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Friday, February 29, 2008

NZ homes likened to refugee camp huts

NZ homes likened to refugee camp huts
Three out of four Kiwi homes in some regions are cold, damp and mouldy, putting New Zealand housing stock on a par with Palestinian refugee camp shacks, a health expert says. At a workshop in Wellington yesterday on the health effects of leaky buildings, Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes of Massey University cited a 2005 study, which found mould in 75 per cent of the 1310 households surveyed. "This is comparable to a study of Palestinian refugee camps, where the rate was 78 per cent." Up to one in five New Zealanders suffer the chronic and sometimes life-threatening respiratory condition. Wellington's Asthma Research Group has found that asthmatics allergic to mould had much more severe symptoms, and were almost twice as likely to end up in intensive care.

Forget leaky homes from property speculations gone bad, the real leaky homes are the ones of the poor, with house prices so high and home ownership slipping those on the bottom of the heap increasingly are living in sick homes that are exacerbated by intense over crowding, a natural breeding ground for illness and the kind of pressures that added with drink or drugs create the kind of homes we see those dead and broken babies emerge from. The benefit cuts caused by Ruth Richardson and continued by Helen Clark have done little to alleviate this and while John Key might have discovered the underclass, National supporters who are bound by a hate of Helen Clark and love of tax cuts show no inclination to help anyone other than themselves.

Justices Take Up Battle Over Exxon Valdez

Justices Take Up Battle Over Exxon Valdez
The Exxon Valdez oil spill, which caused a 3,000-square-mile oil slick and still affects Alaska’s fisheries after nearly 19 years, was a “tragedy,” Exxon’s lawyer told the Supreme Court on Wednesday. But the company has been punished enough by $3.4 billion in criminal fines, cleanup costs and compensation payments, the lawyer added, arguing that the $2.5 billion in punitive damages approved by a federal appeals court served no additional “public purpose.” Exxon’s appeal of the biggest punitive damage award ever upheld in federal court led to a lively Supreme Court argument in which everything was open to dispute, from the significance of a 200-year-old case about robbery on the high seas to the world of modern maritime commerce in which a 1,000-foot tanker like the Exxon Valdez is considered a separate “business unit” in the organization chart of its corporate owner.

These pricks, these record setting multi billion dollar quarterly profit oil pricks have managed to dodge the punitive damages against them all this time since 1989 when one of their drunk captains ran aground and caused one of the worst oil slick of all time, they argue that it wasn’t their fault the captain was drunk and that there is no additional reason in forcing them to pay $2.5 Billion as it wouldn’t be of any public purpose – perhaps Exxon don’t understand the term Punitive Damages – they are awarded to reform or deter actions like this, and they are very high so you won’t forget the lesson, that these maggots have managed to avoid paying their pound of flesh is just another blot on an industry as soaked in blood and injustice as they are in oil.

Blogger targets 'political' editing of Wikipedia in Beehive

Blogger targets 'political' editing of Wikipedia in Beehive
A person at Parliament is making too many "political" alterations to New Zealand entries in the open-access internet encyclopaedia Wikipedia, says media commentator Russell Brown of Auckland. Politicians and staffers "editing" such entries should have to declare their interests rather than remaining anonymous behind the strings of numbers which make up internet "addresses" for individual users, Brown said today in his Hard News "blog". "I think is doing way too much, and behaving in too political a way, for someone hiding behind an IP address," he said. "I'd rather see Parliamentary editors register and declare interests in their profiles". Wikipedia records the exact time and IP address - the numerical identifier of each computer on the internet - when any user alters a page. The IP address used for the June 2007 alterations - to remove information about the deputy Opposition leader Bill English's moral beliefs and family - is assigned to the New Zealand Parliament, Brown said. The initial entry said of Mr English: "He married a Catholic GP, Mary, and they now have six children - five boys: Luke, Thomas, Rory, Bartholemew and Xavier; and one daughter, Maria. He is a devout Catholic himself, and upholds his churches opposition to abortion, voluntary euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, civil unions in New Zealand and prostitution in New Zealand. "His wife Mary edited the newsletter of an anti-abortion medical practitioners group, Doctors for Life, and served as president of a conservative Christian women's group known as the Family Education Network, before stepping down when her husband was elected Leader of the Opposition. Both organisations are now defunct" These passages were cut to: "He married a GP, Mary, and they now have six children - five boys and one daughter, Maria".

Isn’t that interesting, another blogger, whaleoil (think of bcom undergrads from the provinces with redder necks) claims it could be a Labour party staffer running a disinformation campaign, but that is clutching and much more likely it is a National staffer trying to erase the fact that Bill English is very anti abortion and very religious, with National needing to reach out to urban women, having an anti-abortionist (whose kid doesn’t like the fags much either) as your number two knobbles all that hard work John Key has gone to flashing his charming smile all over town.

Foreshore deal benefits Pakeha too

Foreshore deal benefits Pakeha too
Te Whanau a Apanui has netted a foreshore and seabed deal that protects local Maori and Pakeha fishing practices. Yesterday, the Crown and eastern Bay of Plenty iwi, whose tribal boundaries extend from near Torere to Potikirua, signed a heads of agreement - the second of its type in a month. However, an important variation from the Ngati Porou deal will see Pakeha and tribal people who live in the district free from a permit system when they go fishing, in a concession, known as the iwi kainga catch provision.

Another deal where the Government agree to letting Maori have something they already had but stole off them, what I find amusing is the headline ‘Foreshore deal benefits Pakeha too’ – hahahahahahahahaha, yes that’s right, other than shutting down due process within the judicial system and passing legislation to confiscate the entire foreshore and seabed of NZ, this deal certainly benefits Pakeha, well noted Granny Herald.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

TVNZ 7 - the art of recycling

The hype and the blah blah blah of patronising prose from some comms staff hackette aside, the new "factual" channel from TVNZ will be most welcomed because it has no ads. I attended the media briefing in Auckland earlier today and found the schedule rather scant. Compared with the briefing for TV4 (back in the mid 90s) it was so thin it should be referred to anorexia counselling.

The only shows that will be made for the new freeview channel are the flagship 8pm newscast - which itself looks like it will be substantially what has aired over on One two hours before - and the two panel shows airing back-to-back on Wednesdays after the news. And that's it. That's all for that channel.

I asked someone involved if any other shows are planned to be announced before they launch... and, no. No, that's it. So no pressure then on Russell Brown, host of "Media 7" and Wallace Chapman, host of "Back Benches." Good luck to them both.

There are to be documentaries, but it was not clear whether they were to be commissioned specifically or not, and the impression gained from the clip we saw seemed to indicate that polytech media students are going to have a wonderful opportunity to have their efforts screened.

I'm sure that re-running Agenda and Eye to Eye and even Close Up will be useful for some people, and international shows like Four Corners and Dateline are welcome, but two hours of Breakfast re-runs every weekday!? They get $80 million for 5 years direct from government plus some money from TVNZ revenues. Nothing more?

There are 9 news staff dedicated to the hourly 10 minute "News Now" bulletins and the "News at 8" hour-long programme. That sounds reasonable, but they are going to have to be busy little bees to produce enough items unique to the channel to adequately differentiate itself from its parent at One.

7's head, Eric Kearley, told me that they are on a shoestring budget for what they are expected to produce, but seemed confident they would hit their targets. He said they would have a strong online presence. On this point Russell was keen to let people know his show would be very engaged online - including some form of discussion function. Media 7 would be filmed at the Classic on Queen St and feature media types, whilst Wallace's show's at the Back Bencher pub across from Parliament will have MPs and journalists (and others too if Wallace gets his way) on their panel. There will be short info or background pieces too, so each show has a small staff.

