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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Latest odds: McCain hot favourite/Centrebet backs Key

Centerbet's odds for the next Prime Minister after the general election:
2.60 LABOUR PARTY (Helen Clark)
1.47 NATIONAL PARTY (John Key)

What centrebet got wrong last time (and that I got right) was the lack of mates that National has in parliament and their misreading of the on the ground situation and also the massive amount of money that gung-ho Nat supporters poured in to back Brash. They could well be wrong this time too.

To the US odds now that Edwards has backed out.
The Democratic nominee:
1.40-1.50 Clinton
2.50-2.92 Obama

The Republican nominee:
1.14-1.20 McCain
2.90-6.80 Romney
21-36 Huckabee
64-101 Paul
50-101 Guiliani
- pulled out this afternoon

And the parties:
1.40-1.57 Democrat
2.25-2.75 Republican

So it looks at this stage that the States will have either its first female President or its first black President. Of course it is possible that out of the wash they could both be on the ticket as Pres and VP. Could be a watershed moment.

10 dead - but it's a 'blip'

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10 dead - but it's a 'blip'
The rash of violent crime that has cast a dark cloud over the new year masks a relatively steady rate of murder in New Zealand, according to long-term police figures. Experts have blamed "mad January" for the 10 murders since the start of the year - with the finger being pointed at everything from Christmas stress to alcohol to a full moon. That figure is up from seven in January last year and four the previous year - and is more than double the monthly average for the whole of 2006, according to Statistics New Zealand. The last time there were 10 murders in one month was October 2005. Prime Minister Helen Clark and National leader John Key have concentrated on youth issues in their opening speeches of election year. But figures for the past decade suggest the January rate of murder is unlikely to continue.

Let’s also add to this the fact that the News media have nothing else to report on (most aren’t back till March darling, still in Bali) and whipping up the public with the kids-are-evil war dance helps prop up slow summer TV ratings. The solutions to youth offending takes time but there are programs that work and can work, but violence has been here in NZ a lot longer than just last month and the knee jerk reaction by both political parties when the stats show us Youth Offending is on the decline is short sighted in the extreme, do we really want paramilitary bootcamps as a solution to a problem that has been ill defined in the first place?

NZ's green status getting murky

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NZ's green status getting murky
Our clean, green image is likely to be tarnished by an environmental report today which is expected to record failings in the key areas of climate change and water quality. Increasing threats to endangered species - including the kiwi - will also be highlighted in the State of the Environment report, which at 450 pages took 18 months to complete. The Environment Ministry report is only the second of its kind and comes more than a decade after the first in 1997. Greens co-leader Russel Norman said he expected the report would give a damning appraisal in areas such as water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, which have risen 25 per cent above 1990 levels.

We like to think of ourselves as clean and green, but we are not, the reality is most NZers don’t care until it starts hurting their pocket. Which of course is exactly what will start to happen, as Dairy Farmers choke our waterways with cow shit, as SUV ownership clogs our motorways and as we drain all our water for the agriculture industry we will start to lose our tourism attraction. It seems we do this a lot in NZ, a country with incredible abundance, Maori did it with the Moa, Europeans did it with Whales and Seals, more recently it is our plummeting fish stocks, we in NZ continue a long tradition of shitting in our own nests, except this time the consequences are magnified many times over because of global warming, if we can’t learn the lessons of history, we deserve our fate.

Israel probe finds war 'failure'

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Israel probe finds war 'failure'
Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon was a "large and serious" failure, according to an Israeli government-appointed inquiry. "We found grave failings in decision-making... both on the military and political levels," said the inquiry's chairman Eliyahu Winograd. PM Ehud Olmert has insisted he will not step down despite the findings. However, strong criticism could put pressure on partners in his governing coalition to pull out, analysts say.

What a sad little final chapter in a very sick story, what the report doesn’t talk about was the reasoning behind this gross attack on the people of Lebanon and that was because the US, in the hope of keeping an attack on Iran alive in 2006, wanted a neutralizing of the elements that would counterstrike an Iranian attack, they green lighted months prior Israel’s desire to ‘settle scores’ with Hizbollah and Israel implemented a series of provocative moves including the kidnapping of a prominent professional Palestinian family which culminated in a quid pro quo kidnapping of Israeli security forces, this was the ‘excuse’ the Israeli’s were waiting for and they launched their incredibly pointless and bullshit war that killed over a thousand Lebanese. Israeli’s should feel deeply ashamed.

So this is what we are fighting for?

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Afghan MPs back blasphemy death
The upper house of the Afghan parliament has supported a death sentence issued against a journalist for blasphemy in northern Afghanistan. Pervez Kambaksh, 23, was convicted last week of downloading and distributing an article insulting Islam. He has denied the charge. The UN has criticised the sentence and said the journalist did not have legal representation during the case.

So this is what NZ is fighting for is it? This is what we are shooting people in Afghanistan for is it? A regime that executes a Journalist because he hands out an article on women’s rights in Islam? That’s what we are sending troops in for is it? Call me old fashioned folks, but propping up a regime and supporting them with troops so that they can execute Journalists for disseminating equal rights articles seems distasteful.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Key's youth policy trumped by Clark

In response to what my co-blogger describes as Key's "law and order policy disguised as youth policy" Clark has taken what must be a final step in the scale of compulsory education - as the NZPA headlined - "Government to raise school leaving age to 18." It has been greeted coldly in the usual corners.

In practice it will be the extension of the apprenticeship scheme that will have the most impact as school-age students can already exempt themselves for many reasons from formal education. The last thing anyone would want is to keep failing students unsuited to the academic environment bottled up inside the uniformity and petty injustices of the state school system. One hopes the policy is not interpreted in this way - and it must be stated clearly: she did not say the age would be lifted to 18 explicitly.

The speech today will confuse more than clarify the respective parties positions. Clark offers a constructive angle whereas Key's play towards the conservatives and elderly is tinged with the punitive. That's not to say her actual speech was not negative either: her comments about "the politics of deception of the 1980s and ‘90s – the politics New Zealand banished eight years ago" is increasingly irrelevant. John Key wasn't even in parliament back then.

So too the tired and trite mantra the electorate have been ear-bashed with since Labour won in 1999:
"The truth is that New Zealand is still paying the price of past years of economic failure and harsh social policy.
Broken families and shattered lives were the product of long term, intergenerational high unemployment and deprivation. [...] Today’s young violent criminals are the children of the “Mother of All Budgets” in 1991."

What she never says is the cut-backs on benefits in '91 were kept by her government - she continued them, and last year made it even harsher by refusing to reinstate special benefits to people who have come back on to the benefit - all while the cost of living has escalated. What she says is quite misleading. Yes she gave back a free ride to those lucky enough to be in a state house and thus secured their votes for Labour in perpetuity, but what of the vast majority of the low-income families living in private accommodation with increasing rents? Working for Families only goes so far and targets the lower-middle class rather than the working class which Labour so obviously takes for granted.

The speech was upbeat, she appeared very positive, and in style at least Key still does not have the commanding voice and certainty that being PM for 8 years brings. Key has a lot of personal presentation work to do to convince the electorate he is the PM in waiting.

'Burgers degree' slated

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'Burgers degree' slated
Britain's teachers unions have condemned Gordon Brown's plan to allow McDonald's, the hamburger chain, to take part in A-level-style qualifications as a "farce". The decision to allow McDonald's, the airline FlyBe and Network Rail to issue management training certificates up to the equivalent of A-level or degree level was seen by some critics as dumbing down qualifications.

Unbelievable – what the hell is there to ‘learn’ about flipping burgers and maximizing unhealthy ingredients to turn a profit? Brown is a farce and the British education system is a farce, this is a base attempt to make McDonald’s less of an employment pariah, simple as that, there is as much educational value in McDonald’s as there is nutrition in their food.

