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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

NZIFF review: On The Road

On The Road
Director: Walter Salles

The audience that filled the Civic was painfully scenester. It had more over glassed glasses, pointed shoes and hipster hats than a performance of the Wellington Ukulele Orchestra. I wasn't sure if it was the chance to see a topless Kirsten Stewart giving double handed hand-jobs or garden variety Kerouac worship, but there was a lot of anticipation.

Firstly, it isn't as good as the book. Nothing could be, but the sheer joy of speed and freedom that Walter Salles inspires with sweeping tracking shots of the passage of movement manage to visually capture the rupture of youth that 'On the Road' espouses.

I was curious as to how this classic would translate to todays audience. Middle class angst and the collision of adulthood and respectability is probably a stronger theme to the scenester generation these days than the hedonistic charms of the original.

The moment Sal Paradise walks away from Dean Moriarty leaving a comrade in arms to drown is that tipping point in every life to risk the gains of security for those who have failed to find that security.

With an economy tanking, this story of raw desire for freedom is probably more relevant than ever.

3 and a half stars


NZIFF review: Bernie

Director: Richard Linklater

Jack Black has many crimes against cinema to atone to, Bernie goes some way to giving him time off for good behavior.

Bernie is the delicious true story of Bernie Tiede, a small town Texas personality who dives into local community life via his role as assistant undertaker. Blessed with a singing voice from heaven and level of charm with the old ducks that borders on the pathological, Bernie quickly becomes a pillar of the local county.

His standing as the nicest man around is so high that when he shoots one shrew of a benefactor (gloriously played by Shirley Maclaine), the locals refuse to blame Bernie much to the exasperation of the local prosecutor (a very funny Matthew McConaughey).

Bernie is a beautifully twee film with actual locals playing cameo roles explaining how they felt about Tiede. Their idiosyncratic unvarnished descriptions and banter gives the film an endearing quality that surprises.

3 and a half stars


Chosen people

God help us all...

NZ Herald:

US Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has outraged Palestinian leaders by telling Jewish donors their culture is part of what's allowed them to be more economically successful than Palestinians.

The comments have been criticised as racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East and forced Romney's campaign to say the remarks were mischaracterised.

"As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about US$21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like US$10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality," the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.
"And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things," Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the "hand of providence."

The Jewish-Israeli-American love triangle is sordid. Probably more sordid than the American support of Apartheid South Africa and any number of dodgy regimes over the years.

Christ only knows what Mitt the Mormon really thinks about Jews and for that matter about Palestinian Christians and Muslims too. And Christ only knows what he must think about other divisions of humanity given that his church only admitted black people following a revelation coinciding with the threat to take away their tax exemption if they didn't - that was the late 1970s.

Who let Mitt out?

Anyway, the obvious reason for the huge difference in economic prosperity is due to the Jewish State acting as Nazis towards the Palestinians by herding them into ghettos and restricting their movement and activities, including a brutal blockade of Gaza. But amongst the billionaire Jewish donors at Romney's fund-raising dinner that isn't exactly the most obvious answer they would like to have heard.

Dear John - Waitangi Clan ain't nuthing ta f' wit

Perhaps someone at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage should've slipped the 1993 "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta F' Wit" onto John's iPod shuffle before he went all over town mouthing off at the Waitangi Tribunal, cause look at who just got bitch slapped...

Maori claim first blood in fight over asset sales
The Maori Council has claimed a limited victory over a Waitangi Tribunal request for the Government not to proceed with asset sales until at least September - but the council's lawyer says the real test for the Crown will be after the tribunal's final findings are released.

OUCH - that gotta hurt. Add 200 000 signatures to the petition calling for a referendum on asset sales and a September launch looks more aspirational than reality. If Key bulldozes through he risks Court action pushing that launch date out even further or impacting negatively on the value and price.

Key is frantically running around trying to cut a deal with the newly created Tuku Morgan/Michael Cullen Fresh Water Iwi group, but a divide and rule tactic here will splinter Maoridom and cause the Maori Party to implode. National could already be eyeing up a 4% threshold Conservative Party and see the MP as surplus to needs now making Pita and Tariana's sitting at the table rational look even less appealing if Key has already sold the table and invited over a new date.

Nice to see Maori showing Pakeha how to resist neo liberal policy that is detrimental to us all. Key may have created a new political space for Maori nationalists and economic sovereignty proponents to come together as one force. Once Pakeha start seeing their interests covered by the Treaty, watch how quickly Nationalism can unite in a way neither deemed possible.

Key needs this sale for the cash. His Government have amputated the ability of the State to raise revenue by lowering taxes and needs asset sale cash to fund the basics that tax revenue are supposed to cover. Key will push ahead as this gets uglier and the fighting more bitter.

Key's desperate need for the cash will sow a seed of righteous grievance that he will find difficult to contain by 2014.


The Union Report with James Ritchie from NZDWU & Commentator Chris Trotter

The Union Report with James Ritchie from NZDWU & Commentator Chris Trotter:

Issue 1 - How does the global free market impact on domestic labour relations in the 21st Century?

Issue 2 - Does the rise of lowest cost capitalism in China pose a danger to workers rights here?

and Issue 3 - Will the global recession challenge the free market Consensus and do Unions have a role in re-shaping it?

The Union Report screens 8pm Monday Triangle TV - the home of original public broadcasting

Facebook/TheUnionReport Twitter/CitizenBomber

Monday, July 30, 2012

Who would Jesus marry?

If Family First and Friends want to use history to justify not redefining marriage, will they be calling for wives to be re-included in the chattels?

Christians claiming to have invented marriage are like American's claiming to have invented democracy. Christianity didn't 'invent' marriage so Family First and the rest of the God squad are going to need to come up with a new justification for their homophobia.

I'm pretty sure Jesus would've married any couple, regardless of gender, as long as they loved each other.

Jesus said the word love 51 times in the Bible. There is no record of him saying 'fag' or 'queer' or 'discriminate against the homosexuals', indeed there are some who point to the Bible itself for proof that Jesus healed a gay man, Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10.