From their interests I can see Wallace going a bit eclectic with his mix and Russell going geek with techie diversions. They'll need a few episodes to settle in so we (and I really mean myself here) shouldn't be too quick to judge their first shows (in early April). It was good to meet Wallace at last - as we take alternating places on Alt TV's Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club - although I had to wait for his surrounding harem of beguiled female media students to eventually disperse before I could get a word in. He was wearing long pointy black (Italian?) shoes - and then I remembered that everyone in television must wear some form of unusual shoes, the commonest amongst actors being the boot-type black leather shoe with elastic at the sides and no laces... where was I... yes, and as for Russell, he'd done nothing for me to whine about, and he's probably too accustomed to blog rants against him to care what I might have said, so that was pleasant. He did briefly speak to a strange chap with a number one cut who was wearing a blue and white bow-tie (I'm not kidding) who had a slight dishevellment that will evolve into full-blown eccentricity in later years I'm sure. From his manner and deferential tone he could have been Russell's valet or something - like they may have some sort of working relationship. Like he was telling him his golf clubs would be clean and in the Land Rover after his luncheon appointment. And I just thought: Craig Ranapia. Don't know why.

So my impression is that it's actually quite meagre stuff when you look through the schedule. Do three shows really a channel make? They got the media bit right, they got the politics bit right, but there's a reason both shows are panel format isn't there. Cost. It's relatively cheap. I would like to have seen a science/tech show, a hard interview show, a soft interview show, and an arts/cultural show. Maybe later?

First couple lambast Herald for 'mischief'

First couple lambast Herald for 'mischief'
The country's First Couple yesterday hit out at the Herald, accusing the paper of showing no charity to the Labour Party and "fomenting happy mischief". In a TV interview, she said money linked to election-year ads might have been a factor in the Herald campaign against electoral finance law changes.

The Herald did not point out that the TV interview was on Alt Tv, and the full question put to Helen on Altv tv’s ‘Lets be Frank’, hosted by Oliver Driver (Tuesday 8.30pm, Sky Digital 65) was....

“Let’s talk media bias, the Electoral Finance Act has been described by the Herald as ‘Democracy under attack’, when really it should be ‘Heralds profits under attack’ as your bill will guard against plutocracy by restricting paid speech – do you see a self-interested bias in the way the Herald reports against Labour?

Let’s take the way they covered your award from the UN, a significant event for any world leader yet the Herald dedicated only one paragraph in the news in briefs and Audrey Young, their political editor, graded you lower for your first speech against John Key’s because she claims your youth policy would be reduced to “"raising the school leaving age to 18" headlines when she was the first journalist to reduce it to that headline – is the Herald simply anti-Helen Clark?”

... I can see why the Herald didn’t want to credit us, so concerned they were at the suggestion of bias the Herald put out a statement at the end of the story ... Helen Clark's claim that commercial issues were a factor in the Herald campaign against the Electoral Finance Bill was rejected emphatically by Herald editor Tim Murphy. The campaign was solely motivated by the law's restriction on free speech and its anti-democratic nature... R-i-g-h-t the restriction on advertising that will hit the Herald in the pocket HAS NOTHING to do with their 'Herald profits under attack' campaign, funny how the right can scream about the self interest of Labour but not mention their self interest isn't it?

Study finds reported crime is decreasing

Study finds reported crime is decreasing
The rate of reported crime is decreasing, according to a recent study at Auckland University Law School. It suggests there were just over 100 offences for every 1,000 people in the 2006/2007 year, compared with almost 130 per 1,000 in the 1996/1997 year. Researcher and Associate Professor of Law at Auckland University, Julia Tolmie, says the results contradict popular perceptions about crime. She says a lot of published reports on crime focus on trends from one year to the next, or concentrate on the incidence of one particular type of crime. Ms Tolmie says although crime is not increasing, the number of people being locked up is on the rise. She says while roughly the same number of people are being caught, there are more prosecutions and longer convictions. She calls this 'punitive sentencing creep', and claims it is largely unrelated to the incidence or seriousness of criminal offending. Ms Tolmie says sending more people to prison does not deter them from committing more crime. She says prison is both ineffective and prohibitively expensive. Her findings form part of a book to be launched at Auckland University Law School on Friday, looking at what causes people to commit crime, and trends in criminal justice.

Well, well, well – the if-it-bleeds-it-leads news media has more to do with promoting the fear that grips the middle class which prompts them to scream for bigger and longer sentences that conservative politicians like Simon Power leap on and ride into election year (Simon called for this blog site to be shut down last year because Tim was writing blogs from within prison). While the fear mongering and manipulation of that fear continues, we lock more and more people up in underfunded racist, corrupt and violent prisons and then don’t understand when the prisoners come out more damaged than when they went in. Well done NZ, round of applause please.

Hey Farmer – get used to it

'We need water - lots of it'
In his 12 years farming his Waikato sheep and beef station, Grant Vercoe can't remember a summer as hot as this one - nor one which has caused him so much grief. "We've been dry in the past but these are the worst conditions I have seen by far, it's been pretty bloody tough," he said. "We need water - lots of it," he said.

Hey Farmer, get used to it, those drought conditions will only get worse as global warming predicts more and more extreme weather conditions, globally crops are failing pushing wheat prices up 49% in one year, where is Federated Farmers President Charlie Penderson and his comments that environmentalism is an anti human movement waging war against humanity? Where were those Farmers when they were protesting the Fart Tax to cut our methane emissions which are part of the global warming problem? We are in the period of consequences now, you gotta reap what you sow Mr Farmer man, sadly you can’t grow anything to reap. I love how thereis no mention of glbal warming at all in this news story, or even when Jim Anderton was on Narional Radio for a 15minute interview, forget global warming 'awareness', we are in denial.

SIS breaks new ground in outlining New Zealand threats

SIS breaks new ground in outlining New Zealand threats
Investigations into home-grown security threats have appeared in the annual report of the Security Intelligence Service for the first time since anti-terrorism efforts were increased after September 2001. In the agency's annual report, new director Warren Tucker said that while most terrorism happened on the other side of the world, "the service must not relax its vigilance". The report also shows an increase in the number of reports on "threat-related issues" by the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG), which did 212 reports on threat-related issues last year, compared to 144 the year before. The group is made up of the SIS, police, Government Communications Security Bureau, defence intelligence and border officials and was set up in 2004.

This last part is the interesting bit, why the sudden increase in threats being assessed by CTAG? Was it the Urewera Terrorists? That was the major issue of last year, did the heads of our security forces really greenlight action to try out the TSA and the Prime Minister as the head of the SIS MUST have been informed by the SIS representative on CTAG. Who would have thought activists playing silly buggers and mouthing off with guns would give the spooks the excuses they need to erode our civil liberties.

Democracy beats Capitalism

EU fines Microsoft record $1.4bn
Microsoft must now pay a record 899m euros ($1.4bn; £680.9m) after it failed to comply with a 2004 ruling that it abused its position. The ruling said that Microsoft was guilty of not providing key code to rival software makers. EU regulators said the firm was the first to break an EU anti-trust ruling. The fines come on top of earlier fines of 280m euros imposed in July 2006, and of 497m euros in March 2004. "Microsoft was the first company in 50 years of EU competition policy that the Commission has had to fine for failure to comply with an antitrust decision," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

Since World War 2, there have been three mammoth struggles, Capitalism, Communism and Democracy all joined forces to fight and defeat Fascism (only after the Capitalists, Communists and Democrats realized that they couldn’t cut deals with the Fascists it must be pointed out) since that defeat, Capitalism and Democracy faced off against Communism, which died with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, since then Capitalism has worked very hard to buy Democracy out so that they can rule comfortably ever after, this ruling by the EU is a major victory for the forces of Democracy against the forces of Capitalism, it is a shock reminder to Capitalists that they can’t just buy out the system and that the rules apply to everyone, even the rich.

