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Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Sunday News Roast

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

Week that was

The great communicator – Minister of Health Cuts, Tony Ryall setting unrealistic new limits for hospital waiting times with no extra funding so that the hospitals fail those standards so Tony can claim we need help from the private sector and start the health privatization agenda. The only difference between the National Party Health policy Mallard leaked and the version National released was the 20 new clinics National intended to build, Private Public Partnerships in health by building 20 clinics for the private health industry anyone?

Local Government Forum latest report this week is proposing a mass privatization of local council assets, here’s a line from it – “The benefits of reading a book are largely enjoyed by the borrower, not by other people. Alternatives to public libraries, such as bookstores, second-hand book shops and DVD and video stores, illustrate the point that similar services can be provided privately”. Is it any surprise that the genially named Local Government Forum is comprised of Business NZ, the Electricity Networks Association, Federated Farmers, the Business Roundtable, Chambers of Commerce and the New Zealand Retailers Association. With Rodney the Razor as the Minster for Local Government Privatization by stealth, I wonder if he will be following his buddies advice?

News this week that Treasury have presented the new Government with some extreme free market options and Bill English says he’s unimpressed from the yet to be released report. Treasury with their free market zealots and late night Adam Smith rituals where they weekly sacrifice a virgin in Accounting to appease the economic gods, always try it on with a new Government and present Chicago school of economics wet dream privatization fantasies as policy suggestions. The question has always been, will National resist the sirens from their own philosophical fold because resisting Treasury when they are telling you things you secretly want to go along with but know would be politically unsustainable is a game National will find difficult with ACT clearly pushing for those results with major changes like TABOR.

News this week that Lincoln scientists have been given approval to continue their controversial experiments on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Saftey measures include laboratory-bred fly pupae with special double-layered cages all to prevent any of the Genetically Engineered crop from escaping into the environment and the reason for it? So the crop can be genetically resistant to massive doses of pesticide so that farmers can drench crops in pesticides to the levels necessary to kill all the pesticide resistant weeds. All that research with the possible threat of releasing this unintentionally so that the makers of pesticides can drown crops in chemicals when we have organic options looks desperately like a corporate solution looking for a corporate problem.

John Key on his trip overseas gushing that it was great meeting George W Bush, because George is famous and Gerry Brownlee after leading the charge against the Nanny State stormtroopers from the HelenGrad Dykocracy kicking your door in to force power saving lightbulbs down your throat campaign has quietly pointed out he won’t be changing them, reminding us the Nanny state stuff was always bullshit.

In the Weekend Newspapers
STORY 1 – Experts at a loss to explain Airbus tragedy sst
EFFORTS TO explain the mystery crash of the Air New Zealand Airbus in France may take months as experts rule out the most likely causes for its abrupt plunge into the Mediterranean Sea. Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe is due in Perpignan today with a support crew and relatives of one of the five New Zealanders killed, vowing to "bring our team home".

Air NZ crash: Hero crew sacrificed lives to save town - HOS
The crew of Air New Zealand's doomed Airbus jet were last night being hailed as heroes - a witness believes they saved dozens of lives by crashing the plane into the sea to avoid a small French town.
Sunday Star Times goes with the mystery of the crash while HOS does the hero sacrifice line based on the info from one witness. 29 years to the day Air NZ suffers another tragedy – most impressed with Rob Fyfe’s leadership so far on this issue. Has the media done an appropriate job covering the story?

STORY 2 – India, Pakistan simmer over Mumbai attacks – sst
Indian accusations of a Pakistani link to the attacks on Mumbai that killed nearly 200 people threaten to damage attempts to improve ties between the rivals.
I think what is more important than who actually carried these attacks out is who India decide to blame for it. Pakistan's recent and rapid destabilization has allowed extremists to operate there and project into Afghanistan and the fear now is that has also been widened to India. If India blames Pakistan because they believe it, or because they wish to take focus away from domestic religious tensions that will become exacerbated by the oncoming global economic meltdown, they will find a fan in America, who have become increasingly hawkish towards Pakistan with their current drone assisted assassination campaign that is so effectively killing dozens of innocent Pakistani civilians and turning the population against the west-leaning government. Who India blame will be crucial.

STORY 3 – No on-air apology for Noelle McCarthy's cut-and-paste essays- sst
IRISH BROADCASTER Noelle McCarthy is off air until Boxing Day, with no public apology to Radio New Zealand listeners for her unattributed use of other journalists' work.
Kim Knights hate campaign against Noelle McCarthy continues this week as Kim proclaims Noelle as an ‘Irish’ broadcaster in the same way Millie Eldar always gets called the ‘adopted’ daughter of Paul Holmes whenever she’s up on drugs charges. I am really stunned by the sheer venom so many have spat at Noelle on different blog sites, it’s become some sort of Oprah on meth venting session. It’s odd because the exact same vitriol was heaped on Oliver Driver’s appointment to Sunrise and Driver has ended up doubling the ratings AND has asked the hardest questions in the current affairs spehere over the elections. It’s not so much tall poppies syndrome as poppies on stilts amongst a sea of 3 foot angry bloodthirsty dwarves with baseball bats. I don’t think Noelle was purposely plagiarizing any more than anyone of us do day in day out as we discuss the news of the day, which is what she does. Now of course you have to acknowledge where things come from, and she will be much more careful of that in future, but to try and have her publicly flogged for the grossest of intellectual dishonesties is just ludicrous, give the girl a break and go hunt down your next media victim, why the hell don’t the public do something useful and crucify Garth George, for the love of God, hasn’t he earned it yet?

FINAL WORD – Look at the way NationalACT are pushing through changes in bail and parole, by misusing the power of Urgency, no discussion, no debate on such a radical change to our bail and parole laws from “real or substantial risk” to any risk at all – you would need to go back to 1998 to see another example of a misuse of urgency and prior to that you need to go back to Rodger Douglas, who surprise surprise just happens to be back in parliament. If the debate is so clear cut why will NationalACT hijack the power of urgency and misuse it to stifle and shut down any dissenting opinion on such a fundamental change, a change that will see our prison population balloon in size – oh and NationalACTs response to this is to import Dick Cheney’s corrupt private prison industry. Let’s be very clear, Private Prisons don’t care about the welfare or rehabilitation of prisoners, they care only for profit and they make their profit through longer and harsher sentences, and remember under NationalACT these prisons will be gulags, forced prison labour where the prisoner gets paid 60cents a day and the company pockets the $12 per hour – they’re vested interests will pervert the prison system in NZ as horrifically as they have done so in America and this is all being rammed through without any discussion while the mainstream media are asleep on holiday.

Let’s be Frank replay tonight, Oliver interviews American Foreign Affairs expert Paul Buchanan on the challenges confronting Obama and what effect his election will actually have on foreign affairs.

