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Friday, March 31, 2006

Film Review: Lord of War

Lord of War

Writer/Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto, Bridget Moynahan

Cage's cool arms dealing anti-hero, Yuri Orlov has such a swagger, such an infectious optimism for his dispacable trade of death that we are forever morally compromised. His narration guides us through his trevails as the son of Russian emigres in the US who slides into the shadowy world of buying and selling arms from and to the dodgiest of people on Earth - for a high-rolling lifestyle and air points. Yuri and his unbounded capitalistic rampage is a sort of reverse "My name is Earl" concept where the winning smile and personality (you know - Marc Ellis) is the same but the ethical plane is all downhill.

On his tail is a young Interpol officer (Hawke) who harasses him but is always one step behind the man with more fake passports than Ahmed Zaoui. Moyhahan plays a wife who's middle class lifestyle is a cognisent acquiesence to her husband's unspoken criminality - a bargain sure to eventually unravel - especially with his unpredictable brother (Leto) in the mix as Yuri's sometime right hand man. But the coolest character is unfortunately an Idi Amin-type Liberian dictator - a thinly veiled Charles Taylor (who has just been arrested trying to flee Nigeria from War Crimes allegations by the way). Between the sudden acts of ultra-violent brutality, he plays a convincing, no-nonsense, preferred customer. Ian Holm pops up as an established/respectable arms trader who turns rival after he tersely rebuffs Yuri at an defence expo.

Yuri's story takes us through Lebanon in the 80s, the break-up of the Soviet Union, West Africa in the 90s, South America and touches on just about every dirty little sub-plot to international conflict and civil war for the last twenty years. As such it is part history, part commentary on US foreign policy and part analysis of the nature of the arms trade.

At this point we must salute the work of Niccol. The characters are fascinating, the plot is a fast and heavy fully auto Armalite and the stylistic features are belt-fed twin gatlings. And with the aesthetics of the mechanics of death constantly to the fore like stinging nostrils from cordite that qualm of conscience twangs rather muted in the background. That and Hawke's mis-casting (far too young for a senior Police role) is the only safety lock on something so very enjoyable it is almost objectionable. Almost.

4/5 stars

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cullen evil/genius

--------------------UPDATE 1:18PM Friday 31/03/2006--------------------
Cullen has just been on National Radio where he gave his best song of all time as "I got plenty of Nuthin'" - from Porgy and Bess. The lyrics continue: "- and nuthin's plenty for me..." Patronising, stereotypically racist and hopelessly dated. What sort of message should we take from this?

Is he saying we should get used to having nothing - that we perhaps deserve nothing? Is it just white people who should have something? Or is he just trying to be humourous again? Staggering.

NZ Herald reporting:

"A leading economist [at ANZ] expects the New Zealand dollar to fall to US50c by late this year or sometime next year. "

You see why Cullen created the Superannuation fund that then puts about 90% of it's funds in overseas currencies? As our dollar drops against them so the value of the fund (in NZ dollars) increases - without even having to do anything. With the drop being so steep the fund could even be running at a loss and it would still be growing in NZ$ terms.

He goes on to say:

"By late-2006 or 2007 he was expecting the kiwi to reach US50c as this country's interest rates fell, while those of some major economies rose.
In 2007 the New Zealand cash rate would probably be 5.5 per cent, while the US rate would be 5 to 5.25 per cent, Japan would have positive interest rates and European rates would be higher, Mr Bagrie said.
On top of that was an "absolutely massive uridashi redemption profile". Uridashi are bonds targeted at Japanese retail investors in New Zealand dollars.
"They will cash those in because the yield they will get in 2007 just will not be attractive for them to want to roll those over and reinvest."
Fair value for the New Zealand dollar was probably around US60c to US62c"

I will post elsewhere in more detail about this issue, but I will mention this: The People's Bank of China has grown it's foreign reserves from US$415B in January 2004 to US$818B in December 2005. Impressive. Shrewd. Hard to believe they are supposedly communist.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

When good neighbours become good friends

Welcome to Israel - land of freedom and peace.

Jerusalem Post reporting a Kadima 9 seat lead over Labour.

Olmert: Israel entering a new chapter:
"We will move to set final borders, a Jewish state with a Jewish majority."

Meaning the ghetto wall that Sharon started building into Palestine will be unilaterally declared the official international border of Israel - possibly the worst kept secret in modern international relations.

I recall it was Hendrick Verwoerd who was asked by a foreign journalist to explain Apartheid. He said, with a jolly grin, that it was just a matter of "Good neighbourliness." Could you imagine the Apartheid South Africans grabbing all the best land, building a wall around an Afrikaanerstadt, expelling most of the people who lived there because they weren't white because the over-riding objective of the state is to advance and progress the interests of one race against another by way of keeping their race (mostly colonial immigrants) in a permanent majority, and then getting the UN to accept this "two-states" solution? Well it's happening right now in Israel and the NZ govt. does absolutely nothing.

Not a good parallel? From the Wikipedia entry on Verwoerd:
His aim was to create a South African state where whites would be the demographic majority, in order to ensure that white South Africans were not politically and culturally swamped by a black African majority. In order to achieve this ten black homelands or Bantustans, were created. Blacks were given the vote in these homelands instead of in 'white' South Africa. Verwoerd argued that these were the original areas of descent for the black South African population. The homeland policy effectively made blacks the citizens of different countries. Mass population transfers occurred when blacks were forcibly moved into these homeland areas.

Israel has a subjected, incapacitated, manipulated, impoverished, infiltrated quasi-state (the Palestinian territories) that they can use for cheap labour - commuting them in and out of Israel like a tap a la the Bantustans plan. And what are the disparities?

From the World Bank. Rankings and value of average income by "economy":
GNI per capita 2004
40th Israel US$17,380
134th West Bank and Gaza US$1,120 a
a. 2004 data not available; ranking is approximate.

It's so fucked up it is approximate. So Israel can import labour from a country where people have only about 1/15th of the average Israeli income. A country forced to co-operate with it's aggressor, a country where they cannot import or export anything except through Israel. A virtual slave state.

No boycotts, no embargoes, no protestations - nothing. Why? It's not just American pressure. It's deeper than that. Maybe because the Crown has similarly built it's state on a premise even worse than that - one that has all the elements of systematic land confiscation, but no option for self-government for the original inhabitants as promised in the founding document of the country (that they don't really recognise). Confiscation is confiscation. Occupation is occupation. Shame on "our" government. You see why they can't condemn the Israeli State's land confiscations having done the same thing to their own people last year.