'No timetable' for Turkey assault

'No timetable' for Turkey assault
A senior Turkish official has said there is no timetable for an end to military operations against Kurdish PKK separatists in northern Iraq. Speaking after a meeting in Iraq's capital Baghdad, Ahmet Davutoglu said they would continue "until terrorist bases are eliminated".

Which of course is what the PKK want, prosperity in northern Iraq has dried up their recruitment and support – when people don’t live iun grinding poverty and can see hope, they tend not to pick up AK47s and strap bombs to themselves, and the PKK hasn’t been seen as the best career choice, so they have been angling for a Turkish incursion with all the collateral damage that brings to consolidate the people behind their flag of resistance to the occupier, which is exactly what the Turks are doing in their desire to stamp out any notion of a Kurdish homeland. All the while America sits on the sidelines, wagging their finger for the benefit of international media and an increasingly freaked out Iraqi government, but such calls by Defence Secretary Robert Gates can’t be taken seriously as the Americans run a real time intelligence command center in conjunction with the Turks and provide satellite battlefield targeting for the Turks, so while publicly admonishing, they are privately supporting. In Somalia when their bullshit attack on Nationalist Islamic forces fell over, the Americans simply backed Ethiopia as a proxy for their war and backed them to the hilt to continue the misery of the Somalian people, has America found a proxy army in the form of the Turks to keep Iraq for them?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

PAKEHA ÜBER ALLES: Oliver Driver interview of Prime Minister unintentionally inspirational

Yesterday night's Let's be Frank on Alt TV (Sky channel 65) was worth watching. Oliver Driver may have been expected to go soft on the Prime Minister (she's also Minister for Arts), but the questions were tough and he had her perched awkwardly on the edge of the retro brown vinyl bucket chair the entire time - fixing him with that patented hooded glare - like prey... or some form of threat.

Driver was undeterred. He asked it straight, he let her finish without having to interrupt, and kept a thoroughly neutral pose. Unlike the John Key interview of the previous fortnight there was no rapport, no ease, no connexion. I don't think she knew how to react to his calm and relaxed delivery of often harshly couched criticism from a non-right wing/mainstream media perspective. Driver wasn't asking about why tax cuts are great, he was asking why anyone on the left could trust her. He wasn't asking why Maori supposedly get special treatment, he was asking why they get their foreshore and seabed confiscated off them. These were not the usual questions and this was not the usual format.

As far as gauging her personality goes it was all summed up at the end when Driver told her that when Key was on the programme and asked to describe what he most admired about Helen Clark he had replied (and it was with sincerity) "she's hardworking - very hardworking." When Driver then asked Clark to tender a positive aspect of John Key she let out a nervous laugh and said "I've no idea!" and then went on about how no-one really knows him and imply he wasn't really, well - honest enough. Yes, really. It was an embarrassing and (I must say) unexpectedly ungracious reaction to a political gimme. It was really too hard for her to say something - anything - nice. Which is an insight into where she's at and what sort of a person she is.

I missed the very beginning of the half hour interview, but some choice quotes were:
  • Took special care to call the farce that passes for our police watchdog the "Independent Police Complaints Authority." As if putting "independent" on the front has magically solved the inherent conflicts of interest.
  • Last October's "terrorist" raids are all the doing of the police and the Auckland Crown Solicitor (Simon Moore) and has nothing to do with her. Although she underscored the "operational independence" of the police she never said what type of relationship the government has with Moore.
  • The SAS in Afghanistan "haven't been there for years" now.
  • She said she had met with Hans Blix and Kofi Annan the December before the Iraq invasion and said "there was no way" the UN would ever authorise an invasion. But she didn't say why she agreed to the US demand to send in our troops as soon as the UN did authorise the occupation of Iraq shortly after the invasion.
  • She says she raises religious freedom issues behind closed doors with the Chinese (this was in relation to a NZ-China Free trade Agreement) and "they'll often push back quite hard." But she wasn't prepared to say anything about the details.
  • She tried to slide out of why she refuses to meet with the Dali llama by claiming that she doesn't usually meet with religious leaders as she's not into that stuff. Given she has been regularly mentioning "multi-faith" in the same breath as "multi-cultural" and "multi-ethnic" in speeches after she was a keynote speaker at an inter-faith conference a few years back that answer will not wash.
  • Party President, Mike Williams, was "very distressed" about being called a liar over his forgetting to mention Labour's billionaire loaning them $100k after the last election. But he's a good guy and he'll keep on trucking.
  • The NZ Herald's "a Tory paper [that's] given us no charity" over the 92 years of the existence of the Labour party. The Herald saw this and has run a story (although without crediting the show or the channel). Which, albeit grossly over-stated, is probably the most accurate and credible thing she said besides:
  • Her reaction to whether she watched the state broadcaster (TVNZ): "No - virtually nothing" and then went on to praise BBC World. The Arts Minister. At least that's one time people wouldn't disagree with her - in spirit if not in practice.

    If Driver was better equipped with deeper knowledge on some of these issues I think he could well have cored her out on some of them. And then again, given her legendary grudges, he might suddenly find his projects become, in a funding desirability sense - not so much yesterday's flavour-of-the-week as last millennium's flavour-of-the-Paleolithic age.

    Clark summed up where she sees Labour and what her mission is, no doubt anticipating her preferred themes for the election campaign. It was very nationhood-oriented: "New Zealand [should be] a fair place... build New Zealand pride... build up the heritage... [a nation] at ease with itself." But it sounded like a blithe recital of so many slogans. "Build up the heritage."?

    One of the more testy moments was when Driver asked her about the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Driver asks:
    The Maori party regard the seabed and foreshore legislation as confiscation – can the Labour Party and Maori party work together as MMP coalition partners?
    She totally avoided speaking to the coalition part and retorted that "it's not confiscation" and predictably brought up the recent deal struck between her government and the historically pro-government, pro-Labour sell-out, Uncle Tom, kupapa tribal leadership of the East Coast Ngati Porou. And there I'm sure most mainstream interviewers - and even Maori interviewers like Willie Jackson - would have left it. But Driver was refreshingly undeterred:
    the UN special raporteur was highly critical of that law, your own Attorney-General at the time, Margaret Wilson, wrote a 10,000 word report that basically said "it's racial discrimination
    "NO!" Cut right off. Fangs out now.

    He didn't get to complete the rest of the question. She was away.
    The UN man she insisted "had a [I think her word was pre-rehearsed] script"... and he stuck to it, she said. So she doesn't trust the UN when it suits her. Same thing with another brave follow-up:
    NZ was one of only four countries to vote against the indigenous rights declaration at the UN along with the US, Canada and Australia. What sort of message do you think that sends to Maori...
    More daggers. And a lot of waffly crap about how other countries voted for it but never intended to implement it and that other countries don't have indigenous populations so they don't know what it's like and that it says "traditional lands" should be returned and that meant "the whole of New Zealand." Yeah... only that's bullshit. The new Labor Australian government is now moving to change their vote to yes. The truth is she doesn't want Maori having anything like what the Treaty of Waitangi implies should be theirs... like all that land the government stole off them... just to pick one random example out of the air.