Shouldn't the silly folk with their silly ideas about their silly version of what someone else said be a wee bit quiet now? We've been terribly patient for a very long time on this front and it's time to move on.

PS, the Earth is not 6000 years old by the way.

We need to debate why homophobic bigotry is allowed to continue within marriage and adoption, and we need to challenge it.

As a progressive society this discriminatory blot on our law books is a dishonor we should all feel proud to remove. By expanding the franchise of official recognition of the value of gay and lesbian relationships via marriage, we enrich all our relationships.

Family First have a way of making the word family as un-inclusive as possible, it's time to move our country beyond that narrow view of whanau.


David Shearer Vs UFO's

David Shearer is somewhere in the back of this photo.

20% of NZers say David Shearer is invisible, 30% say they believe in alien visits, does this mean that we have more NZers who think they've seen UFO's than the leader of Labour?

I'm just not convinced that the Pagani Doctrine of sitting on your hands and hoping people hate John Key by 2014 is that much of a strategy?

David Shearer is as visible as a ninja in camouflage.


The inequality of John Key's Government

Why the above image isn't satire

Income gap between the races gets wider
New Zealand's persistent income gap between Maori and Pacific people and the European majority has widened sharply during the recession.

In NZ we seem to have confused the small country flatness of our social strata as egalitarianism. You get the sense in NZ from listening to talk hate radio that the word 'class' was a dirty word imported by winging poms sowing discontent between the proletariat and the landed gentry who owned them.

The sense of fair treatment by those with the most seems more suited to the types of justification for cruelty free animal husbandry; something they do because of better yields as opposed to the less fortunate having an unalienable right to equality.

What the glib baby boomer pundits of the corporate media refuse to accept is that those who are doing worse and worse under Key have a righteous grievance against him and his policies which do nothing more than enrich him and his class.

The billions in borrowed tax cuts subsidized by the rest of us through a GST increase handed out to the wealthiest NZers, is the same money that will be used to buy shares in assets.

5% are expected to buy shares and receive $80 million in a tax payer funded loyalty scheme while the money received for selling our assets will be reinvested into irrigation schemes for South Island dairy farmers.

So the poor pay for the tax cuts for the rich, which are then used to buy our assets while the proceeds go to the wealthy dairy industry???

John Key is Government for the rich, by the rich and forever in the interests of the rich.

Key's aspiration isn't just vacant, it's bankrupt.


Image of the games

The awful logo for the 2012 London Olympics only seems to appear in the most garish of '90s pastel colour combinations just to emphasise the hideousness. Is this from the same British design school that gave us the Austin Allegro and the Reliant Robin? If you're going to be spending 20 billion quid or whatever on the games why not have forked out for a decent logo?
Why did they choose the worst one?
It's shit and it says nothing.

It's a broken, shattered mess - quite possibly a jumble of clip art circa 1992 - filled in by a colour blind person using a crappy Microsoft programme. It projects an uncomfortable, disjointed confusion - the last thing you want to do with the biggest show on Earth.


The London Games is looking ugly, and I mean that literally. It started early, with the unveiling of that painful logo, the colour scheme for which appears inspired by a Nike catalogue. It resembles either Lisa Simpson performing a sex act or a child's illustration of the breakup of Pangaea. Granted, a long look eventually yields an Easter egg – a "2012" hidden amid the horror – but, like an eclipse, it's hard to stare at it long enough to appreciate it. (Has the sun taught you nothing, London? Perhaps if you saw it more often.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Citizen A with David Slack & Chris Trotter

Issue 1: The National Party conference in Auckland last weekend spelled out that this Key ain't for turning - should National feel confident about winning 2014?

Issue 2: Has the Asset sale sweetener become 5000 shades of grey over costs in less than a week?

and Issue 3: Do Labour's changes to how they elect their leader herald a new golden age of democratic enlightenment in NZ politics?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Friday, July 27, 2012

Elvis has left the building

A vindication for Tangata Whenua defending their seas:

NZ Herald:  A judge has thrown out charges against a ship captain who allegedly harassed a survey vessel during a protest against deep sea oil exploration off the East Cape.
San Pietro skipper Elvis Teddy, 45, was charged with resisting arrest and operating a vessel in an unsafe manner causing unnecessary risk, after police boarded his protest flotilla ship last April.

The charges relate to an alleged breach of the exclusion zone around the oil exploration vessel Orient Explorer, which was carrying out a survey of the Raukumara Basin for Brazilian oil giant Petrobras.
Defence lawyer Ron Mansfield submitted there was no case to answer because the alleged offending had occurred outside New Zealand's territory.
"There was no jurisdiction to arrest him or charge him with those offences, because they were beyond the 12 nautical miles of New Zealand's territory," he told APNZ.
Judge Treston agreed and threw out the charges.

The NZ government has no authority.

"They used the navy, the military, all their police resources and Crown Law to bully us for their big oil friends, but they were found wanting by their own law.
"It shows tiny iwi and indigenous people can take a stand, and can hold the Government to account. I hope Petrobras and the Government have got the message by now that we don't want deep sea oil drilling in the Raukumara Basin."

Te Whanau a Apanui chief executive Rikirangi Gage, whose iwi was behind last year's protest flotilla, has demanded a response from the Government.
"It looks like the navy and police were being used as private security for Petrobras. We want answers from the Government as to why."

This is a signal victory. Well done to all involved.


Kim Dotcom gets swat team, jailed and extradition charges for allowing people to pass information to one another without his knowledge of its content, but...

John Banks gets off scot-free for pretending his political donations he personally solicited from businessmen were anonymous when he had the cheque right in his hand!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gay marriage and adoption rights now!

MPs to vote on gay marriage
A bill on whether to legalise gay marriage is to go before Parliament.

The bill, submitted by Labour MP Louisa Wall and aimed at legalising same-sex marriage, has been drawn from the Members Bill Ballot.

