The Jackal: November 2012

30 Nov 2012

Victory for Palestine

Today, Stuff reported:

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly voted to grant Palestinians "non-member state" UN observer status, recognising implicitly the sovereign state of Palestine.

This is most excellent news, with Palestine being recognized as a sovereign state meaning they can now pursue their legal claims in the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes committed during the decades-long Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Palestine has already lodged a number of complaints with the ICC's chief prosecutor including some concerning Israelis Operation Cast Lead offensive in 2008/09. The ICC had previously said it could not act, but today's vote clears the way for the permanent war crimes tribunal to now investigate.

Palestine is also likely to make a formal complaint concerning the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004 if it turns out he was poisoned by Israeli operatives. His body was recently exhumed for further testing.

There's no doubt that some of these crimes should be investigated by the ICC and perhaps even referred onto the UN Security Council, although the United States has vito powers there and is likely to protect Israel by using them. Despite this, having the power to legally challenge Israel in a court of law will deter further war crimes that have been a regular occurrence in the war torn lands, resulting in the death and maiming of many thousands of innocent civilians.

Israeli officials have proclaimed that recognizing Palestine as a sovereign nation will lead to further war, however there's no doubt that the vote for Palestine to become a non-member state is an opportunity for peace in the region.

It's also likely to strengthen the political efforts to end the Gaza blockade, which has been in place for over five years and ensured more than 1.6 million innocent people have suffered for acts they're in no way responsible for. Such barbarity must end and thanks to the many countries that voted in favour of Palestine, including New Zealand, the world is a step closer to peaceful resolution.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

29 Nov 2012

White Kiwi hatches

Causes of cancer blatantly obvious

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

New Zealand has one of the highest death rates from cancer in the Asia-Pacific region, a report shows.

[...]

The report shows New Zealand has the highest rates of deaths from bowel cancer and from breast cancer in the Asia-Pacific region. Our bowel cancer death rate is more than 50 per cent greater than Australia's. But New Zealand has the region's second-lowest cervical cancer death rate; only Australia's is lower. Fiji's is nearly 9 times higher than New Zealand's. Several Pacific countries are not included in the report.

Dr Cox said no one knew why New Zealand's cancer death rate was higher than Australia's. "It is unfortunate we haven't been able to control cancer mortality to the same extent that Australia has managed to, which means we have to re-evaluate where we are going again."

Nobody knows why New Zealand's cancer death rate is so high? C'mon Brian Cox. In terms of our high levels of bowel cancer, New Zealanders eat lots of meat, meat that's usually preserved with large amounts of nitrates. During the cooking process, nitrites combine with amines naturally present in meat to form carcinogenic compounds. Many studies have categorically proven the link between meat preservatives and cancer.1

But it's not just additives that are the problem, it's what we're eating. High fat diets have also been linked with many health issues including breast cancer. Dietary fat promotes tumorigenesis, especially for mammary tumors. A low fat diet with lots of vegetables has been scientifically proven to be beneficial at reducing the risk of cancer.2

So we know that dietary factors are one of the main contributors to New Zealand's high rate of cancer. But there's also the fact that our environment is polluted with many cancer causing compounds.

The current Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, was recently quoted as saying our 100% Pure campaign should be taken with a pinch of salt, and he's right. New Zealand is not a clean and green country even in relative terms to other countries. Unfortunately there are huge amounts of pollutants discharged into the environment and much of this waste is in areas that Kiwis regularly use recreationally. There is also a lack of information available to tell the public where that danger is, and that means people are often exposed to cancer causing substances.

There's approximately 10,060,000 metric tons of waste discharged yearly from pulp and paper mills into New Zealand waterways and many of the compounds in that waste are known to be highly carcinogenic.3 Air pollution is also another major factor.4 That's why the highest rates of cancer in New Zealand are located around where pulp and paper mills operate or have operated in the past.

So there's two reasons for why New Zealand has such a high rate of cancer... Two reasons Professor Cox should have been aware of.

  1. Carroll, K. K. (1975) Experimental evidence of dietary factors and hormone-dependent cancers. Cancer Res 35:3374-3383.
  2. So, F. V., Guthrie, N., Chambers, A. F. and Carroll, K. K. (1997) Inhibition of proliferation of estrogen receptor-positive MCF-7 human breast cancer cells by flavonoids in the presence and absence of excess estrogen.
  3. McLeay DJ. Aquatic toxicity of pulp and paper mill effluent (1987) A review. Environment Canada. Ottawa, Report EPS 4/PF/1,191.
  4. Colin L. Soskolne and Lee E. Sieswerda (2010) Chronic Diseases in Canada – Cancer risk associated with pulp and paper mills: a review of occupational and community epidemiology Vol 29, Supplement 2.

27 Nov 2012

David Rastovich coastal journey - Part 3

Business as usual for fracking industry

Today, the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, released her interim report Evaluating the environmental impacts of fracking in New Zealand (PDF), which was obviously released to the oil and gas industry spin doctors earlier this week.

Here's the conclusion and some interim findings, plus a few other excerpts worth highlighting:

The high-level conclusion from the work done to date in this investigation echoes, and is broadly consistent with, the reviews of fracking that have been done elsewhere in the world. That conclusion is that the environmental risks associated with fracking can be managed effectively provided, to quote the United Kingdom Royal Society, “operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation”. But at this stage I cannot be confident that operational best practices are actually being implemented and enforced in this country.

Firstly, operational best practice has clearly not been adhered to and this has resulted in numerous accidents and toxic chemical spills in New Zealand. For Jan Wright to say she's not confident that; 'operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation' is putting it incredibly lightly.

The second issue is that even if operational best practices are followed, the environmental problems inherent in fracking technologies remain. These problems outweigh the benefits fracking can impart such as job creation, security of energy supply and economic welfare, all of which have been incredibly overstated by the oil and gas industry as well as the current New Zealand government.