    Her explanation of the Foreshore and Seabed confiscation was entirely in Pakeha terms unsurprisingly. But it was the emphatic ethnic basis and assumption of racial-cultural superiority that really alarmed me. That and the leaving out of the ulterior motives of the new aquaculture law (that will re-start the carve-up process of the Crown giving marine space up wholesale for Pakeha) which she never mentioned - even though that was the main cause that prompted that shameful law in the first place.

    I know that many non-Maori might not understand what this is all about or can't see that Maori have been dicked over again in a way that they thought they never could be because they had earned the right in their own country to be respected as being equal recipients of justice. Clark told Driver that where there is a traditional link to a marine area then some rights will be recognised there - the minimal type ones being offered now to Ngati Porou from an utterly weakened position inside the framework of the confiscation law. The law from 2004 that her government rammed through in urgency against 9000 submissions and an outpouring from this country's native population and communities (amongst others) that instituted the white man's touch rule as the threshold to test whether Maori have lost their rights. This is the law that says even if no white person had ever physically touched that area in all the years since 1840 any of the minimal and heavily prescribed "customary rights" they have can be countermanded merely by a policy statement from a minister ie. the white man's word. She made sure to mention that in a lot of areas the land adjoining the foreshore had been sold or gone out of Maori ownership and that it could only apply in rare circumstances. And that's the point isn't it? The Crown can thieve and rort and swindle and invade and confiscate that land and then that fact is now held against the rightful property owners in their claim for the adjoining property that the government forgot to steal before 2004. Basically: we took it then, cut you off from the shore, so now you have no rights over the shore area either.

    The "Crown has legislated [it] to be in Crown title," she said, as if that was a proper answer. Native title wasn't extinguished, she means, but it should have been because "we" have acted like it had been. She said it as if it were axiomatic. But of course it is anything but. And Driver must have emitted his concern and lack of comprehension or belief in her reasoning because she then tried another tack on him.

    This time she stripped it down to what the confiscation is all about in her mind:
    "When my people came to New Zealand," she said, "(and probably yours) we" didn't want it to be like the UK where we came from and you couldn't go down to some parts of the shoreline because it was in private title.

    No, no - the avid tramper has in her mind the idea about what she thinks UK immigrants wanted when they immigrated here and therefore what we should want now. She must think this is part of "building up the heritage" - the colonial heritage - the way she put it. But she's not telling nearly half the facts - and it's probably because her racial trump card deems it irrelevant.

    Maori had stated many times that they did not mind if the public were given general access rights in law over the foreshore and seabed. The exclusion argument is a fallacy and always was and yet it is always the main plank of her contention. Her class assumptions implicit in her framing of the UK context is also a window into her mind. The Aotearoa context is groups, often large inter-related famillies of Maori peasants or entire communities having title over and exercising many different types of rights over their area in a way that - as far as the foreshore and seabed go - can also be consistent with public access. This was never going to be a case of Lord Hurumph McHardarse-Robberbarron taking pot-shots from his cliff-top castle with a silver shotgun at the starving common-folk scavenging winkles - as she paints it. Indeed she is that character and it is the Maori who are being driven off by a rapacious over-lord keen to disperse their property without any compensation whatsoever to a class of profit-motivated outsiders. And it's all justified by her, articulated by the Prime Minister, in terms of a doctrine of manifest destiny. This is utterly shocking - and yet one suspects will go completely over the heads of the media and most of the audience. I for one found her remarks inflammatory, disgraceful and unbefitting any leader of this nation. Her attitude was thoroughly prejudiced, overtly racist, and a throw-back to a lineage of hate and mistrust that I thought had vanished.

    She's saying that "her people's" ideals must over-rule Maori people's property rights, customs, culture and everything. There's no misunderstanding her - she means the British, white race and the government set up by them and for their interests must dominate and indeed destroy the aspects of Maori existence that get in their way. It is a straight out pitch to the most ultra-conservative Pakeha, and displays every sickening, frightful, arrogant, mendacious impulse that has lead to war, death, misery, loss and marginalisation upon the Maori people since "my people" arrived. All her talk about nationhood and a country "at ease with itself" is a nasty fraud. Her thinking and presumptions follow what every political hue of our colonial regime has dictated: that this is the white man's country for the white man. End of story. And that, my friends, is a malignant racial war-cry which ought to be answered at the ballot box with total rejection at the very least.

    There is no way that at this time, 2008, the Pakeha media will ever notice, comprehend, understand or for a second care about, value or report these comments. The day that confiscation law passed the Herald put it on page 5. This is what Maori have to put up with in their own country. This is why Maori get upset. This is why people who give the matter any thought get upset. And this shabby state of affairs is what I seek to resolve and that is why I regard her comments - as bald and offensive as they are - as inspiring. The motivation to fight against evil is overwhelming when it manifests itself so fully.

  • The drugs don’t work???????

    Anti-depression drugs don't work - study
    Tens of thousands of New Zealanders are swallowing antidepressant pills that don't work, a groundbreaking study shows. The study - one of the largest into popular drugs, including Prozac - has found the pills have no "clinically significant" effect. The results showed the drugs increased patients' scores on a 51-point depression scale by an average of only two points, although the study reported the drugs had a more significant effect on patients with severe depression. And it suggested "talking treatments" should replace drug treatments for clinically depressed people. The drugs were prescribed more than 700,000 times in New Zealand last year at a cost of almost $28 million. The medical director of the drug-buying agency Pharmac, Dr Peter Moodie, last night said the study included "some very interesting data", and would be discussed by the agency's clinical committees.

    WHAT?????? We spend $28million on drugs that don’t work? You mean all those ‘clinical trials’ put out by the drugs companies that will directly benefit from glowing reports on their product were wrong? All those little spin dr. Eichmann’s in white coats passing reports with little scientific value in a multi billion dollar pharmaceutical rort that has also has the rotting corpses of teenagers who have gone suicidal while on mind altering drugs – but Pharmac won’t rush to change things – no surprises there – these drugs are only of value to people with severe clinical depression, they are not a vitamin supplement in our pills as-a-quick-fix society.

    You gotta love those cops

    NY police go on trial in 50-shot killing of groom
    New York police who killed an unarmed black man with 50 shots on his wedding day were careless and desperate to make an arrest because their vice unit was about to be disbanded, a prosecutor has said. Two officers went on trial for manslaughter and a third for reckless endangerment in the death of Sean Bell, 23, who was killed in 2006 following a bachelor party at a strip club in a case generating outrage in much of New York's black community.

    They shot an unarmed black man 50 times, that fact alone is enough to make even most kiwiblogh readers gulp, but we now hear the accusation that these cops were needing an arrest because their vice unit was about to be disbanded, can you believe they were part of a vice squad called the ‘Club Enforcement Unit’ –what a farce.

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    When journalists become freelance PR agents

    First rule of advocacy journalism: if you go to the media and act the victim the media will be on your side. So when I saw the headline I should have guessed it would wind up as another case of bullshit "journalism" - this time from the Dominion Post.

    Sounds a bit of a raw deal:
    When Mark, 17, opened his 2007 results last week, he was excited to see he had met the apparent criteria for a "premiere" [sic] scholarship, chalking up three outstanding and two standard scholarship results - even more than was required.
    But celebration turned to despair when he learned he was not one of eight top scholarship winners. He had instead been awarded the "outstanding" category, offering less prestige and $15,000 less in the pocket.
    Now he and his former principal, Palmerston North Boys High School rector Tim O'Connor, are accusing the authority of breaking promises and putting cost-cutting ahead of achievement.
    Mr O'Connor called Mark before the school assembly on Friday to congratulate him, and could not believe the A-grade pupil had missed out when told later that day.