Come on folks, isn't it time for NZ to lead on issues of equality again? Gay marriage and gay adoption rights discrimination is so 18th century, when Scotland, a country whose national dish is offal baked in stomach lining, can step up and consider Gay marriage, our cosmopolitan cred is being seriously challenged by haggis eaters!

The about to be released new position by MANA on gay marriage will please the rainbow community and I think this Bill has every chance of passing. Congratulations to Louisa Wall for helping drag NZ out if the homophobic dark ages.


Zombie Banks side steps Dotcom donation scandal

Banks' donations: No charges laid
Act MP John Banks has been cleared of any charges relating to donations to his 2010 mayoral campaign which he declared as anonymous, despite police finding he personally solicited them and in one case physically received the cheque.

The ultimate old boy of the old boys network has managed to side step breaches of donation law with the bonus technicality that it was all outside the 6 month timeframe.

The reality is that Zombie Banks is simply too well connected to get tripped up by something as peripheral as donation laws. How he has managed to keep his name out of Police surveillance footage rumors is in itself an indication that if you want to kill the political undead, one requires a cross, a stake and holy water.


Maggie Barry lets herself down

I must admit this surprised me...

MP snipes at Labour rival's lack of children
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, left, and National MP Maggie Barry. Photos / File National MP Maggie Barry last night refused to apologise after claiming Labour MP Jacinda Ardern was ill-equipped to comment on paid parental leave because she did not have any children.

...not because it was politicians belittling politicians when they should be debating actual issues, but because it came from the very proper Maggie Barry. Stooping to insults like this is the sort of thing Tau Henare does when he's not to defending infants smoking, but the mild mannered Maggie Barry? It's just yucky.

As part of the new blood within National I always thought Maggie Barry was better than this, it's actually a little bit disappointing that she isn't.

By attacking Jacinda for having an opinion on paid parental leave without having children, Maggie Barry has let herself down.

Maggie has ended up saying far more about her world view than Jacinda's.

Ardern 1
Barry -2



I find it difficult to comprehend how a bar can operate inside the Beehive. Actually inside the executive wing where the business of government is conducted. Not just a restaurant that serves alcohol with meals, but a bar?


The parliamentary catering facilities of Bellamy’s include a bar known as Pickwicks or 3.2 (due to its position in the building on the third floor and second corridor), Copperfield's café, and the Member's and Member's and Guests restaurants.

This just doesn't fit. It sends all the wrong messages and promotes the use of alcohol as a normal part of the business of politics and governance.

The older female MPs seem to revel in having abolished the smoking and billiards room and the male culture that went along with it, but no-one of either gender or age seems to have a problem with alcohol being at the heart of the sphere of national decision-making. How odd to have accepted this as normal...

or is it?

The parliamentary boozer is exempt from the Sale of Liquor Act 1989

section 5 (3) Nothing in this Act applies to—
(d) any person who supplies, keeps for sale, or sells any liquor at the House of Representatives by the permission and under the control of the House of Representatives; or

This part also applies to the bars at NZ Police, the Fire Service and NZ defence force establishments that a free to sell alcohol how they want (ie. without normal accountability). But I note that if we go back we will find that in the fifth Act ever passed by the NZ Parliament (in 1854) the MPs - who at that early stage were all male, land-owning Pakeha - gave themselves that special right:

So, since the earliest days of parliamentary democracy the MPs have insisted that alcohol and politics do mix.  Is it any wonder that they have such problems legislating against the booze companies when the drinking culture is so entrenched at the highest levels?

Well Done Sue Moroney

Paid parental leave is the sort of right citizens should demand in a progressive society, and with our inequality rates growing one would think surely the Government would be seeking active measures to rebalance those inequalities, not grow them.

Aren't NZ women sick of being 2nd class citizens in their own country?

How on earth are women supposed to be autonomous fully fledged citizens if their career aspirations are consistently blocked by the need to take time out and have children? Paid parental leave recognizes that and obligates the Government to help make that transition as financially painless as possible.

Having bosses climb on board and discriminately say they wouldn't hire women of child bearing age if paid parental leave was increased is about as helpful to the debate as burning Koran's are for Middle East peace initiatives.

Where the hell do they get off attempting to justify sexist discrimination in the 21st Century? Nice to know Alasdair Thompson's view of gender roles is still alive and demanding Women move to the edge of the village during that time of the month.

My scratch and sniff test to these issues is always 'as a male, would I put with this crap'? I wouldn't, and I don't see why the sisters have to either.

Well Done Sue Moroney.


What if Shearer doesn't fire? Latest Roy Morgan Poll Labour down - National up

Shearer saw off coup talk from Cunliffe a couple of months ago after his best performance ever on the last Auckland Backbenches show on TVNZ7 and after a significant bump in the polls for Labour.

What cemented his hold on the leadership were changes to the way Labour selected their leader, the irony that Cunliffe would have won under these changes was destined to be an odd footnote in political history.

End of story.

Or was it? The punditry were right by pointing out Shearer was safe, but that safety was based on Labour rising in the polls, the latest Roy Morgan Poll however is pretty damning to that line of thinking.

Shearer's position can only be secure if Labour keep chipping away at National's lead, but what happens if Shearer starts looking more like the NZ economy in stagflation rather than a leader bursting through?

Roy Morgan's Poll last night has Labour dropping to 30% and National increasing to 47.5%, most worryingly however, Morgan has the Conservative Party at 3%.

The MMP review will most likely lower the threshold to 4% and keep the 1 seat sub 5% threshold representation through winning an electorate. That gives National the ACT Party and it gives them the possibility of the Conservative Party as potential political allies. Key could jettison the Maori Party in favor of a third term right wing blitzkrieg, he'll go from privatizing social services for Maori companies to privatizing them for Christian companies.

Goodbye Whanau Ora, hello God Squad.

The sudden rise of a new potential coalition partner alongside the MMP reforms starts crafting a new narrative of options for Key and the reality of a 3rd term becomes far more possible. Couple this with Shearer's flat lining and it can only be a matter of time before the Political Party's within the left block either start attacking each other or the Labour Caucus starts holding informal BBQ's.

