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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Semantic bullshit, it’s a civil war!

Shock, gasp, you-don’t-fucking-say. The New York Times and NBC have just announced that they will now refer to Iraq as a ‘Civil War’. Well that will come as a real surprise the 600 000 odd dead Iraqi’s, I’m sure the dead were thinking it was a frolicking picnic on the banks of the Euphrates!

It’s a war, it’s been a war the second America lied to invade it illegally – the entire sectarian violence and collapse into Civil War is the responsibility of the Americans as the occupying power – and to try and wash their hands of that responsibility is the most intellectually shallow excuse I’ve heard for some time. They should NEVER have invaded Iraq, you reap what you sow.

US media talk of Iraq civil war
In a challenge to the White House, some US media outlets have begun to refer to the fighting in Iraq as a civil war.
The New York Times is the latest publication to take the decision following the NBC network's highly-publicised move on Monday. The paper's executive editor, Bill Keller, said it is hard to argue that this war does not fit the generally accepted definition of civil war. The Bush administration maintains the term civil war is inappropriate.

'War of semantics'
In Washington, a war of semantics has broken out over whether the conflict in Iraq can be called a civil war. Just what is the definition of a civil war, of course, has been the subject of much debate since NBC's decision to defy White House objections and use the phrase. President George Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, has said the Iraqi government does not see it in those terms, while the president himself described the latest attacks as part of an ongoing campaign by al-Qaeda militants. With so many lives being lost on a daily basis in Iraq, it might seem like an esoteric argument that it could have real consequences both for US public opinion and for US policy.

Did it suddenly get cold in Wellington?

What the hell is the head of the CIA, Australian SIS, Australian SIO, the Canadian SIS, MI6 AND MI5 doing in Wellington? The official line is that they are all here to celebrate the NZ SIS’s 50th Birthday – who the fuck believes that? The entire english speaking Secret Intelligence community are all in NZ to celebrate our 50th Birthday of invading peoples privacy? Some of these bastards are the ones responsible for those secret CIA torture prisons, at the very least there should be mass protests against them being here – but I don’t for one second think that those people grouped together are here to celebrate 50 years of NZs piss poor intelligence community, and in fact this comes on the coat tails of previous high ranking military officials all just popping over to NZ for a chat, perhaps we are a safe nation because of the sheep like apathy of the majority of NZers making such meetings protest free? Surely some bugger in the media here are going to ask a lot more questions than are currently being asked, lots of journalists read this site – SOMEONE ASK!

Top spooks gather for secret celebration of SIS
The director of the CIA was one of the world's top spy chiefs who visited New Zealand this week to attended the secret celebrations of our Security Intelligence Service's 50th birthday.

CIA director General Michael Hayden along with spy chiefs from Australia, Britain and Canada were invited to the celebrations, The Dominion Post reported today.

A spokesman for SIS minister Helen Clark said the gathering was part of ongoing liaison between the New Zealand intelligence community and its international counterparts.

"In this case the catalyst has been the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand SIS and the heads of all counterpart agencies have been here," the spokesman said.

He would not give details of the talks or the celebrations.

"We don't comment on security matters."

Gen Hayden, former head of the US National Security Agency, was appointed as CIA director by president George Bush this year.

He arrived on Monday on a United States Air Force C-17 Globemaster jet, which flew out of Wellington Airport yesterday.

Others on the guest list included directors-general David Irvine of the Australian SIS, Paul O'Sullivan of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Jim Judd of the Canadian SIS, John Scarlett of Britain's M16 and Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller of M15.


I am a history geek and I love when we make some startling find which changes the way we think about our own so called technological supremacy, look at this story about a 2000 year old computer in the journal Nature.

Ancient Moon 'computer' revisited
The delicate workings at the heart of a 2000-year-old analogue computer have been revealed by scientists.
The Antikythera Mechanism, discovered more than 100 years ago in a Roman shipwreck, was used by ancient Greeks to display astronomical cycles.

Using advanced imaging techniques, an Anglo-Greek team probed the remaining fragments of the complex geared device.

The results, published in the journal Nature, show it could have been used to predict solar and lunar eclipses.

The elaborate arrangement of bronze gears may also have displayed planetary information.

"This is as important for technology as the Acropolis is for architecture," said Professor John Seiradakis of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, and one of the team. "It is a unique device."

Oh, so you knew about those secret CIA torture prisons all along?

This picture is of a man about to be waterboarded. Waterboarding is a very old torture technique, where you are drowned and revived – it is perfectly ‘legal’ as far as Bush is concerned. The problem with torture of course is that anyone of us, tortured long enough, would happily sign a confession saying you were Osama Bin Laden’s love child and because you are in a secret CIA prison with no rights, Bush’s assurances that the CIA torture staff will revive you don’t seem all that reassuring after all. That so many European countries were aware of what was being done on their soil and lied about it takes all those self righteous claims that European Foreign Policy would be better than American Foreign Policy and drowns them.

Nations 'hid truth' about CIA prisons
PARIS - European countries - including Britain - and senior European Union officials have come in for heavy criticism for concealing the truth and obstructing an investigation into the transport and illegal detention of prisoners by the CIA.

A draft report from the European Parliament deplores the attitude of the British Government, attacks the EU's foreign policy spokesman, Javier Solana, and complains of a lack of co-operation from many European countries.

The document also said that Nicolo Pollari, former head of Italy's Sismi intelligence service, had "concealed the truth" when he told a European Parliament committee in March that Italian agents had played no part in the CIA kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric.

The Italian secret service played an active role in the abduction and it was "very probable" the Italian Government knew of the operation, the report concluded.

While the report, drawn up after 130 hearings over 10 months, reveals little new about the existence of secret CIA prisons, it is comprehensive in its criticism of those it believes have not told the truth.

In a verdict that could prove damaging for the EU's foreign policy chief, the document expresses its "profound concern with regard to the omissions and denials which resulted
from the statements made in front of the temporary committee by the secretary general of the council, Javier Solana".

Ooops, we did it again (you have to kill the baby to save the baby)

One of the problems with fighting terrorism is that it is so terrifying. EVERYTHING is a terror, even young girls, they are especially terrifying. Which is why you have to use a tank shell on them, I know they might just ‘LOOK LIKE’ infants, but with these sneaky Muslims, you have to be certain.

Five girls killed in Iraqi clash
Five young girls have been killed in Iraq during a clash between US marines and insurgents in the western city of Ramadi, the US has said.
A US military statement said militants on the roof of a house had fired on its forces, who responded with tank fire.

It said soldiers searching the building found the bodies of one man and the five girls, one of whom was an infant.

Ramadi, 115km (70 miles) west of Baghdad, is located in Anbar province, a stronghold for Sunni Arab militants.

The youngest female casualty was six-months-old and the eldest was aged 10. Another female at the scene was injured but refused treatment, the statement said.

War ain’t cheap

News from the Los Angeles Times that the Pentagon are pushing for an ‘emergency’ $150 billion extra for the war against terrorism that will extend to other upcoming operations – what other upcoming operations I wonder?

Pentagon takes broader view on emergency spending
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is preparing an emergency spending proposal that could be larger and broader than any since the Sept. 11 attacks, covering not only the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan but extending to other military operations connected to the Bush administration's war on terrorism.

The spending plans by military commanders may push the Defense Department into a conflict with Democrats as they take control of Capitol Hill next year. Democrats had been planning to limit the emergency "supplemental" spending measures that have funded the wars in favor of the regular federal budget process, which affords greater oversight and congressional control.

Congressional and military officials have said the Pentagon is considering a request of $127 billion to $150 billion in new emergency war spending, the largest such request since the special spending measures were begun in 2001. So far, Congress has allocated $495 billion for Afghanistan, Iraq and terrorism-related efforts.

Even within the Pentagon, the spending request is generating controversy. The Pentagon was due to forward its request to the White House by about Nov. 15. But a senior Defense official said the decision had been held up and Pentagon officials had asked Army and Air Force officials to provide more justification for the spending demands.

Pentagon officials would not comment on the budget figures, due to be made public in February.

