

Tattoos will get you arrested?

Plan to prohibit gang insignia now covers 'intimidating' tattoos
The proposed ban on gang patches in Wanganui is a step closer. The ban will also cover gang-related tattoos. Markings such as moko will still be allowed in the city's public places. Parliament's law and order select committee has reported the Wanganui District Council (Prohibition of Gang Insignia) Bill back to the House with the recommendation that it be passed.
The legislation will allow police to arrest any person wearing gang insignia, seize the offending items and impose a $2000 fine. The bill was supported by the Labour, National and NZ First MPs on the committee. The decision to include gang-style tattoos in the ban was made by Labour and NZ First, who were concerned that leaving tattoos out might lead to an increase in their use by gang members. NZ First MP and committee chairman Ron Mark said tattoos would not be seized as would patches, but wearers would still be arrested and fined. "If someone with a Mongrel Mob tattoo on their cheek walks into a dairy to buy a pint of milk, and they are using that tattoo to intimidate, then they will be arrested."

This is a fucking farce and every single person knows it, how the hell have we gotten to banning tattoos? And let’s not forget it’s the cops who decide who a gang is, so we’ve banned gang insignia and ‘tattoos’ so cops can arrest someone with a ‘gang patch’ – as defined by the Police Officer, and can arrest someone who has ‘intimidating’ tattoos – and how the hell will any of that ‘ban’ gangs – it won’t it doesn’t this is bullshit kneejerk crap that gives cops unprecedented harassment powers to anyone with tattoos, how did tattoos equate to being a gang member? They are defined as ‘gang-style’ well seeing as it’s the cops who get to define if you are a gangsta or not the ‘safeguards’ of that definition mean nothing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

880 million reasons to diversify one's portfolio

Chavez wants nuclear power:

"In Venezuela we are interested in development of nuclear energy, of course for peaceful purposes, for medical purposes, for purposes of electricity generation," Chavez said at a political rally.

"Brazil has various nuclear reactors, so does Argentina. We will have ours."

Chavez noted that Venezuela, which is a member of the oil-producing cartel OPEC, developed a nuclear reactor decades ago but abandoned it under pressure from the United States.

He said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had offered help with a reactor, adding that "we already have a commission working on this issue."

"Of course for peaceful purposes" - Oh, to see the look on Condi's face when she heard that. not quite worth the threat of nuclear obliteration, but still - you got to love a wind up. Chavez is a sort of Winston Peters of South America: mischievous, arrogant, friends with lefty autocrats, protected by bullies and surrounded by eternal enemies and their proxies.

The other alarming news this morning was the Cullen Fund's (much expected) drop in value during the period of recession or near recession in the West - preceeding this month's financial turbulence that will register negatively in their next report - was quite some hit. The press reporting:

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, which has been operating since 2003, had an after-tax loss of $880.75 million for the year to June, compared with a $1.09 billion profit last year.
The result represented, pre-tax, a negative return of 4.92 percent. The before-tax loss was $716.46 million.
It is the first time the so-called Cullen Fund, nicknamed after architect Michael Cullen, has lost money.

Ouch. This is the nation's retirement fund we are talking about here - so this hurts us, in particular future us:

By law the government can't draw on the fund till 2020. By 2025 it is estimated that the fund will be worth $109 billion.

Well if we had bought Euro denominated securities - back when our dollar could get 58c Euro then we may have been in a better position. I hope the Guardians made some wise calls. Our medium-long term exchange rate with the Euro is more likely to average under 50c.

Maori Party campaign launch

Just received the Maori Party campaign launch poster. Now I know that National and Maori have never been closer together, but should that really be "National Maori Party launch"?

(click on image to enlarge)

Whitey wins again?

National to dump Maori seats in 2014 and MMP in 2011
National wants to scrap the Maori seats in Parliament once all historical Treaty settlements are sorted. By the party's timeline that process could start in 2014. Leader John Key released Treaty negotiations, Maori affairs and electoral law policies yesterday. Under the first, the party wants to settle all historical Treaty settlements by 2014. The electoral policy would see the seven Maori seats abolished once that is accomplished.

National are well placed to make sure white rule is here to stay, dumping the Maori seats and trying to snuff out MMP eliminates the leaps we have made in representative democracy and will stunt the nation in ways that few political parties have managed to achieve. The misplaced belief that there was ever a promise to hold a referendum on MMP has given legitimacy to dismantling an electoral system that has forced white rich old men to share power in Parliament, by reverting back to Nationals preference of First Past the Post we are taking a great leap backwards, the release of policy that advocates the abolition of the Maori seats has provoked a sharp response from Tariana who I’m sure after her current snuggling with John Key has been taken aback that her possible ‘Treaty Partner’ has medium term plans to not only scrap the electoral mechanism that gives Maoridom a voice, but also change the representative nature of our democracy, when you do a deal with the devil Tariana, the Devil doesn’t change, you do. Of course the abolition of the Maori seats could just be raw meat for National’s more redneck fringe, Mathew Hooten only 3 weeks ago was telling me on Eye to Eye that National had no intention of dumping the Maori seats, they only had the policy to keep the more crazy National supporters happy. With National privately cuddling the Maori Party while publicly threatening them it will be interesting to see how Pita Sharples explains all this on Let’s be Frank on Alt Tv tomorrow night.

New Zealand's income gap doubles

New Zealand's income gap doubles
Research by Auckland University academics released on Friday by the Ministry of Education showed the average income gap between those with no educational qualifications and those with a secondary education doubled to $10,396 between 1981 and 2006. The proportion of uneducated couples who were out of work went from 6.9 per cent in 1981 to 16.3% in 2006. The latest figure was an improvement on the 21.8% recorded in 1991. The Gini co-efficient, an internationally recognised measure of income inequality, has gone from 26 in 1981 to 31.7 in 2007. A measure of zero represents perfect equality and 100 is perfect inequality.

Labour released a strategy on Friday that would see the long term unemployed threatened and prodded into work or the suspension of their benefit, the strategy of course won’t work because the underlying problem with the long term unemployed hasn’t been a lack of work, it’s been a lack of personal skills ranging from illiteracy to alcohol addiction and underwhelming educational achievements but no one ever lost a vote from a bit of bene bashing now did they. This latest news that NZ’s income gap has doubled reinforces the importance of universal education and that without massive investment into education the results are a halving of prosperity and a depletion of personal capacity that locks people into a cycle of low achievement and despair, but the pain of those very low on the social strata don’t tend to matter much to those charged with dealing to them.

TV3 Poll: Analysis

TV3 reporting a 13 percentage point gap between the two main parties. I would be shocked if the election night gap is over 10%. There's still quite a few undecided voters in the margins.

As we thought, the PM has taken a hit from protecting Winston and Key has scraped through (or will likely scrape through in later polls) from any serious damage vis a vis his Tranzrail 2003 share deals. I suspect Key will continue to have less negatives than Clark - I don't think that will change around, but it's the positives that Key hasn't got a footing on yet. He still hasn't been seen to be acting Prime Ministerially yet - and that is going to show during the one-on-ones with Clark. She will run rings around him. She is vulnerable to a trust stab via Winston - and Key will and should use it.