That’s this weeks Sunday News Roast – unfair and unbalanced, the spin starts here with the best political team on television, stay classy Alt-eroa, here’s this weeks moment of media zen

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mbeki at the break-down

The Chinese product most embraced by Mugabe's "Look East" policy seems to be the one-party state. It doesn't appear now that the opposition can continue to look South for their salvation. Mbeki was always on Mugabe's side, everyone knows this, but he represented the best chance of getting Mugabe to hand over the key cabinet posts and get the economy moving again.
All Africa reporting:

Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has publicly repudiated the mediation of South Africa's former president, Thabo Mbeki, in the country's crisis, while Botswana has suggested President Robert Mugabe could be forced from power by a blockade of his borders.

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in a statement issued Wednesday that the MDC's relationship with Mbeki - the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitator of talks on Zimbabwe - had irretrievably broken down.
Tsvangirai has written to the chairman of the SADC, South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, asking that Mbeki "recuse himself."

Also on Wednesday, Botswana's foreign minister, Phandu Skelemani, attacked Mugabe's legitimacy in unequivocal language.
"Nobody recognizes that he's the head of any state," Skelemani told the BBC World News television programme, HARDTalk. "Remember, there is no government in Zimbabwe as we talk - de facto he is there but not in terms of the law."

Skelemani suggested that if the current talks on constitutional amendments designed to establish a legitimate government failed, the SADC should confess its mediation had failed.

In that event, the international community should "tell Mugabe to his face, that now you are on your own, we are switching off, we are closing the borders," Skelemani added. "I don't think he [Mugabe] would last. If no petrol went in for a week, he can't last."

However, Skelemani said, if SADC placed an embargo on Zimbabwe, it should be prepared to make food drops into the country until Mugabe stepped down, or its people would starve.

Them's fighting words.

Don't let them burn it down

- 7:50PM BBC

[UPDATE: 4:50PM: The fire looks to be under control and people are milling about as if it is over. The authorities are tentatively saying that the last of the terrorists have been neutralised. Let's hope so - given the small numbers of them and that there were no negotiations to speak of it has taken a long time and lot of destruction to get to this point. There is still no solid news on how many civilians are left at the Taj and in what shape they are in. One report (from the other hotel) from a commando said there was blood all over the place and bodies everywhere. The room-to-room searches are now underway.]

[UPDATE: 3:23PM NZDT Live pictures of the Taj Hotel shows a small fire from ten minutes ago has spread across and is now also on the floor above. I said in the post early this morning that that is the game plan. But the Indian security forces are so useless it would not surprise me if they started it themselves somehow.

The fire brigade have driven up close and are now spraying water in there. At this point the rest of the world is wondering why they didn't use the fire trucks to storm that area in the first place. That area (according to one report) was cleared by the military before. Just utterly hopeless.]

[UPDATE 3:11PM 29/11/2008:
Here we go again! Live pictures now. There's a fire now on the ground floor of the Taj - and gunfire from within. The Indian security forces are pathetic and as chaotic and disorganised as India as a whole. No information is forthcoming from the authorities. They are hopeless. Don't let them burn it down FFS.]

There are shots or grenade blasts from the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower in Mumbai as the terrorists continue to resist assaults from the military. But as I said in a previous post, this is India, so who knows how this will unfold. There's no information, and little intelligence from the authorities. Just don't let them burn the bloody building down - that's where this is going if they don't do this right. Chaotic. They seemed so disorganised, thronging together to get in each others way. Take them out FFS.

This guy was walking around in there yesterday: the TV guy was able to file his report from the bottom of the hotel. He notes the metal detectors on at the entrance - so I guess security was normally tight.

As I suspected. My disbelief in the earlier post was well founded. The policemen, Wikipedia says, were assassinated and the stories about them dying in gun battles elsewhere seem to be false (police spin?) - which is what seemed more likely. You have to wonder at the police and military's communications capability and priorities. Are they any worse than their intelligence and combat performance?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Last Noelle before Christmas, to be sure

Is RNZ pulling her as a disciplinary measure? or as a PR knee-jerk? or to complete further investigations ("to be sure, to be sure")? All three?

Not news for RNZ. It's an in-house issue I suppose so they aren't drawing attention to it on their news website, but RNZ's media watch programme will have to traverse it on Sunday morning - how could they not?

But let's not dwell on it, my co-blogger Mr Bradbury will be a guest on the 4pm "panel" today - with host Wayne Mowatt.

Yes, Wayne. Say what you like (and people have in the previous post on this subject), but McCarthy, even with that breathy Irish lilt that begins to grate at the hour mark, is a superior quantum of megatons above any weak glow emitted by Mowatt - the chap who made his reputation for playing the worst recordings of the worst arrangements of the worst songs in the world. That was his speciality and the decision to keep him and that format for so many years in the weekday afternoon slot really damaged and retarded Radio NZ. He's a great guy and true professional, but his musical taste is prehistoric - even for National Radio. When you have the drive-time host having to bring in his own 78 needles it's seriously time to upgrade the playlist and the DJ. Half the time it sounded like he was in the Alexander Turnbill Library playing wax bloody cylinders on an Edison machine. And I'm not just criticising the age and quality of the tunes either - I post the odd You Tube music clip from the black and white era myself, but it won't be the sort of excruciating warblings I've heard on his programme.

And Wayne is just plain, plain: boring. And I'm not being insulting here - if you want nasty just listen (if you can bear it) to the way Kim Hill refers to Waayyne Mowatt.

Jim Mora's show (the format and the man himself) is in a position to draw younger listeners across to public broadcasting and renew the audience's bloodlines.

Mowat's show is now isolated at some graveyard hour once a week (I think) where the brand taint can be quarantined. The only way to play music that bad and get away with it is to send it up and max it out and laugh at it, as the Matinee idol team do so brilliantly over the summer break. But taking it seriously is just so funny it's... not.

Here's a picture of Wayne during a technical fault with one of his tracks on last Saturday's show:

US - Iraq pact close to ratification

It's taken a long time to get this far and the referendum next year may be another avenue to wedge the Americans out earlier than the end of 2011.

BAGHDAD (Reuters): Iraq's parliament on Thursday approved a security pact with the United States that paves the way for U.S. forces to withdraw by the end of 2011, taking the country a big step closer to full sovereignty.
The pact replaces an expiring U.N. mandate. It gives Iraq authority over about 150,000 U.S. troops in the country, who will be obliged to withdraw from towns by mid-2009, and makes them liable for some crimes committed when they are off duty.
Lawmakers in Iraq's 275 seat parliament passed the deal with 149 MPs out of 198 present voting for it. The pact consists of a Status of Forces Agreement and a long-term strategic framework agreement, which defines U.S.-Iraqi ties for years to come.
In the end, Iraq's Shi'ite-led coalition and Kurdish partners agreed to link the pact to the referendum and a package of reforms, such as speeding up the release of mainly Sunni detainees captured by the United States at the height of the sectarian violence.
The agreement was opposed to the last by lawmakers loyal to firebrand Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who want an immediate U.S. withdrawal. They held up banners and loudly chanted, "No, no to the pact. Yes, yes to Iraq," as parliament voted.
Ratification by Iraq's president and two vice presidents is expected to be formality.

