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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why are we helping make people disappear?

News that the NZ SAS have had concerns enough to call a meeting with other special forces in Afghanistan to discuss issues regarding prisoners they capture who then disappear into the American fog leads to questions here like, ‘Why the fuck are we asking our soldiers to snatch people who get swallowed up by the Americans and disappear into a system that we know uses torture to obtain information, ARE WE HELPING AMERICA TORTURE PEOPLE?

Well, are we?

SAS complained at US treatment of prisoners
New Zealand SAS forces deployed in Afghanistan complained about the handling of prisoners they had captured and handed over to the United States, the Herald has been told. The elite soldiers were so concerned they called a meeting of other special forces at Kandahar base. The forces, including Australia, Canada, Norway, Germany and Britain, were involved in what were called "snatch-grabs" - missions to round up terrorist suspects to hand over to the United States for detention and interrogation. But New Zealand soldiers were said to be concerned that some of the detainees handed over by them had not been properly registered. Instead of being identified, photographed and fingerprinted and having their weapons properly registered, they had their heads shaved, no photos or ID taken and their belongings thrown into a single pile. The New Zealanders raised the alarm and wanted to know from other forces whether the proper procedures were being followed by them. The meeting took place in 2002, according to a Danish military source.

Roast Pork

The thing I am really looking forward to is the roasting we can start of the Police department when all the suppressed information about the 3 rape trials is finally dropped, oh will we roast pork then.

Um, just one question to Mrs Shipton – where is your husband right now love? And you swore on your daughters life that your husband isn’t a gang raping police officer who has some weird ritualistic need to insert things into women. On your daughters life?

Shipton's wife stunned as cousin rebuts evidence
Former policeman Brad Shipton shuddered in the dock while his wife Sharon wept in the witness stand yesterday after it was revealed her cousin had arrived to directly challenge their alibi. His shudder soon turned to tears as Crown prosecutor Brent Stanaway took the couple from surprise to shock in a few short sentences at the police sex trial. The Crown had recalled Mrs Shipton for further cross-examination on her sworn evidence in Shipton's defence that they were on a month-long holiday with her cousin in Wanganui in February 1984 during the period the offences he is charged with allegedly took place. Mr Stanaway said they had checked this evidence out with Mrs Shipton's cousin, Christine Filer, who completely disagreed with it. This, Mrs Shipton said, left her "totally stunned". Then Mr Stanaway said Mrs Filer, who now lives in Australia, was about to appear in the High Court at Auckland as a rebuttal witness for him. Again, Mrs Shipton was stunned: "I thought she was going to be a witness for the defence." Mr Stanaway then said the cousin would say Mrs Shipton had rung her after giving the evidence last week and said that if asked about the holiday by police, she should say she didn't remember. At this, Mrs Shipton burst into tears: "As God strikes me down I never said such a thing. I cannot believe Christine would say such a thing. I wish I could look her in the eye." Shipton's body was shuddering as Mr Stanaway interrupted: "I take it from that you deny it." Mrs Shipton: "On my daughter's life." Mr Stanaway had more: Mrs Filer would say Mrs Shipton had told her during the phone call that it would be better if Mrs Filer, who was on holiday in Perth, stayed away from her Brisbane home where the police would be trying to get in touch. "Oh, good heavens no," Mrs Shipton cried. "This is like a mad movie. Oh my God." Shipton's body continued to shudder and his fingers tightly gripped the bridge of his nose. Mr Stanaway told Mrs Shipton all this pointed to her evidence being the "jack-up" he had earlier said it was. More tears from Mrs Shipton, and the same denial: "I said it [on Monday] and I will go to my grave saying it. This is a jack-up but not on my part. I would move mountains if the truth could be told." Shipton clasped his hands together and rested his forehead on them, his head down and eyes closed.

Then Mr Stanaway was finished.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Invading Iraq had nothing to do with Oil

Invading Iraq had nothing to do with oil
Invading Iraq had nothing to do with oil
Invading Iraq had nothing to do with oil

now just say it a thousand more times and we might all believe it right? The latest legislation that is being forced on Iraq will give oil companies ownership over Iraq's oil, this is called looting, not development.

Allies pressure Iraq to hand over oil
LONDON - Baghdad is under pressure from Britain and the United States to pass an oil law which would hand long-term control of Iraq's energy assets to foreign multinationals, according to campaigners. Iraqi trades unions have called for the country's oil reserves - the second-largest in the world - to be kept in public hands. But a leaked draft of the oil law shows that the Government would sign away the right to exploit its untapped fields in so-called exploration contracts, which could be extended for more than 30 years. British Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells has admitted that the Government has discussed the wording of the Iraqi law with Britain's oil giants. In a written answer to a parliamentary question, from Labour's Alan Simpson, Howells said: "These exchanges have included discussion of Iraq's evolving hydrocarbons legislation where British international oil companies have valuable perspectives to offer based on their experience in other countries." The talks had covered "the range of contract types which Iraq is considering". Hasan Jumah Awwad al-Asadi, leader of the country's oil workers' union, warned this month: "History will not forgive those who play recklessly with the wealth and destiny of a people." With much of the country on the brink of civil war, and a fractious Government in Baghdad, campaigners say Iraq is in a poor position to negotiate with foreign oil firms. The law, which is being discussed by the Iraqi Cabinet before being put to the Parliament, says the untapped oil would remain state-owned but that contracts would be drawn up giving private sector firms the exclusive right to extract it. "There is this fine line, that the wording is seeking to draw, that allows companies to claim that the oil is still Iraqi oil, whereas the extraction rights belong to the oil companies," says Kamil Mahdi, an Iraqi economist at Exeter University. He criticised the United States and Britain, saying: "The whole idea of the law is due to external pressure. The law is no protection against corruption, or against weakness of government. It's not a recipe for stability." Oil production in Iraq has slipped to below two million barrels a day - less than before the invasion - and Britain and the US argue that Iraq urgently needs foreign investment to boost output. But Ewa Jasiewicz, of campaign group Platform, said all the other Gulf states had kept production in government hands.

We don’t have a problem here- sticking it to schools!

Um, I hate to point this out to the head of Waiuku College, but you DO have a problem with violence when you allow kids who have beaten up a student to waltz back into school, angering fellow students so much so that 200 get up and walk out. Bloody good on Slade Butler for having the balls to make a stand, we have a massive truancy problem in NZ schools, driven in part by the fact that 1 in every 3 kids are bullied at school. Teachers seem to turn a blind eye to bullying, especially boys schools, as they seem to think it will ‘toughen up’ their lads in some weird throwback to private school boy fagging. Id schools can’t provide a safe environment for their students, then the students should refuse to go to school until those teachers sort their shit out!

Student leads walkout after assault
On the first day of term Slade Butler was beaten up on his way to school. The 16-year-old was left bloodied, bruised and needing stitches to his head after being kicked and attacked with a bottle. Sounds shocking, but what was surprising, was how Butler's school - Waiuku College - dealt with the violence. After just two days, two of the three boys who were stood down over the attack, were back at school. Butler was not told and when he saw them wandering round the school he stood up in assembly and said he did not feel safe. He walked out of assembly and 200 fellow students walked out with him in support.

It’s not the disagreement it’s that Winston is wrong

A lot of fuss this morning over he said, she said bullshit between Winston and Helen over the war in Iraq. Winston, while sucking up to the Australians, said that Iraq would slide into chaos if America and its dwindling ‘alliance of the killing’ left Iraq. Now the story here isn’t that Helen and Winston disagree, it’s that Winston is simply wrong – IT IS THE AMERICAN PRESENCE IN IRAQ THAT IS CREATING CHAOS, not that it will slide into chaos once America leaves, it is chaos right now and will only continue to be chaos until they leave.