So, whatever Winston threatens Clark with it must be worth the personal hit she's taking and ultimately the loss of few of Labour's party votes. NZ First pulls 3% in this survey. Clark must expect NZ First to clear the 5% threshold or her investment - her lines of credit given to Winston with a stiff interest rate of public disgust - would yield nothing but the keys to the Opposition wing. It's an all or nothing one way bet on Winston. There is no countervailing investment in the political spectrum. Labour have been acutely hostile to the Maori Party when they should have been seeking soft issues to co-operate on, to build... trust. So too the Green Party - they have always been neglected and the line from frog blog about their perception of Labour runs from the scathing to the septic.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

This is your life, Sarah Palin

For those of you who enjoyed the fantastic video of Sarah Palin being protected from witchcraft by a Kenyan priest in the Herald (vital to national security and reposted below), here are a few links below for your Monday morning leisure.

And beauty pageants...

But the question still remains - what does a Vice President do anyway? Apparently Palin is not sure...

I trust her to be a heartbeat away from President of the United States. No really, I do.

The Sunday News Roast

On the Sunday News Roast tonight at 7pm, Sky Digital 65, Alt Tvs News and weekend newspaper critique show that is Unfair & Unbalanced, THE SPIN STARTS HERE with the best political news team on television with your host, Bomber - head of Current Affairs at Alt Tv, Blogger, Phoebe Fletcher from the Auckland University Media Studies department, Tim Selwyn - the last man to be convicted of sedition in NZ and Ben Thomas the Political Editor of the NBR.

News that caught the eye this week
1: John Key and his Thomas the Tank Engine lies.
After weeks of savaging Helen Clark’s honesty over the Winston fiasco, turns out John has been less than honest about his Tranz Rail Shares. Key’s family trust held 50,000 shares in Tranzrail at the same time he was asking parliamentary questions about Tranzrail, twice in October 2002, and again in April 2003. He met representatives of Rail America on 20 May 2003 to discuss Tranzrail, two weeks after he himself bought a further 50,000 share stake in Tranzrail without disclosing it.
Key bought these shares two weeks before he had sought in Parliament the minutes of confidential meetings held between the government and Tranzrail, he was denied these on the grounds of commercial sensitivity. Three weeks after he had bought those 50,000 Tranzrail shares, Key appealed to the Ombudsman to help him overturn the commercial sensitivity decision. He doubled his money on those personal shares but lost on the overall family shares. Key pretended all he had done was make a dick of himself while the Herald sucked up to him and praised him on how honest he was about own up to his silly mistake. Interesting how Key looks when he is presented with a question he doesn’t want to be honest about, just like meeting Lord Ashcroft, when first asked about Tranz Rail and Ashcroft he tries to be immediately dishonest and then he gets caught out and admits he was wrong to have tried to pretend otherwise. A good week for John Key?

2: Winston and the slow death of Hubris
He was censured this week in Parliament and came out attacking everyone – why would the Greens and the Maori Party who don’t have an axe to grind plot against Winston? Was the coverage of Winston’s lie and John Key’s lie balanced? As Steve Braunias in todays SST calls it, “(Winston’s) apparent failure to disclose the $100 000 gift from Owen Glenn seems a far lesser sin than John Key’s self-serving and brazenly dishonest attempts to conceal his Tranz Rail shares”. Is it astounding that the Labour party MPs on Privileges Committee honestly couldn’t find that the email with bank account details minutes after a phone call between Owen and Winston was suspicious?

3: Maori Party inch closer to a National Party Coalition.
As we have been predicting on SNR for some time, the next government could be a Maori Party National Coalition. Dr Pita Sharples came out swinging this week attacking Labour over pressure on the vote against Winston and in an interview on TVNZ7 said Helen was ‘near the end of her time’, we have Dr Pita Sharples on Let’s be Frank on Tuesday night – Chris Trotter in his SST column has suddenly woken up to what Maori are up to with their call for a Treaty partner rather than a coalition partner and it is the effective creation of a Maori upper house in Parliament. Does National understand what it ius getting into, there is rumoured deep disquiet within National’s hard right front bench over what John Key is putting on the negotiation table for the Maori Party and National’s redneck fringe will go purple with stroke induced rage over the concessions – can the Maori Party hold the line against National’s privatization fantasies – or could it be an age of Aquarius where the combination allows unprecedented progressive movement in NZ?

4: The financial Meltdown and corporate welfare.
$700 billion socialist bail out for the corporate elite in the country that champions unregulated free market capitalism? Have I swallowed 15 tabs of acid brothers and sisters? The hyper deregulated financial markets humped by George W Bush who coaxed a mass borrowing campaign for an illegal war based on a pack of lies that created half a Trillion dollar annual deficits inspired a corporate environment of unbridled greed that has threatened the entire economy of the last superpower in decline. Will the bailout work?

5: From our ‘only in American pop culture’ file.
This story may be the psychopathic pop culture story of the year – An 18 year old Colorado teenager hired men to kill his mother so he could use her money to get breast implants for his 21 year old girlfriend. Does evil get any more banal than this?

In the Weekend Newspapers
STORY 1 – Leaked memo alleges milk 'cover-up'
Dairy company Sanlu allegedly cut a $640,000 deal to cover up negative reports about poisoned babies more than a week after Fonterra was alerted to the melamine contamination crisis, according to a leaked memo. Carried on Chinese weblogs, the memo, purportedly from Sanlu's PR company, notes growing numbers of damaging references to the company, which is 43% owned by Fonterra, in connection to infant kidney failures, and lays out strategies for addressing the issue. These included silencing victims, and paying off Baidu, China's largest internet search engine, to remove negative references from its web searches. The memo recommended Sanlu "do anything to pacify victims, and accept all they want to keep them silent for at least two years". The memo also said a "PR protection" deal had been negotiated with Baidu, in which Sanlu agreed to buy $640,000 of advertising with the search engine, in return for having negative stories blocked from search results.
The memo is dated August 11, nine days after Fonterra was alerted to contamination of Sanlu's popular infant formula with melamine, a chemical used in the manufacture of plastics and glue.

Remember 2 weeks ago when I asked why we had to read about one of our largest Dairy companies being involved in the possible poisoning of infants in the world section – well since then hasn’t this turned into a media tumor for Fonterra. Now we are talking a scandal that has seen over 50 000 infants poisoned, I interview Sue Kedgly for Green Core this week and put to her if 6 weeks was simply too long to save Chinese face during the Olympics and she said it should have been a week at most, now it is alleged that Sanlu paid off search engines nine days after Fonterra was alerted to the problem. Doesn’t Fonterra’s lack of oversight border on the negligent and isn’t the feral defence of the Farmers best corporate mate on Talkback an interesting backlash to criticizing Fonterra.

STORY 2 – Police open rape files - sst
Startling new details about the 14-month police investigation into Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum's 1989 gang rape case are revealed in documents recently released to the victim. The revelations come as the former policemen face parole hearings next month and November, which could see them released from prison after serving sentences of eight-and-a-half years and eight years respectively over the Mt Maunganui gang rape in a lifeguard hut.
The documents reveal:
* Police investigated claims a police officer paid a Rotorua woman $60,000-$70,000 "hush money" over an incident.
* That one witness alleged as police officers, Shipton and Schollum would pull over women drivers, targeting solo mothers, and strike up relationships with them.
* An allegation was made that a senior Hamilton police officer accessed secret police files to help defence lawyers fight the case and seriously jeopardised the prosecution's case.