AFP reporting:
Iraq won a number of concessions in the agreement, including a hard timeline for withdrawal, the right to search US military cargo and the right to try US soldiers for crimes committed while they are off their bases and off-duty.
The agreement also requires that US troops obtain Iraqi permission for all military operations, and that they hand over the files of all detainees in US custody to the Iraqi authorities, who will decide their fate.
The London-based human rights group Amnesty International warned after the vote that thousands of Iraqi detainees in US military prisons could face torture or execution at the hands of their own government.
The pact would meanwhile forbid US troops from making any further arrests without Iraqi authorisation.
The referendum is scheduled to be held by the end of July next year, Iraqi officials said.

Full text (translated) of the The strategic framework for the relationship of friendship and cooperation Between the Republic of Iraq And the U.S from the Iraqi government website.

Section I: Principles of Cooperation

This Convention on a number of General principles to chart the course of the future relationship between the two countries as follows:

Relationship based on friendship and cooperation to mutual respect, principles and recognized standards of international law and to meet international obligations and the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, rejected the use of violence to settle Differences.

The presence of a strong Iraq capable of defending itself is essential for stability in the region.

The temporary presence of United States forces in Iraq is the request of the sovereign Government of Iraq, and with full respect for the sovereignty of Iraq.

The United States should not use the lands and waters and airspace of Iraq starting point or a corridor to launch attacks on other countries and does not request or seek to be Have permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq.

Air NZ crash on anniversary of worst NZ air tragedy

Air NZ plane crashes into Mediterranean
LATEST: One person is dead and at least six missing – most believed to be New Zealanders - after an Airbus A320 smashed into the Mediterranean Sea this morning.
One body has been recovered. Air New Zealand has confirmed that it was one of its aircraft. Deputy chief executive Norm Thomsen said the company had reacted an emergency response procedure. The aircraft was being flown on an acceptance flight from the Airbus headquarters at Toulouse.

On the 29th anniversary of NZ’s worst ever air disaster, Mount Erubus, Air NZ have suffered another crash. Eye-openingly this was the planes final test flight before it was about to go on active duty.

Treasury try it on, will National resist?

Treasury advice cops a fresh blast
History is repeating on Treasury officials, who have again been rebuked for their advice to an incoming government. Three years after being slammed for delivering "an ideological burp", new Finance Minister Bill English also seems unimpressed with his briefing from the department - yet to be made public. He has suggested it is out of date and lacks the urgency the world financial crisis requires. In 2005, then-finance minister Michael Cullen rejected officials' calls for tax cuts and the sale of state assets. He also rejected calls for reviews of the planned carbon tax and the Resource Management Act. Dr Cullen joked at the time it appeared to have been written for a National victory and Treasury had given him "the wrong one". Mr English said his briefing "reflects a view Treasury's had for a while that we need to focus on productivity and competitiveness". "It probably doesn't have quite the sense of urgency that the new Government has. It reflects the kind of things Treasury was considering ... when times were better." Sources said his annoyance may also have been prompted by Treasury calls for bigger tax cuts than those promised by National. Treasury gives an updated view of the economy and government accounts next month.

Treasury with their free market zealots and late night Adam Smith rituals where they weekly sacrifice a virgin in Accounting to appease the economic gods, always try it on with a new Government and present Chicago school of economics wet dream privatization fantasies as policy suggestions. The question has always been, will National resist the sirens from their own philosophical fold because resisting Treasury when they are telling you things you secretly want to go along with but know would be politically unsustainable is a game National will find difficult with ACT clearly pushing for those results with major changes like TABOR.

Researchers win approval for GE crops

Researchers win approval for GE crops
Lincoln scientists have been given approval to continue their controversial experiments on genetically engineered (GE) crops. Crop and Food Research's application to grow GE onions, spring onions, leeks and garlic at a 2.5ha secret site near Lincoln has been approved by the Environmental Risk Management Authority (Erma). But the Crown research institute will be allowed to let only a small number of GE onions flower and produce seed, and those plants will have to be contained in double-layered cages to ensure pollinating insects and pollen cannot escape. Only laboratory-bred fly pupae and no bees will be allowed inside the cages, and all flies will have to be killed before the cages are opened. Pollination cages will have to checked daily by Crop and Food staff to ensure they are intact and no insects can escape, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will also inspect the site. The 10-year programme, led by Colin Eady, aims to test the plants' tolerance to herbicide and resistance to fungi, bacteria, viruses and insect pests, and also to test efforts to alter their smell, flavour, sweetness and colour.

Hmmm – laboratory-bred fly pupae with special double-layered cages all to prevent any of this Genetically Engineered crop from escaping into the environment and the reason for it? So the crop can be drenched in Round-up, see I don’t think all the challenge and cost required to try and stop GE crops from escaping all because we are trying to grow a crop that can be drowned in herbicide when there are organic options is anything other than a solution looking for a problem.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Police targeting in Mumbai terrorist attacks

Image: A man shows the wounds of another man who was injured in a gunbattle at the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus. Wow.

Gunbattles. Multiple targets. They attacked the Indian parliament a year or so ago, I think it was. They being the regional franchise of Al Qaeda? But were they targeting the top police officials, or did the top brass engage in the front line of the police counter-attacks? Were they assassinations?
Reports say no, but you have to wonder how they are portraying it. Really?:
Mumbai: Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare was killed in gun battle with terrorists in Mumbai on Wednesday night.
Additional commissioner Ashok Tampte and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar were killed in their efforts to shoot down terrorists at Metro Cinema.

I am aware of the horrific tragedy today, the deaths of many dozens of innocent people and the plight of the hostages being held is still to unfold, but - this is going to make one kick-arse Bollywood movie. Not a lame-arse American 9/11 movie, a real action film. As one Indian commenter, Imran Arshad, said "this time incident looks like a novel story or flim." TV stars and so on are actually involved. A plot, the terrorists, the counter-terrorists, the attack, the fury, the ruthlessness, the horror, the tragedy, the gun battles, the counter-attack, the heroes, the victims, the hostages, the drama... I hope it ends swiftly in an Israeli-styled SAS take-down of the terrorists and liberation of all the hostages unharmed... but this is India - so Vishnu only knows. Best of luck to them. They will need it at this rate, these terrorists are terminators and know exactly what they are doing. I'm not sure the local police have the ability to respond, they have taken a serious blow.

Al Jazeera reporting 16-20 police officers killed. What does this mean?
1. The terrorist forces were numerous?
2. The terrorists ambushed the police (intelligence capability?)
3. The police are unco-ordinated, under-armed, undertrained, inexperienced?
4. The terrorist forces are co-ordinated, well armed and well trained.
5. No Indian authority was aware of the plot (but were they aware of the capability?)

The Indian government will have to do something. Previous attacks in Mumbai:
July 11, 2006: More than 200 people killed in seven blasts on suburban trains and stations.
Aug 25, 2003: 46 people killed in two blasts including one near the Gateway of India.
March 12, 1993: A series of bomb blasts left 257 dead and around 700 injured. Buildings attacked included the Bombay Stock Exchange, hotels, theatres, passport office, Air India building and Sahar Airport.

