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Friday, August 31, 2012

The BBQs are being warmed on Shearer's leadership

I warn you, what you are about to read will shock and stun you...

Hawkins: To quote a famous Labour politician, 'I've been thinking' about this constituent of yours in Mt Albert that you have used to illustrate fairness and responsibility to society, this sickness beneficiary who's up painting his roof, and I have to ask on behalf of Giovanni Tiso, who has been campaigning now bilingually to get a straight answer from you for ten days now. Did that actually happen? Is that a true anecdote from your time... [Shearer interrupts]

Shearer: Yeah, yeah, I was going around the streets before the last election, knocked on a guy's door, he walked out on the lawn with me and pointed over and said this guy supposedly - I think he said he had a bad back or a bad something or other - and the point was, I mean, wasn't actually... whether this guy was right or not I don't know, but the point is, what I was trying to make is the point about fairness and the way New Zealanders feel about fairness. They don't want... this guy in particular said look I'm working hard, I pay my taxes, I'm doing all the right things and this guy - in his opinion, and that's what I said in my thing - is ripping the system off. Now I don't care if you're a millionaire not paying his taxes or somebody on the benefit who shouldn't be getting one. The way that New Zealanders see that is that it's not fair when somebody is not doing the right thing. That's the point of what I was saying.

Hawkins: So you don't know if it's true, at no point did you go talk to the beneficiary in question?

Shearer: No, the point was Aaron - the point was how people perceive others not playing by the rules, that's all I was saying. So I mean that's a story - the account of this guy, if what he was telling me is true, but I didn't do a police investigation on somebody, but the point was how do people perceive others, and I think overwhelmingly in New Zealand we don't like people who are not playing by the rules, in a sense not adhering to what I call the social contract.

Hawkins: I don't think it's the equivalent of a police enquiry to simply fact-check an anecdote that you are going to turn into a political platform.

Shearer: It's not a political platform, the whole point of it as I keep saying to you is illustrating how people feel about others. That was all it was saying. It was somebody relating something to me and I was relating that on. It is about how people feel about others not playing by the rules. And we have a very highly developed sense for that in New Zealand, for good or for bad, and I actually think it's good. But what does happen is that if people have that perception it means that everybody who legitimately receives a benefit - and overwhelmingly New Zealanders support that as well - they actually get tarred with the same brush. It's really important that we make sure that the system works well and that people have confidence in it.

Hawkins: Isn't that what Paula Bennett was doing, using a couple of examples of people not playing by the rules and not playing fairly within the welfare system to show up its flaws?

Shearer: Well what she did was she went into the Ministry, pulled out people's private information and using her privileged position as a Minister and then put them into the news media because they happened to disagree with it. I think it's a quantifiably mega-jump more than what I was talking about.

...how much cringing can you do in one reading? The Labour Party BBQs must now be warming, no political leader can be as inarticulate as this. He is almost speaking in tongues while desperately backpedaling.

Well done Aaron Hawkins of Radio One for putting these questions to Shearer, it's a great reminder how important our Student Radio network is.

The ridiculous Pagani dog whistle inserted into Shearer's Grey Power speech that had Shearer bitching about some mythical sickness beneficiary painting the roof has imploded with the kind of rupturing of physics normally left for the large hadron collider.

The Pagani Doctrine is to chase National voters and move Labour to the right. In direct contrast to the 'growing the pie' mantra Shearer would espouse pre leadership, the Pagani Doctrine ignores the 800 000 enrolled voters who didn't bother to vote to chase the much smaller National Party voter pie.

Hence the dog whistles, hence keeping Shearer out of traditional Labour issues like Union disputes, hence roof painting sickness beneficiaries.

It all runs bitter to rank and file Labour Party members who are demanding a serious articulation of left wing solutions to a right wing juggernaut they see dismantling all that is holy.

Shearer isn't doing that. He is starting fights with the left of the Party by attacking those the Party see as the results of failed social policy, not the cause of it. He's dog whistling while his strategy duo of the Pagani's are having public fights with the country's largest left wing blog.

It's a buggers muddle of unprecedented political clumsiness topped off by Shearer's inability to communicate in basic english. Look at this for Christ's sake...

Shearer: Yeah, yeah, I was going around the streets before the last election, knocked on a guy's door, he walked out on the lawn with me and pointed over and said this guy supposedly - I think he said he had a bad back or a bad something or other - and the point was, I mean, wasn't actually... whether this guy was right or not I don't know, but the point is, what I was trying to make is the point about fairness and the way New Zealanders feel about fairness. They don't want... this guy in particular said look I'm working hard, I pay my taxes, I'm doing all the right things and this guy - in his opinion, and that's what I said in my thing - is ripping the system off. Now I don't care if you're a millionaire not paying his taxes or somebody on the benefit who shouldn't be getting one. The way that New Zealanders see that is that it's not fair when somebody is not doing the right thing. That's the point of what I was saying.

...this is 'office-esk' gibberish. No self respecting Labour Party supporter can feel secure in their leader when their leader is channeling David Brent.

Compare this to Cunliffe's articulate command of language and ideas and vision in his 20 minute TV interview on The Nation in the weekend, can anyone of us honestly imagine the carnage Shearer would have caused himself if he had done the same interview?

Shearer can't manage 10 minutes on student radio without self harming himself. You can't have a political leader under 24 hour suicide watch, it isn't good for the Poll numbers, which are stalling.

The landline polls favour National supporters, if the Pagani Doctrine was working and Labour's step to the right was attracting National voters, they would be seeing Labour's polling rise. They are not. Here are yesterday's Roy Morgan polling.

The question marks keep getting larger over Shearer as a leader, they are not diminishing. Shearer's viability as leader until the election will be tested this November at conference. If an amendment to decrease the Caucus trigger point for a leadership challenge from 67% to 51% is passed, Shearer's future will be decided over the 2012-13 BBQ season.


Citizen A with Dr Wayne Hope & Phoebe Fletcher

Citizen A with Dr Wayne Hope & Phoebe Fletcher

Issue 1: John Key describes solutions to child poverty as dopey - what exactly is the Government doing about inequality?

Issue 2: Will drug testing beneficiaries work?

and Issue 3: What was more embarrassing this week - the mainstream media's coverage of Stewart Murray Wilson's release or social media threats to rape a war critic with chainsaws?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Thursday, August 30, 2012

What the real aim of drug testing beneficiaries is

What's more dangerous? The Beast of Blenheim, Huffing or the Tongan Police? None of them, apparently stoned beneficiaries...

Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled Experts will carry out "robust clinical assessments" to determine whether beneficiaries are recreational drug users or are drug addicts, under Government plans to screen job seekers.

...I joked this week about what ridiculous bennie bash would Paula Bennett come up with to distract media attention from the asset sale fiasco, lo and behold Paula comes out with her drug testing of beneficiaries.

Isn't it funny that whenever Key needs a distraction Paula launches a new draconian welfare policy?

Yes, funny like cancer.

Let's be very clear about why drug testing beneficiaries is stupid and why it's really being implemented.

Drug testing beneficiaries is stupid for a number of reasons.

Marijuana stays in the system for weeks and months, the tests can't show impairment, they show you may have smoked a joint in the weekend. That doesn't mean you are impaired for the job, so this becomes a witch hunt for the most widely used illegal drug.

This isn't about being 'work ready', this is moralistic punishment for beneficiaries smoking marijuana.

The other reason drug testing beneficiaries is stupid is because of the staggering cost...

High cost for drug testing beneficiaries: Health ministry
The Council of Trade Unions says drug testing people on welfare is no more than beneficiary bashing after revelations Ministry of Health warned the Government its policy will cost twice as much as it saves.

