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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Save Campbell Live! Facebook group

If we don't want the Australian money men dictating our current affairs to us, we best show them there is no way we want Campbell Live replaced with @ Seven, join the Facebook group 'Save Campbell Live!' now.

@ Seven to replace Campbell Live? WTF?

TV3 star may face the axe
The future of John Campbell's current affairs show is up in the air as TV3 refuses to guarantee that it will survive the year. Campbell was called back from holiday to a secret lunch with the newly-appointed Australian head of Mediaworks TV, Ian Audsley. Campbell and TV3's head of news, Mark Jennings were told to outline how they would improve ratings and, afterwards, the show's staff were given a rark-up. Yesterday, Audsley would give only a "95 per cent guarantee" that the show would last out the year. He did praise Campbell Live's ratings this week after the show ranked first on several occasions in its target demographic of 18-49 year-olds - on a diet of bare breasts and big American cars. "On the wins they've created this week ... the team will be enjoying a beer or three at our Christmas party," Audsley said. A TV3 source confirmed that the network had last year considered cancelling Campbell Live but the poor ratings of possible replacement @Seven had forestalled the axe.

WTF? WTF? WTF? Are you kidding me? Are you putting me in a dress, applying make up, taking me out for dinner, popping a couple of roofies in my wine and trying to screw me TV3?

We HAVE to urine test Audsley IMMEDIATELY for Meth - how the hell could he seriously consider replacing Campbell Live with that utter, utter, utter abortion that was @ Seven - COME ON MAN - it's obvious that the Australian hatchet man with only a 12month contract replacing staff loving Brent Impey is here with his extra $70 million to blow on promotion of the station while he guts its costs to sell off in a quick fire sale (probably to Rupert Murdoch - OR a strategic Chinese purchase) but to axe Campbell Live for @ Seven? WTF?

As I pointed out last week re @ seven...
Ummmm, okay, what the hell was @ Seven? I've never been so happy to see Campbell Live back on air in my entire life (great interview re power black outs last night btw John). It's a huge call, but screw it, I'm going to make it - @ Seven was to NZ current affairs what Melody Rules was to NZ comedy. When @ Seven started mocking those earning less than the minimum wage I thought that Paul Henry had secretly taken over as producer. @ Seven was so god damned awful it hurt, oh God did it hurt. Thank little baby Jesus it is over and TV3 can just go back to having Sunrise as its only trainwreck programme.

Obviously I didn't go far enough in my denunciation of @ Seven - so let me make my thoughts a bit clearer - Petra is Christian Family Broadcasting at best, Ben's last good gig was his Comedy Central promos that unlike the recent ones were funny (seriously - the Balls Out promo is so cringe worthy and ironically for a 'comedy channel', 100% unfunny) and Paul Ego is best for radio - sure as a light weight diet infotainment meaningless summer fling to fill in while everyone is on holiday, @ Seven was the fake cream of the current affairs world, but to seriously consider replacing Campbell Live with this light weight ill thought out abortion to save costs when their other trainwreck, Sunrise, continues to hemorrhage ratings (come on Audsley, if the chop chop gotta go somewhere, surely it will be to send the Sunrise team back into the cosy world of unemployed actors?). Sure roving reporters Jacquie Brown and Dai Henwood are a delight, but they are a delight on C4, I can't imagine either one of them discussing the political machinations of national policy.

@ Seven is to current affairs what Fox News is to fair and balanced.

Now let's be honest, dear old Campbell Live has at times veered away from being a serious current affairs show to being a lifestyle magazine program for rich Ponsonby housewives, but to seriously consider replacing it for the moronic nonsense of @ Seven is an embarrassment for current affairs in this country, the only result being a less informed society while undermining the role of the fourth estate for a strong democracy.

This is the problem with having Australians own one of our few TV stations and with National eyeing up selling TVNZ post 2011, all our major media outlets will be owned by overseas companies and their desire to pump ratings for the lowest common denominator over informing the citizens of our country about the democratic issues that effect us reminds me of what Howard Zinn who died last week said...

"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves".

You gotta cut costs - fine, but sweet Jesus be smart about it all. Fox News is the mammoth profit earner that it is because almost the entire thing is talking head TV - get rid of all those costly live to air from anywhere outside broadcasts and get with the new cultural zeitgeist - there is now almost 7% of the population unemployed and a vast chunk terrified that they will be unemployed. There is a population of NZers who loved the credit card fuelled consumption culture who are now facing the crash and it's only going to get worse, trying to placate them with a vacant placebo like @ Seven ain't gonna reach those people, angry denunciation's of the hypocrisies of our time will. Will someone get Network out from the DVD store and make Audsley watch it please.

PS - For your weekly denunciation's of the hypocrisies of our time, The War on News plays on Sky 89, Tuesday 10.10pm

PPS - Can I just note that since Matt Nippert started writing for the Herald On Sunday, the HOS has become readable for the first time since it was started. Sure I still read it first so that I can read the Sunday Star Times last so that I guarantee an intelligent thought over brunch, but it has become much more intelligent because of Nippert, well done HOS for finally employing an intelligent journalist.

PPPS - That said, one of the problems surely about this entire debate is that this story is in the 'Entertainment' section of the NZ Herald on line, as if current affairs is merely an entertainment product and not a deeply necessary part of the democratic process.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Peter Dunne: Address to suicide symposium

The permanent executive representative of Wellington's middle management has blessed the nation in his latest blog - on unpleasant political facts - with another petty, angry, irrelevant, illogical and defensive hate-piece; this latest an attempt to besmirch the reputation of the retiring Green co-leader and her party. This increasingly odious political parasite may register with everyone outside of his Ohariu electorate as nothing more than an opportunist flake holding a seat through inertia and historical circumstance rather than any leadership ability, vision, or compelling philosophy, but the days of enlightenment may be dawning slowly across the middle swathe of the middle class in the city in the middle of the country if the recent election results are an indicator:
1999 57.4%
2002 57.95% (huge swing in party vote nationwide, but an almost nil movement on the personal vote)
2005 45.6%
2008 32.61%This is the electoral terrain before Winston got the arse in Tauranga - a three way split where he just pips in between National and Labour. Next time: toast.

It looks fairly clear that the coiffured charm of the commonsensical has worn thin amongst the hill people of the government belt. The voters' wicked delight every three years of returning a suit who will be the Minister of Revenue in the next government (no matter what that government is) has long since lost its novelty value.

Peter Dunne is a type of insurance product that people take about ten years to realise they don't need.