Peters says what Clark can't on Iraq
Foreign Minister Winston Peters yesterday said Iraq would slide into total chaos if the United States withdrew at present - a conclusion that Prime Minister Helen Clark has carefully avoided making publicly. New Zealand opposed the United States' invasion of Iraq and though Helen Clark might privately agree that it would be disastrous for the United States to withdraw now, to say so would imply a support of the United States being there at all. And that is a step too far for her. Mr Peters made his comment at a press conference with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer after six-monthly talks in Wellington. They were warmly received by Mr Downer, whose Government is standing firm in its military support of the United States in Iraq.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Stealing brown land

So Hauraki Maori shouldn’t worry about the government selling prime coastal real estate, real estate which is being claimed as part of Treaty settlements BECAUSE there is a clause with each sale that points out if a Maori land claim is successful, the Government will buy the land back off the buyer…….let me get this straight, the Government, the very same who legislated confiscation of the foreshore and seabed, will buy this land back and give it to Maori is a claim is successful????? How dumb do we think Maori are to believe that crock of shit? The Government is not going to buy coastal land back once they have sold it, regardless of what the Waitangi land tribunal has to say.

It’s real simple, if this was white land that was being taken and sold off, it would never happen, it’s only happening because it is brown land, and that my friends is just racist.

Coromandel land sale on shaky ground
The proposed sale of a $10 million block of prime Coromandel land is on shaky ground amid claims that state agencies have mishandled the deal. Hauraki Maori have occupied the 1100ha block to stop the Landcorp sale, wanting the land to settle outstanding Treaty claims. Landcorp chairman Jim Sutton said the Crown entity was the "meat in the sandwich" and he did not rule out cancelling the proposed sale. "Let's wait and see. There is obviously a claim on this land that we were not aware of. Had we been aware of it, of course we would have been trying to persuade the Office of Treaty Settlements to purchase it." The former Cabinet minister criticised the office's handling of the issue and urged the Government to reconsider its refusal to purchase the property for a pending Treaty settlement.

Please God, let your crazy followers fall over

Great news in America, the religious right are having issues finding a leader book burning enough for them to support.



Christian Right Labors to Find ’08 Candidate
WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 — A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn. The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although little known outside the conservative movement, the council has become a pivotal stop for Republican presidential primary hopefuls, including George W. Bush on the eve of his 1999 primary campaign. But in a stark shift from the group’s influence under President Bush, the group risks relegation to the margins. Many of the conservatives who attended the event, held at the beginning of the month at the Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island, Fla., said they were dismayed at the absence of a champion to carry their banner in the next election. Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, despite his efforts to make amends for having once denounced Christian conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance,” and to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.

Australia and East Timor

I think Australia and NZ owe East Timor, both our nations turned their heads and looked the other way when Indonesia raped East Timor, indeed we even gave the Indonesians the private thumbs up to commit mass murder there. The problem however is that our cobbers the Aussies don’t like to play fair, see the Indonesians signed gas and oil deals with the Australians that were actually East Timors gas. East Timor argued with the Australians that these deals would need to be renegotiated because Indonesia had no right to sign away deals for gas that were obtained after Indonesia illegally invaded East Timor. Most people would agree with that, but not the Australians, they have refused to budge and want the great deal they cut with the Indonesians, and just to let East Timor know who is boss, last year the Australian military stopped guarding cross over checkpoints allowing militants to cross over and create trouble when East Timor complained about the gas concessions. This move led to the sudden spurt last year in unrest and reminded the East Timorese that if you don’t play to the rules Australia lays down, then you don’t get no stability cobber. Add to all of this the fact that the Australian Army is perhaps second only to the IDF in being one of the most racist army’s around, anywhere the Aussies go to ‘peacekeep’ friction with the indigenous non-white population is always sure to follow.

Tensions high after second youth dies from injuries
The death of two East Timorese youths shot by an Australian soldier in Dili has heightened tensions in the capital. Three youths were shot by the soldier in a confrontation on Saturday. The first youth died on Saturday and the second died yesterday in hospital. The third is in hospital in a stable condition. Authorities said the soldiers fired four shots in self-defence when they were attacked by youths firing steel arrows. United Nations Police and East Timor authorities are investigating.

shock and surprise for public transport

Has it happened ladies and gentlemen? Has someone actually realised that the reason why most NZers (especially those in Auckland) don’t bother catching public transport because in NZ (especially in Auckland) public transport is complete shit? Honestly now, cattle trains to abattoirs are more comfortable than public transport in NZ, and that the slow minded who run our cities are only now starting to comprehend this must be a breakthrough near that of splitting the atom.

Tough rules will force buses to run on time and go green
Bus passengers are being promised sweeping law changes offering them better odds of getting picked up on time, and by clean and safe vehicles. The Government intends giving the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, and councils elsewhere in New Zealand, wide powers to set standards for all urban bus and ferry services. The tough new measures will be imposed regardless of whether the services are run commercially or with subsidies from the public purse. Regional councils will be able to deregister commercial services which fail to keep to their timetables. Ministry of Transport officials are working on an incentive and penalty regime to apply before that happens. At present, councils can set standards only for subsidised services, and operators do not even have to provide them with patronage information for planning purposes.

Oops- sorry about that mate

For a nation that has become addicted to throwing people in prison, (and God do we love to throw people into violent, underfunded and corrupt prisons – second only to the bloody Americans), it’s always a bit embarrassing when we throw innocent people in prison. See the problem with dear little NZ is we don’t care too much about those groups in society who dip out of visibility, we don’t care about Prisoners, and as such the person responsible for looking after the prisoners end up not caring about prisoners. White NZ has done very well over the last decade from property speculation and have spent a lot of money on their cosmetically enhanced 40inch plasma TVs and don’t really want to hear about brown folk stealing those 40inch cosmetically enhanced plasma TVs, so a culture of lock ‘em up and throw away the keys develops, and within that culture the people who have to look after those prisoners end up not caring either. So we have a society that doesn’t care about the violent environment we send prisoners to, and the people employed to run the prisons don’t bother doing the right thing because they know that society doesn’t give a toss about the human trash that ends up getting dumped with them. This leads to the type of problems we’ve seen recently, corrupt prison staff, racist prison staff, a culture of intense and under reported violence, rapes (remember that rape last week, and one of the bloggers here jumped up and down and blamed the low security prisoner for being locked in with a high security prisoner as if it was the low security prisoners fault and how dare I report on the story– wasn’t that an eye opening moment of how ignorant some NZers are), and of course Liam Ashley getting strangled in the back of a police van because no one could be bothered following the rules, because no one in the public cares about prisoners welfare, so the staff don’t either.

Oh and add into that moral gumbo this story of 2 innocent blokes who went inside, wonder if the Police will apologise?