Shearer's position can only be considered safe if he continues to create poll momentum, if that dissipates, his position will be determined by Labour Party members voicing fury at the perceived lack of a winning leader and that fury being directed at the Caucus.

This will be a difficult tight rope to walk. Labour are stepping to the right to infringe on National's voting block (rather than inspire the million enrolled voters who didn't bother to vote) and Labour's membership will see that idealogical reframing as a betrayal, if Shearer stays quite on the changes, then he achieves no media traction, if he plays the move to the right up, he infuriates the base.

The caveat to Roy Morgan is that they are one of the most biased polls out. In the week of the election last year, they bewilderingly had National at 53%, I grilled the American representative from Roy Morgan on the iPredict show that called the election closer than any other news media last November about her flawed telephone methodology.

If Morgan's bias is showing, Shearer can ignore this, if Morgan is picking up a flat lining of support however, the pundits are going to need to rethink their predictions.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flip flop McCully selling out to Fijian military

With friends like these, eh.

Murray... present:

Do we blame the over-paid wankers ensconced permanently at MFAT for the misdirection or Muzza himself for this collaboration with the dictatorship in Suva?

New Zealand will provide $500,000 to Fiji’s Constitutional Commission and has offered additional technical expertise to prepare for general elections in 2014, Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced today. The announcement follows Mr McCully’s visit to Suva over the weekend for talks with Fiji Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

“New Zealand’s funding will support the establishment of the Constitutional Commission and help ensure it is well placed to carry out meaningful dialogue with Fiji citizens,” Mr McCully says.
“New Zealand wants to see a genuine and inclusive constitutional process in Fiji that leads to a sustainable and stable form of government.

“The establishment of a democratic government will benefit the people of Fiji and the wider Pacific region,” Mr McCully says.

Muzza seems to be taking advice from the half-witted Nat bloggers who think that the military take-over in Fiji is acceptable  - on the laughably implausable grounds it isn't corrupt... as the last government!?  As if killing, bashing and detaining civilians and stacking every position in the civil service with military officers was ever going to be better? As if doing away with the rule of law and running a country by decree alone would ever be better?

Fiji's top court - before the military abrogated the constitution completely and sacked all the judges - told the junta to hold elections immediately to establish legitimate government . Instead they said they would take the next 7 years to gerrymander up a new constitution under their thumb of heavy censorship, intimidation, arrests and bans on public meetings.

And after opposing this ruse now the NZ government is going to actually help the dictatorship to implement their contrived constitution. Unbelievable. What little credibility NZ had is down the tiolet.

How can a "genuine and inclusive constitutional process" take place under the rule of the gun, when the main players in the junta will benefit from the new constitution? The constitution will have a substantial mandate deficiency no matter what the state of the electoral rolls because the people will be voting on a system and within a system devised by their military overlords. They must have elections conducted under the legitimate law that existed prior to their take-over - not just according to any old shit the puppet-masters make up.

McCully is empowering and emboldening the regime and is effectively and pre-emptively validating the election. This is at odds with everything NZ is supposed to stand for in the Pacific and in the world.

What heed will any dictatorship pay the NZ government when they know just how weak we are when it comes to the crunch? McCully leaves no incentives for regimes such as these to abandon their rule so long as he is willing to indulge them in their games.

Is Tau Henare drunk when it comes to smoking?

There are not many moments in my life where I am absolutely astounded beyond the point of speech, brothers and sisters we have reached that moment.

This morning at the Inquiry into the determinants of the wellbeing for Maori children, the committee chair, Tau Henare, while listening to testimony from the Cancer Society on why smoke free environments were important for children, questioned their comments with claims that smoking during pregnancy WAS NOT dangerous to the child???

(Cue stunned moment now)

What was Tau's evidence to this jaw dropping assertion? He knew lots of Maori women who had smoked during pregnancy and all of their kids were fine. He said this in the bloody inquiry.

National spent the weekend berating Labour for living on another planet, well, I'm not sure what planet National live on, but apparently smoking during pregnancy isn't a health hazard there.

This claim can not be allowed to stand? Surely? Tau has to be reprimanded for such unscientific comments at an inquiry into the determinants of the wellbeing for Maori children, indeed don't those thoughts actually rule him out from being on the inquiry?

This isn't a 'left' or 'right' issue, this is undiluted ignorance that serves no one on the political spectrum.

If we are going to drug test beneficiaries, this case highlights why we should be breath testing MPs.


Lock it in

Ka pai. Tino tika!
Knowing the Maori language better would have saved one of his lifelines, but in any event this British man on British television is several thousand pounds up due to the Maori language. So much for the white supremicist mantra that the Maori language will never come in handy! They are the losers.

Reflecting on the absurdity and the racism of the Pakeha couple in the Campbell Live show the other night that were horrified when their daughter came back from pre-school speaking some Maori words and their presumption, expectation and insistence that every pre-school should be exclusively English language the way their own household is... makes you wonder how far resistance to cultural intergration is in the Pakeha community. Probably quite a bit wider than the urban, middle class liberals that make television will ever adequately be able to show.

Half the population of Gisborne - where the couple were - are Maori, but the idea that their daughter is not in an exclusively Pakeha/English environment at pre-school seems irrelevant to them. They resent their daughter being in a position to understand and communicate in the indigenous language of this country. Their country is New Zealand - not Aotearoa - and they articulate the base supremicist traditions of this European NZ construct: a form of apartheid. They expect Maori to learn English and conform to Pakeha norms, but utterly reject they should have to learn of conform in any way for even one moment to anything Maori. Hypocrites, hatemongers and morons - the worst sort of person.

And then they get upset when the principal suggests that if they reject everything Maori then what is the point of them being in NZ? Why don't they leave?