Clark to make national address

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Clark to make national address
Helen Clark will be taking the election campaign stage in Auckland on Wednesday morning for a State of the Nation speech, less than a day after a similar speech by National Party leader John Key. The Prime Minister was unimpressed by Key's speech, saying it lacked ambition and was too narrow. The National Party leader outlined his solutions to stop youth crime. They included bootcamp for delinquents, child raising lessons for bad parents, and making 12 year-olds face court. Clark says youth will be a particular focus of her speech as well.

And that’s because youth are the new enemy, see you could attack brown people once upon a time and blame everything on them, but garden variety bigotry doesn’t really play to a wider audience than white people, so we moved onto prisoners being the enemy, they were to blame for everything and the harder you treated them, the higher your poll numbers, problem is that years of failed over crowding policies have turned our prisons into corrupt, violent and racist places where few get rehabilitated and most come out worse, so much so that even Politicians don’t bother crowing about locking up prisoners anymore as most accept the entire thing is a fiasco, so now we have youth to blame, and the solutions? Paramilitary bootcamps, enforced re-education and putting children in court and prison – what genius and inspired leadership, this isn’t ‘youth policy’ it’s law and order policy disguised as youth policy aimed at adult voters who are frightened by the latest media induced fear campaign – the majority of our youth are great, but no where did John Key mention that in his speech, where is the REAL youth policy John? What are you doing for the students graduating with $28 000 in debt? What are you doing for youth media, where is the Youth Radio Network, Christ how about just getting faster broadband, that would have a bigger and more positive effect on youth than forcing the military to create bootcamps. When society is frightened by the ramifications of their poor investment into the under class and the brewing violence that spawns, best to blame the kids.

No sympathy for dead teen tagger

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No sympathy for dead teen tagger
A 50-year-old man charged with the murder of a teenage tagger in Manukau should be allowed to "get away with it", Christchurch City councillor Barry Corbett says. Bruce William Emery has been charged over the fatal stabbing of 15-year-old Pihema Clifford Cameron in Manurewa on Saturday night. The stabbing allegedly happened during an argument that began when Pihema was about to tag a fence. "If I was on the jury, I would let him get away with it, but that is just me," Corbett said.
The comments have been criticised by city youth workers.

It didn’t take long for NZers real feelings about this case to pus up and pop did it? Remember the original narrative of this, it was ‘South Auckland teenagers stabbing rampage, shock horror, won’t someone think of the children’, but then of course it turned out it was a 50year old bloke who stabbed a 15 year old kid to death because he was tagging, well the news media didn’t know what tail to chase first did they, especially because so many old white people (their all important audience) would be secretly agreeing with the 50year old and lo and behold the public opinion of bigots starts to rule ok, here we have a Christchurch City councilor Barry Corbett proclaiming that the 50year old killer is now some type of folk hero – our culture’s insatiable contempt for our youth is now bordering on the psychotic, I wonder why so many teenagers commit suicide in a country that holds such hatred for them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

State of the Union (live blogging)

You'll have to refresh the page to get the updates.The suited multitudes are milling on the floor of the House. A lot of glad-handing. The speaker and VP are shuffling papers. CNN takes the opportunity to have Romney and Huckabee comment right beforehand. Hillary and Obama - being Senators - are already in their seats. Fox is having a body language analysis of the various election participants - actually quite good.

The Justices of the Supreme Court are lead in to applause. The military as usual - as in all dictatorships - are already present. Who invited them? The first lady gets a special applause too. Daughters look hot.

The President's cabinet ministers are lead in. Condi pumping hands... Don't recognise the rest of the cabinet - can't see the Fed chief either.

President is announced. Handshakes with both hands at once to maximise the false sincerity. Over the top American hoopla begins straight away - he wants to shake everyone's hand and have a brief word. He's laughing - but as yet no winks. Greets the military - since when were they in the three branches of government? Why do they sit right at the front?

Ok, he's at the podium and the applause - inexplicably is continuing. Speaker announces him, more applause.

"7 years have passed since I first stood here..." How embarrassing. Mentions the 110th Congress - quite an achievement for a regime to have stood so long. He's explicitly addressing Congress here - not the judiciary and the military. "In the short run we can see this growth is slowing... package includes tax relief..." vigourous partisan applause from the Republicans. Gets a silly dig in for those who don't mind paying high tax. Now standing ovation by Republicans about making his tax cuts permanent. $18 billion in spending cuts. Says will balance budget in 2012 and then has the bloody nerve to say if households should balance budget then so should federal government! He's the one who pushed it into deficit in the first place! What a cheek - the audacity. More standing ovations from his party. It's already silly to do this every time - and the speech has only just begun.

Housing is a big issue - tax-free bonds to refinance big mortgage companies is his solution.

Close up on Hillary - she's clapping so lightly I'm not sure her hands are even touching. But that's because he's on to health care - his answers are weak- you will never catch him saying "universal" in relation to health care.

Education: he praises bi-partisan initiatives. $300 million grants programme - but his accent has such a thick Southern twang I didn't catch what the name of it was.

Trade: He wants deals with several central and South American countries - following the one done with Peru. "Strategic" trade deal with Columbia to fight off "false populism" ie. Chavez in Venezuela - but he'd never mention him by name.

Energy: more nuclear, more renewable fuels, "international clean technology fund", "reduce greenhouse gases" but only if every major economy is in "and gives no-one a free ride". Wants to double funding to physical sciences (probably oil drilling technology!). "Respecting moral boundaries..." in scientific research - big applause for "ethical research" - and wants to ban the "buying, selling, patenting of human life".

Justice: Demands from Senate quick confirmation of his judicial appointees (I think every President says this). "Faith-based groups..." need more breaks from congress for funding.

Mentions New Orleans and crowd goes wild.

Immigration: secure borders. Doubled the number on border patrol. Seems to compromise on illegals - wants a bob each way - but put in a vague enough way to get applause.

The little hypocrite's talking about how they'll "deliver justice to our enemies" and "evil" etc. "Spreading the hope of freedom" - Fuck off you prick - what a fatuous, empty lie.

In Iraq: it's just peachy, enemies on the run etc. Surge working. "Grassroots surge" from Iraqis. "Last year Al Qaeda had many sanctuaries..." yeah but before you invaded there were none there at all. "Enemy will be defeated" - huge applause and shouting etc. I note the Supreme Court justices don't stand up to applaud every time. "Solemn pledge: you will have all you need to protect this nation... congress [should] fully fund our troops" So open chequebook for the military (again) - that programme will never be cut under Bush. Troops will be drawn down (slowly). Now he's going into Iraq's domestic political agenda etc. Like it was their province.

"The holy land [...] New cause for hope...Define a Palestinian State by end of the year" - what a joke! They haven't even defined Israel yet - that's the whole problem!!!

Iran: continues to be evil. Message to leaders: come clean about nuclear intentions... "we will... defend interests in Persian Gulf" Hey you prick - it's called the "persian" not the "american" gulf! Of course he will never, ever, mention Israel's nukes will he - or their aggression towards other states - or their strangulation of the Palestinians.

Change conditions that set up hostility to the US. Sudan, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Burma mentioned by name as regimes they oppose. AIDS and malaria programmes in Africa. Wants $30 billion over next 5 years to fight HIV.

Veteran's "funding up 95%." Well he probably created more than 95% more veterans through the Iraq war anyway didn't he?

Constitution mentioned - he must be winding up. "God bless America!". And what a massive beaming smile - of relief no doubt that he got through it all without any major cock up.

Brit Hume on Fox says 70 applause moments during the speech.

More glad handing and he's even signing autographs. He's quite personable from what we see from the on the ground camera... likable guy, sure - but President of the United States of America? Nah. They've got 300 million people - they must be able to do better than this.