These comments from Indians on this Indian news website:

Posted by jhonts on Nov 27,2008 08:55 AM
If there is any shame left in Mr. Patil, he should resign without uttering one single word after this. We have heard enough of his recorded message after each terror atack- each one deadlier than the previous one.

Posted by Nannu on Nov 27,2008 08:30 AM
Mr. Patil still you have time to show that you have done something for the innocent people of India,just give orders to Hang that Guru who mater minded & planned attack om parliament. Everything is prooved and still that terrorist is enjoying in jail on the cost of tax apyers money. Until unless we kill such terrorist their fellowmen and all chief of terrorist organization keep on doing all these act through young unemplyed innecent sons of India who do not understand that these heads of terrorist organizations must be killed by them firts. Please action required not statements from all leaders.

Posted by Vikas Bhardwaj on Nov 27,2008 05:52 AM
There are two types of terrorist in india one hot terrorists and another cold terrosrist. Hot terrorists are those who are killing innocent people every where. And cold terrorists are our politicians who let all of us to be killed by these terrorists. And Shivraj Patil is the chief of all combined terrorist. He just smiles when ever bomb blasts. And all of us are fool who elect them. Shivraj patil even do not have the courage to call it jehadi terrorism.He should be shot dead first. I request all those jehadis terrorist if they really want to kill people, kill these politicians first in the first go. At least india will be free from these jokers.

And an ID/surveillance society meme emerges within the discussion:

Posted by sundar on Nov 27,2008 10:27 AM
the Govt has to make measures to implement measures for issue of Id cards to all citizens at home and check at sensitive points , know your neighbour well to see what are their activities every citizen has to safeguard because our govt cant provide security to every individual.

Posted by pankaj on Nov 27,2008 10:21 AM
We have to think abt the root of the problem, how these people enter in the city with such a huge arms, we have to create a system of identification of the people, plitician have to stop daulouge and start thinking for the nation but not for the seat. Our politician are more than worst.

Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks

Mumbai rocked by deadly attacks
Gunmen have carried out a series of co-ordinated attacks across the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay), killing at least 80 people and injuring 250 more. At least seven high-profile locations were hit in India's financial capital, including two luxury hotels where hostages are reported to be held. A fire has destroyed part of the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai's most famous hotel, which is now ringed by troops. Police said four suspected terrorists have been killed and nine arrested.

I think perhaps the rapid destabilization of Pakistan is starting to leach Muslim extremism within India, how India responds to this will be crucial as to whether Pakistan and India will start a new round of saber rattling that could quickly escalate.

Poppies on stilts

Okay back-hander-swipes-at-the-mainstream-media-for-cocking-up- why-Don-Brash-tripped-himself-up-on-purpose-on-bFM-with-Noelle- in-the-first-place aside – I am really stunned by the sheer venom so many have spat at Noelle, I mean some people are really taking time on those anonymous posts, this is becoming some sort of Oprah on meth venting session. It’s odd because the exact same vitriol was heaped on Oliver Driver’s appointment to Sunrise. Sweet Jesus you would’ve thought Oliver had personally sodomized each of their pets the way some were posting, yet Sunrise has had a massive jump in ratings and Oliver has been asking some of the hardest current affairs questions within the news spectrum and that flood of venom dries up pretty quick when the next object of vilification on sanctimonious grounds stumbles into sight. I don’t think Noelle was purposely plagiarizing any more than anyone of us do day in day out as we discuss the news of the day, which is what she does. Now of course you have to acknowledge where things come from, and she will be much more careful of that in future, but to try and have her publicly flogged for the grossest of intellectual dishonesties is just ludicrous and says more about those posting than it does her. Noelle is where she is because the girls got talent and her columns in the Herald are some of the papers best work (that back handed compliment wasn’t on purpose, I just forget how bad the Herald is sometimes). Her piece on traveling over the Urewera’s was gripping, her questions on feminism were honest and her column on the National Party power women was sublime.

Give the girl a break and go hunt down your next media victim, why the hell don’t you do something useful and crucify Garth George, for the love of God, hasn’t he earned it yet?

Back in the USSR

I will be posting on constitutional issues, reform and a republic more often now that Mactional has put MMP back in play and the Maori Party have secured some sort of constitutional discussion. All these details: TBA.

So it is timely to remind ourselves that our current constitution - although a Prime ministerial dictatorship with heavy Westminister centralisation, a government largely unaccountable to independent courts on most constitutional issues, and with a single chamber parliament capable of ramming any constitutional law through in a matter of days or hours with only 50%+1 majority, that despite all these faults - it works. It's far from perfect, constitutional outrages still occur, but the framework and the political fabric has not been torn or strained to the extent that basic democracy itself has been imperiled. It works because we have (relatively) reasonable politicians committed to fair processes and a heritage of democracy that means opposition is just a government-in-waiting rather than a transitory status before outright public persecution by the ruling totalitarian clique. Russia, however is the inverse.

Russia has an MMP system with regional de-centralisation, autonomous areas, a bicameral legislature, elected President and a written constitution. On paper the top line constitutional safeguards look fine - much better than NZ: both houses of parliament have to agree and then the regions have to sign off. But if the political culture is from a heritage of authoritarian hard-liners and a single monolithic party and ideology then the best constitution in the world can't save them. Using these constitutional means the Kremlin politburo of shady KGB men have rolled back the constitution that was powerless to stop their advances. The change to appoint regional governors rather than elect them was the first move - that was a few years ago - now it's getting an extra two years added on the Presidential term. Then the shifty stooge in the Presidency resigns and Putin gets swept back into power - that's how it is supposed to go down. At the last elections the Kremlin-controlled media (which is just about everything now) managed to shut out the opposition voices and dodgy tactics like coercion from Putin's party were widely reported.United Russia's dominance on national airwaves ahead of Sunday's State Duma elections appears to be playing with people's minds.
Eight percent of Russians polled in mid-November said they saw United Russia officials debating candidates from other parties, while 69 percent of those who watched the debates said they were impressed with the party's performance there, according to a poll released this week by the state-controlled VTsIOM polling agency.
The thing is, United Russia did not participate in a single debate.
[...] Vladimir Churov, head of the Central Elections Commission and a former classmate of Putin's [...]

And from The Guardian today:

A Russian politician ordered the assassination of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, defence lawyers claimed yesterday at the trial of three men accused of involvement in her murder.
Last year Russia's top prosecutor, Yuri Chaika, hinted that Berezovsky had masterminded her murder from Britain, in an attempt to discredit Vladimir Putin, Russia's then president.

The oligarch, a bitter enemy of Putin, has denied any involvement.

Yesterday lawyers acting for Politkovskaya's family said it was now abundantly clear that the journalist had been murdered from inside Russia, and that her death was linked to her work. "The person who gave the order was a political figure. He clearly wasn't happy with the articles Politkovskaya wrote," said lawyer Anna Stavitskaya.

The news came as events inside the courtroom yesterday teetered on the shambolic. The judge, Yevgeny Zubov, scrapped his ruling banning the media from court. Last week Zubov said the trial would be open, but then changed his mind, claiming that the jury had objected to the presence of reporters.