The point for these Pakeha being in this country - whether they are conscious of it or not - is precisely the ideological strategy behind the more-than-likely importation of their European ancestors by the NZ government in the first place: to displace and suppress the Maori. Their self-worth and value in a Pakeha-dominated society is still premised on their white skin and to a lesser extent their thick Newzild accent - and so they resist and deny. They have made Maori the enemy and intend to keep it that way.

Their daughter has little real option but to grow up every bit as racist as their parents and to repeat the teachings of hate and mistrust to her children. These types of people should leave the country and end their occupation. We cannot progress when the balance of power is held every three years by a rump of bigots who get pandered to by the major parties.

Key goes from 50 shades of confidence on asset sale sweeteners to 5000 shades of grey over the costs

John Key's speech at the National Party Conference should have been called 50 shades of blue. Poorly written, slightly obscene and getting far too little critical attention.

Forget a week being a long time in politics, 24 hours is a different world. Yesterday Tracy Watkins was confidently predicting that the 'heat had been taken out of asset sales' and John Armstrong was happily chirping along with beige opinions asserting Pakeha own everything so Maori can go suck it (a position embarrassingly echoed by Patrick Smellie).

24 hours later all of Key's 50 shades of confidence have warped into 5000 shades of grey as he struggles to tell NZers how much his sweetener is actually going to cost taxpayers.

I predict the Maori rights issue on water will see the same u-turn as these loyalty sweeteners when the white baby boomer commentators suddenly realize what Helen Clark did, that while NZers garden variety racism and justifications for owning all of NZ may be their limitations, the judiciary view it far more in favor of the original owner - Maori.

The mainstream media's utter lack of critical analysis of what was said at the conference (Bill English telling NZers they shouldn't cry over so many Kiwi's fleeing to Australia when National made that fleeing such a major policy plank and holding up a Herald Digi-Poll as 'evidence' that NZers wanted more mining) was compounded by fuzzy logic that the low protest turn out means John Key has gotten away with privatizing our assets.

The corporate media who are eyeing up that $120 million advertising asset sales splurge may be quiet, but the history books will be far more damning. Key gave the richest NZers almost $3billion in borrowed tax cuts so that they are the only 'mums and dads' with a spare $1000 to buy shares in assets we collectively own AND they have given the 5% of NZers likely to buy these shares another taxpayer funded subsidy for loyalty shares worth tens of millions (we aren't sure of the exact cost because Key doesn't have those actual figures yet).

Todays mainstream media worship will be replaced by a damning historical revision once the true inequalities of National's policies are born out.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

National Party NZSO cultural snobbery?

We can't keep TVNZ7 at $16million per year for public broadcasting that goes out to a monthly cumulative audience of $1.6million, but we can keep the NZ Symphony Orchestra at $17million per year to a yearly audience of 434,811?

And this from a Government who claimed TVNZ7 was a nice to have for the elites, how much more bloody elite can you get than the NZSO?

Nice to see the rarefied air that passes as culture for the masses from the Arts, Culture and Heritage Ministry.


Euro point

The Eurozone economies lurch from one crisis to another: burdened by deficits and debt to maintain their standard of living in the face of a recession the austerity measures focusing on paying and repaying banks to keep the system going is faultering. The reality of a 'two-speed' Europe with one set of EU countries fully integrated in the Eurozone and one set not has been replaced by the emergence of a two-tier system of basket-case peripheral, spending Southern economies and an inner core of saving Northern economies that threatens the stability of the Euro and has led to open talk of how to devise a break-up that would see the peripheral cases exiting the Euro and re-establishing their own national currencies (in the case of a sovereign default).
I have been a Euro optimist and continue to be so despite this long patch of very inclement weather. The underlying fundamentals of the currency union are still strong even without the sort of fiscal alignment (or economic subjugation) mooted by the Germans. The Euro is still far more stable in terms of exchange rate than the US will ever be.

So with the NZ dollar at record highs against the Euro (about 65c to the NZD when it was as low as 51c last year and has a long-term average about the 50c mark) and the availability of high yields in Italy (which as a pillar of the Eurozone I cannot imagine will either default or exit) it would probably be a good time for those big players with NZD to put their money into Italian bonds. This assumes there is less risk than the market is indicating right now.

Bernard Hickey: today:

The New Zealand dollar [...] even fell against the euro to 65.0 euro cents from as high as 65.9 euro cents late on Friday.

via Bloomberg:

Germany’s bonds outperformed their euro-area peers, with two- and five-year yields reaching record lows, as Der Spiegel magazine reported the International Monetary Fund will stop paying rescue funds to Greece, citing unidentified European Union officials. Italy’s 10-year yield climbed to a six-month high and Greek bonds tumbled.
Spain’s 10-year yield rose 23 basis points, or 0.23 percentage point, to 7.50 percent as of 5 p.m. in London after climbing to 7.565 percent, the highest since November 1996.
Spanish two-year yield climbed 77 basis points to 6.53 percent after surging as much as 99 basis points, the biggest intraday gain in the euro era.
“Spain would need a bailout if yields stay where they are for another couple of months,” Georg Grodzki, head of credit research at Legal & General Investment Management Ltd. in London, which manages $596 billion of assets, [...] Italy would then be “an open target for the next wave of attacks,” he said.
Germany’s 10-year yield fell as low as 1.127 percent, matching the June 1 record, before being little changed at 1.18 percent. The two-year yield was at minus 0.06 percent, below zero for a 12th straight day, after declining to a record minus 0.080 percent.
Yields less than zero mean investors who hold the debt to maturity will receive less than they paid to buy them.
Italy’s bonds slumped. The 10-year yield climbed 17 basis points to 6.34 percent after reaching 6.43 percent, the highest since Jan. 19.

The German yields are crazy low. Sub zero, like the Japanese in their deflationary period. With the risk premiums on Spanish and Italian debt so far from the German situation you know things in Europe are highly imbalanced, but this doesn't necessarily mean a system collapse or an Italian or Spanish default. So, if you're willing to sink a few billion into Italian bonds based on the hypothesis of someone who'll be lucky if they can scrounge enough change together for a pie for lunch - go for it.