Search "land+confiscation" on Google and it's all Israel and New Zealand. I remember the horror of picking up a magazine in the Takapuna Grammar School library and finding the Bantustans as independent countries. This was c.1987/88 - it was a propaganda magazine issued by the Apartheid regime. There was also a South African airlines poster in one of the Geography classrooms. Racist pieces of filth. Is it any wonder I never had much respect for that institution?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Love your work, Tony

Re: Iraq

Mr Blair,

Holding the Yanks' handbag while they invade the Middle East working out for you, Tony? We can discuss it outside the Auckland Town Hall tonight if you like. I think I might go along anyway - I'll be one of the people suggesting that you stop being a war-mongering American poodle.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Bloody foreigners No. 445,606,209

Tonight on TV3 (the Canadian owned network purporting to be a New Zealand network) a reporter (an Australian purporting to be a New Zealand reporter) told us that the released hostage (the Canadian citizen who is an international student) had arived in New Zealand and thus returned "to home soil."

We are 137 billion dollars in debt to the rest of the world - that's bad enough - but then we have to be told by foreigners on a foreign owned media that some other foreigners are New Zealanders. Pathetic.


Arrived in the Grey Lynn mailbox the other day. Two leaflets:
Leaflet 1: "You should know this man" - all about Muhammad and various Western Authorities praising Muhammad, contact: Al Manar Trust & Auckland Islamic Resource Centre.
Leaflet 2: "Public Lecture: Explore the life of Muhammad" - Free lecture organised by Al Manar Trust in co-operation with the Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ (FIANZ).

Great, just what we need, Koran-bashers. Next they'll be actually visiting... in person.

What is this Al Manar Trust then? From their website:

2.1. Objectives
1. Preventing the Muslim community from dissolving into the western culture by preserving their Muslim faith and culture
2. The preparation of a Muslim generation that is able of spreading Islam in New Zealand
3. Unification of Muslims in New Zealand by encouraging team work
4. Teaching the Muslim children the principles of Islamic faith

Notice "and culture" - not just "faith". It is a "culture" apparently - I guess in a way that Christians do not have culture? Do they mean Arabic language? What culture as distinct from faith? And the word "Preventing" - doesn't sound very positive does it? Sounds very regressive. "Dissolving into the western culture" - yes that would be terrible wouldn't it - I mean they've only decided to live in a Western country - why should they not actively try to be separate from it?

And is this chilling, or is it just me: "The preparation of a Muslim generation that is able of spreading Islam in New Zealand." - What about fucking off, because we already have religion here - and atheism and agnosticism - the natural next step after education. A generation able to spread Islam. Now this means culture as well as faith we must assume. And brainwashing the kids thrown in there as well - hey, it wouldn't be a cult without that element.

So, to recap the objectives of the Al Manar Trust:

1. Stopping Muslims integrating into NZ society
2. Make entire generation of cult recruiters
3. Consolidate cult group
4. Brainwash children into cult


And later much talk of the Arab language and how important that is - perhaps the "culture" of which they speak:

"need to keep their children in touch with their mother’s language, the language of Qura’an. [...] The school teaches Arabic language, Islamic education and Islamic culture."


And what is this "Share'ah" of which they speak?

"3.7. Share’ah Educational Activities

One of the main objectives of Al-Manar Trust is to expand the knowledge the Islamic Share’ah principles between Muslims in New Zealand. To achieve that goal Al-Manar Trust has organised the following Share’ah educational courses in co-operation with Saudi Arabian Universities:"

And of future activities:

"Because having an Islamic school in our community is an effective tool to save our children from dissolving into the western culture."

Again with the "western culture" thing. Don't really get it, do they. "Save our children" - from being like us?! Well, that's sorta, kinda, anti-local, not the reason why we let them come here in the first place - not really meeting our expectations are they? Certainly not mine. Their resistant attitude sounds hostile. I've said it mant times before, but it bears repeating: we should not let religious/cult people (esp. their professional practioners) settle in this country. These Muslims advance a foreign, unnecessary and incompatible range of ideas and behaviours. See how quickly they try to translate this into changing our law to advantage the status of their cult. Mosques in schools - already happened in Christchurch. Headscarfs in schools - already happens in Auckland. Now what?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Iraq ransom policy

I'm not the only one who thinks that a ransom was paid for the release of the three peace-worker hostages in Iraq yesterday. I saw the breaking news of the release on BBC World at a friend's house - who then called an activist involved with the youngest hostage, Sooden, who had just heard the news. What an amazing world we live in where international live news drama is so casually part of a normal evening.

"Oh - that's good" was my response. People brave/foolhardy enough to go to Iraq to help other people (doesn't matter how) is a worthy thing - it's the "Christian" element that concerns me. You know... they are a 1% minority in a country whose flag has Allah uh-akbar on it, and since the Americans invaded has been riddled with fanatical Islamists... a recipe for disaster really. If they were Muslims it would have been a different matter - though still incredibly dangerous. (There is currently a Christian Science Monitor hostage looking highly traumatised on the video her kidnappers have released). I'm not sure what Sooden's group precise agenda is - something to do with highlighting concerns about the situation in Iraq. From that point of view a massive success - and yes, the American guy who was part of their group was executed, so that too was a success from a warning and awareness aspect. Silly man - mission accomplished, we now know that Iraq is a highly dangerous place for American Christians.

If we analyse the reports I think it is fairly obvious that the kidnappers were paid. And that's the problem, for some groups it may be an opportunistic way of funding their other activities. They sell the Americans to more extremist groups - and ransom the rest. When the UK Foreign minister is mentioning that "civilians" were also involved and official reports that no kidnappers were caught or killed and that they were left alone in a house. Join the dots. "Rescued"? - by the payment of a ransom rather than by force. An "operation" - well, a negotiation, a business deal, a transaction more like it:

Officials have revealed few details of the operation, but it is known that none of the captors was present, no shots were fired and no-one was injured. A US Army spokesman said the three men had been found tied up in a house in western Baghdad, after a tip-off.

...have been freed apparently unharmed with no shots fired. They were rescued in a special forces operation -- though their captors were not present at the time, CNN's Nic Robertson says.

and also from CNN, the pro-war British Foreign Scretary:

"- have been released as a result of a multinational force operation which took place earlier today. British forces were involved in this operation. It follows weeks and weeks of very careful work by our military and coalition personnel in Iraq and many civilians as well."

So the questions are: how much did they pay? Out of what fund did that money come? What is the budget for that fund/how much will be spent this year on paying kidnappers?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

RBNZ: Liquidity, exchange rate and inflation

The NZ dollar has fallen. NZH:
"The kiwi dipped to a low of 61.80USc in afternoon trade, a level not seen since May 2004, then closed at 5pm at 61.90USc.