    But then later into the story:

    Authority deputy chief executive Bali Haque was unrepentant yesterday.
    He said the criteria clearly stipulated "the very top five to 10 candidates", and Mark was not one. The winners were assessed by an expert panel, who decided on a cutoff point.
    Mr O'Connor had been irresponsible announcing the award before receiving official confirmation, Mr Haque said.

    Do you like that - unrepentant - like he is supposed to be at the very least repentant for not bending a national policy just to suit his students!? And it was O'Conner being ignorant that caused the situation - and now he's lobbying for his student... because he mislead him? All that blather about "promises" and "cost-cutting"? I mean, really? It sounds as though he embarassed himself and his student by pre-emptively publicly congratulating him on something that he only met the initial qualification stage. Sounds like he's just trying to cover his own arse, doesn't it. Can't the man read:

    OK, so there's a wee typo - but 5-10 is what it says on their website quite clearly.

    The kid's obviously bright - he'll survive. But as for the Principal...


    Just started it up yesterday. Plan to put on things of interest to me - historical NZ stuff as well if possible.

    Clark set to dance with the devil

    Clark set to sign deal with China
    New Zealand is poised to sign a trade deal with powerhouse economy China, in what is being touted as our biggest trade breakthrough in 25 years. But its reception here may be rocky, with Government support party the Greens opposing any deal in protest at China's human rights and environmental breaches. NZ First has expressed alarm at the possible free movement of unskilled labour from China. The agreement, once signed, seems assured of majority political support, however, after National's foreign affairs spokesman, Murray McCully, confirmed the party had been regularly briefed and supported the move.

    As has been pointed out on this blog in the past month…” I'm more concerned that it might be the back-door immigration open-door for relatively uneducated Chinese into NZ. They have said in the past it would be Chinese medicine practitioners and chefs. In reality it will mean anyone that can use a wok or put dried tiger testicles and Otter penises from plastic bags into little bottles can come here masquerading as skilled labour” – what are the details on unskilled immigration to NZ from China? Is there still the pencil headed bean counters in Wellington deciding to invest in migration as a way to increase population size rather than spend the money on family friendly programs like free education (student debt is the main reason educated women hold off having their first child) or full maternity leave? And should we be cutting deals with a country that has the appalling human rights history that China has? The Greens should test this new found fear of dropping below the 5% threshold and refuse to back the Government on this.

    UN warns over food aid rationing

    UN warns over food aid rationing
    The director of the UN's World Food Programme has said it is considering plans to ration food aid because of rising prices and a shortage of funds. Josette Sheeran told the BBC that the WFP needed increased contributions from donors to make sure it could meet the needs of those who already rely on it. She said it also faced growing demands from countries like Afghanistan, where people were now unable to afford food. Food prices rose 40% last year because of rising demand and other factors. Earlier this month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said the rising price of cereals such as wheat and maize had become a "major global concern". The FAO estimated poor countries would see their cereal import bill rise by more than a third this year. Africa as a whole is expected to see a 49% increase.

    One of the canary’s in the coal mine for global warming is the sudden increase in food prices as erratic weather conditions destroy crop yields, as global warming gets worse, more crops will be destroyed, food prices will jump again this year making the poor and hungry even more desperate. We aren’t reaping what we’ve sowed yet, the third world is reaping the environmental consequences of our consumer greed, we’re insulated and further down the line, but when that hurricane comes, what will we plead?

    Police Association unhappy at Burton report

    Police Association unhappy at Burton report
    The Police Association says a report criticising police for their handling of the Graeme Burton case lacks context. The Independent Police Conduct Authority has looked at Burton's bloody rampage through Lower Hutt's eastern hills, and events between that and his release on parole six months earlier. It says the police response to two warrants issued for Burton's arrest in the weeks prior to his rampage was unsatisfactory. Association Vice-President Chris Cahill says given the Authority is only mandated to examine police, there is little scrutiny of other agencies even though they had a clear impact on police. He says police take their role in ensuring public safety from paroled offenders seriously, but responsibility for monitoring and managing them does not rest solely with police.

    Yes but it is the role of the Police to arrest people who breach their parole conditions, and for Chris Cahill to be calling ‘unfair cop’ is arse, In the report the judge points out that “Few officers knew the warrants existed, none took ownership of the situation, and there was an unreasonable delay before police stepped up their efforts to find Burton.” Now while the cops claim that it is probations responsibility to recall prisoners, the report notes that the Police refused to give probations any intelligence on Burton , yet used trhe same intelligence in their own application for search warrents, so while the Police try and distance themselves from the responsibility of not arresting Burton when they should have by claiming its probations responsibility, they also get caught out not helping probations with the intelligence to catch him.

    All of this is bullshit to the families Burton killed and harmed.

    'No excuses' for ops scandal (but here are some anyway)

    'No excuses' for ops scandal (but here are some anyway)
    Health Minister David Cunliffe apologised yesterday for a "litany of preventable errors" that led to a rogue surgeon carrying out a series of botched sterilisations on women in Wanganui. A report by Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Paterson described as "a sorry saga" the sterilisations performed by Dr Roman Hasil, whose previous record in Australia appeared "chequered." Eight of the 32 women on whom Dr Hasil performed laparoscopic sterilisation, or tubal ligations, in 2005 and 2006 failed, with six becoming pregnant. He did not place clips correctly on the Fallopian tubes of the eight women, presenting them with difficult decisions, Mr Paterson said. Most of the women had abortions. Dr Hasil's failure rate for tubal ligations of 25 per cent compared with an accepted rate of 0.2 per cent. Another woman who complained about Dr Hasil said she was unaware he had removed her ovaries in surgery.

    How did this Dr get the job when there were serious questions about him lying to medical boards and he clearly failed gynecological exams,
    QUESTION: “Dr Hasil, you’ve lied about your qualifications and failed essential exams in the field you wish to be employed in, why should we hire you”?
    ANSWER: “You are a shitty, ill run and underfunded provincial health service desperate for someone to work for them, so you will hire me”.

    He couldn’t even find a cervix on one female patient, that could’ve been a pointer for Wanganui.

    Monday, February 25, 2008

    Gosh, John - button it up

    John Campbell has abandoned his tie. Bad move.
    It sounds like the NZ Herald's resident entertainment rumour-hag has regurgitated the official TV3 press release:
    Certainly host John Campbell appears to have been enjoying the outdoor life on his extended holiday looking "taut, tanned and terrific" with a new image on screen. Campbell has also dropped his trademark expensive ties. Mark Jennings acknowledged the open necked look was no coincidence and the plan was to keep the tie in the top drawer. He said the new look was tracking well with viewers.
    Bollocks! It'll be "tracking" as poorly as a heroin addict's arm. Campbell is a geeky-looking skinny white dude and ought to dress appropriately.

    Smelter gorges on national grid

    Smelter gorges on national grid
    Lake levels at the hydroelectric station supplying Southland's power-hungry Tiwai Pt aluminium smelter are so low that electricity is being diverted from the national grid to feed it - at a time when industry experts are already warning of a looming domestic power crisis. Meridian Energy is locked into a contract to supply the smelter with about 550MW 24 hours a day, but low lake levels have lowered Manapouri's output to 200MW. Meridian is being forced to buy the 350MW shortfall from other generators and pass it on to the smelter at a loss of as much as $1 million a day.
    Meridian recently signed a new contract guaranteeing supply until 2030.

    Ummmm – why are our power companies signing juicy public money contracts to a company that seems to have the deal very much written by them and for them and have in fact signed up such guaranteed supply deals in a global warming future up till 2030! It sounds less like business and more like corporate welfare.

