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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shhhhh ..... Pop goes the spy base (didn't see that one coming did you boys?)

Waihopai spy base attack 'senseless' - PM
Prime Minister Helen Clark has condemned this morning's attack on the 'spy base' at Waihopai as "senseless". Three protesters have been arrested after invading the base and puncturing one of the large white domes that house two satellite dishes. Adrian Leason, Sam Land and Dominican friar Peter Murnane are due to appear in Blenheim District court this afternoon. Questioned in Auckland this morning, Helen Clark would not put an estimate on the cost of the attack but said Air Marshal Ferguson was travelling to Marlborough today to make an assessment. "Obviously it's just imposing a cost on the taxpayer having to rebuild. That's why I describe it as a senseless act of criminal vandalism". Asked if any information had been lost in the security breach, she said she never commented on security matters. "Our focus today is on the steps we're going to take to support the police with the criminal investigation and to start repairing the damage." Helen Clark said the Government had received no comment from other countries regarding the breach. Opponents of the Waihopai base argue that it is primarily feeding information to the United States in support of wars New Zealanders do not support. But the secretive Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), which operates the base, near Blenheim, rejects this. The protesters' spokesman, Manu Caddie, spoke to nzherald.co.nz from Waihopai. He said all three protesters had been arrested after cutting through three fences - one of which had razor wire - and using sickles to deflate the kevlar dome structure. Mr Caddie estimated the group could have caused $30,000 worth of damage during the protest, which was against the US-led "war on terror". "We are drawing attention to the issue, particularly in an election year and encouraging New Zealanders to have a debate about whether they want to be funding this kind of activity in their backyard," Mr Caddie said. Air Marshal Ferguson said today the security breach was of grave concern. "Naturally, this is a very serious breach and it's one of the reasons I'm here - to look at that, and initiate an inquiry into how this in fact occurred so we can put in place further preventative measures," he told Radio New Zealand Air Marshal Ferguson said it was obvious the men had penetrated three fences before deflating the dome but it was unclear how other security devices failed to detect the intrusion. Alarms did activate but CCTV footage was no help due to heavy fog, he said. The domes, made of a rubberised material, acted purely as a "waterproof jacket" to protect the antennae from adverse weather, he said. "We're trying to protect them for longevity." He said there was some protest action at the base over the weekend but it was not known if it was linked to today's attack. Mr Caddie said there were direct parallels between the Roman Empire and modern day America. He said the group, which called themselves the Ploughshares, followed Jesus' example of resisting power on an ethical basis. Mr Caddie told NZPA news agency the action took about two months to plan and the group did not really expect to succeed. "We were expecting not to get anywhere close to it." The planning involved a lot of texting, emails and phone calls, which were not intercepted, he said. "I guess it shows that the system doesn't work that well." He said the three protesters who had been arrested hoped not to go to jail, but were prepared for it. A statement by the group from their website said: "Our group, including a Dominican Priest, temporarily closed the base by padlocking the gates and proceeded to deflate one of the large domes covering two satellite dishes.
"At 6am we cut through three security fences surrounding the domes - these are armed with razor wire, infrared motion sensors and a high voltage electrified fence. "Once inside we used sickles to cut one of the two 30-metre white domes, built a shrine and knelt in prayer to remember the people killed by United States military activity." The group said that it had financed its activities through "personal savings, additional part-time employment and a small interest-free loan from one of our supporters". In its justification for the attack, the group said it was responding to the Bush administration claim that intelligence gathering was the single most important tool in the "so-called war on terror" and that Waihopai was a part of that. "This war will have no end until citizens of the world refuse to let it continue." It said that it had carried out the attack in the name of the "Prince of Peace". The website contains Christian references to the Bible. One of the protesters is Father Peter Murnane from the Dominican Priory in Auckland. Father Chris Loughnan, who lives with Father Peter, said he was unaware of any arrests. He said he was also unaware of the protest but it didn't surprise him. "It's about New Zealand's passive cooperation in war mongering. The information obtained at Waihopai is used in military intelligence," Father Chris said. Green Party foreign affairs spokesman Keith Locke said the party would be calling for a public debate and information on the cost and the purpose of the Waihopai base if it was part of the next government. Mr Locke said the US spy base effectively compromised New Zealand's independent foreign policy. He said he had previously asked the Government for a breakdown of the GCSB's budget but was refused. Mr Locke said the true cost of the spy base to New Zealanders was not known.

The intelligence game
* The secretive Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) collects "intelligence" on New Zealand's behalf, and is responsible for guarding the country's secret information.

* Its budget for the current financial year is $39.288 million and it employs about 370 staff.

* The GCSB's head office is in Wellington and it operates intelligence-gathering posts at Waihopai, in Marlborough, and at Tangimoana, near Bulls

If I had a Hammer (and a sickle)
This is how you do activism brothers and sisters, you don't creep around the mountains darkly muttering violence and train with guns - that is a place of darkness with little honour - this is activism by three heroes who are serious about none violent direct action - embarrassing authorities by provoking debate - so let's reward such brilliant activism by talking about what exactly is this US Spy Base doing and if we really say we are against this mad war in Iraq that President Bush started based on a pack of lies, if we are serious about our anger on this issue, then ask yourself, why are we supporting it by allowing spying for America and why should we allow our Government to have this eye of Morder, big brother spy base in NZ when the temptation to secretly snoop on you and me without any Judicial oversight whatsoever means any Government of the day has the leavers of facisim at their sweaty fingertips!

Vector sale to Chinese: where is Key?

Michael Cullen is being politically tone deaf as well as inconsistent on refusing to consider the sale of Wellington's electricity lines to a Hong Kong outfit as "strategic". His subterfuge over whether the asset is on sensitive land is of course blatantly spurious - any monopoly network having a system of easements across every street in the capital city would meet anyone's criteria of strategic... except for Michael Cullen that is. The government's action over Auckland Airport and inaction over Vector is hypocrisy pure and simple. But the question I'm asking is where is John Key and the National party on this issue? Are they that dithering and strategically inept they cannot respond forcefully on what ought to be solid, well-worn National party territory. We have silence instead. This is bread-and-butter stuff one would have thought, and they have missed an easy intercept.


Chinese do shrill really well. I'm looking forward to the Olympics when they adjust the treble to full and turn the bass off on all the speakers so that the quintessentially Chinese shriek can echo in all its piercing terseness across the vast concourses - that would help add to the atmospherics as ranks of security forces surge into crush that special Olympic athlete as she is wheeled along with a Tibetan ribbon on her unicorn stick. It's going to be beautiful.

Washington Post reports a mood change across the motherland:

A recent survey by a Beijing polling group found that more than 80 percent of those questioned believed Western news media were conveying a biased image of China abroad.
Meanwhile, a fervidly nationalistic campaign flared online, as Internet users suggested that foreigners were bigoted against China and that Western businesses should be boycotted. Demonstrators gathered in front of stores run by Carrefour, the French superstore chain, in several cities around the country.

Carrefour received special criticism because Chinese bloggers spread reports that its owners had donated money to India-based Tibetan exile groups run by the Dalai Lama. The firm's headquarters in Paris denied that was true, but the bloggers paid no heed.

Chinese Internet censors, who control what people say online, did nothing to dampen the fervor. And police, who prevent most demonstrations, blocked protesters from reaching the French Embassy in Beijing but otherwise allowed the outraged youths to vent their fury.