The upcoming request, added to the $70 billion already allocated for next year, would easily exceed the annual cost of the Vietnam War at its height. Adjusted for inflation, the United States spent $121 billion on the Vietnam War in 1968, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tough Love, loving death

American’s and New Zealander’s have something in common, we love to be tough on crime. We get a collective hard-on when we get tough on bloody kids who need a good hard kick up the arse to sort ‘em out! Maybe it was because NZ was settled by puritanical unsmiling, grim, spare-the-crowbar-spoil-the-child, Scottish Presbyterians, and America was settled by Puritanical witch burning religious whackos thrown out of Europe because no one could stand them, that drives both our masochistic cultures to punish and punish and punish regardless of the outcomes.

US boot camp staff charged in teen’s death
MIAMI - Eight former staff members of a Florida juvenile boot camp have been charged with manslaughter in the death of a 14-year-old boy whose beating by guards was captured on videotape, prosecutors said today.

Seven guards and a nurse were charged on Monday in the death of Martin Lee Anderson nearly 11 months ago at the Bay County boot camp in Panama City, which was later shut down.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was accused of a cover-up by Anderson’s parents last week, welcomed the long-awaited results of an investigation by a special prosecutor he appointed, and said he hoped "justice will be served" in the Anderson case.

"We also hope that when the process is completed, Martin Lee Anderson’s family will have the answers to the questions they legitimately have," Bush said.

Anderson, arrested for joyriding in his grandmother’s car, collapsed during an exercise drill on January 5, a few hours after he arrived at the detention centre for young offenders. He died at a hospital the next day.

A medical examiner initially ruled that he died of natural causes, a decision that sparked outrage from the boy’s parents and Florida politicians after publication of the videotape, which showed uniformed guards surrounding him, with some holding him against a tree while others appeared to hit him.

Look, if a bitch can’t take a joke…

Women are getting uppity again, they are pointing out the obvious misogyny of the sexualisation and demeaning objectification of passive females as bikini clad mass media fodder on such blokedom only zones as Sportscafe! Obviously crirticising this blatant dehumanizing of women as CTF’s (Cunts To Fuck) is written off as Political Correctness from an ugly fat dyke who doesn’t have a sense of humour and probably just needs a good root to sort her out. How could one argue with that?

Of course the ‘new lad’ is just as sexist as the ‘old lad’, but to criticize such ‘laddish behaviour’ is somehow a feminizing of male culture and are attempts by a lesbian conspiracy to restrict natural and healthy male desires to just look at women as pieces of meat. But because we do it in a very subtle way, and not as outright as an Australian Muslim Cleric, that means we are as pure as the driven snow!

What a safe pack of cultural hypocrites we are!

Is Marc Ellis a 'new lad' or old sexist?
Marc Ellis might come across as just playing a "bad boy" role on television, but Waikato University sociologists say he is seriously reinforcing traditional male chauvinist attitudes to women.

Sports sociologist Toni Bruce, a former sports journalist, says the former All Black and colleagues on sports comedy shows such as the current Game of Two Halves and formerly Sportscafe, which ended last year, are part of what a British sociologist calls "new laddism".

"New lads" like Ellis play up to the notion that they are just "boys behaving badly", so they are aware that men are not supposed to treat women as mere "eye candy". But Dr Bruce says that is exactly what they do in a humorous way.

"It may be a sign that those things are really on the way out if the only place they are appearing is in the realm of humour," she told a Sociological Association conference in Hamilton.

But she added: "Overall, our analysis revealed that Sportscafe constructed a discourse about gender that privileged new lad masculinity and reinforced the marginalisation of women, while masking its messages in boyish humour."

She said "sexualisation" was a prevalent theme on Sportscafe, with "regular sexual innuendo and sarcastic references to sexual prowess (or lack thereof).

"This theme was most evident in the representation of the female dancers whose main role was to perform while the (usually male) guests walked on to the set," she said.

"Throughout, they remained voiceless and nameless while being the object of the gaze of the camera, studio audience and home viewers. Indeed, in one show Ric Salizzo referred to one of them only as 'Dancer 2'.

"In contrast, the male bands which provided musical background for the dancers were named and sometimes engaged in conversation with the hosts."

Roving reporter "Eva the Bulgarian" was often shown in camera angles that highlighted her breasts, lips and buttocks.

In one show, blond cyclist Katie Mactier was welcomed on stage with a huge "Yeah" from Ellis.

"As this did not happen for any of the male guests (and was consistent with his reactions to attractive females who appeared on other shows), his 'excitement' was clearly related to her appearance." Dr Bruce said Sportscafe celebrated "violent actions" in rugby. It could be seen as "the last bastion where men are safe from the threat of women", as represented by female political leaders and feminism generally.

Rapid Climate Change

More and more evidence is amounting that global warming can create rapid climate change, a sudden lurch in the global climate that will cause extreme weather events which in turn can create environmental feedback loops which will only exacerbate the problem. We have to accept that radical changes to our emissions are the only way to really combat the problem, not nice words and empty sentiments.

Massive ice shelf 'may collapse without warning'
The Ross Ice Shelf, a massive piece of ice the size of France, could break off without warning causing a dramatic rise in sea levels, warn New Zealand scientists working in Antarctica.

A New Zealand-led ice drilling team has recovered three million years of climate history from samples which gives clues as to what may happen in the future.

Initial analysis of sea-floor cores near Scott Base suggest the Ross Ice Shelf had collapsed in the past and had probably done so suddenly.

The team's co-chief scientist, Tim Naish, told The Press newspaper the sediment record was important because it provided crucial evidence about how the Ross Ice Shelf would react to climate change, with potential to dramatically increase sea levels.

"If the past is any indication of the future, then the ice shelf will collapse," he said.

"If the ice shelf goes, then what about the West Antarctic Ice Sheet? What we've learnt from the Antarctic Peninsula is when once buttressing ice sheets go, the glaciers feeding them move faster and that's the thing that isn't so cheery."

Antarctica stores 90 per cent of the world's water, with the West Antarctic Ice Sheet holding an estimated 30 million cubic kilometres.

In January, British Antarctic Survey researchers predicted that its collapse would make sea levels rise by at least 5m, with other estimates predicting a rise of up to 17m.

Don is a liar!

Don Brash is a LIAR! He still continues to suggest that he had limited contact with the Exclusive Brethren and that such contact was in August last year, when The Hollow Men clearly shows that not only was Don aware of the campaign, he was getting updates and National were checking the pamphlets before they were printed!!!! AND NOW Hager releases e-mails showing that Don not only saw the May 2005 e-mail, he responded to e-mails regarding the May 2005 e-mail. Don must stand down as an MP, he has no credibility left, but as Journalists start reading deeper into Hager’s book, there will be more heat.

Brash denies seeing May email despite release
Former National leader Don Brash says he cannot remember a May 2005 email with an attachment spelling out the Exclusive Brethren's plans for an election flyer campaign, despite new evidence suggesting he received it.

Dr Brash has previously denied ever receiving or seeing the May 24 email sent by Brethren member Ron Hickmott, outlining church members' plans for a $1 million campaign aimed at building "trust" in National and "mistrust" in the Government.

Dr Brash has repeatedly said the first he knew of the Brethren's pamphlet campaign was in August last year.

The May 24 email was revealed in Nicky Hager's book The Hollow Men, but Dr Brash has since said it was either "fiction" or it went to an indirect email address and was cleared by staff.

However, Hager today released emails, not printed in the book, suggesting otherwise.

They appear to show the original email - marked high importance and referring to the attached letter - went to Dr Brash's "Don.Brash@National.org.nz" email address.

It was apparently cleared by Dr Brash's aide Bryan Sinclair, who forwarded it to the leader with the comment: "From the Brethren. I usually avoid tangling you up with this, but this is worth reading as it looks like $$ are involved here".

The documents show Dr Brash replying later that day.

"Thanks Bryan. Yes our friends from the Brethren bailed me up at breakfast this morning. I have forwarded this for reaction from Steven (Joyce, National's campaign manager). Don".

The documents show Mr Hickmott sent his email at 2.15pm. It was forwarded to Dr Brash's work email at 4.13pm by Mr Sinclair and Dr Brash acknowledged receiving it at 6.49pm.

But Dr Brash today said he had no memory of the email, which led him to believe he had never opened the attached letter.

Banking Mafia

What does it say about an industry when people are simply too scared to complain? The ‘banking watchdog’ (I’ll get into that in a second) has released a report saying that the public are often too “terrified” of their bank to complain about the service. Do you know what it says to me? Regu-fucking-lation baby! We all have to have banks and as such Banks get an enormous amount of power from our necessity and financial oligarchies are rarely known for their generous nature when they have the public by the balls. In such situations, the Government, as the ‘protector’ of Democracy, (yes, I realize how idealistic that statement is) have a responsibility to regulate such sectors where the rights of the customer are paramount, understanding the power imbalance between the individual and the giga-hyper-conglomerate .