However, his assertion was contradicted when one of the jurors, Yevgeny Kolesov, gave an interview to a Moscow radio station, Ekho Moskvy. Kolesov said that the jury were quite happy to have the media in court. Kolesov also told the station he was quitting as a juror in protest.

Russia's prosecutor general has now asked the judge to consider removing himself from the case - which resumes today. The scandal is embarrassing for the court and hints at external interference in Russia's judicial system.

The most astounding thing in that piece was that Russia has juries! But once again, if the officials and the people in the Kremlin - and the oligarchs - are not willing to play fair then even those democratic, participatory elements of the system will break down, or be circumvented.

Reuters reporting:
The amendments have now been passed by both chambers. The State Duma, the lower house, approved the amendments on final reading last Friday.
They now only need to be ratified by two-thirds of regional parliaments -- which are almost all dominated by Kremlin loyalists - before they can take effect.
Police detained a lone anti-Kremlin protester outside the Federation Council building after he tried to unfurl a banner criticizing the plans, a Reuters reporter said.
The proposal was first raised by President Dmitry Medvedev in his state of the nation address on November 5.
The longer Kremlin term will not apply to Medvedev's present mandate, and Putin's spokesman has said there is no plan for him to make a comeback in an early presidential election.

The joy of tertiary education

Take cap off students' fees, say universities
The heads of New Zealand's universities say the Government is unfairly doling out money to students and forgetting the universities themselves. They also want the cap on fees removed so universities can set the cost of courses.

Here we go, change of Government and look how quick the University Corporation want to slip the leash of social responsibility and start charging astronomical amounts from students who will put it all on loans anyway, further stunting students fiscal position with even more debt, and it’s a double whammy, the corporate Universities want less funding for student allowances AND they want to increase their fees. When we had a student movement that was prepared to fight against such self interest over educational responsibilities such nefarious plans could be held at bay, but sadly there hasn’t been a whimper out of the national student movement for almost a decade. If students aren’t prepared to stand up for themselves and fight the Universities, then bugger all anyone else will.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Goodbye the Nanny State myth – hello the Daddy State reality

As we end 2008 I just want to give a shout out, a goodbye wave if you will to the myth of the Nanny State, that nonsense idea propagated by reactionary redneck talback hosts who conned many NZers into believing that the political correctness storm-troopers from the dykocracy Helengrad Nanny State were personally kicking down your door and ramming power saving lightbulbs and shower heads down your throats. Congrats to Crosby/Texter, you’ve all earned your Christmas bonus for the manipulation of that little myth, well done.

So goodbye to the myth of the Nanny State and hello to the reality of the hard right Daddy State, because while some mainstream commentators are telling us, “Oh this National Party are soooooo moderate, they cut a deal with the Maori Party when they didn’t even have to”, the reality is that this is one of the most far right governments elected by one of the lowest turns outs led by a Prime Minister who is the least experienced for 100 years (hands go under the poncho John, UNDER the poncho) and the deal with the Maori Party is merely moderate window dressing to gloss over the first 100 days of hard right Daddy State blitzkrieg legislation about to get pushed through while the dopey mainstream media are all on holiday in Fiji.

ACT’s 3 strikes and you’re locked up forever medieval law and order policy was costed by ACT at $1billion during the election but according to Rethinking Crime and Punishment costings it will be closer to $3.5billion-$5.5billion – are we honestly going to be putting $3.5billion into locking NZers up for the rest of their lives or should we be putting that $3.5billion into early intervention programs?

Look at the way nACTional are pushing through changes in bail and parole, by misusing the power of Urgency, no discussion, no debate on such a radical change to our bail and parole laws from “real or substantial risk” to any risk at all – you would need to go back to 1998 to see another example of a misuse of urgency and prior to that you need to go back to Rodger Douglas, who surprise surprise just happens to be back in parliament. If the debate is so clear cut why will nACTional hijack the power of urgency and misuse it to stifle and shut down any dissenting opinion on such a fundamental change, a change that will see our prison population balloon in size – oh and mACTional’s response to this is to import Dick Cheney’s corrupt private prison industry. Let’s be very clear, Private Prisons don’t care about the welfare or rehabilitation of prisoners, they care only for profit and they make their profit through longer and harsher sentences, and remember under nACTional these prisons will be gulags, forced prison labour where the prisoner gets paid 60cents a day and the company pockets the $12 per hour – they’re vested interests will pervert the prison system in NZ as horrifically as they have done so in America.

Add to this Daddy State blitzkrieg the dumping of the ETS because ACT form one of the few governments in the OECD who don’t believe global warming is man made and Rodney’s despicable TABOR ratchet noose legislation designed to strangle the throat of public spending every year, ask the good people of Colorado if they think it’s worked for them.

This is not moderate, this is not Barack-Obama-like ‘change’ and I’ll bet that if you ask anyone of the 80 000 NZers now predicted to be out of work within 2 years under nACTional’s work law that allows the boss to sack anyone they like for whatever reason they like within 90days, if you ask anyone of those 80 000 NZers what their concerns are, I’ll bet it won’t be power saving lightbulbs or showerheads.

How’s that change working out for you NZ? Does it feel like Obama yet?

Japanese judge sets sobering precedent

Had to laugh. She must still have to pay it back? It's all on otherwise. It's all on. Parties of women - hen's parties - rushing to Japan to cut loose without any need to worry about the damn tab. And speaking of the jet set uber drinkers and women who like drinking, and live in Asia, another excuse to use this image: taken at National's victory party on election night.

#14, #1, #7. Photo by #12.

Remember – according to ACT, global warming isn’t man made

Oceans' acidity threatening coral and mussel survival
Rising carbon dioxide levels are increasing acidity in the oceans faster than scientists thought, posing a greater threat to shell-forming creatures such as coral and mussels. An eight-year project in the Pacific has found that rising marine acid levels will challenge many organisms, because their shell-making chemistry is critically dependent on a less acidic, more alkaline environment. The study monitored seawater pH levels at the northeast Pacific island of Tatoosh off Washington state in the United States. Timothy Wootton, from Chicago University, said scientists found that acidity levels rose at more than 10 times the rate predicted by computer models designed to study the link between atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and ocean acidity. Atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by about 100 parts per million since the start of the industrial revolution and are now at their highest point in at least 650,000 years. About a third of man-made CO2 emissions has dissolved into the oceans. As CO2 dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid, which lowers the ocean's alkalinity and pH level, making it more acidic.

Remember – according to ACT who are now in power, global warming isn’t happening because of man made pollution – we effectively have a flat earth party that only 4 in every 100 NZers voted for dictating ludicrous environmental policy that makes us the laughing stock of the OECD – personally I can’t WAIT for Rodney’s special inquest where he will bring every quack denial clown on the planet to try and sway policy regarding global warming, I wonder how we will be portrayed in the global media when this happens?

How’s that change going for you NZ?