The "in the spotlight" section of his blog - where he presumably highlights some of his achievements in office - we see the most unremittingly boring and peripheral agenda conceivable. In order, (and this isn't photoshopped, I'm not making this up) addresses to a: dental clinic, accountancy conference, the self-medication society, a Wellington regional conference of his party where it appears only three people were involved, a health industry conference at a casino where his speech was so patronisingly dire he told an entire room full of the medical industry that:
"Medicines are used in many situations throughout the community and hospital setting to treat New Zealanders with a wide range of diseases and conditions.
It goes without saying that they make significant contributions to the health outcomes of many New Zealanders" - No shit, so why go on to say it as though they were perhaps 5 or 6 years old and he was their teacher? But that's Peter Dunne: a bouffant of knowledge. He addressed the right wing Employers & Manufacturers Assoc. as part of their "Tax Summit" (hopefully in the same patronising way) and lastly he delivered what must have been after all of these types of functions an uplifting speech to a suicide symposium.At this point, where terminal boredom slowly suffocates his career prospects, he must be nearly the only one who can take himself seriously or consider anything he has to say relevant:His blog post is as churlish as it is incoherent - even for him - so let us now dissect exactly why:

The understandable tributes being paid to Jeanette Fitzsimons on her retirement mask a couple of unpleasant and contradictory facts, which a party like UnitedFuture needs to bear in mind.
- His whole blog post is unpleasant and contradictory.

First, no member of the Greens has ever held office as a Minister in a government. That sets them apart from every other small party that has emerged under MMP. The Alliance, ACT, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and UnitedFuture have all had Ministers in government, able to push through key aspects of their respective parties’ policies. In contrast, Jeanette’s self-confessed Parliamentary career highlight was chairing the Local Government Select Committee. The usual hallmark of political success is being part of a government, and on that basis the Greens have been our most unsuccessful small party under MMP.
- And why have they not been in government? Because Peter Dunne in particular has kept them out by refusing to sit alongside them if they were ministers. He preferred being a minister with Winston Peters, even when his shameless deceptions and rorts were on full display in the final year of the last Labour government. His own definition of success also conveniently excludes legislative outcomes and mean that he is permanently successful by having weasled his way into the executive after each election by promising never to rock the boat. That's success for Peter Dunne: get the perks of office without having to actually achieve anything. The reason for the praise people have given to Fitzsimons and the Greens - and the reason it angers Dunne so much - is because we all know it has been done despite being kept out of ministerial positions and they were still able to accomplish more gains than him and his microscopic party ever have or will.

The second unpleasant and contradictory fact is that the above notwithstanding, the news media and the commentariat have failed consistently to acknowledge this point, let alone draw it to public attention. Moreover, they have actually gone to the other extreme and generally lauded the Greens for their “success”, although they have been noticeably light when it comes to pointing out what those successes have been.
- Dunne is so extraordinarily petty and so wrong: the media do usually preface the Green's gains (policy, private member's bills etc.) by stating that they are not part of government - as I said this makes their gains all the more successful. If the media were to state these facts more readily then the Greens would be cast in a better light - is that what Dunne wants - to remind voters that the Greens have had a gain despite Peter Dunne trying to put the kibosh on it at every turn? He seems to be arguing the media should try to highlight the failure of his own desperate and pathetic attempts to thwart them. And as for the claim the media don't tell people what the Green Party's successes are - that is bordering on the absurd: "section 59" is a household word. If home insulation, abolition of the youth wage, the Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority, the ability of mothers to stay with their young infants in prison and so on - off the top of my head - are not so well known this is a media reporting problem whose solution will mean a boost for the Greens - not a loss. Unpleasant and contradictory indeed.

The point of all this? Quite simple really. At its most basic, politics is about presenting a story and a view of the world people can relate to. Caring for the environment and worrying about the state of the planet is such a story, even if the Greens’ actual record in practical policy terms has always fallen well short of that story. By contrast, UnitedFuture can, over more than 10 years now, point to a solid record of achievement of virtually all its key policies, and through its ongoing involvement in government will be able to continue to do so. But we have been far less successful in selling the story that goes with the policy achievements.
- Politics is propaganda is another way of saying "politics is about presenting a story and a view of the world people can relate to." That's how Dunne sees politics and he's failing at it by his own measure. As for his party's "solid record of achievement" - is he perhaps too modest to tell us what that might possibly be? He has just criticised the media for not telling us what the Green Party policy achievements are and here he is not being able to tell his own "story" on his own blog. We may conclude there have been no gains for him beyond the "ongoing involvement in government" - which is another way of saying he is a Minister that doesn't do anything.

Yet the UnitedFuture story is actually quite a simple one. [...]
- The United Future story is simple alright: an opportunist group of ship-jumping right wingers too spineless to be in Act and too conceited to join National have been left to rally around a leader who resembles a straight version of Liberace (sans personality and piano) who must keep attracting and then burning off other splinter groups of extremist varieties to stay electorally and financially solvent. It gets even more simple:

[...] We are here for the families and kids of New Zealand, who simply want to get on with life, without the government telling them what to do all the time, or favouring one set of vested interests over another. We are the party of the mums and dads in the suburbs, who seek a decent standard of living for themselves, the best opportunities for their kids, and the prospect of security in retirement, and who are sick and tired of all the ideological nonsense the accompanies politics these days. We are the party of people who like living in New Zealand because of the opportunities and outdoor lifestyle it offers, and we want just want to enhance all that. That is why we focus on practical policies that will deliver tangible gains for these New Zealanders.
- The patronising political waffle oscillates between outright lies and empty platitudes: He set up the Families Commission and says he doesn't want government telling us what to do all the time when that is exactly the mandate of the Commission? He hops into bed with the hunting lobby and cuts a deal with the Nats to get a big game quango set up for them and claims he doesn't favour vested interests? He even boasts of his Winstonesque industry favours - which he calls helping "the long-neglected hunting community". He is critical of ideological nonsense when he headed a march of the good Christian White Folk of Nelson against Maori and - by default - in favour of the continuing racist practices of the local council against Maori and against their foreshore and seabed interests? Are "these New Zealanders" anyone other than right-leaning voters "in the suburbs" of the Ohariu electorate and the "hunting community"?

Sadly, that is not the story the media portrays. In their eyes, and through them in the eyes of many people, our commitment to families is code for a right-wing, prescriptive moralist agenda, trying to recreate the past, rather than focus on the future. Admittedly, the antics of some of our earlier extremist MPs, who did actually want us to go down that path, did not help, but those days are well behind us, although their legacy lingers and frankly scares off too many people.
- His blog post has the trajectory of a drunken discourse: Why do my enemies get all the credit? People love her and they don't love me. The media is to blame! People don't know the truth. If they knew me they'd love me. It's not fair. I'm a nice guy... And now we are at the conspiracy and anger stage. He's wanting to tell us his own sorry saga of past greatness and fall here and he's doing it entirely unprompted and in a highly defensive manner, conceding his party had "extremist" religious MPs who have tainted the party. And like most unreflected drunken discourse he takes no responsibility for his part in forming that bond in the first place - wanting their money, members and votes without baring the cross of having them as MPs when the miracle was performed. If he doesn't like the stigmata he shouldn't of ventured down the rectory.