A Chinese woman working for The Washington Post was pushed around at one such demonstration by young Chinese men who suggested she should be careful about working with a foreign publication. An American man who showed up at another Carrefour store for some shopping was roughed up as well, perhaps on the mistaken assumption he was French.

In recent days, Chinese authorities have sought to pull back the nationalist tide. Editorials in the controlled press suggested to youths that carrying out their assigned tasks is the best way to demonstrate patriotism. Internet censors started blocking items with the word Carrefour.
Behind the public mood, however, has come a simultaneous tightening of security that officials say is likely to last until after the Games. It, too, has contributed to the change in atmosphere.
Foreign residents of the capital report that police have started checking their identification cards and passports with greater regularity, in some cases visiting homes and offices to do so. According to Chinese law, foreigners should always have their passports with them, but the rule has been allowed to lapse in recent years as the number of foreigners working here increased.

Some of the many foreigners working on multiple-entry business visas -- instead of the requisite work visas -- have found they cannot get a renewal until the fall, forcing them to leave the country and lose their jobs.

The Foreign Ministry declared it has made no changes in visa rules and seeks to facilitate travel to China. But travel agents in Hong Kong, backed up by chambers of commerce there, said multiple-entry business visas have been suspended and more documentation is required for short-stay business visas, which previously were granted on demand at the border between Hong Kong and Guangdong province.

Hong Kong itself has tightened visa rules, seeking to limit entry to foreigners who might be planning to stage protests when the torch returns to Chinese soil later this week.

But perhaps nowhere is the new mood more palpable than in Tibet, a premier tourist destination that has been closed off to foreigners since March 14. As a result of the ban, most foreign journalists have been barred from covering the torch relay through Tibet, including plans for a photogenic climb up Mount Everest. Nine foreign newspapers and broadcasters have been allowed in to cover part of the relay, but only for 10 days in a carefully shepherded trip.

The potential for the hysterically patriotic masses to go all cultural revolution on some johnny foreigner's arse is but a misinterpreted gesture away. The paranoia and over-reaction of one-party states are to be expected - it's just what they do. Their method of staying in control is actively keeping any opposition and potential opposition muted, harassed and ultimately, dead. They've done very well so far.

The one big advantage the Beijing regime has is the imperialist, racist chauvinism that the population seem to have. The arrogant colonial disdain many Han Chinese have towards the Tibetans would be an example of this.

Dioxin whitewash - the agents of orange

Dioxin lobby group dismisses offer of annual health checks
Residents and workers exposed to dioxin from the Paritutu chemicals' factory in New Plymouth will be able to apply for a state-funded annual health check from July. The Ministry of Health announced details of the $750,000-a-year scheme in the city last night - but a community group dismissed it as of little value. Ivon Watkins-Dow, now called Dow AgroSciences, produced the herbicide 2,4,5-T in Paritutu from 1962 to 1988. Long-term residents who lived near the plant in those years and former plant workers have elevated levels of the dioxin TCDD in their blood. Dioxins are linked to a range of cancers including leukaemia. There is evidence of links to prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, spina bifida in the offspring of those exposed, and other diseases. The ministry says the dioxin levels found in the most-exposed Paritutu residents may increase their cancer death rate by up to 10 per cent above the national level.

The level of evil secrecy that the Ministry of Health have shown on this issue of Dioxin poisoning over 46 years in NZ goes much further than this paltry excuse of a response, they have tried to sweep the birth defects and genetic damage drenching our nation in DDT have resulted in – we dumped as much DDT on NZ as the Americans dumped its cousin Agent Orange did over Vietnam – their history of birth defects and genetic mutations is a well documented horror story, ours has been quietly and effectively dismantled by Ministry of Health Wellington speak so that no Government can ever been found liable for willfully poisoning the entire country – and that if there is an admission of guilt in Paritutu, it would start a process demanding to know the effects of DDT drenching everywhere else. The Ministry of Health are fucking liars who have been lying for decades – for further info check out TV3s brilliant doco – ‘Let us Spray’.

Helping pacify the kiwi for the china

Anger over Dalai Lama film
A Chinese documentary series aimed at promoting China to New Zealanders has been slammed as "irresponsible" and "worthless communist propaganda" by pro-Tibet groups. Weekly hourly slots have been booked on Triangle Television by the New Zealand Pacific Culture and Arts Exchange Centre for the screening of documentaries it says will "help Kiwis understand China better". But after the screening of two China state-produced documentaries last week about the recent Lhasa riots and Tibet's past, the group has incurred the wrath of the Tibetan community and its supporters. Tomorrow night, a 1956 documentary on the Dalai Lama, produced by state-owned China News and Documentary Film Studio, is to be screened. "The documentaries are definitely propaganda that comes from the Chinese Communist Government," said Thuten Kesang, chairman of the Auckland Tibetan Association. "After last week's programme, one of our members got so incensed that he wrote a letter of complaint to Triangle about the screening of such biased shows."

Thousands of Nationalistic Chinese flying communist flags in Aotea Square and chanting aggressively for ‘One China’ (One Party), complaints that the Western Media is lying about what is happening in China (ironically from a country that censors ALL media) and now Party Political Broadcasts for the Chinese Communist Party getting airplay in NZ – the Communist Party is like a horny 16 year old virgin on their first date who won’t take ‘No’ for an answer, we’re not that kinda girl Mr China, we ain’t interested in hearing your excuses, let’s talk the moment you open up genuine dialogue with the Dalai Lama, you stop supporting Mugabe in Zimbabwe, you stop supporting Sudan’s genocide in Darfur and how about you stop supporting Burmas crackdown on Monks as well. Then we can talk ok?

Oh and does anyone know if this below image is true – it is alleged that it shows Chinese soldiers donning monk robes before they start rioting

Global Warming Denial

UN, World Bank to tackle food crisis
UN agencies and the World Bank have pledged to set up a task force to tackle an unprecedented rise in global food prices that is threatening to spread social unrest. The international bodies called on countries not to restrict exports of food to secure supplies at home, warning that could make the problem worse. "We consider that the dramatic escalation in food prices worldwide has evolved into an unprecedented challenge of global proportions," the United Nations said in a statement.
This had become a crisis for the world's most vulnerable people, including the urban poor, it said after a meeting of 27 international agency heads in the Swiss capital, Berne, to chart a solution to food price rises that have caused hunger, riots and hoarding in poor countries.

Don’t you get the feeling that we are in absolute denial about Global Warming? The sudden plight of food collapse was predicted early on in the global warming movement – erratic weather patterns which are only going to get more extreme are interrupting the global agricultural calendar seeing the global crop yields drop dramatically add to this the extra pressure of land now being connected to the energy addiction the West have ensconced themselves in via bio-fuels and filling up the SUV will easily outstrip concerns by motorists for the hungry masses from the third world. As ‘urgent’ as the UN moves on this issue, any quick fix food drops will do nothing to stop the process global warming has put in place as the erratic weather patterns will only increase in severity – and if you think it’s bad now, what will happen in 2013 when the entire Arctic polar icecap melts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Even Colin James admits it ain’t getting any better

Good to see even a father of the establishment like Colin James coming out and pointing out that the sky is falling, in todays column he acknowledges some of the very real threats we are facing. My beef with a lot of the mainstream dialogue is that there is a culture of self censoring denial about how bad things are getting without a major shift in our thinking. I love how John Key wants to reduce tax on petrol, mate what do you think cars put into the atmosphere as pollution? What do you think that pollution is doing to our agricultural cycle and in turn is doing to crop failure? What is it with Politicians shielding polluters from the true cost of their pollution?