Nek minnit

Italy's financial outlook darkened on Monday amid warnings that 10 cities are at risk of bankruptcy and schools may not be able to open in the autumn because of drastic spending cuts.
 Mr Monti hopes to reduce the country's €2 trillion (£1.6 trillion) national debt by dissolving 64 of Italy's 107 provinces, addressing long-standing concerns that they are an unnecessary and wasteful tier of government. The government plans to slash €500m from the provinces' budgets this year and a further €1bn in 2013.

The Monti government is pushing ahead with an ambitious spending review that envisages cuts to government services worth €26bn over the next three years.

Mr Monti reiterated that he will step down in Spring 2013, paving the way for elections.
Silvio Berlusconi has indicated that he will try to become prime minister for a fourth time, a declaration that has only increased market nervousness over Italy's economic future. 


Monday, July 23, 2012

NZIFF review: Wish you were here

Wish You Were Here
Director: Kieran Darcy-Smith

This is a thrilling mystery movie that has you riveted right until the end. A very likable Sydney couple, Alice (brilliantly played by Felicity Price) and Dave (Joel Edgerton) go on a Cambodian holiday with the wife's sister Steph (Teresa Palmer) and her new boyfriend Jeremy (Antony Starr).

They return to Cambodia without Jeremy who has gone missing the night after a pill fueled party. What happened that night and why he is missing holds you for the entire 93 minutes with authentically believable performances from each actor.

The characters genuine likability has you onside immediately and the directors gripping second by second tightness of the pacing has you worried for their well being as soon as the flash back scenes from their night of partying start to sink in.

Special mention to Alice played by Felicity Price (who very interestingly co-wrote this). She is the hero of the movie, and it is her courage and strength that are tested. Her performance creates the empathy for the movie. Great to see Antony Starr as well.

What happened that night and the consequences of the fall out is dark and intense. A surprisingly excellent movie.

3 and a half stars


NZIFF review: Killer Joe

Killer Joe
Director: William Friedkin

playing Saturday 28th July 9pm & Wednesday 1st August 4pm
This is a filthy dirty deep fried tale of violence and trailer trash ethics as hick Dad (Thomas Haden Church) and hick Son (Emile Hirsch) prostitute their daughter/sister off to a homicidal Sherif/contract killer gloriously played by Matthew McConaughey in order to kill their ex-wife/mother for insurance purposes.

As the wheels quickly fall off the plan and treachery is discovered, Sherif Joe decides he still wants payment in the form of their daughter/sister and all hell breaks lose at their final supper.

The scene where Matthew McConaughey has KFC fellatio performed on him is one of the 21st Century's high moments of cinema.

Hilariously deep fried and southern.

4 stars


John Key & media embark upon a second honeymoon

One thing was abundantly clear from National's 50 shades of blue conference this weekend, John Key and the mainstream media have embarked upon a second honeymoon of uncritical love.

Like an addict rushing back to their favorite hit, the media's astounding lack of critical analysis of the Government is back up to the giddy heights of post 2008 election levels.

What many pundits always gloss over, is that the mainstream media didn't walk away from the Key honeymoon, it was Key who called it off. In the wake of the teapot nonsense, Key turned on the media based on overnight polling showing that people loathed the media more than they loathed Key.

If Key hadn't turned on them, and if National hadn't spent the last 6 months blundering from self inflicted mutilation to self inflicted mutilation, the mainstream media would still be making frantic love to John Key's portrait at night.

The corporate media are eyeing up that $120million dollar spending spree to advertise the asset share launch to prop up their 3rd and 4th quarter margins. No one is going to be harsh or critical when that commercial reality is hanging over you.

Take a look at the glaring examples over the weekend.

Here we have Bill English astoundingly holding up a brainless Herald digi-poll claiming NZers wanted more mining! The most disingenuous poll in the world is the Herald digi-poll, holding up anything it divines is as credible as booking a time for the Rapture.

English then has the audacity to criticize any complaints about NZers leaving for Australia? National made catching up with Australia one of their main policy planks - now National have failed to do anything about it, suddenly English wants to not only hide it as an issue, they attack anyone pointing out National's failure?

For the real crowning achievement of one sided media over the weekend, you can go no further than John Armstrong's ludicrously biased and vicious appraisal of Maori water rights in the Weekend Herald that almost borders on Paul Holmes-esk.

What Armstrong refuses to accept is that the contempt Key has shown the Waitangi Tribunal makes Pita and Tariana's justification for staying at the table meaningless when Key has sold the table.

For the Prime Minister to claim that nobody owns the water is as disingenuous as Helen Clark was when she confiscated the foreshore and seabed claiming no one owned the beach. John Key wasn't claiming no one owned the water when his Government seized control of Environment Canterbury because the local community had blocked the farming lobby from taking more water.

It's funny what Key wants to claim is free when he's taking it.

This constant denial of Maori interests over shared resources is more than institutional racism, it is a one rule for Maori and one better rule for everyone else.

So much for one law for all.

As my co-blogger eloquently pointed out this month, what is at essence here is the very core values built into the Public Works Act 1981 which spells out how a Government may take a resource for public purpose. The Government must enter into negotiation with the owner of that resource and failing agreement the Government may take under statute that resource. When that original public purpose is made into a private purpose, the resource goes back to the original owner.

How dare the very law written by Pakeha to benefit Pakeha get used to claim on talkback radio that 'Maori are trying to take the water'! Maori are only looking for redress under a law given to everyone else, why should their property rights be any less than any other New Zealander?

This action has only occurred because of Key's desire to flog off assets we all own as New Zealanders. Maori haven't gone out to pick a fight or 'take' anything here, John Key has brought this upon himself.

Maoridom have been forced to the Waitangi Tribunal because their voices have been ignored. Again.

For every New Zealander angry at the way this Prime Minister uses a 1 seat majority as a mandate to sell assets, they should join Maori in demanding the Crown honour the Treaty by protecting our assets for all our collective sovereignty, and not just for the financial interests of the rich and powerful.