    Sudan 'renews Darfur air strikes'

    Sudan 'renews Darfur air strikes'
    The Sudanese military is said to have renewed its aerial bombing campaign in the west of the Darfur region. The joint United Nations African Union mission in Sudan, Unamid, said it had received reports of aerial bombings in the Jebel Moun area of the region. A Unamid spokesman said there was grave concern for the safety of thousands of civilians in the area. The reports came as China's envoy for Darfur, Liu Guijin, began a five-day visit to the country to push for peace. China has come under increasing pressure to use its influence with Sudan to end the fighting. Mr Liu will travel to Darfur on Tuesday, the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict which has left 200,000 people dead and 2.5m homeless.

    The Chinese buy two thirds of Sudans oil and provides Sudan with their weapons that they use to butcher and kill civilians with, China desire global recognition and are hungrily promoting the Olympics as their time to shine, everyone going to Beijing must use the opportunity to point China’s support of dictators out publicly, you can’t play sport with a nation that has so much blood on their hands, and Liu Guijin’s visit shows China is increasingly becoming sensitive to how their business is being perceived on a global platform, let’s push it.

    Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean

    Antarctic glaciers surge to ocean
    UK scientists working in Antarctica have found some of the clearest evidence yet of instabilities in the ice of part of West Antarctica. If the trend continues, they say, it could lead to a significant rise in global sea level. The new evidence comes from a group of glaciers covering an area the size of Texas, in a remote and seldom visited part of West Antarctica. Throughout the 1990s, according to satellite measurements, the glacier was accelerating by around 1% a year. Julian Scott's sensational finding this season is that it now seems to have accelerated by 7% in a single season, sending more and more ice into the ocean. "The measurements from last season seem to show an incredible acceleration, a rate of up to 7%. That is far greater than the accelerations they were getting excited about in the 1990s."

    Now there is evidence that Volcanic activity occurred there 2000 years ago, some climate skeptics have clutched at this to explain what is happening, what is more likely is that warmer ocean currents are flowing under Antarctica, at issue is the idea of a sudden and abrupt collapse – with ocean rises of 1.5meters being cited. Conventional wisdom states that things happen very slowly over thousands if not millions of years, that conventional wisdom is now open to be challenged.

    Sunday, February 24, 2008

    Mike Williams, Owen Glenn and Steven Ching: Labour's bag man and his ATMs

    Remember the Steven Ching affair? Remember how reluctant the Labour Party President, Mike Williams, was to dump him from the list despite his lies and allegations of selling honours? Remember:
    Labour candidate Steven Ching is alleged to have offered to use his Government connections to have a friend appointed as a justice of the peace.
    Chinese broadcaster Paul Liu says he refused a request from Ching for a $50,000 loan in exchange.
    Ching resigned as a JP after Herald on Sunday revelations led to the discovery of two undisclosed convictions, but the Labour Party says his winnable place on the party list is secure.

    ... and then remember:
    In the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Labour Party, list candidate Steven Ching was asked to stand down over claims that he offered to get a man appointed as a justice of the peace in exchange for a $50,000 loan.

    It took a very long time for the party, ie. Williams, to stand Ching down. The party, ie. Williams, was well prepared to staunch it out even after Ching was forced to resign as a JP. Why? Because he was the Labour Party's Chinese ATM. They, ie. Williams, didn't care how Ching got the money or where or from who. Ching was given a list placing so high he would almost certainly be an MP, because that was the pay-off for his cash (gathering abilities for the party). Oh, he was (allegedly) offering public/quasi-judicial offices for money - but hey, it's "don't ask - don't tell" as far as they, ie. Williams, is concerned. But that was all in 2005 and they learnt their lesson from that didn't they, ie. Williams, - well no, of course not. There was no punishment, no real scrutiny of the dodgy modus operandi of the Labour Party's bag men, ie. Williams, and so it is all business as usual in 2008.

    So this time round we have a gullibly lapped up orchestrated facade of accountability by the party, ie. Williams, who leaks to the media that he offered to resign. He jests. And we have Owen Glenn receiving the love, and he just happens to be funding Labour and (allegedly) was behind an offer to bribe the Maori party to support Labour after the last election, along with now being mooted for an honorary consulship in the tax haven he claims to nominally be resident in... Good grief!

    Just like Ching the party, ie. Williams, will want to keep his tentacles around this walking ATM for as long as possible - regardless of the damage and the poor image and the "Nats-have-big-business-links" hypocrisy of which the public are now becoming more aware.

    More disturbingly than any of this is the question of "What's in it for Owen Glenn:
    My guess is that Glenn was promised preferred bidding status for the opportunity to clip the ticket for the next twenty years of every motorist who drives through the the tunnel that goes under Helen's house.
    Have a look at where Mike Williams holds directorships. Transit NZ, Ontrack and the Auckland Regional Transport Authority. Who better could you approach to put in a good word in the right place?

    Oh, does it sound a bit far-fetched? Labour would be expected to be ideologically opposed to Public-Private Partnerships, or at least opposing that policy purely on the grounds it would almost certainly disadvantage the State and the public to enrich private business interests, but no they are enthusiastically towing Treasury's line and seeking to make it work - starting in the transport sector - of which by the way coincidentally Glenn made his fortune. And that's where we ought to remember this man: Ross Armstrong. He was the National turn-coat head-kicker who would be the conduit between the Labour government and big business.

    From theHerald editorial of the time:
    We learn that the subject of his letter - partnerships between the Government and the private sector for infrastructure projects - was discussed at a dinner he had last Wednesday with the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, and former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, who has experience of "public-private partnerships".
    The next day Dr Armstrong sent the offending letter to companies he thought might be interested in helping ministers to formulate policies for such partnerships. His mistake was to include a phrase which suggested there might be a benefit to the companies that agreed to take part. They stood to gain "first mover advantage in terms of future involvement in [the] projects".

    Armstrong took his sweet time resigning too. But he may have had the professional ability to realise that he had crossed a line. Who thinks that Williams has anything even approaching that comprehension?

    Williams is president of the Labour Party, and as such he isn't a policy boffin, he isn't an ideological champion, he isn't a font of Labour principles and nor is he a gatekeeper of the spirit of the legacy of Holland and Savage; he is a bag man, he is a fund-raiser and nothing more. As such he has a warped perspective and has proven himself prone to making some awfully shabby deals with the people who have money in order to secure that money. How many more deals and what of their nature?

    The Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club

    On the Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club today at 11am, Sky Digital 65, with Bomber from Alt, Kiwi FM Breakfast Host Wallace Chapman and Ben Thomas from the NBR

    News that caught my eye –
    1: Tasman aquaculture management area
    More than 100 hectares of new aquaculture space in the Tasman region has received preliminary approval, Fisheries Minister Jim Anderton announced today. That’s it, Jim? A provisional 108 hectares for aquaculture?Phil Heatley – So after confiscating this through legislation, the Government start slicing it up with National on the sidelines braying they would cut it up faster –aren’t we just harvesting a righteous grievance?

    2: Kosovo supported by US and EU so quickly and so forcefully – Serbia sees it as annexation, Albanian Kosovans see it as a tragically hard won independence in the shadow of ethnic cleansing but the wider question must be why force a confrontation with Russia? The beat is on that the Russians will test a missile hitting a satellite shortly after America ‘saved the people of Earth’ from a toxic death’ – this coming from the country that provides 20% of the planets greenhouse emissions from a 4% population

    3: FLASHPOINT TURKEY! I’ve been questioning Turkey’s intentions wioth troop build ups along the Iraq border, the PKK want to drag the Turks into their own Vietnam to boost their support base and recruitment levels as Peace in Northern Iraq has led to a labour shortage of fanatical mercenaries – imagine that – the US have a joint command center with the Turk Army that provides real time battlefield intelligence so any suggestion that they are not actively greenlighting this invasion isn ‘t credible, just as in Somali where America are fighting a proxy war using Ethiopia to fight it, isn’t that what America is doing with Turkey? If America is to ‘drawdown’ it’s own forces to just be in the Green Zone, they need someone’s army to look after the rest of it – is this the reinforcements coming?