President Helen Kelly said a memo obtained by the CTU shows the policy is a $14 million "waste of money". The Government could save up to $6m and was spending $1.9m on drug rehabilitation.

...this moralistic little knee jerk is going to cost us twice as much as it's going to save us???!!!

So why is drug testing beneficiaries being implemented? Beyond the immediate need to distract the media and the public, as Paula has done time and time and time again, this policy is being implemented because marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the country and it stays in the system for weeks and months. National don't believe in creating jobs, they create 'environments' where jobs are created, likewise they won't find the unemployed jobs, they'll find ways to create an environment that disqualifies them from gaining a benefit in the first place.

Drug testing beneficiaries isn't aimed at making them work ready in a 9.1% real unemployment labour market, it's aimed at disqualifying them from recieving a benefit, thus removing them from the official 6.9% unemployment rate into the invisible world of poverty.

We are implementing redneck talkback bigotry as social policy when it will cost us twice as much as it will save, punish for punishments sake and simply throw poor people onto the trash heap without needing to be responsible for the consequences of that action.

Let's drug test beneficiaries the day we breath test Politicians - seriously what's more dangerous to NZ? A jobless stoner or a pissed MP?


Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill First Reading

The moment the vote was announced on Parliament TV last night.  The ayes had it on the voices clearly but they called for a personal vote - in the old money a 'division' - and because the MMP parliament is so used to the party vote system there was confusion and delay as to the procedure. It went on forever, adding to the drama.

I listened to the speeches and Wall said a lot of very fine things about the principles and history of equality but hardly any time on the sorts of things the bill would produce beyond name changes, ie. adoption and what the rights of family entail. While I didn't find all of Wall's arguments compelling or all the parallels she was drawing appropriate the arguments on the conservative side were wooly, far more opaque than anything Wall had said, a series of cop-outs, and enrobed in insinuation and prejudice. The "marriage equality" side had clearly won the debate in the House. Dr Hutchinson's conversion from the agin to the pro was probably the best because it was a surprise.

The Speaker announced it was 78 - 40. That's staggering. How could it have come to this point? The short answer is Barack Obama. That got Key in and took with him about half a dozen or so in the Nats as yes-men, plus the half a dozen or so in Labour who cannot dare be out of step and in paraiah land of no hope with Sio, Ross Robertson and O'Conner. That would make it nearer 50/50, but there is a definite trend towards liberalisation that makes those who stand against risking appearing like history's losers and bigotted to boot - that must have weighed on many MPs minds.

We have gone from a homosexual prohibition/mental illness/it doesn't exist scenario in the mid 1980s to the parliament of New Zealand last night declaring, basically, that the definition of marriage is no longer exclusively between a man and a woman. The conventional understanding - and legislative framework - of marriage that goes back (at least the English word to the medieval period) has been turned on it's head and in a very short space of time. How that social progress will be translated in real life on the ground where homophobia is in varying degrees rampant, is another question.

The select committee will be where the implications will be investigated and submissions will be plentiful, terse and turgid no doubt. The debate needs to happen at this stage because I didn't hear nearly enough of the facts last night. For example the other layer of changes of definition ("spouse" was mentioned) has follow on consequences. As for which MPs may change their minds at the second reading - and in light of any possible amendements to what is laudibly a beautifully simple text - I would think a very few may swap to opposition (because they were only humouring a first reading), but it is likely that more will come across to support as the trendies push the "weight of history" meme and as their own prejudices are confronted and defeated as the committee grinds on.

One small step for gay marriage, one giant leap for NZ being kind

YES! An historic first step of equality for our gay whanau! Thank you Louisa Wall and Labour for making me feel proud about being a NZer.

It was a great evening on Parliament TV, bloggers were playing a drinking game for every ridiculous argument used by MP's. Idiot/Savant from his twitter feed may have been the first NZer to suffer alcohol poisoning from political cliches.

The involvement of social media in these moments of legislative justice made the event a far more special one. The #marriageequality twitter feed was like having a 1000 clever people providing a running commentary.

It was our Parliament at it's best and there were many notable speakers. Louisa Wall's gracious dignity and passionate defense for equality will be in the history books. Kevin Hague was similarly moving. Nikki Kaye deserves an honourable mention for speaking in support of Gay rights with genuine conviction.

The other notable MP on the night was the very kind Paul Hutchison who said he simply couldn't justify the ongoing discrimination and as such would now vote for the Bill.

A salute to Jami-Lee Ross, libertarians can surprise can't they?

Then there were those speaking against the Bill. Sio was dignified but wrong. Winston was outraged. Yawn. Tim Macindoe was so dull, he lowered the reputation of Hamilton and John Hayes proved why people wearing bow ties shouldn't be allowed to marry.

The sanctimonious clown described the bill as a 'Labour Party social reform agenda'.

What a dick.

The final vote of 80-40 made me feel prouder of being a NZer than I did during the Olympics.

Well done Aotearoa.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Shame on NZ Herald for not disclosing anti-Gay agenda

I'm sorry, what?

In the NZ Herald opinion section this week - what?

Bruce Logan's ridiculous attempt to justify his homophobia in todays Herald - look at the by-line that the NZ Herald has chosen to run with...

* Bruce Logan is a former Auckland schoolteacher now living in France.

WTF? Bruce Logan is a former Auckland schoolteacher now living in France?????? That's the by-line the Herald have chosen to describe Bruce? This is a howler of a decision, Logan is the former head of the ultra right Christian think tank, the Maxim Institute - to not mention that as his by-line so that readers can immediately spot the bias is deceitful of the Herald.

Leaving out Bruce Logan's role as head of an ultra right Christian think tank in his by-line to his homophobic opinion piece today is like describing David Farrar as an odd loner who might like John Key.


Why Key won't turn on asset sales and will legislate water ownership

Maggie Thatcher stated 'This Lady is not for turning' and I think the same is true of our PM - this Key won't turn on asset sales.

The pundit meme is that Key is stuck between a rock and a hard place, that he will cut a deal with the freshwater Iwi because he needs to keep the Maori Party on side.

I'm not so sure. Even if the Government does manage to cut a deal with the freshwater Iwi, it will be challenged in Court. Why cut a deal that will be unpopular with rump National Party voters when it'll go to Court anyway?

Key will be polling heavily over the time he has before he has to come back with an answer and to date he has shown he will move anywhere a poll tells him. National shut down Chris Finlayson's negotiations with Tuhoe because Joyce's polling said white people on Auckland's North Shore wouldn't accept it, Key attacked the media over the Epsom Tea Pot tapes because their polling told them the public hated journalists more than they hated politicians and polling about Maaaaaaaori stealing the water is going to give Key all the security he needs to play the public off against Maoridom and ram through legislation and simply take ownership of the water 'for all NZers'.

Key has banked the money he thinks he'll make from these asset sales and if the sales don't go ahead the Government will need to find billions to cut from health, welfare and education.

Key is blowing $400 million of our assets sales on an irrigation scheme for South Island Dairy Farmers. Of all the interest groups who National have to pay fealty to, South Island Dairy Farmers are the most vicious. Those farmers want their taxpayer funded irrigation, and John's gotta come up with the dosh from somewhere.

Those who claim Key has to keep the Maori Party on side for post 2014 coalition partners have missed the massive ground MANA has made at the expense of the Maori Party and that the MP effectively won't be a political power come 2014.

What's the point of sitting at the table when John Key has already sold the table?

This is a reality National are aware of and they are already eyeing the Conservative Party up as their replacement coalition partner by lowering the MMP threshold to 4%.