Having a ‘Banking Ombudsman’ looks like a regulated sector where the rights of the customer are paramount, understanding the power imbalance between the individual and the giga-hyper-conglomerate doesn’t it? However what Liz Brown, the Banking Ombudsman DOESN’T point out is that she is no Government Official with the interests of the banking customer foremost in her mind, the Banking Ombudsman was created BY the Banking industry as a voluntary move that out-maneuvers any political will to have an independent banking watchdog created. As such the role is merely cosmetic with no intention of keeping the Banking industry in line at all. Look at what Banking Ombudsman, Liz Brown has to say about the public being too terrified of complaining about their bank, Brown said those were "baseless worries".

Hmmmm, seeing as this Ombudsman is a private sector creation, being told that the public shouldn’t be terrified of the Banks by someone created by the Banks doesn’t fill me with much confidence. Brown herself admits that Banks do not do enough to let the public know about the complaints process, and that less than 50% of bank branches even bothered to put the pamphlets on how to complain out on display. But the window dressing creation of the Banks, Liz Brown, says "Fuhgedaboudit"

Bank customers often too scared to complain, says watchdog
The public is often too "terrified" of their bank to complain about the service they receive, says the banking watchdog in new findings out today. "Banks are big organisations, they're very powerful, after all they control your money. Frequently I've had people say to me that 'I was reluctant to complain to my bank. I was worried that they wouldn't take me seriously, I was worried I might be victimised'."
Brown said those were "baseless worries".

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

US carried out bombing

Remember that bombing last month of a Pakistani madrasah that killed 82 students. At the time I blogged a 'please explain' from Pakistan as the bombing didn't seem to make any sense and led to massive anti-government rallies in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Why bomb a madrasah in an area you need to build support in? None of it made sense - until now. It's being reported in the Times that the Pakistani's DIDN'T bomb the madrasah last month - the American's did!

US carried out madrasah bombing
THE bombing of a Pakistani madrasah last month, in which 82 students were killed, was carried out by the United States, a Pakistani official has admitted.

The madrasah in the tribal agency of Bajaur was bombed during a visit to Pakistan by the Prince of Wales amid allegations that it was being used to train suicide bombers.

“We thought it would be less damaging if we said we did it rather than the US,” said a key aide to President Pervez Musharraf. “But there was a lot of collateral damage and we’ve requested the Americans not to do it again.”

The Americans are believed to have attacked after a tip-off that Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda, was present. Local people claimed the victims included boys as young as 12 and that the tribal area had been negotiating with the Pakistan government for a peace deal.

Pakistani officials insist they were shown satellite images of people training and have checked the identity cards of all those killed, and that all were adults.

National and Corruption (oh and a new leader)

John Key is now the leader of National, fancy new front, same old shop. Funny word corruption isn’t it? National have used it against Labour all year with the election over spending fiasco, and the media have chanted along, despite the fact that every political party except one overspent.

So that was corruption was it?

What do National supports and their right wing mates in the media call the knowing who the doners in anonymous trusts are or false statements made to statutory officials or lying about when they were aware of secret funding campaigns by religious fanatics while having a plan of denial if that information was ever to see the light of day or the fact that a small bunch of rich right wing ideologues with links to America were creating secret agendas for Don Brash or the out right lies and deceit used to hide this secret right wing agenda?

I suppose none of that is corruption, the response you get from our friends on the right is ‘Big deal, Politicians lie, get over it’ – I’m sorry, the dirty machinations of inner National Party workings is unearthed and the best you have is ‘Big deal, Politicians lie’. I think that line of defense is as intellectually shallow as Don Brash and as disingenuous as John Key’s ‘I didn’t inhale that e-mail’ excuse.

But it does seem, even if it’s not being done so publicly, that National MPs themselves are deeply ashamed of their leaders behaviour. Shane Ardern came out yesterday saying that lessons from the arrogance of the hard right were ones that National would have to come to terms with, which is the least he could say really.

National have to convince us that they know they did wrong and that this is not the way we expect our politicians to behave and the media have a responsibility to start asking those hard questions.

"The secret of success is sincerity and conviction. Once you can fake that you have got it made."
National party strategist Peter Keenan.
The Hollow Men

Time Brash came clean, say Greens
The Green Party has laid complaints with the Electoral Commission and police as National's opponents line up to point out alleged breaches of the Electoral Act revealed in the book The Hollow Men.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman said Nicky Hager's book presented "considerable evidence" that National's leadership was aware of the identity of major donors, but had not declared their names in their annual returns to the Electoral Commission.

Under electoral law parties must make an annual return.

Most of National's funding is channelled through five trusts - operated by law firms - meaning only the identity of the trust rather than individual donors are revealed.

But Hager's book reveals correspondence indicating the identity of many of the large donors was well known by former leader Don Brash, his advisers, and party president Judy Kirk.

Dr Norman said if that was the case then National was guilty of an "illegal or corrupt practice" under the Electoral Act.

"For a party which has made such hay over the alleged corrupt practices of others it is time for National to acknowledge its own transgressions."

He said it was unlikely police could prosecute National over any breach given legal provisions that a prosecution must begin within six months of the annual return being received.

It is seven months since National filed its 2005 return.

However, he said the police and the Electoral Commission needed to get to the bottom of the matter.

Labour Party president Mike Williams said the book revealed what appeared to be numerous breaches of the Electoral Act.

"I found about nine in the first half of the book," he said.

Labour would release its analysis once it had received a "proper legal opinion".

Mr Williams said the most serious issues appeared to be false statements that were made to statutory officials.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen said Labour would ask Auditor-General Kevin Brady to look into claims people hired specifically for National's election campaign were paid from parliamentary funds.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said Hager's book showed "breathtaking cynicism" within the National Party and Labour was considering legal action.

However, Dr Brash and National's former deputy Gerry Brownlee have attacked Hager's credibility, saying his portrayal of events was piecemeal and inaccurate.

New National leader John Key also said he could not reconcile Mr Hager's portrayal of events with documents held by his electorate office.

He had received one email from the Brethren in August on health policy, which he did not open because a church member had already told him of its contents.

His office had no record of a May 24 email or letter, as claimed by Hager.

Dr Brash said he never saw the May 24 email, which he assumed was sent to an indirect email address and was forwarded by a staff member to National's campaign manager Steven Joyce.

But Hager said: "I have the email where Don Brash forwarded it to Steven Joyce.

"There is no question about Don Brash having it. And he discussed it with his staff. There is no wriggle room."

Monday, November 27, 2006

** The Hollow Men - T.S Eliot **

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember ...

Being black after hours

The deeply racist state of Amerika (second only perhaps to John Howard’s Australia) has scored another blow for freedom and democracy. I’m never surprised that American soldiers butcher civilians overseas, look at the way they treat their own people. Two of the victims of this shooting were handcuffed to hospital beds after being shot, that mentality speaks of a deep problem with the way the Police view those they are supposed to serve and protect. The only crime these men committed on their stag night was being black after hours.

NY police kill man on wedding day
No gun was found in the car which was hit by 21 bullets
An unarmed man has been shot dead by police in New York City hours before he was to have been married, prompting fury over the officers' actions.

Two of the man's friends were hurt in the shooting, which occurred outside a strip club where they had been celebrating before the wedding.

Police fired 50 bullets at a car carrying the men after it reportedly struck an unmarked police vehicle.

New York's mayor says police had acted fearing an armed "altercation".

"Officers on the scene had reason to believe that an altercation involving a firearm was about to happen and were trying to stop it," Michael Bloomberg said.

The club was under surveillance because of its long history of weapons complaints, drug-dealing and prostitution, New York's Police Chief Raymond Kelly said.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton has demanded the police explain its actions.

"Gunshots all over the place. This is outrageous at best," he said.

He also criticised the police for handcuffing the two men receiving emergency care for their injuries in hospital.

Denise Ford, the mother of one of the men hurt in the shooting, is quoted as saying her son was shot in the hand, right leg and buttocks.

"I think this is messed-up on the cops' behalf," Ms Ford told New York newspaper Newsday.

"They're too hotheaded and something needs to be done about it."