"The market is negative towards the economy and the belief is the currency should be pushed lower," said Derek Rankin, director of Bancorp Treasury Services. "It sounds trite to say it, but there are more sellers than buyers - and there are no buyers." "

The Reserve Bank has not intervened in the forex market to date, but will if it becomes "sticky". I don't think we've got anywhere near that level just yet, esp. because the dollar has been falling steadily over the last month. We are very vulnerable to this risk however.

Today the RBNZ is due to release these key stats: Credit card stats for Feb Quarter, Current account balance: exports and imports and NZ overseas debt. If it is as bad as they sense it will be the dollar will continue down it's present path.

-----------------------UPDATE 11:45PM------------------------
NZH report:

New Zealand's current account deficit - the country's financial dealings with the outside world - was a monster $13.7 billion in calendar 2005, Statistics New Zealand said today.

The deficit equates to 8.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the worst ratio since 1986 when it was also 8.9 per cent. The worst-ever deficit was 13.4 per cent in 1975 when the effects of the oil shock were felt. The 2005 figure was a record deficit in monetary terms. [...]

The annual deficit has widened for each of the last 11 quarters and is now $9 billion larger than the $4.7 billion deficit in the March 2003 year.

During 2005, New Zealand had a net inflow of capital of $12.2 billion to fund the deficit. This came from a $4.3 billion withdrawal of New Zealand investment from abroad and net flow of $8 billion of investment into New Zealand - mainly bond issues. New Zealand's net foreign debt rose $10.5 billion over the year to $136.5 billion. [...]


We will be paying prices based on our previously high dollar for a while yet, but as those exchange rate advantages work their way out of the system (ie. the increasing cost of our imports) we will see a spike in current a/c deficit and inflation. Business confidence will also take a hit.

With the US, the Eurozone and possibly Japan moving to increase their central bank's interest rates the currency traders that have pushed us into being the twelfth most traded currency in the world market will have far better bets than Kiwiland. As I have said on mentioned previously the key to any major down-selling of the Kiwi will be a reduction in our credit rating. It may even be on an automatic basis with some funds if we lose our top Sovereign debt rating - this will effect capital flowing into the country and borrowing as the so-called "risk premium" increases the costs of our borrowing off foreigners.

There is a lot of NZ denominated debt issued by the Aussie banks to Europeans and Japanese out there. Too much. When it expires and the punters want their money paid back they will not want it in more NZ$ they will want it in their currencies - that massive sell-off will inevitably affect our exchange rate. Even with the highest interest rates in the developed world our dollar is sliding rapidly - that should be a sign that all is not well.

Over the past year I have noted that Cullen has stashed parts of the government surplus into the Reserve Bank's coffers and the RBNZ recently raised the amount of liquidity available. Why? Why is the bank reviewing it's liquidity practices? Are they related?

Sadly they are related. The RBNZ has encouraged a forex market that has grown to a stupendous and dangerous level by the issuance of too much NZ currency overseas. I have previously said the situation is akin to "exporting inflation" ie. low domestic inflation rate being the prime concern of the RBNZ means they have interest rates left as a tool - and that in turn is a major function of the exchange rate.

The Aussie banks have used the RBNZ to give them money so they can issue it overseas - as this credit creation does not affect (directly) our domestic inflation - which is what larger currencies operate esp. the US$. As our dollar yields higher interest it becomes valuable to foreigners in low interest currencies who buy it predicated on our top-ranked credit rating (ie. expression of confidence that in the future we will hold our value ie. have a strong and ever expanding economy) - now while this lasts everything is tickety-boo (for the foreigners especially): our imports cost less, therefore our consumption is high, capital goods to expand and grow the economy are low, and with petrol being imported and (relatively) cheap our inflation rate is suppressed (without mentioning the disincentives to business of our high interest rates). Unfortunately the Kiwis at home buy over-inflated property, spurred by high immigration (which also is a cheap and brainless way of keeping the economy up) and that also keeps inflation low (savings directed into productive enterprises and infrastructure would of course be much better for all concerned).

So things are fine for the RBNZ because they keep inflation at 1-3% (now running at 3.4%) which is their mandate. Consumers like the low cost of their Chinese-made plasma screens. Property owners like their rising house valuations. But exporters are being priced off the international market and struggling first home buyers have to pay over the odds. And lurking in the background of the positives: steady growth, increased population and low unemployment is this rising spectre of inflation and (as I argue now what could be a Reserve Bank inspired credit crunch due to over-lending).

I've looked at the RBNZ's consultation paper "Review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s Liquidity Management Operations:" and note the uneasiness, or to use their word, "stress" in the banking system at the moment - as over the last year or so traditional instruments used to settle accounts amongst the banks have been largely replaced by forex swaps (whatever the hell they are - it doesn't sound as sound as the normal types of securities and I suspect is part of the credit inflation created by the RBNZ's policies towards the banks and a misguided policy of creating a globally traded currency).

From the report:
"The Bank’s use of FX swaps has expanded significantly. From being an instrument used only exceptionally, to complement the use of reverse repurchase of government securities, FX swaps have become the predominant liquidity management tool. [...] the use of reverse repurchase has declined as government collateral has become more difficult to obtain."

The banks have been using the RBNZ's easy credit, and to put it bluntly, it's maxed out. "Most of these changes have been driven by the emergence of symptoms of stress," the report says.

"Having a financial exposure to the domestic banks becomes a potential conflict of interest for the Bank, as a prudential regulator, during times of financial stress; " - Well maybe it is already in a conflict of interest by lending money in the first place?

"Maintaining the status quo" is not an option for the banking system:
"Continuing with the status quo implies making marginal changes to the existing system by increasing the supply of acceptable securities available to banks when raising liquidity from the Reserve Bank. This could be achieved by one or more of the following means:
• increasing the supply of government securities;
• loosening the Bank’s credit tolerances; and
• widening the definition of acceptable securities (domestic and foreign)."

The notes under those bullet points are heavily against them - especially as increasing govt. securities would mean: "the supply of government securities would be large relative to the existing Crown debt programme causing debt management problems and an expansion of the Crown balance sheet."

"we have concluded that the Bank’s preferred way forward is to move to a fully cashed up liquidity management regime....The Bank’s work indicates that a level of around $7 billion may be appropriate."

I think they have realised that the practices of the banks aren't working out appropriately in a liquidity sense; but I don't think their lending practices to foreigners have been either and have caused our dollar to be far too high for far too long. Jordan Carter's blog has seen some discussion of the currency issue under the heading "Tipping point". That economic crunch (inflation spike, import cost increase), I think, may be heightened by a liquidity tightening, translating into a credit restriction as the RBNZ clamps down on that in the same tardy way it has dealt with inflation. It will be interesting to see what our banks (mainly Australian) have to say about that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Film Review: Derailed


Director: Mikael Hafstrom
Cast: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel

Though based on a novel this is essentially a very classic Hitchcock plot - that in itself is probably too much of a give away. Those in search of an amazing train journey will be disappointed - this vehicle for Aniston and Owen is however more than just a commuter train into Chicago.