But not according to John Armstrong, for him this is the naked beast of majority democracy, which Benjamin Franklin once described as two hungry wolves and a lamb voting on what's for lunch. Armstrong's language and total defense of Key's position is as critical as Fox News towards the Tea Party.

The honeymoon is back on.


Planet National - land of the wrong uptight crowd

They should have called the National Party conference 50 shades of blue. Poorly written, slightly obscene and getting far too little critical attention.

National's favorite line of attack at the conference in the weekend was that the left live on 'Planet Labour', that they haven't in some way understood the global recession and have not tailored their policy accordingly.

It's a spin attack that unfortunately for National cuts both ways, if life on 'Planet Labour' is so awful, what's life like on Planet National?

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis caused by failed free market dogma by adopting more failed free market dogma.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by punishing all those beneficiaries who had no hand in causing it. No beneficiaries were on the phone in 2007 to their Wall st stockbroker buying lite crude in Euros while speculating on the Goldman Sachs derivatives market, yet the redneck dog whistle of bashing beneficiaries has never been blown so hard and so frantically. What is it with rich people wanting to interfere in the sex lives of the poor? NOTE: None of this intrusion into the personal sphere of the individual is 'nanny state', it's only 'nanny state' when the interference is into the middle and upper classes.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by denigrating the Maori Council and the Waitangi Tribunal.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by giving the private prison industry a billion dollar private prison.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by ramming through the largest erosion of civil liberties since the Waterfront lockout.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by raising gst to subsidize a borrowed tax cut for the richest NZers so that they can afford to buy shares in assets that we all collectively own AND THEN astoundingly offer those richest NZers a sweetener deal on top of their largesse.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by expanding inequality faster than at any time since the dreaded 1980's.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by seeing 270 000 children living in poverty while 150 of the richest families gained $7billion.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by killing off public broadcasting so there is no longer any critical media.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by growing unemployment to 6.7% and hiding the real unemployment numbers by simply cutting people off welfare altogether.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by knee capping the public service and declaring war on the Union movement.

On Planet National, they have responded to the global economic crisis by pushing for more mining and more oil drilling to destroy our 100% pure brand.

How dare National claim to have any ideas beyond more failed free market dogma, it is they who have not adjusted to the realities caused by the global economic crisis because it was caused by their philosophical paradigm.

Planet Labour sounds Eden-like compared to the hell of Planet National.


Smokers have (cough, cough) voices too (cough, cough)

So the Tobacco industry have launched a website where they claim their customers 'option counts'.


These voices don't count because they're all bloody addicts. Who cares what an addict has to say on their drug being restricted? What possible insight are gained from listening to addicts bitch about not getting their hit?

These are not 'customers' or 'consumers' having 'opinions' they are addicts being manipulated by their dealer into whining about restrictions on the dealers profit margins.

This has all the credibility of America's pro gun culture in the wake of a massacre.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Q+A and The Nation review

The Nation

The worst show they have ever done. It's just an uncritical live broadcast of the National Party conference and their 'justice hot tub' highlight all that is wrong in NZ current affairs. A hard right law and order sadist Stephen Franks, the lynch mob sensible sentencing trust and an angry dad who had their child killed up against a prosecutor. No focus on the media 'if it bleeds it leads' style of crime coverage or the fact that homicides and violent crimes have dropped dramatically over the last 2 decades.

Dreadful waste of time this week.


Nice to see Q+A finally covering the generational discontent between boomers and Gen Xers that Tumeke has been discussing for years, hilarious though that the Panel are all baby boomers. I'm black listed by Tim Watkin from being on Q+A, but surely Q+A can get actual Gen Xer commentators on? Citizen A is full of Gen X commentators, can't they just steal the ideas from us and get some other voices who aren't boomers?

Fran gets there is an issue, I'm blogging on this tomorrow. Gen Xers have been screwed by that greedy bloated locust boomer generation and it's time to start forcing them out of the debate, as a generation they have warped any idealism they once had to sell out and steal every privilege they benefited from by the State back.

It's time Gen Xers take the power back.

Good piece on Len's public infrastructure challenges that Citizen A covered on Thursday night on Triangle TV. Q+A can take our topics that we cover better with far fewer resources so we don't mind if they take some of our commentators as well so that the debate can widen beyond boomer self interest.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Police, Casino and Corporate media show their bread is buttered by National

National Party Old School Pimps

The extraordinary Police over kill towards several hundred student protestors at the National Party conference today show that the NZ Police are as bought and paid for as the Casino the conference was held at and the corporate media whose jaw dropping lack of critical evaluation of Bill English's comments border on the absurd.

Clearly the quiet deal the Police Association has cut with the Government recently ensures they protect the Government with all the passion of field slaves protecting their masters mansion. Phalanx after phalanx of Police blocking Federal Street should end any pretense that the Police are there for you, they are there for them.

The Police are a legitimate political target because they have sided clearly and firmly behind the National Party. Let's see the deal they've cut and compare that with other public services shall we?

The whole thing smells septic against the backdrop of the Casino, a venue benefitting from a corrupt political deal to increase filthy pokie machines as a bribe for a convention center.

Now add the mainstream media. How uncritical can they be?

Here we have Bill English astoundingly holding up a brainless Herald digi-poll claiming NZers wanted more mining! The most disingenuous poll in the world is the Herald digi-poll, holding up anything it divines is as credible as booking a time for the Rapture.

English then has the audacity to criticize any complaints about NZers leaving for Australia? WTF - National made catching up with Australia as one of their main policy planks - now National have failed to do anything about it, suddenly English wants to not only hide it as an issue, they attack anyone pointing out National's failure?

National can only get away with these frauds because the corporate media are lap dogs rather than watchdogs.

The vested self interest on display at the National conference is venal.


Friday, July 20, 2012

So much for that Maori Party 'win'

Some, were very quick to congratulate the Maori Party for their supposed 'win' this week with the 'concession' from National that John Key wouldn't legislate against Maori water rights.