I don't think anyone can be surprised if Key turns around and rams law through to take water.


John Key hates poor people

Key dismisses proposal as 'dopey'
Prime Minister John Key has dismissed as "dopey" a recommendation from a panel of experts that a universal child payment should be reintroduced as a way of reducing child poverty.

And the first words out of Key's mouth in response to a hard hitting report on child poverty?


He has a way with words doesn't he?

We shouldn't be surprised that our vacant aspiration multi-millionaire leader who lives in a bubble world of wealth has zero empathy with the poor. For all of John's "I grew up in a state house' shtick, the welfare Key enjoyed was gold plated, where as today it's shit encrusted.

Let us not forget as conveniently as the mainstream media has what John has said about the poor while he's been the Prime Minister.

Remember when John said that the poor required food parcels, not because of the economic policy he implemented, but because it was their own fault...

Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key
Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own "poor choices" rather than because they cannot afford food.

...then there was what John Key told Church leaders in December of 2010...

“If we cancelled welfare to 330,000 people currently on welfare, how many would starve to death? Bugger all.”

...Key hates poor people. He blames them for the poverty they live in and he doesn't think any would die if he cut off their benefit. His $50-$200million wealth insulates him from poverty and a genuine understanding of the pain those on the bottom of the social heap have to endure.

The true tragedy for NZ's poor is that Key's vacant aspiration and empty optimism routine cons so many of them into voting for National when National's policy is counter productive to their interests. The two bob tory phenomena is made more bitter when you consider how our inequality has soared to it's highest level under Key.

Meanwhile 270 000 NZ children suffer in poverty.


Poverty response doesn't go far enough

Experts: Restart universal child payment
An expert group appointed by the Children's Commissioner has released its findings on the best way to reduce child poverty in New Zealand.

There are many excellent ideas in the plan to end our denial over the 270 000 NZ children living in poverty.

Allowing fathers to pay their child support directly to the mother rather than hand it over to the state would not only benefit the children, it would increase child support payment compliance.

Raising the family tax credit and restarting the universal child payment are ways to directly impact the pocket and the warrant of fitness for all rental housing would force the slum lords to adequately heat their homes, but the food in schools programme just doesn't go far enough.

Supporting organisations like KidsCan, Fonterra and Sanitarium just won't go far enough if we want to lift the educational achievement of the poorest children. KidsCan runs in 223 low decile schools and mostly provide fruit and snacks rather than actual meals.

Feeding our poorest kids can't be a charity supported endeavor, it must be a fully state-funded programme.

MANA have put their 'Feed the Kids' Bill into the ballot this week, at a cost of $100 million, it proposes to feed every decile 1 and 2 school breakfast and lunch. That's 531 schools representing 113 095 pupils.

If we are serious about changing child poverty rather than talk about it, we require genuine investment.


Dear National Party - it's not the Global Economic Recession's fault

National's response to the historic jump in inequality and child poverty is "it's all the fault of the global economic recession'.

What a load of cobblers.

Borrowed tax cuts for the wealthy, forcing beneficiaries back to work when there are no jobs, higher unemployment, attacks on unions, cut backs to public services and higher GST are all choices the Government deliberately made - they have nothing to do with the global economic recession. National have used the global meltdown as an excuse to forward ideological reform.

Our geographic position has created an economic micro climate. China is our second largest trading partner, Australia is our largest and China is Australia's largest. The rough edges of the recession have been taken off, not because of National policy, but because China has been on a resources binge.

Even if it is the global economic recession to blame - why implement the same failed unregulated free market ideas domestically that led to that global collapse?

Dear National, it's not the global economic recession - it's you and your policy that purposely gives to the wealthiest at the expense of the masses.


“Unregulated free market capitalism has failed the world” - winds of history at Cunliffe's back in TV3 interview

There's a moment at the end of Season 2 of the West Wing where President Bartlett's announcement of whether he is running or not is decided by a wind gust which causes his door to blow open because the White House creates a wind tunnel which ends in the Oval office.

The once in a century storm that caused the doors to blow open was a metaphor for the winds of history, those winds were whipping around Cunliffe's interview on TV3's The Nation in the weekend.

Here is the transcript...

Labour MP David Cunliffe believes the party can get ahead in the polls. Speaking this weekend on TV3’s “The Nation” Mr Cunliffe said he rejects the argument that they can’t.

“We’re going to work together as a team, “he said.

Asked specifically if he would have a crack at the leadership if it came up he said: “I have made clear on a number of occasions that I am loyal to my leader, I am loyal to the leader of the Labour Party, and I can't see that changing.”

Asked what would happen if the leader wanted to go, he said: I can't see that changing, and if the presumption is that we're not going to succeed in the polls, I reject the presumption.”

Mr Cunliffe has returned from a trip to Scandinavia researching policy ideas for his economic development portfolio.

The trip follows on a speech earlier this year which was widely perceived as a call for the Labour party to return to its traditional left wing roots.

“I guess what that speech was really about was looking back at recent history, and particularly focusing on the global financial crisis, and saying, you know a lot of the old rules have been proven to be wrong,” he said.

“Unregulated free market capitalism has failed the world.”

Now Mr Cunliffe said that what impressed him about Scandinavia was the focus on innovation.

“I think that they are fantastic about innovation,” he said.

“They're fantastic about government and business and community partnerships.

“They take a long view, they have measurable targets, and unlike the current government they have policies that they know will get them there, they don’t just print glossy brochures and hope it's all going to go away.”

Asked how much support he had for this approach from within the Labour caucus he said the party was still going through the policy development phase.

“I'm proud of the fact that we have a democratic tradition in our party and that means that passionate people will engage in policy debate, and sometimes they will do it in public,” he said.

“I’m not going to be pigeon holed, I do care about traditional Labour values, but I also know that we live in a modern world and we're going to have to find new ways of applying that, and above all I'm a team player, and I'm part of the caucus that is determined to make New Zealand better, and I support our leadership team that is doing that.”

...Cunliffe is articulating a new post-crash view that needs articulation. For 30 years in NZ, the neo-liberal agenda has held unchallenged hegemonic supremacy, but with the collapse in 2007-2008, the free market mantra of unregulated markets self correcting has been proven to be a deep fallacy.

Economist Brian Easton says the left needs to come up with unique NZ solutions and economic alternatives to the deregulated low tax free market dogma and Cunliffe is starting that discussion.

As inequality soars, the left needs to find the confidence in calling the right on their economic selfishness.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ports of Auckland have no one to blame but themselves for $12 million loss

Port blames strike action for $12million loss
Ports of Auckland has blamed a worker dispute for a $12million loss in the year to June.

I laughed when I read this. It was the worker dispute that created this $12million loss was it? And who started that dispute? The Ports of Auckland, they are the ones who acted unjustly by sacking all the workers, they were the ones who leaked private and personal work details to someone as gutter as Whaleoil and they were the ones who allowed this dispute to blow out to $34million!

They have no one but themselves and their incompetent mismanagement to blame for this loss and the residents of Auckland should be furious at their mishandling of our asset.


A self regulating booze industry has all the ethical standards of a self regulating meth dealer

Govt backs down on alcopop law change
The Government has backed down on plans to restrict the sale and strength of "ready-to-drink" beverages and will let the liquor industry set its own rules for the sweetened alcoholic drinks.

Industry giants lobbied Justice Minister Judith Collins to scrap proposed limits on the number of standard drinks and alcohol content in alcopops, which are highly popular with young drinkers.

Yesterday, the minister said: "The Government has decided to give the alcohol industry the opportunity to introduce its own measures to limit the harm to young people caused by RTDs."