Some of the problems inherent in fracking technologies include a potential for irreparable water contamination that could affect drinking water supplies and other productive industries, adverse health effects of the general population through contamination, an increased likelihood of earthquakes leading to further tectonic instability in an already tectonically active country, gas leaks and continued reliance on fossil fuels contributing to climate change and the damage done to our clean and green image worth billion's to our economy each year. The cost analysis of any one of these things clearly outweighs the economic benefits from continuing to frack New Zealand.

Unfortunately the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment hasn't adequately looked into these matters to be able to make any authoritative conclusion on the matter. She does however touch on the subject of deregulation.

It may be that light-handed regulation of the oil and gas industry is working well, but this cannot be assumed. In August 2012, speaking about fracking, the Executive Director of the IEA was reported as saying that the industry’s 'just-trust-me approach is fuelling public skepticism.' Such skepticism is one of the real challenges for the industry.

Such a statement makes me wonder if Wright is even aware of the documented evidence showing numerous events of fracking failures in New Zealand. Of course regulatory measures haven't been effective in protecting the environment from industry cowboys, and it's not simply the just-trust-me approach that's fueling skepticism; it's the documented cases of fracking "accidents" and environmental pollution.

It's also the human cost to yet another dirty fossil fuel based industry that must be considered. South Taranaki District councilor, Michael Self, was one of the first people to link environmental pollution with the adverse health effects of many people and animals living in close proximity to fracking sites in the region. The high rate of cancer in Taranaki for instance is likely a result of pollution from the rampant expansion of and improperly regulated oil and gas industry.

Unfortunately there’s been no independent scientific study into this, mainly because of collusion between the industry and government officials to ensure secrecy. Clearly they only care about the money to be made and keeping things like the high levels of cancer in Taranaki under wraps is the only way they’ll ensure their ill-gotten gains continue.

Of course Jan Wright completely ignores the fact that corruption is one of the main problems, instead recommending:

Increasing public understanding of the technology should help address some concerns.

What a load of tosh! Gaining a better understanding of the problems inherent in fracking technologies has increased people's concerns. It's only through a secretive agenda and propaganda that the oil and gas industry has been able to carry out such environmentally unsafe practices. If the public knew the extent of the damage that has already occurred in New Zealand from hydraulic fracturing, it would not be tolerated... It's as simple as that.

On the whole the interim report is highly disappointing, weak, disjointed and not very thorough. Unfortunately the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment omits some very relevant and important aspects to the fracking debate and cherry-picks what information is included. Jan Wright also seems to think that a moratorium on fracking isn't required because the oil and gas industry will somehow magically clean up its act... Yeah right!

The industry has already proven through many instances of negligence that it cannot be trusted. The current local and central governmental bodies that are meant to be responsible for oversight have shown that they're not concerned in the slightest with properly enforcing consent requirements, thus proving they also cannot be trusted.

Fracking is not a safe technology and therefore all new developments should be halted. Furthermore the industry should be made to decontaminate and decommission existing sites. In my opinion, New Zealand should follow the example of many other countries around the world and ban the environmentally destructive practice immediately. The fracking pros simply don't outweigh the cons.


25 Nov 2012

Boycott The Hobbit

Today, the Guardian reported:

Just three days before the film premieres in New Zealand's capital, Wellington, the long-awaited Peter Jackson adaptation of JRR Tolkien's first foray into Middle-earth is under attack from several quarters. Its Hollywood producers stand variously accused of cruelty to animals, suppression of the press and exploitative merchandising.

There is that... But there's also the lead into this story, one of the National government reducing workers rights and gifting millions of taxpayer dollars to the US movie industry.

My sympathy really does go out to all the hard working creative types who’ve put huge amounts of time and effort into this production, and must be feeling disappointed at the negative press the franchise is currently receiving. But this does not atone for nor excuse the wrongdoing that has occurred in making The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

The abuse of New Zealand employment laws, disregarding a signed contract with JRR Tolkien's estate to breach copyright laws, undeniable animal cruelty and trying to inhibit free press with vindictive decisions is a sign that the Hobbit is a production that is rotten to the core.

Therefore people shouldn't be promoting such abuse by providing further money to the environmentally destructive and socially detrimental practices of "Sir" Peter Jackson. He's assuredly a vile money grubbing scumbag that only deserves people's contempt, nothing more.

Instead, we should listen to the actors guild and animal rights group PETA in boycotting The Hobbit movies… After all, the book is bound to be better.

Propaganda

Mark Unsworth - Asshole of the Week

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported:

Dr. Joy said that for a country purporting to be so pure, New Zealand seemed to be failing by many international environmental benchmarks.

Last month, the New Zealand Ministry for the Environment released a survey showing that more than half of the country’s freshwater recreational sites were unsafe to swim in. Fecal contamination of waterways, caused largely by dairy farming — the source of 13.9 billion New Zealand dollars, or $10 billion, in annual exports, nearly a quarter of New Zealand’s total — was widespread.

The survey showed that people who swam in those rivers were at a high risk of illness, including serious diseases like giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis and campylobacteriosis. The waterways were the cause of 18,000 to 34,000 cases of waterborne disease each year.

On Thursday, the NZ Herald reported:

A prominent government lobbyist is standing by his leaked comments which slam leading scientists for speaking out about New Zealand's poor environmental record.

Mark Unsworth, of government relations consultancy Saunders Unsworth, e-mailed Massey University environmental scientist Dr Mike Joy on Wednesday in reaction to Joy's comments to the New york Times on New Zealand's 'fantastical' 100% pure image.

Mr Unsworth's email - which was sent at 12:15am under the subject line 'Ego trip' - was posted by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman on his Facebook page today.

In the emails, Mr Unsworth said although he was an academic, Dr Joy had "let his ego run riot worldwide" while risking jobs and incomes from decreased tourism.