The silence begins

What an eye-opener this last week has been in terms of how conservative the mainstream media have become in this country. If Hager’s book had been a microscopic evaluation of Labour, then this book would have been front page reading and the attack on Labour would not end – Hager comes out with an incredibly damning insight into National – and what do we have – silence. Can anyone believe the line from Brash now? He didn’t read e-mails informing him of prior knowledge to the Exclusive Brethren campaigns while all the time preparing a defense that National knew nothing, and now Brash claims he was joking when he e-mailed ideas that perhaps the Party should just lie about policy.

The only thing more numbing than Brash’s attempt to lie his way out of this, is the silence from the mainstream media.

Brash cites 'factual errors' in rejection of book claims
Outgoing National leader Don Brash is mounting a firm rejection of accusations contained in The Hollow Men and has repeated that he had no knowledge of a "confidential" email sent by the Exclusive Brethren.

Dr Brash, who is at the centre of several damaging chapters in Nicky Hager's new book, said the author has made "substantial factual errors".

"I think there would have been a vastly better book, even if somewhat less exciting, if the author had checked some of the things he claims are facts with the people involved," Dr Brash said yesterday.

He was particularly quick to rebut Hager's claim that he and his probable successor John Key both knew about the Exclusive Brethren's plan to conduct a campaign in their favour well before last year's election.

Hager's book contains a letter emailed to Dr Brash and Mr Key by members of the Exclusive Brethren in late May last year, outlining their plans.

The date is earlier than Dr Brash has previously admitted talking to the religious sect about their pamphlets.

Mr Key has said he did not open the email and Dr Brash said yesterday that he did not personally see the email.

Maaaaaaari get too much (part 500)

A devastatingly frank analysis of the Crown bullying through Treaty claims today in the Herald by Chris Barton. It is refreshingly honest and a bit of an eye opener for some of our European NZ friends….

Politics crushes hopes for justice over Treaty grievances
It was billed as a showdown between the Crown and the Waitangi Tribunal - with the tribunal likely to be armed with blanks.

On the day of the judicial conference, there is a face-off, but it is between lawyers. It seems an unfair fight - about 45 for various Maori claimants versus just three for the Crown. But with the tribunal doing little more than watching from the sideline, it soon becomes clear who has the biggest guns - the Crown who stand staunch and repeatedly say "no".

This is a gathering where politics rather than justice in decision-making holds sway - a hui that exposes an underfunded, time-starved, over-stressed tribunal outplayed by the Crown at every turn.

The Crown says no, no and no again. Even the gallery of claimant lawyers - hardened to dealing with intractable Treaty issues - look stunned to hear the Crown's position stated so baldly.

Sunday, November 26, 2006



So now we know why Fletcher Building underwent such a share price surge before the Government’s unilateral declaration of a totally new stadium for Auckland. They are probably the most trusted player in this bizarre exhibition tournament where the goal posts, as they say, have been shifted mid-game.

Trevor Mallard is not exactly the most competent or astute visionary in this play, nor is Dr. Cullen known for his regard of Auckland’s interest, nor is Warren & Mahoney valued for sympathetic or inspiring architecture, nor does the Auckland City Council have a reputation for unanimity of purpose and, finally and perhaps most disturbingly, our central government – as the coach and captain of this nightmare team – is the last entity anyone would describe as being timely or fiscally disciplined on matters of infrastructure projects. The stadium has the hallmarks of all the success of the government’s other brain-wave of merging all the Auckland councils together – without bothering to tell anyone beforehand.

Reflecting on our nation’s humiliation at losing the 2007 rugby world cup because of our ‘she’ll-be-right’ incompetence and total lack of preparation we now risk the same fate befalling us in 2011 because of the same reasons.

And to foist infrastructure on Auckland that will damage the existing assets’ viability, require a new special tax, require ratepayer subsidies and also be another huge structure that blocks the water views…it’s difficult to find anything in favour of it. Even Carlaw Park would be a more rational decision than on the waterfront. It could have been a contender….

…but why wasn’t Eden Park automatic? Incompetence once again. The design the Board came up with was something straight out of the Warren & Mahoney song book, but without even the total comprehensive Stalinist brutalism that would at least have given it some symmetry. Why the new ASB stand was not built with a view to a future integrated whole is a case study (as if we needed another one) of the ad hoc ineptitude and failure of vision that besets this country. Sadly, it occurs at elite level exclusively so it seems, because most regular punters are quite able to see the logical, big-picture necessities of planning large scale projects. In receipt of millions in sweet-heart loans from the Auckland City Council, Eden Park faces oblivion – and they only really have themselves to blame. I just hope Aucklanders won’t be conned over the Waterfront options as they have been over toll roads.

DON’T FORGET Tim’s Book and magazine collection for the Prison Library, please send your books and magazines to:
Tim Selwyn
Librarian/Unit 7
Hawkes Bay Prison
Private Bag 1600
Napier, NZ

Tim Selwyn (Editor of Tumeke!)
PRN 60477981
Hawkes Bay Prison
Currently appealing sedition conviction


And speaking of Guy Fawkes

Have you noticed an increase in the politicization of this year’s fireworks? I mean, the names in particular. There was one called the ‘Call to duty” and several others that seemed to be overtly militaristic, even American. So, you may be interested in some of the fireworks rumoured to be made in Pakistan recently:

Turia Towers: This comes as a pair of Roman candles that looks like the World Trade Centre with fuses that are plastic aircraft three-quarters the way up the stick. You’re supposed to light one just after the other for full effect. Collapses in huge ashen cloud after burst of flames.

American Patrol: (Also rumoured to be part of the “Bin Laden Bag” AKA “The Al Queda Party Pack”). This one has a line of humvees along it and the instructions say it should be put in a rubbish can immediately after igniting fuse.

Mason’s Eye: This Catherine wheel is shaped like a pentagon which when it spins creates a triangle. The official version has a aircraft fuse also, but unofficial one has what looks like a missile as a wick.

Hell’s Handmaiden: The most popular Catherine wheel sold in the Middle East for the last few years has a Star of David shape and spurts out red, white and blue – same thing sold in US and Israel as “Brother’s in Arms.”

Satan’s Spawn: A very large Roman candle with “Haliburton” on side, shaped like an oil well – once lit it oozes thick oil and burn very dirty for a very long time. For a very over-priced firwork you can’t get a guarantee on it and comes with a warning “May explode unexpectedly in face”. Breathing fumes in will cause bitter taste in mouth. Marketed in USA as “Liberation Day.”

Long Dong III: Rumoured to be a giant sky rocket from a North Korean manufacturer using Chinese techniques – it costs so much you’ll probably have no money left for anything else. It has a potential to end in a mushroom cloud; although all anyone has heard of it is just that it makes a lot of very shrill sounds. Instructions include, “Please fire over Japanese neighbour”(?).

DON’T FORGET Tim’s Book and magazine collection for the Prison Library, please send your books and magazines to:
Tim Selwyn
Librarian/Unit 7
Hawkes Bay Prison
Private Bag 1600
Napier, NZ

Tim Selwyn (Editor of Tumeke!)
PRN 60477981
Hawkes Bay Prison
Currently appealing sedition conviction


Don’t feed the humans

It was reported that the chimpanzees at Auckland Zoo exhibit infantacidal tendencies around Guy Fawkes Day due to the noise of the fireworks. My first thought was that they shouldn’t be letting chimps play with fireworks in the first place – amusing perhaps, but probably irresponsible. Oh, we’re the ones doing it-not-them-that-makes more sense now. Whilst this is tragic, I suppose it would happen with lightening storms as well. And then the thought came to mind, the absurdity of it all, why not put the humans in the zoo for a day? Give the animals a break, a little bit of sleepy nigh’ nigh’s pills crushed into their food in the morning and open up the zoo to the public to gawk at themselves?

Change the signs around – get the human specimens to volunteer their own incarceration for charity or a zoo extension or whatever. It could be a welcome piece of publicity and money-maker for a zoo – something bound to be tagged onto the end of news shows around the world.