The gutless back down by this Government to the booze industry can't have come as much of a shock to anyone. National have turned down any attempt to regulate them, their marketing power or their 24-7 availability and National even threw public safety out the window when they backed down on lowering the blood alcohol level.

In terms of addiction, National are at full blown alcoholic state when it comes to the beck and call of big booze.

National's free market agenda of 'let the corporate plutocracy self regulate' would be fine and dandy if alcohol was just another product. It isn't, when Adam Smith's rational individual enters the market place pissed as a newt, his decision making qualities are hardly endorsable.

Alcohol is a restricted substance for very justifiable reasons, and the State has a responsibility to minimize the harm of this product by making sure the booze industry pay the full cost of the social destruction it causes.

I'm sick of these corporations who shrug once their product is out of the retailer's shop as if they have no responsibility whatsoever after the point of sale.

How convenient for them. They'll stoke your appetite for their product with multi-millions spent on marketing but won't pay for any of the social impact after the sale?

That's not very caring or sharing is it?

I say let's help our rich friends with industries that cause terrible death and suffering to contribute in a far more meaningful way to the social damage they cause. Let's implement a 25% vice tax on their after tax profit, and do the same to tobacco.

We need to raise the drinking age, not because it is young peoples fault for getting drunk, but because as adults we have failed them buy providing such unsafe alcohol environments. We need to get booze out of the supermarkets and we need to curtail the booze industry's marketing influence.

Pike River Mine was self regulated. That didn't work very well did it?


The Union Report with CTU's Helen Kelly and First Union's Robert Reid

The Union Report with CTU's Helen Kelly and First Union's Robert Reid

Issue 1: NZ inequality now at it's highest level ever - has egalitarianism become a myth?

Issue 2: Migrant workers are being exploited - can Unions offer the solutions?

and issue 3: Should Unions bow to Government demands for a witch hunt in MFAT?

The Union Report screens 8pm Monday Triangle TV - the home of original public broadcasting

Facebook/TheUnionReport Twitter/CitizenBomber

Being Mr Unpopular

I'm generally a liberal on social issues, tending to the libertarian: that the government's best course of action in social affairs is usually to just keep it's sticky beak out and let people get on with whatever they're doing. So why do I find myself - instinctively - uneasy with the proposition that the term 'marriage' should apply to all couples regardless of gender and sexual orientation? After all it seems everyone else in my peer and age group and across the political spectrum believes the same thing - as evidenced by the campaigning zeal across social media. Even the big newspapers have editorialised in support. Why am I out of step?

When President Obama declared to the world - appropos of nothing it would seem except perhaps for the millions in Democratic Hollywood donations that would flow his way - that same sex couples should be able to marry, my initial reaction was: oh good, just like over here then. Maybe they will copy the NZ legislation that established civil unions? Then John Key came out and, in typically slavish fashion, announced that he too would like to see same sex marriage. Here was the disconnect. Don't we already have that by way of civil unions? What was Key committing himself to?

Apparently civil unions don't go far enough and for most homosexuals it can never go far enough because their agenda, quite naturally, is to socially and legally normalise their lifestyle - an insurmountable task that can never be complete if for no other reason than the inherent visceral repugnancy with which the average heterosexual male considers the male homosexual act. No matter that these things occur in private and well away from the glare of straights, the thought of it is too much. The thought of recognising a relationship between those two people through a civil union finds acceptability however because the term civil union has a neutral, bureaucratic connotation; but the term marriage carries an additional sanctification that does not fit so easily and that is why the proponents of the civil union legislation last decade could not go the whole hog.

I remember watching a documentary a while back about homosexual law reform in the 1980s. I recall a gay man saying this was about the right not to be persecuted, it wasn't, he explained, about marriage or adopting or anything like that... But of course it was really, it was the starting point, the first step. It stuck in my mind I guess because I knew he wasn't being entirely honest about it. There is a next logical step and another one. If GAY means 'Good As You' then that is a fair indication of what the agenda is - beyond tolerance and into social acceptability. I don't think they will ever achieve the complete level of social acceptance they want because of the automatic, hetero male reaction as I described above, and I don't think that legislating can ever bring them that either. Indeed trying to do so is a provocative and antagonistic strategem.

The whole debate seemed to revolve purely around the word marriage - at least for the first few weeks after Key echoed Obama. For me this is crucial. If homosexual couples want to use the word marriage - but without any change in substance from that of a civil union - then what is the point? The campaigners have taken 'Good As You' to the far edge where they now are taking on terms hitherto incompatible with homosexuality. They seek to use the law to change a word whose meaning is clear over time and co-opt it; they are saying that it is something akin to the racism of the American Old South that same sex couples can't use the word marriage. I find this line of reasoning hysterical and slightly Orwellian.

So the first place I went to check is wikipedia. Marriage is defined thus:
Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a social union or legal contract between people called spouses that creates kinship. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures, but is usually an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged. Such a union is often formalized via a wedding ceremony. In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to two persons of opposite sex or gender in the gender binary, and some of these allow polygynous marriage. In the 21st century, several countries and some other jurisdictions have legalized same-sex marriage. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity.
It is between a man and a woman. That's the short version you will find in any dictionary. That is everyone's understanding... until the 21st century.

The words connected with marriage seem to be hetero and there is no getting away from the sexual element. Civil Union on the other hand is a modern legal institution that is a form of marriage, but escapes the sexual element. Helen Clark being the main promoter reinforced in the public mind the non-sexual/asexual nature of the civil union concept.

I know people in same sex civil unions and I would refer to them as partners rather than wife/wife, husband/husband. There seems no great disability or even minor disability in same sex couples not being able to use the marriage terms applicable to people who are married. Contrarywise there seems little except the objection of misusing English words to support the status quo, but I am uneasy with the State changing words and terms that are so universally accepted. Create new terms by all means to keep up with modern cultural changes, but I do have some sympathy with those who wonder if twisting the old words to fit new circumstances is appropriate.  So is it all about the use of words and who can and can't have the ability to use them and whether that is a form of illegitimate discrimination?

I think it goes well beyond just a few words here and there.

Louisa Wall (in whose name the bill is) lost me on the same sex marriage issue when she made the mistake of telling the Radio Live audience of what that really meant as far as the homosexual agenda went. It wasn't just about the word it was about adoption... and about same-sex couples receiving state-funded IVF treatment! Well that just floored me. To go from an already wobbly, barely tenable argument of 'it's not fair we can't use the word marriage, spouse, wed etc. to describe our relationship' to 'it's not fair that two women/two men can't get each other pregnant' is so far out on the edge it is in orbit. It is the logical corollary of where she is pushing this and as I said earlier that sort of social acceptance and normality they seek will never arrive and numbers in parliament and legislation permitting these things will never make whatever government-subsidised genetic abomination some scientist cooks up in a lab right. No good will come of that. It is pure selfish, hubris.

What Wall has done is successfully complete the circuit between those who maintain that homosexuality is unnatural and the unnatural act of creating life in the lab.

Wall was on with another guy - an American - who kept pushing the line 'families'. He wasn't saying marriage he was all about family. At one point Wall said that marriages imply children. So is this is a reproductive argument running under the guise of a change to nomenclature?

Anyway, it looks like the numbers will give the bill a chance to go to select committee where all the implications will be gone through.