Aniston is overly dull - she seems limited compared with Owen who has come a long way from the romper-stomper roles that launched him. As a pair of married middle-management suburbanites their affair starts off unremarkably but takes a horrifying turn as the typical American bete noir, the Frenchy "euro-criminal" (Cassel), destroys their relationship amidst extortion and intimidation. This is where it picks up - but also falters. The success of the extraordinarily brazen euro-criminal is wholly dependent on our suspension of disbelief; but this in itself doesn't negate some geniunely brutal moments.

As a thriller and a drama it could probably be much more with different actors and while we are at it in the hands of perhaps a director who could utilise more of the suspense and terror through cinematography rather than relying on plot twists to do the work.

More standard fare from Bob and Harvey Weinstein's sausage factory.

3/5 stars

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fuck you - pay me

Once again I must ask: what is it with some women? Of the people who act as though they have some sort of immunity from having to pay their rent and bills and who treat it all with such casual indifference - in my experience - have all been female. Seemingly normal in other respects they just don't think that they should have to pay anything other than a token amount - the burden for their existence apparently should fall on everyone except them. Wanting them to pay their share is, to these people, a grossly offensive and completely unreasonable, illegal demand.

The following email exchange, unfortunately all happened in real life and came at the end of a very, tiresomely long list of excuses, threats, made-up legal opinions, pleading and, as you will see below, being a female, an attempted manipulative, emotional appeal that gets the treatment it deserves:

From: [Male]
Sent: Thu 9/03/2006 6:50 p.m.
To: [Female]
Subject: Re: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: FW:

"I've managed to get 700 tonight.
thats all i can do"

You said that at 6:10pm when at 3:28pm you said:

"i have got 200, and that's literally all that i have."

At this rate you will have [the full amount owed] by 4:30pm tomorrow and everything will be sweet.
On 9/03/2006, at 6:54 PM, [Female] wrote:

actually no.
the extra 500 is from doing something im really very not proud of
i'd rather sleep under a bridge than do it again.
From: [Male]
Sent: Thu 9/03/2006 7:19 p.m.
To: [Female]
Subject: Re: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: FW:

Well you better charge [the balance owing] for the next job and cope with not feeling proud if you want to keep living here, or tell me what bridge to forward your mail to.

I don't want stories I want [the full amount owed] by 4:30pm tomorrow.

Needless to say she only paid enough to give her time to get out - still owing more than the bond covered - leaving behind piles of filth that took the landlord two trips in the ute to get rid of and dozens of letters from creditors and fines notices. Good riddance to smelly rubbish. The only good thing to come of it being a neat retort to "I'd rather sleep under a bridge..."

This is a cautionary tale most appropriately summed up in the old Maori proverb:

Loose bitches need short leashes.

Film Review: {proof}


Director: John Madden
Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Anthony Hopkins, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hope Davis

Paltrow turns in an outstanding performance as the angsty daughter of a fallen Maths genius (Hopkins) in a story wrung with emotion rather than equations. At it's heart is a lucid a conversation as can be had between madness and genius played out through family dysfunction with elements of shame, legacy, redemption - and of course love - strewn in the rubble left by the death of Hopkins' cranky character.

Former student (Gyllenhaal) turns his obsession on deciphering the recently departed professor's notebooks grows into obsessively spading the departed professor's daughter. Being fragile and distraught is almost Paltrow's natural place: she does it so well. Gyllenhaal is his expressionless self and comes close to being another Matt Damon as far as range goes - almost. Davis is a wonderfully shallow and uptight older sister to Paltrow's hippyesque persona. The family dynamic is captured in all it's gruesome detail.

Plot-wise we are kept alert by a series of well paced revelations, the developing romance and the ever present holy grail of the potential uber/meta mathematical solution that may lie hidden in the insane professor's 103 handwritten notebooks. A posthumous Nobel Prize for a climax?

The issues canvassed in this modest drama are dealt with without the Hollywood over-kill and the director should be commended for the restraint.

4/5 stars

Monday, March 20, 2006

Attorney-General a crook?

-----------------UPDATE 5:47PM------------------
Parker's resignation has been accepted by PM!
Acc... accoun.... accounta..... accountabil...... accountability???!! I can't quite comprehend it. Makes Benson-Pope's desperate clinging to power and refusal to tender his resignation all the worse - doesn't it?
Parker might still have an out - but in the meantime I suppose a stand-down is the best way to deflect any tarnish. But why not with Benson-Pope? The reason, I think can be summed up in one word: Cullen.

Investigate magazine's blog has the teaser. Once again, Mr Wishart's digging may come to nothing. It makes for a great headline, but the substance may fall short. It gives me no pleasure in saying this either - after Labour's election-time dodgy spending spree and the Police's refusal/incompetence to prosecute the matter it would be good to see justice being done to at least one of this gang.

The allegation:

Under section 196(2) of the Companies Act directors are required to file an annual return to the Companies Office each year, and appoint an auditor to the company’s affairs, unless the shareholders have passed a unanimous resolution not to seek an audit.

Such a resolution is required under section 122 to be in writing, signed by all shareholders and held in the company's minutes book.

The director is required to declare to the Companies Office whether a unanimous shareholders’ resolution has been passed, and if so on what date.

Russell Hyslop has told Investigate he and Parker had a falling out over what he alleges was the Labour MP’s refusal to pay him up to half a million dollars he was owed, back in early 1997. [...]

But Investigate’s search of the company records has found a series of documents signed by David Parker stating that each year the shareholders have passed such a resolution.

The relevant part of s.196 of the Companies Act 1993:

"(2)A company need not appoint an auditor in accordance with subsection (1) if, at or before the meeting, a unanimous resolution is passed by all the shareholders who would be entitled to vote on that resolution at a meeting of shareholders. Such a resolution ceases to have effect at the commencement of the next annual meeting."

"Would be entitled to vote" - would the shareholder (Mr Hyslop) be entitled to vote if he wasn't present at the meeting? What does the company's constitution say about that issue?

Even if the other directors did not follow the procedure, could a defence be that they acted in good faith believing that they had acted according to law?

Film Review: A History of Violence

A History of Violence

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, Ed Harris, William Hurt

Cronenberg realises the Hitchcock potential of this graphic novel-based tale through his typical combination of ultra-violence and dodgy sexual encounters that gives Mortensen's pale white bottom a much needed airing.