Wrongly jailed pair want Government apology
Two men who were wrongly convicted of arson and spent almost a year in prison could be eligible for $100,000 in compensation, a legal expert says. Phillip Johnston and Jaden Knight, both from Lower Hutt and in their early 30s, are seeking an apology from the Government after they were jailed for setting fire to the Manawatu Hotel in Foxton in 2003. They each spent 9 months in Manawatu Prison before their convictions were quashed in 2005. Retrials were ordered and Mr Johnston was last year found not guilty of the arson. Mr Knight was discharged this month after the Crown failed to offer evidence against him, ending more than three years' worry that began when police first laid charges. Legal expert John Miller said the amount of compensation depended on several factors, including the case against them and reasons for quashing the verdict, their individual characters and how traumatic the experience was. "We calculated a sum of about $10,000 a month, roughly, in these situations." Mr Knight's lawyer, Christopher Stevenson, reportedly said the pair had been "left cold by what's happened, numb. It's just been a completely shocking experience for them." He said they would be meeting to decide the next step. Both families have described the experience as traumatic. Mr Johnston's mother, Darrel Arcus, said her son had moved from Lower Hutt because of death threats since being found not guilty. Seeing her son behind bars was almost unbearable. "I hated it, hated it. I cried every time I came out because I knew he did not belong there. I knew he was innocent," she told the Manawatu Standard. The two were driving from Palmerston North to Lower Hutt in the early hours of November 12, 2003. When they got to Levin, they saw a police car with flashing lights and followed it to the hotel blaze. They were later questioned by police and charged with arson. The fire caused $300,000 of damage to the hotel and there had been a risk to human life, Judge Les Atkins said during sentencing. Mr Knight's mother, Neroli Edwards, has said her son was now looking for security work but was finding it hard to get on with his life. The detective in charge of the investigation, Peter Govers, has stood by the decision to press charges. "As far as I am concerned, it was a professional and thorough investigation and back then there was sufficient evidence to charge both of them," he told the Manawatu Standard. The investigation into the arson has been reopened.

Friday, February 23, 2007

How to destroy a Global brand in 30 seconds (welcome to generation YouTube)

Here's one for our Activist friends, want to overthrow the global corporate dictatorship? Film it and put it on YouTube, this story of rats in a KFC/Taco Bell in New York has hit the news sources and is being beamed around the world. What would have been a small story on a local station has become a global story, Yum Brands who own KFC/Taco Bell closed Friday at $60.51, down 55 cents.

Rats at KFC/Taco Bell

Give the Devil his due

Dick Cheney – the most powerful Vice President in American history, the man who stepped down from Halliburton to take up the Vice President position while still getting paid bonuses from Halliburton on the one hand, he was also giving juicy unending non tended government contracts to Halliburton for the ‘war against terrorism’ on the other. He touched down in Australia for a wee visit with John Howard. The meeting itself suggests a much deeper agenda, Dick Cheney doesn’t travel anywhere to have to meet anyone, the fact that he is suggests that whatever is being said needs to be one on one. Hopefully Aussie hospitality makes his visit as unpleasant as possible.

Clashes in Sydney before Cheney's Australia trip
SYDNEY - Anti-Iraq war protesters clashed with police in Sydney yesterday ahead of a visit by US Vice President Dick Cheney, underlining divisions within one of Washington's firmest allies over the unpopular war. Police detained about six people when up to 200 Stop the War Coalition protesters, demanding Australian Prime Minister John Howard pull troops out of Iraq, tried to march from Sydney Town Hall to the US consulate. A heavy police presence, including officers mounted on horseback, ringed the protesters in an attempt to minimise disruption to peak-hour commuters, some of whom also squabbled with police. Protesters held placards saying "Dick Go Home & Take John With You" and "Stop Cheney, Troops Out". Police later relented and shepherded protesters as they marched towards the consulate. Howard has ruled out following Britain's example and cutting troop numbers in Iraq but his unwavering commitment has him walking through a political minefield towards an election later this year.

Washing Sin

Whenever I slag off the latest warped American foreign policy adventure, I remind myself that NZ also has its share of sin to wash. The invasion by Indonesia of East Timor and the repressive brutalization and mass murder of the East Timorese people was a move made with the complete approval of the NZ and Australian governments of the day. So keen were we to trade with Indonesia, we turned a blind eye to their atrocities, so now that East Timor is an independent state needing help, we have a responsibility to lend a hand, and to keep lending a hand until East Timor are on their feet. We were the country that turned our head and looked the other way while another was raped, we have a debt to repay to East Timor.

Past Governments accused of deaths cover-up
A former Australian Government official has accused the Whitlam and Fraser governments of lying over the deaths of five Australian-based journalists in East Timor in 1975. The inquest into the deaths of one of the journalists, Brian Peters, has been told by two former federal officers that an intercepted intelligence report they saw in 1977 indicated the men were killed on orders from Indonesian forces. Ian Cunliffe has told Glebe Coroner's Court the intercepted report, which he believed to be from Indonesian forces in Balibo to higher command, contradicted the position of successive Australian governments that the men had been accidentally killed in crossfire. "I had been made privy to something which suggested the Australian Government had basically been lying," Cunliffe told the court. Cunliffe, assistant to the secretary at the Hope Royal Commission into Intelligence and Security in the late 1970s, said he believed the intercepted document which was dated at the time of the men's death on October 16, 1975, could have been seen by then-Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. "I believe it would have been passed up the chain of command and drawn to the attention of ministers and, indeed, the Prime Minister." Whitlam was sacked in November 1975 and Labor lost the subsequent election to Malcolm Fraser. Cunliffe and Hope Royal Commission secretary George Brownbill both had top-level security clearances and were shown the intercepted document at the Defence Signals Directorate at Shoal Bay in the Northern Territory in early 1977 - 18 months after the Balibo Five were killed. Cunliffe and Brownbill both told the inquest yesterday the report suggested the journalists were deliberately killed. "It said the Australian journalists had been killed ... and the words strongly suggested it had been done on instructions," Cunliffe said. Official reports since 1975 have said Peters, Greg Shackelton, New Zealander Gary Cunningham, Malcolm Rennie and Tony Stewart were killed in crossfire between Indonesian forces and Fretilin troops.

Work it out Helen

Look I’m all for free child care, if you want to get more NZers to have more babies so you aren’t as reliant on mass immigration policies that cause cultural friction, then you have to start spending money on family friendly policies which also enable women to gain back career opportunities thus rebalancing some of the innate gender inequity in child birth ie – helping modern women move on from the dizzying heights of the bare foot and pregnant plateau culture has assigned them. Not to take anything away from the many amazing women who choose motherhood over a career, but there should be an attempt to make the transition as easy as possible back into work IF so chosen, and free preschool care is a perfect way of achieving those aims. So when Helen promised 20 free hours preschool care in the last election, everyone was pleased.

Everyone it seems except the preschools themselves who, if they accept the Government fee, could see them lose up to $3 an hour from where they currently charge. Why would any preschools adopt a funding structure that leaves them out of pocket $3 per hour? The fact that the Government simply keep nodding and telling us that the preschools will pick up the offer is ludicrous, why in God’s name would they?

It is becoming another issue where Labour either seem out of touch with what is actually going on, or they have promised without being able to deliver, either way it is an incompetent ending to a progressive idea that would have really made a real difference in the lives of many mothers and that in turn can only strengthen NZ families.

Preschool where PM unveiled plan gets cold feet
A preschool centre where the Government made its election promise of 20 hours of free childcare a week is getting cold feet about the scheme. The Tots Corner private care centre where Prime Minister Helen Clark and Trevor Mallard, then education minister, announced the scheme in a blaze of pre-election publicity in 2005 is understood to be considering imposing a surcharge on the "free" offer. The Northcote centre will neither confirm nor deny a claim on TV3 that it is considering imposing a $50-a-week surcharge on the much-vaunted 20 hours, an arrangement the Government will not sanction under proposed rules of the scheme, due to be introduced on July 1. Parents now pay $245 a week, or $55 a day, for a child to attend the North Shore centre. Owner Lorraine Manuela refused to comment on the impasse yesterday, indicating that it remained a matter of discussion between the centre and parents. The Government is proposing a funding rate of between $4.09 and $10.60 an hour for centres willing to join the scheme. It says it will not allow centres to treat the money as a subsidy to be topped up by parents. "No, they won't be able to charge anything else," Education Minister Steve Maharey said on television last night. But Early Childhood Council president Ross Penman said he believed it would prove politically untenable for the Government to resist pressure to change the rules "Parents are going to be absolutely furious to find, after being promised a reduction [in childcare fees] of $90 a week, that they are not going to get it," he told the Herald. Mr Penman said the scheme would represent an unacceptable pay cut for any centre with above-average costs, including most in Auckland and North Shore City. It was his personal belief the Government must allow them to charge a top-up.