Colin James: Third World resentment on 'things to be afraid of' list
Take your pick of frights: climate change, water wrangles, the scramble for fuel and metals, high food prices starving the poor. Here's another - bad food. Climate change has inspired apocalyptic predictions of sudden tipping points, sea level rises, famines, extinction of species, including us, and worse. Industries have grown up to study, warn about, respond to and challenge it. Water is a more proximate challenge. Aquifers are plundered in India and northern China (and mid-Canterbury), huge waterworks in China control and divert water, affecting surrounding countries. Control of Tibet's Himalayan headwaters is part of that. Water problems will affect food production and industrial development and may unsettle relations between nations. Right now prices for oil, coal and raw materials have gone wild as China bids to secure its industrial future (including bids for coal here) and as rich countries try to maintain lifestyles. This has made Australia the Middle East of minerals.

Middle Class Pain hurts more in an election year than under class pain

Lobbyists float $4b solution to poverty
Child poverty lobbyists are calling for higher welfare benefits and tax cuts for the lowest income earners in next month's Budget - and axing tax breaks for the middle class. The Child Poverty Action Group, led by paediatricians and academics, wants to abolish tax subsidies for KiwiSaver and use the money to cut the bottom tax rate to 10 per cent on incomes of up to $20,000 a year. Its wide-ranging report also calls for extending free primary healthcare for children to after-hours accident and medical clinics and extending the policy of 20 hours a week free childcare to services such as kohanga reo and playcentres, which are parent-led rather than teacher-led. The whole package would cost more than $4 billion a year but that would be partly paid for by axing the KiwiSaver subsidies to save around $1 billion a year. The subsidies are expected to go mainly to middle-class families who can afford to save. The net cost of around $3 billion would be about twice as much as the $1.5 billion which Finance Minister Michael Cullen has publicly earmarked for tax cuts in the Budget, but he is widely expected to deliver somewhat more than he has promised. New Zealand came third-worst in the developed world in a Unicef survey of child poverty around the year 2000, with a quarter of all children then living in families earning less than 60 per cent of the median income.

Great Ideas from the Child Poverty Action Group, amazing solutions, it’ll never happen. Not because there isn’t real pain at the bottom, oh Lord there is, I mean as hard as the poor property speculating middle classes are feeling when buying milk, it is nothing compared to the real suffering at the very bottom, but this is election year and there ain’t no votes in saving the bottom from lives of hell and you have an electorate that is in no mood for kindness, they want National in, and there isn’t any milk of human kindness amongst that howling mob. Of course ignoring the poverty root cause of the problem dooms us to an ever decreasing circle of social problems that get talkback 101 solutions like ‘Lock em all up, bloody Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaoris, they choose to be poor, blame the solo mums’ stuff. Great.

When a strategic asset is not a strategic asset

Govt won't pull plug on capital's power sale
The Government is unlikely to halt the sale of the capital city's electricity network to a Hong Kong investor, despite political pressure for it to emulate its controversial veto of the Auckland International Airport deal. Vector yesterday revealed it had agreed to sell its Wellington electricity network to Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings for $785 million. The network distributes Wellington's power and therefore supplies many of the buildings that the Government itself operates in. But it appears the Beehive does not view the network's strategic importance in the same light as it viewed Auckland Airport - which it stepped in to protect when a Canadian pension fund looked set to snare a 40 per cent stake last month.

When Labour moved against the awfully polite Canadians and stopped them from buying Auckland Airport, Labour proclaimed that this was the real difference between Labour and National and it went down with an electorate that hates seeing any asset being sold off, however the lengths with which Helen and Michael are trying to claim the electricity network of our capital city is in someway NOT a strategic asset is a mental leap only the heavily medicated could perform – it gets worse, it’s a Chinese company (and we are all still feeling a little concerned from our friends rallying in Aotea Square and their brutal crack down in Tibet) that will buy the electricity network of our capital city that powers all Government Departments – if Labour allow this to go through their credibility with the electorate will be sunk, NZers will like it a lot less that the Chinese have Wellingtons power supply by the balls than they would over those awfully polite Canadians owning the airport.

And we are in Afghanistan why?

Grim Rudd warns it will get worse
Faced with its fourth soldier killed in Afghanistan and a new Coalition strategy that has yet to prove itself in an increasingly bloody war, Australia has warned that it offers no blank cheque for continued commitment against the Taleban. As Nato officials met in Ottawa, Canada, to discuss future plans, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai recovered from an assassination attempt in Kabul, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also disclosed that Australian diplomacy had been struggling to keep the Netherlands and Canada engaged in the southern part of the country.

And maybe it’s a good time to ask exactly why we are in Afghanistan again? Let’s see, excuses to be involved in a war, we are hunting Osama Bin Laden, we are fighting the Taliban because they didn’t hand over Osama Bin Laden, now we are fighting for Women’s rights, we are fighting for democracy by propping up some of the old warlords, we are there to win VC medals for bravery etc etc etc. Aren’t we walking the exact same walk that wiped out the British Empire and the Soviet Empire when they invaded Afghanistan? Wasn’t the last person to hold Afghanistan for any period of time Alexander the Great? Is George W Bush the strategic equivalent to Alexander the Great? Does anyone think we may have won if America hadn’t decided to invade Iraq based on a pack of lies that has ended up making us less secure? How come the right wing in this country who brayed like whores for us to go to war are so quiet now? Isn’t it time for some people to accept this was a bad idea and that the choice we face is the very same the West faced in Vietnam – you either lose a little or you lose a lot.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Auckland Pro-China rally - You Tube videos

Latest pictures of the many posted to You Tube by the demonstrators:

...and so on...

...key words auckland+china.

3 years old

This is the 2,645th post on this blog. It was three years ago that I set down the above objective - however vague it may have seemed at the time - in the hope of establishing some purpose beyond that of an unrestricted global outlet for frustrated journalistic instincts that would inevitably shrivel into caustic abuse and morose moments of personal insight by the second month. Hopefully people read and comment because they acknowledge that kaupapa, and find the content has some sort of value to them - and long may that continue to be the case.

The content is an extension of its author's personality and this blog has no editorial agenda or ideological position beyond that vague hope I mentioned earlier. The author's opinions are truly their own - a necessary element of an independent, owner-operated blog. I began posting Mr Bradbury's occasional guest blogs later in 2005, and he took over as the acting-Editor while I was ensconced up Her Majesty's arse for sedition and many instances of contempt for the New Zealand Crown. That was in July 2006 and our roles were reversed as I sent him blogs about prison life. It's been over six months since I've been back blogging properly so regular readers would have noticed a more diverse subject matter and difference of opinions and angles on some issues as well as the technical and aesthetic upgrading.

Now as co-bloggers we can welcome Ben Thomas to the blog as our irregular co-blogger. He has been invited, and has agreed, to blog here because he is a good writer - not just because he is a member of the Auckland University - Craccum Mafia (North Shore chapter). Although this wiseguy has already been made by the NBR - as their Political Editor. His first post was earlier today about our spontaneous team outing to Tiananmen Square.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

ANZAC day sirens: so close

Oh, mate we are so close.