It may be a thriller that burns away apace, but it's execution (unlike the murder-type ones portrayed) is a little sloppy. There are two sorts of people who will view this film: those who notice the killers in the very first scene leave their fingerprints, rather sloppily and casually, everywhere - and those who will be moved by the cliché hollywood moments of OTT. I'm in the former category. And corny, Smalltown USA couldn't be more straight-laced. This is Walton's country. The killers are intent on a mindless rampage, but pick on the wrong guy in his corny, small town diner. Mortensen plays the diner-owner who takes them out in a style they would have appreciated and is feted as a corny, small town hero.

Things turn weird from here on in when Ed Harris (as a convincingly menacing "back East" gangster) recognises the avenging corny small town hero as someone he would very much like to have a chat with about very important unfinished business - immediately. William Hurt will turn in a less convincing performance as a gangster later on - not quite being able to pull off the role in what threatened to turn into farce and rather damaged the whole impression of the film for me. However, before it tends to drift, we have the multiple tensions on Mortensen's family-man's wife and child, publicity, the local cop and Ed Harris to keep the punter's on edge.

The violent episodes were handled matter-of-factly. Cronenberg and the actors have done enough for us to care about the outcome - the terror of the threat finds it way through some good dramatic acting from both Bello and Mortensen. Hurt trying to do Gary Oldman, on the other hand, is an anti-climax. If Cronenberg had sweated as much over everything else as he did over the kinky sex scenes it would have been an even better film.

3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Chip off the old block

-------------------------UPDATE 3:20pm-------------------------

Just finished answering (or should that be merely responding) to the question (paraphrasing mostly):

Min.:- I stand by my statement... the success depends on as many dogs as possible micro-chipped.

?:- Is Jim Anderton "sympathetic" to exemption for farm dogs?

Min.:- We are in early stages of implementing the system.

?:- Other views recieved?
[Patsy from Marion Hobbs]

Min.:- NZ Vets and SPCA publicly support introduction of micro-chipping.

?:- Is Minister aware of

Min.:- We want to achieve one law for all dogs. For responsible dog ownership and public safety.

?:- Any notification of resistance from local councils?

Min.:- The aggregate total cost of micro-chipping compared with cost of feeding dog if spread across life of dog is miniscule.

Well, what a fucking cop-out. Success depends on as many dogs as possible having a microchip in them? Really? You mean the outrageous cost that they have locked themselves into must be recouped from as many poor saps as possible - that's, I think, what the Minister really means. And this little bit of metal will somehow enhance public safety? Maybe the Minister could have explained how her department has managed to put an anti-attack, anti-biting behaviour modification function into these microchips.

And the vets and the SPCA are in favour of it. Big fucking surprise. They will be the ones presumably making money out of it as part of the compulsory/tax registration and insertion chain - they will make a fortune - of course they will be in favour of it. It is quite literally a license to print money for these ticket-clipping, collaborators. Ka-ching!

"Public safety" as a reason is a crock of steaming shit. It is an absolute nonsense. Not one person will be saved because of this. If anything the increased costs and hassle will have the consequence of more unregistered animals and perhaps encourage other acts of non-compliance possibly leading to more attacks. Comparing costs of feeding dogs to a pointless tax on them is just insulting.

And the government MPs just laughed their way through it all. Ah ha ha ha ha "One law for all dogs!" a ha ha ha ha haha, hah ha ha ha ha, ahhh ha ha ha ha ha. Oh say it again Minister, say it again: "One law for all dogs!" Ahaha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha hah ahhhhh - ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ahh... And these imbecilic cunt-wipes run the whole show. Great, just great. Makes you proud to live in a democracy. Proud to be a New Zealander on days like this.

The site to go to is dosafety.govt.nz but it should really be dogtax.govt.nz.

The arguments on the site are just pathetic:
"After it has been microchipped, if your dog gets lost and picked up by a dog control officer, or injured and taken to a vet, the microchip can be scanned to find out the number. This can then be checked by your city or district council on the National Dog Database (from July 2006), which will show your contact details. This greatly increases the chances of you and your dog being quickly reunited. - yeah because with a dog tag they couldn't do any of this before could they? With a micro-chip the chances of having your dog returned is much less actually because Jo Blogs who finds a lost dog can't call up it's owners if it has a micro-chip FUCKING OBVIOUSLY.

As well as helping identify the owners of lost or stolen dogs, microchipping and the National Dog Database will help dog control officers identify those dog owners who don’t properly care for their dogs or allow them to roam. It will also be much easier for dog control officers to keep track of dangerous and menacing dogs as they move around the country." - No, people who don't register their dog and have them roaming everywhere are very unlikely to have been so diligent as to have them microchipped FUCKING OBVIOUSLY. Lies - they are just plain lying.

It's all done to complicate things that ought to be simple in pursuit of feathering nests. I'll say it again: I don't like dogs and I don't like the dog lobby, and I think that a dog breeder is the lowest form of human. The weirdo dog fanciers who are so socially retarded that they have become part of a pack of dogs are people who ought to be driven to the outskirts of civilisation... but, when things are so FUCKING OBVIOUSLY unjust there comes a time when even sensible people have to draw attention to the plight of those unfortunates.

"Microchipping was estimated to cost between $50 to $110 per dog, and for a litter of working dogs could cost between $500 and $600." -Stuff report

I note the last question to be put to ministers in parliament today:

12. Hon DAVID CARTER to the Associate Minister of Local Government: Does she stand by her comments reported in the Timaru Herald on 17 February 2006 that the Government will not budge on section 36 of the Dog Control Act 1996 which will require newly-registered dogs to be microchipped from July 1?

I hope there are some supplimentary questions going to be asked concerning how it was that the bureucracy had already purchased the micro-chipping technology before the provisions were passed in parliament and that it was the bureaucrats who successfully manipulated a weak minister into a concocted force majeure situation, claiming they had to make micro-chipping compulsory because they had already bought the gear. ...at least that is my recollection of how it came about.

Micro-chipping is simply idiotic. I have yet to hear one reasonable argument in its favour. People who don't want their animals micro-chipped aren't going to have it done, and those who comply must pay increased fees for a form of identification that only people with expensive scanners can access. What was wrong with dog tags? Too simple? Not expensive enough? Not "sexy" enough? Too accessible?

This is a case of a disturbing trend (as we have been hearing about in the UK for some time now) of the bureaucracy absolutely determined to use whatever tactics they can to establish and control large databases using very expensive technology and all for very questionable reasons and of dubious efficacy. I would like to see an inquiry into how the tender process (if indeed there was one) was conducted and how this idea came about in the first place along with the costs to date and projected costs.

As the INCIS police debacle proved a computertised anything is a gigantic open-ended contigent liability nightmare in the hands of an over-zealous and incompetent department. They lobby furiously for it and then it all turns to custard. The micro-chipping is unnecessary and wasteful. People are quite right to protest the measures.