"You guys are the Foot and Mouth Disease of the tourism industry. Most ordinary people in NZ would happily have you lot locked up," he wrote.

"You may not care given your tenure in a nice comfy University lounge, but to others this affects income and jobs.

"Give that some thought next time you feel the need to see your name in print in New York. And possibly think of changing your name from Joy to Misery-its more accurate [sic]."

It's very disappointing to see this sort of thing happening in this day and age. Instead of actually doing something about the problem, Unsworth is only concerned with hiding the fact that over half of our freshwater recreational sites are too polluted to swim in.

This is an unacceptable position considering the amount of people who are becoming unwell because of that pollution. How much that costs New Zealand in lost productivity isn't known, but it's likely to be in the millions if not billions of dollars.

In my opinion, scientists should be allowed to speak out about important topics of public interest, especially when it might increase people's awareness about the problem and help promote change for the better.

To use a position of power to try and close somebody down just because of what they're saying is disgusting enough, but especially so when what they're saying is the truth. Only a real asshole would do that.

On Friday, the NZ Herald reported:

Mr Unsworth said he did not wish to comment further. He stood by the emails and they were his own personal views. Saunders Unsworth clients include Caltex, British Gas and Air New Zealand.

Mark Unsworth is clearly a deluded old fool! Saying that somebody is akin to foot and mouth disease and then not retracting that insult is entirely unacceptable behaviour.

But what makes Unsworth's criticism all the more repugnant is that responsibility for any negative press doesn't lie with the whistle-blower, it lies with the industry that is causing the environmental damage. They're the ones who are causing New Zealand's reputation as a clean and green nation to be degraded, and they are therefore costing us billions in lost tourism revenue.

Responsibility also lies with the government who are ensuring the environment continues to be damaged by not requiring farmers to clean up their acts. In fact they're causing further environmental degradation of our lakes and rivers through more intensive farming and increasing irrigation, irrigation that the taxpayers are paying for.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

But Dr Joy said his detractor had taken aim at the wrong target.

"If he wants to have a go at somebody, he should have a go at those who are polluting our rivers, not the guy researching it," he said. "I'm pretty disgusted . . . I have been quoted in this article commenting on the state of the environment and people have called me a traitor to this country. I'm just the one doing the research."

[...]

"I have dedicated my life to trying to save the environment . . . to have someone label me a traitor is pretty horrible."

"It's up to independent scientists like me to highlight the real issues because no one else is going to and that is part of my responsibility as an academic."

Clearly Mike Joy is not a traitor to his country. In fact it appears that he has New Zealand's best interests at heart. Only a true patriot would work tirelessly to protect the environment, which New Zealand relies on for our way of life and economic wellbeing.

Mark Unsworth on the other hand is a lecherous cretin who places more importance on the short-term interests of big business over people's health and the environment. He's undoubtedly a capitalist running dog who has had his day.

Show The World

23 Nov 2012

New Zealand's lost dividends from asset sales

Sale proceeds and dividends of Former SOEs ($ million)
BNZ
Telecom
Contact Energy
Total
Sale revenue
850
4250
2331
7431
Year
Foregone Dividends
1987
30
30
1988
60
60
1989
25
25
1990
39
198
237
1991
56
200
256
1992
92
307
399
1993
15
366
381
1994
170
500
670
1995
298
597
895
1996
279
727
1,006
1997
270
831
1,101
1998
120
859
979
1999
250
1,137
95
1,482
2000
240
906
103
1,249
2001
160
303
31
494
2002
310
425
110
845
2003
295
430
121
846
2004
323
490
199
1,012
2005
235
835
92
1,162
2006
335
1,184
115
1,634
2007
430
739
150
1,319
2008
703
762
162
1,627
2009
252
495
162
909
2010
620
453
165
1,238
2011
395
345
153
893
Total
6,001
13,089
1,657
20,747
Inflation-adjusted sale proceeds and dividends of Former SOEs (2011$ million)
BNZ
Telecom
Contact Energy
Total
Sale revenue
1585
6733
3225
11542
CPI
Year
Foregone Dividends
621
1987
56
56
650
1988
107
107
697
1989
41
41
731
1990
61
314
375
738
1991
87
314
401
748
1992
142
475
618
758
1993
23
559
582
780
1994
252
742
995
802
1995
430
862
1292
823
1996
393
1023
1415
830
1997
377
1159
1536
833
1998
167
1194
1361
837
1999
346
1573
132
2051
870
2000
319
1206
136
1662
886
2001
209
396
41
646
910
2002
394
541
139
1075
924
2003
370
539
151
1060
949
2004
394
598
243
1235
979
2005
278
988
109
1375
1005
2006
386
1364
133
1883
1037
2007
480
825
167
1473
1072
2008
759
823
174
1757
1093
2009
267
524
171
963
1137
2010
631
461
168
1261
1158
2011
395
345
153
893
Total
7366
16826
1919
26112
Impact on debt (assuming 6% cumulative interest on government debt) nominal millions.
BNZ
Telecom
Contact Energy
Total
Sale revenue
-3441
-14448
-4690
-22580
Foregone dividends
12999
32423
2715
48137
Net increase in debt
9558
17975
-1976
25557

H/T Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand

22 Nov 2012

Secret Leaked Video of Petraeus Outburst

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Israel always claims that it only "responds" to Palestinian violence, so the following time-line leading up to the present onslaught is essential to understanding that there was no need for this ghastly escalation, which was certainly premeditated. The November 14 assassination of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari occurred just as a shaky ceasefire had begun to establish itself.

This is the second time that Israel has mounted a major Gaza offensive when about to hold an election, the first being the occasion of Operation Cast Lead. Before the assassination, the New York Times reported the shooting dead by Israeli forces of a mentally handicapped Palestinian man in Gaza.

On November 8 the Israeli Army invaded the Gaza Strip. Eight tanks, escorting four bulldozers (routinely used to destroy crops on Palestinian farms in both Gaza and the West Bank), invaded Abassan village shooting 13-year-old Ahmed Younis Khader Abu Daqqa, killing him as he played football with his friends. Later that day, the Palestinian Resistance blew up a tunnel along the Gaza-Israel frontier, injuring one Israeli soldier.

November 10: An anti-tank missile fired by the Palestinian Resistance wounded four Israeli soldiers driving a jeep along the Israel-Gaza boundary. This was not a civilian target but a legitimate occasion for armed resistance and Palestinians have a right to self-defence. Israeli artillery shelled a soccer field, killing two children. Later, an Israeli tank shelled mourners at a funeral, killing two more people and wounding more than two dozen others.

November 11: One Palestinian was killed and dozens wounded in fresh Israeli attacks. Israel's Transportation Minister, Yisrael Katz, called on his Government to cut off water, food, electricity and fuel supplies to Gaza's population.

November 12: The Palestinians offered to renew the ceasefire if Israel would end its attacks.

November 14: Israel assassinated Ahmed Jabari. At least eight others died in the air strike, two of them children.

It's good to see these undeniable facts written down in black and white. Of course Israeli politicians and their propaganda machine are doing their best to refute them, but it's clearly an unjustifiable war that needs to end. One of the main ways Israel is trying to justify their war against the Palestinians is to say Hamas started it. This is clearly not the case, just as it's not true that Israel is only targeting army personnel.

Israel has in fact breached many international laws by violating the negotiated ceasefire, bombing refugee camps and killing innocent civilians. So far 130 Palestinians have been killed with another 920 injured. Many of these include woman and children. Israel has conducted over 1,450 rocket and airstrikes on Palestinian targets within the last week. Approximately five Israelis have died in retaliatory rocket strikes during the conflict so far.

Some commentators have proposed that the escalation to the war is because of the upcoming elections in Israel, but that's only part of the equation. Last year, Palestine was trying to gain full statehood and recognition from the United Nations. This was bitterly opposed by the United States and Israel, who have managed to stymie the application through political bullying.

Palestine has now revised their bid and is requesting recognition only as an observer state, something that is still being bitterly opposed by Israel and its backers. Last year, Israel made a number of threats concerning the United Nations giving Palestine full statehood, and those threats are now being acted upon.

What makes this all the more disgusting is that Israel, after giving assurances towards peace, was admitted to the United Nations in 1949. By accepting the position, Israel confirmed that it would give protection and free access to the Holy Places, heed calls for the return of refugees, allow free access to Jerusalem and demilitarize. Israel has failed to uphold any of these conditions.

Therefore Israel is in breach of its agreement with the United Nations and in my opinion should be removed from its position in that organization. It won't of course, because the United Nations no longer operates in the worlds best interests, it operates in the best interests of a controlling few.

The main problem here is the veto powers on that assembly held by the five permanent members of its most powerful body, the Security Council. China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. have all failed to intervene properly in the conflict, with many of these countries increasing the likelihood of war by providing arms and munitions to Israel, thus ensuring there is an unfair fight against an isolated Palestine.

The lack of political will is most sickening, with politicians only playing lip service to saving lives. Not only is Israel's war on Palestine wrong and against any sense of moral ethics... It's also against international laws, laws that the United Nations should not allow Israel to continually ignore in their unjust and terrible war on Palestine.

21 Nov 2012

Imagine a world without factory farming

Jackson must be spewing

On the back of bad publicity concerning the mistreatment of animals comes more bad news for the makers of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie just days out from its premiere at the Embassy Theatre in Wellington.

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The estate of JRR Tolkien is suing the producers of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for causing "irreparable harm" to the author's legacy, just a week out from the film's official premiere in Wellington.

A $98 million lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles District Court by the Tolkien estate and its book publisher HarperCollins accuses Warner Bros, New Line Cinema and Saul Zaentz Co of copyright infringement and breach of contract.

It claims the studios did "irreparable harm" to Tolkien's legacy by authorising inappropriate merchandise based to his works, including Lord of the Rings-themed online gambling games, The Hollywood Reporter reported.

Clearly they're unhappy with the extensive commercialization of JRR Tolkien's work, with the estates attourney claiming that the defendants have:

With increasing boldness, engaged in a continuing and escalating pattern of usurping rights to which they are not entitled.

That means they're in breach of contract and copyright laws.

This is a huge headache for Peter Jackson. But unlike the animal abuse that was played down by the Academy award winning director because apparently no animals were hurt on set, the claim by JRR Tolkien's estate (PDF) concerning all non-tangible merchandise such as video games based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit will be much harder to dismiss.

This will also receive widespread international attention, media attention that will cost the makers of the Hobbit at the box office. There goes that feel good coverage Warner Brothers was hoping for to promote the Hobbit movie's and much of their merchandise along with it... Peter Jackson must be spewing.

Another dodgy lawyer

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

An Auckland barrister charged with traffic offences denied to reporters that he practises law in New Zealand - before walking to another courtroom to represent a client.

Satendra Prakash Singh, 60, appeared briefly in courtroom five at the Auckland District Court this morning to face charges of careless operation of a vehicle and drink driving.

[...]

Singh would not say if he would defend the allegations or why he denied practising as a lawyer in New Zealand.

He is charged with careless operation of a vehicle and driving with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit - 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood - on July 15.

Lying to the media is a pretty serious accusation, and if true shows that Singh is not the kind of person we want practicing law in New Zealand.

When the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (PDF) states that lawyers must facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand, that means they must be honest in all their undertakings. Facilitating the administration of justice is not limited to the courts alone.

Being that Singh is obviously not fit to be a lawyer, he should lose his practicing certificate. Clearly Singh has failed to adhere to the fundamental obligation of all lawyers to uphold the rule of law, and in doing so gives all lawyers a bad name.

20 Nov 2012

Unanimous support for Shearer

Today, TVNZ reported:

Speculation of a leadership challenge within the Labour Party has been laid to rest as MPs gave David Shearer unanimous support at a caucus meeting in Wellington today.

Shearer easily won the ballot at Parliament this afternoon after what has effectively been a failed leadership bid from David Cunliffe.

[...]

Shearer said he would demote Cunliffe because Labour would not be able to win the 2014 election without unity.

"David Cunliffe has not been able to show that loyalty. His actions at the weekend were disappointing, not only to me but to many party members.

"His repeated failure to quell speculation about my leadership means I no longer have confidence in him.

"He has lost my trust."

Shearer said Cunliffe had been demoted from the front bench and stripped his economic development portfolio from him.

So the media apparatchiks have got their pound of flesh.

What people might find surprising about all this is that there was no real leadership challenge within the Labour party. There was however a lot of noise from David Cunliffe supporters in the blogosphere that then transferred into media manipulations concerning David Shearer's ability to effectively lead Labour.

The ability of Labour to close the problem down was hindered by the scope of coverage that was mainly focused on attacking Shearer to make Labour look divided.

Unfortunately Cunliffe didn't do himself any favours surrounding that initial speculation and in my opinion should have worked harder to close it down earlier. That media spectacle caused Shearer to appear weak, and gave him little choice but to demote Cunliffe in order to stamp his authority on the leadership.

Stupidly Cunliffe's supporters are again vehemently complaining and failing to understand that they are largely responsible for the demotion. Thankfully their attacks on Shearer because they didn't get their way won't be able to undermine Labour as effectively next time round though. You can only cry wolf so many times.

The real silly thing is that the speculation is continuing at all, even though there was a unanimous vote for Shearer as leader including a vote from Cunliffe. So the problem of people making shit up hasn't gone away because of the demotion, however it's effectiveness has been greatly reduced.

The main problem is that the media and some bloggers took what Cunliffe said and manipulated it to create controversy where there was none. Labour has done well to turn that negative controversy into more media coverage than John Key's trip to Cambodia. They have in fact used it to boost Shearer's profile in an effective strategy that makes Labour look more cohesive going forward.

It's my belief that Cunliffe fully supports Shearer as leader, and he will soon gain the front benches again because he's an invaluable, talented and hard working politician.

His "no comment" is designed to close down further speculation and manipulation of what he says. It's also a clever move to remove the right wings ability to undermine Labour closer to the next election with more baseless claims about a leadership coup, which is their favourite play.

Labour will now be entirely focused on winning in 2014, with Shearer obviously having the nous to go up against John Key in what will likely be a presidential style race based on personality politics. Let's Hope Labour's excellent policy also gets a look in.

John Key's gay pink top

Earlier this month, Stuff reported:

Prime Minister John Key made controversial comments about a "gay red top" the same day as reportedly calling footballer David Beckham "thick".

Key reportedly said Beckham was a nice man but also ''as thick as bat s***'' during a talk with a group of high school students in Dunedin on Friday. He today refused to deny making the comment - but said he had been misheard.

Key flirted with controversy again that day on the Farming Show radio programme when he slagged off host Jamie Mackay for wearing red.

Is there something Key isn't telling us?

Plight of Maui's dolphin shouldn't be ignored

Last week, Stuff reported:

Politicians were thin on the ground when Greenpeace presented MPs with 55 artworks symbolising the estimated number of surviving adult Maui's dolphins.

Although none of the 41 invited National MPs turned up yesterday, four Opposition MPs fronted to get their prints. The series, called In Your Hands and inscribed with MPs' names, was by Wellington artist Sheyne Tuffery.

It's a shame that most politicians don't care enough about the Maui's dolphin. What is good to see though is the movement to save the iconic species is starting to gain momentum.

The Government recently received over 20,000 submissions from people from all around the world wanting immediate action to save Maui's dolphin.

Let's hope that overwhelming public outcry won't be ignored for too long by the National government, and they legislate to protect the Maui's dolphin from extinction before it's too late.

John Tamihere - Asshole of the Week

John Tamihere might come across as a jovial kind of chap, but his recent statements have been entirely undiplomatic and show him to be just another political fool.

Worse yet, Tamihere's spiteful comments directed at past and present Labour MP's make it look like he has no intention of actually joining Labour at all. In fact Tamihere spends most of his time agreeing with National party policy and bagging the things Labour believe in.

Clearly he's just another tory shill and displays all the signs of a full blown right-winger...

Last Saturday, GayNZ reported:

Former Labour MP John Tamihere has attacked the party as being ‘too focused on issues like gay marriage’ after being kept out of its conference this weekend.

While he wants to make a political comeback, his membership is yet to be approved by the party hierarchy.

“It’s a bit like joining the Head Hunters,” he said in an interview with 3 News reporter Patrick Gower. “As I'm trying to walk through, trying to get my membership, they are all there beating you – it’s a bit like a gang, a gang initiation.”

[...]

On his Radio Live talkback programme he has repeatedly voiced homophobic slurs and has also made derogatory comments about Labour's gay MPs.

On Sunday, Scoop reported:

There have been no cries of alleluia to the prospect of former Labour Party cabinet minister John Tamihere’s resurrection from political purgatory to re-join Labour’s ranks again.

While the Party’s faithful gathered for their conference in Auckland this weekend, John Tamihere told TVNZ’s Marae Investigates this morning that he’d been advised it would be inappropriate for him to attend.

“I’ve got media accreditation, I could go and make it a media circus but I’m not interested in doing that.” Mr Tamihere told interviewer Scotty Morrison.

During the Marae Investigates interview (video), John Tamihere also said:

"Parekura is going porkies mate," and "He's doing well on the balls-up circuit".

The hypocritical Tamihere then says:

"You just have to get the conversation raised above the pettiness".

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

Loizos Michaels has denied 31 deception charges at the Auckland District Court.

[...]

Last week the 45-year-old claimed he had lost money in an online gaming venture with former Christchurch Casino chief executive Stephen Lyttelton and that National Party President Peter Goodfellow was involved in a bid to take over Sky City.

Michaels also pointed the finger at politicians Pita Sharples and John Tamihere, who he said had been paid money by Mr Lyttelton.

There's probably no validity to what Loizos Michaels has said about Pita Sharples and John Tamihere, basically because he's a bullshit artist. The problem here is that Tamihere is a bullshit artist as well and has only been making sounds about joining Labour in order to gain attention, media attention he's then used to attack Labour with.

It appears that there's no truth to the claims that Tamihere was banned from Labour's conference over the weekend. Tamihere is simply not a member of the party and therefore couldn't attend in that capacity. He would also need to arrange a media pass, and couldn't simply waltz in like he owns the place. There's nothing new about this, and all major political parties in New Zealand operate this way.

So clearly Tamihere is gaining too much attention for what is effectively a lie. Why anybody would give the drunken animal abuser the time of day is beyond me. Clearly the only reason he wants to get back into politics is to get his grubby hands on some more golden handshakes. Where did that $800,000 go btw John?

There will be no benefit to Maori if Tamihere actually manages to advance his septic political career, because for all intents and purposes he's a honky who only cares about his own interests. The misogynistic John Tamihere has been tested and found wanting, he therefore wins this week's asshole award.

19 Nov 2012

A guest post by Susan Krumdieck


Kia Ora,

There are some important things that I want to be up-front with you about.

The oil supply has peaked and is in decline. It will be expensive forever. You will want to be planning to organise yourself, your family, and your business to be able to use less petrol.  The amount we use will need to decline about 4-6% each year, which should be doable just by improving things. But we really need to get to work now.

The amount of diesel we use to freight Chinese junk and rubbish around the country is a joke. You are going to have to work out how to grow local businesses to supply more of what you need and to generate less waste. Yes, things will cost a bit more. But what goes around in our country comes back around. And if more of your neighbours have jobs they can buy more from you. The government should not be developing more roads, and we'll be doing well just to keep the roads in decent shape, so we're going to need to start restricting how many trucks can move on the roads. The Ausi supermarket chains are going to have to re-think their sourcing and warehousing to reduce truck traffic.  The government should be setting up new regulations for towns and cities to designate local weekend market areas, product testing and local currencies. This local market growth initiative could add at least 1-2 new professional jobs per town, and spur growth in new local production and manufacturing enterprises.

We rely quite heavily on gas.  There will never be another Maui gas field. The supply is going into decline. We are building more geothermal plants, but you and your families and businesses are going to have to start making energy management plans for how you can cut back on electricity use when needed.  You will want to improve efficiency wherever possible because the price is going to continue to climb. The government should be supporting new training and professional enterprises in energy management and transition engineering. This could add 1-2 new professional jobs per 5000 population all across the country and help you sort out how to get all of your good ideas going. We will also be putting a hold on gas fracking in New Zealand. There is nothing we could do with gas today that is worth the risks of irreversible damage to underground structures.

To be honest, coal is really dirty dangerous crap. Mining coal, and well, really mining anything, is guaranteed to be an environmental disaster for more than just one generation. The thing is that we can't have any kind of industrial society without coal. So, what we are going to have to do is recognise that coal use is going to decline, it's going to get more expensive, we are going to have to spend 50-90% more on technology when we mine it and use it to make sure we don't muck things up, and we are going to have to make hard choices about what we really need and don't need. What is really worth burning coal for and what isn't.  We are not going to burn coal for electricity.  Those days are over.  We are not going to sell our coal resources off-shore.  Our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will need some coal some day. They will also be much more sensible about balancing their fossil energy use against the irreversible climate rupture we have created. We start now to face up to the facts about coal and we are going to do everything we can to reduce what we dig up - including a 10 year moratorium on new coal mining as a period to take stock, get the international corporations jaws un-clamped from around our necks, and decide what we really need to do.

There are no substitutions; there are no technology fixes. You were probably thinking that we could use wood or wind or solar or some other green thing to substitute for coal and oil and gas. But the truth is, while we support the development of renewable energy, and it might add some more jobs, the reducing fossil fuel supplies mean big changes. No amount of renewable energy development will change that fact. You're going to have to get much more efficient, and waste of any kind of resource will become a Kiwi anathema rather than a Kiwi norm.

We need to work together to restore our environment and build resilience wherever we can.   Every town needs to get busy organising groups to look at the local resources and start working with people to come up with solutions.  We have programmes with the universities to help out with assessing, planning and organising.  This will mean jobs for some of your local, uni educated young people back in their home towns planning and managing and monitoring the local reserves, and organising the new tourism opportunities, like connecting up reserves by bike trail.

I have told you the truth about energy resources and how we are going to adapt to use less energy. Now I am going to be honest with you about the economy. The economy is not something separate from us. The economy is actually just people who do a good job getting fair compensation for their work from the people who benefit from their labours. This is why there are different wages for different capabilities. We all pay taxes in order to live in a country that has high quality services and infrastructure. The people who are profiting the most should also do the most to make this country a better place. 

We need to figure out how to innovate so that we can build wealth - not from spreading ourselves open to the rest of the world to come and take what we've got - but by building real, sustained value, by having high quality of life, by long term thinking and by participatory, strongly democratic, fact-informed planning.



Dave Rastovich - Hero of the Week

Today, Billabong reported:

Renowned surfer and environmental activist, Dave “Rasta” Rastovich (32, Byron bay, AUS), has successfully completed the first leg of an epic 350km paddle from Cape Taranaki to Piha in New Zealand which he has undertaken to draw awareness to proposed seabed mining that threatens the area.

[...]

Rastovich’s 17-foot paddle-board is custom built for the epic journey that will carry him through the coastal zone under direct threat from iron ore mining companies. The entire west coast of New Zealand, from Wanganui to Cape Reinga, is under either a prospecting or exploration permit for iron sand. A local group, "Kiwis Against Seabed Mining" (KASM) has been established to draw attention to and oppose the plans.

“This campaign is about awareness and education and supporting the great work of community based groups like KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining). We’re urging people to just have a look at the facts and how that will impact them and their community,” said Rastovich.

Rough seas caused a small delay to Dave Rastovich's Coastal Paddle yesterday, but it's unlikely to dampen the spirits of the pro surfer and film maker.

The great thing about this is the international attention Rastovich will receive could just well be the catalyst the cause needs. So well done Dave Rastovich. Dude is most deserving of this weeks Hero award.

Schedule:

Fri 16th Nov - Oakura Beach (paddle begins)
Fri 16th Nov - Fitzroy Beach New Plymouth Surf Club (music, food & info) from 6pm
Sat 17th Nov - Education and awareness session with local boardriders club
Sun 18th - Fri 23rd paddle, paddle, paddle (meetings and engaging with local communities)
Sat 24th - Raglan Info Event
25th – 30th – paddle, paddle, paddle to South of Piha meetings and engaging with local communities)
Sat 1st Dec – Piha Conclusion “Love Your Ocean Day!” Major day time event. Evening finale event at the Piha Bowls Club.

David Shearer - New Zealand: A new direction

John Keys worst performance ever

It's been amusing to see some of the critiquing of David Shearer recently. Particularly the feverish attempts to discredit him for relatively minor issues.

In light of this and to give some balance to the debate on leadership issues, here's a critique on John Keys appearance on The Nation over the weekend:

Rachel Smalley: In 2013, growth starts to fall away quite dramatically. Post the peak of that rebuild, we're in a bit of trouble aren't we?

John Key: Well I mean I think the first thing you say when you look at that graph is um that most other countries around the world would welcome that graph because it actually shows that we are growing despite inheriting the worst conditions of perhaps any government in two generations ah we have got the country growing. Ah not as fast as we want, I think we'd all admit but we are quarter of 1% of global growth so we are a tiny tiny fraction. And I can't, even if I wanted to I couldn't make the US go faster or Europe go faster or even solve some of those problems that are there in in Asia.

What I can do is prepare New Zealand to be in the best shape it can be to basically go out and compete on a world stage and to grow by being more competitive more productive on the world environment.

Rachel Smalley: But post 2013 there is no growth. That's according to the Reserve Bank so it's not me saying that it's them. They're saying that government expenditure frozen 2014 2015, the high Kiwi dollar will remain high. That will encourage imports underpin manufacturing and so beyond that there is nothing else.

John Key: Yeah! I think you be taking that a little bit literally. Ah! So there are a range of views there. The Treasuries views of growth have been a little bit stronger than the Reserve Bank. The Reserve Bank's been a little bit more conservative on that front. Ah! Although the Treasury will go update its numbers as we get to the half year update in a few weeks time. Ah! And there's a range of views from the bank economists. But as a general rule, um you want to take those things with a grain of salt. There's a lot of different factors. If we start seeing global growth picking up, then that has a big impact for New Zealand.

Let's stop the deluded Prime Minister right there. Firstly, global growth shouldn't be the only factor the government pins its hopes on for an economic recovery. Secondly, National inherited the books from Labour with very little government debt. Since then, Key has managed to increase government debt by more than 190%.

Clearly National inherited a country in better shape than it is now. It is only a figment of their imagination that their neoliberal agenda is working.

John Key: If the Reserve Bank really believed that there would be no growth beyond 2013 to speak of, then the Reserve Bank would cut interest rates, because we still have interest rates at one of the higher levels around the world. So I I don't actually accept that argument.

Wrong! New Zealand's interest rate is currently 2.5%, which is below the worldwide average of 3.4%.

John Key: So my only basic point here is is not to say the government should be ah! We should feel sorry for ourselves. Not to say there is nothing we can do. We've actually done a lot. My point is simply in the end, we are a nation that sells to the world and if the world is slowing down, then we slow down. And you saw that with China, who are very very Asia ah Europe dependent. For all of the good will to grow and desire to grow in China they've been slowing down because Europe has been slowing down.

China's economic growth has slowed to 7.6% in comparison to New Zealand's average of 0.6% for the first three quarters of 2012. Clearly we've not recovered properly from the recession. In fact New Zealand has gone backwards faster than most other countries, mainly because National hasn't moved to protect our productive industries and caused higher unemployment through repressive policy changes.

In september 2008 the rate of unemployment was 4.2%. According to Statistics New Zealand, it's now 7.3%. Despite these facts, John Key continues his rhetorical drivel:

John Key: Again if you look at that. I think its worth putting a bit of perspective on some things. So some of the stats, and this comes of the Labour house survey is my guess. OK! So the household Labour Survey measures someone as unemployed if they are looking for a job for one hour or more.

Wrong! The Household Labour Force Survey (PDF) measures the duration of unemployment as well as the actual, seasonally adjusted, and trend of unemployment. The 7.3% unemployment rate is seasonally adjusted and doesn't include people who are unemployed for an hour.

The way these statistics are gathered and calculated has not changed, meaning that the increase shown is actually happening. John Key attacking the Household Labour Force Survey therefore looks pretty damn stupid if you ask me... But there's worse to come.

John Key: 15 to 19 year olds is a good example. Because the Labour party came out with some amazing numbers of unemployment there.

Wrong! Statistics New Zealand supplied information on the youth unemployment rate. The figures Labour quoted in parliament were based on those figures and are therefore correct.

John Key: So there is one other factor that's worth mentioning because the government you're right is wanting to get to a point where it saves again by that I mean running a surplus. So we ran an $18 billion dollar surplus last year, largely to Christchurch earthquake but a fair bit there. We're $9 billion this year. By 2014/15 we're on track to be back in surplus. Now some people will argue that you should just keep spending money.

Key is so wrong on so many counts I don't know where to begin. Firstly the current account deficit rose to over $10 billion in the year ended June 2012. Now the difference between a deficit and surplus and $9 billion compared to $10 might not be a big deal to some people, but this is the Prime Minister of New Zealand who should know these facts off by heart.

John Key is supposed to be a money man and good with figures, yet he constantly displays a lack of knowledge about even the most simple economic principles.

John Key: So our debt to GDP levels by then will top at just under about 30%. In other words um! We'll be relatively lowly indebted, compared to other countries like America in Europe.

Wrong again Prime Minister. New Zealand's Gross sovereign-issued debt, the one that's relevant to the 30% threshold, was over $79 billion in May this year or 39.5% of GDP. That's an increase on 2011 of 2.5% with no signs of slowing. That makes John Key at best deluded and at worst a complete liar!

John Key: Um! So you know. I want to leave New Zealand in a better shape than I found it. Personally, I think if I got hit by a bus this afternoon, I will have left New Zealand in a better shape than I found it.

Amusing! Even Key admits that New Zealand would be better off if he wasn't PM.

John Key: Four years on, there are a lot of stats that I could point to which show you that this country is in better shape. Everything from the falling crime rate right through to increasing education levels whether it's at ECE or whatever.

Obviously those stats don't really exist, and John Key is talking rubbish. Crime rates have been falling all around the world, so I'm not sure exactly how National can claim responsibility for that. There are on the other hand lots of statistics showing New Zealand is worse off since National gained power.

In August, the NZ Herald reported:

Household incomes dropped and inequality rose to its highest level ever in New Zealand last year, a Ministry of Social Development report shows.

The Household Incomes Report measuring the wellbeing of New Zealanders by their total after-tax takings has revealed a fall in average incomes for the first time since the early 1990s.

It shows the gap between rich and poor widened substantially in 2011, putting inequality at its highest level ever.

That's a damning example of Nationals failure... Along with the fact that New Zealand now has 7.3% unemployment, 270 000 kids in poverty and we have the highest level of inequality we've ever seen, how can Key claim that New Zealand is better off?

Onto the next area of Keys disinformation...

John Key: If you're asking me if we should have an extended Capital Gains Tax in New Zealand the answer's no! And my position is supported by a lot of people who are not in politics and who are extremely knowledgeable in this area.

Key means his property speculator mates.

John Key: We have a form of Capital Gains Tax in New Zealand. If you go and bye a rental property, and you you buy it and sell it, the tax department will charge you a Capital Gain on that property. If you even say my intent, because we have intentrils, are to rent that but you start turning over those properties over, they'll take a very good look at you and over the last few years IRD has employed quite a number of uh additional people who's job it has been to look at those cases and there's been quite a lot more revenue coming in.

What a big fat load of rubbish! Unlike most other developed countries around the world, New Zealand doesn't have a properly enforced tax on property transactions at all. In fact the current system is widely abused.

There's also no such thing as an intentril and IRD has not recently employed more people to ensure property speculators pay anything more than the usual taxes on house transactions. There was an increase in prosecutions in 2010 for tax avoidance, but this is entirely different to the worthwhile changes proposed (PDF) by Labour at the 2011 elections.

John Key: I happen to think my my own view is, we are incredibly lucky to be serviced the way we are by many of the principles and teachers of New Zealand. I go to schools every week and they do a fantastic job. But I'm telling you now there are some kids that are that are falling through the cracks. 
When we brought in National Standards, the sector yelled and screamed and didn't like it. But, when we go and talk to those very Christchurch schools at the moment that we are talking about potential amalgamation, they quote National Standards back to us. When I go to the staff rooms now, even if they don't like National Standards they are talking to me about educational achievement and outcomes and that's a great change to make.

Keys claim that National Standards have increased educational outcomes is entirely unsubstantiated and he obviously doesn't go to schools every week. In fact his last visit to a school on 2 November ended in a huge fiasco after he back stabbed David Beckham, telling a group of school girls that the sports superstar was as thick as batshit!

The current government has totally failed to ensure good working conditions by causing undue stress through the Novopay cock-up, which has meant many thousands of teachers aren't being paid properly, some for months on end. National has also increased stress by badly formulated policy to merge and close schools. They also flip-flopped about class sizes, all of which would have a detrimental impact on educational outcomes.

John Key: I go to plenty of decile one and two schools around this country, and I would send my children there tomorrow.

Please! John Key claiming he would be fine with taking his kids out of private school is about as rich as it gets.

John Key: I've always argued the case that Nick has an enormous brain.

Weird! Nick Smith's brain capacity has little to do with his dishonesty.

Rachel Smalley: Your second term, it would be polite of me to say it has been a bit bumpy. I want to go through some of the issues you've faced. You've had Kim Dotcom, GCSB, ACC, Sky City convention centre, John Banks intermittently bouncing in there, the issues with education, water rights, the sale of state assets or not as the case may be.

National has definitely got that corrupt theme going on there.

John Key: In my world I don't get the luxury of that. In my world I set rules that I expect the police to follow, through the legislation that we have they are independent they make their own decisions.

Key only just manages to save himself from that Freudian slip... Saying "I set the rules that I expect the police to follow" is clearly not in line with his claims that the police have been entirely independent from his medling during the GCSB debacle.

I'm looking forward to Kim Dotcom blowing Key out of the water on that one.

So let's just recap: Dismissing the Reserve Bank's projections, dismissing Statistics New Zealand and the current unemployment rate, lies concerning youth employment, confusion about interest rates, dishonesty concerning the CGT and dismissing the growing divide between rich and poor just to mention a bit of John Keys disingenuous propaganda. Clearly not prime minister material.