    4: In the week that it looks like the pro-smacking lobby get their wish, Barbara Bishop, poster girl for the Nanny state coming in and destroying loving parents who refuse to spare the rod to spoil the child, was found guilty of hogtying and beating her son, aren’t we anti-smackers the patient ones here?

    5: Democracy a step closer? Musharraf and Fidel both leave

    6: Waist restraints as the response to Liam Ashley’s death in a prison van.

    7: Putting Police into schools to gather intelligence flawed?

    8: Quality Improvement Committee - 182 preventable injuries, including 40 deaths – but could be higher because the system to record mistakes is voluntary and we can’t make it compulsory because staff would be frightened?

    9: Oh the irony of National lecturing Labour on Owen Glenn, the party built by secret donations – slow news week made fast by Mike Williams resignation offer?

    10: Afghan opium now 1billion

    STORY 1 – Suspected medal thief on bail after deal over Goldie theft - SST
    A man suspected of stealing 96 medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, from the Waiouru Army Museum was on bail when the medals were taken. The man had struck a deal with police over the return of a Goldie painting taken in a similar crime, the New Zealand Herald reported today.
    Could this get any better (then again Crighten has links to the Head Hunters and Black Power, making him a BlackHead) I doubted that the criminal fraternity had the forethought for this, Isn’t a week a long time, Chris Comeskey was a hero, after a week of talkback crucifixion he was protecting the crims and we got a real eyeful of what went into the sausage of dealing with the Underworld and we were put off our medal appetite – but isn’t the howling from Amanda, the daughter of Upham just too much – didn’t she try and pawn the medals off? Isn’t this necessary bartering?

    STORY 2 – Campbell: Yes, we made a mistake - sst
    John Campbell says he made a mistake by not explaining that his interview with an alleged Waiouru medals thief was a re-enactment, but insists he never set out to deceive viewers. TV3's Campbell Live screened an interview on Thursday with a man, wearing a hood and with his face in shadow, claiming to be responsible for the December 2 theft of the medals. But viewers were told only that an actor's voice had been used, not that the man on screen was an actor. Canterbury University media lecturer Associate Professor Jim Tully said the show had deceived viewers and tarnished a good news scoop.
    It doubled his ratings, did they pull a fast one? Oh and someone tell John Campbell to put on a tie, it’s current affairs for crying out loud, not a beer at Galbraiths!

    STORY 3 – Raided for library card - HOS
    Police handling of the anti-terror raids is again under fire after officers stormed the home of an Auckland businessman in search of a library card, a Hawaiian shirt, a pair of khaki shorts and a copy of the leaked terror affidavit. A dozen plainclothes detectives raided the Whangaparaoa property of Vince Siemer on Thursday morning looking for anything connecting him with those accused of taking part last year in IRA-style training camps in the foothills of the Urewera Ranges.
    This follows the arrest of 3 others on weapons charges – this is rapidly looking like a farce, when Hawaiian shirts are on the evidence list my faith in the system starts to diminish.

    STORY 4 – John Key's face-off - hos
    John Key has opened a new front on the political battlefield, with the launch of his official Facebook site. The social networking phenomenon has been credited with helping Labor's Kevin Rudd oust long-serving John Howard at the Australian polls last year.
    Isn’t John down with the kids, Labour will copy it but there will be no smacking or superpoke if you are a child, and NZ first will investigate this ‘In-ter-net’ thing. In America the internet has shown how politicians can get to Gen Xers and Millennium kids in a way the traditional media don’t. And what about the latest polls in the Dominion Post? - Labour poll-axed
    National has raced to 55 per cent support in the Fairfax Media-Nielsen poll, opening a 23-point lead over Labour.
    It is the biggest lead National has held since Labour has been in government. But the sharp drop in Miss Clark's popularity may be the bigger worry for Labour, which has always believed her personal ratings would help it to close the gap. The plunge in her support is likely to spark speculation of a leadership coup. Leftwing commentator Chris Trotter has told The Dominion Post a change to Trade Minister Phil Goff may be Labour's only hope of regaining ground among struggling families.

    FINAL WORD – Moment of Paul Henry Zen, when discussing the QE2 refurbishment in Dubai, Paul ponders “Do Arabs have any taste? I watched a documentary that showed the inside of a yacht owned by Saddam and it was very gauche”

    Saturday, February 23, 2008

    The lantern festival

    The lantern festival in Auckland's Albert Park was well worth the effort to attend despite the windy and showery weather. The food for me at any type of festival is the highlight - and last night was no different - although the Chinese poi/martial arts demonstration was superb. Not as many people because of the weather, which meant it was quite a desirable volume - any more and it would have been a little bit overwhelming.


  • The New Zealanders walk on the left but the Asians (recent immigrant Chinese I mean) walk on the right - so going along the paths and stairs it creates problems. The Asians do not yield to our customs however and the hosts accommodate by moving over to the right to enable them to pass - because they show no inclination to - and then move back to the left. Given that it is a Chinese celebration you may think it is appropriate that Albert Park change it's normal traffic habits for one night of the year - but the majority of people at the festival were Pakeha it is worth noting. At one level it means absolutely nothing and probably goes unnoticed, but on another it raises questions. This is the sort of cultural assertion that is a problem for the host society as it has its parallels in many aspects of conflicting customary observances/behaviour in other fields. It's how we relate to one another, it's the nuances of communication, it's whether we share ideas and understandings. In the spirit of politeness and courtesy the hosts will usually forgive the odd lapse, and the guests will absorb the tikanga/etiquette over time. And then you think about how many Maori concepts and protocols are observed by Pakeha (ie. about zero) and realise that numbers matter more than precedent. Cultural domination is all about numbers and persistence. For one month we have Chinese lanterns hanging all over the Auckland CBD to celebrate the Chinese lunar New Year. Why?
  • Someone dressed in black who wanted to assert his own rules set himself up as some sort of a cultural bouncer on one of the plinths at the top of some stairs offering everyone who passed (from what I heard) a "kia ora" - but it wasn't done in a friendly or spontaneous way, it was in a sinister fashion, like he was the guard and that was a test, so I only returned the greeting in a mumble because I resent being questioned and occupied as I was with thinking that maybe he was with the National Front, or Chris Prudence, or whatever. Itself a "backlash" (if that's a reasonable assessment) from a local to an influx of foreigners.
  • I didn't see any overt pyramid scheme/"investment" type sales drives like last time I was there.
  • Always hope to see some traditional Chinese hard-core gambling going on and all I've ever seen is the pyramid scheme sort as above.
  • Appetising - just about every food vendor had truly appetising fare - a huge strike rate. Usually you wander through and every second or third stall offers something that looks OK - but all down the blocked off part of Princes Street (between Albert park and the University) was an open-air food alley and it all looked good - and was.

  • Friday, February 22, 2008

    Afghan farmers earn about $1b from opium- IMF

    Afghan farmers earn about $1b from opium- IMF
    Afghan farmers earned about $1 billion from opium production in 2007, by far the country's largest cash crop, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday. The IMF said opium production in Afghanistan had spiralled up to 8200 tonnes in 2007 from 185 tonnes in 2001. It said Afghanistan's share of world supply increased to about 93 per cent in 2007 from 52 per cent in 1995, making it the world's largest opium producer despite efforts to bring production under control since the fall of the Taleban six years ago.