We are here to represent the values of decent New Zealand families today, not to tell them what their values should be.
- Well he's got his Families Commission to do that for us - a government department specifically set up by Peter Dunne to tell the government and the people whatever it is the commission thinks affects families. Making assessments on values is an inescapable part of that role. Values are what political parties used to be about too, even if Peter Dunne thinks in his case he inherently knows them as they apply to "decent New Zealand families" and so he never has to articulate them in the sense of advocacy or political communication. How helpful, to represent values without having to tell anyone what they might be.

Coming back to the Greens, UnitedFuture is arguably the most successful small party under MMP. We have spent more time in government than any other party, and we have probably achieved more too.
- Arguably Pluto is/is not a planet, arguably the new Supreme Court building is/is not as bad as the Beehive, but there is not much space on any spectrum of believablity for "arguably the most successful small party under MMP" is whatever vehicle Peter Dunne happens to have fashioned around himself. Dunne's one-man band of a micro-party, hopping about as a flea on whatever mongrel animal is big enough to displace the last mongrel animal on the mat in front of the fire, will not meet any credible definition of success as a party. Having a stat like 100% of the caucus serving in the Ministry would only ever impress Jim Anderton.

To be truly successful though, alongside our policy achievements, we now have to focus on promoting our story, to create a sense of purpose and reason for supporting us.
- Peter Dunne's never going to be reason enough for anyone to join whatever vehicle Peter Dunne happens to have fashioned around himself. His last plaintive remark defines the issue well enough really: there is no purpose or reason.

A strong National or Labour candidate ought to be able to end this farce at the next general election.

Tony Blair is a blinkered ‘believer’ as well as a war criminal

Remember the National Party in Parliament in the build up to this war demanding that NZ join in the pack rape Bush & Blair were about to commit on Iraq based on a pack of lies because that’s what allies and mates did?

Yes, I often join my allies and mates in events that are clearly wrong and ill thought out, those young Nat party’s must have one hell of an initiation ceremony.

I have been against this frightened, angry, corruption of reason exploited by the usual war mongers and corporate arms dealers from the moment Iraq was ridiculously connected by the Fox News propaganda machine to September 11, so I was very interested in watching Tony Blair having to explain his rational for this Iraqi nightmare that has killed anywhere between 100 000 and million Iraqis (we aren’t sure because we don’t count them when they die).

So what was Blair’s main argument, that he believed beyond doubt Saddam had the WMDs and that Saddam’s co-operation wasn’t full and frank with the inspectors which meant he was hiding something and in the post 9/11 risk analysis he had to make the decision.


Let’s forget the fact the Blair had decided to enter the war with Iraq as America’s poodle regardless of what the evidence said, let’s forget the yellow cake story was a fabrication, let’s forget the deep misgivings voiced by many within the intelligence community that this was flawed, let’s forget the lies attempting to connect Saddam to September 11 and let’s forget that on the very day after the planes had crashed into the WTC Rumsfeld was telling the intelligence community to find a way to connect it to Baghdad – let’s forget all that and focus on Blair’s attempt at logic.

As we now know, Saddam’s lack of co-operation had nothing to do with hiding WMD’s he was desperately trying to hide the fact HE DIDN’T have WMD’s, so frightened was he by Iraq’s neighbors who may move against him if he was found not to have the much vaunted WMD’s. The fact that Blair didn’t at any time consider that to be the real reason rather than Saddam hiding WMDs doesn’t excuse the invasion or his decision, and using the panic caused by the back drop of September 11 to argue that a new threat equation had been reached doesn’t once again justify his half baked assumptions, it only suggests he was not the leader he should have been and was caught up in the panic as well.

His pathetic attempt to justify his position is farcical, I don’t care how much he bloody well ‘believed’ that what he was doing was the right thing, he was wrong, and the fact that he tried to use the inquiry as a platform to argue for a possible invasion of Iran is just another example of how self righteous and delusional this man is.

Put the prick up on war crimes.

Occupation warps the occupier as well?

He's the hardline PM but staff say she's the real bully
JERUSALEM - It's been a taxing time for Benjamin Netanyahu. He has had to soothe fears of a possible war with Lebanon. He has made an uncompromising statement about the future of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. And then, of course, there's the knotty matter of his wife's domestic arrangements and the employees she is accused of bullying. First, an Israeli newspaper revealed in a front page story that Sara Netanyahu's former housekeeper, Lillian Peretz, was filing suit for 300,000 shekels ($114,000) damages from her ex-employer for "humiliating" her and paying her less than the minimum wage. Try as she did to brush the allegations off, the First Lady could not make them go away. Then, as if her reputation weren't in enough trouble, another publication claimed Sara Netanyahu had fired "an elderly Jew, about 70, a bereaved father who used to rake leaves and carry out basic gardening chores for less than the minimum wage". To fire a man whose son died fighting for his country would be considered harsh anywhere. But in Israel, where society's identification with fallen soldiers and their parents is at the core of its identity, what Netanyahu stands accused of doing is seen as unspeakably cruel.

Hmmm, maybe perpetrating a brutal 4 decade occupation, (where unspeakable cruelty is meted out to Palestinian people through a thousand daily humiliations from pregnant woman forced to give birth at checkpoints to the economic strangulation placed upon Palestinians for having the temerity of democratically electing a political party the US and Israel didn’t agree to), warps the occupier as well?

I mean you do this sort of heavy shit to a people for such a long time and some of that cruelty starts to seep in doesn’t it? Political corruption seems to go hand in hand with cruel actions by the state, and Israel has had its share of politicians accused of money laundering and fraud…

Israeli police recommend corruption charges against Avigdor Lieberman
Israeli police have recommended charging the country's hardline foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, with several counts of corruption as part of a bribery investigation ...Lieberman, head of a popular far-right party, is suspected of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, money laundering and obstruction of justice in a case dating back over nine years. If charged and convicted on all counts he faces up to 31 years in jail.

Ehud Olmert: Corruption allegations
Mr Olmert has been charged with fraud, breach of trust and concealing fraudulent earnings in connection with donations received from the a New York-based financier, Morris (or Moshe) Talansky between 1997 and 2005.