I'm no fan of dogs, or the dog lobby, but it isn't fair on them. They have been sold a pup.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Don Thrash

This encyclopedia sums it all up:

Description: A composer who never can find the words to rhyme. Famous for writing songs, just not the right way
Facts: Don Music was abandoned because of complaints about his alarming tendencies toward self-inflicted punishment. Apparently, kids were imitating his head-banging at home.
Most Famous Song:" Mary Had A Bicycle."

Sounds a little like someone we know:


If you listen to Parliament you can sometimes hear Don thrash his head repeatedly on his desk in frustration. That's the dull, thudding sound during Cullen's reply as he takes him apart.

Description: A politician who never can find the words too Right. Famous for writing speeches, just not the right way.
Facts: Don Brash was abandoned because of complaints about his alarming tendencies toward self-inflicted punishment. Apparently, National MPs were imitating his head-banging in the house.
Most Famous Song: "Maoris Had A Hip Hop Tour (Paid For By Government Over-Taxation)"

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Death List 2006: Update

NZ Herald report:
MOSCOW - Slobodan Milosevic, 64, died in a detention centre of the UN war crimes tribunal, where he was charged with 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in indictments covering conflicts in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo as Yugoslavia imploded.

From memory Milosevic's family has a history of suicide - that could be the case here. I wonder how his missus will take it? I hope those genocide-lovinging Russians aren't keeping her in a style to which she would want to be accustomed.

Death List candidates for 2006:

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Nazi
Augusto Pinochet, Chilean Nazi
P W Botha, Afrikaaner Nazi
Margaret Thatcher, Supporter of Israeli, Chilean and Afrikaaner Nazis
Elena Milosovic†, Serbian Nazi
Kurt Waldheim, Nazi Nazi
Billy Graham, American religious fanatic
Ronnie Biggs, Robber
Yoko Ono, "Artist"
Bob Tizard, Grouch*

† Her name is Mirjana Markovic - I was getting the names confused with Ceauçescu's missus.
* Curmudgeonly rather than evil.

Last year I met an American guy at my place with grey hair and a pony tail (friend of a friend's mother) last year - after he left NZ my friend casually mentioned he was on the defence team for Milosovic in the Hague. If only he had told me before! That would have been an interesting chat - even just for his health/mental status.

Friday, March 10, 2006

ETIQUETTE: Good order.

Dear Ms Tikanga,

A recent awkward episode at the local bakery deserves your attention and wisdom.

I entered the empty shop just behind another customer, grabbing the door as she went through, who then went down the counter and looked at the cake section. In a matter of a second or two the shop assistant emerged after we both came in. Being in a hurry and seeing that the other customer was seemingly browsing I made eye contact with the shop assistant first as soon as he was in sight and asked if he would give cash out with an eftpos transaction. He replied, "yes" and I ordered something.

At that point the woman who was engrossed with the cake section interjected, "I think I was first!" and glared at me with her narrow eyes through her horn-rimmed type pointy glasses. Her thin, pursed lips twitched with indignation. Startled, I smiled and yielded the attention of the shop assistant who was similarly taken aback.

In an alternative and ultra-violent movie reality my Joe Pesci/Falling Down inclination would have seen me slap the fucking bitch back to the 1960's or force feed her the entire tray of lamingtons. Whatever. I was in a hurry and let her come to the serving counter and I moved down, in state of flabberghastmentation to the cake counter. And then when she had been dealt to, that is to say served, a customer who had come in after me - and had gone straight to the serving counter - began making her order to the shop assistant. We looked at each other and grinned as I assumed the deportment of the previous women and mimicked her retort sarcasticly. The same scenario had just played out before me. Maybe I was wrong?

So my question is, who has precedence in these situations?

Awkward, Ponsonby

Ms Tikanga replies:

These are issues for all shops, delicatessens, bars etc. where there is a long counter or series of counters behind which shop assistant(s) may serve customers at any point and there is no natural line in which to form a linear queue.

Let some general rules be stated first. It is always the customers who set the queue and who are responsible for determining amongst themselves who is next. If a shop assistant asks to take an order from someone who is out of order then they ought to yield to the proper person immediately. Younger customers should always give those of an elderly disposition the courtesy of yielding their place - and here I believe the correspondent may have come across an elderly woman accustomed to demanding it rather than it being offered. Since she entered first she was quite right in assuming priority, but she may not have seen you.

To the shop assistant who may not have seen who enters first they are right to serve the first person who makes contact with them regardless of where the other customers are or what they are doing. But they are also right to assume that the customer closest to the cash register is in a position to order before anyone else and therefore would naturally ask them first. It gets more complicated with more people but most customers will keep an order based on the order they came to the counter or came into the shop (if a small shop).

I believe in this instance she was in the wrong to demand preference as she had legitimately lost that right to another customer standing at the serving counter. You cannot be expected to wait until the other customer has stopped browsing to make a decision. Indeed it would not have mattered if she had been in an hour earlier rather than a second - if she was at the other end of the counter browsing she should not have interrupted - she should have waited her turn in silence. Given that you both entered at almost the same time it was also unnecessary to ask her to go first if she was browsing unless she was elderly and you were not.

Needless to say, Awkward of Ponsonby, you did the right thing by not slapping her or forcing her to eat all the lamingtons - a true gentleman. Ms Tikanga believes that an appropriate rebuke to people who transgress is often useful. The interjection, "I think I was first!" should always be preceeded with a "sorry" or "excuse me." To use it without that (in the manner you report that she did) is to assert that the infringer is being grossly offensive. I recommend telling them, "If you were first I would be interrupting you - not the other way around, now as I was saying..." or more septically: "Well I think you're ugly - as well as slow. That doesn't change the fact that I'm right in the middle of making my order..." or less combatively: "That's right - you're first after me".

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

UPDATE: Where there's smoke... a toxic arson cluster

OK, seriously now. These North Island recycling plant fires are officially out of control. Police, Insurers, Fires Service - start co-ordinating or else we are going to have to add the Coroner to that list. I said on Monday that someone may be killed and I also asked whether recyclers should be on alert... now this:

In Tauranga on Monday a worker was seriously injured when a recycling yard erupted in flames. The man is in an induced coma in Tauranga Hospital. The Fire Service says there were no sprinklers inside the building in Tauranga and the fire was preventable. [TVNZ report]

4 recycling plants go up in flames in almost as many weeks! Does no-one else think this is remotely suspicious?

"It's indicative of modern New Zealand and the... industry area growing...I guess there's a lot more activity out there," says Tauranga's chief fire officer Rod Devlin. - Is everyone else except for me completely thick? 4 in 6 weeks, Mr Devlin. "Modern New Zealand"? What the fuck sort of an explanation is that? Spot the cluster, man. If would-be arsonists are counting on the Fire Service being too dumb to figure it out then they have hit pay dirt.