These are allegations of a rogue Police force out of control, $60 000 Police bribes, targeting solo mothers to pull over for sexual relationships and the possible gross misuse of the NIA ( National Intelligence Application) by a senior Hamilton police officer on 4 people to hand over to the defence is an allegation that demands a formal investigation. Remember the new Police Conduct guidelines put together in the wake of the Shipton, Schollum and Rickards rape cases REFUSED to mention sexual misconduct AT ALL. Got better work stories yet?

STORY 3 – Clark, Key hog TV debate – Weekend Herald
Minister Helen Clark and National Party leader John Key have refused to share the stage with other party leaders in an election campaign TV debate. They say only their head to head debates really matter because one or the other will lead the next government. TV3 and TVNZ wanted the leaders of all eight parties represented in Parliament to take part in an MMP debate, which has happened in previous campaigns. But the two leaders refused, and did not change their minds when both networks asked them to reconsider.
How arrogant and what a sad day for our democracy, how outrageous is it of National and Labour shutting down the democratic debate by forcing out the other political leaders – this mindset is disgusting and the msm shouldn’t go along with it!

STORY 4 – Polls give Obama clear lead after first presidential debate - hos
WASHINGTON - A pair of one-night polls gave Democrat Barack Obama a clear edge over Republican John McCain in their first presidential debate. Fifty-one per cent said Obama, the Democrat, did a better job in Friday night's faceoff while 38 per cent preferred the Republican McCain, according to a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey of adults. Obama was widely considered more intelligent, likable and in touch with peoples' problems, and by modest margins was seen as the stronger leader and more sincere. Most said it was McCain who spent more time attacking his opponent. About six in 10 said each did a better job than expected. Seven in 10 said each seemed capable of being president. In a CBS News poll of people not committed to a candidate, 39 per cent said Obama won the debate, 24 per cent said McCain and 37 per cent called it a tie. Twice as many said Obama understands their needs than said so about McCain.
I can not wait for the Vice President debate, we have a clip of Palin coming up that just suggests it is going to be the first televised murder of a Vice Presidential candidate. Has McCain lost the edge, foreign affairs was supposed to be his strong card.

FINAL WORD – Isn’t the Sunday Star Times coverage of this incredibly touching story of Austin Hemmings’ murder in down town Auckland in sharp contrast to the cheap hysterical and awful coverage of the Herald on Sunday – honestly when it comes to Sunday papers - the HOS is that cheap one night stand you pick up gonorrhea from where as the SST is your first true love. They carry across the real humanity of this tragic loss of life of an Aucklander who did what any other decent Aucklander would do, and that is immediately go to the aid of another in need. I live diagonally across from this crime scene so this sad story has a personal immediacy, my partner even put down flowers on Mills Lane for him and his very brave family who in his death have done more to show NZers a more compassionate example towards violent crime than we have been privileged to have in the past. Perhaps a really fitting tribute to Austin Hemmings’ Good Samaritan example would be Auckland City Council renaming Mills Lane, Austin Hemmings’ lane.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Obama - McCain presidential debate: You Tube

Why we don't do rumours

I don't mean we will never mention a rumour at all - of course we will - if it is verified in some respect or comes from a known and reliable source. Stuff from out of the blue however is quite different.

I got an email too - on Friday (image, right). Looked like some flake was trying to stitch up Whaleoil. He had leaked some info on it in an opaque fashion during the week. He says this was to flush them out and string them along rather than because he was taking it seriously - which seems what happened. It has been confirmed the whole thing was a fabrication.

Slater says : My sources in the media are very angry at the way it appears that an attempt was made to manipulate them to prove a point.

No Minister has made an apology to Liarbore (via its left wing blogger).

The blogosphere has less editorial barriers to publication than the traditional media. You get an email, you drink another glass of wine, you blog. The short-comings of this system are rather obvious - and have been exposed in this episode. We are all guilty of feeding rumours from time to time - that is human nature - but to turn a new media, the blogosphere, into a rumour mill would be devastating. I don't think this has happened yet. Perhaps this hoax will make bloggers more reticent in future about relaying untested political-personal smears - which will be a positive move.

State of play

  • Books not pretty picture: Cullen: The pre-election fiscal update on October 6 is set to show debt levels exceeding the target Finance Minister Michael Cullen is comfortable with as tax cuts kick in and economic forecasts worsen.
    Dr Cullen said yesterday - after confirmation the country was in a technical recession - there is "quite significant deterioration" in the books compared with the Budget in May.
    "About two-thirds of the change that you'll see on Monday week is due simply to economic factors," he said.
    * Start on Wednesday.
    * Will give workers an extra $12 to $28 a week.
    * Will be accompanied by boosts to Working For Families and New Zealand Superannuation payments.
    * Will be followed up with more tax cuts in April 2010 and April 2011.

    - These tax cuts will have a positive effect for Labour, but the amount of people getting the top end $28 a week will not off-set National's tax cut promises, so the overall effect of the extra money will be too small to dent National's lead. The Prefu release will give Bill English a soapbox upon which to hail Cullen's fiscal management as reckless and justify slashing some aspects (usually nebulous because they don't want to court direct attacks from the entrenched positions within the govt. sector) of govt. spending.

  • NZ in Recession: Dr Cullen says it is almost certain that economic activity fell in the nine months of 2008 to date. However, he expects tax cuts coming into effect on 1 October and lower petrol prices will help boost economic growth in the last three months of the year.
    - And English will most likely claim that Cullen has caused a recession by directing tax dollars into unproductive parts of the govt. sector. It's not a favourable climate for Cullen to go into an election, but his claims that NZ is merely part of a worldwide slow-down that is not of his making will have a lot of resonance with the public. I can't see them blaming Cullen for what they will view as Wall Street's problems. But let's wait to see what sort of a hit the Kiwisaver portfolio has taken - the vast majority of it is in off-shore securities.

  • Bernard Hickey on US farm lobbyist resistance to a free trade deal: Here was the initial response from the National Milk Producers Federation. It called for the full exclusion of New Zealand’s dairy products from the P4 trade agreement. Not just a few extra tariffs or quotas. Full exclusion. I’ll let them hang themselves below...
    - The diary farmers of America are shit scared of Fonterra and will use their congressional support to stymie the "free" in free trade.

  • Clark & Key only to appear on TV debates: TV3 and TVNZ wanted the leaders of all eight parties represented in Parliament to take part in an MMP debate, which has happened in previous campaigns. But the two leaders refused, and did not change their minds when both networks asked them to reconsider.
    - Remember the farce last election when a High Court judge played programme director and let Anderton and Dunne onto a TV debate? I am assuming/hoping that all the parliamentary leaders will have at least one televised debate - if they do not - and it is only a couple of set piece interviews with Clark and Key then that would be a catastrophe for this election campaign. There is a role for a one-on-one styled "debate" - but not at the expense of excluding the players that will actually determine who will be PM.