I've blogged before about having a one minute siren burst at 1pm on ANZAC day as a remembrance event - but out here in the West they got it a couple of days too late. There were reports of people not knowing it was just a drill - which would have been solved had it been scheduled for ANZAC day every year, as it is a convenient time to test it. Next year my friends, next year.

Aotea Square China rally: Good nationalism/Bad nationalism

Earlier on the SNBC (see below), we had been discussing ANZAC Day in the context of "good nationalism vs bad nationalism." In that vein, I'll break down a few of my thoughts about the scene at Aotea Square:

The profusion of "I China" t-shirts was good nationalism. Sure there's a terrible regime there, but there's also one of the world's oldest cultures, and cheap electronic goods. What's not to love, apart from the torture of dissidents and other miscellania?

In fact, one guy we bumped into suggested many marchers were just there because it was like a Chinese street party, with a whole lot of their compatriots in one place at the same time. I'll go out on a limb and say that any day that a migrant community can get together and reclaim the streets for a few hours and not have to feel marginalised is probably a positive.

Seen through that filter, all the singing of ridiculous nationalist anthems, the flag waving and the obnoxious car-revving and horn-honking (which was really, very loud and literally went on for hours in the CBD) was more an instance of good nationalism too - it had more in common with the Waitangi Day tube pub crawl in London attended by thousands of drunk New zealanders than it did with say Nuremberg.

And yet. Bad nationalism was never too far away. I didn't see the biffo between Tibet protestors and marchers - and it was pretty margin of error stuff given the numbers there. I've seen anti-anti-GE protestors get a bit of roughing up during these big events.

No, the problem was the signs. Cheery, happy, obviously not evil kids, holding up "Taiwan supports China" signs. Or "stop the violent lama." Or "BBC are liars." These kids weren't thugs - but as far as the repressive regime in China is concerned, they are zombies. Their views are the product of around twenty-years of individual indoctrination.

As always, I'm a sunny optimist in these matters. I do think that three years studying in New Zealand (or even better, living here permanently) will open the eyes of the children of an oppressive state. But the job will be that much harder with organised state chauvinism like yesterday's rally trying to keep their blinkers on.

Berlin 36 Beijing 08

I was at the pro-China rally in Aotea Square yesterday... observing. They had their banners and placards out, but here's what I was thinking in bold:

Beijing 2008
Berlin 1936

One World - One Dream - One China
Ein Welt - Ein Traum - Ein Deutschland

Tibet is was and always will be Chinese
Austria is was and always will be German

Don't trust the Dalai Llama
Don't trust the Poles

Taiwan supports China
Czechoslovakia supports Germany

And the Sky kiwi tent (Der Stürmer tent) helping to whip up patriotic fervour was up front and the Chinese government agents (Nazi agents) were no doubt lurking in the crowd. That's what I saw.

The rallying masses were predominantly younger Chinese, most likely students, with a few families groups as well. Given I only saw a single person smoking during the whole torrid event I would also say they were the educated upper echelons rather than of the peasant type Chinese classes. The majority were not overtly political, or I thought, even aware of the political overtones of their demonstration - they were naive patriots by and large. Reactionary and defensive it was, but that was not the feeling of the crowd, and despite the negative tone of some of the messages, and despite the thousands of ethnic Chinese in the middle of my home town being rabidly, fervently, nationalistically Chinese, I never felt threatened or alarmed. Just disappointed really. Others however will feel very differently. All of those negative signs were in English so that we could read them let us not forget. This rally was also for our benefit.

If you had grown up under a one party state where your politically-connected parents have grown wealthy through that system so they could afford to send you to Auckland to study commerce then you would probably think the regime's a benevolent or at least necessary force too. And like foreign cultures in our midst sometimes they do things collectively that are completely inappropriate or baffling. The Chinese are utterly unaware of their public relations disaster. It may be normal in China to stage these rallies, but in this country - when you are a guest in someone else's country that is to say - you don't mass in the main square of the biggest city and proclaim that your regime of infamous brutality is misunderstood and that the opposition elements and non-regime media are all evil liars.

The funniest sign was "Stop politicising the Olympics" Yeah, because a mass pro-China rally where angry messages against the enemies of the Chinese Communist regime are displayed isn't political is it? Only in the Chinese mind it seems. Like patriotic Germans who may have done the same thing in '36, they are deluded. They are victims, they are pawns, they are the fortunate few of the would-be ruling classes.

Ben Thomas will post some pictures he took soon.

Skykiwi article on the rally with pictures:
overseas Chinese students from New Zealand initiated the support of the Beijing Olympic
Although this is the form of assembly, but many people take part in spontaneous demonstrations in the square, shouting "China Come on!" Slogans, the crowd in the square in a while and set off a while the "human wave", the Aotea Square, support for China's support Ciqibila the voice of the Olympics, has never stopped, a conservative estimate, the presence of the highest number could reach 5,000 people.

Typically unselfconscious reportage from a sponsoring website.

The Red Princes are angry – Aotea Square becomes Red Square

Violence disrupts pro-China rally
Pockets of violence marred an otherwise upbeat pro-China rally in Aotea Square where thousands of Chinese came out in support of their home country and the Beijing Olympics. The square was yesterday overflowing with large red Chinese flags which were enthusiastically waved around despite persistent rain, as well as a few New Zealand flags. The huge crowd chanted in Chinese "Proud of China" while speakers expressed their desire for politics and sport to be kept separate. But scuffles broke out, undermining the message. One outside the Auckland Town Hall involved Chinese and a small group of Tibetan supporters. Sean Turnbull, with a Tibetan flag draped over his shoulders, said he had held the flag out above the crowd, which reacted angrily. "I was standing up with the Tibetan flag when they all came rushing. They ripped off our flags and I took a few punches to the head."

I went into the middle of this sea of red, all connected online by skykiwi, these enthusiastic crys for ‘One China’ (One Party) and I thought to myself, ‘So this is how 1936 felt’. To see so many people cheering for a flag that is responsible for the brutal cultural genocide in Tibet, a flag responsible for propping Mugabe up in Zimbabwe with aid, the flag supporting the dictatorship of Burma and a flag responsible for supporting the current genocide in Darfur by propping up Sudan not to mention the numerous human rights abuses inside thir own borders in a country now creating more pollution than any other on the planet. Standing in the middle of this 4000 strong crowd, in Auckland, my home city was something I didn’t ever think I’d have to see in my lifetime. They then took their pro China love to the roads where they boy raced up and down Queen street for two more hours, if it HAD been boy racers they would have all been arrested immediately, but you could see the cops were frightened, and not one was arrested or pulled over. The good thing however was that the crowd, very much like their Government when talking about the Dalai Lama, have no idea how this all looked to the rest of us, and I would have loved to have been a fly on a wall in a lot of homes in NZ last night as the images of thousands of Chinese took over Aotea Square and waved hundreds of communist China flags beamed into lounge rooms all over the country– for many NZers that sight would have them choking on their dinners. My favourite signs were those attacking western media for spreading ‘lies’ about China and the claims that Tibet always was and always will be part of China. The irony that this group are complaining about Western Media from a country as heavily censored as China only added to the deep sense of surreal farce this march embodied. My personal highlight was being told by one of the supporters that I was a ‘left wing douche bag who didn’t understand history’ – their aggressive assertion that they were right seemed so 1936.