Some suggested combinations came immediately to mind:

Polar bear enclosure – Winter Olympic team (Brent Todd, Marc Ellis, Lane Cockroft etc. frolicking in white powder might be too obscure)
Giraffe Pen – Basketballers
Petting Zoo – Sarah Ulmer (everyone wants to pet her), High-5, Wiggles
Small Bird Cage – Hayley Westenra (might have to make it a golden one)
Large Bird Cage – Cricket team (plenty of nets)
Peacock garden – Winston Peters (by himself)
Ape Enclosure – Rugby Team
Chimp enclosure/Lion Pen – Politicians
Reptile House - Lawyers
Sealion tank – Swimming team
Giant Tortoise garden – Malvina Major and Howard Morrison, also Colin Meads and Edmund Hillary
Vultures Cage – Employment lawyers
Camel enclosure – The entire Tizard family (Cath, Bob and Judith), more swearing, possibly less spitting.
Kiwi house – Anonymous person labeled “taxpayer” (who better to live in the dark, rarely seen but always evoked).
Llama or Ostrich pen – Netball team
Snake house – seeing as we don’t have any in NZ, how about John Howard?

DON’T FORGET Tim’s Book and magazine collection for the Prison Library, please send your books and magazines to:
Tim Selwyn
Librarian/Unit 7
Hawkes Bay Prison
Private Bag 1600
Napier, NZ

Tim Selwyn (Editor of Tumeke!)
PRN 60477981
Hawkes Bay Prison
Currently appealing sedition conviction

Dirty Aussies

Ever since it turned out that Howard had lied to the people of Australia over the ‘refugees throwing their children overborad as they were boarded by the Australian Navy’ – when Howard knew full well that wasn’t the case, and he only did it to reap xenophobic Australian votes (which in turn won him the elctection) – I’ve always thought Howard was dirty. The lastest findings in the report into AWB giving kickbacks to Saddm with full knowledge of Government officials is shocking only in its audacity.

Howard braced for onslaught over report into oil-for-food scandal
CANBERRA - The Australian Government is likely next week to face a barrage of criticism over the oil-for-food scandal that has cost the nation the big Iraqi wheat market and threatens the future of its monopoly grains trader.

Although the report of the inquiry into the scandal is understood to have cleared senior Government ministers and officials of complicity, Commissioner Terence Cole is believed to be highly critical of Canberra's failure to heed warnings of wrongdoing.

Cole handed the report to Governor-General Michael Jeffery yesterday. It will be tabled next week.

The report's conclusions and recommendations are secret but the tenor of the inquiry and the nature of the evidence presented during the 75 days of hearings point to serious flaws in Canberra's oversight of grain trader AWB's dealings with the regime of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

AWB paid about A$290 million ($335 million) in kickbacks to Iraq to obtain wheat contracts under the United Nations' corruption-ridden oil-for-food scheme, set up to allow essential humanitarian supplies into the country during the trade embargo imposed after the first Gulf War.

The payments were funnelled through a Jordanian trucking company established as a front by the regime, and continued as Australia was preparing to join the United States and Britain in invading Iraq.

They were publicly exposed in a UN inquiry into the oil-for-food scandal, unleashing a long series of revelations damning the AWB and its senior management and seriously embarrassing the Government.

As a result, the AWB lost the Iraq market at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and is likely to lose its long-held monopoly as single-desk exporter of Australian wheat.

The Cole report is likely to recommend prosecution of a number of senior AWB officials, including former chairman Trevor Flugge, later appointed by Prime Minister John Howard as the Government's senior agricultural adviser in Baghdad.

The list of possible charges includes breaches of federal criminal law, fraud and obstruction of Government officials and money laundering.

Have we won Iraq yet? When do we invade Iran?

The latest news out of Iraq has become even more desperate and depressing. At some point America must accept that they have created more bad than good and back down – my genuine fear is that Bush will use this latest jump in violence to justify increasing American troop numbers in Iraq to ‘stabilize’ the situation – well I’m sorry George but there isn’t much of a situation left to stabilize….

Worst attacks
February 2, 2004: 105 dead
Twin attacks on Kurdish parties' offices in Irbil.

March 2, 2004: 140 dead
Suicide bombers attack Shiite festival-goers in Karbala and Baghdad.

February 28, 2005: 114 dead
Suicide car bomb hits government jobseekers in Hilla.

September 15, 2005: 182 dead
Suicide car bomber targets Baghdad labourers.

January 6, 2006: 110 dead
Suicide bombers hit Karbala shrine and police recruiting station in Ramadi.

April 8, 2006: 85 dead
Triple suicide bombing at Shiite Buratha mosque, Baghdad.

November 24, 2006: 160 dead
Car bombs and mortar blasts in Sadr City, Baghdad.

Day of terror
* Six car bombs killed 160 people in a Shiite stronghold in the bloodiest attack in Baghdad since the United States invasion.

* A further 257 people were reported wounded.

* The blasts came at the same time as gunmen surrounded and fired on the Shiite-run Health Ministry, injuring five people.

* Mortars later crashed down on a nearby Sunni enclave in an apparent reprisal attack.

* After dark, there was sporadic gunfire in several districts.

* Shiite Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and the Sunni Vice-President, made an appeal for calm.

* Curfew imposed across Baghdad.

Meet the new KGB, just like the old KGB

The first overseas assassination the KGB undertook was that of dissident communist, Leon Trotsky with an ice pick, The use of an ice pick to kill Trotsky was an attempt at black comedy, Trotsky was killed in Mexico, there is no need for ice picks in Mexico. The latest claim of assassination is of Alexander Litvinenko, only months after another Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was assassinated outside her apartment. Both journalists had attacked Putin’s Russia, Litvinenko in particular had linked a series of Moscow bombings used by Putin to justify a new invasion of Chechnya to ex-KGB special forces who pulled a ‘Reichstag’.

That the old bear, thought rusted and broken by age, should renew itself minus any intellectual justification as a power crazed mafia warms no one’s soul, least of all a Europe addicted to Putin’s natural gas supply.

Radioactive traces found in Russian spy death probe
LONDON - Police have found traces of a rare radioactive substance at three locations in London visited by a poisoned former KGB spy, who accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of his murder from beyond the grave.

Alexander Litvinenko died on Thursday night UK time after a three week illness that saw his hair fall out, his body waste away and his organs slowly fail. In a statement read out after his death, he accused Putin of what would be the Kremlin's first political assassination in the West since the Cold War.

"You may succeed in silencing one man. But a howl of protest from around the world will reverberate, Mr Putin, in your ears for the rest of your life," he said.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

I have a hard time accepting this entire Dioxin poisoning case. Thank God TV3 did their excellent investigative piece ‘Let us Spray’ and that TV3 News have followed the bastards up on it. Effectively, Governments in NZ subsidized the making of 245-T (Diet Agent Orange), sprayed 20 million tones of it in NZ (Vietnam had 40 million tones drenched on them) – the rate of birth defects suddenly jumps, the Government and the company making this sprayable death know that it is lethal and hide the facts till now. AND NOW it looks like the level of poisoning is much higher than first thought. It is a shame that this story isn’t on the front page of every newspaper, the NZ media should be ashamed at the way they have allowed officials to escape the hanging they deserve.

Concern prompts new review of dioxin study
Concerns over errors in a report on dioxin exposure in the New Plymouth suburb of Paritutu will be looked at by an expert reviewing the study, says the Minister of Health.

Concerns were raised over what appeared to be errors in the health tests and results of the Paritutu study at a public meeting in New Plymouth on Thursday. Tests have found people who lived near the Ivon Watkins-Dow factory which made 245-T from 1962 to 1987 had up to seven times more dioxin in their blood than other people.

The final review of the Paritutu dioxin serum study is expected to be released early next month. The review follows criticism of the study by Auckland forensic accountant John Leonard, who appeared in last month's TV3's documentary Let Us Spray.

Mr Leonard believed there were serious errors in the report that skewed the time people were exposed to dioxin and masked the true extent of the problem.

Health Minister Pete Hodgson said yesterday the terms of reference of the review would be amended to ask the reviewer to consider the seriousness of the apparent error and its impact on the original study.

Three weeks ago, the Ombudsman ordered health officials to release the data behind the disputed tests. Critics said it reinforced claims that mixed up data hides much worse contamination than officials admitted, in Paritutu.

Mr Hodgson said the World Health Organisation recommended reviewer had not completed her report and would be asked to consider the apparent error and any implications it might have.


Rich get richer and the poor get poorer? You don’t say

Some people have done very well under Labour – property speculation has boosted the assets of those that have them – however those on the bottom of the heap are still eating the crumbs wiped off the table. If we want to tackle the type of social issues we have it will only be when we really examine the distribution of wealth in this country.

Families no better off 20 years on
A massive shift of women into paid work over the past 20 years has left the average New Zealand family no better off.