  • Key likely to wash hands of NZ stocks when blind trust finally set up.: "I'm moving to ensure that all of my investments in totality are managed in a blind trust where it'll be totally blind. I'm establishing that at the moment."
    Mr Key said he had not yet set the conditions for the blind trust, but would probably prevent it buying local shares.
    Eyebrows were raised around Parliament this week when Mr Key said Mr Leggat could buy shares with his money in the trust without first asking him.

    - Key has actually managed to scrape through this week without too much damage on this issue. It does not help that Labour frames the criticism in terms of Key being wealthy - rather than the traditional "slippery". They try to work both themes in - but the more I hear the ugly class antagonism from Cullen and Clark the more of a turn off I realise it must be for many other voters.

  • Friday, September 26, 2008

    Thingee's later career

    After his falling out and artistic split with co-host Jason Gunn, Thingee moved from the insulated world of TVNZ to the Veitchian wilderness of ostracism and inner despair.
    From pot to heroine and one seedy dive to another - that's the last we heard of him. Just another sad washed up Millie Holmes, struggling to make the Sunday News.

    Well, it turns out Thingee moved to South America, got hooked on cocaine and now hosts sleazy game shows to pay for his habit. Look out for brief shots of a ravaged and drug-addled Thingee in this exclusive footage. Watch...

    The fake ears are fooling no-one.

    Sunset for Sunrise Host

    TV3 presenter in shock departure
    Morning television presenter James Coleman has announced he is leaving TV3's breakfast show Sunrise in a shock departure, effective immediately.
    Coleman, a former radio DJ, has been a co-presenter on the show alongside Carly Flynn since it began in October, 2007. “I've been with the show for a year now and I feel that it's an appropriate time to pursue some exciting new opportunities that have arisen within MediaWorks, both in radio and television," Coleman said in a statement.
    This morning was Coleman's last appearance on the show. His position will be filled by Ali Ikram until a replacement is announced "in the coming weeks". Sunrise has struggled in the ratings against its competitor, TV One's Breakfast, with viewer numbers hovering around the 20,000-30,000 mark.

    Well it’s not a surprise for anyone who has been watching this. Sunrise always was a hard sell, it never decided what it was, Breakfast on TVNZ is Conservative Blue Ribbon, to be different Sunrise either had to be hard News with a liberal lean or fun breakfast news like they have in Britain. The odd set and presenters who never gelled with any warmth was never going to rate, and it didn’t. Andrew Szusterman, a guy I’ve worked with and respect has been given the task of turning Sunrise around, this was a bold move and there are sure to be more, Sunrise may yet shine. It will be interesting to see where Szusterman takes Sunrise.

    Winston's failure to commit

    Much better than the print edition column:

    Winston Peters and Helen Clark both claimed yesterday that the privileges committee report into the New Zealand First leader’s breach of Parliamentary privilege was flawed because key members of the committee had already made up their minds before the inquiry started.

    This predetermination would be anathema to Mr Peters, who in contrast didn’t seem to want to commit to any one version of the truth throughout the hearing.

    Such an open mind about what could have happened is probably more appropriate for an inquiry member than for a witness, of course, but that’s a mere detail. What cynical politicians of both stripes will want out of this report are impressions – broad brushstrokes over the emotional landscape of the electorate.

    It didn’t seem to occur to Clark that the premeditation of her own reaction to the report, on what she assumed was its prejudgment of events, was perhaps ironic. (She had presumably not seen a copy, as it was still being worked on in the afternoon by committee members, and such information would have been protected by privilege itself until the report was tabled at about 8 pm last night.) Peters says the issue was a fait accompli.

    Clark may back him, especially in her reaction to the verdict rendered by MPs from National and Act. But she could be surprised that the committee’s representatives from United Future, the Maori Party and the Greens also found believing Peters’ ever shifting explanations a bridge too far.

    This makes Clark’s bluster of yesterday look a little over-cooked. If we are to believe her theory that it has all been a jack up, then she would be accusing her minister of revenue Peter Dunne of bad faith. (And given the almost impossible task she has found doubting her foreign minister Peters’ word, if two parties Clark relies on for confidence and supply disagreed the cognitive dissonance she experienced could rupture something prime ministerial.)

    In fact, it’s not as big a deal as that. No-one actually believes that any of these parties – or the Greens or the Maori Party – would let a spat over this report derail a potential government come November 9. It’s probably irrelevant in that regard – politicians, to paraphrase an old saying, have said worse about each other at sea.

    But Clark’s pre-emptive damage control shows up something slightly desperate and cynical about the way she has handled this matter. While she has maintained that poll trends over a number of months showing huge support for National are no more believable than “fairies at the bottom of the garden”, she finds herself curiously unable to doubt Peters’ explanations for why he has not misled the House – no matter what they are from day to day.

    And why is this important? Because – at the risk of being boringly, naggingly, un-ministerially consistent – it was barely a week ago that Clark reminded (or upbraided) voters that this election was about trust. She’s since tried to ram home the message, through her slightly excitable exercise in speculative military forensics on potential war casualties under a National government, that the election is also about judgment.

    It pays to keep this in perspective, in a way that perhaps National and Labour have not. The privileges committee report summarises its first ever investigation into fleshing out the requirements of declarations of pecuniary interests.
    It has useful tips for MPs on future declarations.

    Peters has been found by a multi-party majority (including two government allies) to have misled Parliament knowingly. It’s not a hanging offence – that’s why he’s only at risk of, at worst, a censure.

    Peters originally did nothing wrong by seeking money – or having money sought for him – to pay for his electoral petition. His mistake was not declaring it, and consistently maintaining he didn’t need to.

    But by turning a straightforward inquiry into a morass of contradictions and evasions (whether intentional or not) Peters appears to have done lasting damage to his political capital.

    Barry Gustafson commented to NBR last week that “Peters has turned his molehill into a mountain.”
    Why Clark – admittedly a keen mountaineer – seems equally enthused about propping up Peters’ towering kingdom of dirt is inexplicable.

    [More at NBR]

    South & North islands on different Daylight Savings start dates

    [UPDATE 3:50PM SAT. - The govt. reckons people love the new DST dates - really?:

    A survey of public attitudes showed that 82 percent of the population approved of the extension and only 11 percent disapproved. The survey also found that 90 percent of the population approved of daylight saving in general with only six percent disapproving. The margin of error for these results is ±3.6 percent.
    Dairy farmers were also specifically surveyed for their opinions. These results have a margin of error of ±4.5 percent.

    "While this is a group traditionally opposed to daylight saving, 54 percent approved of the extension compared with 41 percent who disapproved", Mr Barker said. "Of daylight saving in general, 82 percent approved and just 15 percent disapproved. This shows that all New Zealanders benefit from the extra daylight hours, not just city-folk."

    Well that makes me one of the 11%. 82% can't account for just the ignorant and those who don't really care, so there must be some support for it - but 82%!?

    [UPDATE 3:30PM: Love the Scoop image for this one. Our becardiganed Time Lord and modern-day Maui proclaims:
    Press Release: United Future NZ Party
    Friday, 26 September 2008

    UnitedFuture delivering an extended summer

    UnitedFuture Leader Peter Dunne is thrilled that New Zealanders will be able to enjoy this year’s summer a little bit more due to the three-week extension of daylight saving secured by UnitedFuture last year.