Cops get power to spy on you in your home with no warrant

Police to be given right to spy
Police will be able to use wireless video cameras to spy on crime suspects in their homes for up to three months, as a result of an impending law change and technological advances. Police will normally be required to get a "surveillance device warrant" to monitor people in situations in which they might have a "reasonable expectation of privacy", such as in their homes and offices. But they could conduct surveillance for up to three days without a warrant in "certain urgent or emergency situations". Cecil Averill, chief executive of Napier telco Airnet, says battery-powered "keyhole" cameras that sent encrypted video images back over wireless broadband links could be effectively concealed in homes, but police would need training to install them.

Let’s get this straight, cops are now going to be able to break into your homes, install keyhole cameras in your house without ANY WARRANT for 3 days and spy on you and everything you do – are you kidding me – I don’t trust cops with the powers they have, let alone giving them more powers – the fact that the Police went to the Economic Development Ministry in 2006 and asked to reserve a chunk of the radio spectrum because they intend to be using wireless broadband and remote video surveillance equipment to conduct “covert operations” within 5 to 10 years suggests that the Police are not going to use these powers for “certain urgent or emergency situations” at all, they intend to use them as a matter of course and the weak oversight being given here to allow cops to spy in our homes is an outrageous intrusion of Police Powers into our personal lives – these cops should have to convince a Judge that they need to break in and install spy cameras in your home, the fact they can do so without a warrant is a shocking increase in their powers without any debate whatsoever. I am disgusted.

When will the Maori Party and Greens wake up to gst on food issue?

Soaring prices fuel call to end GST on food
A petition urging abolition of GST on food is gathering support outside Auckland supermarkets as consumers struggle to cope with rising prices. The cost of filling the average supermarket trolley has jumped by more than a quarter in the past year, as the effect of international food shortages hits New Zealand. A Weekend Herald comparison showed butter, cheese and some varieties of bread had more than doubled in price. Most meat, vegetables and fish were also much more expensive. Labour and National, have resisted previous calls to exempt food from GST and seem unlikely to change their minds. But many shoppers the Herald spoke to believed the Government had to act to cut the price of basic food items.

Labour and National say that they can’t remove GST off fresh food, vegetables and non-processed food, yet Britain and Australia has managed to keep taxes off these foods. The Greens and the Maori Party should be on this issue immediately – as a joint front they should go to the electorate stating that they would remove gst from these foods if they were elected – wake up Green Party, opportunity passing you by (again).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club

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

News that caught my eye –
1: From calling them running dogs at the beginning of the week, China now says they will meet the Dalai Lama. How about those aggressive pro-China protests, there’s one happening today in Aotea Square.

2: NYPD let off the 50 shots they gunned down an unarmed black guy on the night of his wedding – when you see how American Police treat their own citizens, is it so hard to believe they torture and beat Iraqi’s in their charge?

3: Israel snubs Hama offer of truce – even after that nice Jimmy Carter had done so much to talk to Hamas this week. Is Israel actually interested in peace? Oh and hasn’t the blaming Iran for trouble in Iraq become the theme from the Bush Administration all of a sudden again. Oh and the IDF is looking into a killing of a Reuters Cameraman shoot on film.

4: Environmental canary in the coalmine this week – massive decline in European-African bird migration and the sudden increase in Methane levels after being steady for 10years, we are in a La Nina cycle when we would see the opposite, a methane decrease so its not the traditional sources, it could be the frozen methane starting to melt, which could cause a runaway climate event.

5: Tracey Barnett in the Herald asking where our Olympians are with speaking out against China.

6: Report showing Police are blue – any surprise?

7: Hillary beats Obama – where now?

STORY 1 – ANZAC Day delusions
In the Herald on Sunday, Matt McCarten writes a column exploding our ANZAC Day myths, that many of the soldiers who signed up had been horse riding strike breakers who beat up striking workers, that we actively helped in the brutal suppression of the Boer, that the British Officers were idiots who ended up bombing the only NZ Officer who took the hills, that we don’t remember the Turkish dead and that the whole thing is a sugar pop wrapped Nationalistic feelgood handjob. How does everyone feel about ANZAC Day, does Matt have a point?

STORY 2 – Happy Valley: Spies have fingers in many government pies - sst
THE MINISTRY of Agriculture and Forestry quietly severed its contract with controversial private investigators Thompson and Clark Investigations last year, after the Sunday Star-Times revealed that TCIL's "corporate intelligence" included infiltrating and spying on community groups. Maf initially refused under the Official Information Act to confirm or deny any contract with the private investigators. However, when chief executive Murray Sherwin became aware of the issue the contract was cancelled.
Do anyone of us believe that TCIL weren’t infiltrating Happy Valley for Solid Energy, TCIL’s official position is that they were infiltrating Happy Valley activists because they were frightened for their security – LOL, yeah right that’s why you were infiltrating them.

STORY 3 –Parents use spyware to keep watch on kids - sst
NEW ZEALAND parents are spying on their children with special software secretly reading every Google search, website hit, chatroom conversation, email and MSN message and even every keystroke the child makes. Parents buy the programs, known as spyware, for between $35 and $130 and secretly install them on their child's computer. They can then watch screen shots in real time from another computer or order regular reports on their child's activity, which the program will compile and email to the parent. Some programs also email the parent immediately if they "sense" the child may be in danger online or is using unsuitable websites.
Paranoia or smart parenting?

STORY 4 - Soaring food prices force families to make compromises - sst
A Sunday Star-Times reader survey shows one-third of you are making significant changes to the way you shop, after a shocker of a year at the supermarket. Overall, groceries cost 9% more this March than they did last year. The biggest price rises are happening in the dairy aisle. Cheese is up more than 44%, milk almost 22% and butter an incredible 82%, since last year. Bread costs 12% more than last year and other healthy basics fruit and vegetables and red meat, poultry and fish are each up by almost 3%. Experts blame the worldwide demand for biofuels, and the increasing wealth of huge developing countries.
AND climate change – with the shadow of peak oil and climate becoming more unpredictable these conditions are only going to get worse aren’t they? See in America Wal-Mart has started putting food restrictions on rice sales per person – things are only going to get worse are they not? This is the market working isn’t it Ben Thomas? Haiti is having food riots, Egypt is running out of bread, West Africa is running out of rice, China and India have banned exports of rice. Time to dump bio-fuel subsidies? It is cheaper to buy NZ cheese in Australia than it is to buy it in NZ.

STORY 5 - Stop dithering over tax cuts says union - sst
UNION LEADER Andrew Little is warning of rising industrial action as workers seek to compensate for savage increases in the cost of living. And economists say they can't see any immediate relief for consumers with food, petrol and housing costs picked to keep rising. Petrol prices have rocketed 20% since March 2007 and last week hit $2 a litre for premium grade. Grocery food prices rose 9% and electricity 6% in the same period. BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander says motorists should budget for 91-octane fuel to cost $2 a litre in the next few months and warns it could climb to $2.20 by mid-2009.
Isn’t it time to seriously consider taking GST off fresh fruit and vegetables and non-produced food

FINAL WORD – Nicky Hager on the Let’s be Frank repeat 10pm tonight – and Dr Pita Sharples next on Lets be Frank Tuesday 8.30pm and Henry Rollins on Music Wank with Thane Kirby Wednesday 8.30pm

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mugabe regime tactics

The Washington Post article on Mugabe's tactics is enlightening:

Andrew Makoni, a human rights lawyer who spoke from a police station here Friday night, said police detained 215 people in the raid. He said many were limping or wearing casts from previous injuries as they were sent in small groups to holding cells throughout Harare, terrified of being forced back to the countryside controlled by Mugabe.