A research project led by Prime Minister Helen Clark's husband, Auckland University sociologist Peter Davis, has found that the median family income, after adjusting for inflation and family size, was just over $37,000 a year in 1981 - and was still just over $37,000 in 2001.

In the same period, the proportion of working women rose from 47 per cent to 61 per cent.

The increase in women was offset by a 20 per cent drop in male fulltime employment, as men moved into self-employment and part-time work and on to benefits.

Families on middle and low incomes have ended up merely holding their own, while high-income families are better off.

The Hollow Men

The gems within The Hollow Men are going to take months to fully digest, but the one thing that shines clearly is the level of deception National seem to hold deep in their heart. We know Labour is tight with the Unions, such a teaming up is a response to unchecked capitalism – but it is a response that is very clearly on the table – the connections are transparent – however National’s approach seems at it’s base totally un-democratic. Allowing those who would financially benefit from a Rogernomics 3 coup and hide those associations is an antithesis to the one person one vote democratic principle. Critics have either attacked Hager personally, or they say ‘so what, Politicians lie’ – but that doesn’t seem to justify what we see in Hager’s book. The very conscious Machiavellian nature of National with verbalized plans in case these ones are ever found out speaks of a deeper problem within National, this is corruption. Misapplying election spending rules (which every party save one did) and have them ruled out and being forced to pay the money back is embarrassing but what Hager has exposed goes much deeper and to have National Party supporters and conservative media pundits attempt to gloss over this without intense scrutiny is a disservice to their intellect and the Political party they claim represents them.

This from the Herald...
Nicky Hager's controversial new book The Hollow Men digs into the mire of New Zealand party politics, uncovering how National party spin doctors brought Don Brash within a whisker of becoming prime minister. Here are some of its highlights:

Chapter 1
The Path of Principle Summary:
Lists the National Party's contacts with the elusive Exclusive Brethren and the knowledge leader Don Brash had of their advertising campaigns.

Reddest Faces:
An email from Brash's chief of staff Richard Long to Brash, Gerry Brownlee and other MPs in April 2005 stated the Brethren had "agreed today to publicly take ownership of the (advertising) campaign, to avoid conspiracy theories and to prevent the finger being pointed at us". In May, an email from Exclusive Brethren organiser Ron Hickmott to Brash and John Key talks about spending $1m to get party votes for National. "Our campaign (a total of seven nationally distributed flyers) is direct and simple: - It creates and demonstrates MISTRUST in the current Government. It builds TRUST in a DON BRASH led National Government." Brash later denies knowing who produced the flyers.

Hager says: "When Don Brash said 'I am not a liar' on national television... the ghost of Richard I-am-not-a-crook Nixon must have been looking on approvingly."

Chapter 2
Backing Brash Summary:
Details the members of the far right who helped bring Brash to power, including Roger Douglas, Michael Bassett, Brian Nicolle, Catherine Judd, Diane Foreman and Matthew Hooton.

Reddest face:
"Independent" commentator Bassett sends his pro-Brash Dominion newspaper column to Brash the night before publication and next day writes the aspiring National leader a five-page campaign plan, ending each section with a cheery "Good Luck".

Hager says: "The people who had rushed to help Brash win the leadership were not doing it to replace one centrist... leader with another. What had gone on was not so much a leadership coup as a political coup..."

Chapter 3
The Grand Plan Summary:
The Machiavellian prowess of the strategists, advisers and media managers who used deception as a political tool.

Reddest faces:
Spin doctor Peter Keenan advises Brash to hide unpopular party policy, especially privatisation, and a plan to raise the age of superannuation. Brash writes: "I am more than happy to debate that, and in particular whether it would be better to lie!" Keenan replies: "I am not concerned about the stance on superannuation, just the fact of it being deeply unpopular... I am not suggesting a need to lie... we just need a more nuanced way of talking about super issues."

Hager says: "Keenan was aware that most New Zealanders would not support the kind of free market beliefs that took Brash into politics... the solution was to tell the public what they wanted to hear but not necessarily reveal plans with which they would not agree."

Chapter 4
Repackaging the Leader Summary:
How Brash, the free market advocate with a social conscience, was repackaged as a centrist, socially conservative, politician.

Reddest faces:
Brash writes to colleagues of alleged terrorist Ahmed Zaoui: "I am absolutely appalled at the way it has been handled. I think the evidence that (he) is a security risk is extremely flimsy." Long advises him to ditch the issue.

Hager says: "National's spin doctors were in effect making a man of spin. They stripped him of the things that made him a political liability but also of the things that made him authentic."

Chapter 5
The 'Big Splash' at Orewa Summary:
How Brash changed from being proud of Maori self-management in education, health and social policy to attacking these Maori services as being "separatist" at Orewa.

Reddest faces:
Keenan, who helped draft the Orewa speech, later admits he hates "the race-based privilege" slogan as he thought it was "ludicrous when Maori are largely at the bottom of the heap".

Hager says: "But Brash was not a racist. The speech marks his descent into unprincipled politics because of the motives and political calculation that lay behind the decision to make that sort of speech at that time."

Chapter 8
Excruciating compromise Summary:
Hager sketches out the policy compromises National made - and Brash accepted - to make the party more palatable for voters.

Reddest face:
Bryan Sinclair, adviser, formulates National's election strategy: "You need to be soft, sloppy, and wet - i.e. open up the cheque book, as excruciating as it will feel. Soft centre voters are inherently self-interested and will vote according to what they can get out of you."

Hager says: "National's all-male campaign team had never come to grips with the fact that many women did not like their more divisive and right-wing policies."

Chapter 9

Trouble with women Summary:
Orewa II in January 2005 was to be Brash's sequel to the One Law for All speech which lifted National in the polls. Instead, Brash used a speech Michael Bassett used for an ACT conference as the basis of a hardline welfare stance that caused a rift then the loss of then welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

Reddest faces:
Bill English writes to Brash: "Competence matters more than spin in government. You need to know now that the experienced people you have will NOT work in a government run by McCully. I and others will not tolerate him exercising the same influence he does now."

Hager says: "(Brash) gave the (welfare) job to an MP called Judith Collins, whose views on welfare would have fitted comfortably into (ACT)."

Chapter 10
The Manipulators Summary:
National turns to Australian campaign strategists Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor for its 2005 campaign. Crosby and Textor became a major part of National's campaign. They specialise in emotive issues like immigration, law and order, and asylum seekers.

Reddest faces:
Richard Long emails Brash, who had met Crosby and had a strategy session, warning of media interest. "Steven (Joyce, campaign manager) was asked if you had met Crosby. Steven said he didn't recall and they would need to ask you. You'd better say, if caught, that you met him a few times in passing while he was over here polling."

Hager says: "... a party like National can become government without deception and manipulation: it can sort out its philosophical foundations and present a set of policies that both the politicians and public can believe in."

Chapter 11
The Hollow Men Summary:
How the anti-PC campaign was designed to paper over thin policy work.

Hager says: "There was and still is a curious policy vacuum in the National Party."

Chapter 12
Iwi/Kiwi Summary:
National latches on to advertising man John Ansell, paid $5000 a month from the parliamentary office budget, who devises the party's clever billboards.

Biggest hit:
In an email to Brash, Ansell writes: "Winning elections is easy. All you have to do is say the right thing, in the right way, at the right time."

Hager says: "A party could become government not because of its policies or candidates, but purely because it had the cleverest advertising people and the biggest budget."

Chapter 15
Thank you very much for your kind donation Summary:
Brash and other senior MPs knew who National Party donors were - contrary to denials. Also, Nelson fishing magnates the Talley's brothers Peter and Michael offer $1m if Brash agrees to secretly hiring private political consultants to advise him without the knowledge of caucus.

Reddest face:
Having heard the Talley's proposal, Brash writes: "They are saying they that they can find a million dollars to encourage us to do certain things."

Hager says: "National Party members must ask themselves whether they want wealthy special interest groups exerting so much influence over their party."

Chapter 16
As good as won Summary:
The election campaign, and how the media were manipulated.

Reddest face:
Richard Long on Paul Holmes' "cooperation". "Paul Holmes wanted to get Julian (Robertson, US backer) on but I said we would prefer to downplay that side of it and upplay our statement of today about concentrating on issues and policy rollout. Paul accepted that."