Bloggers Rights

It is interesting to see Bloggers getting so much attention, free of the self censorship of corporate mainstream media self censorship, Blogs are raw unedited information that seem to scare the hell out of those in authority. At times that fear can be justified, yesterday Google shut down the CYFs blog after some brave munchkin anonymously posted a violent threat to Sue Bradford, a Green MP currently wrestling an angry and at times violent pro-smacking lobby group as she pushes through legislation to remove legal defences for hitting children. I hope we all can appreciate the irony of pro-smackers threatening to punch someone in the face, in fact every reason why we should ban smacking has been proved by the way the pro-smacking lobby groups have violently gone about voicing their opposition, if that’s the angry, violent kind of person smacking produces, let’s ban it now!

But what we consider acceptable censorship of blogs, other countries take further. Egypt has just imprisoned a blogger for insulting Islam and the president. Where do we draw the line here? I’m very much in favour of what Sue is doing and I’m amazed at how reactionary the opposition to her has been. That’s why when I first heard about the threat and the call to post her home address details on the CYFs site, I honestly thought some of those pro-smackers may well be nutty enough to have a go at her, and so I was relieved that the site was pulled down, however I find what Egypt is doing, which because of their authoritarian anti-democratic draconian laws is completely legal, totally appalling.

When deciding to censor do we need to look at why we are censoring? The idea of Free Speech isn’t freely speaking is it, surely it is speech that is free – what the brave anonymous poster on the CYFs blog did was use his voice to deny another of hers. Can speech that only seeks to deny the voice in others be free? Or is speech that is free, ie speech that is free from denying the voice in others our goal? When the Egyptian blogger criticized the Islamic University and called the leader a dictator, did he deny the other voice or did he describe it? I think his criticism is valid and doesn’t seek to deny the other, he seeks to reform or change, where as the anonymous poster on CYFs wanted to assassinate Sue, he (and based on the intensely misogynistic postings on that site, I’m making the guess that the anonymous blogger is male) wanted to violently smash her face in. Is violence the threshold as we attempt to find new rules to new ways of communicating? Are we drawing a line when it comes to threats of violence, but by banning that angry voice do we only push it further underground?

It is an on going issue this digital repression, Amnesty International started a new campaign last year as the number of Bloggers being put in prison grew increasingly under repressive regimes…

Irrepressible Adj. 1) Impossible to repress or control.
Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.

The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression.

Amnesty International, with the support of The Observer UK newspaper, is launching a campaign to show that online or offline the human voice and human rights are impossible to repress.

…. Such regimes need a tight control over the media, and with citizens starting to question and think for themselves, these regimes are obviously very worried, not so much for their personal safety, but more to do with fear of losing their control and influence over society. Perhaps the why each were censored may be the defining ethical line, the CYFs blogger was censored because he threatened to beat a politician up, the Egyptian blogger was censored and imprisoned because he questioned a dictatorship. Both freely speak, but it is only the Egyptian who speaks free of hate. I know which type of Free Speech I think is worth fighting for.

Egypt blogger jailed for 'insult'
An Egyptian court has sentenced a blogger to four years' prison for insulting Islam and the president.
Abdel Kareem Soliman's trial was the first time that a blogger had been prosecuted in Egypt. He had used his web log to criticise the country's top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university and President Hosni Mubarak, whom he called a dictator. A human rights group called the verdict "very tough" and a "strong message" to Egypt's thousands of bloggers. Soliman, 22, was tried in his native city of Alexandria. He blogs under the name Kareem Amer.A former student at al-Azhar, he called the institution "the university of terrorism" and accused it of suppressing free thought. The university expelled him in 2006 and pressed prosecutors to put him on trial.

'Slap in the face'
During the five-minute court session the judge said Soliman was guilty and would serve three years for insulting Islam and inciting sedition, and one year for insulting Mr Mubarak. Egypt arrested a number of bloggers who had been critical of the government during 2006, but they were all subsequently freed.

Hafiz Abou Saada of the Egyptian Human Rights Organisation called the sentence "a strong message to all bloggers who are put under strong surveillance". The UK-based organisation Amnesty International said the ruling was "yet another slap in the face of freedom for expression in Egypt". Fellow blogger Amr Gharbeia told the BBC it would not stop Egyptian bloggers from expressing opinions as "it is very difficult to control the blogosphere". There have been no reported comments on the sentence from the Egyptian authorities.

Surprising Sexism

The funny thing about being white, male and straight is that I don’t tend to see bigotry much because it isn’t often directed at me, and because it isn’t directed towards me, I tend to be blind to it, unless of course someone is getting some type of special treatment because they are brown, then Talkback can’t shout wolf racism loud enough.

So when my I do open my eyes and look around, I’m always dumbstruck by some of the things I see because the discrimination is just so inanely blatant, which was my reaction at the news today that Tennis is only now starting to offer the same amount of prize money for Women as they do for Men. That was just so bloody surprising to me, in the age of media endorsements Women’s Tennis surely holds it’s own as an income generator, so why would they get less? (That is of course if your suggested defence would be ‘because Men’s Tennis generates more money’, and you were to ignore the entire equality argument).

It’s only when such a blatant example is exposed does it make you pause and wonder at the many millions of other women paid less for no other reason than being a woman, who aren’t as lucky as female tennis players in terms of media exposure and suffer the indignity quietly, told simply that they are lucky to have a job.

Pay for play
Wimbledon agrees to equal prize money for women
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Genteel, old-fashioned Wimbledon is steeped in tradition. There's one custom, however, that has finally been discarded. Women, at last, will be paid as much as the men. After years of holding out against equal pay, the All England Club yielded to 21st century realities Thursday and agreed to offer the same prize money to both sexes at the world's most prestigious tennis tournament. "I knew it was just a matter of time," defending Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo said. "They resisted the longest they could. They have made the right decision and they really had no choice."

Oh God this is a bad idea

Okay, look first up, let’s show some respect for Prince Harry actually wanting to put his life on the line, just as his countrymen have done so, and respects to him that he has taken the honourable road rather than the easy privileged one.


Right now the British public are against this stupid war in Iraq and want to pull out, but if someone as beloved to their sense of national identity like Prince Harry was killed, or taken hostage and tortured, my God could you see how explosive that would be to the British? They would demand war and public support would swing 100% behind a full scale invasion. If you think that’s an over reaction of the British mindset, look at the ‘come together/all together’ cultural nuances behind getting the Christmas Day number one position on Top of the Pops.

Nothing says ‘Once more to the breach dear friend’ than the death of a beloved Prince. For the sake of the very same lives he wants to protect, Prince Harry should not go to Iraq.

Harry Iraq deployment no surprise
The deployment of Prince Harry's regiment to Iraq has been confirmed by the Ministry of Defence. The prince has always said he wants to be taken seriously as a soldier.
He joined the army as a career. He wants to be taken seriously as a soldier, which is why he made it clear after he'd finished his officer training at Sandhurst that he would leave the army if he was left behind when his regiment was sent to a war zone. And so, just as the prime minister announces the start of Britain's phased withdrawal from Iraq, Second Lieutenant Harry Wales of the Household Cavalry, is preparing for a tour of duty in that country.

IAEA: Iran expanding rather than freezing nuclear program – what now?