"They left their homes because of violence," Makoni said. "And now they are in the hands of police."

Hundreds of riot police were posted at intersections across the city. Empty of people after the raid, Harvest House contained only a few stacked blankets and bloodied bandages. The air carried the stench of urine -- testimony to the crush of refugees that had overwhelmed the building's capacity in recent weeks.

"It was shocking," said Teresa Mano, a witness to the raid. "I saw them shoving injured people into the bus and trucks. They were brutal. Those that refused were beaten by batons. Pregnant women were being dragged to the trucks. There were babies screaming all over the place. You would think they were dealing with hard-core criminals."

Tendai Biti, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, said the raid also may have been an effort to destroy evidence of the opposition victory. In the days after the election, handwritten results for individual polling stations and electoral districts were posted across the country. All were recorded and many were photographed by the opposition party.
Dozens of election officials, along with several journalists, have been arrested and in some cases tortured, according to reports from human rights groups and some published firsthand accounts. Top military and security officials reportedly have taken control of much of the government and have deployed officers across Zimbabwe to coordinate political intimidation and violence.

Mugabe is terrified that the MDC has a massive constituency in Harare - the capital - and that their supporters pouring in from the rural areas will spur a popular uprising and the seizing of the seat of government. If this happened it would leave his ZANU-PF cronies with a few rural areas (the second city, Bulawayo, returned all opposition MPs at the election) and so defeat and a forced exile would quickly follow. The party apparatus seem to be entrenched in the top cadres of the security forces and his hitherto one-party regime is now (if the report is true) attempting to take over operational control of the civil service to ensure they do not recognise any MDC government that may be declared.

And the Mail and Guardian in South Africa reports the opposition supporters may be finally starting to resist:

Human Rights Watch said it had documented a pattern of increasing violence by Zanu-PF militias and the military.

"For example, one MDC supporter from Uzumba, Mashonaland East province, told Human Rights Watch that Zanu-PF militia members had cut off his ear," it said in a press release.

But the organisation also said MDC supporters had hit back.

"For the first time since the post-election crackdown in Zimbabwe started, Human Rights Watch has documented several incidents of retaliatory violence by MDC supporters," said Human Rights Watch, adding the scope of the incidents bears no comparison to state-sponsored violence.

Methane levels rise, well, well, well

Hints of methane's renewed rise
Levels of the greenhouse gas methane in the atmosphere seem to be rising having remained stable for nearly 10 years.
Data from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) in the US suggest concentrations rose by about 0.5% between 2006 and 2007. The rise could reflect melting of permafrost, increased industrialisation in Asia or drying of tropical wetlands. Methane concentrations have shown small rises and falls during the years of stability, but rises have been associated with El Nino conditions which are known to induce more wildfires. Currently, the world is experiencing La Nina conditions, the opposite of El Nino. A sustained rise could be due to several reasons. Asia's spectacular industrialisation, reversion to older rice farming techniques, and a drying out of tropical wetlands would all be candidates if the rising trend is confirmed. Equally possible would be the release of methane from frozen zones of the world, notably the Arctic permafrost, as they warm.

I've been blogging for sometime that the environmental catastrophic change that would most impact on our civilisations ability to carry on with business as usual would be the massive jump in temperature caused by a mass frozen methane release melted by increasing greenhouse temperatures, and here we are with a jump after 10 years of stability during a La Nina when we would see the opposite, so the release of methane isn't from the seasonal traditions like forest fire. Despite the deniers who claim otherwise, our impact on the environment is fast approaching the dreaded tipping point where the pace of change goes beyond our ability to adapt, that is if we haven't already crossed that line.

Friday, April 25, 2008

First food restrictions in the West?

Wal-Mart restricts rice purchases
Rice prices have been hitting record highs The world's largest retailer, Wal-Mart, is restricting sales of rice at one of its chains - the latest sign of a global shortage of the staple food. Sam's Club, Wal-Mart's cash-and-carry division, says customers can buy a maximum of four bags per visit. The limit applies to jasmine, basmati and long grain white rice.
The international price of rice has risen by 68% this year and Wal-Mart said the restrictions were "due to recent supply and demand trends". There are more than 550 Sam's Club stores in the US. With food prices rising, customers have been buying basic goods in bulk. Wal-Mart said it was not restricting the amounts of flour or oil customers can purchase "at this time".

I wonder, as Climate Change bites into the agricultural calender and seasons get more erratic, if the food source collapses, will the prices start skyrocketing just as petrol prices start to do the same thing? As weather patterns get worse and as peak oil lurks these leaps in price may look childlike to where they can go. Oh and seeing as Climate Change is still of some debate for some on the Right, this story is sobering...

Scientists: Alps largest glacier gone within 20 years
Climate change will see most of the Tasman Glacier in the Southern Alps melt away over the next 20 years, scientists say. "In the past 10 years the glacier has receded a hell of a lot," said glaciologist Dr Martin Brook. "It's just too warm for a glacier to be sustained at such a low altitude - 730 metres above sea level - so it melts rapidly and it is going to disappear altogether". The Tasman Glacier is the largest in the Southern Alps and at 29km was noted as one of the longest in the world's temperate zones. In 1973 there was no lake in front of the Tasman Glacier, while new measurements taken last week indicate the lake at its foot is now 7km long, 2km wide and 245m deep.

The Red Princes are rallying

"The rally will not just be a celebration of the Olympics, but also of being Chinese," said one of the organisers, Jim He, secretary general of the United Chinese Associations of New Zealand.

Really - a celebration of the largest dictatorship on the planet with one of the worst human rights records who supports the Burma dictatorship, The Sudanese genocide in Darfur and Robert Mugabes dictatorship to name but a few? After the Craccum theft where nationalistic Chinese students effectively censored the entire University Students Association by stealing all the Craccums simply because there was a Fulan Gong advert in them, and after their bizarre protests against the way China has been portrayed in Western Media (something only Chinese outside of China could protest about because China so heavily censors media inside China - you gotta love the irony) I thought that would be it from these student-guests amongst us - but now these little red princes want to hold pro-china rallies at Aotea Square...

Clash feared as pro-China rally planned for city
Chinese nationalist sentiment is running high among Auckland's mainland Chinese community as they prepare for a pro-China rally this weekend. Encouraged by organisers to wear red - China's colour - participants, expected to number more than a thousand, will wave Chinese flags and do a mock run with a replica Olympic torch in Aotea Square on Sunday. But the rally may also be a focal point for confrontation between the Chinese demonstrators and pro-Tibet and human rights protesters who plan to be there.

...there is a lot of angry chatter about, I think this protest could get ugly - the aggression of the support from these Nationalist Chinese here in little old NZ is starting to spark a response, many thought that these student-guests would lose some of their brainwashed compliance with the Party by staying in a liberal country like NZ - but apparently not. See you at Aotea Square lads.

Well, after we've filmed SNBC. Also interesting to note what Greg Ansley had to say in the Herald today...

Torch's trip inflames passions
The Olympic flame is on its way to Japan and an uncertain future after passing through Canberra amid rowdy demonstrations, scuffles and tension between police and Chinese torch attendants. While yesterday's 16km relay finished without major incident, several demonstrators broke through barricades and police cordons, rival sides hurled insults and abuse at each other, and bystanders were intimidated by confrontations that at times appeared on the verge of violence. Pro-Tibet demonstrators at times provoked the vastly larger number of Beijing supporters bused in from Sydney and Melbourne - some estimates put their number at up to 10,000 - but the pro-China crowds were aggressive and threatening.