Hager says: "No one understands what makes polls move up and down... but there is little doubt that the moment a week before voting day when Brash was revealed as slippery and untruthful over his Exclusive Brethren links was the moment National lost the election."

Newstalk ZB National Party mouthpiece?

I always suspected that the Nats had a massive amount of influence over the conservative media, but I had no idea the National Party seemed to share an editorial role with Paul Holmes on Newstalk ZB. How many other times has Paul simply dropped editorial content because National don’t want to focus on something?

Holmes to be quizzed on deal with Nats
Broadcaster Paul Holmes will be questioned by his Newstalk ZB boss on Monday over allegations that he struck an agreement with the National Party not to feature an American billionaire backer on his radio show.

Nicky Hager's book The Hollow Men claims Holmes agreed in July 2005 - two months before the election - not to have Julian Robertson on the top-rating breakfast show.

Labour had alleged that Mr Robertson had been contributing to National's election war chest.

The book says it was not known if Mr Robertson ever made a donation, but there was evidence he actively tried to help the National Party - such as by introducing Don Brash to two campaign strategists with links to the US Republican Party.

The book quotes an email from Brash's then chief-of-staff, Richard Long, to campaign director Steven Joyce, Murray McCully and Brash. "Paul Holmes wanted to get Julian," Long wrote, "but I said we would prefer to downplay that side of it and up-play our statement of today about concentrating on the issues and policy rollout. Paul accepted that."

The book also claims Holmes gave media training to Brash in the final week of the election campaign.

Newstalk ZB manager Bill Francis said he did not know if Holmes had struck an agreement with National.

U2 transcends space and time

It says something about one band’s ability to reach out and mean so much to so many; old and young, families and friends, the Lads, the Girls, a huge number of couples, loners – a smorgasbord of social couplings ready to worship at the alter of mass-media-digital-poetry-for-modern-living U2 has come to represent.

Kanye West showed his creativity, but the audience was damp and no amount of smooth musical foreplay could tamper expectation more than the 13 years plus eight months, since U2 last shared our soil. At the very least, Kayane honored his tuition with style and grace.

And what a tuition – surely the set was based on Rupert Murdoch’s home theatre system, with a 50 foot screen and speaker stack that managed to warp gravity. Senses are tasered by a cascade of pixels that made you feel you were staring down the barrel of frayed optic wire nerve endings, plugging into a 24/7 hyper rock n roll reality where four tiny men on a far away stage manage to fill a stadium simply with their own gigantic publicity generated profiles. You know when you are a ‘mega-band’ when everyone knows the name of the drummer and bass player, but the fine ego balance of their live performance leaves little space for anyone else to perform this stage – the edge literally had only that to open up his guitar to show some of his rattle to U2’s hum – but it really was only going to be about one person on stage, Bono.

You forget how well Bono sings. His voice is incredible whether it was turning the stadium into a choir, with his as lead on Sunday, Bloody Sunday, or suddenly busting out Pavarotti’s solo in Miss Sarajevo – his range and strength was met by a selection of songs that touched on the teenage vibrancy of the early music, I Will Follow to the big stage confidence of The Streets Have No Name.

How do you describe Bono in performance? He is rock n roll pantomime, exaggerated punk vaudeville, evangelical rebellion, all swagger and cooler than cancer. Part Mad Max Shakespearian jester, part poet prophet, partly for profit, Bono can lead the revolution and make sure enough trees have been planted to ensure the cultural over throw of the elites is carbon neutral.

The band’s bond to NZ was evident from Bono wearing a Warriors jacket to reference of NZ written into some of the lyrics with perfected ease. That bond really sparkled as the band launched into One Tree Hill with koru patterns emblazoned across the screen. Many eyes watered.

There was always going to be a political dimension to this performance, U2 live in a political world and make no apologies for recognizing that. The basic tenets of the UN declaration on human rights were multi-media scrolled across the stage as Bono reminded us with zeal how much can be changed. He rallied the crowd to text their name to end poverty and then printed those names over the screen making many a footsoldier’s dream night.

U2 are the ultimate rock n roll event, fusing rebellion with a deeply personal consciousness defined by a live performance that leaves no one on the sidelines.

If you didn’t go, you really missed something.

Friday, November 24, 2006


This from the good people at Scoop....


Marilyn Waring's Foreword – which was released to the media on Tuesday - while at first glance rather hyperbolic is most probably a very fair assessment of the likely impact of this book.

And while Don Brash may claim that he has not resigned because of the book, it is hard not to conclude that he most surely would have resigned once he had read it.

One of the most remarkable things about the events of the past week is how, when examined in the light of this book, you can see that the same tactics exposed in the book have continued to be employed by Dr Brash.

The line-reading, message management and general deceptivity that seemingly characterises Dr Don Brash's conduct as National Party Leader has continued – as it were – till the final hurdle.

The often provided advice that when in a hole stop digging would have very usefully been followed by Dr Brash it seems.

Why Dr Brash did not simply refuse to discuss issues raised in the book until he had had the opportunity to read it?

In summary this is by far the most interesting, engaging, and startling of Nicky Hager's books about New Zealand to date.

The subject matter is the dark and sometimes ugly-side of politics. The Hollow Men exposes the undergarments of political strategy setting, implementation and election campaigning.

Many of its insights apply not only to the National Party but probably to modern politics in general.

Press Gallery journalists tend to regard themselves as a fairly cynical and skeptical bunch, but I doubt that many considered for a more than a micro-second that the apparent gaff – a few short days before the election - when Dr Brash told BFm's Noelle McCarthy that he had indeed met with the Brethren and been told about their pamphlets was not a slip of the tongue but a carefully rehearsed line written for the National Party leader by his chief media minder Richard Long!

The legacy of this book is going to live long in the practice of political journalism in New Zealand.

For example, henceforth when John Key (or Helen Clark for that matter) seems annoyed at a particular line of questioning reporters will ask themselves: is it because as a reporter I have overstepped the line of decency, or is it because my interview subject has been told to "get irritated" if I get too close to this question line?

This book is much, much more than a hatchet job on Dr Don Brash and an view inside the political process.

On reading this book the reader is taken inside a whole new vista of understanding of the National Party, its key players and how the practice of politics is presently conducted.

The book provides insights not only into the character of Don Brash, but into that of his staff, associates and senior colleagues. For anyone seriously interested in New Zealand politics it is treasure trove of knowledge and insight that should not be missed.


The Hollow Men arranges subject matter in a thematic rather than a strictly chronological basis and begins – like a good news story – with the information that has the most impact – the National Party's relationship with the Exclusive Brethren.

Nicky Hager outlines in detail how the Exclusive Brethren became involved with the National Party; the extent of their relationship; how the Brethren have conducted similar covert election campaigns in other parts of the world (Canada, America and Australia); how they hoped to get away with doing so secretly in New Zealand as well; and how it all came horribly unstuck.

The details of this chapter will doubtless fill the pages of tomorrow's newspaper and so for now I will confine myself to the smoking gun element.

At the back of the book there are a series of images mostly of the Exclusive Brethren's pamphlets, and, on page 332 an image of one email/letter to Dr Brash.

This is the only image of an email contained in the book and it is if you like - the "smoking gun" in the book – a gun is pointed squarely at both Dr Brash, National's campaign Manager Steven Joyce, and Don Brash's erstwhile successor John Key. And in the context of their overall election spending this is the email that will doubtless be referred to the Electoral Commission and possibly the Police for further consideration.

The salient parts of this email/letter.

1. It is from Ron Hickmott – who coordinated the Exclusive Brethren campaign. He signs it off "We need a meeting at your earliest convenience…. [I] am essentially working our/your election campaign full time."

2. It is addressed to Don Brash and John Key

3. It is dated 24 May 2005 (Don Brash has repeatedly claimed both before and since the election – including in the past few days – that he knew nothing of the pamphlets till August 2005. Earlier this week he even told TV3 reporter Duncan Garner in a standup with the Press Gallery, "I don't think I have ever had an email from the Exclusive Brethren.")

4. It leads off with the "smoking gun paragraph":

"Good afternoon Don and John,
Doug Watt and myself enjoyed your presentation this morning at the Millennium Hotel. However as backers of the recent "Wake Up NZ" campaign ($350,000) and as responsible for a very extensive election campaign ($1,000,000) with the sole goal of "Getting Party Votes for National" a meeting following on from our one last week with Steven Joyce is important."

Students of election spending law, ethics and politics will quickly identify the problems inherent in this email.