The report is out, the Iranians are expanding their nuclear program, not freezing it like they were told, none of which really surprises me. The intense fear within Iran that the American’s and Israeli’s are actually intending to bomb them is building with more internal groups within Iran criticizing Ahmadinejad’s position. The question is are the American’s saber rattling to force a compromise with Iran or has Bush over estimated the threat Iran poses in the exact same manner he did with Iraq? The problem is that after reading the behind the scene build up to the Iraq war you are left with the deep impression that Bush honestly thinks that what he is doing is right, which leaves me deeply concerned that Bush is preparing to make a date with destiny over Iran.

So where to now? The spooks within the right wing think tanks (all funded by the corporate military industrial far right fundamentalist Christian/Zionist complex by the way) are all crying that Iran is 6 months away from a nuke, the CIA (who the right wing think tanks consider tainted by too many State Department softies) say that Iran won’t have a nuke before 2017. How will Bush, a man convinced of his own destiny by the events of September 11th deal with Iran?

If he is as pathological as he seems to be, and he really does intend to bomb Iran, his window of opportunity is extremely narrow, his guiding influences have stated 6 months and the cost of keeping two carrier attack fleets ready is just too expensive to keep up indefinitely and I have yet to see an American military build up that was ever successfully diffused.

If the war drum does start to beat again, we will all have to decide very quickly which side of the fence we are all on in regards to America, because such an action will see furious local Muslim groups everywhere – even in little old NZ – who would actively seek to harm American assets. The true cost of this aggressive folly could be felt in every city around the world.

U.N.: Iran expanding rather than freezing nuclear program
VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Iran has expanded its uranium enrichment program instead of complying with a U.N. Security Council ultimatum to freeze it, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Thursday in a finding that clears the way for harsher sanctions against Tehran. "Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities," said the International Atomic Energy Agency, basing its information on material available to it as of Saturday. The conclusion -- while widely expected -- was important because it could serve as the trigger for the council to start deliberating on new sanctions meant to punish Tehran for its nuclear intransigence. In a report written by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency also said the Islamic republic continues construction of a reactor that will use heavy water and a heavy water production plant -- also are in defiance of the Security Council’. Both enriched uranium and plutonium produced by heavy water reactors can produce the fissile material used in nuclear warheads. Iran denies such intentions, saying it needs the heavy water reactor to produce radioactive isotopes for medical and other peaceful purposes and enrichment to generate energy. The six-page report obtained by The Associated Press also said that agency experts remain "unable ... to make further progress in its efforts to verify fully the past development of Iran's nuclear program" because of lack of Iranian cooperation. That, too, put it in violation of the Security Council, which on December 23 told Tehran to "provide such access and cooperation as the agency requests to be able to verify ... all outstanding issues" within 60 days. The report -- sent both to the Security Council and the agency's 35 board member nations -- set the stage for a fresh showdown between Iran and Western powers.

She’s asking for it

I don’t think ‘we get’ how powerful moving images with sound really are for Human Beings, in terms of captivating our attention will switching off our critical thinking faculties, television has a power for influence that we are only now, decades after its invention, starting to understand.

I always put the boot into Ronald because of his marketing directly to children through television, that box in your corner has the ability to brainwash you and your kid in ways you won’t even notice and don’t get me started on infants watching television. The American Academy of Pediatrics launched a ‘No TV for under 2’s campaign in 1999 after more and more research showed that infants under two, a time when the wiring of the brain is at it’s most critical, that infants under 2 watching TV has a negative effect on the forming of the frontal lobes, an area of the brain that in later life helps you with empathy and understanding the consequences of your actions.

Let’s just think about that – we have a generation that has been swamped by media from their birth, the consequences of which are only being understood now. We have a generation of young people who are conditioned to react rather than think out their consequences. How many times have you had a friend who has done something dumb, and when you ask them, why did you do it, their answer, “I dunno” - they literally didn’t see the consequences of their actions.

In her article, “Baby Einstein? Baby Exploitation, Dr Susan Linn spells out the facts Pediatricians now agree are the results from infants under two watching television…

1.) TV viewing for babies and toddlers can be habituating.

2.) Research suggests TV viewing for our youngest children is associated negatively with cognitive development, language development, and regular sleep patterns.

3.) The more time babies spend viewing TV the less time they spend interacting with parents or engaging in creative play.

4.) TV time for babies and toddlers may be a factor in developing attention problems and score lower on IQ and academic tests in grade school.

5.) TV viewing is correlated with obesity.

6.) For children under 3, watching TV is linked to an increase in bullying behavior.

7.) A recent study suggests that TV viewing may be a factor in autism.

And in case you were wondering how serious this problem really is, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that in America, 61% of babies One and younger watch 1.20 hours of screen media each day. We have created a media generation who lack the actual cognitive tools to see the consequences of their actions but want to arrest them and charge them like adults.

But it doesn’t just stop there, our consumer culture and the mass media brainwashing that sell us neurosis each day and makes us feel isolated from one another plays a role. Every day, each one of us is bombarded by thousands of media images designed to play on our natural human fears of rejection: YOU’RE TOO UGLY – YOUR EYELASHES AREN’T FAT ENOUGH – YOUR SMILE NEEDS TO BE WHITER – YOU NEED THIS THING TO BE HAPPY. We feel isolated and alienated, our fears are sold to us and we react by buying them in the hope that lip gloss will make me sparkle like it does for Paris Hilton.

Is it any wonder that in such a media environment that people withdraw to the internet? Is it any wonder that we have a socially inept society when infants are swamped by Television that actually stunts their cognitive ability?

Which all leads us to this new research that shows the sexualisation of young girls in the media has had a direct and negative effect on the way young girls see themselves. Some NZers would argue that we should never look at ‘root causes’ behind actions, but the research keeps coming back to tell us that the ‘root causes’ are more relevant and prevalent than every before.

Sexualisation 'harms' young girls
The media's portrayal of young women as sex objects harms girls' mental and physical health, US experts warn.
Magazines, television, video games and music videos all have a detrimental effect, a task force from the American Psychological Association reported. Sexualisation can lead to a lack of confidence with their bodies as well as depression and eating disorders. Such images also have a negative effect on healthy sexual development in girls, the researchers said. The task force was set up after mounting "public concern" about the sexualisation of young girls. Research on the content and effects of television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, films, video games and the internet was analysed. Recent advertising campaigns and merchandising of products aimed at girls was also scrutinised. Sexualisation was defined as occurring when a person's value comes only from her or his sexual appeal or behaviour, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is portrayed purely as a sex object. They gave examples of a trainer advert that featured pop star Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop. According to the research identified by the task force, such images and promotion of girls as sexual objects negatively affects young girls in many ways.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Do they think we are this dumb?

The White House is saying that Blair’s decision to pull almost a quarter of his force out of Iraq shows what a success everything has been and how swimmingly well it’s all turned out.


Blair, his Prime Ministership destroyed forever by his decision to go to war, so desperate to redeem himself begins the tail between legs pull out and America champions it as a ‘success’? If it’s been such a bloody success how come casualties for British troops have increased by 4 times in the last 4 months? If it was such a success, how come some British positions were pulled out from in case they were over run? If this is such a bloody success, how come a subtle ethnic cleansing has occurred in Basra under the British?

This pull out is the beginning of the end of this dreadful adventure, to have the US even attempt to write it up as any type of victory just shows how far removed the US has become from reality – Iraq is a screaming abortion of a disaster that we will feel the effects of for the remainder of our lives.

Which as always brings me to my favorite subject of what happens now – will the US be dumb enough to strike Iran? Will they use the IAEA report to push for harsh new deadlines with the threat of military action? Or will the US simply hold up the report, say “Iran ain’t complying, we must defend America from nuclear Muslims, ye-ha” and launch?