So my impression was a fairly boring speech - not inspiring. Typically anti-Iran and pro-military - so not really anything remarkable. His health initiative... oh, was there one? Education was some sort of voucher scheme from what I heard. A lot about Iraq - I think he said 20,000 troops will be heading back to the US soon and a slow draw down all delegated to the General on the ground. Totally at odds with Obama and Edwards.

That's how I saw it. No mention of North Korea and nothing about Russia or China. Didn't hear them mentioned. Nothing about Europe or the UK either. Come to think of it he didn't even mention "our allies" in Iraq either because, I assume, the UK and Australia are keen to get out. Also nothing about infrastructure and investment in it.

And now the spin begins. The Dems have a "pre-buttal" carried on most channels - but a totally dead delivery. She's boring us senseless.

50 year old white business owner stabs to death brown teenage tagger

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City looks to New York to stop tagging
Manukau city Mayor Len Brown believes zero tolerance of graffiti could be the answer to reducing more serious crime in his city. New York's famous broken windows policy - not letting even small crimes go unpunished - is part of the inspiration behind the mayor's crackdown on tagging. "You sweat the small stuff. You start with the graffiti, you start with the tidiness, you deal with at level, and if you deal at that level then maybe you can stop the serious stuff at the other end," he says. To the people who live in Manukau city, tagging is a big deal. Locals are tired of it and the path it leads to.

Hmmm, shouldn’t the headline read, ’50 year old white business owner stabs to death brown teenage tagger’, instead we now have from the media the idea that the taggers are to blame and we need to look at the failed concept of broken windows that lead to human rights abuses in America, can we start racial profiling yet, that’s how New York ‘solved’ it’s crime, (of course it cost them about $200 million in damages awarded against them but hey, why bother with reason when you have knee jerk reactions to fall back on?), of course tagging needs to be dealt with, but to suggest Zero Tolerance would have somehow 'solved' this case is just an absolute joke - how about getting the 50 year old to not stab teenagers? I suggested the tone of this story would change from ‘South Auckland Teens stabbing out of control’ when the older news audience realised the boy stabbed was tagging and the News Director responsible for reeling in those audience numbers realizes most older NZers secretly sympathizing with the 50 year old killer, hence the sudden story of cracking down on taggers – how about a story where we look at the fucking 50 year old prick who took a kids life because the kid was spray painting – how bout that?

Key to give free training pledge

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Key to give free training pledge
School leavers aged under 18 will not be eligible for welfare benefits and will instead be offered free further education or training under a National Party scheme to be unveiled today. The Press understands National leader John Key will use his state-of-the-nation speech in Auckland today to unveil a "youth guarantee" scheme that will provide 16 and 17-year-olds with a universal educational entitlement. The speech to party faithful at Ellerslie at lunchtime today will officially kick off election year. Prime Minister Helen Clark will follow Key tomorrow with a speech outlining her Government's plans.

And so Helen should, National need to encroach on the female vote and education for kids is real bait, yes there is some stick involved re canceling any benefit if kids don’t turn up, which of course is more likely to entrench those kids into crime and poverty than force them into training but the sheer contempt most NZers (especially National voting NZers) hold young people in will drown out any criticism. It is smart politics and reinforces the wisdom of Helen going right after John Key in an attempt to drown him out.

Obama receiving backing of key Democrat Kennedy

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Obama receiving backing of key Democrat Kennedy
U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, the Democrats' leading liberal voice, is endorsing Barack Obama for the party's presidential nomination on Monday while a new poll found Republican John McCain with a slim lead on the eve of a crucial Florida nominating contest. Obama, who trounced fellow Sen. Hillary Clinton in South Carolina's primary on Saturday, also won the backing of Kennedy's son, U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, and his niece, Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the late President John Kennedy.

Having the Kennedy’s endorse Obama is a massive slap in the face to the Clinton’s and gives Obama a profile that is almost starting to border on the mythical – I’m waiting for him to pull a sword out of a stone soon, the Kennedy’s have massive pull amongst the Latino and white liberal vote, the exact groups that Obama needs to appeal to if he is to get the wider support that will carry him through to the November elections. His victory speech at the South Caroline election was certainly the closest I’ve ever seen any US politician get close to the Kennedy ability to inspire, Obama could be the real deal.

Hutt Valley parents fear bullies' return

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Hutt Valley parents fear bullies' return
Parents of children victimised at Hutt Valley High School want assurances schoolyard bullies will not be back in class next week. "Students who come forward will be targeted and attacked because anyone who speaks up against these gangs is a nark," one victim's mother said. "The school needs to provide a safe environment for all these kids to come forward without retribution." Police are investigating claims of at least five serious attacks in which pupils were partially stripped and violated with objects, including cellphones, scissors, a shoe and calculators.

Hmmm – originally this was a minor event, that didn’t require the School telling the Police anything about it, then of course it turns out this minor event was actually a sexual assault with a pupil held down and an object inserted, then we hear there have been other attacks, and now a report shows one in three students have been bullied – now either this has all exploded just recently or the staff at Hutt Valley High have no idea what the hell is going on in their own school and have created an environment that is unsafe for students to be in – either way, sort this shit out now as it is unacceptable that students are too frightened to go to school, Chris Carter please wake up.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Death List 2008 UPDATE

Scratch number 4: Suharto

1. Ariel Sharon
2. Fidel Castro
3. Robert Mugabe
4. Suharto
5. Billy Graham
6. Abdelaziz Bouteflika
7. Karl Frenzel
8. Khieu Samphan
9. Dick Cheney
10. NZ Telecom ad creative

I was in Jakarta in May 1998 when he was forced to step down. It was an amazing time. The normal taxis said it was too dangerous to get to my hotel because of the rioting and looting. I had to fork out US dollars to a guy to take me there. The motorway was completely empty - the toll booths abandoned. Very eerie feeling being on an abandoned elevated six lane motorway with smoke plumes from rioters' fires all over the place. Very post-apocolyptic vibe. For mile after mile all the way to Glodok's Chinatown was burnt out buildings, smashed windows and graffiti. Hundreds had died. My hotel had bribed an army motorcycle detachment to stay in the forecourt, but despite only being one block of the Presidential Palace the front of the hotel had been smashed up by rioters.

Revolution was in the air and if he hadn't resigned there would have been (more) bloodshed. Before being ejected by the security forces (who initially mistook me for a diplomat) who ringed the area around my hotel I saw his motorcade pull into the Presidential Palace the afternoon beforehand - something was up. In the week leading to this point the media had become more critical - by the day - and most of the self-censorship had disappeared. I had previously been at parliament where the students had taken the place over and it was obvious that either he had to go or the army would have to use force to keep Suharto in power.

The best decision he ever made was probably to go with some form of dignity. The following morning, about 9am, with his military boss, Warranto, standing behind him he addressed the nation from the Palace and announced he was quitting. The scenes at Parliament in the hours following was a sight of jubilation the likes of which I had never seen before. There could of been 100,000 people in the compound Which was in marked contrast to the tense scenes of sinking terror on the first day of the very small student protest when the military lines suddenly racked their sub machine guns and we thought for a minute it might be all over for us.

After coming back from the compound the street vendors around the hotel had hidden away all their Suharto portraits that had so proudly been displayed the day before. The National Monument had put a sheet over the last part of the history tour that featured Suharto. How quickly they erase history to conform to the new political reality.

Indonesians will feel very ambivalent about his passing - as they did about his resignation and his rule as President. The interesting aspect of his stature in Indonesia was the idea that even middle class people held that Suharto possessed supernatural powers that kept him in power. This revelation was a complete shock and a cultural insight I had never expected.

Ozone hole discoverer issues another global warning

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Ozone hole discoverer issues another global warning
The man who discovered the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica 25 years ago, has returned to the continent and issued another global warning. Jonathan Shanklin was one of a group of scientists who helped bring about the Montreal Protocol – the international agreement on ozone control. However, he says the world is still not moving fast enough. On the Antarctic coastline where the ozone hole is open, he drew a diagram in the snow, illustrating how the world used to be with its protective layer; how it appeared 25 years ago when he first discovered the hole in the ozone layer and how that hole appears today. “It’s probably doubled in size since the first discovery,” Mr Shanklin said. “And it was a wakeup call to the planet on how easily it is to change the atmosphere.” However the hole is causing ice shelves to collapse in Antarctica and Mr Shanklin has a warning about the climate changes to come. “It won’t just be the Antarctic ice sheets breaking up,” he warned. “It will be glaciers flowing faster into the sea, the sea level rising and we will see the effects of that back in England.” He says climate conferences where governments discuss the problem are not good enough. “We need action and we need action now,” Mr Shanklin said. “This is a bit like putting the breaks on a lorry. You don’t stop immediately, but you perhaps will slow down enough so that you’re in control when you get to the future. At the moment, we’re not in control.”
And that is the problem, for all the conferences we are not changing our actions fast enough to prevent run away environmental change, Shanklin discovered the Ozone Hole and proved that Humans could damage the environment in ways we don’t see immediately and his actions proved we could turn things around, this is the hope, but the hope is starting to move into ‘wish’ as our inaction does nothing to slow the momentum towards breaching feedback loops.

The Butcher of East Timor dies

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The Butcher of East Timor dies
Former President Suharto, hailed as the father of development by some Indonesians during his 32 years in power - and accused of corruption and rights abuses by others - died yesterday after a long illness. He was 86. He died in hospital after lapsing into a coma and suffering multiple organ failure. The former strongman steered Indonesia through three decades of rapid economic growth and stability, only to see much of his work unravel in months as the country was plunged into chaos. The ex-general was swept out of office on May 21, 1998 amid a savage economic crisis, mass protests and riots in Jakarta that killed 1200, while his own legacy was tarnished by charges his family had plundered billions of dollars through corrupt deals.
Isn’t it nice to see a corrupt butcher die? This evil man stole $45 Billion from his own people and committed a genocide on the people of East Timor, one hope that there is a special Hell reserved for vermin like Suharto, and let’s never forget our own country’s despicable green lighting of his horror in East Timor and remind ourselves that no amount of economic stability defends the murder of almost a third of a country. May you burn in hell Suharto, burn long, and burn bright.

Minor parties disrupt two-horse race

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Minor parties disrupt two-horse race
The election picture is becoming complicated, with a Herald-DigiPoll survey showing the gap between National and Labour narrowing - and the Greens and the Maori Party wielding influence over who will form the next government. National retains a lead in the poll entering election year, registering 47.5 per cent support, down 3.8 per cent from its highest-ever Herald-DigiPoll rating of 51.3 per cent in November. Labour is relatively steady on 38.7 per cent support, meaning the gap between the two major parties has fallen to 8.8 points from 13.2 points in November. But the big mover of the survey is the Green Party, which has rocketed to 9.1 per cent after looking in previous polls as if it might struggle to make the 5 per cent threshold.
Our friends on the right have been braying the victory for the National Party ruling alone for some time, despite the protestations of some of us pointing out that under MMP the odds of one party running the country are close to impossible. The Greens have had a rollercoaster, last August they were on about 8% - then the Urewera 17 nonsense brought the word ‘eco-terrorist’ into the vernacular and the Greens fell to their 4.3% activist base, but with that fact announced, the idea of a Government without the Greens in a post Inconvenient Truth world forced many NZers to get off the fence and support the Greens reminding the Greens that there IS a huge chunk of the electorate who will support politics aimed at global warming, and this is where Dr Invisible and Jeanette Fitzsimons have the chance to shine – the only words that should be coming out of their collective mouths is, “If you care about global warming, you must know that voting Labour or National WILL NOT DO ANYTHING TO SOLVE GLOBAL WARMING BECAUSE their environmental policies don’t go anywhere near where they must” – this mantra must be repeated a thousand times.

Teenager 'stabbed tagging property'

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Teenager 'stabbed tagging property'
A teenager reportedly tagging property has become the latest victim in a spate of violent killings which have marked a bloody start to 2008. The 15-year-old was found dead from stab wounds on a Manurewa street at 11.30pm on Saturday, the second such killing in the south Auckland suburb in two days, and the 10th murder in New Zealand this year. A police spokeswoman said the stabbing appeared to have happened during a heated argument between the teenager and a man in Southview Place. She said there were reports the youth was tagging a property in the street before he was stabbed.

The News media all weekend have been drawing oxygen to the “South-Auckland-youth-on-the-rampage-stabbing-one-another” summer news vacuum, but then it turns out this kid was killed by an adult because he was tagging, well that just throws a bone into the neat little paradigm we were being sold on savage youth, especially as most adults in NZ would all be secretly nodding their agreement about stabbing taggers to death. It will be interesting how the media sell this story now, my guess is that it will sink pretty quick as it aligns with the quiet desires of so many Herald readers and with the number of dumb kids doing dumb stuff it will likely get knocked off the news radar the second a south Auckland kid gets killed in a way we can publicly denounce and wag our fingers at.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


It looks like an absolute rout for Obama, with only 68% of the vote in, he is leading with 55% to Clinton's 27% - an absolute whomping - he is back in the game and looking at the record Democrat turn out once again it suggests he is reaching out to the 50% of America who doesn't bother voting, that his mesaage is attracting the disillushioned masses of the 2 party farce that is normally Fraudocracy in America. The Republicans must be worried that the Democrat votes are almost double that of the theirs. Very worried.

The Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club

On the Sunday Newspaper Brunch Club today at 11am, Sky Digital 65, with Bomber from Alt, Wallace Chapman from Kiwi FM breakfast show and Ben Thomas from the NBR

News that caught my eye –
1: Center for Public Integrity has reviewed all the comments during the build up to the Iraq war and they found that 8 administration officials made at least 935 false statements about Iraq, the report called ‘False Pretences’ finds that Bush and his administration "waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq," Bush himself was found to have lied about Iraq, 260 times.

2: Watching Palestinians streaming across the Gaza border to get food and a family interviewed saying they were just there to ‘breath freedom’, really showed what Gaza has become, the largest open air prison in the world.

3: The West must be prepared to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes to halt the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, a radical new manifesto argues. The document - written by five of the West's most senior military officers and strategists - has been presented to the Pentagon and Nato's secretary-general. They argue there is a need for urgent and comprehensive reform of Nato, the Guardian reports. A new pact - involving the United States, Nato and the European Union - was also essential to face the challenges ahead, they said. It identified a number of key threats to the West's values and way of life - including international terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.

4: Claims from Christchurch Mens Prison that an insurrection is pending – but haven’t we all heard that before in 1999?

5: Child prostitution in South Auckland – 3 years after Stakeout filmed this the NZ Police have sprung into action.

6: Great moments of irony – Paul Wolfowitz, the man who built the Iraq war and who left the World Bank after claiming to clean up corruption but was found to have gotten his girlfriend a cushy job, is now to chair the US Arms Control Panel, it’s like putting Fox News in charge of the Truth and Fairness in Media Council.

STORY 1 – Youngest killer's parole is delayed - hos
The country's youngest killer will remain behind bars for at least another two months while authorities consider the best way of managing his possible early release back into the community. Bailey Junior Kurariki appeared before the Parole Board for a sixth time on Friday, with the hearing adjourned until a date in March so authorities could obtain a residential restrictions report and detailed relapse prevention plan.
We have had a spate of youth attacks, a young University student stabbed this week by a 16 year old and 4 teenagers also faced court this week for a string of assaults on the North Shore – Bailey Junior Kurariki was our youngest ‘killer’, we threw him in prison and because we know our prisons are broken and do no rehabilitation whatsoever, we are terrified to let him out – do we have a teen violence problem and in our lynch mob country do we have the resources available to deal with these kids other than locking them up.

STORY 2 – Referendum looms on smacking law - sst
The rancorous smacking debate is set to be reopened this year, with an election day referendum looking increasingly likely. Anti-smacking campaigners are closing in on the number of signatures they need to force the referendum.
Family First director Bob McCoskrie said activists have gained 273,000 of the 300,000 signatures needed to trigger a Citizens Initiated Referendum. Activists, including Christians, libertarians and Act supporters, were working hard to get the remaining 30,000 signatures by the March 1 deadline.

Here we go again, could this end up back firing for the right? If the issue is campaigned on in the same screaming mess it created last time, it could rally urban liberals back to Labour, not against them, the end of the world and mass arrests of parents for knocking their children out of the way hot stoves hasn’t happened and our appalling rate of violence against children hardly defends the idea of allowing parents to go back to beating their kids.

STORY 3 – Small parties will determine who rules – poll - sst
A big increase in support for the Greens has knocked National hopes that it could govern alone, the first Herald DigiPoll in election year shows. National retains a lead in the poll registering 47.5 per cent support, down 3.8 per cent from its highest-ever Herald-DigiPoll rating of 51.3 per cent in November. Labour is relatively steady on 38.7 per cent support, meaning the gap between the two major parties has fallen to 8.8 points from 13.2 points in November, the Weekend Herald reports.
The Green Party has rocketed to 9.1 per cent after looking in previous polls as if it might struggle to make the 5 per cent threshold.

The Greens plummeted under 5% during the eco-terrorism nonsense of the Urewera 17, but after it was broadcast the Greens had fallen under 5% there was a real fear amongst voters of a Government minus the Greens and forced fence sitters to come back to the fold on mass – we have been arguing that the Nats can’t win this election on their own, and they can’t.

STORY 4 - $19,000 Burton bill spurs minister into action - sst
Annette King is alarmed the Legal Services Agency has asked the widow of a man murdered by Graeme Burton to pay $19,000 for the inquest into his death. Karl Kuchenbecker was shot by Burton while quad biking in the Wainuiomata Hills on January 6. His former partner was involved in a four-day inquest in November and was granted legal aid. Legal Services Agency manager of legal aid grants Robyn Nicholas told the Dominion Post the $19,000 figure was a theoretical maximum and the true amount would likely be less.
Don’t you love the smell of roasting bureaucrat and an angry Annette King will be in BBQ grilling mode – this despicable cock up shows how unfair these changes to legal aid has become, we now ‘loan’ the money to victims from legal aid and try and claw it back, how ugly.

STORY 5 - $9b fraud 'genius' vanishes - sst
He is 31, a lowly paid employee, and said to be a loner. But in perpetrating the greatest banking fraud in history, could Jerome Kerviel really have acted alone? It is just one of the questions swirling around the world's money markets as they try to digest the impact of the €4.9 billion ($NZ9.4 billion) defrauding of Societe Generale, France's second-largest bank.
Financiers are also asking whether the bank's desperate attempt to unravel Kerviel's trading positions on Monday provoked the stockmarket turmoil, in which prices fell 7 per cent across Europe.

No need to be concerned with the health of global capitalism, it was all just a Frenchman.

FINAL WORD – Ronalds blog and The Standard

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Currently under construction in Beijing. The Chinese State television broadcasting centre is large. It's very big. Don't think much of the harsh aesthetic myself, but it does remind me of another building in Paris that seems to be missing a bit in the middle:
Paris - La Defense: La Grande Arche de la Défense. Danish architect Otto van Spreckelsen designed the hollow cube. It's really a football field sized white office building with the middle part left open.

The CCTV HQ is a Sino-Dutch collaboration:
The principal architect of the design is Rem Koolhaas of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture of the Netherlands [...] The domestic architectural design collaborator for this project, East China Architectural Design & Research Institute Co., Ltd., is an affiliate of Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design Group. Its works included the Oriental Pearl Radio & Broadcasting Tower of Shanghai, the studio complex building of the Shanghai TV Station, the Shanghai Bookstore City and the TV tower in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Chinese partners did not do very well in the past. The Shanghai broadcasting tower is so nasty it makes Auckland's Sky Tower look Eiffellian:Thankfully everything looks better at night:

carbon copy certificate

RNZ reports:
There are hopes a carbon neutral certificate awarded to Christchurch International Airport will lead to airlines taking part in the scheme. Landcare Research gave the airport company a carbon zero certificate this week for measuring, managing, reducing and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. The airport has invested in regenerating native forest to offset its climate change impacts. Landcare Rearch says Christchurch airport can influence airlines to go carbon neutral and encourage other airport players to do their bit.
The process of getting a carbon zero certificate can cost up to $50,000.

It's not mandatory, there is no tax break. The challenge this year is to find a way of making these credits transferable and that will involve certification legislation if it is to work. At the moment "green" taxes (or debits) on pollution and rewarding good behaviour (monetising credits) does not exist. This was what was signaled by Kyoto to start happening. The main problem is that smaller businesses will have to be inspected to assess their emissions because there is no way that anyone would willingly go out and stick there hand up to voluntarily pay a tax. As it is voluntary, sure, some firms will "greenwash" themselves by having a shiny sticker, but they will be the ones that are not polluting much at all. Kevin down at the workshop throwing old tyres into the mangroves and the guy across the street having a burn-off will be unaffected by all the current measures.

Not that I know what the solution could be or whether it's desirable to have a pollution census and force people into the scheme. But how else will Kyoto work? Everyone has to be in, the govt. is going to have to certify everyone and each govt. certification standards are going to have to be audited in turn by a world body because if that doesn't happen then we can't have the international aspect of transferability that Kyoto envisaged. I can't believe that rich and stupid countries will be paying smart and poor countries money for nothing - for actually not doing something (like chop down their trees) - is ever going to happen. It doesn't make sense. I assume each country or group (like the EU) are going to be trading just within their own systems.

The carboNZero site has a household calculator with energy, transport, waste and recycling as the main data fields. Looks a bit much for the average householder to fill in, but that said it might prove to be a sort of eco-budgeting tool if you turned it into $ instead of CO2 emissions.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Polish cultural high point for Friday

Someone suggested I was related to Patrick Swayze. Which made me think about dancing. Which made me think about the man on the right.

Palestinians blow up border wall, flood into Egypt

breakfast news comment
Palestinians blow up border wall, flood into Egypt
Tens of thousands of Palestinians poured into Egypt from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday through a border wall destroyed by militants, and stocked up on food and fuel in short supply because of an Israeli blockade. "Those people are hungry for freedom, for food and for everything," said an Egyptian shopkeeper who gave her name only as Hamida, surveying shelves emptied swiftly by Gazans paying with Egyptian pounds and Israeli shekels. The fall of the Rafah wall punched a new hole in efforts by Israel, under frequent rocket attack from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, to keep pressure on the territory in the face of an international outcry over shortages and Palestinian hardship.
I watched this live and they interviewed a Palestinian family who were just walking to Egypt so that they could ‘feel free’ – imagine that, walking through a hole in a wall just to ‘feel free’, the brutality and injustice of the Israeli 40year occupation has never been so acutely presented, the reality is that Israel has created two of the largest open air prisons in the world based on their paranoid aggression, watching a family having to walk through a hole to feel free has no justification.

Concern over child prostitution

breakfast news comment
Concern over child prostitution
A crackdown on child prostitution by Auckland police - which resulted in girls as young as 13 being removed from the streets and 25 arrests - has put the spotlight on a hidden nationwide problem, according to child advocates.
The head of the Counties Manukau child abuse team, Sergeant Dave Pizzini, said 16 young people were removed from the streets during an undercover operation, and either returned to their families or placed in the care of Child, Youth and Family.

I hosted a TV show called ‘Stake Out’ a couple of years ago where we busted clients trying to buy sex from underage children in the exact same place, the fundamental problem is men wanting to sleep with children, and that 50% these children, according to research, are being sexually abused at home – the Police pick the kids up and deliver them home, in half of those cases the girl is being sexually abused at home so are on the street through necessity and economic intendance. There is no shelter, no outreach program, nothing for these girls to be able to get out of their situation, they are effectively trapped into using their bodies as sexual commodity, and the fact that our under funded CYFs can barely look after the damaged children they have leaves me with little hope that all this will be is a headline with no real change pending.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ID should be free

Having read some decent discussions from No Right Turn on disenfranchisement and David Farrar on voter fraud a few thoughts spring to mind:
  • Citizens should be the exclusively enfranchised group - not any foreigner who sticks around for only (literally) a couple of years.
  • There should be a register of citizens (contrary to the impression Farrar may have given there is only a list of new citizens from another nationality)
  • The register of citizens is therefore also the list of registered voters - they get taken off when the data matching with death certificates issued. You do not automatically lapse as at present "purging the rolls". You go overseas and stay there then you can still vote because you are still a citizen.
  • Identification must be established when you become a citizen in the first place in addition to members of your community "sponsoring" you into citizenship when you turn 18. Which I think would be a good civic "coming of age" ceremony at any rate.
  • Identification must be provided when you go into the polling station (and if you can't identify yourself you have to have a bit of die put on your finger like they do in other countries to prevent multiple voting... perhaps? or given a special vote that can be tagged for investigation later)

    I disagree with a few assertions made on NRT:
    a total of three cases of enrolment fraud were detected during the 2005 election. All were reported to the police. 21 cases of dual voting were discovered during the 2005 election, and these were also reported to the police. The conclusion is that voter and enrolment fraud in New Zealand is relatively rare.
    - that might very well prove that we have no way of detecting it. In the old days we had many cases of child abuse that were never reported - that did not mean it was not prevalent as we are now learning through all the "historic" charges in the news just about every week. So too the institutional necessity for the organisations conducting the election process to not incriminate themselves by searching too hard for things that will make them look bad.

    dual voting is easily detected and the votes disqualified
    - Not if you've registered twice.

    [... How easy is it to impersonate a voter? From my own experience
    I'm not sure if this is still suppressed or not, probably not now, so I'll tell you: that weird revelation in the middle of my sedition trial was a bizarre man who managed to get on to the jury by pretending to be someone at the same address as the jury notice was sent to. I kid you not. Thanks to the intense interest from half the Detectives in Auckland seated at the back of the court one of them noticed this guy and stopped the proceedings to take us into closed court to tell us he'd prosecuted him a few years before and that he certainly wasn't whatever that name was. It's no offence to change your name and so the trial went on - and then the police said he can't sit on a jury if he'd had that conviction, but after making more enquiries they discovered his conviction fell just days outside of the prohibited period, and so the trial went on... then the cops made more enquires and said we were in the same Politics paper in 1992!? News to me - there were about 200 people in that first year paper, but that's not against the law... and then they made more enquiries and discovered... he was not really his Korean female flatmate... but the jury had just retired to make the verdict so there was nothing they could do. What a farce, eh? The little cunt voted against me too. Did he not want to rock the boat? Well who knows because my brilliant lawyers dropped that angle at the appeal... anyway the point is if that one D hadn't noticed he would of sailed right on through. And this was a high profile court case with the media etc. Would he have ever been detected if he had voted in some suburban area? Of course not. He could of applied as a dozen voters and toddled around a dozen polling stations and no one would ever know.

    The blunt fact is that the poor are less likely than the rich to have the required forms of ID or be comfortable dealing with bureaucracy, and thus less likely to be able to vote under such a system.
    - well Idiot/Savant ain't never been poor before obviously because all the WINZ beneficiaries - and I do mean all of them - all have ID. If they didn't they wouldn't get a bean. Poor people, WINZ clients or not, deal with bureaucracy especially that low-level front-of-house paperwork and admin more than the wealthy. Now that's more than likely - that's a fact. I've been there, I know. It's time to hit that middle class assumption on the head.

    The only groups in that low income demographic who are substantially "less likely" to have ID are: 1. the over-stayers and the foreigners who can't speak English properly or at all. 2. prisoners just released from Prison. 3. the absolutely destitute homeless addicts, desperately mentally ill people and recluses who do not want to be or cannot be helped by the social services agencies (and most of them probably should be institutionalised for their own well-being). The first lot shouldn't be able to vote at all anyway because they aren't or shouldn't be citizens (if their English is really that bad), the second lot can get ID in less than a fortnight, and the third group are at the point where they are actively avoiding "the system" in all its guises and do not want to vote. So the amount of people that in a position where they can't get ID is near zero I would think.

    Yes it's a hassle to get it and the Crown demands you pay for the privilege of confirming your own damn identity - usually at one of their own bloody department's behest in the first place when they already have the information! *start hair-tearing self-mutilation at this point* And that should be the focus - making it a right - not something that you have to pay for. It is a necessity in the modern world and it ought to be free to the person who must have it by legislative or government operational requirements. It should be free to the citizen to have the government issue you with an acceptable ID for voting purposes, once per election cycle. If you lose it after it's issued maybe then you'll have to pay for another one (before 3 years is up).

    The ID issue also has other affects. I recall the ugly scenes during the electoral petition over the contested Onehunga seat in the 90s where the National Party went through everyone on the roll with an Indian or PI name and challenged them because they may have been a Labour jack-up vote bused in from Otahuhu or whatever. It was an ugly play (and nothing was proved). That is still the system. The interested stakeholders, ie. the rival political parties, are supposed to act as screeners and detectors and investigators of the roll's integrity. That is stupid, and as I've argued, potentially nasty situation - and it is not good enough.

    I must say that Farrar's commenting that Well in the last four years it has been almost 7,000 people. who have been found by the Electoral Commission to be on the roll but ineligible is some indication of widespread fraud - this is highly unlikely. Why? It is far more likely to be because NZ Post (the organisation tasked with collecting enrolments) pay their collecters per enrollment giving the collectors an incentive to push ineligible people to sign up. That's probably a big chunk. The other big chunk will be the overstayers and foreigners who don't understand what they are doing because their English comprehension is very poor - and so if it is from the government they are likely to think that they must fill it out.

    And while we are at it: the turnout=quality issue. It's been said before, but it must be emphasised:
    Over a certain point the higher the turn-out the worse the quality of decision. As we approach 100% every crack-pot, every sub-normal intelligent human vegetable, every psychotic, every person who doesn't even know what party is which let alone what electorate they are in and what they are voting for or even what year it is will have their vote given an equal weight as someone who has spent hours reading material and going to meetings etc.

    Finally, it should be convenient to vote in an election for sure - it just shouldn't be convenient to vote as many times as you want without any way of ever knowing.

  • Double Standards?

    Who didn't know the Standard was written by a bunch of Labour Party insiders, just as Kiwi Blogh is written by a bunch of National Party insiders - Mike Williams was a dick to have put his hand up to pay for it, it's not his to pay for, it's a blog site that clearly states what it is and people can post comments and debate things, that's political opinion, a blog is a transcript of a pub argument, and carry’s all the weight of a pub argument. Blogs are not covered by the EFB, we live in a free country and you are free to have an opinion and 'speak' it to the world via a blog, and other people have the ability to enter into debate and put their opinion across, if we need more of anything it is more dialogue between citizens, not less!
    The EFB is there to protect Democracy from Plutocracy, now that doesn't defend the appalling way in which Labour went about passing this two headed mutant legislation, my God they had 80 amendments to their own law for crying out loud, but to deny the need for Democracy to guard against the undue influence of the moneyed elite with cries of 'self interest' at Labour are just the height of audacity. National has a huge amount of self interest in hiding who funds them and those wealthy businessmen who are wanting policy implementation to help their pork barrel incorporated have a massive amount of self interest in remaining anonymous, and as for the Herald's 'Democracy under attack' nonsense, isn't it really 'Herald's profits under attack'? Because any reduction in advertising spending is going to hit the largest daily circulation newspaper in the country now isn’t it?
    Seeing as the protest against the EFB is supposedly from 'ordinary NZers', let's also start becoming self interested, and it is in our self interest as individuals in a Society to not allow the 10% who own 50% make the decisions for the 90% rest of us. How many 'ordinary' NZers would have $12 000 per month to spend on advertising their political opinion anyway? None, that's why this isn't about free speech, it's about paid speech.

    US blocks Arctic report as oil and gas get go-ahead

    breakfast news comment
    US blocks Arctic report as oil and gas get go-ahead
    The United States has blocked the release of a landmark assessment of oil and gas activity in the Arctic as it prepares to sell off exploration licences for the frozen Chukchi Sea off Alaska, one of the last remaining intact habitats of the polar bear. Scientists at the release of the censored report in Norway said there was "huge frustration" that the US had derailed a science-based effort to manage the race for the vast energy reserves of the Arctic. This month, the Bush Administration drew widespread criticism when it said it would auction off 30 million acres of the remote Chukchi Sea that separates Alaska from Russia on February 6. The sale to oil and gas companies has been rushed through before Congress can complete efforts to protect the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, a move which could complicate efforts to auction off its habitat to oil majors. A draft of the censored recommendations called on governments to conduct proper research on environmental impacts before signing off new oil and gas projects in ecologically sensitive areas such as the Chukchi.

    America blocks environmental reports to push through drilling for oil in our last pristine Arctic environments, at a time when the very pollution from that oil is melting those Arctic environments much faster than anyone has predicted, the banality of their lust for oil is akin to a heroin addict who commits crimes for their hit and catches the rest of the world watching them with a mix of pity and disgust, land of the brave, home of the free never sounded so hollow.

    Blog worried boss, McDonald's say

    breakfast news comment
    Blog worried boss, McDonald's say
    A McDonald's employee who blogged about his Kaitaia workplace caused concern with the "menacing" tone of his blogs, a lawyer for the fast food restaurant says. Blogger Michael Davis last week said he left McDonald's because it "just got too political". McDonald's said he was sacked. Mr Davis agreed to remove his blog shortly after the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) became involved, ruling he refrain from making written statements or posting any information on digital media about McDonald's or its staff. In what was thought to be a legal first, Kaitaia McDonald's owner Justin Stonelake had initially applied to the ERA for an ex parte injunction to remove the blog. This week McDonald's said that the injunction was not simply an attempt to gag Mr Davis. His blog had been threatening, demeaning and offensive to McDonald's and its staff, barrister Eska Hartdegen said. "One page said on top: `War time, kill them all and let God sort them out."' Mr Davis said his comments were quotes from a game and were taken out of context by McDonald's. "They didn't want to listen or understand what I was trying to explain." The blog also contained criticisms over some of the restaurant's work practices, he said.

    Poor Ronald doesn’t like it when kids talk out of school, amazing isn’t it, a website threatening to kill a Politician wasn’t taken down, but one that talks bad of McDonalds gets the full weight of the ERA and injunctions, nice to see corporate power in action, I’d suggest to any kids working for Ronald to post insider blogs anonymously so they can’t catch you.

    Prisons 'fear inmate mutiny'

    breakfast news comment
    Prisons 'fear inmate mutiny'
    Corrections officers at Christchurch Men's Prison fear a mutiny, with dangerous inmates running jails while managers and senior officers "hide away", a leaked memo claims. A confidential email sent to Canterbury prisons management by Canterbury's Corrections Association New Zealand (Canz) chairman, Nigel Herring, on January 4 reveals a prison culture in a "critical stage of neglect" and calls for immediate action. Christchurch Men's Prison units Rawhiti, Kotuku and Bravo, where the most dangerous prisoners are housed, are of most concern, with gangs and dangerous prisoners "gaining ground with their heightened aggression and interest in weapons". Members were worried about a possible "insurrection", with managers offering little support and guidance, Herring said.

    Hmmm, where have I heard all of this before? In 1999 Christchurch Men’s Prison set up a ‘goon squad’ of knuckle dragging thug screws specially trained to beat up rioting prisoners, they were put together (get this, you’ll love it) because apparently there was a plan by white supremacist prisoners to overthrow the prison during the ‘Millennium Bug’ power blackout. It was revealed latter that part of the ‘bonding’ of this crew of hard men goon squad members was to put their testicles on a table and allow another goon squad member to hit the testicles, I’m not sure how many Government Departments have that as an entry requirement, maybe Treasury? Of course the Millennium Bug didn’t happen and there was no white supremacist uprising, making the ‘goon squad’ dreadfully redundant, so the ‘goon squad’ turned to making trouble and on one night in Christchurch Men’s Prison they attacked prisoners in what the goon squad called a real life training exercise, during this real life training exercise they killed a prisoner, now of course the Corrections Department found the goon squad member innocent and the prisoners death was due to ‘natural causes, which is true, because if you have a persons arms around your throat, you naturally die. The Goon squad was quietly disbanded as the media started taking an interest in the story and started asking, ‘where the hell did you get your intelligence of a white supremacist uprising in the first place to justify this paramilitary thug force that ended up killing a prisoner’ – this question was never answered, but here we are again with allegations the prisoners are restless and we need new powers to deal with it. Interesting to note the man making these allegations this time, Nigel Herring the Canterbury Corrections Association New Zealand chairman was investigated in 2005 by English prison authorities after it was claimed an Asian prisoner died in gladiator-style fights between prisoners that he had organized. Herring, then a branch officer at the Prison Officers' Association in Britain, denied the allegations, saying he was the victim of a smear campaign. So guy accused of a death from gladiator styled fights between prisoners is telling us that there is an insurrection planned at a prison where the exact same claims were made 7 years ago to justify a testicle banging paramilitary goon squad who also killed a prisoner? R-I-G-H-T, and I’m skeptical WHY?

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Standard issues over cooked

    There's a lot of silly season nonsense going around the blogs and out into the mainstream media. I don't even have to link to the whole "The Standard is a Labour Party front" issue because all the blogs are covering it. I tried to go to The Standard just now and it was so heavily trafficed it would not connect! Get a blogger account or something - you don't have to pay a cent - and it has never disconnected (touch wood).

    It's all humbug of course. It clearly says at the top of The Standard's sidebar that it is the labour movement's reborn online newspaper. Obviously it's operated by people from the Labour Party. They pretty much say so directly. The only issue I can think of is whether it has to be declared or authorised under the stupid and unfair Electoral Finance Act - and since it is a blog where the authors offer their opinions the answer seems to be: no they don't. End of story. Bill English, listening: end of story.

    The other bit of sillyness - or pettiness? - was this kiwiblog post (via a post atThe Hive) about WInston not answering a question correctly about an MFAT chef flying to Paris to be the resident cook at the embassy. Now I know Gayle personally and she is great person. One might even say she "rocks". I remember when she told me about that job (many years ago now) and I couldn't believe that in Paris of all places they needed a NZ chef. But the important point was that I also recall - because it came up when she popped my idea that it was the cushiest job I had ever heard of - that she said she would have to pay her own way. Which I thought was actually a bit stingy. That's my recollection of this probably meaningless/concocted controversy - for what it's worth.

    We were right to fire at shooter, say police

    alt tv/fleet fm breakfast news comment
    We were right to fire at shooter, say police
    Police say they made the right decision to shoot a man who fired at officers during a 150km pursuit through the Bay of Plenty to the Coromandel town of Waihi. "The decision to shoot on the evidence we have before us appears to be justified," Detective Inspector Peter Devoy said yesterday. The 19-year-old man remained in a critical but stable condition in Waikato Hospital last night. Mr Devoy said he had undergone surgery for a single bullet wound to the torso fired by an armed offenders squad officer at the end of Monday's pursuit. Witnesses said the 19-year-old, who was the passenger in a stolen van allegedly driven by his 18-year-old girlfriend, emerged from the van pointing a rifle at police when the vehicle was forced off the road at Waihi. Mr Devoy yesterday revealed that the gun - a .22 calibre rifle - was loaded and the van was carrying explosives and ammunition. He said the armed offenders squad officer shot the 19-year-old after he fired shots with the rifle which struck two police cars during the pursuit and "immediately raised it into an aim position" when surrounded by officers in Waihi.
    The issue here is not that he shot at Police during the chase, the issue is did he aim the gun at Police when he surrendered, now Detective Inspector Peter Devoy says that happened, but then again he’s a cop, and that’s exactly what he would say, which is why it needs to be independently investigated and why we need an independent complaints authority. That said, where as questions of appropriate shooting tactics when confronted by a claw hammer or a baseball bat are valid, the reality is that if you are DUMB enough to not only have a loaded gun on you when being chased by cops, but allegedly pointing a gun at cops leaves you very little sympathy if they shoot you. What a dickhead of a 19 year old.

    Key vs. Clark

    alt tv/fleet fm breakfast news comment
    Parties set for battle in election year
    Labour and National are entering election year on a war footing. The first shots will be fired next week, when National leader John Key delivers his annual state of the nation speech. But Prime Minister Helen Clark plans a counter-offensive with a major speech the next day, in a significant departure from tradition. The Dominion Post understands 300 invitations have already been snapped up by party faithful for the Clark speech, to be held in Auckland.
    If you wanted an idea of how deadly serious this election battle will be this year, look at the hard ball Helen is playing now, Labour must have smarted many summers after watching National use the doldrums of no news month to capture headlines, with Helen launching her strategy THE DAY AFTER KEY’S SPEECH, it's time for National to wake up from their sleep walk to victory, Labour mean to win this election.

    The West want to nuke first

    alt tv/fleet fm breakfast news comment
    The West want to nuke first
    The West must be prepared to carry out pre-emptive nuclear strikes to halt the spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, a radical new manifesto argues. The document - written by five of the West's most senior military officers and strategists - has been presented to the Pentagon and Nato's secretary-general. They argue there is a need for urgent and comprehensive reform of Nato, the Guardian reports. A new pact - involving the United States, Nato and the European Union - was also essential to face the challenges ahead, they said. It identified a number of key threats to the West's values and way of life - including international terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.
    Let me get this straight, because someone might threaten the West with a nuke, the West needs to move the UN away from consensus to majority rule for the purpose of allowing the West first strike nuclear capability? I’m sorry, ARE THEY SMOKING CRACK? The Planet needs MORE consensus decision making not less, and to change that all so that the West gets to nuke ‘someone’ first is jaw dropping in its audacity as well as being just plane wrong, the major threat to this planet is not international terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, political fanaticism or religious fundamentalism, it is global warming, something these warlords ignore completely. This is a dangerous escalation towards a UN that no longer becomes a place where dialogue can be attempted to a place that rubber stamps the worst type of aggression, first strike nuclear capability.

    Fed slashes rates in shock move

    alt tv/fleet fm breakfast news comment
    Fed slashes rates in shock move
    The US Federal Reserve has cut interest rates to 3.5%, a shock three-quarters of a percentage point reduction. Aimed at staving off a US recession, the move failed to calm investors, with shares continuing to fall sharply as Wall Street opened for Tuesday trading. The Fed, the US central bank, said latest figures indicated a deepening of the country's housing market slump and increased unemployment levels. One analyst said the Fed was "obviously panicked" by the threat of recession. The Fed's interest move came as a complete surprise, as it was taken outside its timetabled rate-setting Open Market Committee meetings.
    We’ve lost 8 billion so far this year, markets hate surprise moves and this one by the Fed freaked the hell out of everyone, at one point the Dow Jones lost 300 points before ‘recovering’ to a 177 point loss. Bernanke has been telling everyone who would listen that things were worse from the sub prime credit orgy and no one wanted to listen. The Fed’s move did give life back to the French and British market’s, but those may evaporate when those markets see that the Fed’s call has done very little to turn the American market, give this till the end of the week to see if the tide turns, if it doesn’t, schedule in the economic apocalypse.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Hillary farewell fitting - if marred by etiquette lapses

    It was moving and heart-felt and humourous and I enjoyed watching it.

    Impressions of the media coverage: Radio New Zealand's Geoff Robinson was the best because the man has class and conveys dignity and solemnity. TVNZ's coverage with Mark Sainsbury and Simon Dallow was a far more casual, chatty affair. Dallow has gone up a lot in my estimation over the last few years - I once told their pollers he was smarmy if I remember rightly - and sometimes he makes me wish I could take it back. However today he was simply talking far too fast for a funeral - a State funeral. TV3 just ran TVNZ's feed as did Alt TV in a wonderfully irreverently reverent programme that discussed towing issues and Oliver Driver's vox pop on the streets. The only problem I really had was the Hillary Collegiate's haka that RNZ spoke over and that TVNZ had no camera angle for - what a glaring mistake. What does this tell us of Pakeha cultural sensitivity? Did Robinson talk all the way through Dame Malvina Major's singing? He assumed it was some background warbling from some guy's double-parked car stereo that demanded to be talked over by the way he went about it. Poor judgement in an otherwise fitting broadcast.

    What dismayed me, and what I fully expected would occur, was the very modern spectacle of funereal applause. That is to say Hillary's motorcade being applauded and the family following in the crown cars being waved at by the masses lining the route.

    I would probably join in the clapping too if I was with them - I would not want to, but how could you not be drawn into it in a crowd situation? But what a Diana-esque marring of what proper respect ought to mean. In my mind my commentary was running:
    And as the hearse turns the corner the local population, unaccustomed to both formality and tradition begin to applaud. The same woman in tight white pants who failed to understand that we aren't American clones - and who incidentally started the Halloween craze of sending her children off to beg for lollies in the late 1980s - starts the clapping. Louder now. Louder still as the rest of the prols join in. And now we see a child coming forward - her child - she's pushing her out now - and she hurls some vegetation right at the windscreen of the hearse. Her mother proudly pats her on the head and - yes evocative of the Diana motorcade that she wished she could have been near to throw things at...

    Applause to me is inappropriate. Old fashioned though it may be I think the cars involved turning on the headlamps, those along the route taking off their hats, and standing till in respectful silence to remember the fallen is the way public observance of a funeral cortege ought to occur. Quite frankly I regard applause as something done for the sake of others. Being silent is a moment to remember who has passed in our own way. It is a moment to think, to gather our thoughts. Clapping? What is that? I'm sure it was genuinely spontaneous; but so are riots and looting.

    Yes it should be a celebration of the man, his achievements and what he was to us, but... of sorts. Just because the man is a public figure does not mean we need to treat his final display as if he were a carnival attraction. Could you imagine, upon seeing a hearse along the street, applauding it, and then waving to the bereaved family as though they were on tour? I simply cannot. Call it Americanisation, call it dumbing down, call it nervous excitement, despite it probably being or seeming natural to the people present - it just sits awkwardly with me.

    Anyway, that aside...

    Of the many stories about my (very distant) relation that I liked was actually something Dallow said to Sainsbury: he mentioned his legendary bluntness and Sainsbury remarked: If he thought something was wrong he would say so. He is a unique national hero and role model for all of us. Words can never express adequately how we feel about this great man.