OSH is investigating both blazes, which could take up to six months. Fucking OSH!? What about the police? It might not be related - or it might be. It doesn't seem the possibility is even being considered.

A second report from TVNZ says:
The man was working in the yard at Man Metal in the industrial suburb of Judea, when it is thought an LPG tank exploded, igniting piles of tyres

NZ Herald report:
The fire turned a large warehouse at the yard, Metal Men on Koromiko St, into a ruin of twisted metal... Fire safety officer Ken McKeagg said an investigation would be launched into the blaze, which possibly began when the injured man was using welding equipment. "We know where [it started], we just don't know how," he said.

So they don't know. Well what can we find on Man Metal or Metal Men (there seems conflicting names in the reports because of slack journalistic standards) now we know they fall into our North Island recycling blaze group?: The Companies Office is ever so helpfully off-line... thanks, thanks a lot.

Yellow pages:
Metal Man Recyclers. Address: 6 Koromiko St Judea Tauranga. Phone number: 0-7-578 3500. Listed in Recycling Scrap Metal Dealers ...

So the two reports are both wrong. It's "Metal Man" according to Yellow pages and UBD too. I would be tempted to say that the dumb fucks can't get anything right; but there is a Metal Man Recyclers in South Auckland that does not list any depot in Tauranga despite a fairly comprehensive website. They are a third generation family of scrap dealers. Given the confusion the Co's Office being off-line is really fucking frustrating. Also there is a listing for a METALMAN, 20 Waihi Rd, Ph 578-3500 (same Tel no. as the Koromiko St listing) with the Tauranga City Council under recycling of Whiteware. Also under same name in Western BOP council listings of recyclers under aluminium cans, metal, car bodies and whiteware categories.

Possible arsonist scenario: a person who signs up as a casual employee. After burning it down, off to a new plant? Where next?

Coming to our census

Census 2006. The first Tuesday of March in a year ending with a 1 or 6, ie. today.

Firstly, the gathering of data on individuals and dwellings for the entire country is useful in many ways beyond the various functions of government and democratic institutions which rely on the information. Secondly, the methods used and the data sought will forever be problematic and controversial. For this reason in the past I have either not filled in a census form or have made sure it is truly anonymous.

The biggest fault is that anonymity is theoretical only. By insisting that full names be recorded on each form and the dwelling form we must rightly be suspicious that claims (such as the one I heard from a census worker) that they cut that info out before processing is a lie. There is no reason for a full name to be entered - none at all. To argue otherwise and assert that they will not use it is simply not credible - they don't demand from you things that they will not use. I will not put my name on it. "Jo Blogs" will be just fine - it will not alter the real data they legitimately may be interested in.

They obviously seek to identify individuals because they then ask for the full date of birth. Once again 01/01/1974 will be fine for that too - all they need is a year, not the exact date. The only reason they would want that is to so they know precisely who you are so you are not anonymous. So too with Q.39 demanding to know not just the exact address but the name of the building you work in is. And very detailed questions about employment. Hmmm, what department would want to know all about that when they cross-check the exact employer name and address with your exact name and date of birth?

Other problems:

1. Opt-outs: Respondents may opt out of answering Q.18 (religion) by ticking the "object to answering this question" box, so too Q.25 ("How many babies have you given birth to?"). When some questions have that option and not others it begs the question why? Many people could point to other questions that they object to answering - but no opt out for them.

2. Citizenship: We are asked in Q.9 "Which country were you born in?" and in Q.10 "When did you first arrive to live in NZ?". That is fine, but I think it would be more important to ask what your residency status is: NZ Citizen/Permanent Resident/Resident (other)/Working student/etc. We don't even know how many overstayers there are here (est. c.20,000) because of an entrenched bureaucratic and political negligence and tolerance for overstaying - this ineptitude is also borne of a historical malaise over the importance of NZ citizenship, esp. since you don't even have to be a citizen to vote! It's about time this shit was sorted out. I had to sigh when a TV news report yesterday had census workers encouraging illegal residents to fill it in so they would count and that they would have their anonymity respected. Ohhh forgawdsake. I want to know what the population of NZ citizens in this country is - that, apparently is too much to ask. We have to ask ourselves why they don't want us to know.

3. Fad questions: It used to be how many chickens do you own, or radio and television sets etc. now it's Q.16 & 17 on disabilities (I object to the vagueness of the question rather than anything else - as wearing correcting lenses is a form of handicap too), Q.21 & 22 on smoking cigarettes (but not pipes or cigars). Next time it may be "Does your household have or use a bbq?"

4. The questions they leave out: I would like to see one about pets - how many in a household and what types. Local councils esp. would find that useful. If they have smoking questions what about a liquor question? They have a question in the dwelling form on what is used to heat your house - but not what you use to cool it. They seem to want to know the ownership status and relationship the occupants have with the dwelling but not what the dwelling is actually constructed of - they ask about number of rooms - what about is it a brick/concrete/wooden house? And Q.4 in the dwelling form about the description of your house lumps a house with a small annex in with a 30 floor apartment tower. They want to know all about your job but not a single question about culture and recreation - isn't that important too? What about: "Are you a member of a club or society? - If so what sort - sporting/cultural?" etc. and/or "Do you play sports or physically exercise? - If so how many hours per week?" etc. Alas, we are all just treated as economic units: Q.30 - 46 are about income. employment and communting.

A problem for some white people (apparently):

Q.11 Which ethnic group do you belong?
Arguments: from a "Chinese" anmd a "New Zealander". I think the whole "debate" is stupid and does those white people arguing that "NZ European" does not describe themselves no credit. If they genuinely object to answering any question about ethnicity then that is a different matter - but that doesn't seem to be their argument. If we are to take the census form at face value at some point a European becomes a "New Zealand European" - that is a decision that the individual must make. But so too the proper description of Maori is "New Zealand Maori" (as opposed to Cook Islands Maori) - but Maori aren't so uptight as to complain about it (although it raises the question of a New Zealand Cook Island Maori). One day I hope that Pakeha won't be uptight either.

If they want to play silly buggers then that is their right. I think it is far more important that as many people as possible write "Jo Bloggs" as their full name and put their day and month of birth as 01/01.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Where there's smoke... a toxic arson cluster

On the 6th of February I reported:
Second plastics fire

TV3 is reporting a huge fire at a South Auckland plastics factory. Is it in any way connected with the plastics recycling factory that was struck by fire a week or so ago? Insurance pay-outs for struggling firms? Any links here, or unrelated coincidences? Hmmm.