If we can learn anything from Iraq and the US build up to war there, it was that despite official denials, they were always intent on war, so we should look at some of the warning signs, a massive air strike ability building up, 12 stealth fighters flown to Japan, sam rockets sent to allies, I point to Condi Rice and her shitting all over the unity Government of Palestine as an example of an Administration that has no intention of talking nice when they know they will be bombing Iran in a couple of months, and look at Cheney the Dark Lord visiting John Howard and the Japanese to have a private word in the ears of allies so there isn’t any surprise if America suddenly launch.

‘Nonesense’ the defenders of America will cry, but let’s remember – America has been made well aware that they need to find peace in Palestine, yet America willingly isolates the Palestinians even after they create a national unity Government and as for Cheney, when does the Dark Lord of the Sith ever leave America? The fact someone so powerful is traveling for private one on one talks is ominous.

My staring at goat livers aside, the strongest counter regarding Iran is that such a strike would be pointless and serve no benefit whatsoever – and in fact could create such an enormous backlash by Muslims all over the planet that we would be plunged into a serious cultural clas, global crisis unlike anything we have witnessed. And I agree attacking Iran makes no sense whatsoever – but then again I said the exact same thing about Iraq, after reading Bob Woodward’s book, ‘State of Denial’ you suddenly appreciate how the way Bush sees the world is totally bubble wrapped, so much so he was convinced after Saddam was found that America was winning the war in Iraq. You realize he is an intellectually simple man with strong views on what is right and wrong and somehow seems to see himself as Winston Churchill facing the forces of evil alone. He registers the abuse as a sign that he is facing the full force of that evil and that wavering is not an option, something Kissinger is constantly reminding him whenever he visits the White House.

My real fear is that I know attacking Iran would be catastrophic, you all know attacking Iran would be catastrophic, but does George Bush, surrounded by vested interests from the Israeli’s through to corporate war mongers, know that attacking Iran would be catastrophic, I honestly have to tell you that I don’t think he does.

US undaunted by UK exit from Iraq
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair announced his timetable for pulling troops out of Iraq as thousands more US soldiers were arriving to restore order in Baghdad.
The UK has long been the most prominent US ally in Iraq, but the US expressed no dismay at the British withdrawal. Vice-President Dick Cheney put a positive spin on Mr Blair's action, saying it reflects success in bringing stability to some areas of Iraq. It was "an affirmation that in parts of Iraq things are going pretty well." "I talked to a friend the other day who had driven from Baghdad to Basra in seven hours and found the situation dramatically improved compared to where it was a year or so ago," he told ABC News from Japan.

Smacking Sue Bradford

I admire Sue Bradford, she is an incredibly intelligent woman who has tirelessly fought for those who are weaker, her anti-smacking law is the exact type of symbolic legislation required for a country with one of the worst child abuse statistics on record within the developed world.

What has staggered me is the level of contempt those on the opposite side of this debate hold her in, so much so that she has now been threatened on the cyfs blog site. I supported the CYFs blogsite because of the totalitarian nature CYFs has towards investigating any complaints against it, leaving many parents frustrated and angry, but to now use the site to post violence against a person trying to ban violence is simply an intellectual flip flop too far, and I understand why you have lost your kids.

Sue inspires such hatred because of her broad working class accent and her membership to the Greens, to her enemies she represents all that they hate and write off as ‘politically correct’. One has to wonder at how much of this has been whipped up by the National Party MP, Chester Borrows who has told every reporter he can huff and puff on that Sue’s legislation will make criminals out of ordinary NZ parents – this is total, inflammatory bullshit and I do wonder how Chester sleeps hearing about death threats to Sue.

Let’s be very clear here NO PARENT WILL BE ARRESTED FOR GIVING A SLIGHT SMACK ON THE BUM!!!!!!!!!!! For the love of God, that isn’t what this is about, it is a statement to the country that we don’t beat our kids anymore and that there isn’t a defense to hit your kids, of course children should be disciplined, we all agree and know that children should be disciplined – but discipline doesn’t mean you should hit kids, there are better and more effective ways to discipline your children and if you really need a crash course on it, watch those nanny shows on TV.

I’ve heard the dumbest things come out of peoples mouth over this smacking issue, the stupidest has to be “what if my child was going to touch a power plug and I hit its hand, I’m going to go to jail” …….. how could anyone really ask that question and expect serious response? It is inane, of course no parent would ever be charged under such circumstances, there is more chance of America invading NZ than that scenario ever getting to Court!

The other eye roller is 'The Government is telling us what to do in our homes'! The Government also passed domestic violence laws that stopped you beating your wife in your home as well, I start to get the feeling that these are the very same people who violently oppossed Civil Unions, Homosexual discrimination and prostitution law reform - it is the fury of the provinces we can hear, that section of NZ community still smarting from the National Party loss who believe NZ has morally regressed mixed in with a disgruntled generation of males living in the power sharing shadow of MMP who believe political correctness has robbed them of machismo.

A legitimate comeback though is will this really change our appalling child abuse figures, and the answer to that is on its own, this legislation won’t be able to do that, but combined with other efforts, yes we can start changing the environment and start moving towards a violence free society.

What I don’t get is that if I hit my mate, it’s assault, if I had a kid and hit that, I’m safe – how come the weakest members of society get LESS protection?

Bradford braces for Smacking Bill battle
Green MP Sue Bradford believes her anti-smacking bill will become law, but by a razor-thin majority. The bill easily passed its second reading in Parliament last night, by 70 to 51. And it looks likely to pass its third reading, in about three weeks, when it is expected to received 63 votes. It needs 61 votes to pass. The bill would repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act, which gives parents the right to use reasonable force to discipline their children. Several MPs voted for the bill last night only so they could then support a proposed amendment by National MP Chester Borrows that would define reasonable force. Six National MPs who voted for Ms Bradford's bill last night are expected to be told by party whips to support Mr Borrows' amendment, although some of those MPs are believed to be strongly opposed to section 59. Two New Zealand First MPs also supported Ms Bradford's bill so they could then vote for the Borrows amendment. If those MPs and all those who opposed Ms Bradford's bill last night voted for the Borrows amendment, it would have 59 votes - not enough for it to be passed, but enough to ensure three weeks of lobbying before the bill returns to Parliament.

Time to look at the Earthquakes – the 5% chance.

Early last year, three earthquakes hit the very same offshore area as the three earthquakes that hit Auckland last night, this following on from another two earthquakes that hit the same area in January. Now seeing as Auckland has about 50 volcanoes and sits atop an active volcano field, and there is a 5% chance that we will have another eruption in our lifetime, I kinda think we should start looking at this a little more deeply than we are currently. Officials say that these earthquakes are too far north of the volcanic field, but there is obviously something going on out there – seeing as NZers are well known for their ‘she’ll be right mate’ attitude and we only ever do something when the situation is dire, I’m not convinced of the officials answers.

A volcano blowing up in the middle of a modern city doesn’t sound like a happy ending and seeing as we had hour long traffic jams in Auckland in the weekend for that bloody big boat when it parked its arse in the harbor, the chances of Aucklanders being able to actually get out of the city if a Volcano blew up would be non-existent.