For the record the arguments for the pro brigade are fairly weak. [My response in brackets]:
• The failure of the law to allow same-sex marriages sends out the message that it is okay to discriminate on the grounds of  sexual orientation and gender and that same-sex partners are not capable of the level of love and commitment associated with marriage. [I call bullshit on this. The gender/sexual orientation line is nonsense - they might as well say that having male and female toilets is discrimination. 'Love' is used over and over again by the campaign as an emotive term, but it means nothing in the context since 'love' is not a legal prerequisite for marriage at present and nor is it something they suggest should be made a qualification. It's rhetoric and poor rhetoric at that.]
• Marriage creates a unique bond between partners and their families from which same-sex partners are excluded. [So marriage is a 'unique' bond? Well it isn't going to be particularly unique once same sex partners are involved is it. And this implies that civil unions are not unique. 'Their families'? - see below.] 
• Marriage provides health and well-being benefits, and security for partners and children, from which same-sex partners and their children are excluded. [But this can be changed by changing the civil union legislation.]
• Marriage will benefit from being seen as less discriminatory and more relevant. [Yeah right. Marriage already has a Christianised stigma in NZ and that is why some prefer civil unions.]
• Polls show about 65% of New Zealanders support marriage equality and 75% believe it is inevitable. [Not arguments, just trends and stats. Someone could just as well argue that all the American states passing acts against same-sex marriage is a trend of inevitability].

[UPDATE: Banks - you little slut:
ACT leader John Banks has confirmed rumours he will vote for Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Equality Bill - at least on its first reading.
The private member's bill, popularly known as the gay marriage bill, comes before the house tomorrow.
"I can confirm that Mr Banks will be supporting the bill to first reading," the ACT leader's press secretary told NBR.
"We have no further comment."
In 1986, Mr Banks voted against the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Today's announcement is the second right-on turn taken by the right wing politician recently. In July, he strongly backed another pet liberal cause - saving the whales.
With Mr Banks refusing to discuss his conscience vote, pundits will be left to fill in the blanks. Certainly, both his backing of gay marriage, and his support of whales, could sin him support in his electorate, which takes in the wealthy but relatively liberal Auckland suburbs of Epsom and Mt Eden.
One-time ACT MP aspirant and blogger Cathy Odgers, aka Cactus Kate, predicted on July 28 that Mr Banks would support the bill in a bid to leave a legacy. His anti-gay comments from the 1980s were "a large part of stuffing the ACT Party," Ms Odgers says.]

[UPDATE: 29/08/2012
I know it looks to the casual observer as though I've got my over-sized Contrarian Hat on with a big half-drunken mug of frothing bigot juice in one hand and a well thumped Bible in the other with an issue of Repressed Closet Queers Monthly wedged between my buttocks, but that's not the case - but I know that is what it must look like. It pains me to find I may be on the same side as the conservative Christians. So just to be clear, I don't hold religious objections and nor do I think the state's current marriage arrangements are particularly deserving of any special reverence either - after all the government banned indigenous marriage in the 1950s and that left us in the situation we are in where the state asserts control of the marriage institution absolutely. It isn't the perfect situation. 'Marriage' and 'Civil Union' are just basically a bit of paper stamped by a government official after all; and with the extension of the Matrimonial Property Act to everyone who lives together for a few years the distinctions are being blurred. This however is also evidence of the Christian's main gripe that the traditional form of marriage is being undermined. But once again, just to be clear: I am not religious.]

John Key's tourism fail

The PM - also the Tourism Minister - has tweeted on the new "100% Middle Earth" video.
Frankly the whole Hobbit thing is insular and self-congratulatory triviality - which suits the New Zealand mindset.  It's dragged on longer than the 'Lord of the Rings' ending and I'm well over it.

The economic benefits from the filming have been out-weighed by the Tory's sale of our labour laws to the Hollywood moguls.  The thought of sitting through another three hours of midgets with giant hairy feet is absurd: that won't be happening. If the film flops I would not be surprised; but the Tourism Department has been banking everything on John Key's mate's silly children's movie.  Ho Hum. I'm not going to watch the promo video either.

What interested me was the underlying issues concerning the newzealand.com website.
Firstly, why is it built by an American company and not a NZ one? Hilarious considering all the boasting on the trade and enterprise section about how NZ is bathing in tech and IT gurus:
New Zealand offers a productive and freethinking environment for ICT with clear strengths in software development, design and support services.

We are known the world over for our creative talents with many high-profile projects being completed using New Zealand's creativity, including James Cameron's Avatar.
We offer a sufficient and sustainable competitive advantage to companies seeking to use New Zealand as a base for their ICT operations. Lower market rates and fewer employer add-ons ensure New Zealand's workforce holds a cost advantage over other developed countries, with savings of 50 percent compared to Japan, up to 30 percent over other Western locations such as the United States and United Kingdom, and up to 40 percent over Australia.

What a load of shit eh. We underpay our people and even then the Tourism Department goes and gives their own website contract to the fucking Yanks. Hypocritical no?

Secondly, why are the meta words (whereby search engines can find the website) all 'New Zealand'? The word Aotearoa appears nowhere in those key words and nowhere I can find on any page (I've tried all the Maori related pages and still can't find it). They are using and promoting an idiotic brand name that simply won't exist. What a colonial die-hard cunt of a place this New Zealand must be. 

The problem with Drug Driving Prisonlust

There is a lot of red flag waving over drug driving at the moment. The problem with all these results however is that they don't necessarily imply that because someone has marijuana in their system that it means that their impaired enough to impact on their driving ability.

Marijuana can stay in the system for weeks and months, because someone tests for it, it doesn't mean that they are impaired by it. If we allow road side drug tests we will start arresting people who are testing for marijuana but who are not impaired, this then becomes a drag net being set up to arrest marijuana users.

Some in society will say good, that marijuana is an illegal drug and if you test for an illegal drug you must be punished. But if that illegal drug is not impairing ability then we are punishing for the sake of punishment.

It's a similar thirst for prisonlust that is driving the desire to drug test beneficiaries. Simply because someone tests for marijuana, doesn't mean they are impaired enough to not work, we end up punishing beneficiaries not because they can't do the job, but because they may have smoked a joint in the weekend.

What advocates of stronger rules against stoner drivers will need to do is set an impairment level if they don't want this to become a drag net for every marijuana user in NZ.

Marijuana is our most widely used illegal drug and it can stay in the system for periods of time well beyond it's impairment effect. To start a witch hunt for a substance that is illegal for the weakest of justifications could end up arresting thousands of NZers and causing far larger harm than it is supposed to be curing.


NZ real unemployment rate 9.1%?

Roy Morgan have come out with a very different figure for unemployment last night. Instead of the 6.9% we officially have, Roy Morgan puts unemployment at a massive 9.1% with a further 9.6% under-employed looking for work. That's 18.6% of the workforce, or 467,000 New Zealanders who are either unemployed or under-employed.

These numbers are far more damning than the official ones and gives a glimpse of how bad it might actually be in NZ for the poor right now. The Government don't believe that it is their role to create jobs, they see their role as 'creating the environment' that creates jobs. With a 9.1% real unemployment rate and 9.6% under-employed rate, it is clear that strategy of creating the environment is not working.

We are all Keynesian now, and the sooner the Right appreciate that, the better.


The death of NZ egalitarianism

Poor get poorer, inequality reigns - survey
Inequality is at its highest level ever as low earners' pay packets decrease while high earners are paid more, a new report suggests.

Seeing as Paula Bennett doesn't bother to measure child poverty because too many children slip in and out of poverty, these figures should shame every one of us.

Figures released on Thursday show 21% of children now living in poverty, median household incomes fell 3% while the richest amongst us had their salaries soar leading us to having the highest levels of inequality on record.

How much did the wealthy gain? The average increase in 2011 for executives was $28, 311. That pay rise is more than a minimum wage worker earns in a year, and it get's better for CEO's. In 2011 our richest bosses earned on average 22.5 times more than the workers working for them.