Perhaps ending the occupation would be as beneficial to the ethical soul of Israel’s political establishment as it will be to the well being of the Palestinian population?

Oh and don’t you love the map below? It really does make a very clear visual analysis of the brutal occupation and it’s results on the Palestinians.

National care about ideology, not the education of NZs children

League tables inevitable, teachers fear
League tables that rate schools' performances are inevitable once national standards are introduced, a teachers' union says. Three union groups raised fresh fears yesterday that the new national standards will lead to league tables. Education Minister Anne Tolley said she was waiting for answers from a working party set up to look at the matter. Mrs Tolley is embroiled in a confrontation with unions over the controversial policy, which comes into effect on Tuesday. The Government and Education Ministry are spending $26 million on implementing national standards, but Mrs Tolley rejected suggestions yesterday that the money was part of a "charm offensive" ahead of their introduction. She said the $26m cost attributed to the campaign would be spent on teacher training and support. Of that, $12.7m was for "in-depth training and support" in numeracy and literacy, and "information workshops" would cost $4.35m. No figures were available on how much other initiatives, including 10,000 brochures explaining the system, would cost.

These bullshit national standards have NOTHING to do with the educational betterment of NZ's children and has EVERYTHING to do with National implementing free market ideology into education. The standards will be used to create league tables, these league tables will create a false competition, which is what National have aimed for within education since day one.

This is NOT about the educational achievement of NZ children because national standards like this are pointless because they show nothing of any educational value because children develop at very different stages this early on in their educational life. How do we know this to be true? Because our undisputed educationalists like John Hattie bloody well tells us so!

Here is what he has said about National's failed experiment of free market ideology in education:

Could be the most disastrous education policy ever formulated.

Will only barely raise student achievement, if at all.

Could "pervert the nature of teaching" by pitting schools and teachers against one another.

Hattie also writes that the standards themselves – the targets students will be measured against – are "untested and experimental" and need to be drawn up based on evidence, not committees.

Hmmmm, “Could be the most disastrous education policy ever formulated”, see even if I was a humper for National (like so many of you are), surely those kind of warnings could get through and make an impact. And now National are blowing $26million on a propaganda campaign to sell this bullshit! And let's not forget Tolley lied about parental support for her league tables by stealth...

'Three Rs' plan alarms parents
AN OFFICIAL report reveals one-third of parents had concerns about the new national school standards system before it was launched – despite the government's claims the system has a "strong mandate" from parents.

These league tables National have been trying to smuggle in under the national standards regime have been sold to NZ as having the support of parents yet an official report released shows that 38% of parents made negative comments about National’s plans and only 14% made positive comments. Yet Education Minister Anne Tolley’s press release on the report read, ‘Patents support National Standards’ – no they didn’t only 14% did, 38% were negative.

How's that change feeling NZ? Feeling like you got conned yet into voting for a change you had no idea what it stood for sold by a Party who did all they could to minimize the actual policy? These national standards will be the worst thing ever done to NZ education, yet National are still ramming it through because free market ideology trumps reason when it comes to the Nats.

Friday, January 29, 2010

RIP JD Salinger 1919-2000

Author JD Salinger dies at age 91
LATEST: Reclusive US author JD Salinger, who wrote the American post-war literary classic The Catcher in the Rye, has died of natural causes aged 91.

What a sad, sad goodbye to one of the unique voices of the late 20th century who encapsulated all the loathing for the late 20th century so brilliantly. Salinger dying today and Zinn yesterday, it is a dreadful week for literature and human rights

Iranian executions unacceptable

Two activists 'executed in Iran'
Iran hanged two men convicted in the wake of the unrest that erupted after last year's disputed election, as a top opposition figure predicted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be ousted before the end of his term. The United States strongly condemned the hanging, calling the executions a "low point" in Tehran's crackdown on dissent.

Beyond the fact Ahmadinejad probably won the last election, beyond the fact a hardliner like Ahmadinejad wouldn't have been elected if the bloody American's hadn't invaded countries on either side of Iran, beyond the fact that developing a nuke in Iran's case is probably the best genuine self defense option available and even beyond my hope that the recent friction created by those who wish to modernize Iran away from the hardliners is a cultural necessity and positive step towards Iranians defining their own modernity - beyond all that, the brutal crack down on dissidents and the decision to hang two leaders who were involved in organizing legitimate protest is an unacceptable abuse of power.

Let's hope the hardliners days are numbered and the people of Iran can modernize beyond the stunted yoke of theocracy MINUS the external meddling of America and Israel.

All that death for nothing

McCully backs Taliban peace talks
The New Zealand Government has swung in behind a shock new move to start peace talks with the Taliban. Speaking to Fairfax Media from London this morning, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said the strategy announced by the Afghan Government was "sound". The move was revealed after a 70 nation summit on the war-torn nation held in London on Thursday (local time). A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai told AFP the Taliban would "definitely'' be invited to a peace jirga - a traditional reconciliation process for Afghans.

What a surprise, all that big tough guy talk about freedom and democracy and stopping terrorism and what's Muzza's solution? Let's bribe the Taliban. There was never a military solution to this madness, we should never have sent the SAS back in, Karzai is corrupt, how many civilians have we killed for this bullshit?

This is what we are risking NZ lives for? What a joke, how much NZ taxpayer money will Muzza commit to bribe the Taliban with? Freedom and Democracy never tasted so bitter.

Bomber's Blog - The War on News

The War on News 2010 – NZ News Satire on Stratos Sky 89 10.10pm Tuesday & simulcast on Freeview 21. Replayed on Triangle TV 9.45pm Wednesday and posted online at Scoop.co.nz as their Weekend Watch.

It’s just like 7 days on TV3 but with less dick jokes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

RIP Howard Zinn - hero of the people

"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves".

Howard Zinn 1922-2010

'People's History' author Howard Zinn dies at 87
Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist "A People's History of the United States" became a million-selling alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87.

'A People's History' is one of my favourite history books written about America (Ward Churchill's 'On the justice of roosting chickens is a close second), Zinn's death is a great loss to the left and humanity. Rest in peace Howard, you refocused history on those who have fought the entrenched interests of the corporate elites and the planet is a little less brighter for your passing.

Farewell Jeanette

After listening to Jeanette Fitzsimons explaining her resignation from parliament on RNZ it would not surprise me if the National government finds something meaningful for her to do - perhaps on the board of the EECA which is a Green Party legacy from the Fifth Labour government most closely associated with her personally. The notion that Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Energy, may appoint her will sound preposterous given his lambasting of the Greens and everything they stand for; but this is the same government that appointed Nandor Tanczos to the Arts Board on the strength of running the Hempstore so anything is possible.The PM's statement is generous, if a little lacking in specifics.