    The joke is that the opium crop had dropped under the Taliban, so much so it was sent money from the US out of their war on drugs budget, since invasion the Taliban now use it as a source of income and it being the only cash crop that is paying the bills amongst farmers, they will continue to grow it, the West should buy the crop for medical morphine production so as to stabilize the economy and rob the Taliban of their control of the populace and stunt their ability to fund raise, thus forcing them to the negotiation table. The American’s just want to spray poison all over the country to kill all the crops, killing legitimate crops for food, making the farmers poorer and reliant on seed from the Taliban, thus actually enslaving the farmers to the Taliban.


    Apparent Waiouru medal thief says 'sorry' to NZ

    Apparent Waiouru medal thief says 'sorry' to NZ
    One of those claiming to be responsible for the theft of 96 priceless war medals from the Waiouru Army Museum apologised for the burglary. An actor with a disguised voice appeared in place of the man on TV3's Campbell Live programme, amidst assurances that nothing that he had told the programme had been changed. "We realised the historical value of what we'd done," he said. "We knew their value, just not how the public would react. "We want to say sorry to everyone in New Zealand, and we're just happy they've got them back in pristine condition. "We made a big mistake and we regret it." "We decided to return them on our terms without being detected or caught." He said that now "everyone's happy".

    Well, TV3 will be happy, what a brilliant coup for Campbell Live to interview the crim – there is some panic amongst the chattering pundits that crims will target historical artifacts and hold the country to ransom which credits the criminal fraternity with far too much forethought, more likely will be the fact that the intense media scrutiny in such a small country will out whoever did this and the pressure will squeeze them into the waiting arms of the Police. I’m still scoring this as Cops 1 – Crims 0.

    Nats turn blowtorch on party boss

    Nats turn blowtorch on party boss
    National shifted its attack over political donations from Prime Minister Helen Clark to Labour president Mike Williams yesterday after it learned he had offered to resign in the fallout from his failure to disclose a $100,000 interest-free loan businessman Owen Glenn gave the party. National also raised questions in Parliament about an apparent rift in New Zealand First between leader Winston Peters and president and MP Dail Jones over revelations of a large anonymous donation deposited in the party's accounts last December. Mr Williams' offer to resign this week was rejected by Helen Clark, she revealed yesterday.

    God what an awful cock up, Mike wanting to resign shows how damaging they know this looks, National lecturing Labour on donor transparency, the elite delighting in ‘exposing’ elitism in the Government oh the irony, it has been a moving feast of new piece of Owen Glenn info after new piece of Owen Glenn info, the News media are well rested after the holidays and in case anyone missed it, are back at work with the vigor of a hungry backpacker picking fruit.

    Thursday, February 21, 2008

    Auckland Commission online

    The Commission on Auckland's governance future is online (Hat tip: Aaron Bhatnagar)

    a Commission to receive representations on, inquire into, investigate, and report on the local government arrangements (including institutions, mechanisms, and processes) that are required in the Auckland region over the foreseeable future in order to maximise, in a cost effective manner,—
    (a) the current and future well-being of the region and its communities; and
    (b) the region’s contribution to wider national objectives and outcomes:
    investigate and receive representations on the following matters:
    (a) what changes to current legislation (consistent with the purposes and principles of local government as described in the Local Government Act 2002) are considered desirable to achieve or support the achievement of the inquiry’s objectives; and
    (b) what changes to the boundary of the Auckland region, or to the collaborative arrangements or mechanisms involving other regions across New Zealand, are considered desirable to achieve or support the achievement of the inquiry’s objectives; and
    (c) what is required for effective relationships and collaborative arrangements between central and local government; and
    (d) what ownership, governance, and institutional arrangements and funding responsibilities are required to ensure the effective, efficient, and sustainable provision of public infrastructure, services, and facilities to support and enhance—
    (i) the current and future well-being of the Auckland region and its communities; and
    (ii) the performance of the Auckland region as a growth engine in the New Zealand economy and in its role as a key transport hub for New Zealand and the Pacific region; and
    (iii) the ability of the Auckland region to compete internationally as a desirable place to live, work, invest, and do business; and
    (iv) the ability of the Auckland region to respond to economic, environmental, cultural, and social challenges (for example, climate change); and
    (e) what governance and representation arrangements will best—
    (i) enable effective responses to the different communities of interest and reflect and nurture the cultural diversity within the Auckland region; and
    (ii) provide leadership for the Auckland region and its communities, while facilitating appropriate participation by citizens and other groups and stakeholders in decision-making processes; and
    (f) what alternative transition processes for the implementation of any new or changed local government arrangements, and of any associated matters that are identified, are necessary or desirable:

    The jargon is a bit depressing. As yet no dates or schedule of hearings has been released.


    The commission is Judith Tizard's legacy as the first (and one would suspect last) "Minister responsible for Auckland". What a disaster she proved. She did so little that her sinecure was wound up last year and everything she should have been doing all that time was rolled into this commission. I note that the latest Metro magazine has an article which got five political journalists to rate Auckland MPs and she was ranked a 1 out of 10 - along with only three other MPs.

    Also please note the reporting date is set at 1 December 2008 - which means after the election so as not for their recommendations to become a political issue, or any criticism of the last nine years of relative inaction to become a talking point. Given they have sweet FA on their website right now and must be at the staff recruitment stage and that they would need at least a month or two to digest and form their opinions and write their report we could see the public hearings part of the process occurring, at a guess, around May to August.

    Fidel Castro's retirement - the Cuban perspective

    Surveying some Cuban websites (all government-controlled of course) about Castro standing down you get the impression he is some sort of Confucious-type scientist-revolutionary philosopher-king. The websites are also heavy on nostalgia and the glories of the early revolution - which is quite telling about how they see themselves and what they want to project to the world.

    Images below are linked.

    Cuba's problem was that in order to keep 100% control over everything the Cuban communists had to pretend that the revolution was not a single brief event, but a continuing process - a delicate process that would be derailed and reversed if they let that 100% control slip at any point. To be fair the US did try to invade them and no-one doubts that if the Americans could they would have gotten in and derailed the socialist objectives via their usual tactics of manipulation, threat, invasion, terrorism, assassination, bribery etc. But a revolution that lasts 49 years and still isn't over yet? And the Cuban military will make sure that revolution goes for another 49 years and more if they have their way.

    Death tally understates problem

    Death tally understates problem
    The landmark acknowledgement that preventable mistakes killed 40 public hospital patients in one year understates the problem and it may well be at least two years before a more reliable count can be made. The Government-appointed Quality Improvement Committee yesterday released the first national tally of "serious and sentinel events" at district health boards, following requests by the Herald and other media for details of the harm to patients.

    So what they are saying is that the total number of deaths and mistakes in NZ hospitals could be much, much higher because hospitals only have a voluntary register when they screw up, and the reason given to us as to why the hell aren’t they forced to record their mistakes we are told that couldn’t possibly happen because hospital staff would be too frightened to be honest – what the fuck? Is this mickey mouse noddy land shit a surprise to anyone else? How can you ‘hide’ gross incompetence or death? If the system allows for that ability to hide death then changes are long over due and the media should be trawling now for stories of hospital incompetence to name and shame hospitals and embarrass the Government, because the jargon heavy Quality Improvement Committee will try and produce media unfriendly reports to also try and hide this from audience interest.