Earthquakes shake Auckland region
Auckland was rocked by three earthquakes last night, the strongest measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale. The tremors, which are unusual for Auckland, were described as shallow quakes and were felt as far afield as Te Atatu and Kawau Island. The smaller earthquake at 8.24pm measured 3.7, the second (4.5) was at 9pm, and the third (3.8) was at 11.23. The quakes were the largest in Auckland since 1970, when the city was shaken by a 4.7 quake centred in the Coromandel. Volcano surveillance co-ordinator Brad Scott, of GNS Science, said quakes were felt on average every three to five years in Auckland. The bigger earthquake was 15km deep and 30km east of Orewa. Mr Scott said the shakes were not an indication of a larger one to follow. And they did not indicate that Auckland's volcanoes would erupt, because they were a long way from Auckland's volcanic field. Two smaller quakes were registered in the same area on January 30, both measuring 2.7.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Light bulbs

Here’s what surprises me about the whole light bulb issue – it’s the fact that it takes the Australians to actually just go and do it, while little old NZ ‘thinks’ about doing it – it’s almost as if the Greens and Labour were caught out surprised that a Government could just make the decision without begging the country to consider it. It is that type of environmental leadership the Greens and Labour seem incapable of.

Australia, NZ ready to get rid of standard light bulbs
New Zealand and Australia are about to turn off the incandescent lights that have illuminated them since the bulb was invented more than 120 years ago. Australian Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday announced that traditional light bulbs would be phased out within three years - a move he said would be a world first. Under law, the super-cheap lighting will vanish from supermarket shelves by 2010, replaced by energy-efficient alternatives such as compact fluorescent bulbs. Mr Turnbull estimated the move would slash Australia's greenhouse gas emissions by about 8000 tonnes a year in the five years to 2012.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Laugh or Cry?

God, it's difficult to know whether you should laugh or cry over this story - yay we have record numbers of underpaid rookie cops who have failed driving, firearms and unarmed combat tests, great news.

Record cop numbers, but 'failures on the beat'
New Zealand Police announced today it now has over 8000 sworn officers -- the highest number ever. It was also on track to hit the Government's target of 1000 extra officers for a total 8500 by 2009, as promised to NZ First for supporting a Labour-led Government after the last election. The figures were released on the same day it was revealed that recruits who failed tests for skills such as driving, firearms and unarmed combat were still being allowed to go on the beat. Police human resources manager Wayne Annan said today there were now enough police to link arms and circle Eden Park 48 times. He hoped the number of sworn officers to reach 8500 by 2009. "New Zealand Police is still seeking quality candidates as it aims to boost its numbers further," he said. In particular, there were many opportunities in Auckland and recruits could jump waiting lists and begin their police careers immediately. This morning, The Press reported recruits who failed driving, firearms and unarmed combat tests were still donning uniforms and taking to the streets. Mr Annan said the failed recruits were allowed to do "limited duties" until they resat and passed all their tests. They were also given multiple chances to pass at police college. "If they were really hopeless they wouldn't have got into police college in the first place," he said. In the past, recruits either passed everything or did not graduate, he said. The new "performance management process enhancements" allowed recruits to do remedial work and resit failed exams.


US 'Iran attack plans' revealed
US contingency plans for air strikes on Iran extend beyond nuclear sites and include most of the country's military infrastructure, the BBC has learned. It is understood that any such attack - if ordered - would target Iranian air bases, naval bases, missile facilities and command-and-control centres. The US insists it is not planning to attack, and is trying to persuade Tehran to stop uranium enrichment. The UN has urged Iran to stop the programme or face economic sanctions. But diplomatic sources have told the BBC that as a fallback plan, senior officials at Central Command in Florida have already selected their target sets inside Iran. That list includes Iran's uranium enrichment plant at Natanz. Facilities at Isfahan, Arak and Bushehr are also on the target list, the sources say.

Two triggers
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says the trigger for such an attack reportedly includes any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon - which it denies. Alternatively, our correspondent adds, a high-casualty attack on US forces in neighbouring Iraq could also trigger a bombing campaign if it were traced directly back to Tehran. Long range B2 stealth bombers would drop so-called "bunker-busting" bombs in an effort to penetrate the Natanz site, which is buried some 25m (27 yards) underground. The BBC's Tehran correspondent France Harrison says the news that there are now two possible triggers for an attack is a concern to Iranians. Authorities insist there is no cause for alarm but ordinary people are now becoming a little worried, she says.

Earlier this month US officials said they had evidence Iran was providing weapons to Iraqi Shia militias. At the time, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the accusations were "excuses to prolong the stay" of US forces in Iraq. Middle East analysts have recently voiced their fears of catastrophic consequences for any such US attack on Iran. Britain's previous ambassador to Tehran, Sir Richard Dalton, told the BBC it would backfire badly by probably encouraging the Iranian government to develop a nuclear weapon in the long term. Last year Iran resumed uranium enrichment - a process that can make fuel for power stations or, if greatly enriched, material for a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its programme is for civil use only, but Western countries suspect Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. The UN Security Council has called on Iran to suspend its enrichment of uranium by 21 February. If it does not, and if the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms this, the resolution says that further economic sanctions will be considered.

I’m in love with Hannah Hogson and what the hell do TVNZ think they are doing?

You know something I don’t fucking get folks? Is why TVNZ fucked it’s own news show, Tonight, so very, very badly. It’s as if they don’t care, or ‘get’ that urban folk watch late night news! Due to traffic jams, due to runnin’ around and getting this and doin that – all the regular things that fill up our busy, busy days, most NZers just don’t get home in time for 6pm. There is a huge market for late night news, it just staggers me that TVNZ seemed to go out of their way to dump crap shows just before the news, forcing anyone above watching sad individuals obviously in need of some deep compassionate counseling sold off as freak of the week documentaries, to tune in exactly at 10.30pm. An inane strategy that would demand a static appointment time slot, yet the time-slot for Tonight would yo-yo wildly at the mere whim of god knows what, sometimes I thought the timeslot would fluctuate with the full moon, at other times it seemed to sync in with my girlfriends cycle.

It was almost as if TVNZ didn’t care.

Which is a fucking shame, because I’m all about a healthy democracy, and part of a healthy democracy is a critical media unafraid to speak truth to power and in that vein of thinking, Tonight really blew me away when I watched it last night. I’m in love with Hannah Hogson, there I said it and I don’t care! Her report into NZers perceptions to poverty and whether John Key could solve them was one of those rare stories that reminds you there are good reporters, but by Christ do you have to go looking for them. TVNZ doesn’t even have Tonight listed on their website other than as a line, no profiles and Hannah Hogson wasn’t even listed. Oh they do the full spectrum production of the blessed ‘ONE NEWS TEAM’ in a way that would make Ron Burgundy blush, but not a whisper of it’s flowers in the attic malformed twin sister.

If TVNZ could just find it in their heart to stop crippling their own late night news show and put Hogson and fresh new young journalists of her ilk to work in a stable time slot that could actually shed some light on the events of the day.

You know, for the sake of that whole ‘healthy democracy’ thing I was talking about.

Seeing as you are the public broadcaster and all.

The coming war with Iran: John Pilger

Funny whenever I post about America attacking Iran there is the usual braying from the right that it will never happen, I think Pilger has the best counter to that.

The "threat" from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted by familiar, compliant media language that refers to Iran's "nuclear ambitions," just as the vocabulary of Saddam's non-existent WMD arsenal became common usage.
The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of "buying time" for its disaster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a "surge" of American troops in Iraq, George W. Bush identified Iran as his real target. "We will interrupt the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria," he said. "And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

"Networks" means Iran. "There is solid evidence," said a State Department spokesman on 24 January, "that Iranian agents are involved in these networks and that they are working with individuals and groups in Iraq and are being sent there by the Iranian government." Like Bush's and Blair's claim that they had irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein was deploying weapons of mass destruction, the "evidence" lacks all credibility. Iran has a natural affinity with the Shi'ite majority of Iraq, and has been implacably opposed to al-Qaeda, condemning the 9/11 attacks and supporting the United States in Afghanistan. Syria has done the same. Investigations by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others, including British military officials, have concluded that Iran is not engaged in the cross-border supply of weapons. General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said no such evidence exists.