Fitzsimons was always seen as more green than red in her politics and her focus. Her well telegraphed retirement from the House (following her well planned exit from the co-leadership) is something that Green Party critics claim as proof of the party having slipped its environmental leash and evidence that it has now bolted down the path to a Socialist hard-left niche party of unreformed communists. With Locke, Kedgely and Turei forming the rump (Norman isn't "hard" anything so he's not in this camp) it is easy to see why they might think that.

Maybe it's a good thing to be Left in this day and age? It's not as if they will have any competition. Some might argue that with Phil Goff's pandering to the conservative Pakeha voters a hard left brand has the potential to eat into the Labour vote - especially the urban liberals who have never seriously questioned the environmental part, but have usually voted Labour because of the commitment to delivering what they would call decent socially progressive policies. Such policies are in doubt with a Goff-run outfit floundering in a mire of directionless, reactionary talkhate radio themes.

The Greens have lost a very steady hand at their tiller, but have now - perhaps - the best chance of making inroads to the Labour heartland. Having some fresh faces in front of the voters is helpful. The next on the list and a new MP next month, is the 28 year old Gareth Hughes.Looks more like 18! Don't they all when you're over 30.

There's a lot to live up to for any new Green MP. They are parliamentary over-achievers, racking up more policy wins and legislation than most ministers - quite extraordinary seeing as they have never been in government.


National can't raise minimum wage but can blow $26 million on propaganda

$26m to win over parents on tests
Education Minister Anne Tolley will spearhead a $26 million charm offensive to ease the introduction of national standards in primary and intermediate schools next week. She will face a hostile reception as she tours the country, with at least 80 schools vowing to break the law and boycott the policy.

Unbelievable - the Government don't have money to raise the minimum wage to keep up with real costs, they don't have enough money to fund adult education BUT THEY DO HAVE ENOUGH MONEY to blow $26million on a propaganda campaign to win over the public to these bullshit competition by stealth league national standards tables which have been slated by the undisputed education expert, John Hattie (I’m interested to see how the anonymous right wing on-line mafia try to denigrate Hattie). Here is what he has said about National's failed experiment of free market ideaology in education:

Could be the most disastrous education policy ever formulated.

Will only barely raise student achievement, if at all.

Could "pervert the nature of teaching" by pitting schools and teachers against one another.

Hattie also writes that the standards themselves – the targets students will be measured against – are "untested and experimental" and need to be drawn up based on evidence, not committees.

Hmmmm, “Could be the most disastrous education policy ever formulated”, see even if I was a humper for National, surely those kind of warnings could get through and make an impact. These bullshit National Standards league tables are set up specifically to create a false competition that those on the bottom already see will hurt them...

National standards 'could make poor schools look bad'
Principals are worried that primary schools in poor areas will be made to look bad when national standards in reading, writing and maths are introduced next week. All schools will have to test pupils against the standards from Year 1 to Year 8, the last year of intermediate school. They will also have to report to parents on each child's progress twice a year and send results for all their pupils to the Ministry of Education by 2012.

...in Parliament Anne Tolley attempted to defend this abortion of education policy by claiming that parents supported her plan, that is a bare faced lie…

'Three Rs' plan alarms parents
AN OFFICIAL report reveals one-third of parents had concerns about the new national school standards system before it was launched – despite the government's claims the system has a "strong mandate" from parents.

Folks why is the minister of education so uneducated? These league tables National have been trying to smuggle in under the national standards regime have been sold to NZ as having the support of parents yet an official report released shows that 38% of parents made negative comments about National’s plans and only 14% made positive comments. Yet Education Minister Anne Tolley’s press release on the report read, ‘Patents support National Standards’ – no they didn’t only 14% did, 38% were negative.

National are pretending there is support for their national standards because their secret motive for league tables to create false competition is an education reform they know they can’t be upfront about.

The National Standards are a League table in disguise to create false competition within Education, and to forward these ideological goals, National are risking the education standards of the every child throughout the country.

If Labour had pulled a stunt like this, the NZ Herald editorial staff would be firebombing Government buildings.

How's that loose change feeling?

Unions slate 'miserly' minimum wage rise
Unions have described the Government's 25c--an hour lift to the minimum wage as "miserly" and making a mockery of the Government's vow to "catch up with Australia".

25cents as a rise to the minimum wage when National are planning tax cuts for the top 7% that will see those earning over a million given a $63 000 tax cut? Add 15% GST on everyone to help fund this tax cut for the top 7% and this minimum wage 'increase' backpeddles even further.

How's that loose 'change' feeling that every sucker got conned into voting for in 2008? Those on the breadline just slipped beneath it thanks to this Government. Water saving shower heads, power saving lightbulbs and nonsense hysteria whipped up by conservative Christians over the repeal of section 59 all start to pale into insignificance when you increasingly can't make ends meet.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Uni Students - know your enemy - Steven Joyce - The Hollow Brain

Joyce winner in Cabinet mini-reshuffle
Prime Minister John Key has announced a mini-Cabinet reshuffle, with the big winner being first term high flier Steven Joyce. Mr Joyce picks up the tertiary education portfolio previously held by Education minister Anne Tolley, who Mr Key said needed to focus on the Education portfolio and the introduction of national standards. Mrs Tolley has been seen as one of the weaker peformers in the National Cabinet.

The guy hasn’t even been an MP and now he is a Cabinet Minister AND is running tertiary education????? It seems if you attempt to warp democratic principle your reward can be a high party place ranking on the National list, let’s remind ourselves what we know about the hollow brain from the hollow men….

In the week of the 16-20 May 2005, Steven Joyce had a formal meeting with the exclusive brethren who were organizing their despicable advertising campaign and Joyce met quietly with other pro-National lobby organizations telling them the two crucial messages were “change”. Change was the main theme the Exclusive Brethren ended up using, remember National weren’t officially having these meetings with the Brethren and Joyce was the hollow brain behind this.

Joyce also saw the draft pamphlets and advertisements from the Exclusive Brethren before they went out, remember National initially pretended they knew nothing about the Exclusive Brethren.

When confronted with allegations that this was a stitch up job, Joyce’s ‘response’ was that Stephen Win (the contact person on the EB pamphlets and advertising) wasn’t a National Party guy and it certainly wasn’t a National-funded campaign – that of course is a twisting of the facts after meeting with the EB and providing input and viewing all material about to be released by the EB, we can see how hollow Joyce’s response really was.