The Government's response to this jump in inequality is that it isn't their fault, that it is the global economic recession to blame. What a load of bullshit.

You want to blame someone for the sudden jump in inequality? Blame John Key. Our multi-millionaire money trading leader who knows the price of everything but none of the value, has set in motion policy that specifically punish the poor, while rewarding the rich.

Borrowed tax cuts for the wealthy, forcing beneficiaries back to work when there are no jobs, higher unemployment, weaker unions, cut backs to public services and higher GST all have social consequences and we are now seeing the terrible harvest from those social consequences.

What so many NZers seem to fail to appreciate is that National is the party for Farmers and Businessmen, it is a political party for the wealthy who plays to everyones desire to be wealthy.

John Key isn't aspiration, he is the vacant promise of a lotto ticket and that promise is looking increasingly empty.


Monday, August 27, 2012

RIP Rangatira o Whakatohea

This morning I heard that uncle Manny had passed away. Yesterday uncle 'Tenga had slipped away too. 

Matenga Biddle had been in bed for the last few days - surrounded by whanau - in the wharenui of the Ngai Tamahaua Hapu where he was the acknowledged Rangatira. Tuiringa 'Manny' Mokomoko was the fisheries expert for the tribe and he had been bed-ridden in his home just below the marae for the last week or so. Both men had suffered acute illness through the last days and it was distressing to witness what they went through. Manny especially being such a physically tough character couldn't help but soldier on through the obvious pain. They are now at their marae with their people.

If the proverb about a chief passing away being like a mighty totara having fallen is true then the loss of these two Rangatira for Whakatohea - and for the Ngai Tama Hapu in particular - is like a forest having fallen. The institutional knowledge these two possessed can never be replaced. The sad fact is they will take much of their intimate understanding with them. The challenge for the next generation is to keep true to the tikanga they lived by and to strive to achieve a just and honorable settlement with the Crown for the invasion and confiscation that besets Whakatohea and that debilitates the Iwi.
Pic: 'Tenga (right) with kaumatua and tamariki on bench at the Opape Pa looking West towards Opotiki, January 2012.
Pic: At centre 'Tenga hongis Pita Sharples (obscured) with Manny standing to right - at signing ceremony for the Mokomoko pardon bill, Waiaua Marae, September 2011. [One of the rare photos of Manny not in gumboots!]
Pic: Uri o Mokomoko outside the wharenui at the signing.

These two men were leaders, but with different styles. 'Tenga of ritual, religion, lore and the old school; Manny with a practical and ultilitarian approach. Both fought tirelessly for their people - giving themselves over to demanding duties and keeping relentless schedules until they fell ill.  One of the significant recent developments was the Mokomoko (Restoration of Character, Mana, and Reputation) Bill which Manny led as the head of the whanau Mokomoko (see pictures above).

Beasts from Blenheim and Creatures from Kaitaia

Add a public enflamed by an irresponsible media chasing crime porn ratings with a public purse bruised by the Government's amputation of revenue to justify their small government fantasies and you get a public prison system in a state of double bunked distress.

Suicide rate in prisons 'a disgrace' - reformists
Since 2008, 75 people have died in prison, where the suicide rate is 11 times higher than in the general population. The coroner investigated 37 of those deaths, recording 13 as suicide, a trend the ombudsman called a "serious concern" in a 2011 report, recommending responsibility for healthcare should be removed from Corrections. "The situation whereby custodial staff have to manage prisoners who, by any layperson's measure, are grossly disturbed, is unsatisfactory for prisoners and staff."

After the embarrassment of the 'Beast of Blenheim' tag used with breathless regularity by the mainstream media, I'm waiting for TVNZ to refer to James Parker as the 'Kraken of Kaitaia'.

By whipping anger up to fever pitch, the pressure on prisons to be punishment minus the rehabilitation isn't safe mentally, emotionally or physically to those we put in there or those we ask to work in there.

Unless we are going to train corrections staff to include mental illness and suicide awareness into their job descriptions, we are providing prison environments that are detrimental to everyone including the public who ultimately have to live with the consequences of people like Stewart Murray Wilson being released back into the community without any rehabilitation.

Our easily manipulated prisonlust mixed with a corporate profit model that encourages incarceration is creating a terrible harvest.


I'm not sure threatening to rape and kill helps prove NZ's involvement in Afghanistan is ethical

It's a fascinating social media lynching of Barbara Sumner Burstyn. I hope the people who set up the facebook site demanding Burstyn hand in her passport appreciate the irony of threatening to rape and murder her with a chainsaw to justify NZ's ethical deployment in Afghanistan.

What is so interesting is the speed and size of the backlash to Burstyn's comments. The ferocity of public anger at conscientious objectors from our previous wars is a history rarely examined in NZ and critics of war risk invoking a vicious response.

Those who buy into the authority structure seldom enjoy being told the sacrifice of war is wasted. The anger should be directed at our leaders who have asked our soldiers to put themselves in harms way for reasons not as wholesome as freedom or democracy.

We are in Afghanistan to ingratiate ourselves with America in their latest empire building binge. Our troops have been asked to hand over citizens to known torture units, we are propping up a corrupt narco state and the local building projects we have completed have been derided as overblown PR projects by independent reports.

I criticized the mainstream media's coverage as to why NZers are not aware of what we are actually doing in Afghanistan and the backlash at Burstyn's uncompromising comments highlight how effective the Defense Ministry's propaganda campaign has been.

I personally find the myopic focus on these NZ deaths difficult to justify when the Afghanistan people have suffered over 40 000 dead and injured, 250 000 externally displaced people and 500 000 internally displaced people.

Every hour of every minute of every second of occupying someone else's country must be justified and criticized, even when we find the criticism offensive.


Big tobacco are not 'artists' who 'create' - they peddle addictive cancer

I can not believe the manner in which big tobacco are attempting to convince us that plain packaging is an abhorrence.

They admit that tobacco is harmful, but now attempt to convince us that it is their blessed creativity that they own that is under threat now, not the health of those addicted to their product.

That's right, they aren't legal drug dealers peddling an addictive cancer, they are artists trying to protect their art.

In a Facebook age where everyone is a digital designer, the idea of creative ownership is wide spread but to try and use that to defend the market tested colours and fonts and logos of big tobacco as a right that over rules public health concern is an insult to our collective intelligence.

Can you fucking believe these guys? We tolerate tobacco the way we tolerate sex abusers released back into the community after their jail sentence.

This is about Big Tobacco trying to turn around decades of lies over health into a debate about creativity and we shouldn't agree to disagree, we should hold it in the contempt it deserves.

Big tobacco are not 'artists' who 'create' - they peddle addictive cancer. Fuck em.


legitimate rape and illegitimate biology - do we want Christian 'science'?

Republican nominee for the Missouri US Senate Seat, Todd Akin, caused a furore last week after he bewilderingly claimed during a TV interview that women had a 'natural' means to prevent the body from becoming pregnant from 'legitimate rape'.

Akin's ability to crash biology head-on into qualifying rape at the Christian science intersection is so miraculous that it proves if God exists, then he certainly has a sense of humour.

Dr Fred Mecklenburg's 1972 article, "The Indications for Induced Abortion: A Physician's Perspective," from where a fanatical pro-life Aiken gained his biological insight was written in 1972. It was one of 19 articles published in a book "Abortion and Social Justice," funded by one of America's largest anti-abortion players, Americans United for Life.

Christian quasi science, built to prove scripture, flourishes in the charter school model of America. Intelligent design, creationism and a women's natural defense to rape pregnancies all mix quackery with a hint of truth to justify biblical nonsense in a modern world attempting to move on from religious bigotry.