As the American disaster in Iraq deepens and domestic and foreign opposition grows, "neocon" fanatics such as Vice President Cheney believe their opportunity to control Iran's oil will pass unless they act no later than the spring. For public consumption, there are potent myths. In concert with Israel and Washington's Zionist and fundamentalist Christian lobbies, the Bushites say their "strategy" is to end Iran's nuclear threat. In fact, Iran possesses not a single nuclear weapon nor has it ever threatened to build one; the CIA estimates that, even given the political will, Iran is incapable of building a nuclear weapon before 2017, at the earliest.

Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations – until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear program to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to "go anywhere and see anything." They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei, says that an attack on Iran will have "catastrophic consequences" and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

Unlike its two nemeses, the US and Israel, Iran has attacked no other countries. It last went to war in 1980 when invaded by Saddam Hussein, who was backed and equipped by the US, which supplied chemical and biological weapons produced at a factory in Maryland. Unlike Israel, the world's fifth military power with thermonuclear weapons aimed at Middle East targets, an unmatched record of defying UN resolutions and the enforcer of the world's longest illegal occupation, Iran has a history of obeying international law and occupies no territory other than its own.

The "threat" from Iran is entirely manufactured, aided and abetted by familiar, compliant media language that refers to Iran's "nuclear ambitions," just as the vocabulary of Saddam's non-existent WMD arsenal became common usage. Accompanying this is a demonizing that has become standard practice. As Edward Herman has pointed out, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "has done yeoman service in facilitating this"; yet a close examination of his notorious remark about Israel in October 2005 reveals its distortion. According to Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East History, and other Farsi language analysts, Ahmadinejad did not call for Israel to be "wiped off the map." He said, "The regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time." This, says Cole, "does not imply military action or killing anyone at all." Ahmadinejad compared the demise of the Jerusalem regime to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The Iranian regime is repressive, but its power is diffuse and exercised by the mullahs, with whom Ahmadinejad is often at odds. An attack would surely unite them.

The one piece of "solid evidence" is the threat posed by the United States. An American naval buildup in the eastern Mediterranean has begun. This is almost certainly part of what the Pentagon calls CONPLAN 8022, which is the aerial bombing of Iran. In 2004, National Security Presidential Directive 35, entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization, was issued. It is classified, of course, but the presumption has long been that NSPD 35 authorized the stockpiling and deployment of "tactical" nuclear weapons in the Middle East. This does not mean Bush will use them against Iran, but for the first time since the most dangerous years of the cold war, the use of what were then called "limited" nuclear weapons is being openly discussed in Washington. What they are debating is the prospect of other Hiroshimas and of radioactive fallout across the Middle East and Central Asia. Seymour Hersh disclosed in the New Yorker last year that American bombers "have been flying simulated nuclear weapons delivery missions...since last summer."

The well-informed Arab Times in Kuwait says Bush will attack Iran before the end of April. One of Russia's most senior military strategists, General Leonid Ivashov says the US will use nuclear munitions delivered by Cruise missiles launched in the Mediterranean. "The war in Iraq," he wrote on 24 January, "was just one element in a series of steps in the process of regional destabilization. It was only a phase in getting closer to dealing with Iran and other countries. [When the attack on Iran begins] Israel is sure to come under Iranian missile strikes. Posing as victims, the Israelis will suffer some tolerable damage and then an outraged US will destabilize Iran finally, making it look like a noble mission of retribution . . . Public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian hysteria, leaks, disinformation etcetera . . . It remains unclear whether the US Congress is going to authorize the war."

Asked about a US Senate resolution disapproving of the "surge" of US troops to Iraq, Vice President Cheney said, "It won't stop us." Last November, a majority of the American electorate voted for the Democratic Party to control Congress and stop the war in Iraq. Apart from insipid speeches of "disapproval," this has not happened and is unlikely to happen. Influential Democrats, such as the new leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and would-be presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and John Edwards have disported themselves before the Israeli lobby. Edwards is regarded in his party as a "liberal." He was one of a high-level American contingent at a recent Israeli conference in Herzilya, where he spoke about "an unprecedented threat to the world and Israel (sic). At the top of these threats is Iran.... All options are on the table to ensure that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon." Hillary Clinton has said, "US policy must be unequivocal.... We have to keep all options on the table." Pelosi and Howard Dean, another liberal, have distinguished themselves by attacking former President Jimmy Carter, who oversaw the Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt and has had the gall to write a truthful book accusing Israel of becoming an "apartheid state." Pelosi said, "Carter does not speak for the Democratic Party." She is right, alas.

In Britain, Downing Street has been presented with a document entitled "Answering the Charges" by Professor Abbas Edalal of Imperial College, London, on behalf of others seeking to expose the disinformation on Iran. Blair remains silent. Apart from the usual honorable exceptions, Parliament remains shamefully silent.

Can this really be happening again, less than four years after the invasion of Iraq which has left some 650,000 people dead? I wrote virtually this same article early in 2003; for Iran now read Iraq then. And is it not remarkable that North Korea has not been attacked? North Korea has nuclear weapons. That is the message, loud and clear, for the Iranians.

In numerous surveys, such as that conducted this month by BBC World Service, "we," the majority of humanity, have made clear our revulsion for Bush and his vassals. As for Blair, the man is now politically and morally naked for all to see. So who speaks out, apart from Professor Edalal and his colleagues? Privileged journalists, scholars and artists, writers and thespians who sometimes speak about "freedom of speech" are as silent as a dark West End theater. What are they waiting for? The declaration of another thousand year Reich, or a mushroom cloud in the Middle East, or both?

John Pilger

Cops and Rape

Can anyone tell Uncle Bomber why it is that only Ricakrds seems to be photographed coming in and out of the Court room? Why is it that Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum are never photographed???????????

Why, oh why?



Here’s a little tale about our brave boys in blue, again – what is it with Police and ritualistic rape involving the forced insertion of police batons or in this case, the novel use of a bottle. Feeling sick to your stomach yet NZ? Time to scrutinize our Police force yet? Oh and don’t you want to know how those Jury members who acquitted these guys for the Louise Nichols pack rape are feeling today?

Rickards denies kidnapping and indecent assault
Suspended police Assistant Commissioner Clint Rickards is accused of standing over a handcuffed 16-year-old girl while she was sexually violated with a whisky bottle. The details were made public for the first time yesterday as Rickards and former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum went on trial in the High Court at Auckland after pleading not guilty to kidnapping and indecently assaulting the girl 23 years ago in Rotorua. The case - in which the complainant has name suppression - was discovered by detectives investigating the Louise Nicholas rape allegations on which the trio were acquitted by a jury last year. Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh told the court how the girl was in a consensual sexual relationship with Shipton when she was taken to a house in Rotorua where the men and two others she also thought to be police officers were drinking. Mr Zarifeh said she was handed a drink and the men implied they were going to have sex with her, which she refused. Shipton then said something like "she wasn't going to go willingly" and she was picked up and taken to a bedroom struggling and screaming. Shipton allegedly straddled the girl - who was about 1.52m in height and weighed around 50kg - and passed some handcuffs to either Rickards or Schollum, who were standing on either side. The other two men were also in the room with one of them pacing about. Mr Zarifeh said the girl was told "not to fight it" as her underwear was forcibly removed and an indecency was performed using what she thought was the whisky bottle they had been drinking from. Mr Zarifeh said the girl was in agony and screaming for it to stop when Schollum said, "She's had enough". The other men left the room while Schollum stayed behind and told her not to say anything as she lay curled up and crying.