In 2005 Joyce wrote to electoral campaign committees saying that “in this election National is planning to go close to its legal limit for Party Vote campaign expenditure (meaning $2,240,000), That has not happened previously”. Interestingly when the donation declarations were delivered to the Electoral Commission not one name from National’s largest financial backers were declared after their donations had been washed through the National Party launderette, the ‘Waitemata Trust’ so that their political influence through financial donations remained invisible. Interesting side note isn’t it, Winston was crucified in the media for something the Electoral Commission, the Serious Fraud Office and the Police cleared him on, has National’s funding ever been given that level of scrutiny?

Steven Joyce was credited in the last election by National Svengali Peter Keenan for keeping on Crosby/Texter, the Australian spin Doctors who were so good this election at spinning the ‘change’ and ‘moderation’ con job.

The Hollow Brain went to Australia to meet with Crosby/Texter and on October 19th 2004 prepared the con job they would use to try and spin the election on, it is incredible how much of that con job was so similar to the con job the Hollow Brain used to win this election, let’s go through them…

1: Stop us going down the path to rampant political correctness.
2: Put an end to the grievance industry.
3: Make our community safer by locking away violent criminals.
4: Ensure your hard-earned tax dollars are spent on Education and Health and not wasted on Labour’s pet projects and bureaucracy.
5: Put in place economic policies that will lift all our incomes closer to those of Australians.
6: Tighten up Welfare and ensure that everyone that can work does work.

Note, none of this is policy, just focus meeting tested bigotry.

Interesting to note that when Joyce was challenged on whether or not Crosby/Texter was giving National advice in 2005, Joyce said there was ‘some’ advice but National had no plans of bringing them to NZ, which was a clear twisting of the truth because Joyce had been to see them in 2004, when challenged again Joyce fudged the issue and pretended to not know the depth of any Crosby/Texter relationship and advised Don Brash to claim he only met them in passing.

And now he's running tertiary education, if anyone can denigrate a politician until they break it's Uni students, take this information and burn him.

Chemical Ali hanged, now what about the people who sold him the chemicals?

Death rains down as Chemical Ali hangs
BAGHDAD - Iraq yesterday executed by hanging Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam Hussein's chief enforcer and supervisor of mass killings, for using chemical weapons to kill tens of thousands of people. "Chemical Ali" was the cruellest and most violent of top Iraqi leaders under Saddam, his first cousin to whom he was wholly loyal. He had already been sentenced to death four times, most recently earlier this month for the killing by poison gas of 5000 Kurdish civilians at Halabja in 1988.

Great, Chemical Ali has been hanged, now what about a trial for the people who sold him the weapons he used to murder so many innocent people.

Huh? We aren't going to prosecute the American's for enabling Chemical Ali? Why not? Why are we only focused on the Frankenstein monster and not Dr Frankenstein, the bloke who made the monster? The ethical double standards we use in the West to defend our atrocities while over blowing the atrocities of those we oppose is one explored by Chomsky within his propaganda model 'manufacturing consent'.

I remember how many in the right wing online mafia in this country brayed like donkeys to invade Iraq just like their National Party buddies did. They were both angry that we weren't joining in the American pack rape of an illegal Iraq war based on trumped up claims of weapons of mass destruction. I remember pointing out at the time that this monster was created by America so to now join America in an illegal war to defeat the monster they created was the very definition of absurdity.

>This Was a Guilty Verdict On America As Well
Some of Saddam's pesticides came from Germany (of course). But on 25 May 1994, the US Senate's Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs produced a report entitled "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences (sic) of the Persian Gulf War".

This was the 1991 war which prompted our liberation of Kuwait, and the report informed Congress about US government-approved shipments of biological agents sent by American companies to Iraq from 1985 or earlier. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax; Clostridium botulinum; Histoplasma capsulatum; Brucella melitensis; Clostridium perfringens and Escherichia coli. The same report stated that the US provided Saddam with "dual use" licensed materials which assisted in the development of chemical, biological and missile-system programmes, including chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings (provided as pesticide production facility plans).

Robert Fisk/The UK Independent

Let's put those who enabled Chemical Ali to commit his murder on trial as well!

The SAS didn't fire a shot (yeah right)

SAS blew up missile site, foiled bombs
The blanket secrecy over SAS operations has been ditched, effective immediately, with the Defence Force revealing that elite troopers recently helped capture bomb-makers in Kabul. Force Chief Lieutenant General Jerry Mateparae yesterday said the SAS last year destroyed a rocket station on the outskirts of Kabul that had been abandoned by insurgents preparing to fire into the city. But he also said that he was not aware that the SAS had fired any shots "in anger" in the present deployment, coming to the end of the first of three six-month rotations.

Shhh NZ is trying to kill people here! This is officially a farce.

So John Key tells us last week at a nervous press conference that there was so little SAS involvement in the attack on Kabul that he shouldn't really bother even mentioning it - THEN we get a French Journalist taking hot photos of our Hero Corporal Willie looking like a Jockey's advert waltzing out of a building where Taliban were killed. Huh? We either weren't involved to the extent our Prime Minister claimed OR we were as per the French Journalist.

Key has been caught out and the mad scramble to redefine the SAS as some sort of peace keeping force is the most unbelievable joke I've had the displeasure of having to listen to.

It looks like the US have pressured John Key into a much more active role than originally stated when Key claimed we would simply be mentoring not fighting alongside the Crisis Response Unit - yet here we are fighting alongside them. Seeing as we will role over and spy on our own people at the request of the FBI, is it really that hard to imagine Key rolling over for the American's to force us to fight rather than train?

All John Key is saying, is give war a chance.

Amazing how all our media focus on is the issue of hiding the identities of the SAS. Not one question about ‘what the bloody hell are we doing in Afghanistan again’. Key's nervous press conference last week was born out of trying to hide the SAS involvement so this exact question wouldn't get asked. Personally I don't give a flying rats arse about the secrecy of our troops, my taxes pay for this bloody war, and I am entitled to know about what my tax dollars are doing in my name.

We have a rich history of rushing into war to make our overseas masters happy, John Key continues that gutless tradition with a flag blinded media happy to censor themselves and not hold the Prime Minister to account so as not to offend da troops.

On top of this baloney we now have to pretend our trained killer SAS didn't fire a shot in anger - yeah right.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Liberal Media

Editorial: Labour needs to look past Ratana pact
The Ratana Church has made its expectations of the Labour Party very clear. It wants four Ratana candidates for winnable seats on Labour's list at the next election. It is a demand the party cannot meet. If it was quietly disposed to do such a deal before, it cannot do it now. The very public demand, issued as a challenge at Ratana Pa on Sunday, will compromise any new Maori candidates Labour might put high on its list next year.