Spicy Pork 2

This interesting bit of info popped up in Simon's trial yesterday...

While being cross-examined by Mr Oosterman's lawyer, Graeme Minchin, Mr Wickens acknowledged the use of pepper spray had been associated with deaths in New Zealand and the United States. Constable Blair Yockney, who pepper-sprayed Mr Oosterman, said he was aware police general instructions said pepper spray was not allowed to be carried by police officers rostered for duty at a demonstration without a district commander authorising it. "But I was not rostered on for duty at the forest institute protest. "Because I was rostered on for watch-house duties I had my full general-duties belt on, including OC spray, when I was called in to assist with the protest." Judge Chris McGuire has adjourned the hearing until June 24 for closing submissions.

...so let's be clear, a District Commander has to authorise pepper spray to be taken to a protest, but the cop who pepper sprayed Simon wasn't given that authorisation at all because he came straight rom watch-house duties, so the Officer who sprayed Simon hadn't been authorised to carry the Pepper Spray into a protest action. Hmmmmm

Merry ANZAC Day

To me, hearing wide eyed children tell TV cameras at dawn services that the soldiers ‘died for our freedom’ seems to miss the point of ANZAC Day. Do we not gather to promise our young people that we would never, ever throw away their precious lives on wasteless wars the way we did so delightfully in our past? That as NZers we have grown up and will no longer feed the dogs of war with the lives of our brightest and youngest – and that when we do go to war it is ALWAYS for the right reasons that we ask younger generations to lay their lives down, and never simply to please an overseas power.

You would think that the historical slaughter of our fellow countrymen, so much so that their bodies rise above us and blot out the sun, would be enough of a mental image to ward us against any type of cheap romanticized nationalism, but the lack of any critique of our rush to war suggests sadly we will ignore that image of a broken mountain of corpses, cheering our war dead as they coldly stare back at us. In our desperate fumbling for a national identity let's not forget the deep human tragedy the reality of war is and how hard we must fight to not fight, I think our commemoration should be to the human tragedy of war, it is only by recognizing this that we guard against being led so easily to war in the future and we fulfill our promise to the next Generation while truly respecting the loss of the past.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

American loyalty more important than American dreams today

Clinton's 10 point victory reignites race
WASHINGTON - Hillary Clinton has beaten Democratic rival Barack Obama in Pennsylvania, prolonging an increasingly negative presidential nominating fight and keeping alive her slim White House hopes. Clinton's 10-point win paid immediate dividends in fund-raising for the cash-strapped New York senator and shaved off some of Obama's lead in popular votes and in delegates who select the Democratic nominee at the August convention.

Look at who voted for Hillary, working class Catholics – if there was a more loyal group who would bind to you for life, it’s blue collar Catholics. In a depressed economy where the coal and steel glory of yesteryear really does lead to the very bitterness Obama honestly commented on, one thing is left to cling to, loyalty. Even though she had a 20point lead over Obama and he managed to whittle that down to 10points, loyalty won over dreams in Pennsylvania yesterday and the stage is set for an even more bruising nomination battle where Hillary can only win by a convention breaking superdelegate revolt which will alienate the youth and black vote plus the funds they have injected all of which will forecast a McCain win. The blood is on the floor, all that’s needed is for both candidates to slip in it – what a fascinating, fascinating election.

Cops are blue

Quarter of police unhappy in job
Almost a quarter of New Zealand's police officers are unhappy in their jobs, and another two-thirds are merely going through the motions at work, a survey of police morale has found. The $187,500 survey - the result of a recommendation made during the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct after the Louise Nicholas case last year - reveals a police force in which many officers are "psychologically absent" from the job. The results have shocked senior police. The Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act, revealed that only 13 per cent of police staff were loyal and committed to the job. The average over New Zealand's working population is 25 per cent. At the other end of the scale, 22 per cent of police were so unhappy in their work situation that they were "psychologically absent" and insisted on sharing their unhappiness with colleagues. Heavy workloads, lack of staff and resources and poor management were given as the main reasons stopping officers doing their best.

The focus of Government has been to sell the whole $50 000 starting wage, when really Police need better resources, more time off and much, much, much more counseling to help deal with the stress of being a cop. The fact that Police are only given 19 weeks training must be another issue, how in god’s name can a person be emotionally and mentally ready for the challenges of being a cop when they only have 19 weeks training behind them? And let’s not forget that with all that poor training and unsorted stress (combined with a secretive non independent police complaints authority that gives the public little faith in the police complaints process), the Public end up being the target for a lot of that anger, which creates more social friction between ‘us’ and ‘them’ – it is little wonder Police are so down and is a reminder to keep a very long distance away from any of them as having to deal with an angry and depressed cop could really ruin your day.

Just don’t go to the South Island (squeal like a piggy boy)

Attack sparks tourist warning
With another tourist recovering from an seemingly unprovoked attack, tourism leaders are urging operators not to be afraid of warning people of the risks of travelling in New Zealand. Irishman Robbie O'Brien, 31, was attacked by a group of men after a night out in Westport. He suffered cuts to his face and needed hospital treatment. O'Brien said he had been staying in Westport as part of a three-week trip to New Zealand and had been drinking with locals he had met. He was attacked by a man as he walked back to his accommodation with the group, some of whom tried to go to his aid. He had seen his attacker earlier that night but had not spoken to him and saw no reason for the attack. Senior Sergeant Geoff Scott, of the Westport police, said the attack appeared to be unprovoked and happened only because O'Brien spoke with an accent. Jarrod Akapita Whata, a 20-year-old Westport timber worker, appeared in the Westport District Court yesterday charged with injuring with intent. Others are likely to face charges. The incident comes a week after an attack on a group of English and Danish tourists in central Christchurch, also allegedly sparked by their accents.

Look, as any Aucklander will tell you when traveling in the South Island, don’t. This is banjo land, this is deliverance, dem people don’t likes dem outsiders, my guess is that these Southerners who attacked these tourists thought they were from Wellington, that’s far too poofy north for mainlanders, they would have killed them if they thought they were Aucklanders, but would have just been confused by the concept of ‘overseas travelers’ as it goes outside the South Island being carried on the back of 4 elephants standing on a giant turtle model that most Southerners prescribe to.

From Public Address' Christchurch correspondent:
In a well-known Christchurch watering-hole, I was recently served a pint of beer with ice-cubes.
The teenage barmaid, who either did not know or, perhaps, did not care that I may have an inherited heart condition, explained her actions with the following words: "We always put ice-cubes in drinks unless people ask for 'no ice'".

- TS

Sport and politics doesn’t mix and other NZ bullshit

NZ Olympic flame bearer not concerned about protests
A Hamilton man due to carry the Olympic flame through Canberra tomorrow says he expects any protests to be peaceful.
Aaron Fleming, 24, will be one of 80 sports stars, community leaders and unsung heroes to carry the flame through the streets of the Australian capital. Fleming overcame a serious lung ailment as a teenager to train and become a competitive ironman, raising thousands of dollars for charity in the process. He won the right to carry the flame for New Zealand after a nationwide search last year.