    “Daylight Saving officially begins this Sunday, 28 September, a week earlier than in previous years,” said Mr Dunne.
    “Two extra weeks are also added to the end of the daylight saving period, meaning it does not finish until April, allowing New Zealanders to gain greater enjoyment out of the often stable weather at the end of summer.”
    “I hope the extended period of daylight saving will allow more people more time to participate in this country’s diverse range of sporting and recreational activities,” said Mr Dunne.

    Sounds great, but not everyone is into recreation so early in the year. He can talk leisure all he wants but it doesn't feel like bbq season just yet. At least not for Aucklanders - there's still a nip in the air, maybe up North it might be near right, but this seasonal marker must seem quite early for the Southerners.]

    (click on images to enlarge)

    My standard Collins 2008 diary - the type piled in great stacks in stationers every December - says underneath the table of NZ holidays:

    Daylight Saving dates are under review by Government and may change from those shown in this diary.

    And they do. The first Sunday (5th) is listed as when Daylight Saving begins. Peter Dunne changed this to the last Sunday in September (this weekend). I think this is slightly too early. And ending summer time in April - a fortnight later than previously - is too late. People were complaining in April that it was still dark when they were going to work - something that had not happened when it was at the earlier time. Rural folk, however, feel these measures more acutely. Homepaddock:

    This Sunday the clocks go forward an hour, far too early for postponing sunset by an hour in the evening to make up for losing an hour of light in the morning.

    The trade off between lighter dawns and longer dusks has escaped the people who pressed for daylight saving to be extended, as has the knowledge that early spring and late autumn weather, down here in North Otago at least, is rarely warm enough to enjoy outdoor activities in the evenings.

    The time tables of sunrise and sunset linked to provide some evidence that the daylight saving may be long enough already.

    If 7:30 am is the latest reasonable sunrise time then Auckland and Wellington's preferred daylight savings date finish would be the Sunday of April 1, Christchurch March 22, and Dunedin March 12.

    The start of DST in my opinion has more to do with the start of good weather and a rise in temperature - than it has to do with the sunrise/sunset.

    My other thoughts on the holidays regime were articulated some three years ago. I am prepared to move on the later date of DST, but the concept of aligning a double-ended holiday weekend to a seasonal change represented by DST seems a natural one to make. Because a DST start/finish is also an effective 4 day weekend where families and people will vacation it is important that the temperature is not too low - that would suggest moving it later into October to have a higher chance that a cold snap on that weekend is avoided.

    The other remedy would be to have the North Island start DST a fortnight or so later than the South and maybe a week or two earlier at the other end. Southlanders and Otagwegians are already in the dark at 8am by the time DST kicks in - Aucklanders and Northlanders have another 20 or 30 minutes on them. I think the South Islanders would like the idea of recognition of their seasons. It would be a parochial and harmless exercise in Island-building. It would be very confusing of course. "Why is the news on at 5pm?"... "I said I would meet him at the airport at nine - and he was an hour late!" etc. etc. File this one under: Kite Flying.

    National and the Maori Party to be the next Government?

    Sharples: Clark nears 'end of her time'
    The Maori Party has indicated it is positioning itself for a possible support deal with National after the November 8 election. Party co-leader Pita Sharples said he was no longer sure if he trusted Prime Minister Helen Clark, and said she was nearing the end of her time. "She has been a great leader; she has done great things for the country," Dr Sharples said in an interview recorded yesterday for TVNZ 7. "But maybe she is nearing the end of her time." Recent events in Parliament showed Miss Clark was clinging to power, he said. "She is appearing quite desperate ... she is behaving like someone who is really, really desperate to get back into Parliament at any cost." Dr Sharples' outburst was his second attack on Labour in as many days. On Wednesday, he inflamed the row over Parliament's censure of NZ First leader Winston Peters by accusing Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia of trying to bully the Maori Party into supporting Mr Peters.

    As we have been predicting on Tumeke for some time, the Maori Party is positioning itself to go with National, and John Key wanting to be the moderator that he has sold himself as wants to make the sweeping move to broaden the National Party well beyond it’s white business and farmer base, the issue could come with the more redneck segment of National becoming incandescent with rage at the mere suggestion, but as the National Party leadership have cleverly calculated, where else will rednecks go to vote? No where, and is ACT ever going to side with Labour – no way, so Key can cut a deal with the Maori Party leaving his own redneck supporters to fry crimson and cut no deal with ACT at all and treat ACT the way Labour have treated the Greens (based on some of the comments about Maori by some of the National Party bloggers on this site, they will be close to combustion at the fury of all of this) The real crunch will be how Maori Party supporters will react, the cost to sit at that table will be great, my predictions – a massive increase in budget for the Maori Affairs department that will allow more grass roots spending on health, education and housing for Maori, Pita Sharples will be the Minister of Maori Affairs (Turiana associate minister of Education?), the Nats will declare that Maoridom need to debate the issue of the Maori seats themselves and give the Maori Party a budget to go out and defend the seats which will in fact be a defacto recruitment program for the Maori Party and the Nats will repeal the Forsehore and Seabed issue on the grounds of property rights, the irony being that it was bloody Brownlee who started the whole ‘Maaaaaaaaaaaaari want the beaches’ bullshit that was the catalyst for Helen’s decision to confiscate via legislation.

    The real kicker will be that on the night I believe Labour, the Greens, Progressives and Maori will have enough to form a Government where as National will poll the most on the night and the Maori Party will choose to go with National.

    Predictions if National and the Maori Party go into Government:
    This will leave the Greens who will have a big increase on their vote to focus on domestic issues like privatization of council assets, the work there will hopefully convince the Greens to seriously start going after the city central electorates.

    Phil Goff will be the new leader of Labour and will benefit greatly from the many tensions that will spring up between National and Maori Party supporters and will be on the hunt for any sniff of privitisation to fight the 2011 election.

    ACT will be furious that they have been ignored and Rodger Douglas will become instrumental in attempting to destabilize John Key for a possible coup to implement hard right economic policy.

    Cops hide bashing tapes

    Sergeant fights release of cell assault case video
    A police sergeant acquitted of assaulting a prisoner in a cell wants to block the release of video footage shown to the jury.
    News media outlets are seeking more than eight hours of footage filmed at the Whakatane police station where Rawiri Falwasser, 20, was badly injured while in custody on Labour Day in 2006. Mr Falwasser has said he feared for his life after being struck with batons and pepper-sprayed. He suffered gashes in his head and arm over an eight-hour period. In June, closed-circuit television tapes of the incident were played to a Tauranga District Court jury that acquitted Sergeant Keith Parsons, 51; Sergeant Earle Busby, 46; Senior Constable Bruce Laing, 53; and Constable John Mills, 39, of nine charges of assaulting Mr Falwasser. His mother, Kihi Falwasser, was not at yesterday's court hearing but said the family wanted the tapes to be released to media: "People need to see it themselves to form their own opinion of what happened inside the cell."