The right wing love the relationship with the Maori Party, it's always nice to feel you are perceived as much less racist than you really are. The Maori Party provide camouflage for the right wing and their recent Stockholm syndrome over the Emissions Trading Scam should be a kick in the arse over their complacency to date.

But this fascinating attempt by the Granny Herald to portray the reception Labour was given at the Ratana Church using their own biased perceptions to back up a one sided editorial is an incredible exercise in spin.

The Standard pick this up today...

It was clear that the Herald had decided how Ratana would play this year: everyone loves Key, Goff gets the cold shoulder. It didn’t matter what actually happened, that was going to be the Herald’s narrative:

Ratana pats Key on the back
Labour gets icy reception at Ratana

You would think those headlines had been written before the event. They have no relationship what actually happened according to every other media outlet:

RNZ: Labour leaves Ratana feeling secure in support [2]
TVOne: Labour recieve warm welcome at Ratana
Tv3: Goff: reception at Ratana warm, relationship healthy [2]
Dompost: Goff scoffs at claim of losing church

Interesting isn't it, other media organizations walked away with a very different impression than the Granny Herald.

National need conservative media to cement their marriage of inconvenience with the Maori Party so that it stops looking so obviously out of sync. Maori voters overwhelmingly handed their Party vote to Labour NOT National and the Maori Party's decision to vote for tax cuts for the rich, their appalling Emission Trading Scam and being face slapped by Rodney over Maori representation on the Super City can't be pleasing to many within Maoridom who are facing steeper unemployment rates and social infrastructure degradation.

Thank Christ @ Seven is over - climate denial on Breakfast

Ummmm, okay, what the hell was @ Seven? I've never been so happy to see Campbell Live back on air in my entire life (great interview re power black outs last night btw John). It's a huge call, but screw it, I'm going to make it - @ Seven was to NZ current affairs what Melody Rules was to NZ comedy. When @ Seven started mocking those earning less than the minimum wage I thought that Paul Henry had secretly taken over as producer. @ Seven was so god damned awful it hurt, oh God did it hurt. Thank little baby Jesus it is over and TV3 can just go back to having Sunrise as its only trainwreck programme.

Seriously how low can Sunrise rate before Australian hatchet man go chop chop?

I think they should strip the hell out of sunrise, one interviewer, one news reader and that business bloke, get rid of the rest of them, they chatter like monkeys on meth about inane bullshit. Other than unemployed actors who the fuck would willingly wake up to this banal banter? Sunrise should be agenda setting hard news to counter the conservative pap on creaking Breakfast, who out did themselves this morning minus the fact that Paul Henry wasn't even on.

That older, deader Oliver Driver who has replaced Henry as a host on Breakfast did an embarrassing interview with Climate Denial nutbar Lord Munchkin. His Lordship, who isn't a fucking scientist was allowed air time to promote his ludicrous climate denial nonsense about global warming all being a Greenpeace hoax.

According to their right wing critics at Conservapedia, Greenpeace Inc takes about $24million a year, (ironically Conservapedia use Public Interest Watch (PIW) as a source against Greenpeace when PIW are actually an Exxon Mobile funded front group),where as Bloomberg BusinessWeek puts Greenpeace revenue at $30 million per year. Compare that $30million to what Exxon Mobile is worth - HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS.

How the hell Greenpeace can con the world as Lord Munchkin insinuates with a measly $30 million when Exxon Mobile on their own are worth half a trillion is as much a mystery as the climate denial belief that all 6 Billion of us on this planet have no impact via man made pollution whatsoever on our biosphere.

And this bullshit was allowed to occur unchallenged on the public broadcaster!

You know why I think this constant attack on the science is a spin job? Because the bloody Republicans told us so. Why don’t more people know about the Frank Luntz Memorandum to the Bush White House, 2002, on how to shut down the global warming debate?

Winning the Global Warming Debate – An Overview

1: The scientific debate remains open: Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field.

Right, so in the same way the Tobacco companies attacked consensus of a link between smoking and cancer, big oil and big polluters are using similar smear tactics to question the science behind the evidence that man made pollution is causing the climate to rapidly change.

And let’s not forget who is backing much of this smear campaign…

Climate Change Skeptics
The world’s largest-ever gathering of global warming skeptics will assemble Sunday in New York City to confront the issue, “Global warming: Was it ever really a crisis?” About 800 scientists, economists, legislators, policy activists, and media representatives are expected to register at the second International Conference on Climate Change, opening Sunday, March 8 and concluding Tuesday, March 10 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Hmmm, and I wonder who is organizing this climate change sKeptics picnic in wunderland? The Heartland Institute? Ummmm, aren’t they the very same Heartland Institute who until 2006 were receiving money from Exxon Mobil and who also is behind the Tobacco Industries ludicrous position that Tobacco isn’t scientifically proven to cause cancer and as such there shouldn’t be taxes on cigarettes?

Greenpeace tried to bring this point home last November in the New York Times...

Greenpeace Seeks Newsweek Disclosure of API Revenue
Greenpeace is demanding that Newsweek disclose how much money it has made selling the oil industry's biggest lobbying group advertising deals that included the ability to co-host energy policy forums and seat the association's president as a panelist beside members of Congress.

Climate deniers are creationists at an evolution debate, they and their online right wing mafia like MacDoctor, No Minister, Not PC and Whaleoil deserve nothing short of our weary pity and unmistakable contempt.

That said, thank Christ @ seven isn't back on air.

Bomber's Blog - The War on News on Sky 89 10.10pm tonight

The War on News 2010 – NZ News Satire on Stratos Sky 89 10.10pm Tuesday & simulcast on Freeview 21. Replayed on Triangle TV 9.45pm Wednesday and posted online at Scoop.co.nz as their Weekend Watch.

It’s just like 7 days on TV3 but with less dick jokes.

The maximum possible funds

The Newmarket motorway viaduct replication and destruction scheme underway is possibly the most extraordinary waste of public funds currently authorised and the worst since Cullen's 2008 railways election stunt/Aussie business bailout. This $215 million project will provide only one extra lane across a gap of barely one kilometre. That's about a quarter of a million dollars per metre... for a net gain of... a single lane.The NZTA list of benefits doesn't mention the benefit to the contractors, but it does say - in this order:

  • Enhanced motorway capacity and safety.

    - which means there's going to be one extra lane. That's all that means. It is the first - in fact the only - reason for this massive and costly project. One extra lane. $215m - one extra lane.

  • Increased seismic integrity.

    - So they fear an earthquake? Are we supposed to believe that the authorities in the mid 60s let them build a concrete viaduct that wasn't built with earthquakes in mind? And that the new one will be able to withstand an earthquake appreciably better should the city have one? Auckland doesn't really get earthquakes anyway of course - none in my lifetime that I've ever felt. It doesn't seem plausible for earthquake fears to be a major consideration.