Like climate denial science that is funded by corporations that make the most amount of pollution, this Christian science should be viewed as self serving and worthless.

What a person chooses to believe is their freedom, but a nation wide curriculum paid for by taxpayers needs to produce graduates who can work in a scientific world, it should not produce students who think the earth is thousands of years old, or that rape can be prevented by a women naturally, or that complexity of evolution proves a God.

Allowing Christian charter schools to make up their own science classes while the Associate Education Minister pushing through the policy admits a literal interpretation of the Bible are all signs of the Four Horsemen of the Stupidopolis.

For someone who isn't a Christian, I can't wait for the rapture.


What will Paula Bennett announce next to distract public attention?

When ever the Government are in trouble, Paula Bennett is rolled out to blurt some bennie bashing raw meat brainfart to divert attention from what ever self inflicted calamity has befallen the National Party.

Lying about the cost of drug testing beneficiaries, limiting beneficiaries from having children, releasing private details about beneficiaries protesting cut backs, threatening to do it again if anyone pisses her off - they are all tools Paula has used to distract public attention by playing to the darker angels of our nature.

With Kiwirail safety concerns and Radio NZ being gagged over reporting on it, the entire asset sale agenda on hold, ACC meltdown, rising unemployment, inequality at an all time high and the back down to the booze industry, the Government have more need for Paula to dog whistle the publics attention than ever before.

So what bennie bashing tune will Paula whistle next and how long can this keep NZers blinded to the wider issues?


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Q+A and The Nation review

The Nation
This show can be so hit and miss at times. Last weeks episode was an appalling right wing shocker, this weeks however has a current affairs line up that is making my coffee fizz.

The asset sale melt down, Te Ururoa Flavell discussing the amazing Tribunal ruling and David Cunliffe's first big interview since getting beaten up for articulating a different economic path from the Pagani Doctrine.

Rachel Smalley is excellent on Firstline on TV3 weekdays, but on the Nation she hasn't found her stride, this episode she finds it.

It's an interesting interview with Flavell, there are two possible problems for the Maori Party now in light of the ruling, the first is that Key over rides the Tribunal and pushes ahead with the sale of assets regardless. The second problem is that Key cuts a quick deal specifically with the fresh water Iwi loaded with sweeteners while leaving the rest of Maoridom out of the water ownership debate.

The issues with the second problem is that the sweeteners will infuriate National's very racist rump base and it won't stop the Maori Council from taking it to Court anyway.

Flavell is sounding ridiculously optimistic in the way a death row prisoner is over their last appeal on the night of their execution. If the Maori Party is seen supporting Key's divide and conquer strategy between corporate Iwi and the Maori Council or are seen to do nothing if Key pushes ahead regardless, it is the end of the Maori Party.

The venerable Colin James is on, he says National will need to cut a deal with Maori for the sale to go ahead, it will be interesting to see what the backlash that provokes from National voters.

Cunliffe is on and it's a must see performance. The horror for the right wing that put Shearer in over Cunliffe is that every time Cunliffe opens his mouth he blows Shearer away. His performance in this interview and and the vision he articulates is so many times better than anything Shearer has done to date it's embarrassing.

The deep recession NZ is in has been caused by unregulated free market dogma, Cunliffe argues we can't allow ourselves to be fixed to that same failed philosophy. It's a message that shows far wider thinking than using dog whistle examples of beneficiaries painting roofs.

Cunliffe over shadows Shearer is such an uncompromising way that the only way to deal with him is to strangle off any public appearances until now and the election. Shearer can't just lift his game, he has to lift it well beyond Cunliffe's.

The Nation then moved onto the political power of the cultish Mormans and their whacky interpretation of Christianity.

It's an excellent show this week, well worth watching it again on demand for Cunliffe's interview when TV3 get around to posting it online.

Bryce Edwards is on the panel with Mike Williams and Wiri Gardiner.

I think it is hilarious that Q&A have the audacity to discuss Afghanistan when Guyon Espiner was such a puppet to the Defense Force when he was host of this show and Q+A broke an embargo with Jon Stephenson when he gave them his 'Eyes wide shut' Metro article to interview Wayne Map days before the article came out.

After being so uncritical on Afghanistan, Q+A have no credibility on this issue whatsoever and listening to Coleman's ridiculous claims that we are succeeding in Afghanistan is an insult to our collective intelligence. Coleman claims we are in Afghanistan because less than 10 NZers have died in a decade because of 'terrorism' - if that's a justification to occupy another peoples country, shouldn't the SAS be invading KFC or McDonalds because heart disease kills tens of thousands of NZers every year.

It's a terribly weak interview that challenges nothing, if you want to see actual discussion on what is going on in Afghanistan, check out Citizen A this week with Chris Trotter and Selwyn Manning.

Flavell is on rehashing what he had to say on The Nation, I love how the Tribunal decision has surprised so many mainstream media outlets who only a couple of months ago were claiming the asset sale process was all done and dusted.

Bryce was good, but pretty bland episode this week.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Citizen A with Chris Trotter & Selwyn Manning

Citizen A this week with Chris Trotter & Selwyn Manning

Issue 1: Are we in Afghanistan to ingratiate ourselves with America or are we there to provide stability for a nation in transition and will more deaths force an early exit?

Issue 2: Paula Bennett says she would breach beneficiary privacy again while the Unions are put through a witch hunt to source the Mfat leaks - does the Government have a double standard when it comes to privacy?

and Issue 3: Does news of Solid Energy being rain-checked strengthen or weaken the Government's case for asset sales?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cop out: NZ Police irresponsibility

Two news items from the last few days have cast more doubt on how prepared the NZ Police are to admit that their own practices can be the cause of strife. Firstly, more evidence that the long-standing complaint of the cops' Bullit/French Connection car chase styles are harming innocent road users:
Residents in the South Auckland suburb of Otara say it was only a matter of time before a police car was involved in a fatal crash on a stretch of road notorious for serious accidents.[...]"The cops are renowned for speeding round here on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. There's always emergencies up and down the street.
"It's very busy, a lot of them are using their sirens and flashing lights, so they are continuously chasing people around this area.
"There's always accidents here, probably at least once or twice a week."
"People drive too fast down there, especially the police ... they just go flat out down here. We had one on Friday over here, someone ran into our fence, and the police were chasing them as well."

There's nothing much to go on from the official statements issued yesterday. They avoid the churlish excuses reported elsewhere from NZ Police along the lines of 'at least we caught the person we were after'. Don't even go there.

It's too early to make a call on this - and I'm loathe to appear to let the cops off any hook - but partly it may be a planning issue with a new station. A designated emergency lane on the main roads a couple of blocks around the station may be the right way to ensure safety and allow for some speed without subjecting road users directly to the mayhem. Unfortunately planning isn't Auckland's strong point.  The same problem exists with the ability for emergency services to change traffic lights so they can get the right of way (change to flashing orange). Everyone's problem is invariably no-one's problem. If the Auckland authorities can't even get their ticketing system worked out after so many decades there's no hope in traffic light changers and emergency lanes ever being a priority.

Secondly, this extraordinary admission from the NZ Police on how they dealt with initial complaints about the offender shaping up to be the media's next 'Beast' - the Beast of Kaitaia:
James Parker, deputy principal at Pamapuria School, just south of Kaitaia, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to 49 charges of indecent assault, performing an indecent act and of unlawful sexual connection.
His name suppression was lifted when he appeared in Kaitaia District Court.
The attacks, on boys aged under 16, occurred over nearly eight years up until his arrest last month.
Most of Parker's sexual abuse against students occurred after police warned Pamapuria School that he should not have pupils staying at his house overnight, his lawyer Alex Witten-Hannah said.
The school did "nothing constructive" about it, he said, and "the bulk of the offending took place after that".
The police warning in 2009 came as a result of a tentative complaint from a child via a parent, he told Radio New Zealand.
The lack of action from the school in the wake of the strongly-worded police letter was quite extraordinary, he said.
"It almost beggars belief. I had to see the letter with my own eyes to believe it."