Pollution tax not to National’s liking

UK departure tax overshadows Key's meeting with Brown
Prime Minister John Key's first meeting with Gordon Brown has been overshadowed by Britain's controversial new air-departure tax that the travel industry says threatens the billion-dollar UK tourist market.
Mr Key told Mr Brown that the tax was of "significant concern" to New Zealand and said he will continue to pursue the matter with the British government. "The UK is our second largest [market] for tourism and it would put quite a significant impost on those travelling to New Zealand. Given that tourism is our largest export earner, I am quite concerned about the proposal," Mr Key said after his meeting overnight New Zealand-time with Mr Brown at Number 10 Downing Street. Hospitality Association of New Zealand chief executive Bruce Robertson said the passenger tax was "clearly of concern". "I would consider this to be a protectionist measure - anti-trade ... they're using the guise of sustainability and conservation as a measure of putting in a trade barrier, and that's really at odds with all the discussions at APEC last week. "This is a trade barrier to make it more difficult for Britons to travel long distance and, effectively, will be encouraging them to stay at home. In the tourism sector, this will be seen as a trade barrier."

No Bruce this is a pollution tax, you know to try and deal with that global warming problem that ACT doesn’t believe man made pollution creates? I find it fascinating that out of a 952 word news story on this tax there is only 14 words explaining why it is being implemented, the Herald doesn’t even try and mention that this departure tax is a response to the emissions pollution created by that travel, in fact they have re-written this entire story from the one they published to completely diminish the environmental rational for this tax, the reason being because the right wing have no answer whatsoever to the pollution that results from the brand of consumer capitalism they love to champion and as such they totally ignore the issue completely. Well as much as nACTional want to deny global warming is man made and that we will throw the years and years of work on the ETS out the window, luckily other countries take the threat seriously and as such are now implementing an emissions tax, something our right wing friends who voted for change will have to start accepting, even if they despise the green movement.

Forced marriages

I wonder if our law adequately deals with outlawing forced marriages? I doubt it does, I doubt MPs have given it any thought - the immigrant families in this country that arrange marriages are well below the radar. The personal misery is not a public one. There was an Indian girl at my old school who had been promised to this guy in Sydney - having to live with this pressure and expectation - to have your parents determine the rest of your life for you before you have even left school. It's sick and it's dysfunctional. It's systemically dysfunctional. Family clans that practice arranged/forced marriage as part of their inbreeding or business interests are something we like to have thought died out the century before last. Here it did. Not so overseas.

I wonder how common this is? Whether it's "arranged" or "forced" it all amounts to the same thing. I'm not sure exactly what the wording of the UK law is, but he procuring and/or contracting of a marriage by persons other than the bride or groom when either the bride or groom is under the age of 18 (whether duress is involved or not, or whether "consent" has supposedly been obtained from either the bride or groom) should be illegal. And pretty much the same protection should exist for adults too.

The UK has larger immigrant groups and more experience of this than us - including vocal victims - so our new parliament should seriously consider the UK law and situation. We have to send a message to these family clans practicing backward (patriarchal) abuses of their children (to further their own material gains and social standing within their community of family clans) that it is completely unacceptable. These types of families represent people who are the hardest to integrate. Their family strategies usually are to bring as many members into the country as possible and never to inter-marry with the local population. They would prefer to send their children overseas to marry their own, rather than marry a local. That's not the sort of people we need here.

Obviously not every family from countries and cultures where many (or even most) families practice arranged/forced marriage are going to do that, but letting everyone into the country and just pretending as though these abuses don't happen is stupid.

Dumb Drug Laws on P

Tougher rules to combat 'P'
The Government wants tougher rules on the sale of cold and flu tablets containing pseudoephedrine as part of its suite of proposals to crack down on P. Police Minister Judith Collins said yesterday officials will report to her in March about possible options for tightening the rules. Ms Collins did not want to pre-judge the report, which would have to take into account privacy and cost implications, plus the impact on pharmacies. However, she indicated New Zealand was unlikely to go as far as the United Kingdom, which was considering whether to make pseudoephedrine a prescription-only medicine.

Oh. For. The. Love. Of. Christ! Mike Havoc has been banging this drum for fucking years with John Key on their weekly interview on bFM – he has been pointing out to Key that the focus should be on the ingredients and take on the legal pushers of P rather than ridiculously harsh sentences on the users of the bloody stuff. Chronic users are sick addicts, sick addicts need treatment – you don’t get treatment in prison, and it’s only after the 100th time from Havoc saying this that Key has started listening – well that at least it shows if you yell it loud enough and repeat it endlessly a National Party politician will eventually get it so that’s a positive, note however Judith won’t dare risk her mates in the pharmaceutical industry profit margins by making it a prescription only drug – which is exactly what they should be doing! The focus has to be on the ingredients, not harsher sentences for users, force the legal pushers to tighten up and target the gangs shipping the pseudoephedrine into Auckland, throwing more and more addicts into mACTional’s private prison industry is not the solution.

Dude, where’s my economy?

NZ to stay in recession next year – OECD
New Zealand's economy will remain in recession next year before lower interest rates, increased government spending and higher exports help to stimulate gross domestic product growth, the OECD said. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, whose 30 members are mostly high-income countries, said in its biannual economic outlook that Australia's economic growth would likely to slow next year, while unemployment is set to jump, dented by the fallout from the financial crisis and a darkening outlook for the world economy. For New Zealand, the OECD forecast GDP growth at 0.5 per cent in 2008, cut by a third from its June report, and then contracting by 0.3 per cent in 2009, slashed from a previous forecast of 2.1 per cent growth.

Want to know why oil has flat-lined – because the suddenness of the shut down of the global economy is extreme, VERY extreme, look at our GDP growth rate slashed from 2.1% to (gulp) -.3. Ouch – and there are now predictions unemployment will be 8% within two years and the Chinese economy is looking at a massive drop in growth next year as well. I wonder if anyone of the 80 000 NZers who may be unemployed in 2 years in a mACTional work environment where the boss can sack you within 90 days, I wonder if on their list of concerns they will have incandescent lightbulbs or shower heads? Oh and as for National’s Private-Public-Partnership solution – the brilliant Jane Kelsey explains why they won’t help whatsofucking ever…

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Greenland autonomy - Danish colony [UPDATE: 75.54% vote Yes]

[UPDATE: 7PM 26/11/2008:BBC reporting:
Final results showed that 75.54% voted in favour, while 23.57% said no - in line with predictions before the vote. Turnout was 71.96%.
Regaining rights
About 50,000 of the population are native Inuit.
Greenland gained self-rule in 1979, after previously being a colony and then a province of Denmark.
"It was time for us for to regain our rights and freedoms that were stolen from our ancestors," David Brandt, a former fisherman, told the AFP news agency.
Under the new arrangement, due to take effect in June next year, the island will take a greater share of its annual oil revenue, and Greenlanders will be treated as a separate people under international law.
If the proposals are enacted, Kalaallisut would become the official language, instead of Danish.
The plan would also see Greenland becoming less reliant on subsidies from Copenhagen. Currently these provide 30% of its GDP.
In 1985, the island left the European Union to avoid subjecting its fishing grounds to EU rules.
---UPDATE ENDS]Greenland has quite possibly the cutest government website in the world. But there's nothing particularly naive or innocent about the carve up the island's resources as the sun sets on home rule and "autonomy" (still within the Danish Kingdom) is set to begin.