    Of all the things that have really surprised me this year one was the Jury letting these 4 cops walk after they bashed the living shit out of Rawiri Falwasser in a Police cell on tape, Christ knows how the Jury came to it’s conclusion but I want to see the tape, as a member of the public and as a taxpayer I want to see how our brave boys in blue deal with one man in the cells, don’t you want to see for yourself if their level of violence was acceptable, isn’t it important now that a benchmark for violence within holding cells has been established that the rest of the public should see what that level of violence is? Shouldn’t we all get to see what is the new standard of treatment cops dish out when it isn’t Police 10-7? The Police claim that it isn’t fair because the media wouldn’t play the full 8 hours before the final beat down by the 4 cops, Alt Tv has no problems playing all 8 hours, just give me the tape. Perhaps we could edit the tape as the basis of a new Police recruitment advert ‘get better work stories’?

    Jail dirty farmers

    Jail call for farmers who pollute
    Polluting farmers should be jailed, says Environment Minister Trevor Mallard. He told the Water and Wastes Association conference in Christchurch this week that he supported tougher sentences and even jail for serious water polluters. Exporters who continued to pollute or mismanage water and broke the rules were undermining their own products and the "valuable New Zealand brand". "Regional councils in particular need to be a lot tougher as far as the standards are concerned, and more importantly the enforcement of the standards," Mallard said. "Far too often these days, farmers not always farmers treat fines under the Resource Management Act as a cost of the business. We should prosecute individuals rather than companies change the focus from a fine-based system to the possibility of imprisonment."

    The Federated Farmers President has called Mallard’s view on polluting farmers as ‘extreme’ – this coming from an organization who was headed by Charlie Pederson who only a couple of years ago described the environmental movement as a war against humanity, yes the Federated Farmers know all about ‘extreme’ views. Mallard is right but misplaced, it isn’t your humble Framer who is the problem it is the mass production intensive industrial farming companies (usually Fonteera’s biggest suppliers) who are the polluters who constantly get let off the hook for their pollution because of their financial clout.

    Capitalism and Bush

    Bush backs bailout plan
    US President George Bush has made a live telecast to the American public to back a proposed US$700 billion bailout of the country's beleaguered financial system. The plan is currently before the US Congress, where it has become a political football reaching as far as the presidential campaign. Mr Bush warned Americans that their entire economy was in danger.
    "The market is not functioning properly. There is a widespread loss of confidence ... America could slip into a widespread financial panic," he said. The president called on Congress to act quickly to approve the bailout.

    A bailout that allows the corrupt rich pricks who creamed it off their inane attempts to eliminate the risk of debt by something as flakey as Credit Default Swaps, (which effectively means banks bet against other banks that their weak loans would get repaid or not, nothing better than a gamble, and there are $62 Trillion still outstanding on this financial house of cards), a bailout that buys the shares at top dollar rather than the depleted trash shares they have become, all the while the people on the bottom who are being threatened with losing their homes get nothing. The unregulated greed of cheap money has it’s origins with the Bush Administration, they have used the war on terror as an excuse to decimate the economy and rack up half trillion dollar deficits to squander the economic strength of a superpower into a war that should never have been waged. Bush cracked open the cheap money from Asia to fund his abortion and the rest of the financial world followed. While Bush kept his eye fixed on his ridiculous war the economy turned and in such a super deregulated financial world greed won out to responsible business. How can Bush have any role in the solution when he is so clearly the problem, Jesus wept I can’t wait for this prick to leave office, January can’t come fast enough!

    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    BREAKING NEWS: Wellington buses will run tomorrow

    The buses will run. This just in - the union and the company have agreed to go back to talks and the action called for yesterday has been cancelled. One insider described it as a "truce".

    How transparent is the Chinese banking sector?

    Maori Party inch closer to National Coalition

    Labour denies dirty tricks
    Labour and New Zealand First last night denied attempting to pervert the course of justice over the privileges report on New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. The serious accusation was made by Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples - who also condemned Mr Peters' attacks on the Maori Party. The accusations follow Tuesday's majority vote of censure by Parliament against Mr Peters for knowingly filing a false return of pecuniary interests, notably a $100,000 donation for his legal expenses from Monaco-based billionaire Owen Glenn. The Maori Party held the balance of power on the vote in the House and it supported the censure motion. If it had changed its vote and joined Labour and New Zealand First, it could have blocked it. Dr Sharples said a minister telephoned him twice - on Sunday and on Monday - to try to persuade the Maori Party to oppose the censure motion. He also said a New Zealand First staff member had sought to influence MP Te Ururoa Flavell - who was on the privileges committee - during a meeting. "Both Tariana Turia and myself were disgusted with this kind of activity, aimed at perverting the course of justice and fair play."

    If it were anyone else making these comments, it would be a storm in a teacup, but it’s Pita freakin Sharples making these claims, and it takes a hell of a lot to make Pita angry, but angry he is with the pressure put on the Maori Party to change their vote on a man whom they have supported and given kindness to, but they ultimately had to base their decision on the facts and the facts are Winnie got caught out and was too arrogant to man up to that. This is another indicator that the Maori Party and the Nats are looking to cut a deal, and the Maori Party leadership are giving public oxygen to tensions between Labour and them.

    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Helen trusts Winston - why?

    She trusts that if she chops his baubles off (withdraws his ministerial warrant) he will damage Labour's vote - somehow; and/or he will go with National after the election.

    That is what the PM must think - because it is the only rational explanation for her actions.

    Now, I would have thought, putting up with Winston's antics thus far would have been hugely damaging - and with the trends, fatally damaging - to Labour's vote. So him being fired as a minister would be worse for Labour than all of Winston's toxic shit has been so far - that's what the PM must believe.

    Winston's poisonous presence is underwritten and owned by the Prime Minister and she must know she is taking a hit on her personal credibility because of it. And yet this most ruthless of Prime Ministers - and she seems rather proud of that reputation - not only suffers Winston Peters through his tribulations of sleaze and contempt of parliament, but actively protects him and attacks his enemies on his behalf. It is most extraordinary.

    What could Winston do to damage Labour's vote - that he hasn't done already?

    Winston was on both network current affairs shows at 7 tonight. He did news walrus live and Campbell ran a pre-recorded interview. Nothing new from Winston at all just more tautological, smirking obfuscations and personalised attacks on the interviewer and everyone except for Labour. It was a soapbox rant laced with arrogance, conceit and contempt. Glib nonsense to slide him out from under the rock of financial irregularities, bag men, millionaires, big business pay-offs and political funding sleaze. At one point he was arguing that he had - by implication - no duty to make an "honest attempt" because that wasn't the law at the time. The man is a just a shocking liar. No politician is as brazen as Winston Peters. His bluffs have been called and he has nothing.

    His only hope of survival is media attention - and plenty of it. The man has no money after this saga and by the the absence of NZ First hordings around the streets of Auckland he has little party organisation left either. If the media stopped talking about him and treat him like the hypocritical arsehole he has proven himself to be - rather than let him have ten minutes of primetime to spin his paranoid and cretinous fabrications - then he would fall below 5%.

    There is a place for characters similar to Winston - swaggering show-ponies, nationalist demagogues, arrogant populists of limitless self-belief and certainty - but one that is caught out doing the very same things that they have railed against so vehemently in the past will incur critical damage to their political brand and break the bonds of trust that keep people loyal to them.