1. It’s an email to Don Brash.

2. It shows very clearly that Steven Joyce, Don Brash & John Key knew about the pamphlet campaigns long before August 2005.

3. Any campaign which has a goal of getting votes for one particular party is by law required to be authorised by the campaign manager for the party concerned – in this case Steven Joyce – and is also required to be incorporated into the election return. This campaign wasn't.

The full chapter contains significantly more detail about the relationship than this.

Effectively its thesis is:

- Elements in the National Party, and certainly the team close to Don Brash – including Bryan Sinclair, Richard Long, Peter Keenan, Murray McCully and Gerry Brownlee - were fully aware of and to some extent working with the Exclusive Brethren for months prior to the election. Some MPs in the party were allegedly even shown copies of the pamphlets.

- This self same campaign leadership team planned intended that the Exclusive Brethren involvement in the campaign ought to remain secret until after the election – by which time it would no longer cause them any harm.

- For the National Party campaign leadership it was vital that the extent of the National Party's involvement with the Exclusive Brethren remained secret. And on the face of it several members of the team lied publicly to protect this information in the final days of the campaign and since.

While most of The Hollow Men deals with Don Brash and his senior advisers for the election - with Dr Brash's resignation yesterday - lot of interest will turn today to the parts that concern National's leadership frontrunner - Finance spokesperson John Key. And in particular the fact that the smoking gun email is also addressed to him.

Yesterday Mr Key told the media that even though he hadn't read the book it should be filed in the fiction section of a library.

"All I can tell you is that I am totally confident that [allegations] Mr Hager has made about me are totally incorrect. I stand by any public statement I have made in the past," stated Mr Key.

However as discussed in the previous section Mr Hager's book contains an email that was forwarded from Exclusive Brethren member Ron Hickmott.

And while Mr Hickmott is not identified in the email as belonging to the Exclusive Brethren his name was one of those attached to submissions made by the Exclusive Brethren in 2004 relating to the Civil Union Bill.

Mr Key when asked yesterday if he had been contacted last year with offers of campaign support by the Exclusive Brethren told the assembled media that he had not had any campaign support from the Brethren.

Mr Key cut short the impromptu press conference press conference when asked for the second time whether he had received any offers of actual financial support from the Exclusive Brethren

Radio New Zealand is now reporting that Mr Key says that he may have received the email but not opened it.

to be continued...

Feedback 1

Let’s start listing as many environmental feedback loops we can spot until our politicians wake up.

Hot and heavy a deadly air combination say researchers
Soaring temperatures and heavy pollution are a deadly mix for asthmatics and people vulnerable to heart problems, a study of hospital admissions has found.

New research has found that the incidence of heart attacks, strokes and respiratory problems skyrocket on days that are both hot and polluted.

The five-year study, published in the International Journal of Meteorology, is one of the first to examine how this "dangerous" environmental combination affects health.

"We've found a special relationship between heat and pollution and it's not a good one," said Professor Shilu Tong, a public health specialist at Queensland University of Technology.

"With the trend of climate change continuing, and more hot weather on the way, we have a timely warning of how it's affecting us."

The reality behind Don’s resignation.

Richard Griffin is a smart cat. Having been the media advisor to Governments, and advisor to a Prime Minister himself, Richard is connected, brilliant and Mr Conservative (that’s Conservative with a capital C).

I have a theory about Brash and his sudden resignation, and it is that this time, Nicky Hager has got the goodies. I’ve always admired Hagar as someone doing research right out on the fringes. His difficulty is that he probes in secret places where evidence is hard to come by and ridicule is his usual reward. This time however, it looks like he has hit the goldmine. There are damagingly honest insights into the thinking of the Right and it will cause a nuclear explosion in the media and with the NZ public once it is released. Don did the only thing he could do with the injunction, buy himself some time and fall onto his own sword – there is real panic in the National Party, you can sense it.

That was my theory, and I wanted to put it to the test with an interview I had on Radio New Zealand yesterday with Richard Griffin. Listen to the interview and hear how bad Richard thinks the information in the book is – he has read the book and knows what is about to come out will be immensely damaging. Richard is no liberal commentator, he is a blue blooded made man, if he is making this call – it means something.

Radio New Zealand Interview

Thursday, November 23, 2006


National leader Don Brash resigns

1.05pm Thursday November 23, 2006

Don Brash has just resigned as leader of the National Party.

He had called a press conference at 1pm after mounting revelations about his leadership in a book by researcher Nicky Hager.

Dr Brash made his announcement to a press conference called at short notice.

Ongoing speculation about his leadership was damaging National Party and its election prospects, he said.

His resignation would take effect from a special caucus meeting on Monday, he said.

He wasn't gone by lunchtime, he was gone at lunchtime

Making oil while the ice still melts

This little gem of audacious futility has just popped up on the very excellent Frog Blog
According to a Weekend Worldwatch documentary on Sunday morning, states bordering the arctic sea are racing to lay claim to large tracts of the sea. The reason being that global warming is melting ice in the area and thus making it much easier to explore. And what they want to go exploring for is more oil and gas.

Gone by lunchtime?

Will Don be gone by lunchtime? And don't you love the spin? It's not what will be revealed in the book that will destroy Brash, 'it's the way he has handled it' - nonesense! But effective to get everyone focused away from the allegations, and and attack Nicky Hagar as well.

Brash gaffe 'likely to cost him leadership'
Don Brash's former chief of staff reckons the National leader's latest gaffe is likely to cost him the leadership, saying he was already on borrowed time.

Richard Long, who was Dr Brash's chief of staff until the end of last year, last night told TV One's Close Up that Dr Brash's decision to try to injunct the Nicky Hager book The Hollow Men was a serious mistake, which would not be easily forgiven by his caucus.

It had given the book a "huge swag of publicity" and would now become a best-seller, "10 times larger than if he hadn't done that".

National was ahead in the polls and "you never roll a leader while National is ahead in the polls."

But the Herald poll of Aucklanders published yesterday showing John Key only 1.4 points behind Dr Brash in the preferred Prime Minister stakes "gives them the excuse they need, really", said Mr Long.

"I would still let this thing roll out, the aftermath of this [the book's revelations]. I would wait until all that comes out and do it [challenge Dr Brash's leadership] after Christmas.

"I think he was on borrowed time anyway because of previous gaffes and this one is just going to look so bad. He's done so much damage in terms of promoting a book, they're not really going to forgive him for it easily."

The details of the book, promising to expose deception and lies at top levels of the National Party, may be unveiled as early as today.

How else are Prison’s supposed to work?

News that a Prison Guard has been sacked because she brought an inmate in some bacon because it was his last night in prison and allowed prisoners to watch some DVDs she brought in from home sounds like the dumbest way to the handle the situation. Of course Guards are going to do things like that to keep the peace, they are the ones working inside with these Prisoners – when you have 60 Prisoners and two staff, how the hell else are you going to actually keep order in there? You can’t run a Prison without the consent of the Prisoners – unless that is you want to spend hundreds of millions more in paying to have one Guard for every prisoner. Again our thirst for vengeance that gets drummed up by the Sensible Sentencing Mob has given us a first world prisoner population second only to the United States – yet we don’t want to live with the reality that population size creates, and the reality is that over crowded prisons, with low staffing rates HAVE to barter for good behaviour. The current prison system doesn’t work, it doesn’t rehabilitate, it exacerbates inmates and it costs us a bundle – when can we start trying new ideas or are you all still wanting to string ‘em up some more?

Prison guard sacked for bringing bacon for inmate
A Christchurch Mens' Prison officer, fired for giving bacon to an inmate and watching her own videos during her shift, says guards regularly bartered with inmates to keep the peace.

The 31-year-old woman, sacked after admitting misconduct in July, told The Press there was widespread abuse of the prison system.

She told the newspaper she brought in a packet of bacon for an inmate who was cooking a meal to celebrate his last night in lock-up .

Guards were only allowed to watch videos approved by the prison, which were supplied by a local video store. She had brought her own from home to watch during a nightshift.

The woman, who did not want to be named for fear of retribution, said what she did was at the low end of the scale.

"They told me, 'this is what happens when you are on the floor. When there's two of us and 60 of them, do whatever to keep them happy'," she said.

"People who had been in the job for years were bringing in food - pork bones, bringing in videos, letting them have personal phone calls."

The prison officers' union and the Corrections Department rejected the claims.