You don’t represent me mate, as Tracey Barnett wrote in her open letter to NZ Olympians in the Herald yesterday,

We have four months until the Olympic games. New Zealand Olympians, where are you? Have you lost your voice, or just not found it yet? Whether you like it or not, from the moment you make it to that elite core of athletes who will take to the world stage, you carry a huge responsibility. You started because you loved the sport. But you ended up as a role model in this country with a public voice you may never have asked for, or honestly anticipated.

She does an amazing job of pointing out that our athletes have a moral responsibility to protest at the actions of the Olympic Host and that effort is as important as their focus on the sporting field – to do anything other than that, to silently compete devalues everything they have worked for and junks any success, very much the way Mark Inglis lost all mana when he climbed Mt Everest but left another mountaineer to die on the summit.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Well, well, well - it was a storm in a teacup

Brilliant opinion piece by Rudman in the Herald today that really does show what a storm in a tea cup the Mike Williams comment was, hell Rudman even says it's a storm in a teacup. Very interesting reading and good to see some will be backpedling a wee bit today.

Spicy Pork costs a lot

Pepper-sprayed protester sues police for $50,000
A veteran protester is accusing police of assault and wants $50,000 compensation after suffering a week-long headache from being pepper-sprayed, Rotorua District Court was told. Simon Oosterman, of Auckland, was sprayed during a protest at Rotorua's Scion on January 30, 2005, the Daily Post reported. He is seeking costs for assault and breaches of his rights. A three-day hearing into the case began yesterday before Judge Chris McGuire. Mr Oosterman was charged with resisting and obstructing police following the protest but cleared on both charges. Yesterday, Mr Oosterman's lawyer Graeme Minchin said the issue was whether police actions during the protest were reasonable. Mr Oosterman said he was part of what was intended to be a peaceful but noisy protest organised by the Rotorua GE Free group against genetically modified trees. He said he was pepper-sprayed when he tried to stop police from grabbing the group's media adviser. Mr Oosterman suffers mild asthma and had trouble breathing. He was taken to the police station where he continued to wash out the pepper spray but the pain did not ease. Mr Oosterman went to Rotorua Hospital when he was told to continue putting water in his eyes. "The pain continued for perhaps an hour and afterwards I had a serious headache for over a week," he told the court. The case is continuing.

There is a certain joy in watching the Police have to explain their actions with the possibility of being forced to cough up cash for their abuse of power, because using pepper spray on a person who isn't resisting, or has even been threatened with arrest is simply not acceptable, and the only way to make sure they don't pull that stunt again is by making them pay, and pay big. Interesting how a taser can not be used to force compliance, it can only be used IF someone is armed and a threat and there is no other way to disarm them, yet we look at how the Police mis-use pepper spray without even threatening arrest - how can anyone think the Police won't mis-use tasers?

Drunk Darth Vader assaults Jedi

I have laughed very hard at this story, I love Darth couldn't remember anything until he read it in the paper....

Drunk Darth Vader's Jedi assault
A man posing as Darth Vader attacked a Star Wars fan, who had founded a Jedi Church, a court has heard.
Arwel Wynne Hughes, 27, from Holyhead, Anglesey, admitted assaulting Barney Jones and cousin Michael with a metal crutch. They suffered minor injuries. Hughes, who was drunk and dressed in a black bin bag, shouted "Darth Vader!" Earlier, when Hughes failed to arrive on time, District Judge Andrew Shaw issued an arrest warrant, adding: "I hope the force will soon be with him." In the event, Hughes turned up and the case at Holyhead magistrates court resumed. The court heard he had jumped over a garden wall wearing the bin bag before the attack. Outlining the case againt Hughes, prosectutor Nia Lloyd said Barney Jones had recently started the Jedi church in Holyhead - in honour of the Star Wars' good knights. It had about 30 members locally and "thousands worldwide". The cousins had been filming themselves playing with light sabres in the garden before the attack. Hughes admitted two charges of common assault. The court heard he has a "chronic alcohol problem" and had drunk the best part of a 10 litre box of wine. Mrs Lloyd said: "He was wearing a black bin bag and a cape and had a metal crutch in his hand." Mrs Lloyd said he was shouting "Darth Vader". She added that Hughes hit Barney Jones over the head with the crutch, leaving him with a headache.

The court heard Hughes could not remember the incident. He then laughed and hit Michael Jones in the thigh, causing bruising. Both men were left upset by the incident and they believed it was pre-planned. She added that the pair believe "very strongly in the church and their religion". Hughes could not remember the incident and only realised what had happened when he read about it in local newspapers, the court told. Defending, Frances Jones said alcohol was "ruining his life" and he had no idea where he got the crutch from. The court head Hughes had previous convictions, including affray, assault and disorderly behaviour. The judge warned Hughes that jail remained a possibility before adjourning for pre-sentence reports until 13 May.

BULLSHIT DAIRY LIES and Campbell Live great ideas.

Watching the Dairy Pusher from Fonterra on Breakfast this morning explaining why Dairy prices are so high and I had to roll my eyes (it’s great watching him muddle through trying to explain why you can buy a block of NZ cheese in Australia cheaper than you can in NZ), his excuses are that he can make more overseas than he can sell it for here – but why shouldn’t NZers be able to buy something cheaper that is produced here? Dairy Pusher from Fonterra says that doesn’t make economic sense and that poor ole Farmers have to get the best price for their product – really? Don’t NZers have to put up with the massive pollution that Dairy creates in this country? Doesn’t us having to put up with the fact that Dairy produces 49% of our greenhouse gas mean we are paying already for Dairy – shouldn’t Fonterra pull their heads out of their arse and aknowledge that cost? That aside, the fact butter is too expensive to eat isn’t such a bad problem as most butter is exceptionally unhealthy and making it more expensive will cut back on people using it.

Last night on Campbell Live, there was a great debate about taking GST off food that is fresh and healthy for you, while leaving it on processed foods – this is a great idea and I was yammering on about doing this on National Radio last month. It makes healthy food cheaper and helps with the spike in food costs, National and Labour claim it is too difficult to implement, yet Australia and Britain have managed to do it – the Maori Party and the Greens should immediately move on this as a joint policy and declare any party who want their support have to remove the gst from these foods immediately.

Key downloads top quality electorate porn

Rules may change under Nats' broadband policy
National leader John Key has not ruled out the possibility of using regulations to get Telecom to play ball with the party's proposed national fibre optic network. Mr Key unveiled National's broadband policy yesterday, saying an "ultra-high-speed" network was critical to economic growth. National would make the government a cornerstone shareholder by putting up $1.5 billion and introducing new telecommunications regulations. Mr Key said no one had firmly fixed the cost of a national fibre network, but mid-range estimates are $3 billion to $5 billion. A recent New Zealand Institute study has estimated the cost would be $4 billion to $5 billion. Though details are scant, the plan is to roll out fibre to the homes of 75 per cent of New Zealanders. In the first six years, priority would be given to businesses, schools, hospitals and clinics. Funding would also be provided for a mix of fibre, satellite and wireless broadband for remote areas.

Bloody good idea, it makes National look forward thinking (although Bill English ruled this very idea out last year), and it addresses the slow connection bugbear of many urban folk, the very electorate National are trying to target, and it starts to pave the way for us to use the kind of internet speeds we need for NZ to be competitive in the online economy of tomorrow. Issues are who would own the lines as a $1.5Billion dollar subsidy for Telecom doesn’t sound very free market National values and GOD FORBID Telecom gets back into a position of dominance again – but these are details – this is smart politics!