    Winston's attitude and behaviour irritated the thick-skinned Sir Bob Jones enough for him to break confidence - same too, Owen Glenn. But not Helen Clark. When the SFO started their investigation she accepted Winston's offer to do no work at all for his ministerial salary - that's the sum total of Prime Ministerial accountability for Winston Peters. A man - the fourth MP in only fifty years - to be censured for being in contempt of parliament. A contempt verdict, the result of a hearing process that the PM earlier implied she would be guided by and yet she appears not to have read the report. Indeed the Labour MPs orchestrated Winston's defence for him in the committee, so the Prime Minister's later prejudicial remarks were indicative of a Labour Party position taken on Winston's immunity.

    So what does the PM think Winston would do if she sacked him? Whatever it is, it would have to be even worse than the flack they are taking because of him. The other alternative - the only one open - is that it would cause him to go to National. Whatever lies at the bottom of the deal it is a pact that has proven resilient and unbreakable. The PM might think she has weathered the worst of it; but her tarnished minister has tainted her and Labour and that will translate into lost votes.

    Winston poisons the well of forgiveness

    A minister without portfolio - ie. a salary and limo but no responsibility - gets censured in parliament for contempt and the PM reckons its fine. She had already pre-judged the committee's decision. No action taken. The minister is being investigated by the SFO and the police and pursued by the electoral authorities with some heavier allegations also in the background. No action taken beyond a "stand down" from his portfolios. Labour rank and file must find this hard to stomach.

    Would National have done the same thing in Labour's position? Probably. Look at Shipley's government - what a bunch they were. Same situation now as then - chronic third termitis with a taint of opportunism and captured by the Wellington bureaucracy. But Peters is caught out being a lying, hypocritical arsehole to the point of rule-breaking and Helen Clark is prepared to wear it. She deserves to pay for that call.

    Labour puts the boot in:

    Winston Peters is intent on taking down the Labour Party with him.
    He’s succeeded in further souring relations between Labour and the Maori Party, that’s for sure. Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples is absolutely furious with Labour over some phone calls from Parekura Horomia, who he claims has been trying to heavy Sharples into voting against the censure motion involving Peters.
    Further, Sharples claims NZ First got a staff member to set up a meeting with Te Ururoa Flavell, the Maori Party representative on the privileges committee, at which the staffer allegedly tried to persuade him to join Labour and the NZ First Party and vote against the censure recommendation.

    Winston puts the boot in:

    "More importantly, the Maori Party refrained from jumping to any conclusions about his behaviour until we had seen and heard all the evidence presented to the Privileges Committee.”

    Dr Sharples said the party's representative on the Privileges Committee, Te Ururoa Flavell, presented a very clear analysis of his findings on the matter to the House yesterday at 4.00pm. “The Maori Party concurred with his analysis and, therefore, despite any personal feelings of support for Winston, our caucus was well prepared to make the hard call on his behaviour on the basis of the evidence provided,” he said.

    "An attack on our credibility over this issue by Winston is totally out of order, and without any substance at all," said Dr Sharples.

    And the Maori Party ask themselves again, as the rest of the country does, just what magical Winston mojo makes Clark defend him so. The Maori Party MPs have bent over backwards to be fair to Winston and have issued no critical comment, nor have they sought to exploit the situation. They watched in silent disgust as the episode played out - and then, with all the evidence, made a sober judgement which was transmitted soberly and unaccompanied by any grandstanding. And Winston turns on them too.

    Cullen in parliament yesterday said only three censure motions had been passed against MPs in the last fifty years. It was a serious enough breach of the standards to warrant the contempt proceedings. Many lefties (esp. Trotter) have run many lines of defence for Winston in spite of the overwhelming evidence. If Helen changed her mind one minute from now, the next minute they would be posting that Winston is a filthy lying scumbag - I have no doubt about that whatsoever. Their partisanship is the only thing transparent in this saga.

    Horomia was on National Radio just now down-playing it all - though not really denying it. Winston says he knows nothing of the staff allegation. It's the boy who cried wolf now, there are so many things he claims he didn't know about:

    Orderly transition

    Malaysia is a fascist country where bloggers go to jail:

    Every citizen is issued a biometric smart chip identity card, known as MyKad, at the age of 12, and must carry the card at all times. A citizen is required to present his or her identity card to the police, or in the case of an emergency, to any military personnel, to be identified. If the card cannot be produced immediately, the person technically has 24 hours under the law to produce it at the nearest police station.

    Anwar Ibrahim was beaten up by the Police Chief - on the orders of the former PM - and convicted on trumped-up charges of sodomy in an attempt to remove him from the political scene. He claims he has the numbers in parliament to become the new PM, but since the ruling party (which Ibrahim had come from - he was deputy PM) are used to total power they will try every trick in the book to prevent this - parliament is in recess until October.

    In South Africa Thabo Mbeki has yielded to a hostile ANC executive and will stand down from the Presidency tomorrow. His battle with his presumed successor, Jacob Zuma (tainted by a rape trail involving Zuma admitting unprotected sex with an HIV+ woman) has ended Mbeki's career.

    Economist reporting:
    The decision comes after a court ruled this month that charges against Mr Zuma, which include corruption and fraud, were invalid because proper procedures had not been followed. More damaging was the judge’s belief that Mr Mbeki and some of his ministers may have exerted political influence over the National Prosecuting Authority
    Mr Mbeki has been in office for nearly a decade and has been accused of arrogance, aloofness and centralising power. His many rivals have coalesced around Mr Zuma.

    But South Africa has set a standard in political management and regime change that should be applauded. The Afrikaaners gave up power in the end without triggering a wholesale collapse of the country - Mandela gave up power in an orderly way and now Mbeki has agreed to go without a fight. This is a good precedent for the rest of Africa.

    Mbeki's mate, Mugabe, is having a much harder time coming to terms with his lack of popular support however. But even in that situation - precarious as it is - there is cause for hope. When Zuma comes along even more so - he has taken publicly criticised Mugabe. Kenya's compromise power-sharing arrangement has been somewhat of a template for Zim, but that is a fudge by the incumbent party to hang on in some form - abiding by the will of the electorate is still something of an anathema to many third world countries. And perhaps one of the reasons they remain third world.

    With all of NZ's political drama playing out in the spotlight of an election campaign and allegations of hidden donations and undeclared shareholdings etc. we should not lose track of how relatively robust our democratic systems are - despite their occasional failings. We take our chance to change the landscape every three years for granted.

    Black Power Waitangi Tribunal Claim on Alt Tv tonight

    Black Power Waitangi Tribunal Claim on Alt Tv tonight

    On Greencore tonight host Nandor Tanczos interviews Black Power about their Waitangi Tribunal Claim and the reaction it has caused.

    Greencore - Alt Tv's human rights environmental show
    Wednesdays 8pm
    Sky Digital 65

    The Peters Hubris

    Voters can judge me, says Peters
    A defiant Winston Peters says he will trust his fate to voters as he joins one of a handful of MPs censured for breaking Parliament's rules. Mr Peters hit out at a privileges committee finding that he knowingly failed to declare a $100,000 gift from billionaire Owen Glenn, claiming he was the victim of a witch-hunt and would be vindicated at the polls. "The court that I will stand before is on Saturday, 8 November, [election day] and I'll place my faith in the people of New Zealand to decide the outcome of this case. "I asked for fairness. I got a farce."