Reuters reporting: The Arctic island has had home rule since 1979 but under the new law it will control its mineral and oil resources and eventually take charge of 32 additional fields of responsibility from Denmark, including justice and legal affairs, as it becomes economically viable to do so.

With a "Yes," Greenlandic will become the official language of the island, but the country will still be part of the Kingdom of Denmark after the new law is adopted on June 21 next year.

"With self-governance, we will establish the framework for future generations, it will be their job to handle the task of independence," Enoksen said.

The islanders control their own fate as Denmark has said Greenlanders alone must decide when to cut the final ties between the two countries after nearly 300 years of Danish rule.

A University of Nuuk poll earlier this month showed that three quarters of the island's 57,000 inhabitants favored more autonomy.

Now the dodgy bit:

Greenland is dependent on yearly subsidies of 3.2 billion crowns ($540.6 million) from Copenhagen, about 30 percent of its gross domestic product.
Denmark and Greenland have agreed to split potential oil income 50-50.

"Agreed"? Surely it's 100% Greenland's. Is the Danish government screwing them or what? Full-scale production is reportedly "decades away" - but they will be independent then... but have to give half of it to Denmark. Dodgy.

Mininnguaq Kleist, the head of the self-governance office of the Home-Rule Government, said Greenland was not yet ready to live without financial assistance from Denmark, at least not without sacrificing its current standard of living.

Enoksen said Greenlanders would have to be strengthened as a people before independence but he maintained that the discovery of oil offshore is not a prerequisite as the country is rich in minerals, with several mines already in operation.

"We have to work ourselves out of the shadow of colonial times. We can only do that through education," he said.

Educated enough not to sign "agreements" that lock the Greenlanders and their natural resources into that colonial situation I hope. The oil split sounds like colonial strong-arming that will have to be undone later on - like maybe the Danish have found a method of clawing back all the subsidies they have paid so far. Oil licenses are being granted:
English language Greenland government site.

Off the agenda

Just before midday Dennis Welch, on his media slot on Radio NZ, announced that the Sunday morning current affairs interview and discussion programme Agenda would finish its run on December 7. Cancelled. Welch speculated that a similar format show will be started up by TVNZ in-house. That's how it seems to be going at the moment - I know that TVNZ 7's two media shows were taken in-house after originally being scoped out as possible independent productions. But that's TVNZ, they want the security of safe corporate style guides and accountability I suppose. Welch was a bit vague on the details of why, but he had been speaking to the boss, Richard Harman, and TVNZ were pulling the plug. This is trend is bad news for the production houses.

As for last week's show it was a total yawn. RNZ's Katherine Ryan and Metro Editor Bevan Rapson were not the problem, nor was the host - it was the choice of interview subjects. Phil Goff sent everyone back to sleep - he can't criticise National because they haven't really done anything yet and talking about Labour's old guard was tedious and irrelevant. The next guest was some little HR gimp who gave a twenty minute or so interview about the micro-end of the job market. That was excruciatingly boring. He made Goff look like a cross between Gore Vidal and Madonna, that's how pointlessly vapid it was. If that was an indication of where things are going on Agenda then maybe it's demise is timely.

NZers still fleeing even with Key in power?

Kiwis fleeing to Australia hit record high
The number of New Zealanders moving to Australia last month set a record, and the flow of people moving here from other countries continued to slow. Statistics New Zealand figures issued yesterday show 47,800 people left to live in Australia in the year to October.

WHAT? After listening to National for 15 minutes it is obviously apparent that the reason NZers are fleeing NZ isn’t because that’s what NZers have always done, oh no, the reason why NZers are fleeing is because the Political Correctness stormtroopers of the Nanny State Dykorcracy in Helengrad are forcing NZers to flee, but even with the promise of a National Government in Power these NZers seem to be leaving regardless, so I’m a little confused, could it be that NZers have always left and that the entire Nanny State stuff was garbage? What excuse will National use if the numbers leaving are still high under them?

Tony Ryall – the great communicator

Nats to target waiting times
Hospitals will be forced to cut waiting times in emergency departments under tough new targets being set by the Government, Health Minister Tony Ryall says. Speaking to the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine Conference yesterday, Mr Ryall said New Zealanders were increasingly concerned about "hospital gridlock", but poorly performing district health boards were "usually excused and praised by the previous government". He said the National-led Government would introduce new targets - including waiting times in emergency departments - and holding boards and management responsible for meeting them. "No longer will it be acceptable for DHBs to leave patients waiting endlessly." He said the Government would consult clinicians on setting targets so quality of care would be improved, "not compromised".

Ahhh, Tony Ryall – the great communicator, we haven’t really seen much of Tony, the last formal discussion was almost 18 months ago when he and John Key hosted that abortion of a press conference on National’s Health policy and they cocked it up so bad that they were outed by Journalists at the press conference that their Health Policy would actually cost people more because their policy is written by the private health industry and neither Tony or John seemed to be aware of that. It was after that abortion of a press conference that John Key did not do one formal set interview with Journalists until the election, in fact he is yet to do a formal one with all journalists, don’t expect that to change when he gets back from jet setting, but let’s look at what the great communicator is saying here, the only difference between the Health Policy Trevor Mallard leaked and the one National went with was the building of 20 new ‘clinics’ – I have been arguing that the reason National hid that was because this is their first step to privatize health, Tony will invest all this money into new clinics which surprise surprise will end up in the hands of his mates in the private health industry but note how he is selling this to you in this news story, the aim is to bring down waiting times, so the answer won’t be extra investment into the Public Health system, it will be investment into the private health system.

‘Clean coal’ is like ‘good cancer’ – neither exist

Pie in the eye for Solid Energy boss
Solid Energy boss Don Elder will be hoping the real Santa Claus delivers better gifts when he comes calling in a month.
Environmentalists attempting to highlight the plight of giant snails gatecrashed the Crown-owned coalmining company's first public meeting, throwing a custard pie at Mr Elder. The annual meeting in Auckland yesterday was billed as the first of its kind for a state-owned enterprise. It was a move to deflect some of the flak the sector has fielded for not opening itself up to the same level of scrutiny as privately listed companies. Instead, it turned briefly to custard when pranksters dressed as Santa stormed the stage at the Langham Hotel in a stunt aimed at highlighting green issues. "Don Elder has been a very naughty boy again this year," bellowed a trio of Save Happy Valley Coalition protesters. "He's not getting any presents from me this year, just dirty, carbon-emitting coal, which unfortunately he has far too much of already."

Laugh! My! Arse! Off! Solid Energy have done more to promote dirty filthy coal than any other crown owned company and their constant claim on a global-warming-caused-by-man-made-pollution planet that they have dealt with the negative effects of coal by promoting ‘clean coal’ options is bullshit – the technology to sequester the carbon underground is so full of problems that claiming it as an option is as likely as hiding all the pollution on the moon – ‘clean coal’ doesn’t exist and the man from Solid Energy deserve all the contempt thrown at him, next time the protestors should throw the bag of coal into his face and save the cream pie for themselves.