How can the NZ Police have let this guy loose? How can the School's board be sacked over this when the cops were doing zip? Wouldn't the board be right to surmise that if the police won't take action then why and how could they? Surely it is the NZ Police that are to be held ultimately responsible for the offending taking place after they knew what was going on. Sending strongly worded letters doesn't trump the positive consequences of even a single charge being laid.

I don't know the circumstances and whether or not the initial evidence was considered too weak to get a guilty verdict, but for the cops to leave it to the school to deal with as an internal matter was a negligent decision. Was this offender confronted by the cops at this early stage? - did they put the frighteners on him? Probably not since the news article says most of the known offending happened afterwards. There must be a review into the NZ Police handling of this case and into their general policy on how they deal with these issues.

It's not called 'cutting and running' - it's called coming to our senses: why NZ should be angry with the mainstream media coverage of the war

The argument to stay in Afghanistan is that we must not 'cut and run' from our 'peace keeping' obligations, which conveniently allows us to sidestep why we are in Afghanistan in the first place and the things we have had to do to stay there.

I call bullshit on this 'cut and run' argument because why we are there and the real cost to us demand a better justification and honesty than 'we can't cut and run'. When you are occupying another people's land, every hour, of every minute, of every second must be justified.

I feel embarrassed referring to our 10 deaths as a reason to leave, when the dead and wounded count in Afghanistan is over 40 000 with 250 000 externally displaced and 500 000 internally displaced. Where was our concern for the lives of those we are occupying, if only our concern kicked in at their first 1000 hu?

New Zealanders should be furious at the way our mainstream media have let them down by letting our leaders and military off the hook. The two best journalists on this issue, Jon Stephenson and Nicky Hager have both been maligned and ignored.

Nicky's brilliant most recent book, Other People's War is aimed at the NZ military and their attempts to lie outright to politicians about what our armed forces are doing.

Our mainstream media have acted as puppets for Army propaganda over our right as citizens in a democracy to know what is really going on.

 We have allowed our 'Kiwi Camp' to be a cover for the CIA, yet this base has been sold via the embedded mainstream media as some type of rainbow coloured peace force planting unicorns and candy canes of love.

Guyon Espiner declares that he has been to Afghanistan, as does Vernan Small. Both note that the CIA were there, yet neither believed that information was news worthy or relevant??? 

I'm sorry, the CIA are using our bases as a front because Provincial Reconstruction Teams don't get attacked the way Forward Operating bases do but neither Vernon or Guy smiley think that fact is news worthy in any way shape or form?

From the book...

having CIA operatives inside the Kiwi base fitted poorly with the deployment's stated goals. Why would the New Zealand authorities risk the New Zealanders working at Kiwi Base, and the credibility of the New Zealand peacekeeping mission, by mixing them up with a CIA operation? After the suicide attack on the FOB [forward operating base] Chapman, the issue of CIA operations inside a provincial reconstruction team was widely discussed. The Times wrote that "PRTs have been criticised widely for endangering civilian aid workers by blurring the line between development staff and the military.

So much for intellectual curiosity on behalf of two of our bravest news journalists.

It's not as if our teams actually built anything of any use with independent reports citing the spin work we did for the locals to hide what we are really doing as "poorly planned" and "wildly exaggerated".

The mainstream media's self censoring compliance with the NZ military and their outright willingness to don a flak jacket and helmet and play the intrepid journalist shtick is actually part of the problem.

Beyond the Kiwi Camp front for the CIA and our self censoring mainstream media puppets, was the shock revelation that our military have lied and deceived our own politicians about what we are really doing in this war for America...

Defence Force staff responsible for the deployment of Orion aircraft and Anzac frigates to the Gulf in the "war against terror" ignored instructions from then prime minister Helen Clark to keep their operations separate from those being conducted by the United States against Iraq. The book quotes unidentified officials and former diplomats as agreeing that Clark - lacking a strong defence minister - fought a lone battle against never ending efforts by the Defence and Foreign Affairs ministries to rewrite Government policy and buy military equipment which would enable New Zealand to build bridges with the United States.

New Zealand diplomats resorted to underhand tricks when they did not get their way with the last Labour Government. For example, when Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials did not like a particular Government policy decision, New Zealand's ambassadors in Washington and Canberra were told to sound out the views of the local bureaucrats. The ministry would then tell Government ministers that the Americans and Australians had made it known they were very concerned and there could be "relationship implications".

...how has the NZ Military managed to get away with running their own foreign affairs without any real scrutiny from the mainstream media?

John Armstrong was one brave voice on the revelations Hager had unearthed...

'Candyfloss' PR exposed in all its cynicism
Those who think Nicky Hager is just another left-wing stirrer and dismiss his latest book accordingly should think again.

Likewise, the country's politicians should read Other People's Wars before condemning it.

Whatever Hager's motive for investigating New Zealand's contribution over the past decade to the United States-led "war on terror", it is pretty irrelevant when placed alongside the mountain of previously confidential and very disturbing information his assiduous research and inquiries have uncovered.

With the help of well-placed informants and thousands of leaked documents, Hager exposes the cynical manner in which the Defence Force has purposely misled the public by omission of pertinent facts and public relations flannel.

This is particularly the case with regard to the "candyfloss" image the military has built around the deployment of New Zealand soldiers in the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan.

That image is of our soldiers acting more like peacekeepers armed with nothing more dangerous than a shovel.

Before Other People's Wars came out, award winning journalist Jon Stephenson wrote his whistle blowing Metro article detailing the handing over of civilians to known torture units in Afghanistan by our troops.

The willful ignorance towards what had been revealed by Hager was over shadowed with the level of aggression the Government meted out to Jon. The PM lied about him in the media, the Minister of Defense attacked his credibility and the Defense force lodged complaints with every media watch dog they could only to quietly drop all those complaints.

Those who have been brave enough to go beyond Small and Espiner have been vilified and threatened, yet they have done more than most others to highlight what we are actually doing in Afghanistan.

We are propping up a corrupt narco state to ingratiate ourselves to America in their latest empire building binge, leaving now isn't 'cutting and running', it's coming to our senses.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Government to ban Doctors and Nurses from treating patched gang members

The hard right tough on crime fantasy rhetoric of the National Party plumbs new lows with Todd McClay's racist gang patch ban law about to be skipped into law. Under it patched gang members will be banned from hospitals and Todd's expectations of nurses and doctors is that they call the Police rather than treat and admit an injured patched gang member.

This is junk law aimed at looking tough on crime for zero benefit, targeting a group in society it is easy to hate.

Are we really going to become that society which bans public services to people wearing symbols? Is that the social policy any Government really wants to align themselves to?

This dog whistle hate mongering follows more tough on crime window dressing that went in front of Parliament earlier this month. The Sentencing (Aggravating Factors) Amendment Bill meant Judges could make assaulting a Police Officer or Prison Guard an aggravating factor at sentencing, the Government claims this is needed because assaults had increased over the last 5 years, which wasn't true. In 2009 there were 2550 recorded assaults against Police Officer, by 2011 that dropped to 2014 recorded assaults.

Government won't serve patched gang members or measure child poverty - when did 'I cant see you so you don't exist' become a social policy?