At 7/2/06 12:37 AM, t selwyn said...
Hmmm, another TV3 update says it was a plastics recycling plant. Hmmm, two in as many weeks. How coincidental. How very, very coincidental.


From the NZ Herald files:

Fire destroys plastics factory in Otaki
Published: Monday 23, January 2006
Firefighters from all around Horowhenua, Kapiti and Wellington were this morning fighting a massive blaze at a [Pacific Plastics] plastic recycling factory in Otaki. The blaze is the latest in a string of fires that have stretched firefighting resources around the country over the weekend.

Recycling factory destroyed in fierce blaze
Published: Tuesday 07, February 2006
A ferocious fire destroyed a plastics recycling factory in Auckland yesterday, sending plumes of thick smoke across the Southern Motorway and into the skies. The fire was already raging through the Advanced Plastics building in Bassant Ave, Penrose, when the Fire Service arrived...

And then on Saturday:

From RNZ:
The Fire Service says the fire at V.J. Distributors, an oil and chemical storage depot, is now under control, but the building has been completely destroyed....

From XtraMsn:
The Fire Service was called at 11.30am and 12 trucks are at the scene.

From TVNZ:
A huge fire at an oil and chemical storage depot in Hastings completely destroyed the building and spread toxic smoke that could be seen from 25 kilometres away. One hundred firefighters and 80 fire engines used thousands of litres of water and foam to fight the blaze at V.J. Distributors, an oil and cleaning products supplier.

Is VJ Distributors also in the recycling business? Why, yes, they are - oil recycling. But no links I can trace to the plastics business.

The first two fires are highly suspicious.
1. They occured within two weeks of each other.
2. Both are plastics recyclers.
3. Both occured on public holidays (Pacific Plastics in Otaki on Wellington Anniversay Day holiday & Advanced Plastics on Waitangi Day).

Now we have a third fire at a North Island recycling plant a month later (on a Saturday).

Q. Have there been some earlier in other places? Are there going to be more? Should all recycling plants be on alert? What are the other links between them?

The Companies Office records show multiple companies surrounding these three firms but there is no evidence of any over-lapping directorships outside of the groups (at least that I can find). Incomplete summary:

Director: VAN DUYN, Neil Roger
Shareholders: VAN DUYN, Ian Neil/VAN DUYN, Neil Roger

Directors: CRIBB, Robert Clifford Hoani/CRIBB, John Hoani/CRIBB, Caroline Rowena
Shareholders: CRIBB, Robert Clifford Hoani/POLSON, WILLIAM JOHN/CRIBB, Caroline Rowena/CRIBB, John Hoani

Directors: GEOR, Peter Michael/WILLIAMS, Vaughn Addison
Shareholder: GEOR, Peter Michael

I note that VJ Distributors sponsors horse races - the other firms have no evidence that I can find of horse racing involvement.

Some of the companies are in recievership or liquidation; but that is nothing unusual. Nor is it suspicious that the Cribb family or others have so many companies registered - that is common, especially when recycling is only part of their operation.

The two plastics firms both appear in some databases on the plastics industry; but that is obvious and natural.

There may be contractual relationships between them that would be unlisted so internet searches can only go so far. An obvious question is: were the plastics recyclers under financial pressure or threatened by anyone? Was there any advantage to having a plastics plant burn down?

Scoop's 25/01/2006 report:
Kapiti Coast District Council is providing land for temporary storage and a concession for rates and access to the Council’s landfill at no cost to assist the recovery of Otaki’s Pacific Recyclers after the factory was burnt to the ground.

The Chair of the Otaki Community Board, Andre Baker said, “I am greatly heartened by the immediate response received from Council management to my request to assist Pacific Plastic Recyclers Ltd.

“Mayor Alan Milne and myself met with John Cribb, General Manager, yesterday morning before the site was blessed to pledge our support on behalf of the Otaki Community Board and Kapiti Coast District Council.

“I am pleased to report that arrangements have been made to provide land for storage, a concession for rates has been brokered and access to the Council’s landfill has been arranged at no cost to Pacific Plastic Recyclers Ltd.”

And Stuff's 27/02/2006 report:
U-turn saves 27 Otaki jobs
An about-face by Work and Income has saved the jobs of 27 staff at an Otaki plastics recycling plant.

Their jobs – among 35 at Pacific Plastics Recyclers – had been at risk after a suspicious fire gutted the plant on January 23.

The company said Work and Income had said it would help the staff while the factory was rebuilt, possibly through Task Force Green funding, though Work and Income denied this and said the firm did not qualify for the scheme.

However, in a turnaround Work and Income has agreed in principle to provide Task Force Green funding to help the company retain staff while the factory is rebuilt, a job likely to take six months.

Pacific Plastics general manager John Cribb said staff would be told about it at a meeting today. "I'm pleased with this. It took a bit of dealing but I didn't give up.

"We could have just closed the doors and just hired enough people to carry on."

He was grateful for the help of Otaki MP Darren Hughes, who set up a meeting with Social Development and Employment Minister David Benson-Pope.

Swaying Mr Benson-Pope were the plant's role in recycling material that would otherwise go into landfills, and the difficulty several workers would face in getting other jobs in the area.

Last August Scoop reported on staffing issues:

Pay talks start today for 1300 plastics workers at more than 50 companies.

The Plastics Industry Collective Agreement was the first multi-employer collective agreement negotiated under the Employment Relations Act, and is one of the largest such agreements in the private sector.

Claims by the workers, who are members of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union, include a 7.9 per cent pay rise. The agreement was last negotiated in 2003.

Were staff wages an issue?

Just what the fuck is going on? Because if these arsons suspicious blazes continue it's not just the environment and businesses and nearby property that will suffer - someone may be killed. This toxic cluster needs to be investigated thoroughly - insurers, police and the fire service.

1. Totally unrelated and unconnected coincidental fires.
2. Serial arsonist
3. Insurance scams
4. Nefarious business collusion

I do not wish to cast aspertions on anyone or any business or staff. The apparent loss of plant must be traumatic. I raise these scenarios because they beg to be asked. I am not drawing conclusions and mean no harm in mentioning names, dates and details here. I do so because there may be a possibility that someone reading this may be able to put the pieces together (if there is something to be made of it at all).

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Benson Pope Q & A

Q. Why is Benson-Pope immune from normal standards of accountability? What does he have that must be protected? Why hasn't the PM stood him down like others have been while the issues "swirl around" him?

A. He is Michael Cullen's man, the guy who took over his old seat - he is the one protecting him. The PM and Cullen fully associate themselves with the bully tactics and law-unto-himself MO of Benson-Pope - his behaviour is personally acceptable to them. He is being groomed as the bully-enforcer for them (ie. what he did at school).