Perhaps those celebrations were premature, turns out that supposed concession is about as flimsy as a London Olympics cost benefit budget...

Calls to clarify how far pledge goes
Prime Minister John Key is facing Opposition calls to clarify whether his pledge to not legislate against court decisions upholding Maori claims to rights and interests over water includes proprietary or ownership rights.

The call comes after Mr Key said his Government could in theory legislate to say no one owned water in the event a court case resulted in confusion on that issue.

After a late-night discussion with Mr Key on Wednesday, Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said she had secured a pledge from Mr Key that should a future court decision find that Maori did have a proprietary type right over water, the Government would not legislate against that.

Asked yesterday whether the pledge applied to any proprietary rights upheld by a court, Mr Key said: "I think that would be right but it would depend what you meant by all of those things. I think it's important to not confuse all of those things."

Mr Key was also asked whether, in the event a court case resulted in a situation where there was confusion over the nature of rights upheld, his Government would legislate to say that no one owned water, in the way it did over the foreshore and seabed issue.

"In theory, but one would hope it wouldn't come to that," he said. "At the end of the day that's not the preferred option."

...don't you love his weasel word language here?

Let's be crystal clear, the Tribunal will find in favor of Maori, Key will try and cut some side deal with the freshwater Iwi or push on with the first asset sale regardless, that will trigger legal action, the Government will lose that legal action and Key will ram through legislation under urgency leaving the Maori Party claims this week of a victory about as empty as ACT's poll numbers.

National have already written the Maori Party off as a political force post 2014 in favor of a 4% Conservative Party under the new MMP rules being thrashed out. The reality is that the political needs to make the first asset sale work is far more important to brand Key than an ongoing relationship with Maori.

Which leaves the Maori Party with a very simple question, what's the point of sitting at the table with John Key when he's already sold the table?


Len's 12 2day monthly $1.1million dinner parties

So Len Brown has agreed to spending $1.1million on this Consensus Building Group made up of the usual Auckland mafia - Guy Salmon, Michael Barnett, Tony Garnier, the property council, the Automobile Association, Gary Taylor and 12 other token appointments who will meet for 12 2 day monthly meetings plus dinners.

I love the plus dinners bit. I don't wish to be cynical but how will they manage to

A) come up with a funding solution that doesn't force poor people off the roads for a middle class motorway cleansing by road tolling

and B) convince central Government of it?

Answer? It's not.

Gerry Brownlee has been as quick as a Facebook stalker to jump Len and tell him his million dollar dinner party plan ain't gonna work by pouring cold water on any alternative funding ideas they come up with that involve the only funding mechanisms the dinner party clubs have been told to use.

Brownlee 1
Brown 0

Here's the problem for Len. He won. National had Rodney Hide ram through the Super City annexation through Parliament under urgency for one purpose and one purpose only, to ease and speed the sale of Auckland's Assets.

The ridiculously named 'Council Controlled Organizations' were stacked with right wing appointees to quietly work on 'asset rationalization' far from public and SuperCity Council scrutiny.

Government is managing to herd all options towards SuperCity asset sales by killing off their ability to borrow and by killing off their ability to raise revenue. The Governments answer to Auckland's under invested public transport woes is the exact same failed right wing dogma they are pursuing at a national level, privatize assets.

The problem for Len is his utter lack of resources to properly fund a Mayor's office that has the political vision to provide strategies and tactics to avoid being painted into a corner. He's responsible for almost a 3rd of the country's population, yet gets a pathetic $3.2million to run his office. That's $3 per person he's supposed to be responsible for.

The insult to that injury is even at that pathetic level of funding, baby faced right wing assassin Cameron Brewer had the audacity to bitch about it.

Len is very good at bringing people to the table, but this is a fight, not a meeting of minds. Len has got to stop being the weak nice guy and actually throw some punches at the Government or else come election time he'll be perceived to have stood for nothing more than siding with the Ports over their disgusting bullyboy tactics against the union.


NZIFF: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Director: Benth Zeitlin

And it begins. Beasts of the Southern Wild kicked off this years brilliant film festival line up and what a sensational cinematic entree.

Experienced through the eyes of 'Hushpuppy' (beautifully played by Quvenzhane Wallis), a motherless child who lives in dire poverty with her alcoholic father in the waste of swamp and marshlands south of the levees that failed New Orleans. The film is a mix of post global warming flooded apocalypse and the attempt by a child's imagination to understand the difficult world around her.

Combine a childlike wonder to dynamite stuffed pike fish, unthawed cannibal prehistoric giant boars and a fierce sense of pagan individualism and you have cinema at it's finest.

It is gloriously shot, it is tragically sad, it hurts, it's mesmerizing. In a mere 95 minutes you have your perspective forever changed.

You can't ask any more than that from a film. Brilliant selection from the very hard working NZIFF crew. It screens again 4pm Thursday 26th. Don't miss it.

5 stars


Citizen A with feminist blogger Julie Fairey & commentator Selwyn Manning

Issue 1: Is it opportunistic for John Key to claim Maori are being opportunistic over the Waitangi water claim?

Issue 2: Is road tolling the only solution to Auckland's infrastructure funding and is it equitable to the working classes and the poor?

and Issue 3: Are street prostitutes the new boy racers?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV


Thursday, July 19, 2012

A visit from the ad fairy

Just asking.


The final Maori Party sell out

The utter capitulation of the Maori Party to John Key has been completed after their gutless posturing over Key's contempt for the Maori Council and Waitangi Tribunal came to nothing last night.

After all the dead rats the Maori Party have had to swallow and the numerous times they've threatened to walk, this backdown is hardly mana enhancing.

So the baubles win. Pita and Tariana were never walking, their personal well being is too connected to the salaries they collect. As a political force beyond 2014, it's difficult to see the Maori Party are in anything other than a death spiral now. National may have already written them off as a long term option and are eyeing up a 4% threshold Conservative Party as a replacement coalition partner for the next election.

How can the Maori Party justify their 'at the table' strategy when John Key has sold that table?