Balance sheet skid marks

Obama has been left to clean up the mess. Washington Post:

Wall Street analysts, congressional overseers and the media have parsed every detail of the Treasury Department's financial rescue program -- $250 billion and counting. Largely outside public view, however, the Federal Reserve is lending far more than that amount -- $893 billion
As of last week, the Fed's loans included $507 billion to banks, $50 billion to investment firms, $70 billion for money market mutual funds, and $266 billion to companies that use a form of short-term debt called commercial paper. It is considering a new program that would make billions more available to prop up consumer lending: auto loans, credit cards and the like.

In lending these vast sums, the Fed is essentially substituting its own unlimited ability to supply cash for that of private markets, which are not functioning normally. The central bank is even fulfilling some of the original goals of the Treasury Department's $700 billion rescue program by allowing financial institutions to use securities that are difficult to sell as collateral for loans.
A year ago, the central bank had assets of $868 billion, of which about 90 percent was in Treasuries. Last week, it had assets of $2.2 trillion on its books, of which 22 percent was in Treasuries. Much of the remainder represents the new lending to banks and other financial institutions
The Fed can essentially expand its balance sheet at will, reflecting its power to create money. Congress gave it even more leeway to do so in the bill that contained the $700 billion rescue package, by allowing the Fed to pay interest on bank reserves.
"People want to act like the Fed's balance sheet is limited," said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. "No, it's not. It's pretty much unlimited."

Infinity money times infinity equals Zimbabwe. The greenback is absurdly over-valued. The US government takes on all the bad debt - one way or the other - because it's in the strongest position to survive the capitalist/speculation/credit implosion and support the very institutions that profited from it and caused it. How far is Wall Street up The Fed's arse exactly - and the Treasury's? There seems to be so many conflicts of interest that it's wrapped around on itself. The corporations, the banks, the Fed, the Treasury - the former undersecretary of the Treasury who is the President of the New York Reserve is going to be Obama's Treasury Secretary - it's all America Inc., and it's all going down the shitter.

Case in point: The big three Detroit motor companies churn out monster SUVs for a decade, without changing, despite the surging price of oil, and then they want a bail-out because people don't want to buy their big, ugly, cars anymore. Ugly. According to the standard Ford models for 2009 only one of them is an economy two door. And they have an awful lot to say about the damn satellite radio system, but nothing on fuel consumption or the engine. GM have a bigger range that does include some smaller type cars, but they are as hideous as their bigger counterparts, and Chrysler don't seem to have bothered to make any.

Monday, November 24, 2008

APEC moment

Help the man out! I saw this on TV last night - it was awful. He already looks dorky enough as it is floating around with that shit-eating grin on his face like he just won fucking lotto... which I suppose he did. So maybe we should forgive him. But somebody help the man. He had this stupid folder on how to not offend people in Spanish (or whatever it was) on the red carpet. He didn't know what to do with it, he was trying to tuck it under his arm at one point. FFS, it's the job of his handlers to take that off him and tell him what to do - not leave him hanging, like a dolt.

No other leader meeting their Peruvian host had a silly folder obstructing them. He looked more like a lost junior assistant to the PM rather than the PM himself. Then again Bolger had that problem when Dick Griffin was around and foreigners would mistake him for the PM. Thank god he seemed to have struck a sobering pose on the stage, even if he was a facsimile of the other greying middle-aged Anglosphere technocrats.He needs a lot of help and he's not getting it. Helen Clark - and indeed every other leader - would not make that sort of mistake, but Key is still learning. He still isn't Prime Ministerial and it shows.
Key would need a near-fatal lobotomy however to be the biggest idiot in the room.
APEC Mid-level Ministers of the world: The Minister for Rugby and the Trade Minister, top left.
Inspiring, aren't they. Modeling for the Easter Island statues.

Audrey Young:

John Key's big event today was delivering his speech to the Apec CEO summit this morning.

His delivery was okay. It is not his strong suit. He was better answering questions. George Yeo, Singapore's Foreign Minister, spoke about how the crisis might yet lead to new divisions in society, and economist David Hale explained why East Asia had to come to the rescue of the United States.

"Yes but what say it doesn't work?" asked one Chinese businessman to which there could be no answer.

John Key's people kindly sent out his speech under embargo last night because he was delivering it at about the time the presses on the Herald were grinding to a halt and we were able to get in some coverage for Weekend Herald readers.

John Key took the orthodox approach to the financial crisis, blaming some of the reckless risk that had been taken in recent years, the failure to identify the risk because of lack of transparency.
The CEO summit began at 9am and so media who wish to cover it were required to assemble three hours beforehand at a point not 500m from the venue in Defence HQ, central Lima, to wait in a waiting room for an hour, forbidden to walk 20 metres to the coffee urn, then to catch a bus 400 metres up the road, to join a queue for another hour, to pass through a security machine, to eventually find a seat in the auditorium and then have to beg for access for simultaneous translation in order to understand what Mr Garcia is talking about.

At least it was only photographers and camera operators who had to wear netball bibs.

Imagine the apoplexy of officials when John Key agreed to talk to reporters at the morning tea break among the business delegates. All the Kiwis were there, mingling together, gutter press, business leaders, head of the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, Foreign Minister, Prime Minister. Situation normal.

Colin Espiner:

I’m not saying Key is that bad - just that it’s clear he still has a lot to learn. There’s all the little things that just shouldn’t matter but they do - particularly on the telly. He needs to work out how to wave to the cameras, for example. Larger than life Peruvian President Alan Garcia knows how to do it - the guy is treated like a rock star here.
An abrupt, manly shake of the hand is how to do it (unless you’re the Queen) but when Key tried it yesterday it looked more like an effeminate waggle. I’m not saying I’d be any better, mind. It’s just one of those things you have to practise, I guess.
He also needs to learn not to gush over meeting important people. You should have seen his grin after meeting President Bush. Now I’ve met Bush too, and I have to say he’s just not that impressive. Key is still acting a little like a boy who’s suddenly woken up to find all his dreams have come true.
The telly boys are also getting frustrated at the fact that whenever Key enters a room he tends to walk straight over to us to say Gidday, which of course is great and he’s a friendly and polite man, but they want shots of him gliding past looking prime ministerial. They don’t want him chatting to us. Again, just one of those things you have to learn.
It’s a bit of a learning curve for everyone, though, at the moment. Key’s ministers Tim Groser and Murray McCully also can’t contain their glee at being here. Groser, a former trade diplomat, is of course a pig in muck here. But McCully is also very much enjoying being an Honourable again. There’s a better standard of service for a start.
I’m wondering how well NZ Inc is gelling at the moment, though. It can’t be easy for the boffins from MFAT and the DPMC to go from nine years of serving Clark and Co to suddenly having a new PM and set of ministers to deal with. People like Maarten Wevers and Tony Lynch from the PM’s office, for example, who’ve spent a chunk of their working lives dealing with Clark are now dealing with Key.
It must be like training up a new recruit, although of course they’d never say so.

And in other journalism-government interaction on the domestic scene, NBR reporting: