The Jackal: September 2011

30 Sep 2011

United States is a Joke

There's no doubt that climate change is one of the biggest issues we've ever faced, and that the planet is warming, mostly due to human activity.

Despite unequivocal evidence that we're responsible, those most able to make changes to reduce emissions are failing to act. Some openly deny that climate change exists while others have a vested interest in allowing polluting industries to continue their destructive practices.

In light of this, Bill Clinton blasted GOP presidential contenders last week, saying the United States refusal to acknowledge climate change makes them "look like a joke."
"If you're an American, the best thing you can do is to make it politically unacceptable for people to engage in denial"

"I mean, it makes us — we look like a joke, right? You can't win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that the scientists are right? That disqualifies you from doing it? You could really help us there," Clinton said last week. He called the lack of debate in the U.S. on climate change "really tragic."
The Clinton Global Initiative meeting where the former president was speaking has support from other heavyweights like President Obama, high-powered business leaders as well as celebrities including Sting, Barbra Streisand, Ben Stiller and Jeff Gordon.

The issue has stagnated in the US, mainly because of a dysfunctional political system. Last month, Texas Gov. Rick Perry called climate change "a scientific theory that has not yet been proven," and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney said he didn't know if global warming was "mostly caused by humans." What a couple of morons!

29 Sep 2011

DOC was Bribed

A few days ago the Otago Daily Times reported that the Department of Conservation will receive $100,000 from gold-miner Oceana Gold in return for taking a neutral stance on an application to expand the East Otago gold mine.

This is a blatant bribe as DOC had already made its position known:
The director-general of conservation, concerned about the loss of habitat for the Taieri flathead galaxiids, longfin eel and the indigenous flora, had asked for the resource consents for the mine expansion to be declined. However, yesterday he told the hearing panel through counsel Pene Williams that the payment and a trout barrier would sufficiently deal with adverse effects of the project.
The National Government recently cut DOC funding, making the likelihood of more state-funded conservation programmes in the near future unlikely.

This would also lead to DOC needing to acquire funds from other sources and increase the likelihood that the government department would disregard its mandate to acquire additional money.
The director-general of the Department of Conservation Al Morrison, recently pointed out that the only practical way to preserve New Zealand’s natural biodiversity and conservation estate is to invest in it. Bribery from polluting industries effectively does the opposite.

The Otago Daily Times article also reported that the proposed mine extension would flood gullies and remove several threatened plant species. The Otago Regional Council science unit said the deeper flows would provide habitat for trout that predate on galaxiid, meaning that the recently discovered sub-species could be endangered.

Keith Abbott - Asshole of the Week Award

I sometimes wonder if the Police give a damn at all about what the public thinks... They stumble along from one PR disaster to another showing very little thought for the consequences of their actions.

Their most recent decision displays utter contempt for the family of Steven Wallace, a young Waitara man the police shot and killed back in 2000.

That has to be the conclusion one comes to when the police put the trigger finger Senior Constable Keith Abbott back on the beat with another gun. What on earth are the police thinking?

Many people simply don't accept that because Abbott wasn't convicted, he isn't guilty. The decision damages the public's perception of the police, which is paramount to an effective police force.

The NZ Herald reports:
The Herald cannot reveal where he is working, but the former armed offenders squad officer is now in a role that requires him to carry a weapon while on duty - a firearm which is clearly visible on his belt.

Mr Wallace died after Mr Abbott fired a pistol at him. Mr Wallace had smashed windows and a police car with a baseball bat and a golf club. He also threatened to hit Mr Abbott.

Mr Wallace's family brought a private murder prosecution against Mr Abbott but he was acquitted after a trial in the High Court at Wellington.

Police cleared him to return to work and the Independent Police Complaints Authority found the killing to be justified.
In my opinion, killing somebody is never justified. Whether Steven Wallace deserved to be shot is a question that has cropped up before:
"What has not changed, is the failure of the Police to demonstrate respect for the grieving whanau, who lost a family member as a result of the fatal shooting by police" said Mrs Turia in 2007.
Only through the objective reviewing of police conduct can we hope to maintain a civil society. The actions of the entire justice system during this case shows a complete lack of respect for the family of Steven Wallace and the public's perception of the police. Therefore Keith Abbott is this weeks asshole award recipient.

A functioning police state needs no police - William S. Burroughs

NZ Herald Complaint

Yesterday the NZ Herald reported:
Two surveillance cameras were set up and showed a group of people "milling about" the area. Some were running down a path towards where the burnt-out oven was later found.

Many people moving in different directions were shown in the video film, and one person - not the person alleged to be Ms Morse - could be seen making the throwing motion with an object in his hand.
Stop the bus... somebody threw something. What really pisses me off about all this is that the cops are continually speculating on things without much evidence and some of the evidence they do have was illegally obtained. The entire case is farcical!

It's a travesty of justice that our Police force at the behest of the government are persecuting people who by most accounts are law abiding citizens.

Then we get biased articles from the increasingly right-wing NZ Herald that are so blatantly full of crap that I wonder if Edward Gay and Andrew Koubaridis have a vested interest in seeing the case go against the accused?

Anyway the Herald article has received a formal complaint to the online editor:
Dear Jeremy Rees,

I write to lay a formal complaint concerning an article entitled Revealed: What cops filmed in Ureweras, which was published on the 28 September 2011 on the New Zealand Herald website.

1. The article is inaccurate as it states the Uruwera 18 group threw Molotov cocktail fire bombs. The report then contradicts this statement by saying that the object was believed to be a Molotov cocktail fire bomb and that the video surveillance does not show Valerie Morse throwing the object or that there was a fire made from that object. The article is therefore speculating and is not factual.

2. The article is unfair as it incorrectly reports information that is not factual and therefore besmirches the people named in the article. The article reports the beliefs held by the Police about the remains of a fire being a testing area for Molotov cocktail fire bombs as fact, which preempts the upcoming court trial. The article is therefore in contempt of court.

3. The article is inaccurate as it states that the Uruwera 18 group fired semi-automatic weapons. The article then contradicts itself by saying only two pistols were seized, neither of these worked and Valerie Morse was photographed holding a pistol. The article does not report any evidence of the Uruwera 18 group using semi-automatic weapons.

4. The article is inaccurate when it states that Valerie Morse concealed her face. The video did not accurately show Valerie Morse's face, she was apparently identified by the clothes she wore. The article uses subterfuge to mislead the reader into believing something that is not factual.

5. The article is unbalanced as it only reports one side of events.

6. The article does not accurately state that it is an opinion. There is no way to tell that the article is based on opinion. The article is incorrectly labeled.

Please remove or edit the article so that it is factually correct, adheres to the law and does not defame the accused prior to a trial. I look forward to your reply.
Anything that David Farrar uses to discredit a peace activist is worth complaining about.

Steven Joyce... Failure!

You may not be aware that we even have a Minister of Communications. It wouldn't help much if you happen to use networking programs either... as the minister doesn't have any online presence.

It's bizarre that Joyce is computer illiterate in terms of communicating with the public. Unfortunately that failure is something he shares with many National MP's. This effectively ensures they're out of touch, which could explain some of their recent defunct policy ideas.

Yesterday, Green MP Gareth Hughes asked a very pertinent question:
But it's not just communication that Joyce is failing in... he's also a dishonest man, who should not be allowed anywhere near the halls of power.

In 2005 Joyce met with the Exclusive Brethren to help them with their negative politicking campaign. Joyce even OK'd the derogatory pamphlets before they were distributed. He denied that these meetings occurred and was later found to be blatantly lying. Steven also said that he was not receiving advice from spin-doctors Crosby/Texter and was later proven to be lying.

In 2009 Joyce gave Mediaworks a huge below market rate loan of $43.3 million against official advice from the Ministry of Economic Development and on the back of lies in parliament about the company collapsing. At first National said it wasn't a loan and were proven to be lying. All this despite the IRD taking Mediaworks to court for unpaid taxes of $24.5 million.

In 2010 the Rail and Maritime Workers Union and many other organizations were ignored by Steven Joyce and a tender for new train carriages, which would have created approximately 1300 new jobs and provided $70 million in Crown revenue if built in New Zealand, was given to a Chinese firm. Clare Curran said:
The Prime Minister today revealed he’s not seen any reports on the economic value to NZ of keeping some of that work inside New Zealand. It shows this government has no commitment to keeping a skilled rail engineering workforce in this country, or reducing unemployment in manufacturing.

KiwiRail recently chose China CNR Corporation (CNR) as its preferred tenderer to supply 300 flatdeck wagons, which raised more questions about Kiwirail’s and the government’s real intentions for New Zealand’s rail engineering industry. The decision to choose China’s CNR as the preferred tenderer didn’t take into account the wider economic benefits and spin-offs for New Zealand of using KiwiRail’s own staff at the Hillside Workshops in Dunedin and at Woburn in Lower Hutt to do the work.
Here Steven Joyce get's questioned about Aucklands transport system just before the trains failed during the RWC openning ceremony:



Steven Joyce is a failure!

28 Sep 2011

Another Pointless Death

Today it was reported that another SAS soldier has died in Afghanistan. The man is the second New Zealand SAS soldier to be killed in combat, following the death of Corporal Doug Grant last month.

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, New Zealand Lieutenant General, Rhys Jones is continuing the false pretense that the soldier killed was undertaking a mentoring role.

NZ Newswire reports:
Defence Force chief Lieutenant General Rhys Jones says the SAS was mentoring the Afghan Crisis Response Unit as they acted on information about an attack that was about to happen.
An hour later the NZ Herald reports:
The SAS team, which was supporting the Afghan Crisis Response Unit, was attacked as it tried to cordon off the compound where the insurgents behind the planned attack were believed to be.
So which story is correct? Was the SAS team supporting the Afghan Crisis Response Unit, which means they're in an armed combat role, or was the SAS soldier killed in a mentoring role, which means he was killed while not in a combat role?

The "mentoring" bullshit is a falsehood that the National government has been promoting for some time now:



As a New Zealand citizen I'm highly pissed off that I was lied to about the role our soldiers are undertaking in Afghanistan.

It's quite clear that the SAS are involved in armed combat missions and are not simply in a mentoring role. The Prime Minister should not be allowed to get away with such lies! Today he continued to defend his decision to extend New Zealand's involvement in an unjust war:
"I deeply regret the loss of our soldiers, but I don't regret the decision that we made to commit the SAS to Afghanistan,'' he said.

"They are playing their critical part in trying to free the world from the threat of global terrorism, but obviously it's a very sad day for New Zealand.''
I wonder if Key only regrets that another soldier has died because it shows the SAS are involved in armed combat, and not just a mentoring role.

Here he is side stepping around a direct question as to why the government was dishonest about the SAS role in Afghanistan:

 
John Key's statements show just how badly misinformed he is about the situation, and I'm not the only one to think so:
Guyon - OK, New Zealand has been, in its own small way, involved in this war in Afghanistan for a decade or so itself. When our prime minster talks about why New Zealand is there, John Key says that it's to stop Afghanistan again being a home for terrorism. What do you say to New Zealand's prime minister, John Key, in response to that?

Mr Khan - The New Zealand prime minister does not understand Afghanistan. If only he had read the history of Afghanistan, even the British - three wars in Afghanistan. The Russians killed a million Afghans - a million out of a population then of 15 million. A million died, and they were fighting more at the end than the beginning. Everyone was fighting. The women were fighting. They do not understand Afghanistan. This is a quagmire. From day one, I've opposed it, this insane war, and I can give you in writing that for another 10 years, there will be fighting there, and they will make no headway at all. In fact, they radicalise the people much more.

Guyon - So your advice to New Zealand in terms of its involvement in Afghanistan?

Mr Khan - That there is no military solution. There's going to be a political solution. And the longer they keep killing people, and this military, these night raids - remember, most of the people being killed are innocent civilians. They are not fighting an army. They are fighting militants which are being supported by the population. That's why they're going to lose the war - because it's not a question of Taliban; it's a resistance movement now. And the history tells you, in Afghanistan, whenever an invader comes, they get together and they will resist. They have never accepted outsiders.
It's time to bring our soldiers home.

Prime Minister Material?

John Key made a dick of himself again in an interview yesterday. I'm not just talking about the Prime Minster's stupid joke about Australia gifting New Zealand a coalmine...

I'm talking about one of the biggest lies that has ever been foisted on the New Zealand public. John Key said that National had created employment and that unemployment had fallen. This is such a blatant lie that I'm almost lost for words. Here's what the moron said:
“We’ve grown eight out of nine quarters, we have low interest rates, unemployment is falling, we are on track to create 170,000 jobs,” he said.

One-hundred-and-seventy-thousand is the number of jobs the Government predicted would be created over the next four years. Mr Key says, despite the real possibility of a global double-dip recession, there is no need to doubt the Government forecasts about job growth.

“I believe we can,” he said. “We created 45,000 this year and we’re on track to create the 170,000 in the budget.”
John Key is clearly lying. There's currently 154,000 people unemployed in New Zealand and the last quarter showed no change to unemployment at 6.5%.

Since National gained power unemployment has more than doubled. In February 2008 it was reported that the December quarter unemployment rate was 3.4%, the lowest rate recorded since the Household Labour Force Survey started in 1986.

National has not created any employment and they're not on target to create 170,000 new jobs. John Key's failure as a Prime Minister to reside in facts is going to be disastrous for this country.


And what about that tasteless coalmine joke... Here's a veritable flaying of the disingenuous Prime Minster by Bomber Bradbury:
It's not the first time he's shown the vacant unawareness of a methadone patient. Remember when he made the International press headlines with his hilarious thigh-slapping-country-club-good-'ole-boy Maori cannibalism jokes? When it comes to race relations comedy, John Key is like a white Chris Rock minus the humor, intelligence, grace, appreciation of historical injustice and dress sense.
John Key is muddling through the current financial crisis with idiotic and inappropriate jokes. He is completely out of touch with reality. Why on earth anybody in their right mind would vote for a party with a lying fool like John Key as their leader is beyond me. John Key is clearly not Prime Minister material.

27 Sep 2011

Oil Damages DNA

A recently released peer reviewed study entitled Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes (PDF) and released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has damaged the genetic structure of marsh fish in the effected area. 

The study found damage has occurred to the reproductive functions of Killifish from exposure to toxic chemicals found in oil released after the BP disaster, which spewed 4.9 million barrels off the coast of Louisiana in 2010.
The adult fish sampled in situ from the oil-contaminated GT site showed divergent regulation of several genes involved in blood vessel morphogenesis and heme metabolism coincident with oil contamination.
In 2010 New Zealand fishing exports of Hoki earned $172m, Lobster exports $229m and Mussel exports $171m. In fact the fishing industry in New Zealand earns well over $1.3 billion a year in exports.

This is yet another good reason to not undertake exploration for oil in deep water off our coasts. The consequences of an oil spill on our productive fishing industry, should not be underestimated.

Don Brash on Pot

In a speech given on law and order held in Auckland last weekend, Don Brash came out in support of decriminalizing marijuana.

It seems strange that he's promoting decriminalization... and it appears to me that his controversial statements are designed to gain media attention.

Being in the mainstream media equates to votes, and it doesn't seem to matter much what is being debated.

Perhaps that's why Labour is rating poorly in recent polling... the MSM doesn't give them much airtime. Anyway here's what Don Brash said:
So should making sure that the laws the police are enforcing are in fact keeping us safe from criminals.

Laws that do not serve that purpose, and indeed possibly make us more vulnerable to criminals, should not be on the statute books to begin with.

In that respect I have to say, after long and painstaking reflection, I have come to have serious questions about our current marijuana laws.

Since 1927, it's been a criminal offence to possess, use, produce or sell cannabis in New Zealand.

The police and the courts spend some $100 million of taxpayer money a year enforcing this prohibition of a drug believed by many people to be less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol. Is there really any point to this?

Some 6000 people are prosecuted every year for cannabis offences. Are we any safer for this?

It is believed that some 400,000 New Zealanders are cannabis users. In other words, some 400,000 New Zealanders routinely flout the law - roughly 10% of the total population. Has the sky fallen in?

Apparently, a majority of New Zealanders think this law is an ass. The last poll I saw, admittedly not a very scientific one, on stuff.co.nz, had 64% of respondents in favour of decriminalisation. Has the time come to pursue that option?

Just a couple of months ago, the Global Commission on Drug Policy pronounced the international War on Drugs a failure and recommended that governments should explore legalising marijuana and other controlled substances.

The Global Commission's members, I should add, include former UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan, former US Secretary of State George Schultz, former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former presidents of Brazil, Peru and Colombia, a former Prime Minister of Greece, and businessman Richard Branson. These are hardly dope-addled hippies or wild-eyed radicals. They reported that drug prohibition has had devastating effects on individuals and societies all around the world and said the War on Drugs as we know it should end.

In the United Kingdom, the Liberal Democrats - in coalition with the Conservative Party - favour the decriminalization of all drugs.

In April this year, our own Law Commission, whose President at the time was former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer - again, hardly a dope-addled hippy or wild-eyed radical - recommended allowing cannabis for medicinal use and substituting a cautioning regime for criminal penalties in non-medicinal cases.

I'm haunted by the thought that all that police time and all those police resources could be better deployed in actually keeping us safe from real criminals intent on harming us, instead of making criminals of 400,000 New Zealanders who are harming no one - except, arguably, themselves, which is their prerogative in a free society.

I'm deeply troubled by the fact that the biggest beneficiaries of prohibition are the gangs, just as organised crime was the biggest beneficiary of the ill-fated prohibition of alcohol in the United States.

I'm troubled by all the crime gangs commit in pursuit of their illicit trade, and all the innocent victims caught in the crossfire.

I hasten to add I do not advocate or approve of marijuana use. Unlike Helen Clark and Peter Dunne, I haven't ever tried it and I have absolutely no intention of doing so. But I have to ask myself by what right I would ban someone else from using it, or support a law that does so, especially when I'm leader of the political party in New Zealand that is most committed to personal freedom.

Let me be absolutely clear: I'm not saying it's now ACT policy to decriminalise or legalise marijuana. I'm simply saying it's my personal view that we should give the idea serious consideration as there are some strong arguments in its favour - arguments supported by some seriously sober and responsible national and international leaders.
Apparently Brash made his statements without first consulting with the rest of the beleaguered Act ingrates. President Chris Simmons said decriminalizing the class-C drug wouldn't be the party's policy next year, in 2014 or even 2017.

John Banks, the party's Epsom candidate and a former police minister, said he could not support cannabis decriminalization.
Even John Key jumped on the band wagon by saying marijuana is a "gateway drug" and that it "causes crime".

Has anybody told John Key that the Law Commission thinks marijuana should be decriminalized?

What the Prime Minster fails to understand is that decriminalization of marijuana will reduce gang incomes and reduce the crime associated with the drug trade.

Does anybody know if John Key has even tried the herb? Peter Dunne admits it, Don Brash supports decriminalizing it and 13.4% of those between the ages of 16-64 regularly use it. So what's the big deal?

Being that the stats show far more crime is committed by those inebriated by alcohol, shouldn't John Key be calling for the prohibition of that dangerous substance... if that's his defining criteria for making something illegal?

Most cops turn a blind eye to personal use these days... they usually don't bother locking people up for a victimless crime.

The simple fact of the matter is that New Zealand should use the money saved from decriminalization to educate and increase health expenditure. They are proven ways to reduce drug use... everything else has failed.

Hero of the Week Award - Clare Curran

Clare Curran has been getting a fair bit of grief from David Farrar and Cameron Slater lately. What these right wing sycophants seem to ignore is that she's a very switched on political commentator, and indispensable within the New Zealand blogosphere.

Today Clare decimated National's Minister of Broadcasting, in a post that clearly highlights the duplicitous nature of Jonathan Coleman's dishonest administration.

Coleman has been shown to be untruthful by saying he wants more local content but underhandedly ensuring this will not be the case. Clare writes:
TVNZ’s reinvigorated commercialism is indicative of a shift in the media environment that intensifies competition for ratings and increases the cost of providing content with high public value but sub-optimum audience appeal. TVNZ’s SOI shows why Coleman’s assurances that the content on TVNZ 7 will still be available is mistaken. Diversity of digital platforms do NOT mean a diversity of content.

...and just yesterday Clare succinctly summarized the current state of affairs within our broadcasting regime:
To incentivise competition - and get the best from it - we need to be aware of the extent to which the ownership and control of our digital media lies outside New Zealand, and whether our access to content is limited by those who run the media system in their own interests. I think that’s an important issue right now. Don’t you?
It's a most important issue, and perhaps not just in the way Clare has outlined within her most excellent post.

As we all know, technology has become more and more powerful, and without the quick and effective control of that development, we cannot control our own futures. Self determination of information should be paramount to our democratic society.

What I'm getting at is an increase in funding, so New Zealand can enhance the current technology available without the backlog of predetermined controlling measures that are inherent within the imported platforms we currently utilize.

I think Clare Curran gets it... that's why she wins a Hero of the Week Award.

RIP Troy Davis

Those of us who are not reliant on television coverage for our information would have felt saddened by recent events in Savannah, Georgia. In fact some of us have felt quietly outraged at the execution of Troy Davis on September 21, 2011.

The evidence clearly shows that Troy was wrongly convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989. I don't use the word murder lightly, but that is exactly what this is... the state murdering somebody who is most likely innocent.

Here's a good argument written by on why Troy Davis should not have been executed, and for the US to abolish capital punishment:
The execution of Davis when so much exculpatory evidence has come to light will only provide a short period of satisfaction for the justice seekers. At some point in time, the reality that another innocent life has been taken (the first being Officer MacPhail) coupled with the reality that the actual murderer is alive, well and walking the streets of Butts County, Georgia, will begin to weigh heavy on all of their hearts.

The question is very simple: once a person has been convicted and sentenced to death, if evidence is presented that destroys the prosecution's case, should that individual be executed? No! Look at it this way, since seven of the nine prosecutions witnesses have recanted their eyewitness testimony, the prosecution would not be able to get the conviction if the case were retried today. If the prosecution could not win this case today; why did Davis lose his life?

This calls into question the validity of "eye-witness" testimony, police investigatory practices, and many of the assumptions that Americans have used to base their faith in the judicial process. The ugly reality that this case forces many Americans to grapple with is, if the Davis case has fallen apart, how many other cases are called into question and how many innocent people have been executed?


Here's a pro capital punishment argument by conservative Ann Coulter:
Check out what else this RWNJ says on twitter

26 Sep 2011

RWNJ

RWNJ is internet slang for ''Right Wing Nut Job''. The abbreviated term first became popularized and prominent on the Internet in 2010, mainly used by commentators on blogsites as a descriptive insult. A RWNJ is considered to be a neocon conservative who proselytizes about his political beliefs, trying to convert others to their flawed way of thinking.

A person can be named a RWNJ for making an argument with broad assumptions without checking factual information to promote their right-wing beliefs. However the slang term is sometimes used as an Ad hominem attack, to take down an opponent by referring their belief system to a flawed way of thinking.

RWNJ is mainly used to describe people involved in the tea party movement, but can also be applied to those holding capitalist and fascist ideals. This has spurred some commentators to coin the rarely seen LWNJ or ''Left Wing Nut Job'' in response.

New Zealand has a long history of RWNJ's... However they've recently been on the decline in both numbers and outspokenness. Here's a brief description of New Zealand's current RWNJ community:

The NZ National Party website is designed to promote the socially conservative National Party. It supports a free market economy, privatisation of state owned assets and lower taxation for the wealthy. Due to the many financial scandals and cuts to social spending, National can be considered as elitist and divisive.

The Act website and political party promotes free market economics, low taxation for the wealthy, reduced government expenditure and increased punishments for crime. It is associated with the racially divisive Sensible Sentencing Trust. The Act party sees itself as promoting accountability and transparency in government. However the actions of the Act MP and criminal David Garret and recent undemocratic takeover by Don Brash clearly shows that the Act party favours dog eat dog politics.

Kiwiblog is a National driven site run by David Peter Farrar. He is a frequent commentator in the media on Internet issues and often incites racism and sexism with controversial posts. Farrar likes to blame the victim, is an apologist for the National Government and has worked in Parliament for four National Party leaders. He set up the Coalition of Free Speech which ran a number of expensive billboards designed to defame Helen Clark.

Gotcha is run by Cameron Slater who is a controversial Internet blogger. Obsessed with weapons and Helen Clark, Cameron started the lobby group Suppression Helps Abusers Make Excuses (SHAME). Cameron Slater is the son of former National Party President John Slater and is most notable for repeated breaches of New Zealand's name suppression laws and testing privacy conventions.

Cactus Kate is run by Hong Kong based Cathy Odgers. She is also known for writing the (now defunct) fortnightly Cactus Kate column in The Dominion Post. She is a full member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), the Asia Offshore Association and the Inter-Pacific Bar Association. Cathy is an elitist and believes that her wealth gives her privileges and rights over and above the general public and poor.

New Zeal is a blog site run by Trevor Loudon who was vice president of the ACT New Zealand Party from 2006 to 2008. He believes that Socialism is a manifestation of mental illness or major character deficiency. Loudon also sparked some controversy when he compared Labour Cabinet Minister David Benson-Pope to Heinrich Himmler. He thinks that the Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa Maori movements are designed to foster a seperatist, radical, even revolutionary culture among young Maori. He is a life member ZAP.

The United Future website is run by Peter Dunne, leader of the United Future political party. Peter Dunne has re-branded United Future as a modern centre party, based on promoting strong families and vibrant communities. He wants United Future to become New Zealand's version of Britain's Liberal Democrats. Dunne is about as dynamic as a toilet brush.

No Minister is a right wing blog site and its main contributor is Journalist Lucian Marin. It's edited by Whaleoil Media.

CrusaderRabbit is a right wing blogsite that states; “Leftists, progressives and socialists are not welcome.” It requests that such people pay for their own soapboxes. They also state that they are “seriously weird,” and “run by violent nut jobs who promote war and the weapons of war with relish.”

Roarprawn is mainly about politics, food and fishing in New Zealand. Its main contributor is known as BustedBlonde. 

Not PC is attributed to the libertarian party and is dedicated to laissez-faire capitalism and keeping government as small as possible. 

Clint Heine and Friends is associated with the Act party. He's known for displaying an obscene photo-shopped image of Helen Clark on his site. 

25 Sep 2011

National Flouts the Law

David Farrar and Cameron Slater have been tediously going on and on about Labour putting some election signs up around the place. What they're failing to understand is that National is doing the exact same thing.

It's a bit rich of the right wing sycophants to point their chubby little fingers and jump up and down while not acknowledging that National is breaking the law as well.

Apparently election signs are allowed up from 12.00am tomorrow, which is two calendar months prior to the 26 November general election. Signs up around Auckland today breach the Electoral (Advertisements of a Specified Kind) Regulations 2005 bylaw.

Farrar and Slater are simply copying a post written today by Orakei Councillor, Cameron Brewer, who is also ignoring the fact that National has put up signs in breach of the Electoral Regulations 2005 bylaw. Brewer writes:
"The Mayor needs to tell his colleagues in the Labour Party to pull their heads in. Auckland residents and ratepayers deserve better. They have spent over $100m on this tournament and ensuring Auckland looks great.”

Perhaps Brewer et al should check with their "colleagues" in the National party and advise that they pull their heads in as well. The sheer hypocrisy of these RWNJ's is unbelievable! Slater even quotes the law:
221B Dis­play of adver­tise­ment of a spec­i­fied kind
(1) During the period begin­ning 2 months before polling day and end­ing with the close of the day before polling day, the dis­play of an adver­tise­ment of a spec­i­fied kind is not sub­ject to -

(a) any pro­hi­bi­tion or restric­tion imposed in any other enact­ment or bylaw, or imposed by any local author­ity, that applies in rela­tion to the period when an adver­tise­ment of a specified kind may be dis­played; or

(b) any pro­hi­bi­tion or restric­tion imposed in any bylaw, or imposed by any local author­ity, that applies in rela­tion to the con­tent or lan­guage used in an adver­tise­ment of a spec­i­fied kind.
Slater goes on and on about the law only applying to Labour, and that the Auckland City Council’s senior lawyer Wendy Brandon's advise on Tuesday does not apply to National. He's even been trying and failing to give Trevor Mallard a hard time on twitter... What a douche bag!

People annoyed by signs up ille­gally today, can report them to the coun­cil by phon­ing (09) 301‑0101.

Contradictory Key

John Key recently took over the chairmanship of the Pacific Islands forum. It was reported that he wants a change in how development aid is provided, and that addressing climate change will be one of his priorities.

The prime minster spoke on behalf of China, saying they weren't going to be bound by the rules and regulations of regional institutions in how to deliver aid to the Pacific, and China would not adhere to the Cairns Compact, an agreement for better aid program coordination.

It seems strange that John Key was speaking for China, and that he said climate change will be one of his priorities... especially considering he's a self admitted climate change denier.

Let's not forget the fact that National and their lackeys have been promoting industries that cause environmental damage and actively undermining the ETS, thus New Zealand's ability to meet its obligations under the Kyoto protocol. They've even been falsifying information to try to gain public support.

Last week the Green party of Aotearoa announced their Green Jobs policy:
Extend the home insulation programme to a further 200,000 homes.

Faster and fuller implementation of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

A new start-up capital fund of $100m for clean technology small and medium sized entities and community enterprises.

A mandatory renewable electricity generation target of 100 per cent by 2030 and new requirements for state-owned energy companies to work with "green energy entrepreneurs."

Protection of the "100 per cent pure" brand with new National Environmental Standards and a moratorium on land use intensification in sensitive catchments.
These policies are all about addressing climate change.

John Key then showed his true colours and that he has no intention of addressing climate change when he completely contradicted himself and went on the offensive against the Greens plan. TVNZ reports:
"What they're proposing is to add lots of costs, add lots of taxes and then magically, supposedly, all the jobs would be in place," Transport Minister Steven Joyce said. Prime Minister John Key described the initiative as a "job destruction package".

"They are talking about putting enormous taxes on New Zealand that would send a lot of businesses bankrupt," Key said.

"Quite frankly they're dreaming if they think they can stop those companies going under when they are going to be putting taxes on them that would make them totally uncompetitive."
If John Key actually intended to address climate change (as he said he would do at the Pacific Island forum), he would be embracing the Greens progressive initiatives (PDF), not slagging them off before he's even read them.

If he'd bothered to read the policy properly, he would have seen that the Greens intend to prioritize spending away from motorways and that apart from a very small charge for commercial use of water, a CGT and a Christchurch rebuild levy that is inevitable, there will be no additional taxes on the public. In fact the revenue stream created by the Greens plan compared to the cost makes New Zealand nearly $4 billion within three years.

We can obviously take what John Key says with a grain of salt.

24 Sep 2011

Ignoring the 99%

Tonight we had forty minutes of rugby reporting on the 6 O'clock news and not one word about the major nuclear protest that has been going on in India for the past ten days, or the huge protest in New York, that has been occupying Wall Street for seven days.

There were over 20,000 people occupying Wall Street on the first day alone, so you would think that this would get at least a small mention on the news... but no! The powers that be are despicably treating us like a bunch of morons!

Mainstream media is purposefully ignoring these protests because they're controlled by big business and corrupt governments. They have very little interest in reporting actual news because information is power and keeping people in the dark means they can control the public easier.

Thank god for the internet, where we can bypass such crappy reporting and find out what is going on in the world:
Demonstrators are angry about the influence that corporations and wealthy lobbyists have over the democratic process in the USA. They are calling upon President Barack Obama to create a Presidential Commission 'tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington.' Tired of policies perceived as putting profit over the basic needs of the American people, Occupy Wall Street was conceived as a way to communicate this to the highest levels of government.
So if ignoring those two major events wasn't bad enough, the MSM is also ignoring the fact that today is Moving Planet day:
Moving Planet is a day to put our demands for climate action into motion, marching, biking, skating - calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels. At over 2000 events in 175+ countries, we're letting leaders know that a movement is rising to move our planet forward to a clean energy future.

We Are The 99% from socially_awkwrd on Vimeo.

Top Gear is Corrupt

It's not often that I see eye to eye with George Monbiot. But last week an episode of Top Gear was shown in New Zealand that was clearly bullshit! What is worse is that it was shown not to be factual after first being broadcast in England on 31 July.

Jeremy Clarkson and James May did a biased piece on electric cars, which provided falsified information to try and discredit the technology.

Despite the producers of top gear admitting that the piece was not factual, and there's been nearly two months since the show was aired in England... it's still being promoted worldwide. Monbiot writes:
It's currently being sued by electric car maker Tesla after claiming, among other allegations, that the Roadster's true range is only 55 miles per charge (rather than 211), and that it unexpectedly ran out of charge. Tesla says "the breakdowns were staged and the statements are untrue". But the BBC keeps syndicating the episode to other networks. So much for "acknowledging mistakes when they are made".

Now it's been caught red-handed faking another trial, in this case of the Nissan LEAF.

Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that "electric cars are not the future".

But it wasn't unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left. Moreover, they must have known this, as the electronic display tells the driver how many miles' worth of electricity they have, and the sat-nav tells them if they don't have enough charge to reach their destination.
BBC - Top Gear has presently removed the controversial piece on electric cars from their website. But here it is thanks to CollinsArchive:


Top Gear Nissan Leaf from CollinsArchive on Vimeo.

23 Sep 2011

Power Corrupts

The latest edition of the Listener has an article entitled Cold Comfort, which is all about New Zealand’s high electricity prices and how they contribute to ill health. It makes for sober reading, especially when considering that the continuing trend of high electricity prices and low incomes is going to make things a lot worse.

It's estimated that 400,000 New Zealand homes are not adequately heated, because the inhabitants live below the fuel poverty rate where warming a home eats up more than 10% of a households income.

But what pisses me off the most is the huge increase in the cost of electricity over the last few years when we have an abundant and cheap supply. In comparison to the initial expenditure on infrastructure, there has been very little spent on maintenance or upgrading the system.

The University of Otago found that electricity prices have risen by a whopping 87% over ten years to May 2011. Lead author of a report quoted in the Listener article, Philippa Howden-Chapman said that cold homes probably play a role in an extra 1600 deaths each winter. The report showed that countries with much colder climates do not have as high a mortality rate as New Zealand.
“We found that fuel poverty is a major issue in New Zealand, particularly for people on low incomes, and it’s a problem that’s growing,”  Philippa said.
The Listener article written by Ruth Laugesen goes on to say that the jump in fuel poverty in New Zealand appears driven by a troika of causes – low incomes, rising electricity prices and New Zealand’s crummy, badly insulated housing stock.
"We’ve had several instances of homes we’ve visited where the children are away [from school] as much as one or two days a week on average. They’re spending $300, maybe $400, a month. Their house still isn’t particularly warm, but it’s getting mouldy because it’s damp and slightly warm. They’ve got these huge power bills and they’re really at their wits’ end,” said Sarah Free, a senior energy adviser for the Sustainable Trust.
Despite the unarguable truth of the situation, Associate Minister of Energy and Resources, Hekia Parata just had to try and put a positive spin on things:
“Competition in energy supply provides choice to consumers and places downward pressure on prices. The reforms make it easier for more electricity retailers to operate across New Zealand, so customers have more choice of providers,” Parata said.
What a load of codswallop! This is what National did:
  • Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy and Mighty River Power had a virtual asset swap.
  • National required all major electricity generators to put in place an electricity hedge market, to help commercial consumers to get even cheaper power.
  • National established a $15 million fund over three years to promote customer switching between retailers.
  • National abolished the Electricity Commission and replaced it with a slimmed-down Electricity Authority.
None of these things gave New Zealander's cheaper power... In fact the article states that household electricity prices rose by 4% more than inflation each year in the decade to 2010.

Market reforms have been all about getting the SOE's ready to sell and giving commercial consumers even cheaper power, at the public's expense.
Increased price of electricity for the public.

Free Ride for Farmers

The NZ Herald ran an article about Fonterra today that was particularly interesting. In conjunction with other recent media releases, it showed the dairy industry is getting a free ride at the taxpayer and environments expense.

As pressure to reduce the cost of dairy products increases in New Zealand, Fonterra released figures showing its revenue for the year was up 19% to $19.9 billion, and profit was up 13% to $771 million. The article went on to say:
The average price for a basket of products in Fonterra's online dairy auction has fallen since June 15, with an average winning price of US$3499 a tonne this week, compared with US$4826 on March 1.

"We saw a large growth in world dairy prices and we have not been able to pass anywhere near the full cost of dairy prices through to New Zealand consumers," Fonterra's CEO Andrew Ferrier said.
Hang on just a second... the price of a basket of dairy products has fallen by $1327 in six months, and we've seen no reduction in the cost of dairy products in supermarkets... I thought the high price of dairy products in New Zealand was because of international demand?

Here's another Herald article showing the falling price of dairy products. We've not seen any reduction in the cost in supermarkets though. Is anybody else feeling a bit ripped off?
To make matters worse, last Monday it was reported that the Climate Change Minister Nick Smith has indefinitely put on hold the entry of agriculture into the emissions trading scheme, which would have seen agriculture treated the same as other export industries.

He also made a few ludicrous statements showing that National is predominated by climate change sceptics:
Nick Smith said agricultural emissions would be included only if "practical technologies are available to enable farmers to reduce their emissions and more progress is made by our trading partners to reduce their emissions."
Basically that means he wants cows not to fart and is waiting to see how other countries react. Being that emissions from agriculture account for 43% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from New Zealand, an ETS is only workable if New Zealand includes agriculture within the scheme.

To adhere to an ETS and try to meet our conditions under the Kyoto protocol means we have to include agriculture. Rather than further expenditure on farm irrigation to increase intensification, New Zealand should be looking at diversifying our production base.

Without a progressive plan, National is simply promoting an unjust tripple whammy on taxpayers:
  1. High and unchanging prices at the supermarket while international demand for dairy has fallen by 27.4% over the last six months.
  2. Subsidizing farmers for their greenhouse gas emissions and paying for the environmental damage intensive farming causes to our waterways.
  3. Subsidizing dairying with huge tax credits.
In July it was reported that in comparison to the average tax paid by dairy farms of $1506, the tax paid by a couple on the state pension was $3136, over twice as much as the average farm paid. Then yesterday Labour showed some of the true extent of taxpayer funded subsidies for Fonterra:
1. NZ$19.9 billion – revenue
2. NZ$622m – gross profit (before tax)
3. NZ$149m – tax credit
4. NZ$771m – net profit (after tax)

In the past five years, Fonterra has reported $2.3b of before-tax profit on $86b worth of revenue – and not paid any tax.! In fact, they have claimed $198m worth of tax credits.
This is a blatant con on the people of New Zealand. Dairy NZ, Fonterra and National have been stringing us along with lies, all the while destroying our environment and laughing all the way to the bank. It's an unacceptable system that must change.

22 Sep 2011

Environment vs Big Oil & Gas

We all know that our reliance on petroleum-based products will come to an end, the question is when and how much damage is going to be caused in the mean time.

The difficulty is that we've built our entire system around cheap oil with little consideration for the environment. Even when informed of the danger, mankind is failing to change its habits.

It's not a lack of knowledge or that there's any relevance to the arguments made by climate change sceptics; it's that we're inexorably chained to a petroleum based economy, and the people who are meant to represent us are representing the oil and gas industry instead.

Nearly every aspect of our lives rely on oil in some way, and it's a hard habit to break, even when information gives people the willpower to do so. A couple of days ago National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gave us another reason to change our ways with a very sobering to read
During the 9 weeks active surface oil burning, a total of 1.4 to 4.6 million pounds (0.63 to 2.07 million kilograms) of black carbon was sent into the atmosphere, according to a new study published last week by researchers at NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).

The study found that the hot soot plumes from the controlled burns reached much higher into the atmosphere than ship emissions normally rise, potentially prolonging the amount of time the black carbon can remain in the atmosphere, which would affect where the black carbon ends up.

The researchers also found that the average size of the black carbon particles was much larger than that emitted from other sources in the Gulf region, and that the emitted particles produced were almost all black carbon, unlike other sources such as forest fires that tend to produce other particles along with black carbon.
Over a year after the major Deepwater Horizon disaster, the extent of the impact on the environment and people's health is only just starting to fully emerge. Not to be underestimated, there will of course be no recompense for the addition negative impact from the controlled burns.

In June this year, an international team of more than 50 researchers coordinated by the UN Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, said that fast action to curb soot and smog could improve human health, generate higher crop yields, reduce climate change and slow the melting of the Arctic. 
"Big cuts in emissions of black carbon will improve respiratory health [and] reduce hospital admissions and days lost at work due to sickness," the two United Nations agencies said in the release. "Close to 2.5 million premature deaths from outdoor air pollution could, on average, be avoided annually worldwide by 2030."

I guess BP and the so-called clean up operation didn't know about that. To compound that mismanagement further, in March this year it was reported that black carbon could cause up to 60% of the current warming effect of carbon dioxide, according to US researchers, making it an important target for efforts to slow global warming.
"The aerosols in aggregate are either acting to, you could say, cool the atmosphere or mask the effect of CO2," said Carmichael, "[Black carbon] is the only component of this aerosol mix that in and of itself is a heating element."
Despite this information and the high risk deep sea oil drilling still poses (because there's no further advances in drilling or cleanup technology), there's been a huge increase in deep sea drilling for oil worldwide.

According to federal statistics, there are 23 rigs currently drilling wells in water deeper than 3,000 feet in the Gulf of Mexico alone, with BHP Billiton PLC and Chevron Corp. last week finding large reserves over 100 miles out to sea in depths of more than 4,000 feet of water.

Federal regulators probing the Deepwater Horizon disaster have recently recommended numerous changes to increase safety and this has meant a burst of activity as the industry tries to get as many wells drilled before the government belatedly toughens its oversight of offshore drilling.

There's no doubt that the cavalier nature of the oil industry needs to be reigned in. A letter (PDF) written in January by Rep. Raul M. Grijalva - House Committee on Natural Resources to President Barack Obama shows systemic failings in both the industries business conduct and the governmental oversight of the oil and gas industry.

When there's so much at stake, we cannot allow the oil and gas industry to continue to be self-regulated... especially when their cost cutting leads to huge environmental disasters like the Deepwater Horizon.

John Key is a Dick!

Fukushima is Worse

Last night, New Zealand's mainstream media reiterated that the Fukushima nuclear disaster was officially recognized as an accident similar in scale to Chernobyl, and that typhoon Roke, was heading towards the stricken nuclear power plant, which was devastated in the 11 March earthquake and tsunami.

The main fear is that even more radioactive material will over flow into the sea and surrounding areas due to heavy rainfall. High winds could also displace radioactive particles across a larger area.

The plant has already been leaking vast amounts of radioactive water into the nearby ocean, with strontium-90 levels measured in June at 240 times above safe limits. Last month, nearly half of the children living in the Fukushima district tested positive for dangerous levels of radiation contamination.

After the major 9 magnitude earthquake, around 37 of the country’s 54 nuclear power plants were shut down for safety checks. All the nuclear plants that were closed were ordered to stay closed until their safety could be guaranteed.

The public's sentiment after the major disaster meant support for the president, Naoto Kan fell to only 16%. After the Fukushima meltdowns, he said he wanted Japan to move away from reliance on nuclear energy, which was projected to grow from approx 33% to 53% of the countries energy requirements by 2030.

Naoto Kan formally resigned just prior to the August elections, and Japan's parliament backed the former finance minister of the Democratic Party, Yoshihiko Noda to become prime minister. Noda then informed the public that he wanted to reopen the closed nuclear power plants.
"From spring through next summer, we must bring them (the reactors) back up as best as we can, because if we have a power shortage, it will bring down Japan's overall economy," Noda said in an interview with the U.S. daily today.
Commercial production has re-started at some nuclear power-plants after strong lobbying from nuclear industry workers, who were recently caught posing as members of the public to promote their industry. Kyushu employees accounted for more than 30% of all messages sent in support of the Genkai plant being reopened, in what was an under reported major scandal.

However the majority of Japanese do not want to see the nuclear power plants reopened, especially the dangerous ones that experienced containment failures after the earthquake. As of June 2011, more than 80 percent of Japanese say they are anti-nuclear and distrust government information on radiation. There's been many demonstrations, the largest of which occurred in Tokyo on 20 September.
Anti-nuke demonstration with approx 100,000 people in Tokyo
It's apparent that the Japanese authorities are ignoring the will of the people in their quest to reopen the dangerous nuclear power plants. What is even worse is that a lack of reporting by mainstream media is allowing the nuclear power industry to undertake a coverup of the Fukushima disaster.

One would think that with the potential risk Fukushima posses, the authorities would make a precise measurement of radiation fallout available to the public. But despite elevated levels of radioactive idodine-131 being detected in the water supplies of 19 different US cities, the EPA stopped making data available on 5 April. Radiation levels in the US then started to increase.

In my opinion, the official recognition that Fukushima is as bad as Chernobyl is grossly underestimated, as the disaster is ongoing, has already released more radiation than Chernobyl and has the potential to get a lot worse.

21 Sep 2011

The RWNJ's Freakout!

The Greens launched their fantastic Green Jobs policy today. It's a well thought out and progressive plan to move New Zealand forward into a clean and productive future.

Greens co-leader Russel Normal did a great job at highlighting the guts of the policy in an online broadcast today, also answering the medias questions and showing that the plan is robust!

Some of the highlights:
Greens will ramp up the Heat Smart home insulation program ensuring it is rolled out to a further 200,000 homes over the next 3 years.

Greens plan to create 100,000 new green jobs that will strengthen the economy and protect the environment. There will be no additional borrowing to achieve this.

Greens won't sell state energy companies, they'll use them to lead export potential. Clean energy is a huge export opportunity for NZ.

The Greens plan to uphold the Kyoto protocol.
Some additional information that was particularly interesting:
UK supermarkets boycotting our fish because of destructive fishing practices serves as warning we can't take our clean, green brand for granted.

If we had 1% of global clean energy market we could develop 40 to 60 thousand new jobs!
Despite the Greens plan being beneficial for New Zealand in both reducing unemployment, increasing productivity and protecting the environment, they've been rubbished by many right wingers...

Even the Prime Minister is saying that the "Greens are dreamers" and the plan is "silly economics." Steven Joyce also chimed in with his ugly little self. Here's the pick of the bunch of nuttiest reaction from the RWNJ's so far:

TrueblueNZ - Watermelon Russell Norman- Still Trying the “Green Jobs” Con
Russell Norman’s drooling idiot propaganda flies in the face of reality and should be confronted for the witch doctor talk it really is. But who is going to confront him on this nonsense?