    This man knows no shame, I remember a better Winston, a Winston who stuck it to the corporates, who demanded NZ Assets stay in NZ – but then there is this Winston, arrogant, self deluded, just like he was when he was Asian baiting. To come out and claim the ruling was a farce is a farce, sure National had made their minds up before the evidence was heard but so had NZ First and Labour, but the rulings from the other parties who have no axe to grind against Winston made this a fair process and the last audacity is Winston claiming that this process had echoes of Zimbabwe, to compare his petty lies and desperate modesty in hiding shonky deals with equally shonky Billionaires to the horror of abuse that is Zimbabwe is the final nail in a public perception coffin long overdue for the grave.

    Off-Key leader admits his mistake

    Off-Key leader admits his mistake
    An uncomfortable John Key has confessed he should have told the public earlier about the full extent of his shareholding in rail company Tranz Rail and should never have held the stock for as long as he did after he entered Parliament. The National leader made the admissions yesterday as he came under heavy fire from Labour at a time when he should have been launching attacks on his rival over the Winston Peters donation scandal. With the election just over six weeks away, Mr Key is now the centre of a story which raises questions about how open he has been - just what Labour plans to push in the campaign.

    Dumb, dumb, dumb – the real damage here is John Key has been caught out twice on camera and that those images will stick in peoples minds (this issue and the Lord Ashcroft issue). Key gets asked something and trys to side-step the question, only to be caught out by the interviewer which he then accepts and apologizes for not being honest and mistaken, the reality is that Key is going to do this a hell of a lot more, look we forget the guy has only been in Parliament for 6 years, he is still a newbie and if he wins he will be the youngest leader in 100 years of NZ Political history. The issue is this, will the electorate forgive Key’s cock-ups because they hate Helen more, because the level of animosity this Government has been tarred with from pro-smackers, hang em high clubs and Anti-PC puritans is fairly high. The NZers in the middle of this shit storm will need to decide if the devil you know is better than the nice smiling devil you don’t.

    Capitalism gets chest pains

    US bailout concerns hit market
    The New Zealand sharemarket followed US and Australian markets lower on concerns about the US plan to bail out its ailing financial institutions, a sharp increase in oil prices and the dampening effect of emergency bans on short selling.
    As the big bailout was debated in the US Congress, divisions between the Bush Administration's proposal and the demands of the Democrats spooked markets. The NZX-50 was down 27.53 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 3228.19 after Wall St's Dow fell 3.27 per cent and the S&P 500 fell 3.8 per cent. Oil posted its biggest one day price rise in history, gaining US$16.37 to close at US$120.92 a barrel but was easing in Asia last night.

    Who would have thought unregulated and unsustainable corporate greed would have any downside? Here is the thing though, and here is why it could get much worse, much quicker – CDS’s, Credit Default Swaps, these are basically a bet tied to whether a loan is repaid as a risk management to insure against all these dodgy loans they have kept making, the real danger is that they are all off the books so no Bank is sure who has what in terms of CDS’s, and here is the kicker, there are a predicted $62 Trillion worth of CDS’s out there, which means the Trillion the US have put up to stabilize the financial environment will be as effective as pissing on a forest fire if loans continue to default. Capitalism isn’t looking very healthy this week.

    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Winston: In contempt!

    He's about to get his wrist slapped. I've been watching the question time and the censure debate in parliament. The Labour party makes one's stomach turn. Their protection of Winston in the face of the obvious evidence is shameful. The PM hissed and screeched that John Key misled the media over his Tranzrail shareholding. She repeated the allegation that he bought shares in his own name - made a quick buck and then sold them - something Key denies and his sharebrokers in a letter I posted earlier today also deny. (We need some solid evidence).

    [UPDATE 7:30PM
    Key has been on Close Up and Campbell Live tonight to confess. To "detox" in his vernacular. To be up front - as opposed to Winston's obfuscations. He needed to recover from not looking forthcoming and open and transparent when confronted by Fran Mold yesterday. He looked slippery in that ambush situation. His natural reaction was still to hedge - for a currency trader perhaps a normal inclination. But at the crunch point John Campbell interrupted: Key was denying he had traded in his own name - but he was cut off, so it wasn't 100% clear what allegation of the PM he was rebutting. And Campbell diverted off the issue. Then, less than 5 minutes later on the other channel he was telling the news walrus that he may have - maybe - that wasn't clear either. This was the fault of the interviewer - not Key - I was left not knowing what the position is. Key said he didn't personally gain from it. Fine, but that's not the point. Did he make any trades in Tranzrail in his own name when he was an MP? That is the question they did not ask properly and was therefore not answered satisfactorily either.]

    This is the same PM who said of Winston that she needed to let a process unfold and would not rush to judgement. This being the same PM who rushed to judge the Privileges Committee as being unfair - even though Cullen today said the way it was run and chaired by Simon Powers was fair. This was the PM spitting out that National was running a "dirty, filthy, unclean campaign". She was just sickening. At her most unpleasant.

    The Maori party's representative on the committee, Te Ururoa Flavell, and Peter Dunne also, seemed genuinely saddened to have to vote in favour of censure. Flavell said it boiled down to "expectation that koha [be] declared - it wasn't - that's contempt." Dunne said there was a lot of "extraneous noise" on the issue but he made his judgement "with a heavy heart." Their commitments to open-mindedness seemed every bit as convincing as the conclusions they drew that Winston knew full well what was going on and that he should have declared his "gift". Both MPs mentioned that triumphalism was an inappropriate reaction. It is in the court of public opinion that he faces his ultimate punishment - it was always going to be that way.

    Hide was at it. He tried to ask a question to the PM about Winston and five times Winston interrupted him with points of order to stop him speaking about the operations of the Spencer trust. Eventually the PM did answer: "No, I haven't seen the diagram." So, she didn't bother to read the whole report - or maybe any of the report. Unbelievable.

    Cullen on the other was running a rebuttal for Winston. The Labour MPs he lead on that committee were still running defence - multiple lines of defence that lacked all credibility. It was naked politics and a tawdry day in the history of the Labour Party. Embracing its ideological foe publicly had Cullen clawing at his chest in dirtiness at one point. Disgusting.

    Key was jovial and on form despite the virulent attacks from the PM and Cullen over his Tranzrail dealings.

    During Russel Norman's speech during which he was scrupulously fair to him, Winston sat across the isle and barracked the whole time. This was within minutes of him rising to call the Speaker to protect the PM from National barracking. What a hypocrite - what an arsehole. Helen's little helper has a licence to act with impunity even after he's been found in contempt of parliament by the committee. The Greens, the diligent, subservient Greens, wouldn't get the time of day.

    The NZ First team were in full battle armour this afternoon, wheeling out straw men and hurling irrelevant asides, but it was the rogue knight doing all the stomping. Maybe in a sound bite it would seem spirited, but it was pallid and pathetic when viewed for any length of time. Echoing Nixon at one point Winston claimed he "didn't make one cent" out of the donations. That's not the point - it's what your donors make out of you that counts. And when you don't even say who they are - when you know who they are because you solicited money from them - it completely undermines the transparency that provides public confidence in the system.