    And we're off to a really shitty start because there's only two benefits left and they are ridiculous:

  • Connects more appropriately with surrounding environment and provides opportunity for more progressive local land use.

    - It's an exact replica of the existing structure though - isn't it. How can it do anything more or less appropriately if the new one is just like the old one except it's got an extra lane on one side? Look at the picture - it's at the same height, it covers a parallel path and mimics in a flawlessly uncreative stroke the existing structure, it's form, it's pillars, carriageway, alignments and so on - and yet we are supposed to believe the pomposity of the rhetoric claiming it "Connects more appropriately with surrounding environment". That's a joke, right? The NZTA are cracking jokes and it's only the third of four listed "Benefits" down their list of why the fuck they are spending near quarter of a billion dollars on ONE extra lane across a distance that could be jogged in less than five minutes. And as for land use, the net effect is the same for land use only now they raise the spectre - as we read between the lines - of a land deal being in the mix. The transit board had the Labour Party President on it until just after the election when he was forced to resign. How much credibility does that lend to these squanderous funding decisions?

    And the final justification is as laughable as the preceding one:

  • Facilitates better pedestrian links through Newmarket.

    - It's not as if the pillars hinder the pedestrians now? What on earth could it mean? They would never have the thought to put a cycle lane or anything along it or under it so it's not that they are referring to, so they are just absolutely taking the piss at this point.

    The Newmarket viaduct was built in the mid 60s and yet the NZTA expect us to believe that unlike the other concrete bridges in Auckland like the one across the Waitemata Harbour (finished 1959), and the one across Grafton Gully (finished 1909) it has to be completely demolished and another one erected... and all for the gain of... one single lane. This must be the most expensive motorway lane in the history of the nation. Even more expensive than the deluxe bus lanes over on the North Shore.

    And what does Auckland's newspaper of record say about it with all of its institutional knowledge and experience: It's a boom! Yay! The NZ Herald is a grossly over-priced shit rag and if they ever start charging for their online content again they will be toast because they simply do not and will not pay anyone to create worthy content - this article is a case in point. The ubiquitous Mr Brewer and his media slut-whoring does not a news article make. The real story is right under the reporter's nose, or more accurately right above his head.

    There's only 150 people employed on it according to the NZ Herald - that would be not much over $10m a year in wages, so where's the $ going? Are they renting all the equipment at $1000/hr from Hirepool for the next three years? Since when did they start making concrete with diamonds? Are the cats eye's now made of the eyes of the snow leopard? The boom isn't going to accrue to Newmarket either as it is a complete bypass of the shopping strip and already has on and off ramps at either side which will remain. The "boom" from the few properties that were in the way isn't going to change the face of retailing either. The boom is for the construction firms and their owners primarily (see their carping about the spend and their margins below).

    The crux is the alarming proposition that something built in 1965 is so defective that it has to be torn down less than fifty years later. All of it - torn down. Can't just add another lane - have to tear it all down - all of it. And a completely new one built. Which is all awfully convenient for the small cartel of firms who can tender for these contracts isn't it, but it's a boom according to granny Herald. So yay! Like majorly yay!

    None of it can be believed.

    From the FAQs:The answer to Question No1: WTF!? is waffle. One extra lane and the ability (as is explained later) to take "overloaded" vehicles. The Transport Minister has authorised ramping up the size of trucks to satisfy the friends to whom the Tory apparatus is dependent and so now they have to build the roads to take them and handle the extra wear and tear they create.

    They could have finished the SH20 connections instead - the point of which is to take heavy trucks off the Harbour bridge and the central motorway junction - but that way they wouldn't have the excuse of building a brand new viaduct. The whole thing is pointless. If SH20 is going to be connected "keeping to the completion date of 2015/16" as the Minister says in his latest statement on the subject then it is all horribly, utterly, expensively pointless.

    I believe the NZTA (and the predecessor Transit) thought it was a more achievable short term option of alleviating the Isthmus' North-South motorway flow than finishing off the SH20 connections at Wiri and at Waterview. I believe that the pressure from the roading lobbyists would have influenced the NZTA directly on the decision. I believe the engineers who run the show and plan these things are inherently committed to large projects that have the highest visibility possible for their masterpieces, ie. preferring viaducts and bridges rather than tunnels and trenches, for reasons of professional ego more than reasons of simplicity of construction, cost or necessity; which also explains the carving up of Grafton and Newton gullies and the incomprehensible decision to leave the Victoria Park viaduct intact but build a tunnel for just one direction next to it (instead of putting it all underground).

    The lobbyists ask: Can we have more?The lobbyists are claiming the government hasn't spent enough because the local councils haven't spent enough - and the Transport Minister is not one to contradict the friends and funders of the National Party:

    The Transport Agency was also left with $40 million in unclaimed subsidies at the end of 2007-08, and a Government budget allocation of $436 million the previous year was under-spent by $138 million after just one new urban road and no rural roads were completed.

    Transport Minister Steven Joyce confirmed last night that the Government, having spent so much extra money trying to boost the economy, was concerned about a risk of "losing jobs out the other end".

    He has met Roading NZ and the Contractors' Federation, Local Government NZ and the Transport Agency to ensure the maximum possible funds were spent during this summer's construction season.

    The Minister says have as much as you can take.In the shadows behind John Key, Steven Joyce wasn't even in parliament before the last election - now he is the government's infrastructure chief. His stripping of the ability of Regional Council's to levy a surtax on petrol spelt the death knell for Auckland's capacity to dedicate funding to the rail electrification and has made them beholden to central government and their roading agenda once more.

    The reason Auckland has a rail system so appalling that they don't even have clocks at the stations and the reason the motorways are not connected properly with one another is, in large part, because the people making the decisions are not connected properly with each other and one division goes off and makes a funding decision like this Newmarket folly which has more to do with engineering bravado and an opportunistic grab at lavish state highway spending than solving Auckland's actual transit problems.

    If the government and the ever-changing transport structure (including another set of new boards established by the end of the year under the Auckland über city legislation) continue to set priorities according to the convenience of the cartel then game-changing transport investments like electric trains and extra lines will remain unplanned, unbudgeted and undelivered.

    Rudman's piece on the SH20 Waterview tunnel shenanigans are another illustration of the opaque nature of these national projects under the aegis of the NZTA.
    Whether or not the new Auckland Transport Agency will have enough teeth to commission their own works, depth and security of funding to plan long term projects, legislative focus of mandate to see it through without outside interference and enough local democratic representation to counter the industry lobby and Wellington are questions soon to be answered - and I fear - all in the negative.